gratitude

No room for failure

Each morning, I spend time reading, praying, and meditating. This morning I started reading the book of Joshua in the Bible. I came across a line in verse five that resonated with me.

“I will not fail you or forsake you.”

I underlined that portion of the verse and meditated on it briefly before gathering cookies for Maggie’s classmates, my cup of coffee, car keys, and cell phone. I whisked Maggie out the door and cranked up the heat. It’s that time of year when I feel false hope about autumn coming until about 10 a.m. By noon, I’m sweating and shedding my sweater.

63910_552312649722_1189983164_nAfter dropping Maggie off at school, I returned home to a peaceful, quiet house. We live in the woods, and the sunlight strives to shine through the grove of trees on the eastern hill. The verse I selected came back to me as I stood staring at the sun.

“I will not fail you or forsake you.”

God isn’t failing or forsaking the leaves on those trees and has provided them with exactly the right amount of moisture since spring. God doesn’t fail the trees either; the only trees that fall are those ready to die, decaying at the core. I looked at the light reflecting off the dew on our grass and spider webs in the forest. He maintains the smallest bits of creation we overlook.

Of course he is not forsaking me either.

He provides me with just the right clients at the right time. Last week, one of my favorite clients notified me that this year, funding wasn’t available to hire me. My heart sank. A few hours later, a potential client called me and said he was ready to start working together. Maybe that timing was coincidental; I prefer to view it as providential. God always knows what I need when I need it, even if it’s just to confirm that He’s going before me and planning in love.

God is not failing or forsaking me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI worried off and on for a year about how my daughter would adjust to starting kindergarten. Each time these fears came to mind, I attempted to let go and trust God. Sometimes I felt relief. Other times I wasn’t sure God would come through for me, even though His track record is stellar. But of course He came through. She was placed in a classroom with the most caring, committed, and well-trained teacher I know. She’s thriving. I’ve seen huge leaps in her ability to write and communicate in just three weeks’ time. And almost every day when I pick her up from school, she yells with glee, “This was the best day EVER!”

God is not forsaking or failing my child. 

There is no space for fear when I focus on the ways God has come through for me in the past.

There is no room for fear when I focus on how God is providing for me today either.

 

gratitude

Change gonna come

*Thanks to Mary Agrusa, today’s guest contributor, for sharing this beautiful piece with everyone.*

summer_haze_by_purpledino92-d5b2qf6
Summer Haze by Purple Ino 92

This weekend I saw it. Looking out my living room window I got the distinct impression that fall had arrived. Perhaps the approaching storm played tricks with the refractions of the sun’s rays, but the world outside was glazed in a more muted, mellow glow.

Mid-July in the Deep South is vaporous, a steam bath. Humidity spikes and the air is thick and muggy. Clothes stick like second skin as I stop glistening and start sweating. The autumn hue was deceptive. One step outside and reality hit like a warm, damp wash cloth. Still – the hint was there. Fall’s on the way.

I’m cognizant of the subtle, seasonal changes in the sun’s light long before the calendar or temperature confirms my observation. In the depth of winter I’m encouraged that warmer days are in my future. When everything wilts under summer’s sweltering haze, I take heart. It won’t be long before the trees adorn themselves in shades of vibrant color, citron to deep burgundy, and stand out in brilliant contrast to the cloudless, cobalt blue sky. I enjoy spring and fall the most. I prefer their moderate climes to the penetrating cold of winter or summer’s stifling heat.

Life appears to emulate the cyclical rhythm of nature. We have new beginnings and periods of growth (spring); the out-growing and passing of the familiar and established (fall). Like winter, the cold, hard grip of loss: loved ones, jobs, health, finances and the like leave us buried. Entombed under an avalanche of adversity we wonder, “Will I ever see the light of day again?” Like the onslaught of a long, hot summer we find ourselves under intense, relentless pressure and cry, “Will someone PLEASE, turn off the heat!” Depending which season life finds me in determines how tightly I cling to it. At times I want to move in, unpack and stay forever; other times I’m running hard for the nearest exit – if I can find one.

I’m thankful that in life, just as in nature, God sends hints that change gonna come. I praise Him for those snippets of hope that remind me that this too will pass. Reinforced with fresh, clearer vision, I’m rejuvenated to continue my walk of faith, confident that He knows exactly where I’m at and He’s in control.

Outside my window the sun now blazes and the temperature matches its intensity. I’m not concerned – I’ve seen what’s coming and I’m prepared for change.

gratitude

A few of my favorite things

*Today’s post is a real breath of fresh air! Thanks to my friend Debra Dickey for sharing this piece with all of us.*

IMG_1741Ragweed and pear trees and eyes that keep itching.

Mud tracks and boot prints that get in my kitchen.

Raining and puddles that happen in spring.

These are a few of my favorite things.

 

Beetles and chiggers, mosquitoes and ants.

Raking and weeding and potting some plants.

Yard work and bug bites that come in the spring.

These are a few of my favorite things.

 

Seed pods and pollen, to always be sweeping.

Ivy that’s poison I always am keeping.

New buds and babies appearing in spring.

These are a few of my favorite things.

 

When the storms come.

When the grass grows.

When there’s work to do.

I simply remember that I am so glad.

And then I don’t feel ….. so… bad.

 

IMG_1756Well, you get the drift!  I love the newness of spring, the landscapes being filled with thickness and dimension, the smell of fresh earth as it comes to life, witnessing the bursts of flora, and the precious fauna beginnings, and humbly comprehending that the earth itself is responsible for this amazing transformation.

Wouldn’t it be tragic if that wonderment depended on us?  Praise God that He has it all under control, and the cosmos marches steadily on.  I often reflect on how fortunate we are that there is order in the universe, and the circadian structure never varies.  Can you imagine the chaos otherwise?  He assures us that we need not be concerned.

Whew!  Thank goodness.I can stop staying up nights and check that one off my ‘worry’ list!  Now if He could just do something about those pesky bugs……………..

 

gratitude

Sweet gum balls

*Thanks to my friend Debra Dickey for writing today’s post!*

008Yes, sweet gum balls.  Have you ever given them much thought?  Probably not!  I hadn’t either until my most recent inspiration, again, during my walks with my dog, Maddie. On these walks, I step through them, past them, over them, around them, and on them, the whole way.  My initial thoughts about them were not so complimentary!  Other than re-seeding, what are these stickery, round, brown balls of obstruction all over the ground, good for?  But upon a more careful examination, of my thoughts as well as the gum ball, I quickly acknowledged what a marvel of creation that stickery brown ball precisely is!  Have you ever picked one up and looked at it, I mean really given it your full attention?  It’s beautiful!  Intricately and uniquely designed, featuring details of marvelous architectural construction, unparalleled and not replicated in any other production in nature.   Amazing.

And from that humble reflection, I could not contain my awe and wonderment of the artistry, the indescribable workmanship (maybe that should be workGodship), the exquisiteness, the wonder, and the perfect uniqueness, displayed in every genesis brought forth by the hand of God in this realm we call ours.Amazing.  

Shapes, designs, colors, compositions, sizes, schematics, forms, shades, groupings – each different, each exclusive, each rare, individual, and incomparable.Who of us, even in this modern age of advanced technology, would have been able to even fathom, much less execute, the vast number of such unbelievable and intricate architectures?  From the softest blossom to the hardest bark, from the most delicate hues to the equally brilliant vibrant colors, from the sweetest fragrances and flavors to the pungent, piquant aromas, from the tiniest dewdrop and the most graceful snowflake to the resplendent mosaics worn as coats by the magnificent animal kingdom – how can it be imagined?  Even the sands are painted an unbelievable array of breathtaking colors.   Amazing.                                                                                                                                      

I am persuaded that we belong to a God who took the time to craft and robe this earthly space in which we walk in heavenly raiment, to delight our senses, lighten our journey, and refresh our spirits. And in so doing, He delights in our praise, and in His relationship with us, asks only that we place our faith and trust in Him.  Yea, also “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works, that I know very well.  . . .”  (Psalm 139:14)

And so I remind myself in my insignificance, that I too, like the artistry and architecture of nature,  am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, ‘intricately woven’, ‘knit together in perfection’, and ‘In Your book were written all the days that were formed for me, even before they existed’.  Amazing.  Amen.

 

 

gratitude

Mama DID

My mom had a rough go of it growing up. I won’t share details, because they are my mom’s to share, but trust me.

The four of us the year my parents divorced
The four of us the year my parents divorced

Despite the circumstances of her childhood, my mom chose to have four daughters, all of us about two years apart. When she found herself a single mom with four children under the age of 7, she didn’t give up or go nuts or give us away. She just kept going.

And she didn’t sit on her laurels, remaining content with never achieving any of her goals or not being able to provide for her family. She went back to college, earned her degree, and relocated our family to Arkansas after marrying my stepdad.

I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about my mom whenever the mood strikes me for a few years now. You can find them on my personal blog. The title of the series is “Mama Said.” Anyone who knows my mom knows that she has a number of infamous sayings and phrases she repeats–life slogans, if you will–regarding how to clean, how to talk, how to relate to others. How to live.

But it’s not what “Mama says” that causes me to admire her.

It’s what she does.

She perseveres through hardship. She continually grows as a child of God. She worships freely. She takes good care of her body, mind, and spirit. She forgives those who certainly do not deserve forgiveness. She goes out of her way to give to those in need. She excels in her career. She communes with nature and finds beauty in the small things.

My mom with my baby shower gift, October 2012
My mom with my baby shower gift, October 2012

I’ve noticed that in the past few years, childhood friends of mine have made comments about my mom that have surprised me.

“I still make the bunny prints out of construction paper because of your mom.”

“I started a chore chart because of your mom.”

“Your mom remembered that I would not have my own mom to tell me ‘happy Mother’s Day’ and sent a card this year.”

The young mothers who have made these comments remind me of my mom. They didn’t all have the greatest maternal role models in their homes, but they found inspiration in the way my mom cared for our family. And now, as a result, their children are receiving love, constant care, and creative discipline :).

And so is mine.

With my mom and Maggie, February 2013
With my mom and Margaret Jacqueline, February 2013

Not because of what she said to me growing up, but because of what she did, I have a huge repertoire of tricks, tools, and tips to fall back on as a mom. I don’t have doubts about how to assure my daughter that she’s beautiful, special, divinely created, and infinitely blessed. I don’t worry about my ability to make choices that will benefit her, put her well-being first, and help her grow. I have less anxiety about how to handle the ups and downs and growing pains of parenting.

I may have to Google images of rashes. I might read books on how to be a great parent and glean insights. I often talk to other young mothers facing similar issues when I need a second opinion.

But I know one thing for sure.

I know how to love.

Thank you, Mom.

Uncategorized

In the dark

*Special thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang, one of my regular guest contributors, for sharing one way to be thankful and turn a negative into a positive.*

ImageAbout four years ago, I moved from the city back to the country, pretty close to where I grew up.  Now, don’t misinterpret me, I LOVE it out there, but after having lived in town for quite a number of years, there have been a couple of considerations that I’ve had to work out.

One thing that I do miss about living in town is the distance from work.  I used to live right down the road from my job, so I could walk the dog, do household chores, and take care of numerous other tasks during my lunch hour, and by so doing, I typically had daylight left at the end of my day. Now it takes me 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, just to make the drive.  That is not so terribly dreadful; however, during the winter months, that means that I get home after dark.  Which also means that, during those few months with short daylight, I must do my outside chores and walk the dog, in the dark.

At first, I was noticeably disheartened by that. But why? The time was the same, the amount of hours left was the same, the animals didn’t mind, but it was cold and dark, and I just didn’t want to be out there any longer!  I wanted to be done – done with work, done with wearing a coat and gloves and being cold, done with my day!  So I sometimes groused.

ImageBut as usual, He began to share with me lovely presents, giving me a new and unexplored appreciation for the night, and for sure, turning my attitude around.  The first gift that He gave me I received by simply looking skyward – believe me, Montana has nothing on the view of the colossal sky filled with the vast number of stars and constellations that I get to see every night by just stepping out my door!  The feeling is overwhelming, the height, depth, and breadth of which cannot be described.  I never forget to thank Him for that beautiful panorama.  It is like being in a whole different world! 

When the weather got quite cold, the next gift He shared was the experience of walking at night when the moon is brilliant and full, in the unbelievable quiet of the country in winter, down a road that no one has yet driven on, in the snow. There’s not a sound. Your boots make crunching noises as you take each step, the moonlight glistens off the bright white of the fresh snow, and the air is so crisp and clear that you feel as though you can hear into forever.  I completely stopped noticing the cold . . . .  so hushed and surreal.

Then, later, when it began to get much warmer, I had the most inexplicable firefly light show experience that I have ever been privileged to witness!  Just out in the field, all in one place, there must have been hundreds of fireflies, just blinking, continuously and without pause- like multitudes of clear twinkle lights on a great Christmas tree.   It was magnificent!  I just stood and watched for the longest time, because they were absolutely phenomenal.  And just for me!  I will truly never forget the timely artistry of a Gift perfectly given. 

So these days, when the time ‘Falls’ back and the daylight becomes shorter, the dark does not articulate my disposition.  I no longer dread nor feel disinclined to be out at night!  I don my togs, pick up the leash, and we go for a walk.