Monday grace

Exhaustion seeped into my bones after a week of busy tasks, one after the other checked off the list, my effort to keep myself on track.

Recitals, piano students, celebration, music that thrills me proves holy in the deep part of my soul. And how is it that I get to be part of these young growing musicians? It is too wonderful to express.

Remembering almost twenty years ago to the position that was eliminated due to budget cuts, how the shock of loosing my job, my career, sent me packing boxes from the nice office and title on the door. My staff and I were numb as I tried to keep smiling for morale sake.

Holding back the tears, the sounds I heard were dissonant and without reason or rhythm.

Yet, I see it was good for me to be released, set free to fly and sing a new song.

The desire of my heart, surely put there by my Creator, began small. I put up a poster and paid for an ad in the local paper: “Piano lessons.”

Today, this weekend, these many years later, my students flourish, and I rejoice in what God has done.

What was meant to hinder my progress became a new path, and I found a calling I had faintly heard as a whisper.

God takes the difficult, the painful, the broken and remakes, reforms, and restores to bring forth beauty from the heap.

It’s what He does most excellently. And He does it beautifully in perfect timing, creating a song of praise.

Monday grace.

I am a placemaker too

I became acquainted with Christie Purifoy when I read her first book, Roots and Sky. The story of her moving to an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania, with her husband, three children and one on the way, moved me, and I gave copies of the book to friends.

Anticipating Christie’s second book, I applied to be on the launch team for Placemaker, Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace. I am not disappointed.

Christie Purifoy’s flower garden

The writing is lyrical, sentences and paragraphs creating song and melody. As Christie describes the places she and her family lived, she tells a story of life and loss. And she talks about trees.

Chapter titles are named for them: Citrus Grove, Pine Tree, Saucer Magnolia, Honey Locust. Because making a place you call home is not just about the building where you live. It is about the city, the neighbors, the parks, the church family. It’s about settling in and calling this place home for however long you are there.

I’ve not lived in as many locations and states and Christie. My homes have been within less than a fifty-mile radius from birth to present day. Yet home, with all the meaning I can give it, is significant. Memories evoke the places where they occured. The yard where I celebrated a birthday with childhood friends. My teenage upstairs bedroom with white cape cod curtains. The carport with wood neatly stacked ready to be carried inside for the fireplace. The kitchen where my mother taught me to cook and the one where I orchestrated thousands of meals. The lane where I walked to visit a neighbor. The gardens where I planted herbs, vegetables, and flowers, bending low to pull weeds and cultivate something akin to beauty.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Placemaker:

“Making and tending good and beautiful places is not a dishonorable retreat. It is a holy pursuit.”
“Every place made by God is loved by God, and that includes every place where His people dwell. If we are willing to look through the lens of His love, then we will see that every place has some particular magic.”
“The trees know what we struggle to accept: it is right and good to love my neighbor as myself. My fate, and my neighbor’s fate, are bound up together. No human and no tree are an island.”

Placemaking is making a place, whether that is creating a comfortable home for husband and children, making room for friends at the table, getting to know the neighbors and looking out for one another, or opening one’s heart to love and be loved.

We’ve all been given places to inhabit and to tend. Christie Purifoy tells us her story in her own beautiful way.

View from Maplehurst, Christie’s home in Pennsylvania

[God] determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. Acts 17:26b

Sunday grace

The day is full of color, the color of summer. Blue sky, white clouds, green trees, rainbow flowers. July is beauty in so many ways.

A friend commented on her garden, her a new farm girl this year with a barn and animals and vegetables to tend.  The season for growing is good, “everyday more and more” she said.

The earth teaches us God’s law of sowing and reaping. One seed produces many more seeds. Small efforts bring forth a larger harvest. Be careful what you sow, for you shall reap much more.

The earth shows the handiwork of God. Creation shouts His glory. The trees clap their hands, and the birds sign His praises.

An old hymn, by John Rutter, from a favored book rings this melody . . .

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,

For the love which from our birth over and around us lies,

For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r, sun and moon, and stars of light 

The gracious hand of our God spreads a table of goodness for us, for all good things spring forth from Him. He invites us to come, partake, be filled with Himself.

Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.

Sunday grace.

Summer work, soul work

While I call them the gardens, this year it seems more appropriate to say it’s a jungle out there.


This spring and summer has not been my best time for accomplishing much outdoors. It has been the year of the dog for us, though Chinese lore designates that title in 2018. Our little girl Maisie requires walks twice a day and lots of play time in the middle. I have given that to her more often than I’ve been down on my knees in the dirt with garden gloves.

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As a rescue animal who fended for herself much of her young life, Maisie needed our attention, training, and affection. She is rewarding us with obedience and companionship. She is settling in as our dog.

Last week I was able to go to the yard a couple of days. After a downpour of rain, I pulled on my garden boots and pink work gloves, carrying the kneeling pad and a few tools. I soon filled box after box of weeds pulled from all sorts of places. The occasional cloudburst drove me to the deck to rest a bit. Then I would trudge back to the work area.


Another day, I determinedly took the weed sprayer and began the long-overdue task of killing poison ivy and the extreme overgrowth of neglected flower beds.

Both days I finished soaking wet with perspiration because, once again, it is hot at my Kentucky home. I felt encouraged that something like a small beginning was produced in those hours of work.

However, there has been some friendly fire in the gardens. Plants that should have been left in the ground were uprooted as I pulled weeds feverishly. Some purposely planted flowers were sprayed with poison accidentally in my hurry to get more accomplished. Two out-of-control Rose of Sharon bushes in full bloom were trimmed to the point of having almost no flowers left.

It happens when I leave something neglected for too long.

It happens in my soul as well. The small roots of discontent, comparison, and unthankfulness can turn into something ugly rather quickly. While the Holy Spirit prompts me with the Scripture and His still small voice, I can ignore both and go my own way, neglecting the needed soul-work, intending to deal with it later.

It’s never a good idea to put it off too long.

Weeds grow too close to flowers and reproduce quickly. Roots entangle with each other. Dislodging the weed often results in the good plant being uprooted.

I need to learn the lesson. It’s better to address the issues that bear on my spirit promptly. It’s wise to forgive quickly. I would do well to turn loose of the cares of life and stop the comparisons that burden me down. I should be discerning the bounty of gifts that are evident every day.

I need to count my blessings.

I realize life can be hard. How well we know that. There are mountains to climb, rivers to pass through, bridges to build, and rocky roads to travel.

I am assured that God goes with me every step of my journey. I am encouraged that there will be grace enough. I am told to let patience do it’s work in me so I learn endurance and will be made complete.

Instead of pushing aside those gentle nudges of the Spirit, I want to be more conscious of His whispers and quick to respond to my need for Him in every season and at all times. He is always with me and willing to help me address the complications of my life sooner rather than later. What might seem like a more convenient time only delays the inevitable.

He is the Teacher, the Comforter, and the One who goes with me whether for a daily walk or into the jungle.

There is still beauty in the gardens despite my neglect. And God still works to produce beauty in me through His tireless love, with the goal of reflecting the beauty of Christ at the end of it all.



Sunday grace

While there is little gardening or weeding going on these days because of one-handedness, there is beauty around me everywhere.





Where there was winter, there is now summer.


While we wait for death, we anticipate birth.


Where there is brokeness, there can be healing.


Joy and sorrow ride the same rail, side by side. During the dark seasons of our lives, we wait for the dawn, we look for the silver lining, we walk toward the ray of sunshine.



Beauty is everywhere if we will but look for it. Let our eyes be wide open to the vision of God’s grace abounding to each of us.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

I walk into morning light, a light mist hovering over the lake and grassy lawn. Beauty awakens me.

I am greeted by sun’s warmth, bird’s song, flower’s bud, and the coffee in my cup that is creamy and hot.

I am looking for lovely, finding it at every turn.

Like the Psalmist, I long for this thing, to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.

He has given earth’s beauty to be enjoyed, to bring pleasure to the heart.  The mountains, the sea, the grandeur of forests and fields, my own back yard.

He is beautiful beyond description. And He has made all things beautiful in its time.

Every creature, great and strong, small and imperceptible, reveals the beautiful Creator who designed it, spoke it into existence, formed it in perfection.

Every life carries beauty within it, upon it. The world has rejected it, stamping its own standard of perceived perfection. And we have missed the artistry and grace of the creation.

Look for the lovely in each face today. See the exquisiteness and comeliness of every fair expression. Lift up the downcast heart and speak words of life.

You are beautiful.

Sunday grace.



The lovely

un{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

I’ve seen Annie Downs via the simulcast of IF: Gatherings.  But I know her in a different way after having read her book, Looking For Lovely, Collecting the Moments that Matter.

looking for lovely

I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.  It’s an easy read with short chapters, and Annie is funny.  She often made me smile. It’s honest as Annie talks about her struggles and her victories.  It provides a glimpse of how Annie began to see beautiful in what once was dark and painful.

And isn’t that what life is about?  We grapple with the reason behind the bad things that happen to who we call the good people.  Yet it is common to mankind.  We will have tribulations in this world.  It is inevitable.  What we do with those experiences is vital to how we survive and live joyfully.

The book is divided into three sections.  The first is Annie’s “Absence of Lovely” and the transparent way she describes her clashes against the difficulties in her life.

Section 2 is her “Search of Lovely” where she describes events that point her toward the beauty of living out her purpose, how the dark threads are part of her canvas as much as bright and gold ones. It is in this section that she makes suggestions to the reader to take some kind of action to look for the lovely in life.

The book ends with a brief “When I Found Lovely” as a summary of the search and the found prize of living her days joyfully, knowing God is a redeemer of all things and will bring beauty from ashes every single time.

I enjoyed sitting on my deck where nature’s loveliness surrounded me and reading Annie’s stories.  They resonated with me.  Life is not an easy ride.  I don’t think it was meant to be.  But it is full of beauty and lovely and joy and glory if we will open our eyes and look for it.


NOTE:   I received a copy of the book Looking for Lovely, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

B&H blogger icon



Christmas beauty

I read the following words from Rhonda Quaney and just had to share them with you.

“. . . everything is simplified by the beauty of a woman in love with Jesus.”

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That’s the kind of woman I want to be, the kind of beauty I want to have, the life I really want to live.

deeper waters

Go with me to Deeper Waters, and let your soul breathe deeply.  You will be glad you took the time to read.

Simple beauty

There is a first frost on the pumpkins and a mist rising from the lake this morning.  It is quite lovely.

Yesterday afternoon I gathered the remaining annuals from the yard knowing the frost would soon wither them.  I put flowers in vases throughout the house.  Their brilliance startles me as I walk in the room.  Their seeds assure me of more next year.

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The flames flicker warm in the fireplace.  I catch sight of a golden glow on the large maple tree as the sun rises high to shine on it.

I look at pictures of funny faces sent to me by my eldest granddaughter, the one who flew in like a bird with me in July.  The silly show reminds me of the fun with had just being together, the shared experience.

In the afternoon we attend the celebration of a child’s birthday.  Grandparents, other relations, and friends gathered, taking pictures, telling stories, eating cake.  And there is an exquisiteness of the life of family.

There is beauty in the air and in our home and in our world.  It is sent from the Father for us to enjoy.  It is His great pleasure to shower us with blessings.

And I shall keep my umbrella down today and let the blessings fall like rain drops to soak into the heart that has felt dry and cracked this week.

The simple beauty of life, everyday life is what I crave.  And today I am filled.

Hello Beautiful!

She came up to me at a women’s retreat after I had given my testimony.  Her boldness jolted me when she asked, “Will you mentor me?”  I was taken aback and humbled.  I wasn’t even sure I knew how to mentor anyone. I gave her a quick and careful response, “Let’s pray about that.”

Her courageous request would not turn me loose.  I did pray about it and felt God leading me to say ‘yes’ to this young woman.  I had no formal mentoring training.  All I could think of were the older women in my own life, the ones who displayed a Christ-like character and were an example of what a godly woman looked like.  I made myself available to talk with her, to pray with her, to share a little of life with her.  And the mentoring came naturally.

We built relationship.  We got acquainted with each other’s families.  I learned about her struggles and victories.  She learned about mine.  We became faith-encouragers and prayer warriors to one anther.  We came to love each other.

Now, a half dozen years later, she has become a leader among women, one who is mentoring others.  I’m not sure what role I played in all of it.  I am simply gratified at what I see the Lord doing in and through her.

So when she sees me now, she greets me with, “Hello Beautiful!”  And I shake my head a little because I am fully aware of the reflection in my mirror.

I’ve never been the beautiful one in the family.  I was not a head turner growing up.  Not a Miss America candidate.  It seems I’ve always struggled with my weight.  I was not the girl all the guys wanted to date.  And besides, I’m a grandmother now with all the physical features to go with the title.

So why does she call me beautiful?

Here is what I have concluded.  She sees me beautiful because she loves me.  We developed a bond that drew us to love one another.  And the fruit of it was beauty.

Because what we place value on, what we set our affections upon becomes a thing of beauty to us.

Why else would the elderly man look at his aged wife and say, “You are still beautiful to me”?  Why does my Sweet William say such a thing to me when the wrinkles are beginning to meet each other and become a cross road in my face?

Why do my grandchildren think I am beautiful?  Yes, me with the thinning grey head, the paunch in the tummy, the effects of gravity on everything.  My teeth are not as white as they once were.  I wear trifocals for goodness sake.  I’m not really that stylish in my clothing choices.  But to my three grands, I am exquisite.

And the reason can only be that they see me through eyes of love.

I begin to understand a bit more the amazing love of God  The grace He extends and the longing to have fellowship with the likes of me shocks me to my core. Why does He place such value on me?  I am sinful by nature though I fight it hard.  I fail often.  I fall down a lot.

Why would He want to be with . . . me?

It can only be because the love He has poured out to me has made me become precious and worth something.

Worth dying for.

And I perceive that love changes it’s subject into something sublime.  God loved the world, us the created, so much that He was willing to die for the lot of us.

What kind of beautiful love is that?  It is love that sees beyond the faults and failures, the decay and the filth, the imperfection and the sinfulness and sees a beauty worth saving.  A beauty worth whatever it costs.

This love not only sees beauty but changes the object of love into something beautiful.  The beloved becomes beautiful because love made it so.

So if we happen to meet and you tell me I look beautiful, I know what is really behind that statement.  It’s simple.  It’s because you love me.