“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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

40 Years....

Yesterday I received a priceless gift although I did not realize it at the time.  I was given a small packet of notes from a prayer group in Canada.  These were notes taken during a time of prayer in which the people involved prayed for specific nations and needs.  My husband and I serve in missions and they included us in their prayers.  The notes were Scriptures they felt God impress upon them for us and our ministry, especially the current trip my husband is on at this very moment.  One particular page was addressed to me.  On it was written  the first four verses of Psalm 40.  Unbeknownst to the sender, this is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, highlighted and underlined many times in the various Bibles I have owned over the course of my life.  I tucked the precious note into the pages of my Bible to meditate on today.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed praying and reminiscing of all the ways God the Father has spoken to me in the past.  Reliving the circumstances and seasons of His goodness, His guidance and leading in my life. These days I have been praying and asking God for a renewed and refreshing of my relationship with Him.  The cry of my heart has been...”more of YOU and less of me”.  I want His PRESENCE more than I want His plan for my life.  Each day I am sitting, silent, for an extended period of time, soaking in what I can of whatever He can share with me of His presence.  This is not easy for me, as I don’t like to sit still.  But for “some reason” this desire is stronger in me now than in the recent past.  I don’t want a day to go by without some measure of sensing His presence.  My current circumstances allow me this luxury right now of having the time to be silent.  

Today, after getting my morning cup of coffee, lighting a scented candle and settling myself in a quiet place, I opened my Bible and out fell the page with Psalm 40.  I cannot explain it, but with a flash of understanding, some part of my life fell into place.

Today is September 25th, 2014.  Forty years ago today, I knelt before God and gave all my disappointments, my failures, my despair, my whole life such as it was at 18 years of age, to HIM.  I bent my knee and said “I cannot do my life like this any more.  I need You.”  I had been suicidal for some time.  Disappointments in my life had led me to despair and chronic stomach problems.  I had tried to end my life three times, only to fail in the attempt.  (That’s a story in itself)  I knew deep within my being that unless God took over, I would not be around on this earth for long.  

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust and confidence in Him.”
Psalm 40:1-4

He heard me
He rescued me
He lifted me
He gave me a firm place to put my unsteady feet
He gave me new words and a song to sing
He gave me reason to live
My life counts for something
My life will count for eternity

September 25, 1974
September 25, 2014
40 years
My spiritual birthday

40 years of not wandering in a desert
but 40 years (and lots of stories!) of His goodness,
His love, His faithfulness, His direction and leading, 
His mercy.  
40 years of relationship with the Lover of my soul
40 years of knowing a God who loves me more than I can say
and 40 years of the most incredible adventures and friendships I could have 
ever dreamed of knowing
40 years of BLESSING

Oh yes, there have been seasons of disappointment, times of failure, incredible hardships and pain.  I haven’t lived immune to the world and what life can throw at us.  But through it all, HE has always been there for me and come through when I needed Him.  He has given me the companionship my heart ached for.  

In the words of my favorite Bible man, David,
“The Lord is (has been) my Shepherd, I have everything I need.”
Psalm 23:1

I would not be here today if He had not intervened 40 years ago.

I have to say it over and over again...I love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.  Do I want another 40 years with Him?  Hmm..that will make me nearly 98 years old...If the next 40 years means “more of Him and less of me”, then YES!  I do!  I bend my knee and my heart over to Him, as I did 40 years ago....I do!

The KING has put his signature on my life...His signet ring has claimed me for Himself.  I belong to Him.  And I never want it any different.

Happy Birthday to me
The Greatest Gift is His presence
It is all I want

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Not Ready to Give Up Summer :)

Ah, my favorite season of the year....as warm days of summer give way to the crisp cool mornings and evenings of autumn, I submit to my senses of smell, sight and taste.  I was determined this year though to not give in until the day fall actually does arrive, which is a couple of weeks away.  I told myself, "No pumpkin spice latte until September 23rd...I mean it!".  (I have succeeded thus far, by the way).  I want to savor the summer until the last sausage is grilled and the last corn on the cob is chewed away.  My summer sped by with the wedding being all-consuming, so each minute that ticks away on the clock until the first leaf falls I will be enjoying what I can squeeze from the days left.  It helps that here in the Pacific Northwest, we are experiencing amazingly warm (and a few HOT) days yet.  

I went to two farmer's markets in the last week to stock up on fresh garden vegetables.  I try to make a big batch of ratatouille (French vegetable dish) and have it on hand to nibble on when I want something quick, easy and healthy.  What a sensory treat...the vibrant reds, sunny yellows and deep greens drew me in like a magnet. 

 I think I bought too many vegetables :)  The flower vendors displayed the most exquisite bouquets of autumn hues and for the first time in a long time, I bought myself a bouquet.  I yearned for a market I could wander through each week of the coming months.  There is something about home-grown and outdoor vendors that brings meaning to shopping and cooking that we lose at Safeway.

Once I had my ratatouille simmering, I tackled the task of putting away all the stuff that has accumulated around the house during the months of busy-ness.  Returning things borrowed, finding places for items that somehow found their way into my home and figuring out what to do with what had been left behind by a now-married daughter.  So naturally, a day of dusting and cleaning awaits me.  But oh no, that means putting away "summer" and getting out "fall".  I am a visual person and love to display the seasons in my home.  Candles, leaves and orange find their way onto the shelves and mantles of our abode.  The lure of autumn is already beckoning me.  I may have to light a pumpkin spice candle, but I draw the line at the latte!

What I really love about this approaching season beyond the colors, smell and falling leaves, is the new beginnings that surround us.  For the last 27 years, the fall has signaled the beginning of school and new activities in the family.  For the first time in nearly 3 decades, there is no school bus, or child running out the door (for high school or college).  Last year, I still had a college-bound son at home.  This year, silence.  Alas, it is still a time of new beginnings...usually churches begin their new Bible studies for women as children are back at school. I am looking forward with anticipation to beginning a new study, digging into God's Word and being challenged as I step into this next phase of life.  I LOVE that this journey as a parent, a wife and a child of God continues to keep us growing and is not meant to be stagnant.  I found a study I would like to do...http://www.lifeway.com/Product/breathe-making-room-for-sabbath-member-book-p005644896

This seems like a great season to learn to do just that....breathe.  Breathe in God, breathe in rest, breathe in love and His purposes for my life.

As summer winds down and berry cobbler gives way to apple cake with rum sauce http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-nut-cake-with-rum-sauce

I encourage you to breathe in these last days of summer and dream new big dreams for this next season.  I know I will...perhaps with that latte and a bit of cake :)  but first I'm firing up the grill and husking some corn for a last bbq and soaking up a few sun-drenched days left to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Circus Has Left Town

Yes, it’s been months since I blogged.  Life took over and I’m looking out my window realizing that the leaves are about to change color and we will be putting away the bbq and deck chairs before the month is out.  Time certainly didn’t pass me by, it just kept running beside me until I suddenly stopped to breathe and slow the pace of 2014.  

We gave away our beautiful and youngest daughter in marriage a few weeks ago. I knew this day would come and life would change.  It seems we just announced her engagement to Jordan and before we knew it, they were all smiles and leaving on their honeymoon.  The months in between are a bit of a blur now - a happy content “glad they are over” kind of blur.  Lots of work ending in an incredible awesome celebration and adventure ahead for a couple who are deeply in love.  

Our youngest son moved out in July as he continues his studies and internship in becoming a fireman.  Our hearts swelled with pride (the good kind) as he was sworn in and badged two days after our daughter’s wedding.  Life is good and bittersweet at the same time....why does the heart ache when they try their wings and fly - especially when you realize it is your youngest and life will never be quite the same.

I wrote on this blog a while back about my “circus”.   My Family Circus   Our Russian/Ukrainian name translated into English means “wild family”.  Years ago, when we lived in Russia as missionaries, we lived in a hotel that housed the Moscow circus when they came through town.  How appropriate...our wild family in the circus hotel.  Pondering our empty nest as the dust settles from the last months, this took on a whole new meaning.  The air is no longer filled with the roaring of tigers jumping through hoops or elephants balancing on a ball.   The rhythmic music of dancing bears across the floors is silenced.   Trapeze artists flying through the air or walking a tight wire are no longer a safety issue :)  Silence prevails and as I stand in the dust and look around at empty tents, discarded peanut bags and cotton candy wrappers, I am struck with the realization....the circus has left town. 

My heart is trying to absorb all of this in our new season.  I always thought I liked change.  I’m not so sure now.  Although change with purpose is promising.  Change with vision is exhilarating.  Change means the old is passing away and  the new is born.  Wait, the circus may have left but the Ringmaster and his beautifully clad sidekick are still here :)  Slightly older, less elegant, but still with lots of “circusy-wild-family” life just waiting to get the show on the road once again.   And those cute tutu-ed bears, those roaring tigers, and flying trapeze will definitely still come around with an act all their own :)  Probably a bit hungry, maybe a load or two of laundry to be done, perhaps a need to be met or a word of advice wanting to be dispensed.  Wonderful....I seriously can’t wait! 

As I head into the cool, crisp days of autumn, I look forward to pondering and remembering His goodness.  As days of “thankfulness” come upon us, I anticipate many God-stories welling up in my heart.  Yes, time to write those down....stories not forgotten.  A new season full of promise, life and fresh memories waiting to be made!  I don’t honestly know what the next season looks like, but if I know anything about God, it will be full of surprises and His faithfulness!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy Faithfulness!