Sunday, May 29, 2016

His name is Love

Yesterday I stood beside a bride as she gave her vows. She has lived her whole life as a sacrifice, and every decision of hers in her wedding plans has been for the love of all the ones she holds dear. She said it was for him or for her and it was for her marriage and her husband and for her brother that she did this or that. The whole day was richly blessed and beautiful. She wanted me to share that day with her. The warmth of that will stay with me forever. The honor to stand with her, my friend, on her special day, has given me strength. Such people come into our lives because of God who is the master guide and captain of our ships. He places some one there beside you to lift you and strengthen you in just the time you need it. He cares about the details and knows with intimacy our individual needs. He is the creator of all things and his name is Love.

Leaning on the Wall

Sunday and I stayed in bed and did not go to Church. I’m on my second cup of coffee. Church is starting and I am not there. I am trying to figure out how I feel. I feel weak. As though I lost. It’s over and I did not do anything. Yet I lost. That feeling of loss overwhelms me. It takes my breath and makes it small, shallow. It has taken the vim and the vinegar away from me. I do not hurt. I just am not.

I dress as if there is leisure only to be had. In a shirt too large though last time I tried it it was too small. So I put it on and I am tiny in it. I consider taking it off because it is now too big. But it is a lovely shirt. Covered in little pink flowers all shades of pink, surrounded by olive green stems and little leaves on a black background. I put on my dark blue jean capris. They are brand new, size 12 and fit me perfectly. I love them and that they are a size 12 and fit me like this.

I woke at 10 because Mark took care of everything for me. He did my morning chores and then he left. He wanted to let me sleep in. I feel the cliff of tears beside me but I don’t step over there for fear of falling. Yet I know how close they are. They are not the tears of shame because if they were I would willingly fall off and cry it out and let my Lord rescue me and place me on new solid beautiful ground. I would do that if they were. But they are the tears of loss. To fall over that cliff again would be to undo all the progress I’ve made. It would mean learning to walk again. So this year on this my greatest day of sorrow I must not step over the cliff of tears. Close it is but I walk straight. I keep my chin straight up and high and I feel the tears and acknowledge them.  I have learned to lean the other way on the wall you cannot see, but I can feel. On the arms that carry me through from day to day. Against the shoulder which is strong and sure and on which I can lay my head to rest. I feel the weakness surround me and as it grows thick again I lean further towards that arm of strength and depend on it’s mercy for this day. I feel a loneliness that rises from who I am and from where I’ve come. It is in my muscles and my bones. It is a loneliness that has led me to that one who strengthens me, who holds me up from day to day, who is in my heart and who’s blood mingles with mine in sorrow and in joy.  On that wall I lean.

A lifting of your chin

When someone dies,
they are right there near you in another dimension. 
You can't see them or feel them.
But when you feel a little courage and a lifting of your chin,
that is them with their finger,
lifting your chin which was drooping.
Whispering into your ear.
Giving you a good idea.
Giving you courage to go on.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


It’s Wednesday. What’s different about Wednesdays is that we get milk. We go to the farm for our milk. We take our glass bottles back and get new milk in clean glass bottles. It is a good experience. That is what is different about Wednesdays. I am thankful for the milk it is a blessing to have milk fresh from the cow. Not very many farmers offer it and it is against the law to sell it. The only way you can get it is if you invest in the farm.

I am going to learn to be more specific about my blessings. Blessings are those things that are in my life that are a help and benefit to us. The good things. We all have negative things but sometimes the negative are really only very small compared to the amount of blessings yet we tend to focus on the negative so that it seems incredibly huge.

God wants us to look at all the good around us. The reason he did mighty things for the Hebrews in the early years of their existence was so that they could remember how good He is, and how much He loves them, when they came into hardships again. We all have hardships. No one is exempt from them, some have more hardships than others, yet the blessings we have always outweigh the hardships if we would only open our eyes and take the time to look. 

 It can be helpful to list the blessings and write them down. It’s when I decide to do that that I realize how little I have noticed, and how hard it is to think beyond the same few things. It is like the saying goes, ‘You don’t know how good you have it until it’s been taken away from you.’ Still we don’t know how good we have it. Really. All around me is beauty, little pieces of beauty, big pieces of beauty.

Timothy said, “with food and clothing let us be content.”  1 Timothy 6:8.  That really breaks it down. Sometimes we want more than that and rightly so. When my daughter was in hospice and I went to live her last few days there with her, I didn’t care much about the clothing or the food. All I wanted to do was stop this train from wrecking. I just wanted to wake up and it was only a very long nightmare. Even then, I was surrounded by blessings. People coming from everywhere, even from other countries to bless her last moments, sing to her and kiss her. A restaurant came and cooked a meal for her there at the hospice. Served the meal as though for a queen with fine china and beautiful glasses. Flowers filled her room and people had to be managed to give everyone a chance to see her. She was so happy she barely knew she was dying, though she was in a lot of pain. She praised God constantly. Others came with money and gifts to help make us comfortable. Her boss for whom she had worked only a short time made sure that she was covered financially and helped to meet her spiritual needs as well. So even in the deepest of hardships we found many blessings, like ointment on a wound. Like salve on tired, dry skin, we were blessed beyond our expectations. And yet I still feel stingy when attempting to name the blessings of my ordinary life. As though such a thing would be a waste of time. As though it doesn’t need to be confirmed.

Recently, the pastor delivered a sermon about the power in a name. He explained how giving something a name gives it a new dimension and power. Take cancer for example. Once our unwellness is given the name ‘cancer’ it begins to take on a new meaning for us and it changes the way we relate to everything around us. In this way I want to name my blessings and take the time to give them meaning to my life and power to fill me with joy and awe. There is power in a word, in a name. I want to spend the rest of my days naming the blessings around me. Giving them power to change my view.
Thank you for reading this. I hope that you too can see the many, many blessings around you. If you care to, name a blessing, and leave it in the comments. That can help someone else to recognize the blessings in their life as well.
One of my daughters favorite songs was, “the Blessings” by Alabama.
To read the lyrics and listen, click on this link.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Power of Words - A Manifesto

My husband says it is really quite easy. He says that I think we should all be happy and eat real food. But this needs to be longer. It needs to be 500 words.

I am a doer. I don’t just think that we should eat real food, I make sure that we do. I plant a garden and buy a greenhouse, chickens and garden equipment. I plant herbs and buy a dehydrator. The house is filled with canning jars. We go to farms to source some of our food and speak with farmers. I am dedicated to this. Why? Because putting our nourishment into the hands of a few corporations who have no interest in our health is a dangerous thing to do. I’m taking responsibility for our nourishment and the consequent health of my family. I call it ‘living outside the box’.

I also feel a responsibility to nurture the gifts which have been placed inside of us by God who lives inside all creation. We all have gifts. I am tempted to bury my gifts, because I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of confrontation. My journals and drawings stayed hidden for years in a closet, while I waited for the perfect time to begin to use my gifts. I will never be truly happy that way. The perfect time is not later but now. I was made to let my light shine. One day I dug out all my past works and began to go through them and admire them. I knew by the way giving myself the allowance and permission to enjoy my gifts made me feel, that my life would change.

Gifts will not grow and expand and be any use to anyone unless they are used and developed. Who told the great people of the past to do the things they did? Even today, people rise up to make a difference. They do what they must do to share the gifts they have been given. To help the needs they see. Lifting a burden, easing a load. Bringing joy to despair. Courage to fear and doubt. Beauty for inspiration. They do not wait for permission or acceptance. I’m encouraging you to use your gifts and to do the hard things. Read and share what others are doing and how they are growing in the use of their gifts. Find resources and (free) lessons on the internet. Share. Encourage each other. Gradually, confidence will come. Skill will form through practice, patience and diligence. Do the hard thing.

I sit in the dirt for hours on a sunny day pulling out weeds. I get up a couple of hours earlier than the sun each day, to write, pray and read. I keep my brushes wet and my inks ready, learning illustration. Doing whatever is needed to develop the gifts already given, because the world needs us. The world needs more beauty. The world needs what we have to give. No one is coming along to give me the opportunity. We have to make opportunity happen. My work is about people doing things, using words carefully chosen, taking initiative, overcoming, and integrity. 

I don’t know where my gifts will take me, or which direction they will go. Will I write many books or just the one?   Will I be a children’s book author and illustrator, with books coming out every year or will I just have the one?  Will I help others succeed?   Will I through my gifts make someone’s life better in some way?   I don’t know, but I believe in the power of words.   Spoken, written, thought.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mining My Muse

     I didn’t get straight to writing today because I did the big ‘no-no’ and went straight to face-book. It is a big mistake to do that because I only have so much time and no more but it was great and now it is time to go do the chores and I don’t even have a hundred words written down. I will write, but it is never the same and my muse will think I am supposed to be writing later in the morning than earlier.
     I was getting up at six and writing but now I am getting up closer to seven and reading first and praying and then writing which would have been ok if I had not checked face-book first. On one note, it does feel a little bit good to have been somewhat bad. Though my badness will only hurt my writing career. It isn’t really a career but a passion.
     My writing passion needs to be a discipline just like reading the Bible first in the morning is becoming a discipline. Disciplines grow if adhered to and they tend to spill over into the rest of the day. But if you fudge on the discipline it could fail and become a whimsy. Something you do ‘when’ you feel like it and then eventually, ‘if’ you feel like it. Your life soon becomes a whimsy life which sounds romantic and all but it is really hard to get anything of any size and value accomplished in that fashion. You are relying on feelings and they may not appear and what will happen is; you will begin to manifest symptoms of a victim life. Your gift will be stifled by circumstances and not set free by discipline.
     It seems as though discipline would be more binding but it just depends on what you want to accomplish. If you don’t really want to accomplish anything then whimsy will work for you. But if you have a desire to accomplish something requiring skill and commitment then you will need discipline to get it done. Your writing will only grow in skill by regular use. You will meet with your muse at certain times and in certain manners. It will be a time and a place where you tap into the fountain of ideas, the flood of story, of talent that you alone have.
     You can not expect to be more if you are not more or you are not willing to do more or be more. You can dabble in dibbles and dobbles but you will be a dabbler. True accomplishment comes from commitment, consistency and drive, skill comes from practice and time. Getting out of bed earlier and meeting your keyboard early and giving it all you’ve got before the day starts calling you. My day is calling me now because the sun is rising and the livestock are eager to live this day to the fullest. To be let out of their coops and pens and to race to be the first one to get to the best spot for scratching and pecking. Am I so eager each day to be let out of bed to get to the best spot for mining my muse?