Thoughts on a summer day

Feet planted in a little green pool painted to resemble a watermelon, I’m thankful for the cool water while sitting on a scorching hot back deck.  I silently wonder how long my feet will be safe from toddler pee or if they have already been contaminated.  Considering I just polished off a blackberry after she licked it and offered it to me, I suppose I will live.IMG-1718

The cardinal showing off his vivid red coat on the fence post looks as if he would love to join Cali in the little pool for a midday bath, but he is staying out of reach.  Smart guy because I am positive he would get more than he bargained for.

Cali, sitting in the shade of her umbrella, is oblivious to the cardinal and seemingly to the heat as well as she munches on blackberries and strawberries and repeatedly dumps water from one bucket to another while singing bits and pieces of “head, shoulders knees and toes”.

I am thankful for my day out shopping, the mani-pedi and a long lunch with two of my favorite people.  I was anxious to get home and babysit this little rascal though tonight after my errands were complete.  With Cali and her mommy living back at home, that means I am the primary baby sitter when Morgan works.  Sometimes, Nana gets a little tired.

We were empty-nesters for a couple of years and I got quite used to my free time.  Time to read or write for hours without interruption.  Time to take a long nap on a Saturday without a little munchkin banging on my door.   Yes, there are times I long for more solitude.

At these times, however, God always reminds me of my prayers to Him when we didn’t know if Cali would make it.  Those long drives to and from Miami filled with fears and tears and prayer.  The months in ICU, the surgery days, the ups and downs.

I’m reminded once again that life is a journey.  We travel through seasons with all kinds of weather.  The seasons will never cease, but we can learn to face them with His strength and grace.  He is our great Help and Comforter.

It is how we handle the journey, it’s our attitude while we walk it out, it’s our abiding in His sweet vine.  Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the next big milestone is the destination, that once that “thing” happens you will forever by happy or you will have finally made it.  There is always something (good and bad) around the corner as long as we walk this earth.  If you acknowledge this, it makes the unknowns a little less intimidating.

Take joy in moments, learn to find the lessons in the trails, look for God’s plan in the middle of your messes, be grateful and find your peace and rest in Him.

Blessings,

Lisa

Sunday morning Word – Celebrate with praise

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Celebrate Good Times.”

You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?

There are a few things that would fall in this category that I am currently praying and believing for.  When I get the good news, the first thing I will do is praise God for His abundant mercy and grace and for hearing and answering my prayer.

Secondly, I will share the news with family and friends who have been praying with me.  They have been with me through the thick and thin of things and will share the joy with me, as they have also shared the pain.

Me being a quiet, not too excitable person, there won’t be a loud, noisy celebration.  No cakes, or banners or trips to the mall to treat myself.  The things I am praying for have been watered with many tears and I’m looking forward to exchanging the bitter ones for tears of joy.

In all states of dilemma or of difficulty, prayer is an available source. The ship of prayer may sail through all temptations, doubts and fears, straight up to the throne of God; and though she may be outward bound with only griefs, and groans, and sighs, she shall return freighted with a wealth of blessings!

Charles Spurgeon

Warning signs

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As I opened up the mirrored door on my closet, I caught a glimpse of my downcast expression.  As I began to reflect on my mood at such an early morning hour, I stopped what I was doing.  At that moment, I knew one thing.  All cleaning had to cease and desist.  A navy dress in mid-air about to meet its hangar home was tossed into the heap of clothing.

I was compelled by an overwhelming desire for my knees to hit the floor and His ears to hear my heart.  I had to meet with my King and the sooner the better.

The signs are always obvious.  I have been acquainted with them for years.  My thinking turns dark, bleak and negative, or my mood plummets, or my reactions to others become sarcastic or haughty, or I may just feel somewhat hopeless about something.  There are other indicators, but these are some I recognize right away.

At this point, I can choose to obey the signs and heed the direction they are leading me or find myself lost, anxious and floundering until I backtrack to what I knew to be the right course from the outset.  This time, I do the right thing and soon find myself in my office on the floor.

Why do we sometimes ignore the signs and symptoms that our joy is being stolen, our hope is fading and our faith is weak?  I believe the biggest reason is our busyness.  We neglect to pencil in the time on our already too-full, appointment laden calendars for God.  Our most important appointment, the one that should be the springboard for all other appointments, is missing.

As God continues to deal with me about this, I know this…

When He isn’t in first place, nothing falls into place.

As I poured out my heart to Him this morning and the joy, that only He can give, flooded my soul, I was reminded once again why I set my clock early (on most mornings).  The day that is bathed in prayer while the sun still sleeps, is a day that brings with it the peace and courage to face whatever might come my way.  It’s a day faced with renewed faith and strength.  Most importantly, it’s a day where I have once again relinquished control and chose to place it in His all-knowing, ever-loving hands.

A Worthy Celebration

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Today I attended a beautiful “Celebration of Life” for a sweet lady who now resides in God’s presence.

The carefully chosen songs and words spoken were filled with love and emotion.  More than once I heard phrases like, “never an unkind word” and “found the good in all”.  It occurred to me that it wasn’t hard to understand why she was loved by many.  She obviously made many feel loved.

After the service, her family and friends reminisced over plates laden with fish and all the expected sides.  There were words of comfort spoken, tear stained cheeks, and hugs.  There was laughter as funny memories were shared and there was a feeling of family and familiarity that permeated the gathering.

Looking around, I saw faces of people who have known each other since birth or at the very least shared memories for decades.  As we shared stories and laughter, I was reminded once again that I am thankful for our small town.  Most of the people who were conversing share memories that span at least two generations.  We are like a large family, replete with the fussing and fighting and making up.  We know more about each other’s business than is convenient.  We know family histories, be they good or bad and some recollections are pristine while others are exaggerated.

One thing I have noticed though; when heartache is felt by one here, for the most part, it is felt by all.  When my family has been hit the hardest, I have found sincere words of concern, loving arms to hug and hold, warm dishes delivered to comfort and we have felt the ardent prayers for our peace.

When I was younger, I always flippantly voiced my burning desire to leave this boring, gossiping town and never come back.  As a matter of fact, my parents did decide to move, the summer after my 9th grade year.  Ironically, when the time came, I departed kicking and screaming and vowing that I would never, ever appreciate our new abode.  I spent the entire summer making sure my parents knew they had ruined my life.

As life would have it, a few years and many addresses later, I made my way back.  I understand why people say they hate it and how they get weary of the drama and gossip.  I have been there and I would encourage young ones to spread their wings and fly after their dreams.  However, if you find yourself lonely and broken, you might make your way back home again.  Yes, everyone will know your story (and might even embellish it), but many will be there to embrace and comfort you.

Today, I was inspired by the words that were spoken. We can be a kinder, gentler community that looks for the good in all.  We should never delight in another’s troubles, but in all things show love and mercy.  I’m thankful for the sense of community and am reminded that to be a part of a community you must interact.   We often find ourselves too busy to care for the wounded and the broken, or even to show up to acknowledge an accomplishment.

This dear, sweet lady may be gone, but today’s look back at her actions and interactions in the memorable life she lived have compelled me once again to re-evaluate my priorities and make sure they line up with my Father’s will.  For that, I am truly grateful.

Morning dew and joy

rain drops on hisbicus

rain drops on hisbicus

The only light she saw was the blue dot on the DVR player and a soft glow from the computer screen.  At 2:00am, it was dreadfully dark and silent except for the sound of the ceiling fan as it followed its infinite circular route.

It was time; time for prayer and quiet reflection, time to stop suppressing the angst and the pain; time to release the fear and let it all tumble out in salty cleansing tears.

She doesn’t like to cry, especially not this kind of cry; the heart-wrenching sobs that had threatened like a black and dreaded storm cloud for days now.  She likes to show herself strong, capable, and unmoved by life’s jabs and pokes and knockouts.

But deep within, she knows that to give up on self, to let go and let God is the answer.  That is when the healing can begin and joy will return.  Not the “ha-ha” playground laughter kind of joy, but the deep-down to your soul kind.  On her knees, pouring it out in sobs that are interrupted by deep gasping breaths, she lets God right things.

Then, peace ensues and a heart at rest can finally rest.   The mind stops racing, and the once elusive sleep comes quickly.

Morning breaks with a sunrise of hope and goals and motivation afresh!  Yes, joy does come in the morning.

They hurt, so we love

Teardrop on Fire

Teardrop on Fire (Photo credit: tj.blackwell)

Why can’t we see that people are hurting?  Why do some people rush to spread bad news, but don’t bother to take the time to clear up a nasty rumor?

We are all touched by pain, turmoil and tragedy, are we not?  We all suffer so how do we forget what that feels like.  How do we forget what would have made us feel better and then not offer that instead of judgment and gossip?

Please know that I am searching my own heart as I share.  I hate gossip and try to stay far from it, but don’t we all get roped in sometimes?  Aren’t we also partakers even if we just listen?  Isn’t that just as bad?  And how does that help, what does it accomplish?

When I think on the times that I have felt ravished and torn by life’s trials and troubles, I quickly remember the friends who showed up, who covered me in prayer; the ones who stood up for me and my family.  I think of those who quickly discerned that it wasn’t a time for observation and speculation, but a time to show love and concern.  They realized that it was a time to love and hold and listen.

I have been studying the book of Job, and just like everything else God does, this was divine timing, because it has been helpful to apply some of what I have learned to hurting people.  It is teaching me to be a better friend.  One who understands that there is a big picture and I can’t figure it all out and I don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes the most helpful thing I can do is to pray for them and listen.  Notice I said “listen”, not always speaking, not always thinking I have all the answers.

Most of us, by the time we have reached my age, have experienced the death of a loved one, severe illness in ourselves or others, financial difficulty or even ruin, marital discord and sometimes divorce, problems with children and grandchildren, and the list goes on and on.

God help us to remember some of those times; the way we felt, the people who cared and the things that counted.  What made us feel better, what caused a smile to tug at the corners of our mouth and what made us feel loved and warm inside?  May we remember and pay it forward.

A matter of trust

another FL sunset

another FL sunset

 

Since I work from home on a laptop all day, I try to make an effort to get outside and take a walk or work in the yard during my lunch break.

Today, as the sky threatened to open up and pour buckets on me any minute, I figured it best to stay close to home.

As I was weeding, I heard a rustle.  I thought it was just lizards (here I go again, denigrating the lizards; see yesterday’s post to understand) until I saw the familiar red hue of the male cardinal.  He wasn’t even four feet away from me, hanging out, hopping around in the shrubs.

I found myself both thrilled and somewhat amazed that he trusted me that much.  But, after all, I am out here every day.  My husband and I do keep his source of food brimming over for the continual taking.

The first time I ever saw the cardinals, they were very skittish and flew away if we got anywhere near, but with time and the proof that we care (food) and we won’t harm them, they are growing to count on the fact that they can come and go as they please.  I couldn’t be happier.

You know those people who you feel like you just can’t reach?  Their problems seem overwhelming; life has been seemingly overly difficult for them.  You want to reach out; you want to be that listening ear, to help them in some way.

Be reminded that trust takes time especially once it has been broken.   Gaining confidence takes patience.  That acquaintance may have lived through hurt you can only imagine.  What you perceive as anger and hatefulness might be a mask that hides years of pain.  Keep smiling at them.  Keep praying for them.

That teenager who lives down the street might have been burned more than once.  The surly attitude and atrocious manners might be hiding abuse.  Be gentle, and forbearing.  But also, be diligent, and persevere.  You will reach them one day.  You might be the only one who cares enough to wait quietly, with ears to listen, arms to hold and a heart that beats to give hope to others.

And a note…I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Boston and West, TX tragedies that have shook our nation.  We must pray diligently for swift justice to the perpetrator, spiritual, physical and emotional healing for all involved and hearts that are never hardened to another’s pain.

Blessings!

Change can be good

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What if we could look at things differently sometimes?

We are all on that carousel of life going round’ and round’, involved in so many different things.

What if we could stop it and step off and take a good open-minded look at some of our situations?  We’re great about observing other homes and lives and making what we think are wonderful, albeit sometimes critical observations.  What if we looked at ours from that same point of view?

Take a deep breath and look at your home, your family, your job.  Look from the outside instead of from where you are.  What are the things that are working?  What isn’t?  Could any changes be made for the better?

I find that the more time I make for prayer and reflection, to slow down, find a quiet place and think, the more likely I am to recognize or realize problems, to see the areas I need to work on, to allow my Creator to whisper solutions to me.

We have to be able to admit it when things need to change, that we aren’t always right and that we don’t always have the answers.  This is the hardest part for me, the surrender.  I have to surrender all of my earth-bound dreams and desires and goals and ambitions to the lover of my soul, the One who knows the best route for me, the One whose plans are perfect.

Sometimes I feel like a stubborn, know-it-all child who doesn’t want parental intervention.  Surely, God sees me that way at times.  As my walk progresses and my faith is strengthened, I find it easier to “let go and let God”.  I’m finding that when I do this, this life is a glorious one to live.

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