Archives

Monday grace

What do I really want? I think about that often.

What do I want to fix for supper? What do I want to wear today? What tasks do I want to accomplish this week?

Looking farther down the road than today or next week, I am searching my heart. This journey I am on spans some decades. What do I really want to do with the rest of my wild, wonderful life?

I’m exploring my inner landscape, and I’m looking for arrows.

I’ve never heard God speak audibly, but He does speak if I listen. Sometimes it’s through my longings. Sometimes it’s through a person. Often it’s through His Word in my morning quiet.

When decisions stand before me, my perception intensifies, like raising the antenna. I don’t want to miss what God might be wanting to tell me.

He invites to me to ask, to seek, to knock. He encourages me to come with all my wonders, my what-ifs, my quandaries, my questions.

So I am looking for the arrows He may send, pointing me in a direction to show me the way.

This verse sits on my kitchen counter now. I study it, making the effort to commit it to memory. It is the guiding principle as I look for the arrows.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.
— Psalm 32:8 NLT

I’m keeping my eyes open. I’m listening for His voice. I’m trusting God’s timing.

I’ll raise the sails, anticipating the breath of the Spirit as it begins to move. I want to go where He leads. Let the winds blow.

Monday grace

As the month of September meanders to its end, I glance backward to what lies behind me.

Those days have been hard, dry and cracked open with suffering. And how do we go on from here?

Three times in my seventy years I count the most sorrowful of seasons. All involved death, real and symbolic. As if something were being ripped from my grasp, my heart was left crushed, my soul whimpering.

I spent time wandering the wilderness of my own confusion, my questions were without answers as I watered my path with weeping.

Looking backward with the perspective of time and wisdom, I see lessons I was meant to learn. Though I felt alone, I perceive that God’s presence surrounded me. My tears were noticed, my groaning was heard, and the Father of all comfort drew nearer to me in my brokenness.

I bear the scars still. The wounds have healed but their evidence remains, a reminder that no one gets a reprieve from suffering in this fractured world.

As I walk beside others in their wilderness journey, I identify with their pain, remembering the aloneness and the desperation. I feel their longing for relief from the angst of this affliction. We enter into the fellowship of human suffering.

With thanksgiving, I recall the bright and beautiful days, the gentle meanders through green meadows, the soft breezes on my face, the sweet communion of friends in joyful song.

But it is in the dark, thunderous storms that my heart is tendered by my tribulation. Those were the times I ran to the gentle and strong Shepherd while wolves surrounded and I trembled in the unknown. His comfort and protection were what I needed.

While questions without answers raged in my mind and I couldn’t see farther than the next step, He who is the Way opened the door to Himself, and I ran to His arms.

While I learned to trust Jesus at my mother’s knee and from my father’s example, it was in the dark night of my soul that I comprehended a dimension of God I could not have known any other way.

“The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud.”

If I could have chosen, I may have taken the gentle way, the easy path, but that would not have been the best for me. I would not learn endurance. I would not know peace in the storm. I would not experience a comforting Presence in my pain. I would not have empathy for my fellow sojourners. I would not see hope in a hopeless situation. I would not stand in awe of the brilliant stars in the blackness of night.

I would not know Jesus the way I do.

So I will walk where my Savior calls me, the road where He promises to walk with me. And though it be through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. He makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in my wasteland.

He turns my Valley of Baca into a spring of refreshing.

He sends a sunrise after the night, and mercy awaits me for the new day.

Sunday grace

Words of a song from my youth take shape in my mind, and I sing them to the trees.

More of You. More of You. I’ve had all, but what I need is more of You.
Of things I’ve had my fill, and yet I hunger still.
Empty and bare, Lord hear my prayer for more of You.

On retreat at a cabin in the woods, what better place to be? I look out to the treetops. The quiet is a balm. I fill up on nature’s nectar.

The early morning is my favored hour on the deck, before the heat of the day, sunlight filtering through leaves, birds serenading, gentle rain dripping to the forest floor.

When Maisie and I walk, she is in olfactory heaven. I wonder at her inquisitiveness, ears alert and nose to the ground. What scent causes her pause, creating a craving to investigate? What sound catches her attention enough to stop, stand still, and wait for more?

I too feel the yearning to pause in wonder while seeking and searching for truth. What lies ahead as one decade of my life ends and another begins? How shall I be alert to what lies ahead? How can I give heed to what my senses and my spirit are trying to tell me?

At this age I have more questions than answers.

Reading Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life, I make notes in my journal.

  • I will not live wisely unless I am thoughtful, examining this one wonderful life, my motives, behavior and habits.
  • Preparing for tomorrow is different than worrying about tomorrow.
  • I can’t face old age when I’m old. I have to do that when I’m young. (I hope it isn’t too late.)

Life is a remarkable adventure, with twists and turns, wonder and mystery. The trail is winding and uphill, heavy with the weight of the unimaginable yet to be discovered.

The journey is dangerous and wild. Sometimes I’ve stumbled and face planted. Hopefully, I learned from my errors, picked up and gone forward. Around the bend is magnificence, and I don’t want to miss it.

When the road is uncertain and frightening, I will not walk alone, though the valleys are deep and the mountains high. My Shepherd leads. He started the quest and invited me to follow. He is my protection and prepares a table for me. He bids me rest and takes my hand when it’s time to press on.

The closer I get to home, the more I know what I really need, what I want most. It isn’t the stuff I’ve spent a lifetime accumulating. Not houses or land, bank accounts or possessions.

It’s Jesus. He is what my heart craves. He is what I need.

Sunday grace.


September ending 2018

September is gone, and I wonder where it went. Autumn is upon us. The leaves of trees are barely turning, and I anticipate a month of color.

What can I say about the weather in September? It was unusual. Hot, rain and flash flood warnings, then a break with cool breezes requiring that flannel shirt I’ve been wanting to wear.

We bought a gently used car at the beginning of the month, then took it back within the time limit. I’ve returned purchases many times during my life, but never a car. We experienced a gamut of emotions during the process, but in the end we felt the car was not for us. Sometimes we wander until we find our way.

I began a Bible study right after Labor Day with a wonderful group of women. Beth Moore’s Believing God is not new, but it is deep and rich. I love meeting regularly for Bible study. It is how many long-lasting friendships developed. Sitting together at the table, sharing what God is saying to us, and opening our hearts to one another is special and unique. I treasure these weekly sessions.

I did my semi-annual garage clean-out in September. I have to lighten the space to prepare to bring tender plants in for the winter. And I had a can of tomatoes explode on one of the shelves.

It’s the shelf next to the stairs leading to the house where I store extra food stuff and supplies. I call it my Y2K shelf because it came to be in 1999 when the world thought we would implode because we were moving toward a new century. The news channels warned us to prepare for disaster, if not mayhem. So I stocked up on food. I chuckle about it now, almost 19 years later. January 1, 2000 came in like a lamb. Sometimes the thing we fear does not come upon us.

The week before a planned trip to visit our dear ones was busy with preparation and making up piano lessons. I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going and had to refer to my lists often.  Traveling is complicated for us. We don’t do it often enough to streamline our techniques. Maybe that needs to change.

We took a new route this time, the many miles of highway to get from here to there and back again. It was somewhat stressful, since we had not been this way before. As always we had our AAA Triptik, which we referred to often. But this time we had GPS! Sweet William and I are still learning about our smart phones, but I’ve gotten acquainted with Gypsy (my name for GPS). She’s a wonder. While the AAA map gives us the full scope of the journey, Gypsy gave us step-by-step instructions. I like seeing the big picture, but I’m learning to rely on those simple instructions of “in the next 500 feet, turn right.”

Our last week of September was spent with my five favorite people and their furry friends. Maisie was in dog heaven. She played with the dogs until her tongue hung out. And she chased the cat. I was worried that she would catch it, but cats have a way of displaying their power. Claws and toenails echoed on the hardwood flooring until the dogs and cat ran out of steam and found a place to nap.

Maisie seems a little depressed now that we’ve come home to a quieter house. Maybe she needs her own friend here at the Wright House.

101_2122 (2).JPG

I did a lot of listening and interacting with our dear ones, sitting long at meal times, lingering over coffee, hearing hearts and sharing my own. I did little writing, reading or facebooking, even taking minimal pictures, because precious faces were right in front of me and I wanted to partake of every moment with them.

I lost my watch the second day of the visit. I looked all week for it, in bags and drawers, under furniture and amidst paraphernalia. It was not to be found, and I tried not to be disappointed since it was a favorite with memories attached. But I reasoned that this trip did not need to be timed. I was on no schedule except to be present with each one of my family. I hope they felt it from me, my full attention to them and their thoughts and ideas.

We experienced their town and their new-to-them house, their quiet neighborhood where Maisie and I walked and the variety of geese and ducks at the lake nearby. We declared our last day there to be Grandparents Day, and I spent time doing something special with each of my three grands. The memories linger as tears well in my eyes. I already miss them and know it will be awhile before I look them in the face again.

in Tulsa sept 2018

I say it often, that  I don’t understand God’s ways. Why the miles, the physical distance between us and them. But my Father knows our past, present and future. I am ever-learning to trust Him with it all.

Arriving back home brings relief. The Lord kept us safe on our trip. I almost lost Maisie twice, but she is here with us. Trials come with the best of experiences, and we had those, but in the scope of it all, we had a wonderful time.

As we were unloading the car, our good neighbor pulled into the drive with a load of  pumpkins and gourds. He kept handing me more, excitement whelling up with the bounty. I will enjoy placing them around the house and on porches for the living fall decor.

101_2125

Unpacking suitcases and washing clothes is always the order of business. As I dug into a small pocket of one bag, I found my watch. I smiled and assumed it’s time to get back on schedule.

“Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” It has become my goal, the way I want to live. The light and dark of a day, the joy and sorrow that befalls each of us, all are threads of the weaving that become a tapestry of beauty.  I want to be present for it all.

Sometimes I think I want to see the entirety of the map of my life, like a AAA Triptik. More often I’m only given a simple instruction at the exact time I need it.

“This is the way; walk in it.”

fall 2.jpg

 

 

Sunday grace

We made our decision; the destination is determined. We begin here and are determined to go there.

The plan is the plan. We made it and begin the process of working it. However, it isn’t always that easy.

My limited understanding doesn’t allow for sideroads, construction zones, and detours. I get confused and assume the worse when things aren’t turning out the way I planed.

When the road is longer than expected and more confusing than anticipated, I begin to wonder where I erred.

When we longingly look for the light at the end of the tunnel or we can’t find room in the inn, I wonder where we took a wrong turn.

When the miles add up to more than the map showed, I begin to question the journey.

But when we finally arrive at our destination, all seems right and according to the plan. In my prayers I hear Him whisper, “I am here.”

Because it’s not about my plan. It’s about His plan.

And He who created a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

He knows where I am; He knows the way that I take. He has already gone before me. If I get sidetracked, He patiently redirects my steps until I am back on the path. No matter how many times it happens, He pulls me back to the road again.

And finally I will be home.

Sunday grace.

101_0960

 

 

In the desert for a few days

Sweet William and I have been in the desert for almost five days. Here in mid August, our central air conditioner gave up the ghost.

It happened on a Thursday evening while I was in the midst of piano lessons. I fanned vigorously and apologized to students coming into the house. The prognosis: We need a new unit which will cost a lot, and it cannot be installed until Monday.

My students where glad to be going home.

The heat rose in our normally climate-controlled house, rising to 85 degrees quickly. Even the August picture on our wall calendar looks hot.

By Friday, Sweet William and I were sweltering. And I wonder why air conditioners break down in the middle of summer? We kept looking at the thermometers placed throughout the house as the temperatures went higher. Fans were running everywhere and especially in our faces.

And for once it was too hot for coffee.Wendys

By the afternoon, with outdoor temperature soaring to 91 degrees and not much better indoors, we had enough. We got in the car where the air conditioner worked great, turning it down to 65 degrees and letting the cold winds blow. A cheeseburger at Wendy’s was our destination because if you can’t stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen.

We ate our burger in the car with the air running full blast. Then we went to Dairy Queen for Blizzards because we deserved it.

I don’t know when ice cream tasted so good. I ate until chill bumps formed on my arms.

One small window unit upstairs and a portable unit left by the heating/air company were our only means of survival. At night we closed the bedroom door, the portable unit blowing cold air into the room. We slept like it was winter, pulling a quilt over us. But upon waking and opening the door to the rest of the house, the heat hit me, and I really wondered whether morning coffee was worth it.

On Saturday, the cloud cover lowered the house temperature a small bit. We experimented with blankets and quilts in doorways hoping to keep the coolness in a smaller area of the house where it could be manageable and somewhat livable.

I was glad we had not invited anyone for brunch or dinner. They would not have wanted to come.

Each morning we emerged from the igloo of our bedroom only to be faced with the heat wave in the rest of the house. The blanketed-off living area had to cool down again by opening up the bedroom door. We lived in the desert of hot air blowing around us during the day.

We went to the deck because sometimes it felt better in fresh air. We watched dark clouds roll in a few times and hoped for rain to change the weather. Maisie lay stretched out on the cool floor more often than curled up in her bed.

We drank cold drinks and fixed sandwiches. I didn’t dare turn on the oven. The goal was to stay calm, cool, and collected as possible.

It seemed each time I went outside and returned to the house, the same words came out of my mouth. “It’s cooler outside than it is in here.”

I’m sure if we had asked friends, someone would have let us come stay with them. But when you have a dog, the equation gets complicated. And Maisie was in this with us.

As the days went by, the outdoor temperature cooled a little, and I think we began adjusting to our situation. We were going to tough this one out while we counted down the days until the new unit could be installed.

Sweet William and I prayed that we would not let our tempers flare with the flare of our heated conditions. We found ways to entertain ourselves because TV was in the hot rooms of the house. We talked more, and we laughed. I read a book aloud.

We have come through this experience with much thanksgiving and hopefully some wisdom.

While we were hot and miserable physically, what we lacked were only creature comforts. There are others on our prayer list who are suffering more. Ours was a temporary discomfort lasting a few days. It is not so for some we know and love.

Life is complicated. Minor irritations and major trauma are assured to come along in this life. We are destined for tribulation. Sometimes we have to walk through a desert, and sometimes we must weather a storm.

But we also look with hope toward an end of the trial. We want to understand the lesson to be learned and grow in endurance. We come through the trouble with a few more of our rough places sanded smooth. The chisel and hammer are brutal to the marble. But what begins to take shape is the image the creator planned.

We are like the marble. God is the artist who continues to do His good work in us, though it be painful, until the image of His Son is revealed more and more.

This short desert trip was not on my schedule; I would not have chosen it. But having made the journey, the oasis is deliciously refreshing.

101_0102

new years

100_1778 Already well into January and I still ponder 2014.

When I was a girl, too young to know better, I made a list of resolutions and expected to keep them.  Mostly they were simple things like keeping a daily diary or some other such worthy project.

I gave up resolutions when I grew up.

In the 1990’s I began making goals, listing them by categories like career, financial, health, home.  Some I accomplished, some just went to the next year . . . and the next year . . . and the next. Some went backwards, like my weight.  One year it was “maintain weight,” then went to “lose 10 pounds,” until it now becomes “don’t get any fatter.”  Yikes.

The past several years have been such roller coaster rides of being in and out of the hospital with Sweet William, and care-giving was what I did and what took all my energy. I have anticipated many a January 1 hoping for something different from the year before.  But sometimes it just becomes the next day.  My first journal entry of 2012 went something like this: “Another new year, another new day.  It just continues from what was.  A new year does not suddenly change all of our circumstances.  They follow us into 2012, almost like a ball and chain.”

I was having a bad day.  A bad year.

Today begins a new journey for me, one I’ve anticipated for a while. Today is my last day as director of the Academy of Arts at Little Flock Baptist Church where I have spent almost seven wonderful and adventurous years.  I could not have asked for a better job during my silver season.  Challenging work.  Great boss.  Fun co-workers.  Happy environment (most days anyway).  Music everywhere.  A piano just a stroll away.

I have absolutely loved my work at the Academy.  Watching young and older students learn to play an instrument and hearing them show off at recitals twice a year has just been marvelous. I will miss it.

Yet, I feel the guiding hand of the Lord closing one door and opening another.

My pastor’s sermon Sunday challenged me to think about the days ahead.  And I pray that God will guide these next days of my life.  What does He have in store for me?  What does He want 2014 to look like?  What gifts will He daily give?  What challenges will face Sweet William and me as we fall into the Father’s arm and trust Him for sufficient grace?

I don’t know the answers to these questions.  I only know there will be fresh mercies for each new day of the rest of my life.

Psalm 16 speaks truth to me today.

“I have set the Lord always before me.   Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure.  You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”  (verses 8, 9, 11)

My life is in His hand.  My days are His to use as He sees fit.  He has preserved me in my past.  He is with me in my present.  He will guide my future and will keep me in the palm of His hand.

Amen.  So be it.