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Monday grace

I read this from Emily P. Freeman, and wrote it down for my quote book:

“To control, coerce, and manipulate is not our job . . . Instead, we adapt, accept and acknowledge what we need to let go, and continue to do the next right thing.”

I thought a lot about this. Trying to control is something I’m familiar with. I am well practiced in planning outcomes, managing my environment, and sometimes gently persuading people (an honest confession). Often my efforts are futile.

In the early months of the year I lost control of many things, so I set out to control the wild gardens in the yard, a suitable substitute I suppose. As days stretch long and calendar months change, I find myself still dealing with the uncontrollable. It’s time to change my thinking.

Adapt. Accept. Acknowledge. That requires some serious thought. Instead of struggling, I can learn to accept what I cannot change and move forward to live my one wonderful life with joy.

I can acknowledge the struggle and the strain, try to adapt to the present situation, and move forward with a positive attitude rather than kicking and screaming as I’m dragged along.

My bullet journal has a page titled, What Gives Me Life? Monthly I listed what was good for me, what brought peace and comfort to my soul and a presence of grace in my spirit.

Reviewing the eight months of 2020, I see some recurring themes.

Nature nurtures. Walking outside, enjoying the changing seasons, meandering and noticing the small.
I need people. Honest conversations with friends and family, listening well and opening my own heart with honesty.
Accomplish something. Breaking large projects into small bites and seeing progress little by little is satisfying.
Music soothes. My piano students even when Zoom was challenging, playing with the band on Sunday morning at church, working hard on a new song myself, and CDs filling the house with melody.
Moving slow. Fast is sometimes needed, but slow lets me enjoy the process.
Making art. Crafting something with my mind and hands engaged, whether that is sewing, gardening, arranging flowers on the mantel above the fireplace.
Books. Bible studies and commentaries, fiction and non-fiction, memoir and biography, they keep me learning and growing.
Giving and receiving love. Checking on my neighbors, waving to the mail person and the Amazon driver, texting with my people, and having love returned by the bushel.
Counting grace. I’ve made the effort to list the blessings of God, even on the hard days. Once I get started, I think of many things He gives as daily gifts.
Quiet. Introverts will identify. I need some solitude, reflection time, a chance to process what’s going on in my brain to make sense of it.

I cannot dictate the coming days or wish away what disturbs me. I can choose to focus on what is good and holy about this world, to love and be kind at every opportunity, and to nourish myself with what gives me life in a year that has pulled and stretched the muscles of us all. The world has changed. May I learn contentment as I live out of my days.

Monday grace.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
— Philippians 4


As August ends

The month of August signals the end of summer, and it brought a mixture of emotions. Its ending marks eight months of 2020 in past tense, over half of it spent in quarantine, covered faces, and rising discord.

It will not be so different tomorrow when September begins new and fresh. Still, I will greet the new month with gladness, anticipating grace from a loving Savior and His peace in the midst of this storm.

The gardens flourish and bring me pleasure, unlike 2019. Last year’s journal records the yard out of control, driving me to despair. While I categorize my gardening style as somewhat wild and slightly unruly, like my messy hairstyle, it is agreeable enough and satisfying this year.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”The Nester, Myquillyn Smith

Surprisingly, all my zinnias bloomed pink until yesterday when an orange one opened. It stands out different, reaffirming the uniqueness of all God’s creations. The variety and colors on the deck, by the sidewalk, and on the front porch remind me why I wear myself out with yard work.

For eight months I’ve listened to Daily Audio Bible, beginning January 1, a year-long program taking me through the entire Bible. I’ve made progress by simply tuning in each day. The rewards are more than I expected, hearing the ancient words read to me, noticing details I’ve skimmed over in years past.

A week ago, the reading was in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul expounding on the resurrection. I listened to the comparison of a body to a seed buried in the ground that will rise from the earth amazingly transformed. I pictured a small sunflower seed changed into the grandest of flowers, an astonishing transfiguration. As a sower of seeds, I witness the change every summer, the death of the seeds resulting in extraordinary arrays of color and shape in my garden. How much more remarkable will our glorified bodies be?

I’ve read a lot of books this year, because, well, that’s one thing we’ve not been advised to stop doing. This month I finished Brain Wash by David and Austin Perlmutter, father and son and both medical doctors. The message seeks to direct us toward good brain health through “clearer thinking, deeper relationships, and lasting happiness.”

The chapters encouraged disconnecting from so much technology, practicing gratitude, spending time in nature, eating natural food versus processed, getting exercise, being mindful, and strengthening relational bonds. All of this with the goal of a healthier brain.

I read with rapt interest, since keeping my brain strong and vital is a real concern. One concept worth mentioning is the isolation and loneliness we experience in a society so easily and quickly connected through technology. Apparently, this is not sufficient for the human need for relationship.

The 2020 pandemic has divided us further from personal encounters. As I enter the grocery store, masked for protection, I avoid people and don’t make much eye contact. I self-check out so I am the one handling my purchases.

As I slowly began mingling with people again, piano students, friends, church, there is the hesitation to shake hands or give a hug, what was natural as rain last year and done without a second thought. Now, seeing someone to our door after a visit, we stand awkwardly, wondering if it’s safe to wrap an arm around each other. This is heartbreaking to me.

We are missing the “power of interpersonal relationships and all the benefits they confer. . . . [T]hese ties to our friends, families, and society as a whole are essential for everything,” according the Drs. Perlmutter.

It makes me wonder if the greatest threat to our world is not coronavirus, but the separateness we are experiencing because of fear, anxiety and anger. Those things register high on our emotional thermometer these days.

Our Creator is relational to the core of His being. He created us for relationship, first with Himself and then with each other. Sin brought disconnection, brokenness, and we are lost with our wounded hearts.

Jesus offers us Himself completely, openly, without reservations. He invites us to come. No reservations. No pretense. No mask. We are welcomed just like we are. He restores the fragmented pieces. He puts His love inside and we are made whole again. Whole to live and love like Him.

I am weary of the world as it is. I long for something else, for the transformation of my earthly seed into the extravagance of the incorruptible.

Until then, I am called to live my one wonderful life on this earth following God where He leads me, loving the people He puts in my path, and pointing them to Jesus, the healer of broken hearts.

Tuesday thoughts

This picture is in the monthly publication of Kentucky Living, an advertisement for the state fair.

I can’t decide if this is funny or sad. I have determined that some things so odd in April this year are now the prevailing situation, a standard by which we are being asked to live. And that, I’m sure, is sad.

As I consider how the latest changes and the completely different are the new normal, I count things in my life that are anchored and familiar.

The blue sky and white puffy clouds have been especially beautiful this August. I’ve notice them more, perhaps, looking for lovely where I can find it. And lovely is everywhere if we have eyes to see.

Morning glories wind their way around deck posts. The purples come up with abandon, and I must pull some to keep them controlled. Yet, their beauty wakens the day for me.

This year I have two other varieties. Tie Dye morning glory seeds were given to me by a good friend and fellow gardener a few years ago. They flourish and are blooming furiously. I think of my friend when I see them, her good and honest friendship.

The simple flowers of summer’s end, zinnias, cocks comb, morning glory, signal the coming fall. I reflect on the seasons’ unbroken constancy, and it brings comfort.

Schools are in session, and though it is nothing like 2019 for staff, teachers and students, the routine of buying supplies, making preparation and digging into studies is part of family life. Seeing the racks of folders, markers and pencils at Walmart bring a nostalgia, and I want to buy a new notebook.

This morning I talked on the phone with my long-time prayer partner at 6:30 am. It is our weekly practice. We both marvel at God’s plan to give us this partnership and the tenacity to hang on for so many years. We admit it is a God thing and grace for sure. This weekly blessing is not affected by quarantines, and we count it pure joy.

My six-year old neighbor visited us yesterday. He is full of conversation and has the busy energy of boyhood. He is sunshine to Sweet William and me. I watched him come and remembered how our grandchildren used to meander through the same field, stopping to examine a flower or insect, how they waved their hello and good-bye. His presence in our lives and in the house next door is an exceptional gift.

While life seems to change weekly, so much of it strange, uncomfortable, even fearful, there remains an unchanging quality in the presence of God through the beauty of nature, the kindness of friends, the love we share with others, family bonds, an honest conversation, and a trusted companion.

God is still on the throne of all creation. He has not abdicated His sovereignty. He works in the quiet places of hearts. He hears our prayers, and He answers according to His perfect will.

The constancy of my Father in Heaven holds me together when I think I may be falling apart or losing my ability to cope with this crazy world. He is the Faithful One, the same yesterday, today, forever.

Always and forever beyond any normal.

April 2019 ending

April is perhaps my favorite month of the year. It offers a beauty not easily compared. Shades of green, abundance of color, redbud trees, Bradford pear and azaleas glowing at the front of the house. Rabbits hop and birds sing and build nests. New life flourishes, and it is my time of year.


There was heartache this month. Friends suffer, and we hurt too, not in the same way, not to the depth of their grief, but we feel a measure of pain.

Prayers Sweet William and I prayed were answered, but not how we wanted. I struggle to understand and find myself saying, “I don’t understand Your ways,” to the God who’s providence is certain, who’s sovereignty is sure.

At those times, once again, I make a choice to believe that He is good, that He is strong, and that He is kind. I choose to trust through tears, bending my knee in surrender, letting go of my desire to make sense of how life happens to us all.

I read Scripture and know there is truth in the ancient words. They point me in the right direction, even when I cannot see the end of the journey or fathom what God is about.

Obviously it is the month of yard work. The hum of lawn mowers pairs with the smell of newly sheared grass. After days of kneeling then struggling to get up, pulling weeds, and generally hard work, the front yard is presentable, almost charming. Let’s don’t even talk about the back yard. It waits for another day.

A friend and I went to the movies to see Unplanned. I thought it was well done and presented a side of the abortion industry we don’t see on nightly news. Let me brag a little by saying our son worked on Unplanned, and I’m a proud momma. Seeing his name on the credits at the end is thrilling. Just sayin’.

It’s been so Springy around here. Along with flower kaleidoscopes and the greening of the little woods, bird nests abounded. A dove built in the clematis outside the bedroom window, and I spied a robin’s young in a metal structure in the front garden. On walks I watched geese sit through rain, heat and cold, and a neighbor said a wood duck nest was hidden in his wood pile.

This month I saw the baby goslings hatch, from a distance of course. Of all the years of geese at the lake across the road, this was the first time I witnessed new babies bob and sway, learning to stand for the first time. I called for my little neighbor, four-years old, to come see, because this needed to be experienced with a child.

The same day we saw the mother wood duck hurry across the field toward the little woods with seven or eight little ones following behind. Springtide was delightful.

I read two books written by people whose lifestyles are very different than mine. I wanted to understand. Too many times, I’ve made judgments based on what I think I know instead of learning about the experiences of others.

As I study the life of Jesus, I see how He loved people right where they were, knowing all of the paths that brought them to that place. His compassion reached out with an understanding heart, a crystal-clear awareness of their hurts and how He could offer healing. He tenderly offered a better way.

I want to love like that.

I enjoyed time with my people, both young and older. I spent a day each week with women in Bible study who challenged me. We bonded afresh. They probably don’t know how much joy they bring to my heart.

I fixed quiche for a young woman my granddaughter’s age and heard her perspective on growing into adulthood. I was refreshed by another who is young enough to be my daughter. Among the things we share are music, teaching, quilting, and theology. Over brunch and coffee, we didn’t lack for conversation and laughter. We occupied the table until the lunch crowd began to gather.

I am a rich woman and Queen of Quite-a-Lot as a result of these extravagant relationships.

Sweet William and I are coming upon our one-year anniversary of having smart phones. I hesitated getting one because I didn’t want it to become an appendage, a thing I have constantly at my fingertips.

That has been challenging, and I’ve caught myself texting while trying to listen to Sweet William at the same time. My focus is divided sometimes. I’ve made good use of GPS and enjoy the convenience of apps, yet I still must guard against letting this piece of digital material direct my moments, let alone my life. Sometimes it feels like a noose around my neck with it’s nagging insistence to pay attention to it instead of people in front of me.

A favorite quote this month by Manisha Thakor: “The internet is both a lifeline and a plastic bag over my head.” Yes, that is it. The internet is convenient, gives me access to the world’s information, answers my questions, shows me the way to my destination, makes shopping simple, lets me communicate quickly, and in many ways makes my life easier.

But, it can become suffocating trying to keep up with all that it offers. I’m not on Twitter or Linkdin, and I’ve decided I can’t do Instagram. I thought I could add it to my online stash, but I found myself thinking how I needed to take a picture of the baby goslings wandering my yard and post an appropriate saying for the world to see instead of simply enjoying their cuteness.


I don’t judge the way others use the internet, social media and the world wide web for jobs and communication, to connect and post beautiful photos. I enjoy looking at other people’s pictures. I keep up with my family through Facebook. I use the web to interact, send messages, and post this blog, hoping someone out there is reading it.

As I read and learn, work and play, I want to live an authentic life, my own and not someone else’s. Every person has gifts, strengths, talents. Sometimes I’ve tried to be like someone else, and it has proven false and unfulfilling. I recognize my skills and aptitudes and where I am most fruitful. I also know my weaknesses, areas where I am less than.

It’s an ongoing quest to live the life I’m called to live. It has taken me years to discover this truth, and I continue to learn.

At the end of March, I said April was the new January. It has been that for me. Stretching and growing, working and loving, resting and refreshing, and choosing to be happy. This is my one wonderful life.

I heard someone say joy and sorrow run together like train tracks. We experience both at the same time. And so it has been this beautiful month of April. The glory of new life bursting forth, the celebration of Resurrection and Christ’s victory over the cross have been reasons to rejoice.

At the same time we have wept with those who weep, grappling with death and what it leaves in its wake. Sadly the grave is still part of this life. Because this is not the end of it all. Heaven is real and one day we will greet those we struggled to let go before we were ready to say good-bye.

And perhaps it will be forever spring there.

Monday grace

Maisie and I walk a half lap of the lane. The temperature is cool, the sky overcast.

The make-shift wooden bench, salvaged from the neighbor’s garbage last year, sits at the edge of the yard. Maisie wants to wander still, but I stop, not needing to rest, but needing to be still.

I gaze at the lake across the road, the geese as they swim and waddle ashore. The gander follows her goose as he leads her to the nibbles in the grass.

I begin to breathe deeper, something I don’t do enough. More often my breaths come in quick succession, enough to keep oxygen flowing through lungs and heart, blood carrying it where it is needed.

The deep breaths are cleansing and I feel myself relax in the quiet. Birds sing their evening song, a last hallelujah for this day, to the Creator who has provided for their needs.

As I turn loose of responsibilities and things on my list for tomorrow, my head clears and I listen for the voice of God. He speaks in the still, smallness of my awakened sense to Him.

He plants a question, His way of turning my awareness to my heart, to search out the deep recesses of my soul, to open doors that I often close and latch from the seeing world.

As I rise from my bench, Maisie restless to move on, the question lingers. I will ponder it in days ahead. I will come again to this place and sit to rest from my weariness, to hear and discern the voice of God, to gain understanding and insight.

For this is my Father’s desire: to draw me away from bustling to the place of quiet rest; to speak tender words of love to the tenderest parts of me; to reveal Himself once more so I can know Him even more.

Monday grace.

January ending 2019

January has been different. It’s the only way I know to describe it.

With health concerns in the forefront of our minds, Sweet William and I began the month on the road, heading west to be with our precious ones. We needed the comfort of being with them. It’s the way we weather the storms of life sometimes, because we’re better together than apart.

Time spent with those we hold so dear was sweet, and the outcome of a surgery was positive. After a week, we headed home feeling relief and giving thanks to God for always providing His grace for our needs.

This trip we left Maisie at home with a house/pet sitter we trusted. Being our first experience, it created a little anxiety for me. I kept texting the first few days to see if everything was OK. It was beyond OK. Maisie got to play more than usual, and the house was freshly clean when we came home. It was an incredible welcome after long hours on the road, unloading the car and beginning the task of laundry and putting everything away.

I’ve been reclusive this month. Maybe it was the cold weather and too many grey-sky days. Maybe it was a case of the blues as I tried to iron out unruly thoughts. Maybe I needed the calm after the bustle of Christmas and the unexpected of New Year.

I journaled pages, scribbling and sorting through what troubled me. It’s like a free counseling session as I get emotions out of my system and onto paper. It is my hope that whoever may read my words one day will give me grace for being human and understand that I was in a difficult place.

I busied myself with inside projects and recognize it as a mechanism I use to deal. When something is out of control, whether that be me or circumstances, I do what I can control, like cleaning out a closet.

I’ve been between a rock and a hard place of trying to hygge with lit candles, snuggling in quilts, and cozy fire sitting while, at the same time, Marie Kondo prescribes that I tidy up my surroundings and turn loose of anything that does not bring me joy.


I briefly “read” (more like scanned) a book about minimalist decorating and decided I am not a fan. The pictures of rooms looked like no one lived there with their grey industrial walls and bare surfaces. I am fond of my stuff, the things I willingly dust around because each one reflects back to me a person, a memory, or simple beauty. I can find balance with my belongings without being overtaken by them.

During my January organizing, I went through old photographs, finding some treasures. One of my granddaughters recently developed an interest in studying her ancestry. I was happy to share pictures and stories with her. And one of these days, I really am going to put the black and white images in albums, especially now that someone will treasure their history.

Among the photographs, I found a couple of V-mail letters my mother had written to my father during WWII. The handwriting was tiny, but I recognized her familiar script. Her words were sentimental and romantic, a new bride of two years who longed for her husband far from home. It was poignant to read, witnessing my parents tenderly young and deeply in love. They were beginning their lives together, dreaming of a future when they were together again.

I’ve sort of recently discovered podcasts, and I have a few favorites I enjoy listening to as I do some task. In one interview, a man spoke about his life spiraling downward with overwork, alcohol abuse, and depression. He realized he had to change his habits and wrote a book about it. One of the habits he recommended was meeting with a friend for an hour every week. That sounds simple enough, but is it? We are busy folk, distracted, multi-tasking gurus. Or perhaps reclusive. It takes intentionality to set aside time, to turn off technology, to focus and quiet the heart for a face-to-face with another. I have found it worth the effort and one of the most refreshing things I can do for myself.

Another book of interest this month was The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins. Collins is renowned for his leadership in the Human Genome Project. The book was deep and made me think outside the box regarding science and faith, which often seems to be at odds with each other. I appreciated his unbiased approach, presenting the facts and then asking the reader to think for herself.

This quote from Albert Einstein has meaning for me: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I understand better now that faith and science do not have to be in conflict with each other.

The last couple of days of the month, the electric company appeared on our lane with heavy equipment. Sweet William and I heard the noise of the machines and strained to see what was happening. To my horror, they began to cut a 50 foot tract through our little woods, ripping brush and saplings, crushing everything in the path. I drove the car down the lane and saw the devastation.

I enjoy my little woods. It has taken years for the trees to grow and fill in the area. I wanted to cry.

The electric company had every right to do their work. They purchased that stip of land years ago, underneath the high wires that run from east to west. My trees were sacrificed for the greater good of having electricity in my home and the homes of my neighbors, close and far. On the frigid days of January ending, I have been thankful for a warm house. Still I grieve the loss.

Many times as I have driven to town, I noticed yards along the road where branches have been cut to prevent them from tangling with wires. It looks butchered to me, the branches severed, trees lopsided, nothing esthetic or artful. They stand in their naked brokenness.

Yet spring and summer reveals their continued vigorous growth, leaves filling out the cut and jagged places. Often when I observe them, I think of the pruning in my own life, things cut away, often severely, leaving me feeling lopsided and naked. Is it somehow for the greater good?

Only God will tell me the reasons one day. I expect in some way or another, He will explain life to me, the whys and the wherefores of pain, suffering, loss, the cutting away that He knows is necessary for a more fruitful life. He knows the purpose He has for me and others.

Until then, I must learn to trust Him, knowing He is wise and good. This life is not about me, after all. It is about Him. Perhaps this one wild life I live will in some way point others in His direction. Perhaps God will shine through the cracked and jagged places in me. Perhaps the pruning will result in more fruit than I could have imagined.

Perhaps in the wisdom and sovereignty of God, He will produce something beautiful in me, something that will give joy. Perhaps I will even reflect His glory to the world.

Sunday grace

Show us your glory, Lord!

You have shown You might with an outstretched arm through the work of the cross. If nothing miraculous ever happens, Jesus Christ crucified and risen is enough.

But, Oh Lord, I want to see Your glory.

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“Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known. ”
— Habakkuk 3:2

Give me eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to perceive when You are wonderful.

From the tiny garden spider spinning her zig-zag web by the deck to the hummingbird who zooms past me in a second.

From the miracle of birth to the faces of my neighbors.

From the innocence of children to the wisdom of the elderly gained by trials and experience.

From the majesty of moon and one red star in the morning horizon to the sun setting each evening in pallet of unlimited color and uniqueness.

From Your daily provision as we sit at  the table with food to eat to the cloud cover that gave me respite in the hot sun as I finished my work.

From the vast galaxies with stars unnumbered to the minuscule DNA that makes each and every one of us distinctive, unduplicated, and irreplaceable.

From the promises of Your word that we have seen come to pass to the prophetic future You alone will complete.

From the prayers You heard and answered in ways I could not have imagined to the questions I have asked that remain a mystery in this lifetime.

Oh Lord, we have seen Your glory. Be we want to see it again. Renew Your wonders in our day, in our time make them known to us.

Make my faith grow. Help me to believe You. Be strong in my mind and heart. Move mightily in me, your simple servant, however that might manifest.

Oh Lord, show me Your glory.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travis

 

 

 

 

Sunday grace

The air is cold on my face, the rest of me bundled in flannel, corduroy and fleece. This is what I call a crisp fall morning.

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Maisie is cloaked in her cozy jacket with fake fur around her neck, and we walk, she with her nose to the ground as if scrolling through a news feed. I observe the earthy browns of autumn, what is left of the colors. The tree branches are stark against the backdrop.

Overhead a hawk calls and flies toward the tall electrical pole. I hear a second hawk in the distance and stop to see what will happen. The two land precariously on the same pole, fluttering to balance and stay together. Then they fly off swooping and calling, a game of catch.

The sun announces itself with a red blaze across the lake. Soon its brightness begins to appear. It is a new day, and there are fresh mercies stored up for it.

We don’t know what a day brings, but our Father has already seen ahead of us. He has prepared for it. He is not caught off guard by sudden circumstances that knock us to the ground, send us to the hospital, bend us low in weeping.

He is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. He is the Ancient of Days who goes before us into battle and with us through the valley. He marches as Captain of the Lord’s host, always victorious, and we are clothed in His righteous armor.

The season of joy approaches, and we will sing the songs of a Baby who changes everything. Some of us will still carry burdens along with our gift boxes. Sometimes we will smile through tears and say, “I’m fine,” when we really aren’t.

God sees. God knows. He who feeds the birds of the air and watches with gladness as they swoop and play, also knows me and you.

God hears us, our prayers, our praise, our weeping. He answers with a love that will not let us go, with peace that passes understanding, with joy in spite of a heavy heart.

He came to us. He became flesh and lived among us, experienced life as we do. Who can be compared to One like Him?

Make Him welcome in every part of our lives, this season and always. Let every heart prepare Him room.

Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday grace.

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Sheltering trees

The first tree to begin a color change is in my neighbor’s yard. I notice is as I walk.

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I love trees, and I’m still planting them. At my age, I know there is a chance they will not mature into their full height before I am gone, gone from this house or gone from this earth. Still I plant.

Just this week, I planted five little saplings, weeping willows and curly willows I started from cut branches. They have been happily growing in a pot by the walkway until this fall season when I hoped we might get steady rain. With the dry summer heat predicted for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be carrying water all over the yard.

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I have planted a number of the trees during the time we have lived here. I’ve watched them grow, and now I enjoy walking among them. One dear to my heart is a 22-year-old Bradford Pear. It has lived its lifespan. I read that it is not a favorite tree anymore because of the shortness of its life. Yet it grows bountifully here.

We planted it at the gravesite of our beloved poodle-mix dog who lived to be 18 years old. She was the pup our son grew up with. She died the year he married. The tree is as old as his wedding anniversary date.

It blooms beautifully in the spring, spreads its arms wide in the summer, and rewards us with golden-red leaves in fall.

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Two oaks on either side of the yard were grown from tiny seedlings. There are others the squirrels planted. They stand tall and straight, established and stable.

Some of my trees were nature planted. Thank you, sweet birds. Then there’s a crooked little apple tree close to the lane that bears small tart apples in a good season. Years ago my dad noticed it sprouting up in the lawn and protected it from the mower.  Perhaps it started from a tossed apple core. I trimmed it this week, its branches sprawling in a unique formation. I think of my dad and how he loved all things green.

As the seasons change and leaves fall, I discover bird nests in the forks of branches. Environmentalists say trees encourage wildlife on the property, offering food, shelter and a place to build a home. The trees are my offering to them.

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There is something comforting when I walk among the trees. I especially like to walk under them, in the shelter of their branches.

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When Maisie and I take our daily walks down our lane, we pass a group of tall oaks growing on the edge of the little woods. We’ve stopped there when it was raining and been protected from the downpour. In the heat of summer evenings, I’ve felt the coolness drift toward us in that particular spot, the green leaf covering changing the temperature ever so slightly. It catches me off guard, a curiosity I stop to enjoy.

My friend texted me this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and I so identify:

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.”

My friends have come from varied places and in different ways, some in the form of family members and others randomly placed in life’s pathway. Relationships formed by what seemed like an accidental meeting. Other times the friendship developed as the result of being sought out and purposely planted. I’ve found friends at school, in neighborhoods, at church, in the community. These are people I treasure and are as varied as the shapes and fruit on my trees. And I love them for their unique qualities and how they enrich the soil of my soul.

They shelter me, these friends of mine. I find consolation from their presence and our conversations. They offer encouragement when I need it. Their words are honest. Their hearts are true. Their prayers strengthen me. Their love makes me a better person.

In the beginning, the Lord God planted a garden. He called it Eden.

While Eden is no longer, there is still a garden where friendship flourishes. A relational God created us for relationships. We desire it, crave it, need it. It is His gift to us.

Friendship takes effort. It takes time. It takes investment. It requires nurturing. If neglected, it can flounder and we will find ourselves lost without it.

Cherish the people God brings into your life. They are more important than jobs or possessions or bank accounts. God has planted eternity in the human heart. As we honor our people, we find them to be our wealth, the true and lasting riches we long for.

Friendship is a sheltering tree.  Hold dear your friends. And be a shelter to someone else.

 

 

Sunday grace

The trees in the yard take their own sweet time bringing forth. Some already have leaves of lovely spring green. Some still wait.

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It is the same each year. The autumn olives leaf out early while the oaks stand tall and naked, just recently dropping last year’s dry growth. The evergreen cedars are unchanged, their forest green looking dull against the hue of this season.

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We all grow and bloom at our own pace, so why do we compare ourselves to one another? Comparison kills relationships and stagnates us as we try to be like someone else.

Your strengths balance out my weaknesses. Your gifts bring blessing to the family of God. Your uniqueness is just what the world needs.

The saplings stand near the 30 foot maple. The small flowering fruit tree is so close to the elm, their roots must intertwine. All are in different stages of growth. Their bark, leaf shape, fruit, and root systems are diverse. Yet there they stand, together, offering me their beauty, a protected nest site for the birds, a jungle gym for the squirrels.

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How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity, accepting one another in love, using our talents and gifts as the Holy Spirit distributes them according to design and purpose.

The body functions best when all its parts are functioning as they should, strong and healthy.

Let nature take her course in our little woods. Let God have His way in each of us. He is the author of our lives, the One who perfects us and finishes what He started. He will complete the work just as He planned it.

Be who you were made to be, the irreplaceable creation of the Creator. The real you. Honoring the God who gives you life.

Let all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  And may we live to the praise of His glory.

Sunday grace.

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