Archives

Monday grace – the new year

An internet “friend,” Susie Davis, wrote at the beginning of the month: “I‘m still waiting on God to fill in some of the blanks for me for the new year.” Her words ring true. 

After all the fluff and flurry of decorations are tucked away for another eleven months, my days become thoughtful. Endeavoring to go gently into this new space and time, I purposefully scheduled some quiet for myself, to review the past and look toward the future. I wonder what the next 365 days hold for me and mine, for the circle of my family and friends, and even for the world. 

Who can know the future? There will always be predictions, and prognosticators will spout their opinions, but they cannot see into the future. We all walk into the unknown. 

I have today before me, a gift of life given with no promise of tomorrow. Yet, I plan and prepare, hoping to spend the one beautiful life I have in the best possible way. 

The question hangs like holding one’s breath. What is the best use of my life? At this stage and age, how then shall I live? 

As I evaluated 2022, I saw areas I need to adjust. Sometimes I filled my days and weeks too full. Sometimes I needed rest. With responsibilities looming large before me, I almost always have a list of tasks, and I wonder what will happen if I get behind. Would I be able to catch up? The cares of life can consume until I fall into bed at night, wondering what I did all day that made me so tired. 

I’m a keeper of memories as I write and record. I keep track of events, books read, people I love, hoping to observe how I’m spending my days. I notice how much of it has passed. I wonder what is left. Moses words in Psalm 90:12 speak loudly, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The New Living Translation says “realize the brevity of life so we can grow in wisdom.” Wisdom is the thing. Get wisdom. 

I ponder what is eternally valuable vs of earthly value. So much of what I do is mundane, repetitive, ordinary. Fix the meals and clear the dishes. Sweep the floor. Wash, dry, fold, and put away the clothes. Pay bills and deal with all the paperwork. It happens daily and weekly. If I didn’t do those things we might starve, wear stinky clothes, have the utilities turned off, get in trouble with the IRS, and drown in Maisie’s hair accumulating on the floor. 

Some of life is simply doing the same things again and again. 

But what of the eternally valuable? How and when am I storing treasures in Heaven that will outlast this skin and bone existence on earth? 

December 2021, standing at the grave site of a beloved family member, Sweet William invited our young cousin-twice-removed to come play guitar with him. And he came, almost weekly, the entire of last year, learning some licks from Sweet William and sharing some of his own. The day he came was often busy for me with piano lesson prep, and sometimes I felt rushed. But I always wanted to feed him, inviting him to eat lunch with us, because special things happen around the table. We shared good conversations, got to know each other better, bonding as family. And we shared Jesus and prayed for him. 

This semester he is off to college, and I missed him last week. I texted him, told him I am praying for him. His response was “Thank you. Thank you.” What a privilege it’s been to love him in Jesus’ name and to share life with him. And I think that this is weighty in Heaven more than so many check-offs in my planner. 

I can’t get away from the daily tasks of an earthly existence. They will be here until the day I take my last breath and leave them behind. Until then, I pray for strength to keep moving, keep thinking, and keep up. But I also pray that when an opportunity arises, when an interruption surprises, when a friend calls or comes unexpectedly to our door, I will see the possibility of God-incidents, an occasion to give grace out of the deep well of grace poured into my own life. 

May we spend our beautiful lives storing treasures in Heaven where moth and rust will not destroy, and where there are no worries of thieves breaking in to steal the things we’ve gathered in houses and barns. Those things will be left behind when I return to dust. The heavenly treasures will await my Homegoing. They will be where Jesus is. 

I want those treasures to be abundant and precious in His sight.

Tuesday grace – a grateful heart

As the To-Do’s swirl in my head and are reviewed in my bullet journal, I add to and I check off. This is my week to make Thanksgiving happen at the Wright House.

I can set the tables, bring out extra chairs, cook food and light candles, but can I make thanksgiving happen in a heart?

Only in mine.

I take paper and pen and begin to count my blessings, one by one. They are many, because God has been especially good to me. Yet, the memories linger of last year when sickness grabbed Sweet William and me, and we missed my favorite family meal. Covid spread from one to another, until one of us was taken from this earth, and we were left wanting and wondering what in the world had happened. Grief settled on us like a thundercloud.

I think of it all this early morning, as I sit in my rocker and make my list.

I think of others in my circle of people, missing one at the table of grace this year. Somehow, we will muster the determination to make the special recipes and bring ourselves, with a heart of thanks that we can be together once more, while remembering there is one less plate to set. And I feel the longing deep inside me.

It will be different this year at our house and at houses of friends and family, here and across the miles.

I needed a Psalm of Thanksgiving, and I turn to chapter 34. I begins with “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” It is less of a command and more an encouragement from a fellow sojourner who knew his own share of heartache.

As I read the highlighted and marked verses, they are anciently familiar and like fresh warm bread at the same time. “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” I am not alone.

This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.” This promise – that the Lord hears me – I cling to it as a life preserver. I am heard, I am known, I am loved. I am part of His plan.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry.” Tiny bottles grace the window sills of the upstairs dormer windows, sparkling in the sunlight, a reminder that my tears are noticed by the Living God. How is it that I am important to the Almighty? I don’t understand it, but I believe.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I’ve turned to this verse often through the years. It is my own comfort and comfort to share with others needing an assurance of Immanuel – God with us.

I pray for my people, the ones on a list and the ones who come to mind throughout the day. They are many. I know the Heavenly Father is aware of each need and how He plans to use it to grow us into who we are meant to be, how it will bring Him glory, how we will eventually see beauty rise from the ashes, how we will share the testimony of God’s grace and goodness.

My circumstances might not change, though I want them to or I pray for something else. But trusting in a good God is the beginning of turning my heart from questions and despair to joy and thanksgiving. His thoughts are higher than mine. I cannot comprehend the greater purpose in what He does. But I can run into the Father’s arms, let Him catch my tears, and hear His words of assurance, “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.”

We approach the season of Advent, looking forward with anticipation to the Nativity of Christ at Christmas time. He came as the Light of the world. He came to dispel the shadows and walk with us into the unknown and the unanswered.

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus told His friends, “but take heart. I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is the Overcoming One and Only, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. I desperately need the never-ending wellspring of His mercy and grace. His indwelling Holy Spirit helps me walk with courage in this world. His presence is promised to me. That is what I need most.

There is hope in a shadowed world. He is the Light at the end of my tunnel. I will give thanks to the Lord. He has been especially good to me.

Thanksgiving grace.

Monday grace – get wisdom

As I watch, the trees spread a golden carpet on the front lawn. Autumn marches forward as I try to treasure each beautiful day. Because, “Isn’t the present moment worth celebrating?” (Christy Purifoy)

In early August, as somewhat of a parting gift, she handed me the package, this friend who was moving miles away. Though different in vocation and ministry, we were kindred spirits almost from the beginning. We liked the same books, we cooked and made home for family and others, we loved the color blue, we shared a deep faith, and our conversation was easy.

Her token was a small journal with her handwritten note that read, “I encourage you to gift the world with your godly wisdom . . . you have much to share . . . “

And I wondered at the moment, as I still do, what do I have to share, what do I offer, what words linger after they are spoken?

I remember wisdom coming from the lips and lives of mentors in my younger life, my dear mother, my aunt, my grandmother whose words came second hand because she died when I was two, and a former school teacher, who nurtured me long and encouraged me each time I left with the words, “You’re a good girl.”

Wisdom came to me through authors and teachers and the study of the Word of Truth. It has come through experiences, falling down and getting up, success and failure, learning to say “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.” It comes by hearing another speak, evaluating the message and grasping the truth.

At first glance at my friend’s words, I could not think of any particular wisdom I have. The wise words I hold are from other sources so how can I claim to possess them as my own? I suppose I offer what was once held out to me, not forced upon me but gently presented, to accept or not.

Perhaps that is the first wisdom to recall and record in the small blue journal.

The weeks passed and my friend is settled into her home in another state. I keep the journal on my desk where I can record my thoughts, because if she thinks I am wise, then let me rise to that occasion.

I bestow a handful of the entries here.

  • Wisdom can be offered but not forced upon another, as it should be. We examine what another says to see if the Holy Spirit quickens it to us, if it resonates with what He is already speaking to the heart and if it lines up with the Word of God.
  • I am never sorry I showed up for someone, whether it be a celebration or a grief. No words are needed. My presence is sufficient.
  • Listening is a super power. More of us should learn and practice it.
  • If I think I’m becoming more humble, then maybe I’m not.
  • Words matter. Which ones I choose and how I use them make an impact. Profanity is a rustic crutch to express an opinion or thought. There are more creative words that can relay my meaning and relay it better. Use a Thesaurus.
  • Beauty is always present in a smile and a joyful countenance.
  • Practicing empathy has an immense ability to promote understanding.
  • I don’t want to become a grumpy old woman. The ‘old’ I can’t change, but the ‘grumpy’ is a choice.
  • Generally, people don’t really want my advice. They simply want to be heard and for me to try to understand.

Today, as I sat in the booth across from a young mom, steaming coffee and a pumpkin muffin enticing me, I listened as intently as I could. Her experiences were important to her, and so they were important to me. I could identify with things she was saying, because life has a way of teaching us if we are willing to learn. And I want to learn from every joyful and every painful event I endure.

We parted with me having offered little in advice or counsel, but I think she felt heard and understood, and that carries weight for both of us. I continue to learn the art of listening. It is a gift when people share their lives with me. May I never take that lightly. May I hold it tenderly and in confidence.

The book of Proverbs holds a treasure of wisdom, and it says, “. . . the tongue of the wise brings healing,” (12:18).

I continue to write in my blue journal as I discern something recordable, something that may be deep with meaning. Herein lies something of great importantance: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,” (Proverbs 9:10).

As leaves fall from trees, wisdom falls all around us, as well as a lot of information that lacks truth, validity, and authenticity.

The choices and practices of my life should be weighed carefully with a heart of wisdom. They form me. They impact those around me. Wisdom is prime. Get wisdom.

Monday grace.

Sunday grace

October startles me with its coming. How did September slip by so fast, so lovely, so delightfully fall-ish? I wanted it to last a little longer.

I had garden tasks to complete, projects that needed to be checked off the list, and alas, they remain undone. What am I to do but look around and see the beauty of summer past and welcome autumn in all its glory. I want to put on a pot of pinto beans. I want to make vegetable soup. I want to make pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin everything.

A volunteer vine grew in the flower bed by the back deck and I love surprises. Watching and wondering what might grow from the big yellow blooms was pure anticipation. Lo and behold (such an old and beloved expression), by summer there were small greenish gourd-like fruits scattered on the lawn as the vine traveled unhindered. The lawn mower graciously cut around, giving it room to thrive. Last week I picked nine small pumpkins, fruit from the birds’ labor and not mine.

Even now the trees are showing signs, leaves tinging toward gold. The sycamore in the side yard shows off its large brown leaves, some already fallen to the ground. I feel it in the air when Maisie and I walk. The clouds look different to me. The smell of chimney smoke and fire pits creates a longing for roasted marshmallows and hot dogs.

I’ve looked forward to Autumn. It is putting away the harvest season, sharpening garden tools, opening windows as fresh air fills the house. I prepare to bring in tender plants to over-winter in the garage and exchange light summer clothes for snuggly ones with boots.

As I pull out flannel PJs from storage, extra blankets and a warm sweater, summer’s passing settles. There are projects still undone in the gardens, dangling on lists in my bullet journal. That bothers me, the one who wants to complete the task and give it a flourishing check mark. Trying to catch up last week, I labored long outside and felt the ache in my body.

Then I let this thought take root: I cannot get it all done. Some of it will have to wait for next year, next spring. And Lord willing, it will begin anew once more. All is well.

Thoughts of the coming season can weigh heavy too. When I talked with my cousin this week, she felt it. Memories of death and loved ones we held dear, holidays approaching where a place setting will be empty, and we wonder how to walk forward with our heavy hearts, remembering the joy of their lives mingled with ours while we miss them terribly.

We live and love while it is day, as the Lord gives opportunity. At least I hope I do. Responsibility and tasks can drain time, as we fill our lives with more. More stuff to care for, more devices to take our attention, more places to go, more events to attend. More is not always a blessing.

I think of my younger self when life seemed simpler. We sat on porches and broke green beans or shelled peas. We watched our children play in the yard with their cousins. We lingered long in conversations over cups of hot coffee or iced sweet tea and home-cooked meals. We talked, in person, face to face.

Sweet William and I are blessed with friends of all ages, and I am always amazed that they want to spend time with us. I thank God for this gift. In light of eternity, time spent with people is of more value than what I can accomplish, my to-do tasks, or things that show up on my lists. The check marks are worth little in comparison.

Our gracious Father gives us all the same number of hours each day, and there is always time to do His will. Jesus is my example of One who used His short span on the earth to finish the assignment He was given, making the most of every encounter with another. Choosing rightly becomes the challenge for a task-oriented person like me. Listening to the Spirit’s direction and prompting, saying yes to an opportunity to serve, accepting an interruption as a God-appointment, and laying aside my agenda for a higher purpose – that is my calling.

I will leave this earth with tasks uncompleted. I may have a list to my dying day. The house will need repairs, the gardens will still be in progress. The things I wanted to accomplish will wait. And Lord willing, there will be a Spring Eternal where life, real life, will begin anew.

If I hear the Living Lord say, “You did what I asked. You loved those I sent your way,” it will be enough. All will be well.

Sunday grace.

A season of wintering

I’ve been asking myself the same question in these cold winter days: “Lord, what do you want to do in me?”

I’m not hearing any trumpet sounds or voices from the sky. I don’t know the answer to the question I ask. More often, I pause to wonder at the Living God’s plan and how He may be working through a situation I’d rather avoid. At least it gives me a change of perspective, and I need a new focus.

The three months since Thanksgiving 2021 were a semi-quarantine. Sweet William and I endured covid, then the death of my cousin, then a fractured ankle that kept me in an orthopedic boot for weeks. Activities were limited, and I resigned myself to be a homebody until I could move about freely. It’s been a season of wintering.

Weeks of confinement made me ponder my life, my schedule (or non-schedule), my time. I wondered what the lesson was. What was God trying to teach me in all of this?

As soon as the boot on my foot came off, I set about to resume activities, to fill my days with piano students, church, friends and family. Dental and doctor visits took another portion of days. It was time to catch up. When I looked at my bullet journal, I wondered why I’d packed so much into a week. Where is the blank space, the margin, the illusive “free day” I want and need?

As an introvert, I require blocks of solitude. I get up early each day to sit quietly, with coffee and the Scriptures in hand. My brain fires slowly in the morning. In the pre-dawn stillness, I read and write to process. Some days my processing has looked a little too much like a pity party. I don’t like that, but apparently, I’m working through my random, swirling thoughts, trying to make sense of them.

Lately, I’ve felt the strain of a full calendar. I noticed stress building. A week of appointments, necessary commitments, present and future responsibilities, and I feel my gut tightening. I blow out a heavy breath occasionally. My thoughts drift as I wander the house trying to do the next thing.

A friend texted recently, asked how I was doing with my cousin Candi’s death. As I typed my response, putting words to the state of my heart, I realized I’m not doing so good. I’ve thrown myself into activity, trying to resume a normal life after months of upheaval. Life has changed dramatically, and I’m trying to adjust. It leaves me with a pain I can’t simply ignore.

We cannot get away from the stress of an earthly existence. Life is hard, and I am of the opinion it is meant to be. The Sovereign God has not given us an easy-peasy life without conquests and challenges, hardships and adversity. We suffer pain, sorrow, and grief. We struggle to build a life, to achieve a goal, and to finish the work. I don’t believe He means it to damage or crush us. I trust His intention and promise to walk with me, to strengthen me on the journey, to build endurance into me, and to teach me compassion and understanding. I believe He means to be my One unshakable source of stability while the ground beneath me trembles. On days that are anything but easy, I learn to run to Him.

In the last three months, my body was sick and in recovery for longer than I wanted. My heart was/is broken by the death of one so dear, and I’m still walking that road. The fractured bone put limitations on me, making me think about this season of life, the aging process and how my body is changing with each passing year.

I think just asking the question, “Lord, what do you want to do in me?” is a prayer of sorts, a surrender to what He wants to do with my one wonderful life. Too often I’ve come kicking and screaming to His plan when it drastically changed my own. I’m a slow learner sometimes when it comes to submitting to His will.

Yet, in the deepest part of my heart, His will is exactly what I desire. I don’t want to go my own blind way, stumbling and fumbling along. I want His guiding hand, the gentle Shepherd’s leadership. I need the still waters, the restoring of my soul. I need to be made to lie down in green pastures when the captivity of activity drives me to distraction.

The Lord Jesus knows the way when I don’t see the next step. He calls me to rest when I’m too weary to think straight. He holds me together when the seams of my life begin to fray. He reminds me that the weight of the world rests on His shoulders, not on mine. He provides daily bread to sustain me. He gives sleep every night while He keeps watch.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair . . . “
— 2 Corinthians 4:8

This season of wintering will pass, and spring will come again. The world will continue as God ordained it until He comes to make all things new. Until then hard days, challenges, troubles, and tears will be part of this life. The Lord Jesus came to earth as a man to share my humanity and to experience life as I know it. He lived with the hope of a coming victory. Thus, I can live with the same victory, the hope of a promise fulfilled and a glorious future.

On a warm day this week, I walked with Maisie and looked for signs of life in the garden. I found tiny beginnings of peonies shared from a good friend last fall. The birds are singing louder in the little woods these days, as if they know something. I saw a couple of robins, and the purple and white crocuses are blooming beside the front porch. New life emerges as the season begins to change. Nature whispers to me, “Our God is in control.”

I read the Psalms at the beginning of this year. They become words to pray. The ancient letters speak for me and speak to me. They are a balm to my weariness. I need their voice of lament and understanding and hope and praise. They point me to the One and only who holds the world and all creation and will complete the purpose He has planned.

He is the same One who holds me, and He will do what is best in me, through me and for me.

Sunday grace

Dear Jesus,

I want to be a good soldier in the army of my Lord.

Whether decked in full battle dress on the field or wearing the apron as I wash pots and pans in the mess hall.

Whether bending to listen to my littlest neighbor’s story or bending to help Sweet William put on shoes.

Whether with a full class of Truth seekers or alone in the morning quiet with the Father.

Whether at a filled church house or sitting at the kitchen table live-streaming a Sunday service.

I learned Onward Christian Soldiers as a child, and tears fill my eyes as I pray the prayer, “I want to be a good soldier,” because I am weak, with feeble hands and the knees that give way, struggling to go the distance some days. I don’t want to miss the purpose or what I’m meant to learn in this season. I pray for eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that is open to the still small Voice, however hushed it may be.

My morning Bible reading takes me to passages encouraging me to “be strong.” God spoke it to His children, the ones fearful yet willing to put on His armor for battle.

He commanded it to the Israeli nation about to cross the Jordon and to Joshua as he prepared to lead them.

He declared it to David as he was on the verge of becoming king, and He repeated it twice to Daniel upon receiving a future vision to much for him.

So the Father whispers it to me this morning. “Be strong, daughter.”

It isn’t my physical stamina that will sustain me nor any talents or gifts I’ve been given. Only in abiding in my Lord will I find the strength I need for this journey.

Stronger than I think possible. Stronger than my physical ability. Stronger because He is strong in me.

Jesus, I want to be a good soldier.

Sunday grace.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
— Psalm 31:24

Grace for the journey

I never would have chosen this frozen road.

Life is a journey, and years ago I chose to make it my aim to enjoy the ride, wherever that takes me. I believe that even on the roughest roads, I might notice some wildflowers. Don’t call me an optimist, only one who fought for joy when the way was especially wearisome.

Sometimes the path is hard. And it is winter.

Sweet William and I have been in a season of difficulty. It is common to every person to weather the experience of winter, spring, summer and fall again and again through life. Spring brings hope of newness and refreshing while summer is hard work, planting and cultivation. We enjoy the abundant fruitfulness of an autumn only to find ourselves shivering in the icy winds of winter as the cycle repeats.

And it is winter. On some cold nights, I sat at the kitchen table alone and wept, my only prayer, “Jesus help.” There were no other words. The ever-pinging texts from friends and family, declaring their promise to pray, were lifelines of hope. Competent nursing staff and doctors coupled with kindness made the days a little brighter. Time was irrelevant as days slipped into weeks, leaving us asking, “How long, oh Lord?”

In the deep mid-winter, Sweet William and I found ourselves wandering and wondering. Important days of Christmas, then New Year, and our 49th wedding anniversary were not what we planned at all. Celebrations wait for warmer days.

Winter life can be lonely, dreary, and somber. Night falls too quickly and a chill penetrates the bones. We long for the sunshine, birds building nests, and waving at neighbors in the greening yard. I tell myself to keep moving through it, and look for the signs of spring.

There are lessons in a winter journey we cannot learn any other way. There’s a Presence in the wilderness we often overlook in the lush valleys of our busy lives when planting or harvesting are the focus. In the barren landscape when the quiet chill settles, the Voice I long to hear speaks, and I hear His whispers. He speaks hope, peace, love, and I’m assured of His faithfulness.

I would not have chosen this winter travel, but it gave me perspective. When we have no one, there is Someone with us. He, the One and only, knows the hurt of the heart, the confusion of the mind, the ache of the body. When darkness settles on the soul, He is the Light. When questions have no answers, He is Wisdom.

The days of January near the end, and I notice how the sun rises a little sooner. Sometimes the birds sing a little more fervently. Though winter seems long, there is beauty if I have eyes to see it. The snow came and made everything clean and bright. The frost sparkles on the deck railing in the pre-dawn. Ice on the lake across the road shimmers in sunlight.

I pray this:

Father of all I see and what is yet unknown to me, be Thou my vision. Give us grace for this journey. Infuse us with courage and strength to endure like good soldiers. As You are ever faithful to us, provide Your power through the Holy Spirit to be faithful to You. Teach us lessons of compassion, patience, kindness, and love over all. Warm us in Your Presence during this season, and let us not forget Your wonders of mercy when the weather changes and warm breezes blow. To everything there is a season, and You are everything we need in each of them. As your beloved child, I ask these things in the Name above all names, Jesus my Savior and Lord. Amen.

Monday grace

Honestly, sometimes I have no words.

Weeks pass and I struggle to put my thoughts down. My journal writing rambles as I try to make sense of the world and my own mind.

Concerns lay heavy. Prayer becomes like breathing. Life is hard while at the same time it is good and beautiful.

I cling to promises in Scripture, the pages of my Bible marked and familiar. I hold on for dear life, for myself and those I love. I know God is strong and He is faithful.

When the load feels especially heavy, I try to preach the truth to myself. It is a consistent effort. It’s easy to tell someone else what to do, and a major endeavor to do it myself. I plan to list daily blessings, there are so many, but sometimes I forget.

It is a season of change.

The trees in the yard are mostly bare from a rushing wind swirling leaves to the ground. Autumn is moving toward winter, the chill affecting tender plants and the landscape in the gardens. I reach for a warm scarf when I head outdoors.

Every season teaches and reminds me.

What can I learn from this present season of my life? That is the question I am asking myself. How can I be joyful? How can I serve faithfully? How can I love freely? How can I show kindness and patience? How can I be Jesus’ ambassador in the current climate?

Not by my own strength, that is for certain, for I am frail. I need a power beyond myself, a strength more that this body affords. And so my prayer becomes a request for the fullness of God to fill me, the Everlasting Father infusing the mortal and fallible, the weak being made strong.

It is an audacious request, yet I make it. I write the words of this weighty petition and place them before my hungry eyes. I want to see them with heart and mind, to remind myself to ask, to knock, to seek for the One and Only who fills my cup until it runs over.

” . . . that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” — Ephesians 3:19b NIV

“and you have been given fullness in Christ . . . “ — Colossians 2:10a NIV

All I need . . . I will find it in Jesus. Fill me, Lord.

For out of His fullness, the superabundance of His grace and truth, we have all received grace upon grace, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift. — John 1:16 AMP

Monday grace

The peak autumn colors have come and gone. Our hummingbird feeder hangs vacant. The grey days preview a coming change as frost touches tender annuals and golden leaves swirl to the ground. I recognize the feeling that can accompany overcast skies, and I fight the gloomy inclination. Seasons come, and seasons go.

Determined to choose joy, I turn on lights to dispel potential dreariness, light fragrant candles to engage the senses, and begin my Christmas list for friends and family. I try to imagine how I can enjoy the holidays while making them simpler.

As I turn the calendar day each morning, the passing of time mystifies me. Where are the days of October going? I heard someone say the last quarter of each year is about food, glorious food. I baked a pecan pie for Sweet William’s birthday and the Thanksgiving menu is already a vision dancing in my head.

I cut and cooked a cushaw, purchased at the farmers’ market, scraping pulp for pies and saving the seeds for next year’s planting. I make plans for the vining of the melon and cucurbita families. The weekend’s frost took out the unknown melon vine I planted too late. The morning glories that were glorious this summer also succumbed, leaving seeds for me to gather.

Last winter I made a list of smaller, doable jobs in the yard, and it proved to be productive. Instead of fighting my age, I’m learning to accept limitations and do tasks differently. I managed to pare down the gardens last year, making the yard not just manageable but enjoyable.

We celebrated Sweet William’s birthday three consecutive days last week, enjoying time with family and friends who brightened his days and make him feel loved. I’m a couple of years older than my dear husband, a fact that kept us apart while he dated the younger girls. He eventually got up the nerve to approach me, the “older woman,” and the rest is fifty years of history. I advised him to enjoy the last year of his sixties, because as a friend told me, they are not like the seventies. True, very true.

With only two weeks until the Presidential election, we watch the latest news developments. We voted last week, in person, and were proud to be Americans, gladly wearing our “I Voted” stickers. What an amazing country this is where God indeed shed His abundant grace.

I refuse the threatening anxiety about our country’s future. Studying Daniel for the last two months, the message is loud and clear that God is in charge. He knows the future because He planned it according to His perfect will and for His divine purpose. Daniel 2:21 says, “He changes the times and seasons; he removes kings and establishes kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding,” (CSB)

I want that kind of wisdom and knowledge, the ability to understand the words of this King of kings and Lord of lords. With determination, I rest in what He sustains, a firm foundation, proven again and again. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

His is the only direction and pathway. He is authentic reality. And He is the One and only who offers life everlasting, a gift through Jesus Christ.

I will take His way, believe His truth, and receive His life.

While we wait

I’m in a waiting period. I think a lot of you are too.

The small wipe-off board I used to list our weekly activities is uncommonly blank, except for the dates. It’s never like that. 

It is strange, this social distancing, a word now unique to 2020 and one we will remember, I bet. Each day presents challenges, news updates and directives from our government. Every blog that presents in my in-box has something to say about coronavirus. I question how to do this life while we confine ourselves for an undetermined period.

Everyone isn’t confined, and I’m thankful for healthcare workers and first responders and the UPS employees who keep delivering our packages. Mail is deposited in my box each day, and I count it a gift.

I count the gifts of people who text to check on us, asking if we need anything. We are in the high-risk category of over 60 years old and determined to stay where we are. Younger friends asked if we are OK, can they do something, offering to bring supplies to our front door and leave them on the porch. We are touched by such kindness, and we feel loved.

Each day I talk with two of my cousins, one by phone, and one at her house down our lane, careful to keep at least three feet between us. I check on my neighbors, and they are much like me, home bound. I text my family members to see how they are faring during complex days. We try to be hopeful, cheerful, look for the bright side.

While this is a serious situation that I don’t discount, I appreciate humor where I can get it. Sometimes I really do LOL, laugh out loud, at something on Facebook or TV, and it does me good, like medicine.

I have a stack of good books and time to read them now. I hope the temperature rises. I could use a little sunshine so I can work in the garden and feel productive. The fresh air will be good for me.

A friend who is working her job remotely texted a request for some recipes. She is home with her husband and children and wants to make something good to eat. I sent her four tested recipes, with options to make them her own, according to her family’s tastes. Good food is satisfying to body and soul.

A couple of days ago I fed my sour dough starter and baked whole wheat bread. Sweet William and I ate it hot with butter melting in its crevices.

My neighbor who lives in the house next door texted that she was venturing to the grocery and did we need anything. I love her even more for asking. Her little guy, almost six, delivered some fruit and cream for our coffee, and I sent him home with a loaf of still-warm bread, a little thank you for caring about us.

Sweet William and I are practicing a song together on piano and guitar. We played it years ago at a friend’s wedding. It’s a difficult piece, and we struggle with it. But we have the time to re-learn it in these days of waiting.

The season of lent continues, and my early morning quiet time draws me to truth as I read of Jesus’s last days on this earth. I am reassured, knowing this was planned before galaxies were constructed, before I was born, before 2020 presented us with COVID-19.

As the trees bloom white in our little woods and I gather daffodils from the yard to cheer to the house, the earth moves in its designed path toward spring. If the clouds clear away, I will see the moon waning as she makes her  circular path toward hiding. Daylight appears each morning even when the sun is overcast. Birds sing and frogs croak, and the month of March is much like each one I’ve known and yet it isn’t.

This I know, there is a God in heaven who is watching His world and His children. He is aware and involved and working His good will in and among us. Kindness and love are His evidence.

In our waiting, let’s keep the faith. Be humble and kind. Look for the good and count blessings. Laugh out loud. Say “I love you” every chance you get. Stay in touch with those who are socially distanced from you. Pray for our leaders as they try to do their best for our country.

Trust the One who knows exactly what He is about in our world. Believe He will care for us like the sparrow. He loves us more than we know.

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?    — Luke 12:6