Seeking Simplicity

I know all Amish folk are not the same,
but the ones I know, I love.

a couple weekends of going without a curling iron, enjoying media free evenings of talking and singing, gathering together in lit rooms, snuggling extra close to my daughter to warm-up our winter bed, finding my way to the bathroom by cell phone light, riding extra cozy with six in a buggy, shaking every woman's hand at Sunday meeting, dusting off my German to translate sermons and songs, sitting on long row benches, sharing an after-church meal, staying up way-too-late singing favorite southern hymns at a Saturday night sing, dressing plain for true Sabbath on an at home Sunday, meeting countless immediate family in the respectful rotation of adoring visitors coming to see and stay with Mummy (the matriarch of the family), picking mint for a fresh pitcher of tea, running through pumpkin fields, shopping in bulk for dry goods, visiting a couple widows, ordering yards of fabric for quilting projects,...

has taught me that I need to less.

...say more.

...laugh more. more. hard.

...sleep well.

...sing while I cook.

...sing while I scrub floors.

...sing while I pull weeds.

...sing while I do laundry.

...don't be in a hurry.

...enjoy my guests.

...enjoy my family more.

love my family.

Are we so different?

This was oldest son's first day to mow around our house. He's cut flat-land grass for his grandfather, but never our lawn. He has dreams of driving the tractor across our fields like his father.

We're not big-scale farmers, but we're country... gardens to plant, fields to mow. And what country boy doesn't long to have a job... "a man's job" as my boys say, "get outside and do some real work".

Life can seem so complicated. complicated as I let it be.

I remember

Remembering ...

"...on behalf of a grateful nation..."

Memorial Day sets me to remembering... generations of soldiers in my family... from the Civil War to this very day... the military bases here and overseas that I've called home... the familar sound of taps and gunfire...

As I explained the wars and conflicts to my older children this year our overview of U.S. History, it makes sense... war is necessary... securing and defending freedom, protecting family and homeland from enemies foreign and domestic, liberating those under oppression,...

... all it takes is a visit to Yad Vahsem ... or a glimpse of any image of the holocaust to know that evil cannot be ignored.

Last night I dreamt about the Civil War... I was there, carrying jars of water... at the end of a battle, at the end of a war, when the final counts are done... there is a disconnect between necessary and the pain, the loss and death.

"Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me." Lamentations 2:22

On the fields of the Western Front, after a few hours of truce December 24, 1914, having seen the enenmy face to face, did they wonder what it was all about... or did they know.

What are we fighting for?
What are we dying for?
What are we living for?

these aren't just questions for soldiers and military families

I'm thinking of bigger things today. About misunderstandings, about pride, control, anger, power, human-nature, selfishness,... blindness to our own faults. Sin. Why do we hurt eachother?

I long for grander things... eternity is set in my heart today.

I ache for grace.

on earth, between men...

But, what about the pain... the wound, that rips open with a memory. How do you really forgive when bitterness hides and stikes at an unsuspecting moment... bites, and venom again courses through... again. or just anger... and WHY?

I know that Memorial Day only got me started ... as I write this, I'm thinking about so much more. It is not just about calling my aunt this morning, more to comfort myself than her if I were honest.

It's about my own questions about people, life, ... the fall.

I hear echos of Wilfred Owen in my mind...
(Dulce Et Decorum Est)
I am "sick of sin".

"What is the source of quarrel and conflicts among you? ...war in your members? ...murder, fight, quarrel, wrong motives..." James 4

My own quest for "right", "justice" ... wanting to see it in others. Questioning my own motives. Why this passion for inegrity on all fronts?

This is why I write... to give myself a place to think, process all that is in my heart.

In the time I have typed all this, I've come full circle... I have my answer. The same answer the Lord gave me years ago when I was grieving the death of twins...

"O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul... hope in the LORD ... forever." Psalm 131

Words That Heal

How can words communicate the deep stuff of the soul?

I started the day in awe of the alphabet.

symbols, letters,
putting thought, emotion, heart
into sounds, syllables, words, ...line upon line.

Words are life... and death. hopeful... heart-sick. encouraging... destructive, ripping, stabbing, tearing.

tears upon tears.

ordinary people. imperfect people.
doing their best, falling short. intentionally, unintentionally... words freeze, cut, sting.

withholding words, the supperior glance, the cold stare,... worse yet, looking past and through.

oh, the power of words. language.

spoken, thought, written, sung, whispered, yelled, murmured,

My heart was crushed by words today...
spoken and unspoken...
from today, from the past... mostly the yesterday words.

And, before all this God gave me words, specific words... (oh, thank you, God, for speaking today before all the other words washed over me, this burning heat and heart).

I read them. I rewrote them. I memorized them.

... Oh, God, You are too good to me. Even here, right now, You speak to me... without words. In the middle of writing these thought-words to You and to the void, You let me find my picture... my morning fog picture from another year... long lost, deleted, so I thought.

You brought that memory to mind just the other day and let me post about about it...
grassy feet and all...
so that now, when I am aching over human-words, You would speak grace-words over me, sing over me... "I love you. I know you. I see you." without words... and the sweetest words of all...
"I am." and "I am here."

Thank You for Your words... promises, always kept. I know You will never leave me, never have.

Your WORD is a gift. I treasure it.
Words are a gift. I fear them. I love them. Oh, help me with words, with others' and my own.

(For a bit of the story behind these last photos, see the post called "touch the mountains and they smoke". I took them after the fog began to lift, and I ran back to the house to get my camera... wanting to keep a glimpse of that unforgetable morning.)

country roads

...take me home.

had to drop a few things off at a friend's house; no inconvenience to take an evening drive... down quiet misty country roads.

peaceful. unhurried. only passed one car, and the driver was pulled off to the side of the road to chat with his neighbor.

simple things, seen and enjoyed. appreciated, acknowledged. driving along and looking out the window... even backing up to appreciate the view a little better.

Life is for Living!

What's the hurry? Where are we headed? a rush to the grave?

My husband took my sons and a few other boys camping the other weekend, on Monday, the father of one of the boys was killed in an accident... it was his older brother's birthday. Left behind was a wife and three kids...

Life is fragile. Life is precious. Life is made of moments... memories made... or moments missed.

Miles and miles of country roads ... more dirt than paved... connecting me with people, places...

and bringing me back home, to my own driveway.

Remembering a Dream

I'm as happy as Scarlet lying in my bed remembering...

I was put on a plane, sent half way around the world, and I saw the places I have read about all my life...

It was all there. It was real.
History that felt like fiction was real, three-dimensional.
I stepped into a book. touched it, saw it, tasted.

Today I will walk on familiar soil. As I start laundry, feed my children, tidy the house, live... I smile, deep down smile, and remember.

...quietly knowing anything is possible.

He tells me to dream...
then He gives me a dream and makes them come true,
only more wonderful than I had imagined... in details. timing. miraculous.

I memorized all but one of the Psalms of Ascent
and dreamt of standing on those steps... those southern steps.

I woke from a dream into a reality better than a dream. I am blessed. I am thankful. ...I will start that final Psalm today.

My life is a staircase of dreams, each longing fulfilled leads me to step higher, ask bigger. God gives dreams and makes them come true; so I will pray for grander dreams.

Good morning, Lord.
This is going to be a wonderful day.

touch the mountains and they smoke

Untouched, these photos glow... with spring. Even on a dark day, the landscape is breathtakingly bright with green. Pictures like this remind me that I am "me" with a point and shoot camera, and God is the Creator of all this.

The fog moves across the mountains quietly, gently, steadily ...

I am reminded of the morning I stepped out on this deck -- feeling cold, dead, nothing ... leaning my head down on this railing, I prayed. "God, where are you? I know You hear me. I want to feel Your presence. Would you come down and let me know You are near?"

I lifted my head and saw the heavy mist tumble in to the valley and settle over this field. -- It stayed. The wind stopped. The fog blanketed the green.

My first thought --
No distant neighbor with his bioculars can see me...

So I followed the impulse...

I ran.

Barefoot in my pajamas, with my favorite cream blanket of a shawl wrapped around me, fast and furious, I ran through the grass... and twirled, and laughed, and sang, and ran some more.

The hills were alive for me, not with the sound of music, with silence, stillness... but, not the lonely ache of silence I felt before... this was calm. Peace. It was my "gentle whisper".

Knowing the kids would be waking soon, I walked back up the hill towards home with a quietness and calm that steadied me to face all that had previously weighed me down.

When I can't see through the clouds of the "storms of life", I will call out to Him and search for His presence. Even in fog, He can close the distance and let me know His nearness.

"Part your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke." Psalm 144:5

a devotion for myself

Why do I write?
to think...

I write because I love words.

They say, "writers write".
Then I am I writer. I can not stop writing, ink on paper... many colors, many journals. Typing here, even now.

But, why here?
...because I am changed by what I read. I become intimate friends with the characters and authors that speak to me, hour upon hour, thought upon thought, "line upon line, precept upon precept"...

...because someone let opened a window and allowed me peek into her world through pictures, through words. And, I am changed. (and if my life, the lessons learning, encourage another... What a thrill to pass along a blessing!)

But, I write for myself.
By writing about what I'm thinking, I take my thoughts captive. Instead of being over-run with waves of emotion or raced away by a run-away train of thought, I pause, meditate, consider... and learn from my own life. It is not the same as studying to teach someone else (that is often why I talk), but I write for me.

I have shelves and stacks of books upstairs and downstairs, in almost every room of the house. Countless "devotionals", filled with meditations, theology, happy thoughts, etc... Most of my journal entries are devotionals for me.

1.Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause
2.Religious worship, prayers, or observance

"a devotion for myself" - scary thought. I didn't know what I was writing when I typed that title. There is a lesson for me even in this.

a "love, loyalty, enthusiasm" for myself???
am I the "cause" to whom I am most loyal...
(translation: "selfish")


is my "religious worship, my prayers" for myself?
to myself?
is my idol "ME" ?

Oh, to not think more highly of myself than I ought. Oh, to be humble. It is indeed a good thing to not have any blog "followers" today.

a small adjustment in my thinking may lead to a radical change in my life... here it is.

I write for GOD.
for His pleasure,
His glory,
His purpose... (that includes changing me and blessing others)

With that clarified in my heart, I will continue to write away and type away with greater fulfillment. My heart is quiet. I am blessed today.

good fences, good neighbors

"something there is that doesn't love a wall"
Actually, it is a "love/hate" relationship.

like law and grace.
I need the rules, standards, goals, plans... and then I become legalistic.
I'm suffocated.
I'm dying.
I'm under grace, free from the law... all is permissable.
...yet not beneficial

"Good fences make good neighbors" - R. Frost

-the ones that stacked these stones, built this wall, and live at the end of the path I walk each morning
-the ones living in my own house
-the one that shares my bed

-and "myself". I do have to live with myself.

What makes "good neighbors"

fences? walls? ...boundaries.

but law without grace is death.
boundaries with grace.

Grace all... cover all with a blanket of grace.

one misty moisty morning...

Somedays I practically have to kick myself out the door, but once my shoes are on and I start walking, my steps become lighter. Trickles of life begin flowing up stream... from dragging sneakers to skipping feet and running legs, filling my frame, overflowing with new energy.

Breathing in the clean air, thanking God for a new day, for health and strength to enjoy it, I feel renewed on the inside!

The rewards seem to come slow... and start small...
"Never despise humble beginnings" -L.C.S.

But there is beauty in the tiny, the small, the simple... often overlooked except to the trained eye. (Oh, Lord, train my eyes to see, really see... the small. the details. the moments that make up the days that make up the life.)

I'm missing so much by being consumed with the big, the goal... the "important"... the urgent, the "successful", the significant... (It is time for me to refocus and redefine.)

I don't want to miss what is right here in front of me because I'm only focusing on what is ahead...

This air, this green... this spring green... glowing in the light of the rising sun shining through this faint mist, clean and bright.

... the sun will come and burn away, summer with its deeper richer hues. Old age will come, but today I can walk, run... so I will!

I will start small.

I will start.