family, Living Life, Uncategorized

If Wishes Came True…

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As a majority of Americans prepare to capture a glimpse of the eclipse about to take place above our beloved country, I find mixed feelings stirring inside me.

 

I am excited about taking part in this rare occasion with my children. It brings back fond memories from my high school years, when my entire school stood on the front lawn as we experienced an eclipse. I want my kids to carry these memories with them and excitedly tell their own children about it someday.

 

And I want it to remind them of the wonders of creation, fashioned and set in motion by God’s very own hands, and I want them to feel in awe at His majesty!

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On the other hand, the more recent conflicts that have taken place in America and across the world leaves me with sadness and a feeling of helplessness. In my tiny, little niche of the world, I don’t know what else to do but to pray, make sure I am guarding my own heart from the darkness of contention and division, keep hope alive, and, if nothing else, wish.

So, if wishes really can come true, here are mine:

 

*That as the shadow of the moon completes its covering of the sun and the new light begins to peek through in beautiful rays, may it also awaken a new heart in those who, today, carry an oppression of hatred which has darkened their humanity, and our homeland.

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*That as the path of the eclipse completes its course, mankind would suddenly see clearly the destructive direction in which it is headed.

 

 

*That empathy would take precedence over coarse speech, the need to express oneself through violence, or the need to shout out in contempt at all. Instead, human beings would see one another not just with their eyes, but with their hearts. And as their brothers or sisters speak those things which weigh heavily on their souls, they would find an audience in our ears and compassion in our hearts.

 

Then, it would be the other person’s turn to share, and they, in turn, would feel heard. 

 

*That, the crest of the moon shadow which cuts away the sun’s rays, would also cut away from every human being the callous, hardened shell of hate, and reveal the vulnerable  heart of mankind. Hearts which all have the same basic needs: to be loved… to be heard… to be valued…

Faith, family, Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Detour

We had just departed from my older brother’s home in Oregon, after spending a few days visiting him and his wife. It had been a great time, as usual, but we were ready to head for home, and we were only a few hours from our destination.

 
We had borrowed my Mother-in-law’s motor home, an older, open-designed model, with a nice, comfy couch located directly behind the driver’s seat. This is where I sat as we made our way down the highway.

 

 

I brought along some journals, one of which I had been writing in periodically since the beginning of our marriage. As it often goes, there were more entries from the earlier years of our lives than the more recent ones. Included were details about our first-born daughter, Melinda. Memories of her infancy, toddler-hood, and many of her first words and such.

 
I had also started journals for my other children, Michael, who was about 11 at that time, and 1 & 1/2 year old Marty. I thought the long drive would give me a chance to jot down more cherished memories.

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We left LaPine before noon, stopping in a neighboring town to top-off the large gas tank before resuming the long drive home.

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Andy drove, of course, with Marty seated next to him, buckled into his car seat in the front passenger seat. Melinda and Michael were enjoying the ride in the bedroom, which was located at the very rear of the motor home.

 

 
Less than 10 miles from where we had stopped for fuel, as we rounded a curve in the highway, the front tire of the driver’s side blew without warning.

 
I’m thankful for the good driving skills of my husband, for he was able to keep control of the motor home, as he carefully pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder.

 
As we came to a stop, smoke was billowing up from under the driver’s seat, and into the interior of the motor home, quickly becoming thicker and darker. Andy said, “Get out!”

 
I dropped everything, yelled to Melinda and Michael to come on and grabbed my baby out of his car seat while trying to stay calm. Andy struggled for a few seconds to get the latch on the old door to come free, and Melinda said, “Open it, Dad!”

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By the time we all got out the door and began walking away from the motor home, the driver’s side was engulfed in flames. By the time we were a good safe distance away, looking back at the peril from which we had escaped, the entire motor home was an inferno.

 
The thick, black smoke smothered both lanes of the highway, with the fire so intense it literally melted the asphalt beneath it, and ignited the dry brush along the roadway.

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Kind witnesses of our distress stopped to see if we were okay, as the kids and I stood crying and in shock, watching the motor home be reduced to nothing more than the frame it was built on. The only thing that survived the blaze was a pair of cast-iron wall hooks which I had purchased at an antique store. One good Samaritan literally gave Melinda the shoes off her feet.

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We left the motor home with absolutely nothing. The irreplaceable journals, my purse, phones, baby supplies, identification. Nothing. I had packed some of our best blankets on the motor home, including the wedding-ring quilt which I had pieced, crafted, and hand-quilted myself….. It was all gone.

 

After the fire was out and all the legalities were taken care of, a local man who had extinguished the brush fire took us to his home, where he and his wife extended open arms and warm hospitality at what we had just endured. We quickly came to realize that they were fellow Christians, and he was a singing cowboy for Jesus, no less! God-sent is how we would describe them.

 

 
They drove us to a quaint, near-by town, where we waited for friends to come take us home.

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Even though we were all okay and extremely thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, the effort to process what had happened, and the numbness we felt from the traumatic events, was still with us well into the evening. In fact, all the children slept in our bedroom that night. We just needed to be together.

 

 
Sometimes, my mind plays out the other possible outcome. The more I think about it, the more frightened I get, but I remind myself that we were not alone that day.
There was one more passenger with us…Jesus.

Faith, Uncategorized

Adorned In His Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  (I am not trying to say here that we should not fix our hair, or dress nicely, etc. But I see this scripture saying that our true beauty as human beings is more than what those things may define it as, with the second part of the passage describing from where our beauty should be rooted.)

 

I was attending preschool in the small city where we lived. It was nearly summer, and my class went on a special outing to the city swimming pool.

 

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The city park had a separate, very nice kiddie pool. The large, round pool was a small child’s delight, where one could play and splash with abandon. Evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circular-shaped pool, were small fountains which sprayed water up and into the pool.
Some memories are embedded in our minds because they are marked by strong emotions, so although I was quite young, I have never forgotten this particular day.

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That day, my Mother dressed me in a red, one-piece, very plain swimsuit. I remember clearly like it was yesterday, feeling so terrible in it. Even at preschool age, I apparently had some awareness of fashion, or perhaps it was an early introduction to peer pressure, comparing my attire to that of the other girls. Either way, to that small, shy girl, it was not a good day.

 

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I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and I sat along the shallow edge of the pool that day hanging my head and crying. I didn’t want to play.
I can still see myself sitting there. I would liken it to going to the prom dressed in a plain, hand-me-down, dull, lifeless dress, while all the other girls wore beautiful, sparkly gowns. You would want to find a corner to shrink into.

 

 

That’s what I felt that day. I’m not blaming my Mom. She was a busy mother with limited resources, and I’m sure she dressed me in something we already had, and probably thought it decent and adequate. I can only speculate that my teacher must have spoken to my mother about what took place that day.

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What I can tell you is that my wise Mother put her seamstress skills to work that evening, hand-crafting a new swimsuit for me. The next day, when my preschool class went to the pool, I donned a cute, two-pieced, brightly colored swimsuit!

 

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My countenance changed, and I played and splashed, laughed and dipped along with all the other children! (This too, I remember like it was yesterday.) I was a different child. I didn’t feel like a shy girl that day!

 

 

 

What I wore that second day changed my countenance! It changed how I felt inside.
And what I felt inside, showed on the outside.

 

Oh, you know there is a life-lesson in this story, right!?

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In a secular sense, we change our outward appearance in order to change how we feel on the inside.

 

But God works differently. He begins on the inside of our being, and the inner changes manifest in our outward reflection.

 

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When we no longer keep God confined to the sidelines of our lives, but invite Him to dwell within us, becoming vulnerable and moldable, surrendering our will to His, we are changed from the inside, out.

 

When we allow God to change us on the inside, His righteousness and His goodness begins to manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and we begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.

 

 

Although His love and abiding presence brings humility to our nature, we don’t hang our heads in shame. No!
Our spirits soar, and dance, and play with delight in Him!
We no longer wear that dull, lifeless old swimsuit. We have a new suit! It is new, and colorful, and it was fashioned by our Father’s own hands!

 

 

Shake off the shame of that old suit, and raise your hands in freedom and joy and dance in your new suit!

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Colossians 3:12-14

Faith, Living Life

Come & Rest

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I offer these well-known and comforting words spoken by Jesus as He beckoned those who were weary to come and rest in Him.

Days become weary… we robotically replay daily routines until they morph into one big blur. Some days are just like that, and we feel the need to take a break and rest.

Do you ever feel the need to lean against someone and just release all that heaviness you’ve been carrying around?

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I remember, as a small child, laying against my step-dad’s chest, listening to his long, heavy breaths going in and out, while feeling his firm chest rising and lowering beneath me. Though not soft and pillow-like as a mother’s embrace, that strength and rhythm felt strong, yet soothing.

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As you become relaxed and still in quiet commune with God, feel His strength. Let His Spirit wash through your soul and sooth, as you are renewed and restored. Lay your head on the bosom of His majestic strength and feel the rhythm of His unfailing love for you.  Listen for His quiet, soothing voice saying, “Come, just rest”.

 

Here are some songs that bring me much comfort when I need to put everything else aside and just bask in who Jesus is and His love for me.

 

Enjoy

 

MercyMe- I Can Only Imagine

Kari Jobe- Be Still My Soul

Kari Jobe- Fall Afresh

Playlist Simply Worship #1

 

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Until Then Dear Friend-Yet Will I Praise 2

 

Today, I learned that my sweet friend left this earth last week, while I was out of town. I am so thankful that I was able to stop by and see her last Sunday. I knew her time here was short, and though she could not respond, I was glad to see her one last time.

 

It was this dear friend who inspired one of my writings just a few weeks ago, as seeing her firmly rooted in her faith in God inspired me so much.

 

So to honor her, I am reposting this previous entry. Perhaps you will remember it, or are reading it for the first time. Either way, may you find hope and encouragement as you read of her courage and resolve.

 

Rest in peace, my friend.

 

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Yet Will I Praise

 

 

I was visiting an older, dear friend today who recently suffered a stroke and is experiencing significant physical effects, as well as having to leave her home and she is in the middle of trying to adjust to this huge change in her circumstances.

 

She expressed her unhappiness at her situation, understandably. Who would ever plan for something like that? Who would ever wake up in the morning and think that by the end of the day, life was going to look entirely different?  Nobody, of course.

 

As several women today gathered around her to offer encouragement and prayer, even in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and unanswered whys, she firmly proclaimed her trust in the God she serves. Her body is not cooperating in the things she wants to do, but her voice is giving her Lord Jesus sacrifices of praise!

 

Being unsure or apprehensive isn’t a lack of faith. It affords an opportunity to face the circumstance, and then look up to the heavens and confirm who God says He is. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest! That’s when we lean on His strength, and we persevere and trust in His steadfastness! That’s not always easy to do!  Seeing that resolve in this dear woman is truly encouraging!

 

So all I could think of was this assuring passage in my favorite chapter in God’s Word.

 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12

 

 

My sweet friend, while in the center of this chaos, though the fight ahead is daunting and unsure, is finding strength and hope in this truth, that the God she loves will never leave her side.

 

That is the hope that every human life needs. In God, there is hope.

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PenguinPrompt-Persevere

 

family, Living Life, Uncategorized

Once Upon A Time….

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Our love story began long before we ever said “I do” .

 

Once upon a time, there was a 17-year-old young man, handsome, charming, already entering his adulthood. Already full of life experiences, living life to the full, sowing his wild oats, the good and the bad.

 

He and his family were acquaintances and friends with a nice family in the community, a young mother raising her 8 children. His siblings would hang out with the kids of this family, going to school together, going to church together.

 

This young man also knew the family, from the oldest to the youngest, a little, brown-eyed baby girl.

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He grew into a strong, hard-working man, becoming highly skilled in his trade over the course of the next several years, becoming a husband and a dad, and growing grounded in his relationship with Christ.

 

 

In the mean time, that little baby girl was growing up into a young woman in a loving family, with happy childhood days, learning what life was all about, making some mistakes along the way, and growing to love the Lord.

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As a young teenager, she prayed to the Lord about the kind of man she wanted to marry someday. He should be tall, handsome, hard-working, and most importantly, a Christian man.  He would treat her good, and be kind.

 

 
Ironically, or perhaps revelatory of the future, they both happened to attend a Halloween party when she was about 16. It just so happened that she arrived dressed as a man, and he wore a full, womanly costume, complete with a long, blue dress (generously stuffed!), dark wig, and heels. He was quite attractive, actually!

 

One of the party games was The Newlywed Game. Don’t ask me how this fit with a Halloween party, but at that time, it was quite popular and well-known.

 

Guess who was paired up as a couple? And guess who won the whole game? Yep!

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Fast forward a couple more years……

 

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She was now 18, mature, getting ready to graduate from high school, and full of anticipation and dreams about life.

 

 

 

 

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He was now 35 and single.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in town visiting his family in the early 80’s, he went to church with them one Sunday, and she, being a member of the congregation, was also there. Through their friendly conversation, she shared about some minor struggles in her life. He offered a listening ear and a friendship blossomed.

 

A drive to get a soda… good conversation… a friendly game of bowling… soon, their mutual feelings of affection grew undeniably.

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The difference in their years was a clear consideration for both of them. One evening after church, he said to her, “I sure wish you were ten years older.”, to which she replied, “I sure wish you were ten years younger.”

 

Somehow, the vast span of their ages became less significant, as their love changed the perception of time.

 

In the end, they couldn’t deny their love for one another, and as the old cliché goes, “it was meant to be”. A few months later, they were married in that same small church, surrounded by their loving families.

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This love story is my own, and that handsome young man, my husband. No one could have predicted that one day, that young man and that little girl would fall in love and merge their very different lives into one.

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Yet, now, an unbelievable 34 years later, we continue our paths together, the good times and the hard times, going through life’s changes while holding onto each other.

 

As we celebrate our 34th anniversary, I dedicate this post to my wonderful husband, my friend, the one I love.

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Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Simmer Down Mama Bear

Sometimes, I get a little stinky.

 

My attitude, that is.

 

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Sometimes, my mama-bear claws come out and I want to start growling in defense of my young one. I don’t want to use the nice words and have a heart-to-heart talk laden with honey and sweetness. I just want to roar, “Hey! That’s my baby, and knock it off!”

 

 

But, nothing good is going to come from that approach. (I tried already, to no avail.)  I know my only choice is to bite my tongue, breath and simmer down, lest I make the situation worse. You mama’s and papa’s know, when it comes to our babies, that’s not easy to do!

 

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But when the choices made by another person are beyond my own control, what other solutions are left? It leaves me angry, frustrated, and feeling helpless.

 

So, I mentally give it to my Lord, take some deep breaths, and try to, as that infamous song says, “Let it go!, Let it go!”

 

I also want my child to learn a better way to manage these situations in life, being careful not to adopt the characteristics being exhibited by this other person.

 

I don’t want to harbor bitterness or contempt in my heart. It almost literally hurts in my gut. It’s not good for me.

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So I pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

 

 

 

For I cannot change that other person, I am not responsible for their actions and stinky attitudes. But I am responsible for my own.

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So even though that circumstance has not resolved yet and I see no signs that it will be in the near future, I will pray for my child and for that person who can’t see beyond her own self at the present time.

 

 

Lord, I give this circumstance to you. I trust you.

Living Life, Uncategorized

Laugh Out LOUD

What kind of laugh do you have?

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Is it more of a little giggle? Do you suppress it, maybe covering your mouth so as not to show your grin? Maybe it escapes in little snorts, or chuckles.
Does it come out in loud, short bursts? Or does each round of laughter take you to the very end of your breath, your face turning beet red until you use up every bit of oxygen left in your lungs and you are forced to pause and breathe?
With social media now such an integral part of our communication with others, a lot of our laughter can only be expressed by using the appropriate acronyms: LOL, haha, or ROTFL! They just can’t always convey the intensity of our laughter.

 

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When my sweet granddaughter laughs, she goes all in! No holding back, letting it all out, laughing with every muscle in her face, and full of volume!
She can’t help it and she can’t contain it. She just feels it fully.
I have a niece whose laugh is so contagious, there’s no way you can witness it without being drawn into it, if for no other reason but by just watching her. Full out, mouth wide with joy and sincere delight, spreading into the very sparkle in her eyes! Ya, my family knows who I’m talking about here!

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What makes you laugh? A good comedy or comedian? Hanging out with your friends?
Whatever it may be, indulge as often as possible, for life is indeed too short and the cares and weights of it all become way too heavy.
Laughter is good, and we should do it often!

 

The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed. ~Bennett Cerf

Carry laughter with you wherever you go. ~Hugh Sidey

Uncategorized

Ode to the Good Ole Days – Repost

Though I published this post earlier today, WordPress dated it for yesterday, which put it completely out of order on the Reader feed. It’s happened before and I just don’t understand why.  I couldn’t work out another way to do it, so I’m reposting it this way.

This story is a continuation to my previous posts about my childhood days on the farm. You can find those posts in my archives. Even though these stories may seem simple and somewhat ordinary, they are still share-worthy because the memories which I hold dear from that simple, country life are important times, not only […]

via Ode to the Good Ole’ Days — A Song In My Heart

family, Home Life, Uncategorized

Ode to the Good Ole’ Days

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This story is a continuation to my previous posts about my childhood days on the farm. You can find those posts in my archives.
Even though these stories may seem simple and somewhat ordinary, they are still share-worthy because the memories which I hold dear from that simple, country life are important times, not only in my own history, but for that era in which people and communities lived and grew. Some of these small communities and rural areas are now almost unrecognizable. As housing, industry and commercialized agriculture expands, the small farm livelihood and purpose shrinks.
So, if you too experienced childhood on the farm, or even if you didn’t, I hope my stories will bring a smile to your heart as you recall your own yesterdays.

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I was about 5 years old when my Mother remarried and we moved to the outskirts of a tiny town called Buena. It was a nice little rural community in those days. It was small, but had a little convenience store, post office, a tiny public library, beauty shop, and a small elementary school within walking distance from our home.
I have always loved the house we lived in. It was less than a mile from town, and sat on about an acre or so of land. The red, 2-story home resembled a barn, with a white, covered porch expanding across the front of the house. To a small child like I was, it felt like a mansion!
I shared a large, upstairs bedroom with some of my sisters, but outside was where we had most of our fun! It was a fantastic place to play! Oh, there were so many things to do!

 

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Farm life suited us just fine. We had quite an array of animal life as well.

 

 

Mom had a beautiful, golden-brown Jersey milk cow, and we also had horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats, dogs and cats! My favorite cat was a huge, yellow-tabby tomcat, which I would pet and talk to on the back porch for hours!

 

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My Mother, being the hard-working, ambitious woman she was, put the farm to work producing an abundance of food and produce for her family. I don’t know when she ever slept, as she worked from sun up til sun down, and then some!
But I truly believe she loved every bit of it. Seeing the bounty being canned, frozen, and stored away to meet the needs of her big family must have given her peace of mind, knowing her children would be fed well.
One year, she built 2 very large, framed screens, and set them up in the front yard. After lining them with plastic wrap, she spread a thin layer of pureed fruit over them which dried into home-made fruit leather (today they are called fruit roll-ups). She also used the screens to sun-dry sliced apples and other fruit in the fresh, natural sunshine.
Frozen cherries were one of our favorite summer time snacks, as well as sweetened, frozen sliced peaches. There was also plenty of home-canned cherries, peaches and pears.
At that time, there were 7 or 8 kids still living at home, which included my stepfather’s 2 school aged children. The youngest, a girl, was only 2 months younger than me, and my Mom would often sew matching outfits for us. (See picture below)

 

One winter, the older children built a real ice igloo!

 

You can’t spend all those hours out on the farm, and not have a few battle scars.

 

For instance, my hand bears scars from the day I ran out the back door to play. The front door was open, causing the back door to firmly slam shut, quickly taking the tip of my finger off. All I remember is screaming at the sight of the blood, and my mother wrapping my hand in a towel and holding me while I was taken to the hospital, where skin was grafted from my hand in order to repair my finger.

 


It wasn’t all fun and playing, as there were plenty of chores to be done. Pulling weeds in the garden wasn’t much fun, whereas collecting the eggs and giving the pigs their stinky, mushy food was definitely more interesting to me.

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One particular evening, it was my turn to wash the dishes. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. But that night, my older sister was having a slumber party and I didn’t want to wash dishes, I wanted to hang out with my sister’s friends!

 

So I carried on to my Mother about it, whining, and fussing and complaining, and I mean, I just kept on and on in my misery!
Mom finally had enough, and she firmly said, “Oh, just go on then! I’ll do them myself!”

 

Woo-hoo! I was free! I got to go have fun, right?
No! Because then, I felt so terrible and guilty, that I started crying and crying and begging my Mom to “please let me do the dishes!”, but she wouldn’t!!

 

My poor Mother! Whatever a wit’s end is, I’m sure I drove her to it that night!

 

Of course, it wasn’t a perfect time of life, and we had our share of difficulties, tragedy and loss, but because of our foundation of love… we endured.