I don't have a single picture to show all the fun with had with the "grands". When my granddaughter called late monday afternoon with the news that an ice storm was on the way, we packed so quickly I didn't take my camera. I'll just have to tell you that we treasure these times with them and enjoyed every (well nearly every) minute.
The predicted ice storm did indeed arrive, but it was a day late. It didn't start to sleet until late tuesday night. We woke to the noise of the three middle kids jumping on the trampoline at seven o'clock in the morning. It was covered in ice, and they were having a blast jumping and cracking the ice. Next came skating down the driveway. They were vastly disappointed that there wasn't more of it and wished they could have gotten lots of snow instead - thus illustrating that they are children who have been sorely deprived because they live in a place where it rarely snows. When they made the move from Houston to Dallas there was much hope expressed that they would finally see snow. Normally they do get a bit of snow there, but it hasn't lived up to expectations this year.
We played games, ate more fries than we normally do in months, watched "Horton Hears a Who", did puzzles, ran around the playground when the sun came out, and laughed till the tears rolled down our cheeks. We feel a bit like George Bailey ("It's a Wonderful Life) - we're the richest people in town.
I am hopelessly behind in reading posts and commenting. I feel sort of lost when I am gone for several days like this. The weekend is chock full - so I'll begin to get back to a normal schedule on monday. In the meantime....
P. S. Recently my posts haven't been showing up in bloglines. I'm not sure what to do about that. I emailed them but didn't get a reply. I keep trying to hit publish in hopes it will get out there - but no success. I know it's happened to others. Does anyone know how to correct it. It's funny - I feel like I'm caught out in the cold and dark somewhere :-)
During the time I've been blogging I've seen several posts with this same title. It always intrigues me to read about the reasons others blog. These bloggers usually have a sort of running theme through all their posts - one that finds its genesis in the very reason they began blogging in the first place. Invariably, they are blogs I am drawn to.
I am a rather orderly person. I find it hard to get comfortable when there is chaos all around me. Before I can sit down to do something, I need to tidy things up. That doesn't mean I keep an immaculately clean house. It simply means I like everything to be in its assigned place. The pictures may be sitting on a rather dusty surface, but they are right where they belong. I am content.
It is the same way with my mind. I like to have things all thought out, sorted through and put in their proper place. So I needed to figure out exactly why it is I blog.
I have mentioned a time or two or three that I have a huge imagination. Inside this sixty-two year old heart lurks a wide-eyed child whose head is filled with impossible dreams. I tell you that to explain my original reason for blogging. I am going to reveal a very foolish part of myself - so please don't laugh too hard.
When I first discovered blogging, I saw it as a way I could use my love of writing as a service to the Lord by writing about the things He put on my heart. In and of itself, I think it was a good reason to start. However, it didn't take long for the Dreamer to make her appearance, and I began to envision GREAT THINGS. Instead of the rejection slips I had so far received for my efforts to impress the writing world, I would have lots and lots of people reading my work and being blessed. Why who knows where it could all lead? Book offers, book tours....maybe even Oprah's Book Club (I told you I could dream BIG).
It didn't take long for that dream to go the way of most of my others. There were not lots and lots of readers - and the writing hasn't been all that brilliant after all. The reality was quite different, but in many ways much more than I ever dreamed. I couldn't have imagined the wonderful community I would be privileged to become a part of; the amazing women who write brilliantly and whose lives enrich and bless mine far more than I ever could.
So why blog? I looked in an old notebook I keep filled with quotes about writing. One of my favorite writers is Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Here are some of the things she said about why she wrote:
"And yet my life does not go well without writing. It is my flywheel, my cloister, my communication with myself and God. It is my eyes to the world, my window for awareness, without which I cannot see anything or walk straight. Writing in a diary is my tool for the development of awareness. It is the crucible through which the rough material of life must pass before I can use it in art."
"One writes to capture and crystallize one's joy, but also to analyze and disperse one's gloom."
"I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."
I cannot remember where I read it, but the author was writing about keeping a Journal. She said that a thought or an event was not completed for her until she had written it down. It is much the same for me. There is something about writing a thing down that puts the finishing touch on it or perhaps gives it clarity.
That is what I want to accomplish with my blog - and then to share it. I'm not quite sure why the "sharing" part is important. Perhaps it is still that desire to somehow serve with my writing - to encourage, to share ideas, to keep in touch, to laugh and cry with others. It has become a sort of Journal but without the deeply personal things that really should be kept in one's own heart.
That is why I blog. I am so thankful that all of you blog too. How you have enriched my life.
Quick Update: We are in Dallas with our five grandchildren. We were scheduled to leave on tuesday morning but a predicted ice storm changed our plans. My granddaughter called and told us of the dire forecast, so we quickly packed and left the house at about 5:30 monday afternoon. A friend of my daughter-in-law was taking first shirt (she had been with them since saturday) and we were meant to take over tuesday evening. We quickly decided that we should try to beat the storm in both directions. She headed back to Houston and we left for Dallas. Our granddaughter, who is 17, held down the fort until we arrived.
We ran into a thick fog just after we drove through Austin and it stayed with us until just outside of Dallas. Scarey!! It feels as though you are enveloped in a thick blanket. My husband did a great job, and we pulled into the driveway at a little ten o'clock.
We are caught up in the fun of five children and an icey day outside. I'll be away from the computer for a few days. My four year old granddaughter wants me to watch her play with her little video game. So....I'm off! If things quiet down this evening I'll try to visit a few blogs. Otherwise.....see y'all on monday!
The windows are open to let in the lovely breezes. I'm sure I've started more than one post just exactly this way, but it is such a gift to have the windows open to the fresh air, I just can't help myself. We spend so much time with the windows closed up tight and the a.c. going, it is a joy to open the windows and let the gentle wind blow through the rooms of our home.
It is a very quiet day here - absolutely nothing going on. Bliss. We went for a walk this morning, I called my Mom, put a load of laundry in the washing machine - and that was it! All those hours waiting to be filled.
I sat at the piano for a long time practicing. I think I'm making a bit of progress, but it is slow. I long for the day when I can just open a piece of music and play without first having to sit and figure it all out. The figuring gets easier though, and I am enjoying every minute of it. I'm trying to exercise this old brain as well as this old body.
Tomorrow we have a busy day at the V.A. A routine stress test for my husband. It is also my Dad's 89th birthday. We've been invited for cream puffs and coffee on saturday afternoon. My Mom makes the most delicious cream puffs, and everyone knows cream puffs must be eaten the first day. They get soggy if they have to sit around (not much chance of that!).
I've been thinking about the word I've chosen for this year - "HOPE". I have read some things lately that have challenged my ideas on praying. I don't want my prayers to be a laundry list of the things I want the Lord to do for me. I'm afraid they often are. Then when I don't receive answers, I feel discouragement creep in. I keep coming back to the idea of praying without ceasing, of talking to the Lord all through my day rather than at a specified time. I've been trying to do that, but it is always me talking. I long to hear His voice. I long for conversations. I want to sit at His feet, lean my head against Him and rest in His presence.
I'm afraid I've let too many other things take the place of that. He is always right where He has promised to be. I'm the one who keeps putting Him off - the pattern of a lifetime of taking Him for granted.
Our music minister said last night that God uses broken vessels. There have been circumstances in my life that have left me shattered, and I've run to Him. It is true that those are the times we grow closer to Him. But suppose the brokenness meant breaking free of habits of selfishness and rebellion that keep me doing those things I don't want to do and not doing the things I should do?
I've been pondering.....it is time to make new habits. That is part of the Hope that is in me. That He will make all things new. I have begun to realize that what is most important is what He wants to do in my life and the lives of those I love dearly. More important even than having Him say yes to all my prayers. I've been concentrating on the "fervently asking". I feel Him calling me to fervently seek Him and Him alone.
That picture isn't my window. It is courtesy of flickr. The grass is not green outside my window. I'm afraid it is rather dry and brown.
"Suppose for a moment that God began taking from us the many things for which we have failed to give thanks. Which of our limbs and faculties would be left? Would I still have my hands and my mind? And what about loved ones? If God were to take from me all those persons and things for which I have not given thanks, who or what would be left of me?"
Reardon (in "Out to Canaan" by Jan Karon)
Thank You Father:
- for a warm, solid home safe from wintry blasts
- quilts to snuggle under on a cold night
- hot chocolate
- the grace and glory of changed lives
- answered prayer
- the joy and blessing that comes from learning to give to others
- the warmth of friendship
- for choosing me to be your child
- for time spent with family and a visit with my little brother (who I don't get to see nearly often enough)
- for the miraculous way you took care of Dad - You were with him every moment working all things together
- a beautiful bouquet to celebrate 42 years of marriage - years filled with so much of everything life contains. Thank You for being the sure foundation under our feet. We never would have made it without You.
- for Your faithfulness. This chubby little robin reminds me that You are always watching, always taking care of me. He (or perhaps she) also reminds me that Your promises never fail. I am overwhelmed with wonder when I imagine this fragile little ball of feathers traveling hundreds of miles with unerring accuracy back to his home in the north. How does he know the way? How did he know it was time to begin the return journey? It is You Lord; it is You. I stand amazed.
To read other posts filled with gratitude go to Ann's blog and check the sidebar.
How it touches my heart to read your dear comments. Thank you so very much for praying for my Dad and for your encouraging words. He is home. Thank You Lord!! He was discharged late this morning.
We are home and have absolutely crashed!! I'm planning to go sit and knit and read the rest of the day away. My sweet husband (who has driven a million miles in the past three days chauffeuring everyone around between home and the hospital and lots of other places) is watching the NFL playoffs. I'm going to go help him cheer on his team (while I also do the above mentioned things because I'm a girl and I can multi-task :-) ).
The heart cath. was scheduled for early friday morning, but because his kidneys were not functioning as well as they should have been (due to the dye from the earlier stents) the doctor put it off for one day. They gave him a special medicine to flush his kidneys and by this morning everything was looking better.
My Mom has stayed with him the whole time this time, and he is much more relaxed. He just doesn't like being separated from her. After 63 years, that is certainly understandable :-) If all of his labs come back okay, he will go home in the morning. He, of course, says he's going home no matter what! An ideal patient he is not.
You have all been so sweet to ask about him and pray for all of us. I am so thankful for all of you. After calling family and close friends I had to check in with y'all. You have truly become an important part of my life. I've tried to read all your posts, but I haven't had time to comment. Hopefully, life will slow down just a bit and I will be able to visit longer soon.
I thought I'd give you a little peek back to where those 42 years began and the early years of our family.
January 14, 1967
My soldier. Far too soon after our marriage, the letter from Uncle Sam arrived, and we had to say good-by. He was off to Vietnam - a difficult time.
He was home in time for the birth of our first child.
Scott Stephen - born May 1, 1969
Two little boys and fun camping on July 4th - Todd's birthday.
Brothers - I often wished I could freeze time and keep these two precious little guys just this way for a long, long time.
A precious little daughter added to the family. We were complete.
In 1982 we caught a bit of the "pioneer spirit" and left New York for Texas. We are so glad we did. This was the house we rented while my husband built us the house we are presently living in.
There you have it. A little look back.
See ya tomorrow!
It is very humbling to think that you have mastered something in your life only to find that it isn't true at all. I thought I had the nagging, contentious thing down. "I don't do that any more," I rather proudly said to myself. "I only make sweet suggestions in the nicest possible way. I don't even argue my own point very much any more - well not a lot anyway." Then something I read in my devotional, "MY Utmost For His Highest," brought me up short this morning. It was more than a mere whisper of the Spirit; it was loud and clear:
"We imagine we understand where the other person is, until God gives us a dose of the plague of our own hearts. There are whole tracts of stubbornness and ignorance to be revealed by the Holy Spirit in each one of us, and it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone."
"Do you mean I shouldn't suggest that he attend a Men's Bible Study Lord, or that I shouldn't give him creative suggestions for ways to spend his free time, or ask him for the umpteenth time when he's going to work on his truck, or suggest (in the nicest possible way) that he call the kid who was supposed to order the part for the a.c. unit so the man can come and fix it?"
"Yes Linda. That is what I mean."
"Oh. I understand. It's that verse in Proverbs isn't it? The one that says 'A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day." (Prov. 27:15) Please forgive me and give me the grace to stop doing it."
Not one hour later, my husband picked up the phone and called the man who is supposed to come and fix the a.c. I hadn't said a word - honest. I didn't even try to get the message across with body language or sighs or facial expressions. He got everything worked out. And here is the best part. After talking to the man, he talked to his wife who sets up his schedule. My quiet husband had a long conversation with the wife about God's goodness and dealing with illness and praying for one another. I just listened in amazement and imagined the Lord grinning from ear to ear.
"So I guess this means I don't have to be my husband's "holy spirit" Father?
"Yes child. I've taken care of that. Let's you and I work on your heart, and let Me work with your husband on the things I desire to do in his heart. I can do that."
I love it when the Lord does such an obvious thing in my life - even when it means I have to face some difficult things about myself. I am learning that I have so much to learn.
We will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary tomorrow. I am still learning!
On Monday I will be at Laced With Grace. Come and join me, and we'll march to Zion together!
We gathered at my Mom and Dad's last evening and just had the best time talking and laughing. My brother's birthday was this past Wednesday - so we celebrated with coffee and cake. He is very much my younger brother. I was in my freshman year of college when he was born. I still remember running down the to the dorm phone (this was in the dark ages when there was just one phone on each floor in the old door where the freshmen women were housed) and hearing my Dad say, "It's a boy!" After two girls, he was absolutely thrilled.
I was married by the time Peter was two years old (He was all dressed up in a little blue velvet suit (with short pants) on my wedding day). So our relationship was a bit more like Aunt and adored nephew. My first son was born when he was five years old.
I don't get to see him very often, but I always love spending time with him. It was perfect timing for my parents too. My Dad is doing well after his hospital stay and so was home and able to enjoy spending time with Peter.
Speaking of my Dad. He called just a little while ago to say his visit with the cardiologist went very well. His next procedure is scheduled for January 16th. The doctor said he will check to be sure all is well with the splints he already has done and then he will decide how much more to do right then. There are three splints remaining to be inserted. I don't know how many will be done that day. It is just an over-night hospital stay which makes Dad extremely happy. His doctor said, "We don't want to make you as good as you were, we want to make you better." He is a wonderful doctor. My parents have great confidence in him. God is so very, very good.
So...we take a deep breath and slip back into the normal routine for a little while. We give thanks and we rest in Him. What a blessing it is to be able to bundle up all those worries and fears and lay them at the feet of Jesus. It isn't just the relief of the heavy weight, it is the knowing that He will do exactly what is best for us. He loves us that much. That is what gives hope, peace and joy - real joy. Thank You Lord Jesus - for loving us so perfectly.
It rained last night! I think I may have mentioned a time or two that we are experiencing a sever drought here in South Texas. Last year was the third driest year we've ever had. I have been praying for rain for months.
For some reason, this praying for rain has become a metaphor for me of the truly deep needs I have been praying about for an even longer time. So often there would be the forecast for rain, and I would wait with great hope that the rains would come and the drought would end. Each time the weather system would circumvent us - going either north, south, east or west of us - leaving us with everything growing brown and dry and water levels getting lower and lower. We drive past ranches with tanks holding only a tiny bit of scummy water, and I wonder how the animals cattle could possibly do well under such conditions. Creek beds are dry and lakes and rivers shrink with every passing day. And I pray for rain and think it is just like everything else I am praying for - the heavens are silent.
In my last post I wrote about the word I think the Lord has given me this year - hope. So when the forecast was for rain yesterday, I began to pray again. There were a few drops falling when we left at 6:30 a.m. to drive to Houston, but they soon stopped. All day - only the tiniest of drizzles fell from the overcast skies. And I wondered about this business of hope.
I woke several times in the night and prayed so hard for rain. It sounds so melodramatic even to me, but somehow "hope" was in the balance.
This morning it was raining. There was over half an inch in the rain gauge. It was, to a heart that has felt more despair than hope in recent months, as though the Father had drawn me into His great arms of love. Even in the midst of drought there is hope. Even when the heavens are silent there is hope - for He is always listening; He is always moving and working on my behalf.
It rained - and hope grew stronger.
A Christian magazine came in the mail yesterday. There was an article about what to do when God is silent. The author concluded that we must never give up hope.
Then we sang "My Hope" last night for our choir number: "My hope is in the Lord, from this time on and evermore." I felt something stirring in my heart.
When hope is gone, there is sense of despair that settles in like a thick fog blocking the view to heaven. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick..." (Proverbs 13:12a). Hope comes like a ray of sunlight, penetrating and dispersing the fog.
My Bible defines hope as "comfort, expectation, confidence, trust." I had a Pastor once who defined it as "confident expectation." That ministers to me. I understand that I will not necessarily get everything I ask for. However, hope allows me to trust in the character of a loving Father and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will work all things together for good. And so I continue to pray....with hope.
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5: 3-5
"Sustain me according to Thy word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope."
"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
This is what I am working on in my spare moments these days. It is a fitting picture for this post. It is a baby blanket for a young woman in our choir I recently met. I think of a brand new life filled with potential and carrying such hope for a future in Jesus.
Happy New Year!! I pray each of you will have a new year filled with the peace and joy that comes from knowing the Lord. He is the unchanging foundation that is firm beneath our feet. Whatever this new year brings into our lives we can know that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love never fails. He is in control. He works all things together for good for those that love Him. What rich blessings He has given to each of us.
Update: My Dad is home from the hospital. We brought him home last night. He is so happy to be home. He still has a lot in front of him - three more stints will need to be put in in a few weeks; he has an appointment with a kidney specialist in one week (his kidney function hasn't returned to normal yet, and they want to be sure it does). We are more thankful than I can say for all that the Father has done for us. Thank you so much for your dear comments and for your prayers. Oh how we depend on those prayers.
Yesterday began for my husband and I at a little before two a.m. when the phone rang. My first thought was that my Dad had had another heart attack. It was my Dad calling - wondering when we were coming to take him home. It seems the medication they had given him to help him sleep had quite the opposite affect on him. He was so disoriented and so agitated.
At five a.m. his nurse called and asked if someone could come and stay with Dad. He was all dressed - jacket and all - and walking up and down the halls. They couldn't get him to stay in bed. So my husband and I headed to the hospital. He was sound asleep in his chair when we got there, but he woke up shortly afterwards. We got him to lay down at around 6:30, and he slept for a couple of hours. Then my husband went to get my Mom.
By mid-morning I think the affects of the sleeping pill had finally worn off. We had to wait most of the day for the doctor to come. He would have liked to have kept my Dad for one more day just to be sure about his kidney function, but all things considered decided he would do better at home. I think he was thinking of us too :-)
I don't think my Dad has any real memory of his early morning "adventures". I've talked to him a couple of times already today. He's doing well, and so is my sweet Mom. We continue to pray that he will recover fully and that all will go well with the other things. I can't tell you how much we are not looking forward to his next hospital stay :-) I have made just one resolution this year and that is to truly let the Lord Jesus bear my burdens. I imagine Him standing there with outstretched hands softly saying, "Give that heavy load of stuff to me. I have promised to bear them for you and give you grace to do your part. Please let me do that." I worry far too much, all the while knowing that God is in control and that He will only do what is best. It's time to stop all the worrying and do a bit more believing.
This is far longer than I intended, but I want to share something I "coincidentally" read yesterday that spoke volumes to my spirit:
"If the trials of many years were gathered into one, they would overwhelm us; therefore, in pity to our little strength, He sends first one, and then another, then removes both, and lays on a third, heavier, perhaps, than either; but all is so wisely measured to our strength that the bruised reed is never broken. We do not enough look at our trials in this continuous and successive view. Each one is sent to teach us something, and altogether they have a lesson which is beyond the power of any to teach alone."
H.E. Manning (in "Light From Heaven" by Jan Karon)