Sunrise to Sunset
Highlights of the late day’s sunshine on my trees kicked me into high gear. Quickly, I grabbed my camera. I started my day with some sunrise pictures now it’s time for some evening ones.
As I jog down my stairs and out the door, I realize that I will be standing in last of this day’s rays, and when I see the stump of a tree in my front lawn, I am reminded that these rays will never touch my husband again.
Grief slips in unannounced, and I battle back tears as I snap the first photo. The red tones were already deeper than I anticipated. I focus on getting the right foreground for the next set of shots.
Then it’s as if a voice whispers, ‘Remember this morning’s sunrise?’
I pause and recall the hint of pink I caught on the topside of a cloud through a break in the gray expanse.
Yes, my mind answers in response to the prompt. There was no glorious burst of color, but I did catch the wisp of pink.
Right now, in my evening sky, the sun is shining above the clouds. And not everyone has gray skies tonight. Anyone in an airplane can attest to the beauty of breaking through a dark sky into the glory of the sunshine above. It’s breathtaking.
I continue to walk and snap photos, almost on autopilot, capturing the beauty of my given sphere. Tears seem to ease and then a great sob of sadness again washes over me. He was a good man who loved me. Yes, I am thankful for the gift he was. I remind myself of these truths and am grateful that one of the gifts he gave me was the camera I was holding. I grip it tighter. It somehow reminds me constantly of his love.
Another internal whisper and I am halted by the thought that although my husband will not stand in the shadow of the sunshine here on earth, he is currently enjoying the full light of heaven’s glory. Oh, the thought to never have to face any kind of shadow ever again is pure bliss.
The diversion of capturing tonight’s sunset has worked its magic. From morning to sunset sky, I am not alone. My internal Comforter walks with me reminding me of these truths. I discover that my heart is more at peace each time I let myself grieve a bit. Gratefulness and sadness have become my friends as I journey to wholeness. And the light above guides me on the path ahead.
Peace and blessings, my friend. You are not alone.
Feel free to drop me a line.
#sunrisetosunset #notalone #notSidelinedbyGrief #JourneytoWholeness
You’ve hit a rough patch before, right? You’ve run out of options. You turn your eyes to God and are surprised that His eyes are already on you. Opening His word, you ask for wisdom; and he promises to give it.
What power is it that takes a written phrase and speaks to our hearts? We read this powerful scripture aloud and somehow the atmosphere hears his words. With our voice, we are aligning ourselves with HIM; with his kingdom and his power. He says, “Ask me for My answer.” So, we do.
Now we listen and await his response. Sometimes the answer is an overwhelming, in your face, open door, and other times it means waiting in silence for years as he moves things into position for the perfect answer to our request. And if that’s you. If you are in year three and are still waiting, keep in the Word! Keep washing away the impurities we’ve picked up from those around us. Stay focused on walking rightly and when that door opens, we’re going to fall down in worship, overwhelmed that the Creator of the Universe thought so much of little ol’ us to give such a wonderful gift.
El Roi translates into ‘the God who sees.’ He sees you. He desires you to know him more, and he’s never too busy to respond to a heart that’s seeking him.
The deepest honor we can receive is the honor God gave to young Joseph. First, He gave him the dream. Then came years of silence as he was rejected by brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown into prison. We don’t have access to Joseph’s thoughts or how he struggled with comprehending how his dream would ever come to pass, but in our humanness, we can imagine that he did indeed struggle.
Then our hearts soar as he is released from prison. And when we read that Joseph rose to become the second highest man in the kingdom let us not make light of the silent years. The young boy matured into adulthood and continued to walk righteously even when he was alone in a foreign land. God was aligning the world and used these hardships to move Joseph into position for Joseph’s dream to come to pass.
So, if God is trusting you in a time of waiting, be encouraged. His silence was an answer to that faithful young man, and it can be shouting that he’s working things out for you too.
Washing by the water of the word. Ephesians 5:26 El Roi. Genesis 16:13 Joseph’s story. Genesis 37-41
#Provision4theVision, #SilentYears, #Favor4theRighteous
As the creator of the universe, God could have presented Himself to the world in any way He wanted. We are witnesses to His originality and love for beauty in the mere panorama of the sphere we occupy. As king over heaven and earth, He could have come as regal as any; after all He is called the King of kings. Imagine the pomp and celebration that would have ensued had He suddenly appeared with His host of angels. And yet when we read about His humble beginnings in a barn, and that He had nothing to draw us to Him in the natural sense, now any man can identify with Him.
Christ chose to come in this nondescript way so that we couldn’t say, “Oh well, I’m nothing like Jesus.” Because honestly, we’re all like Him in our humanness. We’re just common beings living in a fallen world, and sometimes we’re kicked by the very people we hold close to our hearts.
We’re born with a wrinkly face that only a momma could love, oh but the heart. It’s the overflow of the heart that shows the true character of a man. And we can see by His friend’s testimonies that Jesus loved. He loved His enemies. He loved His family that tried to stop His ministry. And He loved His friends that scattered and left Him alone in His hour of need. He even reinstated them after His resurrection. And He’s still loving today.
So, draw near. Confess your frustrations to the One who knows how hard this season of life can be. To the One who endured everything that this world threw at Him. To the One who defeated death so that you and I could live.
Tis true, common people who are hard pressed are not crushed. We may be struck down, but we’re not defeated. We rise. Like Christ, we learn to love those who hurt us. We forgive as He forgave. We know that they don’t know what they are doing. We also know what we need to do. We’re learning to walk out the Great Commission. Every day introducing people to the love of Christ that radiates from within us. And perhaps, just maybe they will get a glimpse of Him in our actions, in our words, in the love in our eyes. And oh- what a glorious thought this is… perhaps they too will fall in love with the Lover of their souls.
Let it be so, Lord Jesus. Let it be so.
Isaiah 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
Suggested reading: Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
Room to room, notes on my phone, sending myself emails. My brain overflowing with impressions, parallels, searching for wisdom beyond myself. Surprised to discover new truths. Age old adages come alive in the light of this day. Heavenly whispers that mark out a new path.
Highlights of light on the treetops – the birds swoop between them without care.
A squirrel slips down a trunk- all that remains is a bouncing twig as he makes an acrobatic leap to a branch on the other side of the ravine.
I sit observing the changes in the defused light as the sun climbs in the sky.
Holy Spirit is opening a way for me. Constantly changing, yet always forward.
The Strength of the Pine
The thin pine swayed and bent in the violent wind gusts pushing her against cluster of fir trees behind her. She was fully exposed to all the elements now that her diseased southern neighbor had been removed months prior. She looked so weak and alone. I thought she might snap from the pressure. I watched spellbound, scarcely breathing, until she bounced back aright after each harsh blow. On one side her branches were stunted from their years in the shadow her neighbor had cast. Now, off-balance and without protection her handicap evident as she tipped.
Suddenly, I realized why I was so concerned about this tree’s ability to survive through this raging storm; we were fighting similar battles. I too had lost my front man, my covering. The death of my husband a few weeks prior, and the challenges of this past week had me leaning heavily on my spiritual family.
I found myself staring out my window, rooting for her, as she bobbed back and forth throughout the day. So grateful for the strength of those behind her preventing her from a fall. I was sure those trees were the primary reason she didn’t break. What a relief it was when the wind finally eased to see that she was still standing.
As I closed my shades for the night I thought ahead to the coming spring. Surely sunlight would help her stunted side to grow even again, giving her better balance. Like me, she needed to lean a bit now, but would soon grow strong again. Perhaps even someday becoming a sturdy buffer for those who were now supporting her.
Storms are meant to challenge us, to grow us, in new directions. This tree’s struggle brought an awareness of just how important support people are in one’s hour of need. I’m sure if the tree could speak, she’d add her thanks to her fellow fir trees for the strength of their entwined roots; and an encouragement for people everywhere to rise up and stretch out to the hurt and needy with hands of love.
A side note: I’m so glad to be back in my writing chair.
Blessings always, my friend.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Cusp of Change
Sometimes it’s desire that brings change, and sometimes it’s born of necessity.
Seasons change and boy, over the winter my body did too! I had to get back to working out. I overheard an older woman at the health club tell a friend she hadn’t exercised in years. Watching her copy the stretches of the young instructor, I could just imagine how she’d feel later. A beginner trying to keep up with this trained mass of muscle is in for a world of hurt tomorrow. The key is in taking baby steps. That trainer didn’t get toned overnight. It took slow, daily growth. And that’s the key to staying healthy and fit. Start slow, keep building, and when you reach your goal maintain it.
Building internal qualities takes time and practice too. Today I’m focusing on my inner spirit. I’m taking a few minutes to read a short devotional and some scripture. Like regular exercise, I plan to increase my quiet time with the goal of gradually reaching an hour a day. I need to be prepared to push back against busyness. To hold firmly the value of time management. To sit up and recognize a holy nudge. And to run the race especially marked out for me.
I may not ever become a super athlete, but I can be a healthier one. I have a firm foundation. Watching my words, my thoughts, and actions are great building blocks. So it’s essential that I know what the Word says so I can battle better.
Whether you’re facing a physical, emotional, or a spiritual challenge, meditation on scripture helps us dive deep and lets truth ripple forth. Basking in His light warms our spirit and prepares us for flight. And like the butterfly enjoying nectar we can taste and see that His words are sweet for the soul.
Are you facing a challenge today? Have you overcome one? If so, please consider sharing it in the comments. You never know whose life your story will inspire. And we’d love to join you in prayer. After all, if faith comes from hearing the Word, I believe we can find hope that way too!
Wishing you strength in the journey. Blessings, Debbie
#Change #Growth #Strong #Health #Hope #inspiration #Time Management #Challenge
Simplicity in Stillness
I love this time of the year. Winter has exited. Spring has sprung and a vast array of colors dot the landscape. And oh, so many fragrances. So many sounds. Bees buzzing, birding chittering, and children out of doors squealing. Yes indeed, this is a most favored season.
I’ve spent the last few weeks cleaning out winter’s remnants in preparation for all that summer offers. Boating, swimming, picnics, walking in the park, nature hikes, and camping. For me, being out of doors is invigorating. Contrasting blue sky against chalky cloud formations. Gentle breezes. Nature sounds, usually muted by the insulating cocoon of busyness. Time to quietly rest in the sun’s blessed rays streaking through the trees as a small animal pauses in your presence.
It’s as if by focusing on beauty, on the sounds of earth, that somehow pressing concerns are erased. That being simply present and aware is a gift that this day offers. Being grateful for the simplicity of shade. For the gentle refreshing rain. For the life cycle of the winged creatures. Remarkably, appreciation helps wash away the cobwebs of accumulated worry. And when we move from our place of observation our hearts are so much lighter.
The days ahead are filled with possibilities, uncertainty, and hope. Isn’t stillness a perfect way to prepare for a season budding with change? Peace for this moment. Grace for this day. Hope for tomorrow.
Wishing you an excellent quietness today.
I love reading cozy mysteries with a little clean romance thrown in. I mean, the term ‘heart flutters’ is something I can relate to. It’s the feeling similar to the movement of a butterfly on your finger. A soft motion that may cause you to catch your breath. I love it. There’s a similar term in the medical journals called palpitations or in layman’s terms a flutter. It can be a bit unsettling to notice that your heart is doing something different. With me, it also caused the perception of a shortness of breath.
The good news is that my heart is fine, my lungs are clear, and my blood levels reveal no problem. Later today I get to wear a 24 hour monitor to see if they can catch these palpitations, seeking to discover if there is an underlying issue.
I am amazed that there is a device that can hug you and monitor every heartbeat. One that can detect a need for further medical care. Technology has surpassed my ability to understand much of how it works, but I appreciate the brilliant minds that have created this tool. I’m sure it has saved many lives.
Like a romance novel, don’t we all long for someone to pull us close? One who can sense when we aren’t okay? Someone to help discern a problem?
I’m so glad there’s Someone who’s known me forever, who holds me close on my hardest days, and points the path to peace. I trust in my faith journey, and His plan for my life even when facing hardship. I run to His safe arms and He holds me close to His heart.
Perhaps my internal ‘butterflies’ are just me, drying my wings, and preparing for flight. All I know is that there is a breeze, and sweet nectar ahead. Trusting that He will carry me exactly where I need to go.
How’s your faith journey, my friend? Praying for you in your challenges.
Isaiah 40:11 He tends the flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
Breaking into May
It’s May! How did that happen? There are so many things I didn’t get to do last year that I’ve been busy trying to cram them all into the last few weeks lest the world is tipped on its axis again.
Have I enjoyed a soft ice cream cone? You bet! Barbequed on the grill? Yup, a couple of times. Eaten a meal on the patio? Of course. I cleaned the yard from the dregs of winter weeks ago. And I have even made reservations for a summer family gathering. (Deep sigh.)
There’s something I’ve noticed, and perhaps you have too. People seem to be making an extra effort to connect. My elderly neighbor has stopped over to visit several times this week. Bumping into a friend at a store led to a half hour delay in my schedule as we caught up with one another. Plus I’ve had several text messages, and two phone calls this week from people I haven’t spoken to in months. It is so revitalizing to connect with those you care deeply about.
My roses haven’t bloomed yet, but some of my other flowers have, and I guess this is a reminder to take a break. Enjoy the beauty around you. Call a long-time friend. Visit a neighbor. Swing in a hammock. Listen to the bird’s song or steal away and experience a sunrise. Let’s appreciate the last days of spring while we can. You know, if May is here already that September is just around the corner. The advantage of slowing our pace today is that it can bring us memories to enjoy tomorrow.
I found a bird’s nest. How was your day?
Fits and Starts
The heaviness of winter has melted into a glorious early spring. The birds sing of their love as nests are woven. And I have shed my winter wear to don lighter, more cheerful fabric in solidarity with my feathered friends to announce, “Yes, SPRING is here!”
Fragrant, colorful blooms broadcast festivities and all manner of flying insects join in carnival games. The lawn is cleared of fallen debris in preparation for the mower’s maiden tour around the property. Much like a birthday party, anticipation has now exploded in a crescendo of sun, heat and busy revelry.
Today I’ve opened my back door several times to shoo away a pair of birds. It seems atop a light fixture positioned under our eaves is the perfect place for nesting robins. Perfect for them, alas is not perfect for all. This door is used frequently throughout the day, and a momma robin with hatchlings would be disturbed very often. So I dutifully remove the gathered straw and twigs and place an aluminum foil ball there as a deterrent. She has removed it three times today. Eventually she will decide another spot is better suited, and we’ll both be happier.
My writing has suffered much this winter. Fits and starts. Set-backs with much, much journaling. Indeed I, like my warbling minstrels, needed winter’s respite to regroup. To face harsh trials. To prioritize and to re-family after months apart.
In transitioning into this new season, I too must be aware of closed doors and be prepared to seek another solution. Perhaps the reason something isn’t working is because it’s not a good answer. It may be that a safer and wiser choice is already on the horizon and I haven’t seen it because my heart is set on something else. Like this winged pair I must be open to changing my plan. So today, I’ll journal my thoughts here and not hide them away in my notebook.
Is there something that is holding you back? Take a look around, perhaps the answer is waiting in the wings.
Feed the Baby
Dreams! It was my 3 or 4th baby dream… in this one I was solo parenting. I walked into my bedroom and was surprised to find a baby. If you know me at all, you will understand that without hesitation, I picked up this unknown child and attended to its needs. The real twist came when I left my room. There was another hungry baby at the bottom of the stairs. In fact, I found myself running room to room feeding babies. So many babies!
So what does ‘feeding the baby’ in these dreams represent? In real life I’ve raised my share of children and meeting needs comes naturally to me. My kids are now grown. I’ve moved from raising children to writing stories. I call these stories ‘my babies.’ So when I awoke this morning after caring for another hungry child in my nocturnal slumber, I knew I was being prompted to feed the baby. Today’s ‘baby’ is this blog.
Normally, I’d save this post until Mother’s Day as it’s about moms, but this is on my heart and it’s pressing.
I am unconventional. I first noticed this as a single mom. As a lover of children, I discovered a way to satisfy my desire to nurture more children through the foster care program. You see, I’ve led a blessed life. I was raised by two parents that loved me. Both of my grandparents raised a gaggle of kids. (That means there were a lot of kids in the families!) I admired my grandmothers and aspired to raise my own gang. So it’s not surprising that I not only had a couple of kids, but I also babysat for the neighborhood. I provided before school care and watched a few more young ones during the day. That’s when I realized just how deep my love for kids went. These children were beautiful, unique, and also very entertaining. I’d laugh at their silliness as easily as I was awed by how quickly they learned. Somewhere along the journey I decided that if I loved my neighbor’s kids this much, I might be able to make a difference by loving kids who really needed it. I became a foster mom.
These littles came to me one or two at a time. My first two lived with me for fifteen months before returning to natural mom. It was heart wrenching to see them go. I had to evaluate whether I was strong enough to continue. When I decided to go forward, I begged God, “Please, only bring me kids that I can keep.” Without promises or guarantees I stepped out in faith trusting that God knew my path and theirs.
From a variety of backgrounds and life circumstances, they arrived. A mere phone call could change not only my day, but the course of several lives. Within hours my doorbell would ring and I met the child I had heard described. Some came injured, some were only days old, and not one arrived with extra clothing. The common thread was a need for a safe place to live and to be loved. That was easy. Taking them in and loving babies… easy!
I don’t want to romanticize things, these were children with needs, challenges, and tempers. Real life 101. I had two kids already when I started so I had a clue of what to expect. It took a lot of energy and prayer. And in exchange I received years of hugs, kisses, whispered secrets, and for some reason noodle necklaces. If you mix those with trips to urgent care, late night illnesses, too many messy diapers to count, and house visits by caseworkers it’ll give you a snapshot of what those years were like.
As time passed these littles officially became my littles. God honored my heart’s desire and brought me children I could keep. Three different adoption days. Five beautiful children were added to my family.
Now to the mommas behind the scenes, the mothers of my children. I hold you in the highest regard. Their little lives began in you. You had the intimacy of hearing their heartbeat and feeling them move inside of you. Your expanding waistline evidence of your hidden treasure. It was your body that nourished theirs nestled beneath the safety of your ribcage. They were lulled to sleep by your heartbeat. Nine long, expectant, hormonal months you waited to meet them. Hearing their first cry. Holding their soft form to yourself. Counting their fingers and toes. It was your voice they recognized at birth. These were your moments. Moments, that as a mother, I treasure.
I cannot fathom what internal fortitude it takes to surrender a child. I can only imagine the emotional struggle you endured. I pray that meeting your now adult child and the relationship you have with them will bring you much happiness.
You, dear woman, you are precious to me. You grew a child that I love with all my heart. Your sacrificial act has forever changed my world. I am grateful. Your child changed my life and brought me joy. Oh, so much joy. The Bible says that children are a gift from God. I thank you so very much for sharing your gift with me.
Forever in your debt, ~Debbie
PS- Dear Reader, if this will bless someone you know. I’d ask you to share it with them. Thank you.
It was a silver pot, blackened by sulfur and tarnished by time. Someone had attempted to clean the old thing, so it had little collector’s value. Its owner simply wanted to clear space in her home and when I asked about it she passed to me as a gift.
I loved the shape of the little container. Its bent handle that fit through an ornate embellishment added to its charm. The fitted lid boasted an intricate overflowing vase of flowers with which to lift the top from the container. But the most attractive feature to me was the word ‘crackers’ engraved in a wacky font across the front. The meaning of the word wasn’t lost on me, and it certainly was a reflection of my life’s journey. (Some people think I’m a bit nutty.)
In accepting this cast off I felt indebted to its proper restoration. After researching various silver cleaning methods, I began with what I had on hand, ketchup. The article stated that the acid from the tomatoes worked wonders. Sounded good to me. I took an old kitchen towel and piled on a gob of the red sweetness then left the slathered pot to marinate for two hours. I must say it did work to remove a bit of the black, and with a lot of rubbing some parts of the lid began to shine through the grime.
I moved on to another process calling for household ingredients. Unfortunately the baking soda and aluminum foil didn’t fare as well, probably because of the previous cleaning.
I decided to give it last try. This time I went with a commercial silver cleaner which decidedly worked best. The pot cleaned up pretty well considering the condition I found it in. However, my arms ached from the deep polishing needed to achieve a semi-clean container where the word crackers was barely visible.
At this point I consulted a friend who was familiar with silver cleaning, and she said, “You’ll never get it all off. Just look at the pits on there.” Tiny pinhole-sized indentations covered my cracker jug. Apparently, this was normal due to its use and age. Considering that this project had already cost me hours of time and that it would never be use it to hold crackers, I gave up. This would be a conversation piece, and perhaps used as a vase for dried flowers. Even in its imperfect, mottled state, I still liked the little jug. Its pitting gave it character, speaking to its long and arduous journey. Its mere existence a testimony to strength and fortitude.
I am reminded that our lives are much like that little silver jar. Life’s adventures can enhance or mar our surface, but the testimony of our strength is in getting up each day and being willing to shine amid our imperfections.
I proudly display my silver cracker jar hoping to be asked its history. My simple answer is that it’s a treasured heirloom like me. As are you, my friend. <3 Debbie