Tag Archives: faith

Gad-Zukes!

I’m amazed how I felt a little discouraged as this week began. I considered what the garden is actually producing compared to the labor we put into it six days a week. We were all feeling disappointed that we see lots of tiny, little buds, but no cucumbers in particular.

 

Even so, on her “day off” Izzy and I were out there on our knees, enjoying the cool of the morning and pulling weeds.

Imagine my surprise when she blurted out, “CUCUMBERS!”  And then, “Growing in the spaghetti squash. We’ve got cucumbers!”

Sure enough, before I could get over to shoot what to us is phenomenal, Iz had picked four nice-sized cucumbers and found more growing among the astoundingly prolific spaghetti squash. Remarkably only buds are on all the other vines down the rest of the row.

Later, as I packed bags of lettuce to share with friends at our Bible Study meeting, I thought about how the week turned around.

Firstly, I’m glad this week I’m not the only silly soul. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only human that tends to focus upon our understandings, expectations and agendas and we sometimes miss something else God may be doing.

 

For another example, last year I was disappointed that no home groups from my local church meet near our neighborhood anymore. That disappointment is now a sharp contrast to how I look forward to Friday evenings – every week.

Regardless how tired I may be, Former Neighbor Andee texts me from her new home barely ten minutes away to tell me she’s on her way, to start heading down my driveway. She knows what it takes for me to leave the cottage. I’m not proud that usually I’ve splatted against a wall by five and try to talk myself out of going – nearly every week. But every week I climb into Andee’s truck and I’m astounded at all I learn about our study topic and our friends, the people in our group.

This week more than anything else, I’m grateful for God’s eternal perspective. I appreciate the blessed assurance that He likely enjoys much of our silliness between the blessings. And He knows the cucumbers are worth the wait.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 

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Why Worry?

Naturally I’ve been reflecting upon the meaning of life this week. Not really, but I actually have been re-examining my overall expectations.

I always dreamed of life with a big family, gardens, and lots of animals on enough acreage to be self-sustaining. I come from a large, complex family, so this is no surprise.

Since my youth, life took my siblings and me through some very interesting twists and turns. For us, most changes initiated some considerable pain and confusion. We’d no sooner recover from one blow when another would strike. Mean as it sounds, those hard hits on such young humans prepared us for an unimaginable future. That seems sad. It is, but it’s also good.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NIV)

Throughout our lives God’s merciful grace has been the one consistency.

Today I am our eldest surviving sibling and my generation’s first female. That could change again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned.

During many passionate discussions throughout the years OlderBrother and I agreed that though we were impecunious, from a global perspective we have lived luxuriously.

I believe God blessed us all with astounding strength and fortitude throughout our journeys. I also believe that, like both Jacob* and Job**, He broke us enough to help us endure it all.

I’ll never forget the many times over the years I messed up and missed opportunities, simply by being stubborn. I confessed those failures and God forgot them. What’s more, He stayed right on course, kept me in line and lets me think getting here was all my idea, my doing.

Daily – okay at least weekly –  I’m overjoyed to reflect upon my favorite (and some of my most disappointing) memories – What brought me to here and now. Here may not look like all that much to some, but it’s far more than most would have predicted.

God has always used the good and the sad to keep me in check.

So why worry now?

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10, 11 (NIV)

*Genesis 32:22-31

**Job 10:8-13

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Dear John

You were my first friend, my first hero.
Until I discovered John Wayne.
Then our world grew large and mean.
You gave me music,
And then you left.
You made us learn to live without you.
We’d finally begun building a bridge.
Perhaps we’ll finish it soon.
But for now we must say farewell.

Fair winds and following seas, dear “Big Bother”*.

Daddy, Brother and me 1954

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.”**

 

My Big Brother
January 8, 1952 – April 19, 2018

 

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:54  (NIV)

*Not a typo – a joke between siblings.

**From To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time by Robert Herrick, 1591 – 1674

 

 

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Renewed

Mondays usually arrive too early for my liking and stepping into the new work week often presents more challenges than I prefer. This seems especially so as winter winds out.

Today I changed my routine and stepped outside as soon as I could pull on my boots. Gazing over the bulb bed, marveling at the changes since Friday, I envisioned the bulb roots digging in deep.

 

As I sipped my latte, I too felt a strong, sure, quiet strength settling into my soul. Life regenerated. Once again I can happily, patiently wait on spring.

 

 

 

 

“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it…” Ecclesiastes 3:14 (NIV)

 

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Visage

Enjoying life-on-a-need-to-see basis seemed simple this week – despite some challenges.

You don’t want to hear how I managed to leave my driving glasses in town last week – you’re welcome – but early today I worried I actually needed them. I had to drive for the first time all week.

We’re supposed to live by faith – right?

Being pushed outside my comfort zone was initially intimidating, but as the truck warmed up in the driveway I rationalized: I know the back roads remarkably well and in town I can play Follow the Leader like everyone else until its safe to throttle it toward home again. After a short, sincere prayer I dropped the stick into first gear, eased onto the road, slipped into second – then third. By the time I reached the highway I was so comfortable I forgot all about my glasses.

The view down the river from Canal Drive was captivating. The road was clear of other vehicles, so I stopped for a few photos hoping to share them.

Only now do I realize some mischievous gnomes bombed my crystal-clear photos with unsightly road signs and blurred them with haze.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

Be blessed friends and blog on!

“Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.” Psalm 71:18 (NLT)

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Two Joys

During the winter months, with firing up the wood stove, ashes, muddy floors and extra hours of darkness there are always additional tasks and chores waiting. I probably like a clean house a little more than is healthy, so I can easily dig myself into a rut indoors.

Still, when the calendar tells me spring is near I force myself outdoors every day, regardless of the weather.

Today my reward has been two-fold:

I found buds on the bulbs that began shooting up weeks ago – a very welcome addition of color to neutral winter shades.

Then I stopped to feel the sunshine warm me deeply. This is huge for me – normally I can quickly feel anxious being still – especially in the yards.

But over the winter God daily urged me to rest and let Him do His job (running the universe). As the sun rose over the treetops illuming the bulb bed the words from our predawn time together resounded through my soul:

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11, 12 (NLT)

After a while I skipped down the driveway singing aloud. No first responders were involved.

Be blessed and pray it forward!

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No-mo

Thursday this week was monumental for me.

I ignored my phone.

Believe it.

This alone is epic. I don’t actually suffer from nomophobia. I unintentionally walk out of the cottage without the phone more often than I like to admit. Doing so not only causes Brother Cole undue concern every few weeks or so, but it forces me to shop without my lists, I miss Kodak moments, and mess up my step count (but there’s an app for that).

Still, ignoring a notification is difficult for me. It’s not a mom thing. I admit its about living alone and sometimes needing to be needed – moreover remembered.

Astounding as it is, I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate my personal space. Until some weeks ago this strange aloneness took me to such extremes I looked for – and found – things to keep me busy.

There were chores – laundry (for one person), cooking, dishes (again, it’s just me), dusting, tending livestock (ahem, that aren’t actually mine)…  Seriously, who dusts a barn? And yet I struggled getting around to organizing, decorating or (gasp) my job!

Unsettling as this was I thought my prayer life was good – while I was actually praying. But when all my other personal needs took a back seat to anything anyone else may have wanted, any time – and there’s nobody else to blame – forget Houston, Heaven, we have a problem.

Immediately I prayed for help with this. God’s response came quickly – and actually annoyed me initially.

During my quiet time early on Thursday the phone sounded repeatedly. I assumed Cole was in a mood – it happens. We have an understanding – when he actually needs me he can call.

Hard as it was, I ignored the phone.

Later I found that not only the earth still turned without my help, but the text was actually DearFriend sharing Scripture God put on her heart for me.

The breakthrough? I realize I must choose to constantly make my relationship with God my highest priority. As I practice doing this, I get to see myself the way Jesus sees me – beloved. No matter what else. And I adore Him right back.

Ridiculous as it is, after trying to run the universe for the first part of my life, this relax-and-let-God-be-God thing is still a challenge. Still, after diligent practice, on Thursday DearFriend helped confirm I am beginning to grasp the handle on it.

So, occasionally pity parties leave me feeling slightly disappointed that I wound up living alone. Fact: God is always with me – even when I try to ignore Him, run or hide from Him. And He always graciously reminds me, this story’s far from over.

I am God’s beloved. That’s enough today.

“Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

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Our Place

Over a particularly fast-paced phase of my life, for my boys and me every facet was remarkably intense.

How I remember my boys and me on most school/work day mornings.

I gave my life to Jesus at the peak of that tiger-woman, super-ambitious, take-no-prisoners season. I did so realizing I would have to read the Bible and learn everything to know about God. I had no idea when I’d find time, but I believed I could do it. I had no idea I could actually know Him.

I remember doing my best to make a place for prayer wherever I happened to be. At first whenever all my wheels completely stopped moving, I’d close my eyes and focus my thoughts on Jesus for whatever moments we could steal – traffic signals, school pick-up zones… That worked for me.

Until it didn’t.

Jobs, kids, and more responsibilities than one working, single mom should bear made my prayer-on-the-run kind of belief system seem necessary. Soon the church became a second home. I took on yet another job in the church office. I began understanding some Scriptures and became more religious than I never imagined I would ever be. I soaked it all up like a sponge.

Essentially, I blended in to Church World. Though I felt as tired and worn as ever, people told me Jesus was doing something amazing in me. Secretly I had no idea what.

In reality I was broken, the pieces had begun falling apart. Soon I couldn’t find my mental prayer places anymore.

God changed my circumstances. My mind and my spirit began healing, but not before a heart attack forced me to either stop running or stop living. I laid down and gave God all the pieces of my heart.

As I recuperated I came to appreciate making a designated place to pray, be quiet and listen for God. At times that was a corner of a closet or a chair next to a window in the garage. Wherever it was that place became my sanctuary.

Eventually my boys accepted the new me wasn’t going away. They became comfortable with my occasional pauses, my long talks to God deep in the nights and my occasional far-away gaze (imagining the happy, carefree world I kept hearing about). Before long they stopped wondering about my new, mostly quiet demeanor and eventually they too would visit my prayer place.

The boys made homes and families of their own long ago. And that prayer place now takes up my entire home. It’s Our Place – mine and God’s where everyone’s welcome.

Are you feeling shattered? Is your life too intense?

“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Ephesians 3:15 – 17 (NLT)

 

Tiger image courtesy Imgaram

Breaking woman image courtesy Pixabay

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Acceptance

I love it when You take over my mind as I wake.
Sincerely.

And usually I love Your perfect timing, especially with the extraordinary things You bring to my mind.
Seriously.

You consistently guide me toward peace in the madness. And You let me think its all my doing. You lead me to build and cross bridges I could never do alone. Your peace reigns freely in my otherwise nonsensical world.

You are marvelous.

And yet, to be honest I was angry and upset most of yesterday. I got used to Scout popping in after his “property inspection” every morning. All summer through late autumn I enjoyed his visits. Come winter, I liked opening the door to find him waiting to be let in, and how his circling through the cottage and then leaving again became welcome recesses.

You are Faithful.

Of course You know, me constantly missing Seagh had subsided. Then yesterday I remembered how every day he’d open the slider bringing Scout in the main house for his early morning nap. I cried and then laughed at how that routine – scant minutes after I’d finished cleaning the floors from the night before – annoyed me back then.

You are patient.

Now that I think of it that was all You, gently reminding me I’m actually not the boss of me, to take a break.

You are gracious.

And now that we’re talking about it – okay, now that I’m venting at You – I realize that was also You yesterday:

The storm broke just long enough for the sun to irradiate the landscape. In that breath before twilight my body seemed to become weightless – an answer to other post-holiday prayers, by the way – and I was transported almost into the blinding light, but stopped short of it.
All in a single, timeless heartbeat Seagh was walking with extraordinary ease away from me, just out of my reach. Scout trotted along at his side, tail wagging, ears up, lips stretched back and tongue dangling in happy anticipation. They were like two stark silhouettes against the brilliance and yet I saw their every detail. I wanted to walk with them, but without stopping Seagh turned to face me, one flat hand raised to his waist indicating I should stop. Walking backward he lifted his head in an upward nod. In our wordless manner I understood him, “I got this.” I raised my arm to wave an acknowledgement, but couldn’t move it any more.
Then he turned around again as Scout too did a full spin. I could feel their delightfully pain-free exhilaration. In that same instant they walked away together as their forms vignetted into the glorious light and then disappeared again.

 
You are indescribable.

I trust You understand my sob and those tears. I completely appreciate You giving us that wonderfully unexpected, but final goodbye. I understood instantly that I won’t see them again until heaven. And in that same instant Your amazing peace returned to me.

You are gentle.

So now I see how You consistently layer all the loss and heartaches throughout my life with immeasurable joy. I get it; the harder the hit, the greater the glory. Looking back at my tantrum over the previous day, I’m humbled – yet again embarrassed.

I am loved.

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
Romans 8:18 (NLT)

Feature Image by permission, (c) 2018 Julie Wetherby not for duplication without written permission.

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Uncontainable

Best wishes to all for a warm, happy and prosperous New Year!

“… If I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it!”

Jeremiah 20:9 (NLT)

 

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