Tag Archives: love
“Everywhere — from east to west — praise the name of the Lord. For the Lord is high above the nations; his glory is higher than the heavens.”
Psalm 113:3,4 (NLT)
I wept because he died,
and the Spirit asked me,
“What if he’d never lived?”
1957 – 2014
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5 (NLT)
One of the first new terms I learned here in the Northwest was “stove up”. I soon realized folks weren’t talking about heat or cooking. They referred to feeling puny or broken.
Like me much of last winter for example. God kept me safe from hurt and harm this fall. But by this time last year I’d injured my right arm chopping wood. Soon I’d fallen and broken my tail bone and many mornings I woke with my bones aching over the exceptionally long, remarkably cold, and unusually wet winter. A few times I’d felt beyond stove up, I felt ’bout stove in.
As I light the first fire of the year in the wood stove I reflect on the past year fondly. I thank God for my rustic life (a dream come true), for my dear Brother Cole and friends and all I’ve learned from them. Celebrating this life, reciting the lessons from the past year helps ease the longing for hugs, humor and hanging out with Seagh, my offspring, my darling Opal and my long-distance siblings.
What do you celebrate this week?
“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”
Phil 4:19, 20 (NLT)
Header, fire and candle images courtesy of Pixabay.com
I take nutrition seriously. In grade school I noticed the whole world ran better and life made more sense when I ate breakfast. Now that my body has experienced the force of gravity for longer than I want to admit, nutrition is even more important to me.
Being “smarter than the average bear,” you’d think I would have had nutrition down by my mid-thirties. Instead, prolonged periods without sufficient rest, too little quiet time and an inadequate diet led me to heart failure. I’d been boosting my performance with hours of overtime, rigorous strength training, and
substances additional supplements, but my soul was starving. I thank God daily for giving me the chances to change and for leading me in the right directions.
Three decades later, with a declining metabolism and well-abused joints, finding the right balance between fuel and burning calories remain a top priority. To ensure I’m running at peak performance – okay – and to avoid ever experiencing a black-out again I’m careful to 1) hydrate 2) eat 3) exercise daily and 4) take supplements.
Even with careful attention to my diet, I discovered that my thyroid still functions quite well, but a vitamin D deficiency left me sluggish and tired. A supplement righted that within days. It seems odd that with all our scientific advancements our food alone doesn’t always provide us all our necessary nutrients, so I appreciate medicine that quickly identifies most deficiencies.
The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. As a dear friend recently told me, “All the notes I take while studying and all I hear in church don’t amount to much until I put it all into practice.”
Determination, the strictest routine, worship services, motivational speakers and affirming audios help us achieve overall good health, but they simply aren’t enough. We all need exercise and a good diet (that includes attention to what to avoid). Supplementing our natural bodies by caring for others and maintaining a strong spiritual connection with our maker is also important.
I usually provide a good example of what not to do. Doing as I do will mostly get you into trouble. God’s grace is seriously my only hope. This world is so full of shiny and sparkly stuff, I often forget He is always with me. But almost as often I quickly remember He is always near – usually soon enough to avoid hurt or harm.
The best supplement ever, a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being besties with God is essential to a peaceful, satisfying and harmonious life.
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 2 pet 1:5-9 NLT
For the second time in my recent history I’m delighted for having gone out of my way, when doing so made little or no sense.
I thrive on variety and spontaneity, so there likely have been many such occasions. Always pushing forward, I rarely noticed, so these two instances stand out.
I wanted to drive to the opposite side of town to attend church services with my friend, instead of staying in my neighborhood. With gas prices skyrocketing – again – and some extra expenses popping up this seemed silly. There was no special occasion, speaker or program, I simply wanted to meet my friend at the church we attended together years ago.
Still, by Thursday I made a date with Dear-Old-Friend. By then I had forgotten all about how my tomatoes weren’t ripening and the wilting pepper plants.
Had I not followed my heart:
- I would have missed people bringing their garden surplus to church. I forgot I could bless others by taking the extra fresh, homegrown, organic veggies,
- I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to drop off any of the eggs I’d brought (and almost forgot about) at Dear-Old-Friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have also stopped at the peach grove,
- I would not have had the extra fresh, wholesome food to give to a young family I met along the way – in dire need of it.
That was just this past weekend, but it brought to mind another seemingly crazier decision I made three-plus years back:
Had I not left my home for weeks to stay with my siblings, to be their housekeeper while Sister recovered from surgery:
- I would not have witnessed firsthand the importance of daily covering my family with prayer,
- My younger brother Seagh and I would not have bridged the gap that had formed over the previous years,
- Seagh and I would not have “solved the world’s problems” as we did every few days or so,
- We all would have missed the precious family time we shared for the last time, before Seagh died (four months after that visit),
- Sister would never have gotten over urging me not to come.
Ordinarily I would have resented Sister telling me not to come, rejecting my offer, and stayed home. But knowing she was overwhelmed, frightened and concerned about my situation too, I ignored that particular request.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)
Seeing more of the big picture takes practice – daily. Personally, daily Bible study and prayer helps me meet each day with solid footing and broader, clearer vision. Alright, alright; I manage to deliberately step into my days more effectively prepared about Four days out of seven. Even so, the consistent practice makes for a good way to live.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)
I want to share an astounding truth – I apologize in advance:
- It’s not flattering,
- It’s too sensitive for making fun or otherwise mocking (okay, almost too sensitive),
- You’ve heard it before – from me,
- It’s embarrassing.
The truth is, I fail.
What’s more, I fail daily.
Most of the time I don’t even realize I’ve done it again until I am on my face; dirty, often bleeding, and usually crying. Worse yet, I can be angry, hostile and ugly, as if I’d been wronged. Shocking, I know.
I hope nobody’s keeping score of how often I bolt ahead without God or checking with him – wanting to impress Him; essentially trying to earn His love.
Even if it’s happening, in all that humiliation I get to see myself as He wants me to be.
Health advisory; take a deep breath now:
… God wants me to just be – not do everything I ever knew how to do so I can fool myself into thinking I’m helping Him fix broken people in a broken world and before nightfall wind up an exhausted, painful, discouraged and often malodorous lump on (usually) the floor.
I’m sure this was not the only instance all week, but it’s the one where I spent time and energy trying to fix a pipe that wasn’t actually broken yet – while my writing awaited my undivided attention. Does anyone else do simple, sometimes ridiculous tasks trying to avoid an obstacle? I didn’t think so.
My options that morning:
- “Look there, Lord. That drop of water on that pipe could indicate a problem somewhere down the road. What do You think about that?” (I wait patiently on an answer, of course),
- “Who knows when Brother can get around to looking into this? I am so good at juggling, it won’t be any trouble at all…”
Yeah, I went with option number two. Without mentioning the drip to God or thinking twice, I reasoned, “Oh, I can fix this, Yessiree, I see where this is going, what I can do. Heh heh. C’mon God, I’ve got this…” and off I went in a completely different direction…
Annnd again, before I even realize it’s happening I’ll have left the peace of my quiet place with God prematurely. I’ll bolt out, off balance and a mess before I start. Soon, feeling the gap widening, I’ll seek relief by working harder – cleaning something. Immediate gratification is today’s most common snare. Most of the best things in life require t-i-m-e.
Once I was done being all ugly over that big mistake, God showed me what I actually did – what I routinely do when I’m not entirely right with Him. Rather than simply sharing the observation with God, I began doing His job, minding His business and neglecting mine.
God didn’t let me go through all this because it’s cheap entertainment. He allows some things to happen if only to teach me to trust Him, to lean on Him and let Him do the work. I suspect He also appreciates a good laugh. But He never wanted me to go it alone and make myself feel prematurely old and tired.
He wants me to relax, let Him use me when He wants to, but mostly to see how He works all things out.
But what really melts my butter is how God is always waiting for me with open arms every time I realize I’ve spun off course – [sigh] yet again.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
So, we all get stuck behind our noses – lost in our frame of reference, as if ours is the only possible perspective. Anyone denying they fail needs to read the Book of Romans. Go ahead. But be warned, if you’re like me you’ll want to argue Chapter 3, verse 23 before really thinking about what everyone/all means.
Frankly, I’m thankful for that grace. Instead of always falling short, God raises me up!
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23, 24 (NLT)
We’re undergoing some changes at the Ranch. Among others Brother Cole and Kendra have called it quits. Aside from the inevitable odds and ends that might remain, her relocation is about done.
I’ve done this myself a few times, so don’t ask me why I assumed I’d return to my regular routine while Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old settle into their new home – and Brother wraps his head around it all in the main house. Silly Me.
Yesterday was a landmark. It was trash collection day. Lifting the trash can lid to check for room to empty any overlooked wastebaskets, I found the curtains from the second bedroom sitting on top. Most people would probably think nothing of it. I saw a remnant of our late brother Seagh’s life.
Since Seagh vacated that room to occupy the cottage in which I now live, the bedroom had been the workout room. Now it will be Cole’s bedroom. Today, from the ever-open folding closet doors one can see seasonal clothes on one side and several guitar cases on the other. Though the guitars are actually Cole’s now, the image is the same as when Seagh’s guitars had filled the space. That and the curtains hadn’t changed.
Maybe it’s just me, but leaving the window dressings in the trash simply felt wrong. I don’t know if the curtains had actually been Seagh’s. It didn’t really matter. Still, I thought hard before reaching into the bin. I reasoned that they are pretty, still fashionable and seemed in good condition, so even if Cole actually didn’t want them somebody could use them.
Whatever the case it was getting hot and chores awaited. I dove in – no, not literally. The whole set was there; the four sheer panels, four valances, even the two matching ties.
Later on I looked more closely and found a few sizable paint drops on one of the sheer panels. Cole had painted the day before, so it made sense that he thought the set was ruined. I considered it well worth the time and effort to try removing the paint. A few hours later they looked new again.
Then for the rest of the day I wondered what I would do with them. Storage space in my cottage has been scarce for months. This morning I still hadn’t decided. I was behind on my work from all the time I spent helping out in the main house, so for the present I carefully folded the clean, fresh-smelling pieces into a clear, zip-seal case from another set of drapes.
Happy memories came flooding back as I handled each piece:
It was my first night in the main house with Roan and Seagh. I’d flown in from Chicago, and we were all exhausted early. Roan and Seagh had said goodnight and gone to bed. I was still in travel mode, hardly ready to retire or sleep yet.
About ten minutes after their doors closed I began knocking at Seagh’s bedroom door calling, “Hey! Whatcha doing? Are ya sleepin’ yet? Let’s go outside. Let’s play…” like when we were kids. After a few minutes of this incessant pounding his voice boomed from the door at the end of the hall, “I have a gun!” That’s when I realized in the dark hallway I’d been banging on my niece Opal’s bedroom door. Giggles resounded throughout the rooms, and I went outside to gaze at the starry array I hadn’t seen in years.
The next morning I intended to pounce on him to wake him (as we’ve done since we were kids), but found his room open, light pouring through the sheer panels so the olive green valances appeared beige. As I took in the immaculate space and enjoyed the sunlight filling the hallway, I was abruptly clutched around my rib cage and a loud, sudden, “Whacha doin?” startled me nearly out of my skin. There in my personal space Seagh towered over me, grinning ear to ear, clearly pleased with himself for sneaking up on me.
Then there was the time Seagh left his laundry in the dryer. Just for fun I seized the opportunity and turned all his clothes inside out, folded them neatly and set them on his bed. The next evening I went to get something from my one dresser drawer, but it didn’t slide open easily as usual. Yep, I’d been pranked. Seagh had wrapped the drawer in clear plastic wrap and placed a sticker of a snorting bull in the center of the wrapping.
It was on. Ice water over the shower door, short-sheeted beds, double-sided tape on flip-flops, reversing everything on his bathroom vanity (that really jacked him up, I was delighted), hair gel on bike seats – for days, yo… Sometimes being creative while not risking harm (or depressing messes to clean up) can be a challenge, but we rock that stuff.
On our last night before Roan and I departed for Texas, Roan, Opal and I shared an air mattress together on the living room floor. I wanted to go to sleep, but Roan and Opal were wrestling, playing keep-away with a bag of candy. About the time I was going to jump in, Seagh entered the room. Blowing a whistle, he tossed a white hand towel announcing, “Personal foul, defense. Five yard penalty!” Yeah, the night went on for much longer than was prudent.
As I write I miss my other siblings more than ever. Life happens, siblings grow older but not apart, regardless of the miles between us. Our loss hasn’t changed that.
After I finished packing the curtains with lavender and cedar flakes, memories continued to flow. I wrote the about my experience with the curtains, printed the story, placed it in the package and zipped it closed. I’ll make space for it. Perhaps someone will enjoy finding the package someday, read how it got there and better understand what an amazing family we are.
This just in: Roan now wants the curtains.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9,10 (NLT)