“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Winding Down

October is winding down.  Out came the warmer socks, on came the furnace and down came the leaves!  Looking out the window the other afternoon as leaf after leaf came fluttering to the ground, it was so calming.  A hot cup of tea and a blanket over my cold toes, I wondered where the time went this month.  October, where did you go?  

Three weeks have come and gone and my husband returns on Monday from weeks of ministry in Latvia, Finland and Russia.  I am looking forward to sitting down in front of a nice warm fire, hot cuppa in hand, and hearing the stories.  Of course, I will be wide awake and ready to hear....he, on the other hand, will be suffering jet-lag and wanting to sleep :)  I may give him a bit of time to recover before I begin my onslaught of questions :)  

When he left the beginning of October, we were still in the throes of sunny, warm weather.  Very unusual for this time of year. We even had one 70 degree day!  During these weeks, I put away the evidence of summer - fire pit, planters, cushions, hammock and covered up the deck furniture.  It is always sad for me to do this as I love summer and it seems I am saying good-bye to a friend I was not ready to let go of yet. Summer for us this year only began in August, so I was glad September and October brought the warm days to enjoy a bit longer. 

However, in the last ten days or so, it has turned chilly and my toes will now be cold until April :)  But I really do love these autumn months.  I am glad that when my husband returns, he will still be able to enjoy the beauty of the leaves, vibrant oranges, reds and yellows.  The rain and wind we usually are slammed with in October has held off and there is still beauty to be seen.  

October has been good to me....healthy family (colds finally over!), college students doing well, high school student counting days til Christmas break :) and snow in the mountains so he can snowboard :)....oldest son getting a new job which will be challenging, but release his creativity, and God being a Father to us when our earthly "daddy" was away.  Studying the Word with my dear friends at church has fed my thirsty soul.  And quiet days of just me at home has been refreshing.

Having a break from cooking planned meals (we eat simply when Dad is away) has been nice as well, but I am ready to dig in again as these months bring on the soups and breads which we love in these colder months.  

So as October is about to bid farewell, I am feeling refreshed, restored and ready for what is ahead.  I hope that whatever October brought to your door, you will be able to reflect on God's goodness in the midst of it. I hope your harvest was plentiful. I pray even "if the fig tree did not blossom and you found no fruit on the vine, yet YOU WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD." (Hab. 3:17-18)  

As the chilly nights turn colder and our thoughts turn towards the holidays, my prayer is we will all find our hope and peace in the One who walks through the days by our side.  I pray you will be surrounded by family and those you love.  And I pray in all things you will find Him working it together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin, Pumpkin and More Pumpkin :)

I'm experiencing one of those autumn days when you just want to relax and absorb the sights, smells and tastes of the season.  Recently, I made some purchases that have enhanced my eating experiences this month....

Oh my....this was pumpkin heaven :)

And this on a whole wheat bagel or piece of multi-grain toast....my taste buds are smiling :)

Now I wasn't only smiling, I was singing when I ate this...a sandwich marrying fig jam and prosciutto - our new favorite!!  You can find this @ www.cooktj.com

And lastly, two beverages that made the list...

On the chilly afternoon reading a great book :)

I'm not a fan of flavored ground coffees, but since I was deep in the pumpkin mode, thought I would give this a try.  Really not bad, especially when topped with a dollop of whipped cream :)  I normally don't eat or drink a lot of these type of treats...but I thought "oh well, autumn only comes once a year"  :)

I am a very happy lady since "Trader Joe's" came to our city :)

Normally, I try to keep my blog to encouraging us with God's sweet treat or bittersweet lessons we are learning.  But today, the creativity of food and drink in this beautiful season God has blessed us with, won out.  Hope you enjoy!  

(I came across this photo today and HAD to include it....it was SO PRETTY and made me anticipate another season around the corner :)

In due time....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sowing, Seeds and Sav'lanut

I've found my new favorite Psalm!  

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD had done great things for us and we were joyful.
Restore our fortunes, LORD, like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.
(Holman Christian Standard Bible)

I have always been partial to Psalm 16 and 40, and have read the above psalm hundreds of times, but for some God-ordained reason, it became very personal to me this week.  This is a psalm about the past (verses 1-3 are past tense -  obviously referring to the children of Israel coming home from captivity in Babylon).  And verses 4-6 are future...and with a promise. I never fully grasped that before.  When we sow in tears, planting seed, we will come back with shouts of joy.  Other versions of the Bible eloquently phrase this psalm so beautifully. You should check them out!

We all had seasons of our lives when we were in captivity.  Suffering, hardships, incredible sadness, and often times in the captive throes of sin. When God in His love and mercy, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, set us free, our mouths were filled with laughter and we were shouting for joy!  He has indeed been good to us!  And He proceeds to restore us and the desert of our life begins to blossom, just like in the Negev when the streams begin to flow.  Out of the dry, cracked dirt comes life - renewed and redeemed life!

And we look to the future with hope.  I became oh so aware this week of times in my life when I have sown seeds in tears for loved ones.  And I am not exaggerating when I say "with tears"!  Walking the path of intercessory and anguished prayer, pouring our my heart to God our Father on behalf of a loved one.  Never wanting to give up (Galatians 6:9-10).  Staying the course even when nothing ever seemed to change.

As I studied this psalm this week, I realized that in some of those times (not all are finished yet :), JOY did await me.  After praying for my father for 25 years for his salvation and the week before he passed away, he gave his life to the Lord!  Many other scenarios of deep and committed seed sowing prayer to see lives changed have marked my journey from Babylon.  I have taken (literally) the seed of the Word of God (the Bible) and prayed the Words over my loved ones.  And NEVER FORGET the seed sowing, Word planting, prayers into my own life to see me set free from struggles and that which tries to hold me captive in the past and present.  How many times I have had to "die" to self in order to be set free? You too?  Hopefully, I am not alone in this...   

And...after every death comes a harvest.  That is a promise!  When we, like the children of Israel, go forward weeping, sowing the seed (of prayer, God's Word, repentance, forgiveness, giving, service...), we will come back with a harvest of JOY.  The Message Bible says "So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest.  So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing."  A harvest of JOY and LAUGHTER awaits us!  But it doesn't necessarily happen overnight and not always the way we thought.  (Have you ever planted a seed or plant to have it come up or blossom totally different than what you envisioned?  Not always what we planned, or maybe even "wanted", but in God's way and timing....always GOOD and with PURPOSE.)

The Hebrew word for "patience" is sav'lanut and the same root word gives rise to words that mean to suffer (sevel) and bear burdens (sivlot).  Patience isn't always comfortable and the burdens we bear or suffer can be extremely painful. But as we discover in this journey we are on, usually the good things of value in life come at a cost or a price we are called upon to pay.  We go forth sowing seed in tears and come out at the harvest (in God's perfect timing), with JOY and LAUGHTER!

Psalm 126 finishes as a promise!  As you are sowing seeds, steadfast in your "sav'lanut", remain faithful (patience, by the way, doesn't necessary mean sitting still....you can be patient and still be sowing, aggressively in the Spirit, I might add).  And dear friend, please don't become weary, because someday in your future there is a party of JOY and LAUGHTER.  A party you will want all of your friends to be invited to! This is a PROMISE, because GOD IS GOOD!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Living Between the Times

I am into week number two of the three weeks my husband is away in Latvia, Finland and Russia.  In my last posting I gave an account of day one, and I am pleased that nothing too dramatic or harmful has befallen us since.  The days gave me an opportunity to rest up from my cold, catch up on some overdue jobs at home and enjoy the peace and quiet.  God is so in tune with us that He knows just "when" we need those moments to refresh our souls.

I am so enjoying our Bible Study we have with Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" where we are studying the Psalms of Ascent.  It is speaking volumes to my heart!  I just finished the lesson on Psalm 126, where she quotes James Limburg from his commentary "Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and a good time hoped for."  The psalmist is talking about the children of Israel returning from their seventy years in captivity in Babylon to their beloved homeland and Jerusalem.  As I thought about this concept and being "in between times or seasons" of our lives, I reflected on what I have learned from the difficult hard times of seemingly "captivity" or even just a very dry thirsty time in my life.  And being in that spot of "living between the times" looking forward to the "good time hoped for".  

*prayer (my conversation with God) has become my "right arm" - I couldn't live without it

*patience in waiting for God's timing in my life

*knowing He "works all things together for good for those who love Him"

*trusting He knows what is best for me and my loved ones (far better than I do)

*deep joy when "happiness" seems to be out of sight

*"happiness" when I lift up my eyes to the the One who is in charge of my life

*faith that came when I "heard from God" and waited on Him

*humbling myself when SELF was tired of waiting and doing it my way

*forgiveness extended and received when I moved in my own flesh instead of my His Spirit

*being set free from those insecurities and bondages that keep me from being who He created and designed me to be.....free to be ME and no one else :)

*"Wilderness 101" wasn't fun, but the spiritual survival skills I learned will be with me forever :)

I wouldn't trade the lessons I have learned over my life and those "in between times" for anything.  God has been so close.  Right now I am not in a difficult time of my life.  But I am in a "between" time, looking forward with HOPE to what He has next.....a good time hoped for.  The Message version says in verse 4 of Psalm 126 "And, now God, do it again!"  Show yourself mighty to me, my family, my friends and your Church!  

 And that is what I hope for me, and all those I love...and for you!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Days

Yesterday was "Columbus Day", no mail, no bank, but there was school...and my husband left for Latvia, Finland and Russia.  

I am trying to get rid of a not-at-all-nice cold (are they ever nice?)

My daughter and I left husband/daddy at the entrance to the terminal (per his request) and we headed for Ikea :)  We gazed, grazed and found a great set of glasses to replace the many which break on our granite counter tops :(

Text....1/2 hour late in departing.

Next text....upgraded to better (much better) seat!  Yeah!

Phone call from son after arriving home from school....very large branch down over our driveway, took out power line, which also is down over our driveway and no electricity.

Phone call to hubby who is just boarding plane....why is it I actually thought he could "rescue me" when leaving to travel thousands of miles away....it was just nice to hear his voice :)

Incredible 17-year old son who handled the "crisis" at home, calling power company and dealing with it when they arrived (he was told by his father to take care of his "momma" while big daddy was away :)  So far, so good :)

Arrived home, branch removed, power restored and friendly power men telling me a bit of further repair needs to be done, but I have power for now.

Received a bit of news that could shake my world...but for now I am trusting that when God is on our side, we will not be swallowed up (Psalm 124).    

Two kids had evening plans and I am left alone to enjoy a quiet evening reading, scented candle and warm drink.   

Quiet end to an eventful day....Day One.  More to come :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

He Is Not Sleeping

My son came home from school the other day and asked me a question.  "Mom, what is your greatest fear?"  Ouch...don't like that one!  But, I hesitantly answered "having my family suddenly taken from me in death."  That's a big one for a mom!  He responded by saying, "That's the same thing my teacher said."  I assured him that is probably very normal for a mom to say.  However, the Spirit prompted my heart at that moment and reminded me "that isn't really your greatest fear, is it?"  Turning to my son, I said "Actually, in all honesty that's not my greatest or deepest fear...or rather my deepest concern....is that my children would grow up not loving God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving their neighbors as themselves.  You loving and serving God is my deepest desire."

We are studying the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) in Bible study.

I had a dream last night.  I awoke in fear and trembling.  I couldn't attribute it to anything...not a late night snack or movie or any of the physical things you might say caused you to "dream".  In trying to shake it off and fall back asleep, I prayed for the protection of my husband and children.  Even as I sent my son off to school this morning, I was wondering "What was that all about?"  Probably protection for our children when they are out from under our care - even as they are adults and forging their own way in this world - becomes a great concern for us mothers.

As I studied Psalm 121 this morning in my devotions God brought my heart and mind back around to His perspective. Not only in my life, but also in the lives of those I care deeply about.  In simple words....and my paraphrase of Psalm 121....

I look around at this world around me, and where, Oh where, can help possibly come from?

My HELP comes from the ONE who made THIS world and IS STILL IN CONTROL OF IT!

He will not let me slip or stumble, as I trust and listen to Him.

He doesn't sleep and take His eyes off of me!

He SHELTERS me....He holds my right hand (the Amplified Bible says this is the side that does not carry a shield!)

YAHWEH, My KEEPER, protects me and keeps me from being scorched by the sun or the heat of the day.  He doesn't let me be scorched by my own misbeliefs or fears.  Nor does He let me be scorched by the human and false beliefs of this world that surrounds me.

He PROTECTS me from the harm that I don't even see...

Yesterday, TODAY and FOREVER!

While I am on this journey called life, I am so relieved that HE is not sleeping and is in control of all that comes into my life....and yours!