Tag Archives: faith

Handiwork

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 New International Version (NIV)

Background derived from Pixabay image.

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Catchy Phrases

While I catch some rest and relaxation – and a few flights, I’ve enjoyed reading for pleasure, parlor games with the family and working crossword puzzles. Such delight!

This all brings to mind Catching Phrases from April 5, 2016:

alphabet cubes

I’ve been reflecting upon pop language, or catch phrases.

Common catch phrases today:

  • Baby daddy/baby mommy (single parents)
  • Bae (before anyone else/anything else)
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Troll (the updated, viral version of the essential stalker)
  • #hashtag (anyone not familiar… never mind)
  • Lit (very intoxicated – so, not that much has changed)

This led me to examine what’s changed over the years. I have certainly changed distinctly. For example, I grew up with such phrases as:

  • “Easy come, easy go” (not necessarily good),
  • “Do as I say, not as I do”
  • “Trust and obey”

no time fussing fighting

And a little later on:

white smokeSoon my favorite became:

  • Blowing smoke… (into a body orifice or loose clothing – usage requires a degree of discretion)

Wholly thanks to God, I continued to grow in body, mind and spirit.

Along with three new generations of humans I learned the world has more dimension than the perspectives of our early years.

For instance, what I once considered absolute truth was not necessarily factual. Over the years my interests in history and global current events turned to politics. Later I shouted less, listened more and then saw the world more clearly.

I began to recognize the collation between God and Natural Science. I began to experience true peace. That trend became my normal.

From my present perspective, aside from the draft lottery and cyber space, not that much has actually changed. People continue to be misled, confused and angry. Decades later the scars veterans bear from warfare are ever present – PTSD among other wounded warrior’s statistics steadily rise.

But now I have a new favorite expression (from Bob Goff):

“… how could God think of me as His beloved? But then I remember Jesus said to one of the guys with Him that he was a rock even though He knew this same guy would deny ever knowing Him. I don’t think Jesus was blowing sunshine at Peter when He did that. Instead, I think He was calling something out from inside Peter.” ~

 

Blowing sunshine. I love that!

God continues to be very alive, present and quite visible to those who seek Him. And He reminds me of His promises with each new sunrise.

However cleverly worded, I simply don’t have time anymore for egocentric banality, blowing smoke. With genuine hope for tomorrow now, I can focus upon truth and blow vibrant, altruistic sunshine.

Sure the world seems to be in a horrible mess. I can either obsess over the mess or I can walk in sunshine and trust that it’s all good indeed.

 

Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! Joshua 23:14 (NLT)

 

Contemporary Pop Terms courtesy The Odyssey Online.com  If they don’t fit, talk to Odyssey

~ Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff: Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. http://www.thomasnelson.com.

*I Love Lucy  Television Series 1951 – 1957, “Ricky” Desi Arnaz to “Lucy” Lucille Ball
**Originally from Mission: Impossible, Television Series circa 1966
*** Hawaii Five-0 Television Series from 1968 – Updated version in 2010 (advanced photography, but not quite as cool)

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Not Odd

While collecting cucumbers, we overlooked many odd-looking, smaller, rounder ones until they were mostly orange-yellow. Izzy and I assumed they would be unpalatable and immediately let the hens enjoy them.

Rummaging through the twisted maze of vines the following day, I targeted the rounder, ripe, green cukes. I also found a few remaining yellow-orange ones. Some were longer, more like slicers but with a twisted tip – like a fuzzy, bumpy little tail. I also picked some that had just begun to turn yellow-ish.

Once indoors I sliced one of each shape and color and arranged them on a plate for a taste test. A dirty duty, I know…

Though the yellower skins were distinctively harder, to my surprise those cukes tasted fuller, actually sweeter than the green cucumbers.

Soon the phone rang. After the lengthy conversation I was anxious to finish my project and get to work. Even so, I went a step further peeling a slice of each kind of cucumber. Then, feeling pressed for time I sat at the table and continued my Bible reading.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:2-4 (NIV)

Hmmm… Lifting my fork as I pondered I noticed that, aside from diameter and thickness, no slice or seed was distinguishable from another. They tasted, well, like cucumbers without much variance. Certain there was more, I continued perusing the sidebars:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

I chewed on this thought while putting the remaining slices in a pitcher of ice water.

Though they all looked quite different from the outside and came from separate vines, each of the plants came from the same bag of seeds. I suspect their only difference are the amounts of water and sunlight they get, some being closer to the treeline.

Yet they were all exactly the same on the inside.

What a wonderful world this is. How much better when we focus upon one anothers’ similitudes rather than our differences.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2,3 (NIV)

 

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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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