Friday, March 27, 2015

The Grace to Change

Recently, Jonathan and I along with our friend Tonya went to the Centennial Museum and Desert Gardens here in El Paso. On display, were photos of the people of Big Bend. The display itself wasn't all that great, but there were stunning nature photos that we all appreciated. The desert isn't exactly my favorite landscape. And El Paso, TX isn't exactly a 'destination city'. I grew up in New England where we had four distinct seasons. Winter would dazzle us with her snow. Spring would be alive with growth on trees and in the ground. Summers were bright but not scorching hot. And New England in the fall was, in a word, breathtaking. Here in the desert, we have cold and windy winters, a few weeks of rain, a few mild days, then the heat is here to stay until late October. The desert can be described as:
arid, desolate, lonely, bare, waste, wild

((...Not very exciting, is it?))

Next to one of the museum display photos, I found a description of this land very

"This country in hard, and it's harsh, and you don't change it, it changes you", caught my eye. It took me a few years of living here to start to see the beauty. In my journey through the daily grace gifts, I have learned to appreciate my surroundings. I have learned that there is still beauty in the dry places. I just wasn't looking for it. I didn't want to change.  I wanted 'greener pastures', if you will. I was thinking about this last week on our way to church while going across the border. I posted this on Facebook the other day:

 " I always look at things differently when I know we have company coming. El Paso/Ju├írez is not known for being a clean town. It is not a 'destination city'. There's trash. There's sand. Lots and lots of sand. There's wind. Oh, the wind!! Some of you will remember my posts about keeping a record of graces and posting 3 specific gifts of grace a day. I began to look around a bit closer then and noticed that we actually *do* have trees here. We have the bluest skies. And the sunsets behind the mountains in back of our house? Magnificent. I notice these things more when I try to see what others would see. My friend, Kara (a cheerful soul) is coming in July. John said to me the other day when I mentioned looking at things the way Kara might see them, "She'll see a lot of brown and trash". I said, "No. She'll see the beauty of being surrounded by mountains. She'll see our sunset in all it's stunning glory. She'll see the desert and enjoy new terrain." Just knowing I have a friend like this makes me take note. I shouldn't have to have company coming to make me look for the good, though. There is beauty in the dry places. And yes, beauty in the dry places of life. We just have to be looking...even when there's no occasion."

I've noticed that I have changed. A verse comes to mind from Philippians 4:11,

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

I am learning to be content. the process of...This land, obviously, wasn't going to change for me. I had to change. I could change for the better or for the bitter. I could harden just like the land. Or I could adapt. I could learn to appreciate the short winter months. I could learn to enjoy the rain more because it is so scarce. I could learn to accept the windy season and change my plans accordingly. I could learn to acknowledge the beauty of the rugged mountains that surround us. I could learn...I could have the grace to change. 

Photos from the Desert Gardens

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

This Day

Help me this day to live a simple,  sincere, and serene life,
Repelling promptly every thought of discontent,
Anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking;
Cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the
Habit of holy silence; exercising economy of expenditure,
Generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation,
Diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust,
And a childlike faith in God.

In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of
Prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating and sleep
Which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.

And as I cannot in my own strength do this,
Nor even with a hope of success attempt it,
I look to thee, O Lord God my Father,
In Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

From Forward Day by Day

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Company of a Good Marriage

Today we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years! I'm stunned at how fast time goes by. Each night while we are 'settling in' for the night, we listen to Pandora radio of soft instrumental music or quiet Christian music. The other night, the song 'I Will Be Here' by Steven Curtis Chapman came on and it is the song that we played during our wedding. We love to listen to it. It's a great reminder that through the mountain tops and valleys of life, we have each other. There have been days when we felt the sun would not appear, when choosing to love was hard. Laughter turned to crying when we buried our second son Zachary 12 years ago. Instead of turning our grief inward, we turned to each other. We've won, we've lost, yet we worked to keep it together. The future has been unclear at times with finances, with health, with ministry. The mirror tells us we're older and some days we feel it! We've been true to the promise we made 20 years ago each other and to the One who put us together. Martin Luther penned the words, "There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage." Amen.
Happy Anniversary to us! 

I Will Be Here
Steven Curtis Chapman

Tomorrow morning if you wake up

And the sun does not appear,
I, I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love
Hold my hand and have no fear,
'Cause I, I will be here.

I will be here
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen,
And I will be here,
When the laughter turns to crying
Through the winnin', losin', and tryin',
We'll be together,
'Cause, I will be here.

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear,
I, I will be here.
As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years
So, I, I will be here.

I will be here,
You can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you,
And I will be here,
To watch you grow in beauty and
Tell you all the things you are to me,
'Cause, I will be here.

I will be true to the promise
I have made
To you and to the one who gave you to me

I, I will be here
And just as sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I, I will be here,
We'll be together,
I will be here.

March 10, 1995