Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Steadfast Love



They have come every spring for the past three years - a sweet pair of Cardinals. The first year I watched as they painstakingly built a sturdy nest in my hanging planter. As a little aside, the flowers in my planter aren't real. After several failed attempts to get flowers to thrive on our sunny, windy front porch, I gave up and bought some at our local craft store. It doesn't seem to bother this couple. They return year after year to set up housekeeping among the fake blooms.

Last winter, when I took down the planter, I decided to leave the nest intact. I thought I would spare them the work of having to build another new nest. I began watching for them in early spring. They arrived right on time and seemed happy to set up housekeeping in the old nest.

The planter is right outside my kitchen window. I spend a lot of time there, washing dishes and preparing meals. The activities of the mama cardinal make for fascinating entertainment. She is a picture of steadfast love.

Once she has laid her eggs, she nestles in and rarely leaves the nest. When she does, it's only for a very short time. Occasionally, papa cardinal comes to check on things, but for the most part she keeps a lonely vigil. I often wonder if she sees me watching her behind the glass. If so, she just pretends I'm not there. Perhaps she's learned to trust me.

I'm over at Laced With Grace today. So is the rest of this little devotional. Would love to have you join me there.

Blessings,
Linda

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Encouraging Words For the Weekend


"In order for our dreams to see the light of success, we must learn to take control of our fears. We need to turn those fears over to God and focus on what's really important: seeing the dreams He's given us come true. See, dreams remain only wisps of enjoyable but useless imagination if we don't give them an anchor to hold to. If we don't make them determined goals. Faith in God is that anchor; it's what enables that dream to come down off the shelf and sit right down in front of us. Since God is the One who gives us our dreams, they are ultimately His for us to hold, but we must be willing to approach them with the mind-set that so many successful people have had over the years. We must be ready to attempt something so great for God that unless He intervenes, we are bound to fail."

Debbie Macomber ("Knit Together") (emphasis mine)

May all your dreams come true,
Linda

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Update From the Ark


Greetings from the ark! Okay - that's a bit of an exaggeration, but we've gotten a LOT of rain over the past few days. Enough to strand us for the morning yesterday and cause Bible Study and school cancellations today.


The major road leading to our sub-division has areas at either end marked with "Low Water" signs and big measuring sticks with markings from one to five feet. Once the water begins flowing over the road the barricades go up.

Around 11:30 Tuesday night we could hear the distant roll of thunder. I snuggled contently under the covers. I love a night-time thunder storm - ones that are rather gentle in nature. However, it soon became apparent this one would be anything but gentle.

The wind began to pick up and the lightning flashed like strobe lights. The rain poured down and the wind became stronger. I no longer felt cozy. The sound of the rain against the window resembled a giant power washer. I pictured tree limbs scattered on the ground and prayed our little pump house would still be standing in the morning. It was scary.

We woke to cloudy skies and, much to our relief, a still-standing pump house and intact trees. My husband, ever the adventurer, decided to check on the road. He came back to report water flowing over both crossings and the barricades up. Our weatherman informed us the wind had gusted up to 80 mph.

 By afternoon the water had subsided, and we ventured forth. We delivered groceries to my Mom and Dad and stayed for a little visit. Much to our surprise, they informed us they had gone to Walmart with the Assisted Living bus and done some shopping of their own. A big step for them. They now have enough bread and corn to last a couple of weeks. Seems they bought the same things they had asked us to buy. Ah well - we're just thankful they're beginning to venture forth!


It began raining again this morning. Only one barricade up - so technically we could get out. However, it seems a perfect day to stay home. Just yesterday I was saying, okay complaining, I feel as though I have lost myself. Our days are so full, and we are always on the go. I'm a home-body and love to spend time with handwork, books, old movies, writing, working outside …. all those things we introverts thrive on. I know I need to get out if I'm to actually live a life, but I find myself longing for at least a day or two where I can just be home.

I don't want to give up volunteer work or choir - and I certainly want to spend time with my Mom and Dad. I just have a longing to get back to the things that have been crowded out of my life. I'm going to try to be a bit more intentional about that.


We never complain about rain. We've known too many times of severe drought to take it for granted.


Thank You so much for the rain, Lord. For the filling of the rivers and streams and for the lush growth all around us. And for time at home.

Blessings,
Linda

Monday, May 16, 2016

Plans



I've wanted a plumbago plant for a long time. My neighbor has a few in front of her porch. I love the way they grow - full and lush with those lovely blue blooms. I figured since they seemed to be doing well for her, it's a good bet the deer don't like them. After all, they don't have a fenced in yard either.

My sweet husband went to the nursery to buy one for me while I was recovering from my foot surgery. He planted it in the spot I had reserved for it - right between the two oleander plants. I thought that would give the plumbago a little extra protection just in case. The oleanders are poison, and the deer apparently know that.

By the next morning, we discovered that a) deer do indeed like plumbago plants and b) they had discovered ours, eaten it down to two long sad stems and didn't even bother to leave a thank you note. I'm thinking about moving on to plan B - buying a miniature windmill, which is entirely inedible, and putting it where the plumbago plant is currently lying prone on the ground.

It has caused me to think about some of the other grand plans I've had during my lifetime, not many of which panned out exactly the way I thought they would. In the interest of sharing a life-lesson or two, I'm going to be brutally honest. Besides, I think sometimes it's good for the soul.

Back when our kids were young and in school, I would go out on our little front porch in the afternoon and write poems - for no particular reason other than I liked to do it. Then someone in our church started a writers' group, and I joined. Suddenly a whole world of possibilities opened before me - and a plan began to form. Surely God had been in the timing of all this, and therefore He must want to use this in my life to do something - I don't know - BIG!

The only thing to come out of that little group was a devotional for our church. In time, the leaders moved away, and the group just sort of fizzled. However, a tiny seed of an idea had formed - an idea to write a mystery. I bought a how-to book, and then life took a turn. Instead of the writing path, God had another journey in mind. That's a story for another day.

Fast-forward about twenty years. I discovered blogging and immediately decided this was God's new plan. At long last - a writing ministry. I plugged away at it, watching as so many of my fellow-bloggers succeeded in ways I had only dreamed of - huge numbers of readers, book deals, and speaking engagements. Once again, I understood God's plan for me looked a lot different from the one of my dreams. I learned to be content in the place He had given me. Or, well, almost content.

The mystery book seed began to germinate in my heart. I prayed about it and was convinced this was it! I would write this book and God would use it in some way. I'm so prone to starting big and petering out long before I reach the goal, but this time I stuck to it. I worked hard, got help from a wise and patient mentor and actually wrote a book.

Things did not go according to my plan. After several rejections, I tucked it away in the tray on my desk. There it sits.

I looked back over the past week in my little daily planner. My life is predictable these days. I felt the familiar stab of discouragement, until I was reminded of something the Lord has been whispering into my heart for a long time. I don't have to do BIG things. I only need to be faithful to do what He has asked of me.

One afternoon, on a visit to my Mom and Dad, my husband and I played Bingo with the other residents of the Assisted Living. I sat and listened to the soft voice of an elderly lady tell me about her son and her grandson. The woman sitting next to my Mom told about the years she and her husband lived in Italy. Her face shone with the memories of afternoons on the porch with kind neighbors, shared food and happy gatherings. It was sweet. I even won a game!

We did our volunteer work at church on Tuesday; went to choir practice on Wednesday, walked together most days and went to the inevitable doctor appointment. I made eggplant parmigiana - with an extra batch for Mom and Dad.

None of those things are the things I imagined doing at this season of my life. I somehow imagined adventurous things like mission trips, and since my husband's health didn't permit those I brought my other plan to God's attention. I've learned He doesn't need my advice.

I don't know where tomorrow will take me. I've decided it's enough to just be content with the life I've been given today. And the amazing thing is - that's where the blessings are. I can stop looking around for the BIG thing. I'm not much good at big things anyway.

Blessings,
Linda

P.S. I had a picture of my sad plumbago plant, but blogger refuses to let me post it. I'll try to put it up on my Facebook feed. The best laid plans :)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Encouraging Words For the Weekend


Words from one of the "heroes" of my faith - Ruth Bell Graham

"A successful marriage is made up of two good forgivers."

"If I cannot give my children a perfect mother I can at least give them more of the one they've got - and make that one more loving. I will be available. I will take time to listen, time to play, time to be home when they arrive from school, time to counsel and encourage."


"It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: always ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain."

"My job is to take care of the possible and to trust God with the impossible."

"Take all away.
 I am content to know
 Such love is mine
 for life is all to brief
 to grieve for pleasures bringing only grief;
 give me but You;
 it is enough just so."

May your weekend be filled with peace and rest - and fun!
Linda

Friday, May 13, 2016

In Praise Of My New/Old Washing Machine


When we moved into our new home four years ago, we bought all new appliances - including a new washer and dryer. To begin with I was quite pleased with the idea of my High Energy Efficient washer. Think of all the water we would save - not to mention detergent. Win!

The first time I arranged a load of clothes around the tiny little lump at the bottom of the tub and pushed the button to start I was startled at the noise it made. So much so that I called the manufacturer and had the nice man listen to the strange sounds over the phone. He assured me that, although it sounded like a little cement mixer, all was as it should be.

Fine. Except it didn't take long to realize our clothes weren't getting clean. To say the whites were dingy would be a gross understatement. I added bleach - which didn't seem to help a bit. In fact, it had the annoying little quirk of making bleach spots on the colored clothes in the subsequent wash. My daughter was not pleased when I ruined one of her shirts.

Secretly, in my heart-of-hearts, I couldn't wait for the thing to die so I could get a different washer. I may have even said it out loud a time or two.

It didn't disappoint. Less than three years later, it refused to spin. I tried all the little red and green buttons to no avail. Enter the repairman.

It didn't take him long to discover the problem. Something about the direct drive rusting up and causing the spin cycle to fail. Apparently it's very common. The replacement part would cost nearly as much as buying a new machine.

I told him how unhappy this washer made me and my hope for getting a washer like the one I had many years ago. One with a normal agitator. He shook his head sadly and informed us they no longer manufacture such washing machines - government regulations. Of course! He then shared an amazing secret with us.

He found a little place where they rescue those "old-fashioned" washers and restore them. He himself bought just such a machine. He gave us directions to this wonderful establishment, and supplied us with the magic word. "Coupler." The washing machine must have a coupler - a part easily replaced when necessary (unlike the direct drive). I'm sure there's more technical jargon involved - but knowing "coupler" will do. I nearly hugged him. What a great repairman!

We drove out to the country the next day and found the nondescript building down a little road. We walked in and there they were. New/old washing machines. With proper agitators! Angels singing!

We decided on this sweet little washer. It looked brand new, and they assured us it had been thoroughly restored. Besides - it comes with a six month guarantee. Plus - they deliver, install and take away the old machine.

In a few days, my new/old washer graced the laundry room. I couldn't wait to wash a load of white clothes. I threw them into the machine - no fancy arranging around the little lump - added detergent AND bleach and turned the sweet little dial.






Ah the lovely sound of the agitator getting everything nice and clean. The difference after just one wash was amazing. My whites are whiter! The colors brighter! I love this washing machine. I often pat it gently as I walk by. I want it to live forever.

If you are wishing for the good old days of agitator machines, just remember the word "coupler." You will be so happy friends. You're welcome!

Blessings,
Linda

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Suffering


Some moments in our lives, no matter how far in the past, stand out as though they happened only yesterday. The memory brings the same emotions - the pounding heart and palpable fear.

On a lovely summer day, when my son was just a little boy, he was viciously attacked by our neighbor's dog. He had gone next-door with his older brother to play with a friend. Always fearful of dogs, he hung back when the friend assured him it would be okay if he petted his large, beautiful husky. Before anyone could take in what was happening, the dog lunged and took down my little boy. Had it not been for the friend's father, I shudder to think what could have happened.

My day went from pleasant to terrifying when they brought him home - blood pouring from two large tears in the side of his face. The trip to the E.R. is a blur. Somehow we got there. My next memory is of my boy's tiny body on a large stretcher, and the doctor telling me to hold him down while he stitched up the side of his torn face.

I don't know how I did it. He was terrified and in so much pain, and I felt as though I was taking part in his suffering. His eyes met mine as his strong little body pushed against me. I can only imagine what he was thinking...

I'm at Laced With Grace today with the rest of this devotional. Please come join me there.

Blessings,
Linda