August 25, 2013

Just Say Thank You

Sunday Scripture

and a


"We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus."
Acts 14:11 NLT

Our song today: I wake up with these words and this melody in my head 
on so many mornings lately, so I thought I'd share it with you.

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Thank you!

And if you would like to find more that I am thankful for, 
read on to my previous post "Late Summer Beauty" 
written August 23rd 

And remember - to be thankful.

This one life
Is all we are given. 
Find beauty
Give Thanks.

Blessings, my friends

August 23, 2013

Late Summer Beauty

I watched as raindrops fell in earnest, and then I noticed the maple leaves. They were moving in a dance of sorts, but there was no wind. They shimmered and fluttered, and I discovered that the source of their movement was the raindrops. Each droplet hitting the flat leaf surface caused it to move independently of the leaf next to it. There was no wind to move the leaves. Just rain. And lots of it.

There is beauty everywhere, if we will just pause long enough to see it.

On a sunny day, a fluttering shadow seen from the corner of my vision turned out to be a lovely yellow swallowtail butterfly. August seems to be their season, and they love my hanging baskets. I’ve seen then in springtime, too, as they dance upon the late blooming lilacs. Then they seem to disappear until summer is nearly over. I wonder where they go.

An early migrating flock of robins paused for a few days in our yard just recently. They are the harbingers of springtime, and come by the dozens as the ground warms, offering worms for their feast; as they in turn offer their delightful songs as a feast for my winter weary ears.

But this flock was migrating back through in mid-August, and they decided my bird bath was the place to be. They encircled the bird bath, on branches and twigs, on peonies and the soft, green grass. Each one in turn, splashing and playing as they bathed in the cool water. One time, two got in the bath at the same time! I’ve never seen that before. Usually they are fairly territorial, at least at bath time.

On another day, a bright red cardinal decided to check out the bird bath. He stood at one edge, and gracefully leaped to the other side, managing to drag his little feet in the water as he crossed over it. Was he testing the water? It seemed so, as he decided it was ‘just right’, and hopped in for a bath. Splashing and fluffing, once he was done, he glided straight up to a branch above the birdbath to primp his feathers and dry them off.

There has been a fat hummingbird moth poking its head into my little petunias. His wings move so quickly, and his fat little body seems awkward for those tiny wings. But oh how he delights in those purple petunias, diving into each one in turn, burying his pointed head to sip a little nectar while I water the plants in the garden around him. And because I am watering when I see him, I never have my camera with me, so I haven't been able to capture a picture of him yet.

Our little family of hummingbirds returned this year, though I'm pretty sure the patriarch of years past no longer survived the journey. He was looking a little haggard last year, and the little hummers here this summer look very youthful. I hope these young summer visitors know the routine. In years past, my hummingbird friends always came to the window to say goodbye; and I think, maybe, to say "thank you" for the sweet sugar water I've given them all summer. They hover outside my office window, which is on the other side of the house from their feeder, as if they are letting me know they are off to new adventures. It is always bittersweet for me to see them go, as it signals the end of summer. Cooler winds will soon bring great changes to the landscape.

For now, the summer sun beats down, and the grass needs cutting again. My flowers are still dazzling in their summer show, and every day there are tomatoes to pick from the vegetable garden.

Quiet Sunday afternoon naps in the hammock bring a peace that can’t be found in the dead of winter. There is so much beauty to behold. Pause, and breathe in all that summer has for us to enjoy. These are the gifts of our Creator, given for us to enjoy in this world. As summer slips away, I savor the flavor and taste of summer, and I relish the warmth and the beauty of stepping out into a warm summer day.

The morning dew is heavy on the grass now as the nights become cooler again. The seasons seem to change much more quickly now than when I was young. I embrace the change, but also want to hold onto this slice of life that is summer, for at least a little bit longer. 

August 7, 2013

Have No Fear

I used to have such fear. And fear made me worry. Sometimes I worried about things to the point that I felt ill. Mostly, I worried about the safety of my three young sons. I wasn’t a ‘helicopter parent’ –- well, maybe I was with my firstborn, but the term hadn't been invented yet 26 years ago. 

I was very watchful, and as my boys will be sure to tell you, I was overprotective. But truthfully, you have to let some of that go when you have a household full of boys. Those of you who know boys understand that boys are very physical and always active. Of course there was danger in their roughhousing, but if I worried about every little thing they were doing – or might do -- I would drive myself crazy.

Mainly I worried that something really bad would happen to them. I feared for their safety. I felt that if anything ever happened to them, I couldn’t live without them; that I wouldn’t want to live without them. They were part of me, my own flesh and blood, and I loved them more than I ever knew I could.

I remember walking along under clear Texas skies talking with God. We talked a lot during those long, solitary walks. I told Him of my deep fear of loss, and He listened. I thanked Him every day for my sweet little boys, and prayed for patience so I that I could be a better mother. Oh, yes, I prayed for more patience every single day.

As I grew in my faith, I finally realized that my beautiful sons were really God’s; that I had been given the honor and privilege of raising them and loving them, but ultimately, they were God’s children.

I held so tightly to my responsibility of raising my sweet boys. I loved my sons so much, and letting them go into the world without my protection filled my heart with fear and dread.

One day, God spoke to me through my thoughts, and He told me that I had to let go. I had to trust my boys to His care. I took a few days to think about relinquishing this control that I thought I had over their lives and their safety.

Bravely, during one of my walks, I tearfully named each one of them, and gave them back to God. I knew that He loved them as much as I did, and that I could release my fears and trust in God to watch over them.

Knowing God was in control gave me a feeling of peace and freed my worried mind. I was able to live without fear for my boys’ safety. Not that I never worried again, but I learned to focus on God's provision, and I began to learn about trust. It took practice, and believing that no matter what happened, my sons were in God’s hands.

Since the day I gained my freedom from fear by learning to trust in God, He has continued His work in me, especially in the area of trust. Now I am the one going out into the world, away from my home and family, and I know that God will always be with me.

I think the world is an even scarier place now than it was when my boys were small. It was during their middle and high schools years that the Columbine tragedy happened, and then so many other school shootings followed.

Every day when my boys left for school, I wondered if they would come home to me. But I couldn’t live in fear. That was what the enemy wanted. I knew that to live in fear would crush my creativity and my zest for life, so I gave it all to God. I prayed for their safety, and released my fears to His great love.

Our fourth son is now a teenager, learning to drive and beginning to be out in the world away from us more and more. I lean on my understanding of God’s presence in my life, and His great love for all of us, when I need to let go.

Recent events at the Sandy Hook Elementary School have shaken me to the core. I still struggle with the senseless violence that destroyed that community’s peace and tore apart families when so many precious lives were lost. I’ve struggled with this along with the rest of the nation, and indeed the world, but I can’t let this fear control my life.

There is no doubt that there is evil in this world. And some people focus on these and other tragic events to point out that there is no hope for humankind. They’ve bought into the fear and they perpetuate it. 

I am the eternal optimist, and I believe there is much more good in the world than evil. I see this in my life everyday, and in my community, as people reach out to help one another. This goodness comes from God, and if we look, we will find it in the world and in the people around us.

I’ve learned to let go of my fears, to trust in God with all that I can’t carry alone. My sons would argue that I still worry too much, but I know the truth. I know how much of my fears are released to my God who I know is always near.

I don’t know why these tragedies occur, but I do know the evil one would relish us living in fear of what will happen next. We cannot succumb to the fear in this world. The only way to live in peace in our own spirit is to connect with a higher power of goodness and Light. My Savior not only freed me from sin. He frees me every day to make the choice to live in peace and harmony.

The world can be a tragic place. Lives are cut short and danger abounds. But the world is also a beautiful place, full of love and people who understand the preciousness of life. We need to make the choice to rise above fear and live fearlessly through trusting God.

Each of us must make our own way, but we shouldn’t try to do it alone. Rest in His peace, so that we may be free to live in the joy we were meant to have here on this earth.