Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Secret Garden

A thistle cannot grow.
~The Secret Garden, Ch. 27

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Princess had been reading The Secret Garden. Today, with the Princess in sniffles, we finished. Then we watched the movie made in 1993 I had just bought last week, to talk about the comparisons between the two. I must say that the movie portrayed Mrs. Medlock as a harsher woman and it is a shame that there was no Mrs. Sowerby, as she was one of the characters I would have enjoyed seeing portrayed on the big screen. Ah, well.

The DVD was a double feature coupled with the 1995 version of A Little Princess. We read A Little Princess last summer when we stayed in Florida to help my husband's parents, so we watched that movie a few days ago and talked about the differences between the book and movie versions.

We also talked about the similarities and differences between The Secret Garden and A Little Princess today. The most obvious of the similarities were that in both the main characters were young girls who had lived in India and lost their parents. (Of course, in the movie version of A Little Princess, the father lived, but was believed to be dead.) The differences were the girls' temperaments, how they were treated and treated others.

I am hoping, like Mary of The Secret Garden witnessing Colin's behavior, my Princess will see others acting badly, as she can do at times, as encouragement to modify her behavior on her own. In so doing, I am tending my little rose to keep the thistles from growing.

Speaking of gardens...while The Secret Garden has a moving ending, most of my daughter's previously mentioned sniffles were likely due to pollen. The pollen count has been well over 1,000 for a few days lately; an extremely high count is anything over 120. When we first moved to Georgia, I was delighted with the explosion of autumn colors, which make it my favorite of the seasons. (It might not be quite as brilliant as a bit further north, but certainly more a more vivid variety compared the sun-bleached vegetation of middle Florida.) However, spring time in Georgia, I did not expect. It leaves me breathless, in more ways than one. It seems that everything blooms, just everything—it would probably be a shorter list to name the things that do not bloom. With every lovely bright bloom comes a flurry of pollen.

The annual dusting can again be seen on everything outside. At a time when the temperatures are comfortable enough to open windows, it is healthier to keep them shut. The pollen we see covering everything is just heavier types, but I am told it is the invisible pollen remaining the air that is the problem. We all welcome the rains that cleanse the air and we have quite a bit lately, but during the last years of drought, the pollen count has gone to nearly 6,000 on some days.

Fortunately for me, I am blessed that I do not have allergies, but even those who don't have a bit more difficulty with breathing, sinus headaches, and general fatigue on such days with high amounts of pollen. My daughter mentioned a sore throat on Sunday and has been dealing with sniffles and sneezing since then, but it is not too bad. Some years ago, we installed an air purification system, mostly to help clear out the lungs of my husband, who worked in environments full of paper dust year after year. Still, just thirty minutes outside is all it takes for my daughter to have health and behavior difficulties for a couple of days--at least, I am hoping that is the reason my Little Princess had a touch of Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary today. I had to tend my little rose a bit today because of it.

Such is spring in the garden....

My Lord, please show me the best ways to tend my little rose so thistles can never grow in her temperament—even when we both are dealing with the effects of high pollen counts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thunderstorms

Tears such as angels weep. ~John Milton

When the Princess had began walking, she noticed a thunderstorm for the first time and seemed a bit concerned. I carried her out onto the front porch while it was raining hard with lightning flashing and thunder crashing. I realized that I did not really have a plan, but I did not want to tell her the story my mother had told me, that it was the angels bowling--not that convincing when my mother looked quite frightened herself. (Besides, somehow the bowling thing took away the beauty of the thunderstorm and my idealistic imaginings of angels.)

My grandfather once took me out on his front porch and had me watch a storm; they have intrigued me ever since. So, I told the Princess to look for the flash of light and then we would count until the thunder came. When the thunder rumbled, I jiggled her up and down laughingly saying "Boom-da-boom-da-boom!" She loved it and she learned that day the further away the storm was the longer it took between seeing the lightning and hearing the boom-da-booms.

Actually, she loved it so much that for the next few years whenever she heard thunder she ran as fast as she could to the window to watch the storm and began counting so she could announce if it was close or far away. The child was so fascinated that she actually would have her hands on the window as if glued and squeal in delight the more violent the storm would be. I could even put her to bed at the height of a storm and she would go to sleep without a problem, once she got too tired to peek outside her window.

One evening I was talking to my sister on the phone while there was a storm where she lived and her daughter, around ten or eleven years old at the time, asked if she could come to bed with her. I explained to my sister what I had done with the Princess, thinking it might be helpful. My sister confessed that she was terrified of storms herself, even would hide under the covers still just like she did as child, and she believed she had taught this fear to her daughter, just as our mother had taught that fear to us.

It is natural to be afraid of loud noises and things over which we have no control, certainly storms qualify, but I prefer teaching my daughter to not be afraid, even of the very things I fear, because those fears are simply in the mind. Although I tried to hide it, the Princess now knows I have a fear of heights, but she also has seen me go out on a wooden lookout protruding from the sheer side of a mountain to enjoy the view of the entire valley below. I have learned there is less fear when there is familiarity, so the more I do this kind of thing during my life the less I fear it and the more she will see there is nothing to fear but fear itself. We can chose to live within the limitations of our fears or chose to let them go and be free. I want to teach the Princess she has a choice when faced with a fear and that she can choose to rest in the Lord.

Since her younger years, the Princess has been very curious about weather and clouds. She is a bit more concerned about storms, because she is now aware of the damage they can do. She understands much about the science behind them, even so the Princess still likes one of my fanciful explanations: Raindrops are from the angels when they are so happy that they cannot contain it and those tears of happiness rain on the earth to make things grow.

My Lord, let my daughter, and I as well, learn to rest in You and walk without fear amidst all kinds of storms.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here Today, Traveling Tomorrow

Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. ~Cesare Pavese

My husband was originally scheduled to be working close to home all this week, but just a few minutes ago, he called to say plans had changed. He will be flying out tomorrow to work in northern Ohio. This means that the Princess and I will be on the road for two hours tomorrow also, for the drive to and from the airport, and we will do it again on Friday, which will probably result in more than two hours with traffic or a very late night depending on the arrival time.

It is difficult to remember that I used to be the type of girl who had to know plans way in advance. I have had to bend, really bend, with my husband's field and its unpredictability. I often say that I have become a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, but really the only one who gets to do the flying is my husband.

A few weeks ago, probably at the height of my winter cabin fever with the first signs of spring in display, I came to terms with the realization of how much I can envy his ability to leave while I stay home being thrifty and frugal, making all the meals (those who know me have heard that I dislike cooking every day), and doing extra chores.

I know he is traveling to work. I know he works more hours than most would or should. I know that sometimes his luggage arrives days after he does, or tools are missing from his tool case, or he sits at the airport for hours because of flight cancellations or delays. I know that he does not like all aspects of it. I know that he misses his daughter and me, as we do him.

Still, there are some aspects that he likes also. Who wouldn't like some of them? He gets to be served for his meals choosing where and what to eat. If he does not feel like going out to eat, he can call for room service. He does not have to make his bed or clean up the bathroom or take out the garbage. He does have to pack and unpack and pack again. He does have to deal with a burned-out wife over the phone now and then, too.

Yet, to just have only the essentials for a little while and be transported to different surroundings sounds so appealing to me now and then. In truth, I probably idealize it too much.

It would be nice to have some outing to plan for tomorrow for the Princess, since I will have the van, but it is supposed to be rainy from tonight until Sunday, so I doubt if we will be taking advantage of it. After the last few years of drought, it is nice to have nearly normal amounts of rainfall. Besides I have plenty of indoor projects to do and there are ways to sprinkle some fun in with them.

My Lord, please keep my husband safe and may he have no troubles on this trip. Please give me peace and guidance while we are apart from each other and I am missing him.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Valerie

No man or woman can be strong, gentle, pure, and good, without the world being better for it and without someone being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness. ~Phillips Brooks


My husband and I were youth group leaders in our church, over twelve years ago now, when we met Valerie during her young teenage years. Her family was not members of our church, but of one nearby that had a less active youth group, so she came to ours with a friend often. I don't think of her very often anymore, but today I woke up with Valerie on my mind.

Valerie was the only child of aging parents, both teachers in the public school system. They were quite strict; often when youth group activities continued past the time expected, Valerie needed to call home to explain to her parents why we could not drop her off at home in time—this was before cell phones were commonplace. Valerie had an interesting personality: She was sensitive and gentle. She was very talkative, often going on and on about something that interest her. She was a strong conservationist. She was artistic. She was a Christian.

Valerie had one other quality that it took me awhile to see and fully appreciate—she never talked about anyone else in a critical way. Nothing she ever said could be taken as compromising or embarrassing for her or for another person. At an age when girls tend to be vicious with teasing and talking behind each other's backs, Valerie quietly radiated a pure heart.

It is a very rare thing to know a person with a pure heart. I have had the pleasure to know a few and one of them was Valerie. Somehow such people seem misplaced in this world, as if they don't really belong here, as if they somehow exist in the kingdom of the Lord, yet are interacting with us here. Perhaps that is why Valerie was taken from us.

One night Valerie was given permission to stay overnight at a friend's home. They were dropped off a skating rink and were supposed to be picked up by another parent, but for some reason or another she did not show up. Knowing that Valerie's parents would take her straight home if they called them, they all decided to walk to the hosting friend's home. They crossed at very wide and busy intersection in the darkest area of that road having no crosswalk. All of them crossed safely—all except Valerie. Her friends watched in horror as she was hit by one car and then a second. Neither driver stopped.

The saddest part was not the loss of Valerie, for I knew she was in her heavenly home without a doubt, but what happened afterward. Her mother was quite bitter, she wanted the drivers to be found and punished beyond the extent of the law. Her church hosted as a place for Valerie's fellow high school students to grieve and a long sheet of paper was hung along length of one wall where they could write out their sentiments, yet so many of them had written such hate-filled statements.

It saddened me so much to see the evidence of such hatred writhing within their own hearts.

I believe Valerie would have been the first to forgive those who caused her own death, and she would have done the same if it has been her best friend instead. She did not just try to practice grace and forgiveness, she lived it...seemingly without any effort, even when she was grieved. Did her goodness and pure heart not touch one person? Were these wondrous gifts so lost on those who remained? Did I alone learn a precious lesson from Valerie? I hope not.

My Lord, You have shown me that forgiveness purifies my heart, especially through heartbreak. Thank you for giving me glimpses of truly pure hearts and please bless me as I continue my pursuit to be pure at heart.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday's Child Has Far to Go

Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them. -Albert Schweitzer

Thursdays are the days that I do nearly all the errands I need to do. It all started with scheduling piano lessons for the Princess. Her teacher has been a close friend to me since we first met over ten years ago, before the Princess was born. I will never forget when Trudy came to see my baby for the first time, she looked at her hands and said "Piano fingers." Such things I tucked away in my heart, as I had prayed for two things that I really wanted to have my child do and one was the piano.

At three years old the Princess was begging to learn how to play the piano, but I could not find a nearby piano teacher willing to take a child so young. At the same time, Trudy had been telling me of a 4½ year old boy, who had just started lessons with her. I remember saying that I thought she never took a child under six years old and rarely under seven. She replied she had found a program called "Music for Little Mozarts" and she was enjoying it. I tucked that away in my heart as well for a short time.

Six months later the Princess' fourth birthday was upon us and Trudy was still enjoying teaching young students, so I asked her if she would consider taking my daughter as a student as well after the upcoming spring recital, because I knew how busy that would make her. My Princess would be the youngest student she had ever taken and she said that she would love it. So, just after my daughter turned four years old, we decided that the Princess would be her first student of the day on Thursday afternoons, thus she began half hour piano lessons with my good friend—who lives one hour away.

Yes, I drive two hours every Thursday just for a half-hour piano lesson. I decided that since we were out anyway that we could go grocery shopping on that day as well, since I shop at two health food stores for organic foods. The two stores are rather close to each other, although about 40 minutes away from my home. I also do some bill paying, stopping at a post office, and any other shopping in the general triangular vicinity between home, the health food stores, and Trudy's place. Sometimes that includes consignment sales or homeschool store or a warehouse book sale. Sometimes we go outside of the triangle for a trip to the farm where we get raw cow's milk. Most of the time, the Princess eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple on the way rather than stopping for lunch.

This all worked out pretty well when we had two vehicles, but when my husband lost his job over a year ago, we also lost the company van. Now we have only one vehicle, a mini-van. Thursdays are well and good when he flies out of town to work, which was most of the time, but when he is home to work locally as he has been lately, it becomes a bit more of a problem. We tried renting a car for the day, but recently all the car rental places nearest to us closed. With limited options, we have decided to get up early to drive my husband to work so that I have the van all day and then pick him up afterward. That adds about two more hours of driving on our Thursdays. This is more difficult for the Princess, I think, and it requires a bit more planning for me, but we have managed our Thursdays well.

Now that the Princess is nearly eight years old, any piano teacher would take her and I probably could find a good one closer to home, but some things are far more important than convenience. Trudy has been her teacher for almost four years and has brought the love of music as well as the learning of it to my daughter. She is one of my closest friends, someone who shares the love of the Lord with me, and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to contribute financially to her, which the Lord provided even when my husband was out of work.

Most Thursdays I have far to go, but some things are just worth the extra miles.

Thank you, my Lord, for providing the means required for us to pursue piano lessons and for a friend, who not only teaches my daughter, but who has taught me through her faith in You as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday's Child is Full of Woe

But as for me, when they were sick,
my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled my soul with fasting,
And my prayer kept returning to my bosom.
~Psalm 35:13

I fast at least one day a week, Wednesday. I have been practicing this for over a year, but I used to do it some years ago also. Now I don't sit around in sackcloth and ashes as you see pictured here, but it is a time that I try to cleanse my body and my soul and prepare to receive what the Lord wishes to give to me. I have always felt better physically and closer to my Lord spiritually when I fast regularly like this, but I admit it is a bit harder while caring for and homeschooling a child to seek the Lord in silence and with intensity and without any interruption. However, there have been times when I grabbed two bowls for our granola breakfast and the Princess reminded that today is my fasting day.

Years ago I became interested in fasting and all aspects of it. I began slowly just fasting a day for some time and building to fast for fourteen days which has been the longest one I have done so far. I think the thing that drew me into fasting years ago was mostly the physical aspects and I have come to believe the Lord knows how to coax me on to the path He has prepared for me. I have learned so much through seeking the Lord while fasting: I hear Him clearer. I have been given gifts. I have asked for signs and have been given them.

Over a year ago my husband lost his job before Christmas and was out of work for the very first time in his life. It was a scary time for us. I began fasting once a week and sometimes for a week or more after the holidays. I was fasting for two reasons, one was to eat less, which resulted in me losing nearly fifteen pounds and lowering our grocery budget, and the other was to ask the Lord to provide a job for my husband. I also asked for a sign so we would know which job should more than one become available. It was months before my sign came, but the next week he was offered a job for which he had not even applied and it was the job of which my Lord told me about when right after he was layed off.

When I fast and seek the Lord, I feel I am truly walking with Him. However, fasting is a hardship also. Fasting makes some aspects of life more difficult, as we all tend to socialize the most when eating. Because fasting is a part of my lifestyle, it does not bother me in the least for people to eat right in front of me while I am fasting, but it does seem to make some of them uncomfortable.

When I fast, I do seek the Lord for some thing I desire which only He can provide, but I also pray for healing for several people. During such prayers I feel their hurts: physical, emotional, and even spiritual. Sometimes my Lord will deliver the person immediately and others over time--It is amazing either way! I believe that this is my ministry at this time. So, while I don't wear sackcloth and ashes on the outside, I try to come before the Lord with a humble heart deserving of nothing but woe yet yearning to walk the path He has set before me.

My Lord, may my day of fasting never be something of vanity nor may it draw attention to me, but may it honor You. Thank you for answering my prayers and healing others of their hurts.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Marching On

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. -Helen Keller

It rained lightly all day long. On days like this the Princess does not mind doing lessons as much, although if given the choice she would probably go for a movie and popcorn in a heartbeat. However, today she practiced piano and even tackled her math lesson without complaint. What a blessing that was! In fact, she was rather polite all day today. She drew some, as she tends to do if we have some time between lessons or if I am busy with another task, but she seemed to be in a quiet mood most of the day.

I find rainy days the best for bread making. I suppose it is the extra moisture in the air, but my loaves always turn out just right on those days. I had put my sponge out last night, as is done with sourdough, and put the other ingredients together this morning. This time I added some whole wheat flour and kneaded it three times during the day. It should be ready to bake in about a half hour and have just enough time to cool before I turn in for the night.

After spelling lessons in the afternoon, the Princess was in a reading mood. Although she voiced a small groan when I told her to get the book The Secret Garden, like always, once she started reading it, she got into the story. It is supposedly a book at the 6.5 grade reading level and yet there are very few words that stump her and it sometimes is rather comical what she will come up with when she just takes a stabbing guess at a word that she does not yet know. When we started it, we would take turns reading. It is not a easy book to read aloud because some of the dialog is written in a Yorkshire accent, which I attempt to speak to give authenticity--the operative word being "attempt." Although the long chapters are broken up sometimes, the Princess has been reading it all on her own lately--even in her own version of a Yorkshire accent!

For dinner, I thawed the turkey stock I had frozen made from our Christmas turkey and made a nice warm turkey noodle soup. I also baked some biscuits to have with it. The extra warmth from the kitchen was just enough to take the chill out of the house and reduce the humidity at bit. Maybe that is why I actually enjoy cooking on cool, rainy days.

Presently, my husband is busy machining a part that he needs for a machine he is servicing tomorrow, so I decided to spend this time I have alone reflecting and sharing one of my typical days with you.

Thank you, Lord, for the humbling tasks you have given to me for they all are great and noble.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Representing my Lord

And He is the radiance of His glory
and the exact representation of His nature,
and upholds all things by the word of His power.
When He had made purification of sins,
He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
-Hebrews 1:3

This has been one of my favorite verses for many years. Why? If Jesus was the radiance of His Glory and exact representation of the His nature, in reference to the Father, then we, who are to strive to be like the Son, should also be the radiance of Jesus' Glory and the exact representation of Jesus' nature. It is an overpowering commitment.

How does one become the radiance of God's glory, shining out for all to see without casting a shadow? How can one possibly become the exact representation of His nature, without tainting Who He would appear to be to other people?

It would take nothing less than a complete and lasting surrendering of oneself to the Lord. There have been moments in my life that I have surrendered completely, I think, but I am quickly reminded how short-lived this heightened level of my spiritual commitment lasted. I desire to be that close to my Lord, so that I not only am a good witness for Him, but could nearly be mistaken to be Him, although this concept is overpowering and I doubt my ability to achieve it.

There is one hope, something nearly hidden in this scripture--a term not used in any other place in the scriptures that I have found that suggests to me it holds a special significance. "[He] upholds all things by the word of His power." Word of His power, not power of His word.

A "word" is a representation used in language to define something. In the first chapter of John, Christ is described as the Word, the representation of the Father. Here "word of His power" suggests there is something else that represents the Son's power. I have spent many, many hours in awe while contemplating this phrase as I still have no definitive answer. Perhaps it refers to the Holy Spirit, perhaps something else. That little phrase, for me, continues to be deliciously mystifying.

My Lord, please let me never desire anything more than to be the radiance of Your Glory and never tire of striving to be the exact representation of Your nature, no matter how far I fall short. Thank you for continually upholding all things by the Word of Your Power.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Competition Cancelled

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. -Eliza Tabor

Today the Princess was supposed to be in a competition, supposed to be. She had practiced and prepared, she was ready. Unfortunately, the Children's Talent Day lacked in planning and organization. The registration forms were finally made able online just under two weeks ago and the only two families that sent in the registration fee, other than members of the hosting church, were from my church, so I received a notice on Thursday it was cancelled. I suppose that was the responsible thing to do.

Like most everything, I have feelings on both sides of the issue. I am disappointed for the Princess because she enjoys performing so much and I had been pressing her to practice her chosen song to perfection. It was not a new piece, she had played the same song in the beginning of December for a pianothon, but it is quite a lovely song and showy to play also with her left hand crossing over the right several times. I was also looking forward to just spending time with my pastor as she drove the nearly two hour trip.

However, there is also relief. I was quite concerned about my pastor's health as she was not able to walk without assistance the last few weeks and seem to be getting worse. I was concerned about her going to the church outing scheduled the night before and then the competition the next day. It seemed like much to me knowing how tired she can get when she has these neurological flare-ups. As it is, she has been in the hospital the last few days and I probably would have needed to go alone.

Needless to say, I was not looking forward to being gone the entire day while my husband stayed home so he could pick up my consignment sale clothes that did not sell, which is now something I will be doing soon myself.

Also, it freed up our schedule so that we could go with other church members to spend two hours at an indoor play center with those huge inflatables that the children jump on and slide down, which we did last night. The Princess, of course, enjoyed herself.

Thank you for choices, my Lord. Even when disappointing things happen, help me to choose to see the best in every situation. My Lord, please bring healing to my pastor and give her family peace also.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mary and Martha

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:38-42

After the frenzy of consignment sale shopping yesterday, this morning we are indulging ourselves by getting a relaxed start on the day. The Princess arose later than usual, but then we had eaten rather late last night, so she did not fall asleep right away. I decided to mix things up this morning by starting with math and having piano practice afterward. The house was a bit chilled and, with a clouded sky, there would be no sunlight streaming through the windows to warm it, so I decided that starting a fire in the fireplace would be just enough to warm the place without using the furnace.

The Princess helped bring in wood and I began to work on the starting the fire, which was a bit more stubborn than I had hoped taking more time than I wanted. In the meantime, the Princess had gotten a few books and began reading (for the time it was taking, who could blame her, really). As the fire finally established itself and I began fretting on how much time had been wasted, I heard the Lord whispering to my heart. I turned my head and watched my daughter as she finished the second of the Bible stories she had chosen to read aloud to me.

Although it was not one of the stories my daughter read, my Lord reminded me of the story about Mary and Martha. Here I was eager to just start the day with more than half the morning gone, yet again feeling a bit anxious about how much I hoped to accomplish with lessons and with math lessons still looming, and here was my daughter choosing to spend time learning about our Lord. How precious a moment I would have missed by steamrolling over it in a rush to do the next thing!

It seems the Lord is giving me a lesson today. I am a Martha, who has been given a Mary, from whom I am to learn, while she is listening to Him.

Thank you, my Lord, for reminding me this day that you are the One who is in charge of my daughter's education. If all she learns today is what You wanted her to learn, then what is math or any other subject compared to that? She will learn all that she needs to fulfill what You have planned for her in Your time. Help me, my Lord, to trust that more.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

Happiness is the result of being too busy to be miserable. -Unknown

Last week it snowed, this weekend it is in the 70's. Yellow daffodils have been blooming everywhere for over a week. The Bradford pear trees are blooming in white. Our peach tree is filling up with pink flowers. My dog has been shedding. My daughter is wearing shorts. Tomorrow it will be 80 degrees, but Friday and Saturday the high is predicted to be the mid 50's with rain. Such is spring in Georgia. It is refreshing my spirit and uplifting my mood, even though it brings with so many things to do: gardening, yard work, cleaning up the back deck and front porch, and so forth!

Spring is nature exercising "out with the old, in with the new." As nature's wardrobe changes outside, so must my daughter's. It is time for spring consignment sales, where I get most of the clothes for the Princess. I am preparing the summer clothes she has outgrown to sell in one sale at which I will also shop along with a few others nearby. Typically, these sales are spread out on two or three different weekends, but this year the three main ones I shop are all on the same weekend, this coming weekend.

I will drop off the clothes I am selling on Wednesday afternoon, which is not a little deal because I need our one and only vehicle to do this. My husband is working in town this week, so I will need to drop him off at work and pick him up again, unless he can work from home that day. Thursday, after we return from our errands, I need to go to one sale on the way home and then go to another later that same evening. I am not sure how I will juggle picking up my husband in the midst of it all. Then there is the next day, Friday, with another sale.

I'm not done yet though. Friday night, our church has planned an outing for the children from 7 to 9 PM. I don't know if that will work for us. We may have to not do that one, because there is still more.

Saturday, my pastor and I will be taking our children to a competition sponsored by the district of our church. We will most likely be gone the entire day. The Princess has been entered to compete in piano and art, so not only do we need to spend extra time practicing at the piano throughout the week, but we need to work on a masterpiece.

On a week like this I really feel the pinch of having only one vehicle, but really it is rare for me to need it more than one day a week. I believe the Lord as provided what we really need, although I think I could use just a bit less anxiety when I think about all of it.

Lord, help me to continually be content with what You have provided and never tire of striving to be a better steward with the money and time you have given to us....and the Princess would like us to find some nice dresses at the sales, if You would provide those too.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

From Men to Monkeys

We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the internet, we know this is not true." -Professor Robert Silensky

I laughed out loud when I came across this quote. What a wonderful illustration for an argument against evolution!

Now, I don't argue about the actual mechanics of how the Lord formed the universe with other people who choose to believe differently than I do. It is a futile argument because both are based on beliefs that cannot be proven without a doubt. I simply believe that God is God and He can do it any way He desires. He could have done it in an instant. He could have done it in six days being the Ultimate Artisan with the smallest elements of matter at His command. With His patience, He could have taken thousands of years, since He was His only time keeper. I don't think that when I pass on to heaven and find out He did any other way than what I had believed that I will be disappointed.

I love science, but in this case, it tends to theorize on bits of the evidence and fit them into a model devoid of God that it has already accepted, instead of looking at all the evidence because of the holes it creates in the model. Since science lacks the absolutes that would satisfy me on this matter, I have chosen to believe in a 6-Day Creation, because that is how the Lord wanted it described in His Bible and because I believe He could have done it that way.

However, the one thing that makes me cringe a bit is the idea of man evolving from primates which evolved from primordial goo...? From a few stands of protein that just happened to form somehow from the elements on a lifeless world to a body with a complex nervous system on a world full of vegetation? Only by my Lord's Hand, perhaps. Maybe it did happen just that way, but...I am more likely to believe that if any evolution is going on, it is not going in the direction we would like to think it is.




If there is anything I have learned from the nature of the world is that the only order resulting from chaos is when someone with the ability and knowledge puts chaos into order.

Lord, it seems that my life always has elements of chaos, but You give it order in ways that continually amaze me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giving Just to Give

There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life -- happiness, freedom, and peace of mind -- are always attained by giving them to someone else. -Peyton Conway March

Giving tangible things to others is something that is not so easy for me to do. I could blame much of my childhood, but there comes a time when one must take responsibility for oneself and I am long past that time. Oddly, my daughter is a giver of anything and everything! Perhaps the Lord planned that I should learn from her.

For every monthly meeting, the 4H Horse and Pony Club has some charity project and all of them are good ones, so yesterday in the afternoon I went to a dollar store purchasing items to make Easter baskets for a local children's home. I was thinking the 4H meeting that night would be short with all the work involved to fill the baskets. I was wrong. The meeting was longer than usual. First, there were the typical club meeting formalities, then the candidates made their campaign pleas for next month's election. Once those were done, it was time for presentations.

These presentations are commonly done at every meeting by different children and expected of the older members. Most are short. Then there are those exceptions.... One teenager read a personal narrative, written for an English class assignment, about her injured horse's health deteriorating for a week before the decision to have her put down. It was a heart wrenching story, not at all boring, and she read it loud enough to hear her clearly. She told of her dilemma of what to do with the body of her dear friend, because the boarding facility did not do burials on the property. She found a nearby crematory for animals and decided to keep the ashes with her in a box, altogether fifty pounds. As the guest speaker, the funeral director spoke more about their cremation services for animals.

The subject at the meeting really touched me. About a month ago, I had been in Ohio staying with my aunt for my mother's funeral and her 35 year old horse went down the day before we planned to leave. This was not just any horse to me. I learned what little I know about horses the two years I lived with my aunt's family and he was special to me. I believe I was the first one to lay over his back as he was gently broke in. So, it was both a relief knowing he was no longer suffering and saddening that he passed on naturally during the night before we left that day. The frozen ground made the idea of burying him nearly unthinkable, but a neighboring farmer had the right equipment and the horse was buried the next day, thankfully. (They have such a wonderful neighbor; he plowed their long driveway nearly every day as the snow drifted over it while we were there.)

Back to the 4H Meeting, the club is a large group with over fifty members. Although not all of them where there, nearly one hundred baskets sat in preparation for accepting treats and toys and gifts. The meeting was longer than normal, but it did come to its end. Then the frenzy began! It was not organized in the most efficient way, but the baskets were filled and then wrapped in cellophane bags. My Princess went through the line four times with all the enthusiasm of a child waiting in line at an amusement park. It was encouraging to see how joyfully willing all the 4H children were to work and help.

Giving just to give. It did bring joy to my heart for the few dollars I spent to give to children I will not even know.


Thank you, my Lord, for giving to us so that we may give to others and for the desire to do so.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Footprints in the Snow

The future lies before you, like paths of pure white snow.
Be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.
~Unknown

During morning church service on Sunday, it began snowing. It is not common event in Georgia to see nature's soft, white blanket covering all and recording our steps, even if only for a brief time.

How brief is our time in this life. I have been feeling that so much lately.

How many more footprints will I have time to leave? How long will their impression last? Where will my footprints lead? Will I seek the Lord before I determine my way? Will the testament of my life be an inspiration of faith to someone else? Will I have walked a careful path for another to follow?

White, fluffy snow quietly resting on the land. There is nothing like a freshly snow-covered world, so unspoiled, so pure. It reminds me that I can start again fresh, even with all the sins I committed against my Lord, He will forgive me where I am. Like a child, I strain to again make my impressions in the snow; the first imprint tells not only the direction I take, but from where I started. Will I spoil this gift that has fallen from heaven or will my passing give its own beauty to the landscape? Will someone seek the same path or will I alone comprehend the short-lived memorial so soon to melt away?

Perhaps snow seems different to me now. I think the most vivid memory of my mother's burial, just a month ago, will always be the thick blanket of snow covering the ground in my home state. With miles of flat whiteness swept along by the winds, Ohio was bitterly cold and beautiful. I still have not sorted out all my feelings from the trip, but seeing those frozen flakes, so seldom as we do here, was a sweet memory of my Lord's grace--there will always be a snow-white blanket of forgiveness covering my sins. What a comfort that is to me.

My Lord, may I take the path You lay before me. With each step, may I seek your guidance, leaving footprints as a testament to glorify You.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Beginning in the Middle

Sanctuary

Seems I left the innocence of Eden long ago
Tempted by my heart to go it on my own
Beyond the garden
Somehow through the desert of my wanderings alone
You never let me go

I turn from You - and still You cover me
I fall so far - you find me in the deep
Anywhere I am, anywhere I am
You sanctuary me

I have felt the separation deep within my bones
Brought me to my knees crying out for hope
Beyond the garden
Somehow through my tears You heard the words I could not speak
You were there to rescue me

I turn from You - and still You cover me
I fall so far - you find me in the deep
I lose my way - you're reaching out to me
Anywhere I go
Anywhere I am, anywhere I am
You sanctuary me

Written by Michael W Smith, Mark Harris and Loren Balman
(c) 1999 Milene Music/Deer Valley Music/New Spring Publishing/Point Clear Music/Word Music/Lornytunes/ASCAP


Years ago, I discovered the Streams CD, my favorite CD. It has the works of various artists put together so well. Each song touches me as if it has soothing, healing qualities from my Lord through the music and words.

I am so thankful that my Lord will find me when my heart strays, when I wander without seeking His guidance. Yes, I have done that, too many times....Yet He has and will cover me, sanctuary me, wherever I am and so my journey continues....

Thank you for joining me. Having your company along the way is such a pleasure. Of course, this is not the beginning of the journey for me, nor is it for you. I don't know from where you began, but now that our paths have merged for this time, we can take delight in our Lord along our way...together, for as long as our Lord has provided this sweet indulgence.

I ask you, my Lord, to bless those who happen by along the journey and for your blessing on this place, my little sanctuary, where I can express the whisperings of my heart with my fellow travelers on our way home to You.