Saturday, June 24, 2017

Still Waters

Sharing my heart here while I'm thinking about tomorrow being a day of rest. Oh it's busy because my husband is pastor and we have responsibilities, but I look for ways to make it restful at home not just for them, but for me as well with how we 'do' our morning and in what we eat for lunch and for later. Our routine when we come home from church is to eat (simply) and then we all go our separate ways. My husband and my dad get comfortable and watch sports quietly in the living room and nap. My son reads, plays the keyboard with headphones on, watches a movie, listens to music, or rests. I go upstairs and read or rest (i.e. take a long nap!). We all look forward to this bit of solitude on Sundays. A break from the normal every-day-life. And since we don't have church services at night, we have the rest of the afternoon for downtime and quietness.

Recently, I read the book, Rhythms of Rest -Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, by Shelly Miller and I was very moved by her sharing her heart on why Sabbath-keeping is so important. Here and there, I plan to share thoughts on Sabbath and rest. I have written about it in months past and you will find the posts under the label "Sabbath Surrender".  Today I have a paragraph from her book to share on the topic of solitude and the spirit of Sabbath in the heart.

|"Solitude is a state of being, an isolation or aloneness that God uses in our lives for specific reasons. And solitude of the heart is an attitude of quietness; a state of living unguarded, confident, and stable despite circumstances. Solitude of the heart can maintain a standard of steadiness whether living in the midst of urban sprawl or hidden down a country lane. A state of inner solitude doesn't depend on the outside world, the reception of others, or circumstance, and it most often contagious to those who find anxiety and emotional upheaval the norm of life. The more we experience the work of solitude within us, we begin to identify the rested from the restless, the discontented from the contented, the broken from the whole."|

In reading this book, I'm learning the importance of 'pausing'. Of paying attention to my heart when it tells me I need to slow down. Of making specific times to be still and know. Be still and know that He is God. Be still and know that rest time is not wasted time. Be still and know that God ordained rest and
exemplified it. Be still and know when His still small voice is speaking. When life gets crowded and confusing, the times of solitude here and there help keep me focused on God. The moments give me refreshment so I can be a restful presence for my family. I am able to be a steady, confident wife, mom, daughter. When I find myself too cranky and short-tempered, I have to take a step back to see if I've taken time for restoration. Most likely not. I love Psalm 23:2b, 3:1a in this context, "He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul."

In times of solitude, God gives rest, contentment, and restores my broken self from a busy week to whole, new, and ready to face another day. I'm getting ready for 'still waters' tomorrow and I'll close with this verse that has begun to mean so much to me in the last few months, 

|"For this saith the LORD God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..."Isaiah 30:15a.|

May you find 'still waters' this weekend to restore peace, balance, and strength for the upcoming week.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

You Mustn't Quit

You Mustn't Quit

Edgar A. Guest

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, 

When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, 

When the funds are low and the debts are high

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, 

When care is pressing you down a bit, 

Rest! if you must - but never quit. 

Life is queer, with its twists and turns, 

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about

When he might have won if he'd stuck it out; 

Stick to your task, though the pace seems slow-

You may succeed with one more blow.

Success is failure turned inside out-

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt-

And you never can tell how close you are, 

It may be near when it seems afar; 

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-

It's when things seem worst that YOU MUSTN'T QUIT. 

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Monday, May 29, 2017

Such Breathless Haste

Such a fast paced world we live in and I wonder if I take enough time to enjoy the simple pleasures one by one, or if I rush to the next most interesting thing. There is so much in this world to be distracted by with technology at our fingertips at all times. With Facebook, it was always the next best recipe. Or the next interesting homemade project while forgetting about the 'irons' I already had in the fire. Breathless haste..hurrying past what is already in possession yet forgotten. I'm continuing with the photo challenge which helps in not hurrying by what is right in front of me. Here's this last week's "Week In Photos" (May 21-27): 

Sunday: Numeral 

I've been watching the clock every 4 hours the last few days. My dad just had rotor cuff surgery on his left shoulder on Friday and is taking pain medication on a schedule. It's not an inconvenience, it's an investment into someone I care about. We watch tv for awhile, we talk about the surgery, pain level, and whatever else comes to mind. The surgery went well and he is beginning the hard work of physical therapy and healing this week.  

Monday: Motion
The winds are never ceasing right now. I hear the wind chimes out back telling me it's gonna be another one of those days. 

Tuesday: Flake
Let me just say that, to me, there is nothing like slicing into homemade bread soon after it's baked. The crunch of the flaky outside, and the softness in the middle is so very gratifying...

Wednesday: Wabi-Sabi
Now, I had to look this one up. It's a Japanese term that defines a way of living with acceptance to imperfectness. It's can also be viewed as imperfect art in nature. It's simple, natural, unconventional even. Here is the center of one of my roses. No perfect lines, or curves; perfect in it's imperfection. This might actually be frame-able art.

Thursday: Relief

So far, my dad has had 2 in-home physical therapy sessions, a visit from a nurse, and a follow up visit with the surgeon who repaired the shoulder. It's a relief to know that, so far, the shoulder is healing nicely. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 --Jonathan took this photo of the sunset. It was a good day with good news from the doctor; a relief for certain.

Friday: In Passing
It was a long day of school clothes shopping today with Jonathan. He couldn't find pants in the right size at any of the stores we looked in at the mall. (Let's just say there are too many 'skinny pants' and not enough solid body frame types.) We decided to stop at the JCPenney near our house for another shot at finding some clothes that he likes. We were worn out by this time. He actually found a pair at this stop and he apparently wasn't too tired to straighten a crooked picture in passing while in the dressing room. It made me laugh. That's my Jonathan. Love that boy. 

Saturday: Homeward
Just a boy and his dog homeward bound after a nice walk in the sunset this weekend.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Reward You Get

Wednesday. Hump Day. The middle of the week. Many are just trying to make it 'til the weekend. Surviving, not thriving. I get it. But I don't want to be counting my days like that, so I've started considering words of wisdom on Wednesdays to give me something to focus on in a positive way. I had started this section "Midweek Minutes" back in February and had hoped to post each week, but you know how life goes. It has a tendency to go in different directions...which is a lesson in 'letting go' for a list maker and thriver-of-order like me. One of the studies I've done recently is about listening. Do I listen or talk more? Do I have an opinion formulated before the other person is done talking? Do I often interrupt? I'd rather not say. I will admit I need to work on a few areas. This week's inspiration came from a quote that got me thinking about my 'listening skills'. 

|"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk." -Doug Larson|

I looked up a few synonyms for 'listen': 

→ Observe, 

→ Take notice

→ Consider

→ Be on guard

→ Focus 

→ Wait

There's more involved than just hearing when it comes to listeningIt takes action, effort, discipline even. 

|"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." Proverbs 19:20-21|

This week's concept is not about just listening to others in conversation (family, friends, co-workers), but about hearing counsel and receiving (accepting, acknowledging, deferring to) instruction. When I'm given advice, how do I respond? Defensively? Most likely. I don't see an expiration date on this verse or an age limit. Wisdom is a journey, it seems, and a concept I wonder if I'll ever grasp. When I think of a lifetime of listening, hearing counsel, receiving instruction, I feel like it's a hard thing. "Practice makes progress", I've been told.  Wisdom is the reward if I remember to practice observing. Wisdom is the reward when I develop consideration. And wisdom comes when I'm faithful to focus and wait. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Even a Blade of Grass

This is the whole point of A Record of Graces..paying close attention to and appreciating what's been given. This daily photo challenge keeps me looking for the good in the day and seeing the mystery in an object, or the magnificence in simple ordinary everyday life. Here's my mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world this week: 

Sunday: Measure

This little girl was given a double measure of lollipops today and had one clutched in each hand. She'd gnaw on one for a while then lick the other for a time. This kid's got it made. 

Monday: Warmth 

These 2 just finished a semester of college. John's headed to UTEP continuing his studies in Biology in the fall while Jonathan stays at the community college taking preliminary classes. Both earned a 4.0 average. The Realist and The Dreamer, they both bring warmth and a lot of personality, not only to our family, but to their classes and to our church as well. 

Tuesday: Sincere

The Daisy- symbolic of childhood, innocence, purity. It's probably my all time favorite flower. I love their bright, simplistic, fresh, and sincere beauty. (Close up shot of daisies I have on my kitchen table.) 

Wednesday: Digit

You would think by now I'd have all these medical posters memorized as much as I read them while waiting with my dad in a doctor's office. My dad had a pre-op appointment to go over details for the upcoming rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder. I was looking at this poster today and am just amazed at the design and the Designer of the hand and how much even one digit matters. 

Thursday: Ellipse

Certainly not a word I use or think about every day, so I had to look up the definition. It's a Geometry term, but one of the synonyms for the word was, 'a rounded object'. Good enough for me since I was going to use this dish anyway tonight. This oval dish was given to me by my friend Marsha quite a few years ago. We had been traveling and staying in our home church's prophet's chamber. Marsha had cooked a nice ham dinner for us including homemade macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese was in this oval dish and she said I could have it..and the recipe. I think of her every time I cook with it. Tonight we're having 'lazy' chicken enchiladas. Instead of rolling each tortilla with chicken, I just layer tortillas, salsa, chicken, and cheese. I've used this dish for fruit cobblers, for cooking rice, for breakfast casseroles and more. 

Friday: Cusp

Here he is, the birthday boy, on the cusp of surgery. He was opening a birthday gift from my sister. I'm happy to report that surgery went well and so far, everything seems normal. We are on the 'cusp' or brink of a few months of physical therapy for his arm and also a lot of time house-bound. The therapist doesn't want my dad out too much due to susceptibility of infection setting in. 

Saturday: Budding

I'm spotting buds on my rose bushes again! 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Day's Resolutions

I like the quote in the blog title photo: "I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's". The day's resolutions..what do I resolve to do today? Or who do I strive to be? Do I resolve to look for the good in the day..even just one thing...or am I dead set on being discontent? Something to think about, for sure. Here is this week's "Record of Graces" via daily photo themes and photos (May 7-13)

Sunday: Collapse

This girl right here collapses and hides every time I turn the hose on to water the roses out back. Do you see her around the corner? She watches with wary eyes to see if I'm going to get her wet (which she despises). 

Monday: Vertical

Yellow heirloom cherry tomatoes growing up in my container garden. I love watching things grow! "A bit of earth. She wants a bit of earth. She'll plant some seeds, the seeds will grow.."-from The Secret Garden

Tuesday: Trinket

Jonathan is the King of Trinkets. He reminds me of one of the songs on The Little Mermaid, "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?"...And collections he has..books, shells, leaves, bottles, chests, letter openers, and more! One of his favorite collection of 'trinkets' is old fashioned keys. Last year, we made a nice display of them for his bedroom wall. He's always on the hunt for next interesting-looking key

Thursday: Counter

It was a long day today with waiting over 2 hours to see Dad's orthopedic doctor concerning his left shoulder. The CT scan showed a tear that needs to be surgically repaired. May 19th is the date of the surgery. We then had church (nearly an hour drive there and back), and we just knew ahead of time that we were going to be going out to eat. We went to one of our favorite places, El Taco Tote, where there is a counter full of 'fixins' - salsa, guacamole, limes, pico de gallo, go on your tortilla chips and tacos. 

Friday: Longevity 

My dad always says to invest in a cause that will out-live you. Last night at church, 11 year old Victoria gave me these: a corsage to wear on Sunday, a paper that opened up in hearts, and a sweet Mother's Day note thanking me for being her friend. She seeks me out to sing specials with her in church and always arranges it so she can sit next to me during our ladies' meetings. And I look for new songs we can learn together and am sure to save her a seat if I sit down first. Kids respond in magnificent ways when shown love and kindness. And you never know just how far a hug, a smile, an invitation to be your friend will carry someone. 

Saturday: Missing

Missing my mother who died too young. I love hearing stories of her through those who knew and loved her. In the last year, I've gone through the box of stuff I had held on to for years. 4-H notebooks, scrapbooks, old school classmates' photos. In the process of minimizing stuff over the last few years, I've realized that stuff is just stuff and that connection is through people. And while I have no memories of my own of my mother, I can keep connected to those who knew and loved her. I got rid of that box last year and most of its contents and am able to cherish who she was to so many and the love she gave me while here. The box of stuff was full of her memories, not mine, and acknowledging that made it easier to let go. Memories of her live out through family who are all eager to share her with me and who I don't get to see enough of. These shared memories have helped fill a void where missing pieces were because she was not there. I am forever grateful for the stories and memories shared every time I visit. 
(Aren't my mom and dad so cute?? I love this photo!)


Most interesting photo of the week to me wasn't even for the photo challenge. Thursday night after church, we stopped to see one of our members who hasn't been feeling well lately. I love these shots of the roses through the gate. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Much More In Our Faith

 The main Scripture text tonight in church was in Romans 8:15, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father." And another from 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 

There are 3 enemies of fear: 
→ Power (or faith)
→ Love
→ A Sound Mind

According to this article in Psychology Today, there are 5 types of fear: 

  1. Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it "fear of death." The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
  2. Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
  3. Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it's commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
  4. Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
  5. Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
It's interesting that in Romans 8:15, Paul wrote that we have not received the spirit of bondage to fear. Note he didn't say "the spirit of fear"..but that, as sons (and daughters) of God we didn't inherit the bondage to it.  He didn't stop there..Paul said we've "received the
Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father." The example used tonight was that of a child who is afraid in the darkness and calls out to his dad. His dad comes to the room with a flashlight letting the child know that he is here and everything is ok. The comparison, of course, was to God our Heavenly Father and that as children and heirs of God, we can cry out to Him when we feel the chains of fear wrap around us. 

No matter what category of fear we may suffer from, we must remember that we are equipped with the Spirit. 

• Through dark times, we can cry out in FAITH believing He will come to our rescue, and reassure us that His light can cast out the darkness.

• Through dark times, we can cry out in LOVE knowing God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son to free us from Satan's vices. 

• Through dark times, we can cry out with a SOUND MIND trusting His Word when He says He'll never leave or forsake us.

There are a lot of things in the world that can make us afraid. Fear distracts us from the truth of God's word and robs us of His purpose for our life. But, there is so much more to faith than we have discovered, I'm sure, to make us unafraid. What is our first instinct? To give in? To be bound by fear, rendering us ineffective? Or do we cry out, "Abba Father" in power (faith), in love, and with a sound mind? 

I love the quote I found posted in the blog title photo at the top: "There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid." Do we believe it?