Friday, October 11, 2013


Autumn.  How I love this season.  I know I have written before of my appreciation for the beauty of these weeks. October, especially, passes so quickly that it seems the leaves have barely turned before I am walking ankle deep in a blanket of orange, red, gold and brown. I want to savor every second, every scent, every sight, every sunset. Even the occasional rainy day brings a sense of cozy comfort. I love lighting a warmly scented candle, brewing a spiced tea, listening to the rain and watching it encourage the leaves to decorate my patio.  And then there are those gorgeous sunny days when the hillside flames with color.  Is the sky ever a deeper blue?  Oh, the richness of this blessed month!

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.  It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?"  ~  Spoken by Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne Shirley in "Anne of Green Gables."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tunnel Vision

 Elisabeth Elliot is a wonderfully wise woman of God whose speaking and writing have impacted my life for years.  I came across this quote recently and it brought back a memory that is comforting and at the same time unsettling.

It was winter, and I was driving back home after a long and painful time spent with loved ones who were grieving a devastating loss.  Depressing thoughts and fears were my companions as I drove along the turnpike, wishing that everything were different.  I don't remember what the weather was like that day, but inside the car it was bleak and gray.  I thought it was ironic, considering the darkness I was feeling, that it was necessary to drive through literal tunnels in order to stay on the road that would take me home. It was as I entered one particularly long tunnel that my thoughts took a different turn.  There would be light at the end of the tunnel.  I couldn't see it, but I knew it would eventually be visible.  I knew that it would be a gradual thing, slowly getting lighter until I would see the opening of the tunnel's end.  I thought of how terrible it would be if I just stopped, unwilling to continue in the dark.  It would harm me and others who were following me on the road.  I had to keep going.  I had to believe and trust that I would be coming out of this dark, damp tunnel and into the brightness of day.  As I was contemplating all of this, I became aware that something felt different, as though the burden had lifted a bit.  My tunnel thoughts had injected something new to the sad atmosphere I was surrounded by.  It was hope.  I had found comfort and hope through the simple, unremarkable experience of driving through a tunnel, waiting for that first glimpse of light.  I knew I would never again hear the proverbial "there's light at the end of the tunnel" in the same way.  Thank you, Lord, for ministering through the mundane.

"Things which sound like platitudes become vital, living and powerful when you have to learn them in dark tunnels."  ~  Elisabeth Elliot  ~

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ups and Downs

 A small boy sits happily playing, enjoying life to the fullest, seemingly without a care in the world.  A little bit of a tilt too far, and down off his perch he goes, dissolving into tears.  Mama comes, holds and soothes him, offering words of comfort and understanding.  Tears are dried, wounds are tended to, and the smile reappears on his face.  He is ready for play, ready to resume his interrupted enjoyment.

Isn't life very much like that?  We are going along, walking in the sunlight, breathing in the air and living life.  Sometimes without warning a storm comes, bringing a strong wind that may knock us off our feet.  Our happy walk is pierced with pain, disappointment and discouragement. If we are surrounded by people who care, we find comfort in their ministrations.  We are soothed, encouraged and strengthened by their words and actions on our behalf.

But...perhaps the wound we have received is not visible or audible.  Perhaps we believe it is just too personal, deep or tender to share with another.  What then?  Who comes to our aid...where does our help come from?  The Psalmist gives us the answer...our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. (from Psalm 121).  He is our ultimate Helper...and nothing is hidden from Him.  We might as well bring it before Him...He already knows all about it.

Mama was nearby and more than ready to hold and comfort that small, hurting boy.  Our Father is closer to us than our very breath, always.  When that sudden tumble comes, when we fall, He is there to comfort pick us up, dust us off, and help us get back on our feet. Words from a song learned long ago come to mind.....

"He knows my name...He knows my every thought.  He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call." ~ Tommy Walker

Sunday, April 21, 2013

What if?

I am quite certain that we have all, at one time or another, uttered the words "what if?" or "if only."  Looking back on unhappy situations, sometimes with 20/20 hindsight, will often bring sighs of regret and wishes for a better, wiser way of dealing with life's challenges. It is good to learn from our mistakes, but it is often painful.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to possess the wisdom without the process or the pain?  Unfortunately, from the time of childhood and throughout our lives, this is reality: we most often learn the hard way.  Hopefully, as we grow older we gain wisdom and have fewer of those difficult "what ifs" to deal with.

The really serious consideration is how our tendency toward "what if" thinking may hinder us from making decisions or moving in a direction that is vital to our well being.  What if I delay or shy away from taking a step in life that will lead me on a path toward wholeness and healing?  If I do, I will most certainly come to a "if only" place of regret. 

 There is the place, however, when the "what if" contains hope rather than fear and potential regret...when it leads to courage and  conviction.  The following lines from a song hold out that hope.

"What if you're wrong, what if there's more?  What if  there's hope you've never dreamed of hoping for?  What if you jump, just close your eyes?  What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?  What if He's more than enough?  What if it's Love?  ~ Nichole Nordeman ~

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Soul Soggy!

My little granddaughter just didn't seem like her cheerful, enthusiastic self.  She didn't seem particularly upset or unhappy, but there was definitely something not quite right.  I sat down beside her and tried to think of a good way to initiate a conversation that would give her an opportunity to express anything she might want to talk about.  I looked at that sweet, but uncharacteristically somber, face and said " Are you doing okay, honey?  You just look a bit....soggy."  With a little sigh, she replied "Oh, Gramma, my soul is soggy." 

 I'm glad to say it was a very temporary soggy state....she was her usual happy self in a short time.  But I kept thinking of the words she chose to describe her mood, and I could relate!  I have been there.  I have been soul-soggy.  I imagine all of us have, at one time or another.  Thankfully, for me it is almost always, like Hannah's, a short lived experience.  But there are those days, or moments, when I just feel....soggy.  Soul soggy.  Most often, it is nothing I can put my finger on, nothing obviously wrong, just....a feeling of not-quite-rightness.  It might be called the "blues" or "malaise" or feeling "out of sorts", but I think soul-soggy is a much more accurate description. Wisdom from the lips, and heart, of a child!

The best news is that I know the antidote for soul-sogginess.  Psalm 103:2!  "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits."  Just as my little granddaughter's attention was soon drawn to some delight, some wonderful childhood joy, and her sogginess melted away, I too find my own soggy state mended when I consider all my Father has blessed me with and turn my focus there.  One cannot remain soggy while giving thanks!

And so today's quote comes from an unexpected source, spoken at the breakfast table, with simplicity and honesty.

"Oh, Gramma, my soul is soggy."  ~Hannah~

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Silver Lining

I doubt very much if pain, sorrow, hardship, loss or suffering are welcomed with open arms or hearts into most lives. We would prefer the sunny days, the carefree life, the goodness, the happiness.  And it not the dark days, when we have come to the end of our own resources, that find us drawing closest to God, drawing on His comfort and strength?  There is a richness found at the place where we are empty, dry and desperate...when we climb into the Father's lap and find the truth....He is not absent, He has not left us, He knows.

Looking back, reading my journal from pain filled days, remembering.....I am amazed at how God brought me and those I love through the storms.  But there is more., I am also aware of how much I miss the intensity of the closeness I felt to God, my Lifeline, during that season of sorrow.  I don't want the pain, but I treasure the memory of how tenderly I was held.

"The Father draws His shattered child very close to His heart."  ~ Amy Carmichael ~

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Great Man

I know three great men who were born in February!  My late husband, my son and George Washington.  Well, alright, I never personally knew General Washington, but reading his writing and studying his life has left me with great admiration and respect for this man whose courage and character still impact the world today.

Today, on his birthday, I spent some time perusing a collection of Washington quotes and was once again amazed at his eloquence and the depth of his understanding.  The challenge was to select just one nugget from the treasure chest for the day's blog entry. A process of elimination brought the number down to three, and finally to the quote below.

I wish I could sit across the table from this great man and glean wisdom from his keen insight.  He was a man, I believe, who understood what it took to live a life of integrity.  He understood that the greatest tests often come into our lives quietly and may not be recognized by anyone but ourselves.

I have heard integrity defined as who we are when no one is watching. I suspect this was true of George Washington.

"The turning points of lives are not the greatest moments.  The real crises are often concealed in occurrences so trivial in appearance that they pass unobserved."   ~ George Washington ~

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Birthday to Remember

I think it is appropriate that on this day, February 12th,  I am quoting the man whose birthday and life we honor and remember.  I own a little book, "The Words Lincoln Lived By", which I enjoy reading from time to time.  Lincoln's observations on a wide variety of subjects such as courage, determination, honesty, justice, adversity, simplicity and many, many more  are full of profound wisdom, giving the reader a glimpse inside the man whose life so dramatically and effectively impacted our nation and the world. Most of his words recorded in my little book reveal his thoughts on serious and thought provoking characteristics and values.  Occasionally, however, there is a lighter element.

As I leafed through the pages, looking for one quote to share today, I found it quite a challenge. Each page contains wonderful words from our 16th President.  Finally, I decided upon a quote on humor,  a trait that all who knew Lincoln observed in him.  One such person, Congressman Isaac N. Arnold, remarked that Lincoln's laugh had been the president's "life-preserver."

I find it interesting that Lincoln used the word "evergreen" in his thoughts on humor. I read Webster's definition of evergreen and was pleased to find one definition as "retaining freshness or interest".  Certainly Abraham Lincoln's words have retained their freshness and stir our interest today.  His wisdom is timeless, to say the least.

"Laughter is the joyous, beautiful, universal evergreen of life."  ~ Abraham Lincoln ~

Saturday, February 9, 2013

And Still More Thoughts on Friendship!

There is nothing like a cold, snowy winter morning with nothing on the "to do" list except enjoy the morning!  It is a perfect time for reflection, prayer, and remembering the many blessings that have graced my life.  Among those blessings is the joy of friendship. 

When I think back on some of the more difficult seasons of my life, I am acutely aware of the strength and comfort I have gleaned from the love shown and the encouraging words spoken by my friends.  The following quote from the lips of a great man puts perfect words to my offering of today's thought.

"Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life.  Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend."   ~ Charles Haddon Spurgeon ~

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More on the Comfort of Friendship

I love the story of the little boy who found himself frightened and alone in his room on a dark, stormy night, calling out to his mother for help and comfort.  Coming to him, she tenderly reminded him that he was not alone and had nothing to fear because Jesus was with him.  The little boy said he knew and believed that, but sometimes he just needed "Jesus with skin on!"

Oh, those dark and stormy days and nights.  How crushing life can heavy the burdens. Sometimes we do feel alone and frightened, in spite of the certain truth of God's presence with us at all times.  It is in those times we find ourselves most grateful for the "Jesus with skin on" who comes to us, reassuring and encouraging us and pouring strength into our wavering heart.  God has given us to one another for that very purpose, to be with one another in the difficult and painful times as well as in the joy-filled days of the abundant life we know.  How good God is to give us that gift!  What a difference it makes to know we have one another to love and comfort and encourage! 

"A good friend can help you push through the dark times."  ~ Unknown ~

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Comfort of Friendship

On days when memories and loneliness bring a sadness and tenderness to the heart, there is great comfort in the knowledge that dear friends are standing along side, sharing in the memories and extending love and compassion.  Dark days are made brighter and burdens are made lighter through the sharing of them with friends who truly care.  The wealth found in having such friends is a beautiful gift from a loving Lord who knows and provides for us in our every need.  My heart is full of gratitude for the gift of loving friends.

"The worst solitude is to be destitute of sincere friendship."  ~ Sir Francis Bacon ~

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Fruitful Attribute

Some words simply sound beautiful......words like blessing, compassion and mercy. Webster defines mercy as a blessing that is an act of compassion. Within that one sentence, three words combine and define one another.

This cold, sad world would benefit from a large dose of these, don't you agree? How many tragedies might be avoided, how many lives spared, how many shattered relationships healed if mercy, blessing and compassion were extended.

Three words that are simply beautiful, but by no means simple. Sadly,this very cold, sad world is a world that is often found standing in opposition to the very things it desperately needs. We live in a self-absorbed culture with a heart-hardening attitude of "me first."

In his little letter, Jude's opening words to the church show us a better way...a way made possible because of God's grace and mercy.  Jude says "to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance." (vss. 1&2)  Jude does not have a simplistic view of the world nor did he see it through rose-colored glasses.  Reading the rest of his letter shows us that he was very aware of the harshness of a rebellious world. Jude also knew, however, that a higher way was possible.  Look at the beauty of the words he uses to describe who and what we can be; called, loved, kept.  Those words make me feel warm, secure, embraced. I am offered abundant mercy, peace and response to this gift must be a willingness to extend the same to others. 

"On the whole, my impression is that mercy bears richer fruits than any other attribute." ~Abraham Lincoln ~

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Simple, Wise Advice

Family vacations, reunions, celebrations, special times spent with loved ones.....such blessings!  Have you ever noticed that after wonderful experiences like these there is often a "let down" that comes unexpectedly, bringing a melancholy mood and a longing for more?  How frequently I have said and heard "I miss you already" at the inevitable end of a good time spent with beloved family and friends.  The following quote says it with simple wisdom.....not surprising, considering the source!

"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."  ~ Dr. Seuss ~

Thoughts on Friendship and Trees

I am blessed with an abundance of wonderful friends.  Each one adds their own unique, priceless gem to my treasure chest of friendship. I am deeply aware of this wealth God has poured out upon me, and oh how thankful I am for it. 

In my friendships I find not only enjoyment, fun, laughter and shared pleasant experiences, but a source of encouragement, comfort, inspiration and strength.  Life, as we all know, has its share of hardships, disappointments, sorrows, stresses and troubles.  How good it is to travel the paths of good and difficult times with friends who share the burdens and the joys. 

I remember well an experience I had many years ago while accompanying a wonderful group of teenagers on a weekend youth retreat. A dear friend and I were walking along a wooded path beside a river.  As we walked and talked about the beauty of the day and all that surrounded  us, we came upon a tree that seemed to be lifting its branches upward, praising the One who had created and fashioned it while at the same time reaching down to us in,,,,well, a tree-hug!  Together, we were blessed with what we saw as a lovely illustration of creation praising the Creator and at the same time blessing us. The sight of it and the thought of what it represented filled us with joy. Would I have noticed the tree or made the spiritual connection had I been walking alone?  Maybe.  I do know, however, that sharing this experience with my friend increased the enjoyment, deepened the symbolism and created a memory that still warms our hearts.  My friend and I suffered much teasing from the young people with whom we shared the story of our tree, but it was worth it. In fact, that tree was visited many times over the years.... and not only by the two youth advisers who first found it while strolling by a river on a chilly winter day so long ago! 
"Friendship is a sheltering tree."  ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

Friday, January 11, 2013

Snow Angels

  Every now and then, I decide it's time to sort through and reduce the accumulation of papers, notes and collections of this-n-that, all of which need to be filed either as keepers or candidates for the recycling bin.  While attempting this recently, I found a copy of a wonderful little collection of thoughts written with the idea of encouraging us all to lighten up and view life with a childlike anticipation of good things.  The specific"good thing" in this writing was....SNOW!  Now, as a lifelong snow-lover, this got my attention.  I ceased sorting and tossing and sat down to read this little treasure.  The author described a time when his children were small and were playing in the snow, throwing snowballs gleefully...until a snowball hit the window and their father appeared with stern admonitions. The author/father went on to describe how, in spite of his irritation, the sight of his little boy making a snow angel with the intention of having his angel speak on behalf of his brother and himself and hopefully softening his daddy's heart, did indeed accomplish just that. He was reminded of how the storms of life can rob us of the simple trust and joy of childhood.  How do we view a snowstorm?  Dread or delight?  An annoyance, inconvenience, problem?  Or as a gift to be treasured and an opportunity for great fun? 

It is January and I am hoping a good snow day will soon be here.  I want to watch the snowflakes fall, go for a walk and listen to that amazing hush that seems to fall with the snow, watch my little grandchildren celebrate.....and perhaps make a snow angel of my own!

"I want there to be a twinge of excitement in your heart when you see snowflakes on the weather forecast.  As a grown-up, I hope you will savor the peace of a snow-covered hill, for few things blanket the earth with peace like a snowfall does.  But as a child - because I know there's one in you somewhere - I hope that when you peer out your window this winter and see snowflakes, you will throw on your coat and grab your mittens and fall into a pile of white, flailing your arms with all your might and make an angel out of your storm."    
~ T.D. Jakes ~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Stepping Out

New Year's Day!  Most folks are astounded at how fast the time has an entire year seems to have just flown past us.  Here we are, at the beginning of a brand new year, wondering what it will bring.  We hope for good health, for good times, for less hardship and heartache in the lives of those we love.  We long for a more peaceful year, for recovery and revival..... for our nation to turn back to God and to embrace the principles upon which we were founded.

Of course, no one knows what we will be looking back on twelve months from now.  But we hold on to  hope, and well we should.  In the book of Hebrews, we read that our hope is an anchor for our souls, firm and secure ( Heb. 6:19).  An anchor sounds like a really good thing to have while riding the uneasy seas of this world...but where do we find it?  The anchor we need cannot be found in some nebulous, pie-in-the-sky philosophy or in man's wisdom alone.  We who have trusted in Christ as our savior know that He is our hope and our anchor.  We can step out into this new year with confidence, courage and joy knowing we are anchored to the One who will never fail us. 

"Hope is the fuel for the journey from the known to the unknown." 
~source unknown~