Miracle in an Apple

Fields and fields,
endless acres of apples.

One crisp, juicy bite... miraculous.

All the ingredients and elements, the most intelligent scientists, all the time in the world, and still, only God can make an apple.

He makes us in His image
and gives us apples...

and we create:
apple pies,
apple cider,
apple sauce,
apple butter,
apple juice,
apple crisp,
apple jelly,
apple dumplings,...

The apple wasn't the forbidden fruit. But, we were we not content with apples.

or peaches, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, blackberries, raspberries, pears, plums, grapes, watermelon, oranges...

There is no shortage of yummy blessings. Oh, what is it in a soul that longs for the forbidden? Even when tied to the promise of pain, the out of reach is the goal of the eye.

Oh, contentment, be my close companion. Remind me of my blessings and the possibilities.

Inspire me to creative creation!

I miss out on heartache when I remain inside my own garden;
so in this garden I will stay!

Lord, You have hemmed me in behind and before. You have placed Your hand on me. Thank You. You have established my boundaries, and they have fallen for me in pleasant places. Thank You!

You have been generous, and I will treasure the abundance that You have given. It is more than enough. You are more than enough.

Seeking Freedom

Birds in flight...

Children playing...


Aaaaah, freedom...

A quiet moment to be still and take it all in:
the sun's warmth,
a cool breeze,
sand between my toes...

Oh, to bottle this moment, take it home, and pour it out over a stressful day!
When winter is too long, the days too short, my patience even shorter;
to stop, be still and remember the feeling of freedom!

There is freedom in each moment,
a freedom to choose...

my response,
my mood,
my perspective,
my thoughts,
my disposition,
my words,
my attitude,
my actions,...

My emotions will follow based upon my choice;
and thus, I have the ability to choose my feelings.

There is a poem written in 1916 that sums up my sentiments well. I have often quoted it to my children. I have even set a few lines of it to cross-stitch and made my children memorize them.

One Ship Sails East

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I don't need to escape my circumstances to find freedom. I have a choice, and I will find the beauty, peace, and joy in this moment!

Lord, help me to patch up my weathered sail and cheerfully greet the gusts of this day. When I lay my head down tonight, I want You to smile on how I faced the adventures. However blustery the winds may blow, I know You are with me and will guide me to a safe harbor.

Life's Little Extras

I need to be packing; I have so much to do. Yet here I am snuggling my dog and looking at old puppy pictures.

When we brought him home, he fit in a cereal bowl. Mostly fur, he barely weighed one and a quarter pounds.

Now, he is a year old and a whopping 6 pounds!

Until last summer, I did not understand how deeply a person can love an animal. But, now I have a dog. I love our puppy, and Bern loves me! Always at my heels, he is wonderful company. When I sit down, he's either in my lap or right at my feet. He knows when I am up-set and snuggles right up trying to comfort me. He licks away my children's tears and rubs his furry head on their cheeks.

Still a bundle of energy, he is eager to play. He will bring his ball over and drop it at my feet, prance about to say, “Throw it! Throw it!” He knows to sit, stay, come... what a genius dog! He does not beg for food; yet, he cleans up all the crumbs under the table that the kids drop. What a helpful little fella!

Except for my infants who wiggled and giggled with delight when they heard my voice in the mornings, no one has ever seemed as happy to see me! Running circles around my feet when I get out of bed or come home, he can hardly contain his joy.

I can't help but cry a little whenever I have to leave him for a few days. I love this tiny one. I hate to think that I could have lived my entire life with out a dog, but oh, what I would have missed!

Pets are a wonderful privilege and responsibility. In a culture of convenience folks are often too busy for life's "extras". We think pets (and people) will slow us down, but that can be a good thing!

They need to be walked, brushed, bathed, fed. They get sick and need vet appointments. They demand attention and love, but the rewards are infinite!

(And, children are a million times the blessing!
 More work,
but more fun,
more entertaining,
more loving!)

My life is richer and my character deeper because of the little "extras" in my life!

The Flood in Our Back Yard

Just a bit ago, my little one came running in with another “present”. In the last few days I’ve been given half a dozen handfuls of wildflowers, 2 frogs, and countless drawings and notes.

(FYI: My favorite gift was the letter I found under my pillow last night that read, “Der mom I Love you Amen.”)

I knew she and her brothers had been down by the pond; so, I was prepared for something wet and slimy.

What she had in her precious hands totally took me by surprise!

Mom, I found a "special rock" for you!

This rock, larger than my hand, was covered with beautiful impressions of shells on every side! We counted more than 50 fossils!

I asked her to show me where she found it, and in just a few moments of looking we found several smaller rocks.

It is mind-boggling to ponder the flood covering the entire earth, even our back yard!

I am in awe of God! So much water, so much power!

Amid all that destruction, He created something beautiful... in my little one's hands, it looks like an art project!

I totally believe the Bible,
every word,
every story,
especially the account of the flood.
We are holding the evidence.

Here are a few bonus close ups...

Seeking Change…

The days are shorter; the sun is setting on summer.
The kids are taller; I am older.
Another season is chasing out the one before.

I’m never quite ready to let go of these barefoot days, lazy drift-away afternoons, green grass, puffy clouds.
Letting go, moving on,
and taking hold of the new…

Am I ever ready to let go of anything?
When the holding on has become more painful than reaching out, I’ve waited that long, and the burn will leave a scar. When God brings the change, why fight it? Why get upset?

Life is change, and change can be wonderful!!!
with acceptance
with anticipation

change means color, crisp, vibrant, bright
shining through a stained glass canopy
rustling, crunchy,
sweet and tart, apples,
nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin,
round and full, orange and bright.
a sun still shining, just different
softer, gentler, colder, but warmer
when wrapped up together
snuggled in tighter
cotton and wool

not so up-tight,
a deeper beauty,
with wisdom, maturity,
insight, grace.

I’m letting go, and what a delight to find that some things remain…
Faithfulness, steadfast love, character tried and proven.
I am older. I am blessed to live to see another season of life.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven
Live and die, weep and laugh, love and hate,
And everything in between…

A time to play and a time to work;
A time for the mountains and a time for the beach.
A time to learn and a time to teach;
A time to clean the mess and a time to make it.
A time to read and a time to put the book down and prepare dinner;
A time to sew and a time when a safety pin will do the trick.
A time to wash, a time to dry, and a time to fold;
A time for a home cooked meal and a time to order pizza.
A time to stick to the lesson plan and a time to follow inspiration;
A time to write and a time put down the pen and watch a movie.
A time to study and a time to apply;
A time for late nights and a time to go to be early.
A time for football and a time for tea parties;
A time for company and time for just us.

A time for spring and summer
And even a time for fall and winter.
A time sunshine and flowers;
And a time for falling leaves and snowflakes.

The world is turning and moving; yet I am standing still for a moment… I am still and knowing He is God. I know my place, and I am aware that I am only here for a season. That too will change and I will be gone, but today I am alive.

Lord, what is this season I am entering?
I’ve been up-rooted; is it time to plant?
I’ve died to myself; is it time to heal?
So much has been torn down; is it time to build?
I’ve been through a season of weeping and mourning; is it time to laugh and dance?
I’ve gathered countless stones, and I’ve seen too many stones thrown;
is it time to embrace or a time to shun embracing?
If you tell me to search, I will look.
If it’s time to give up as lost; I will stop looking.
I’ve kept too much; I’m sure it is time to give away and throw away.
To tear apart or sew together,
To be silent or to speak, tell me Lord, what is this season.
It is always a time to love people, but it is always a time to hate evil
If you call me to war, let me fight, but God I pray You will grant me peace in the midst of every season.

-me & Solomon

Thank you, God, that all is not sober and serious when childish things are put away. Praise you for the "known in full" and "fully knowing" that I know, the clarity that comes with letting go and embracing the richness that maturity brings. Bless You for the promise of abiding faith, hope,and love which now, more than pretty words, are my greatest treasures! Every season seems to make my life more deep, rich, and abundant; so I say, "bring on the changes" and "bring on the years"... strength and dignity will be my clothing; I smile at the future!

Laughter - tasting the sweetness of life!

The men were away; so the ladies had tea.

We set the table…

Invited the guest…

And poured the tea…

(some guests ate more than others)

“Would you care for sugar?”
“Of course!”

(I've been informed that dolls love sugar.)

When sugar is offered, a little one never passes, but after the first syrupy-sweet cup I was served, I decided to pass on the sugar.

Lots of sugar made for lots of laughter today!

With all the pleasant conversation, I hadn’t paid attention to just how much sugar the hostess had dished out. Until, when the party had ended, I found the sugar bowl empty.

Generous sweetness. That’s my little girl.

Generous with hugs, kisses, and laughter!

She laughs freely when, too often, I hold back. She find humor because she’s always looking for a reason to laugh! My little girl is wired for fun. What a stuffy-old mama I might be were it not for this pretty lady’s contagious laughter!

Too much study and not enough play, I would learn a lot of information, but I wouldn’t be very smart. The best of lessons are learned from living, not from books. And, if I want to learn to laugh, the best teacher I could ask for is a silly girl living under my own roof!

Who can have a tea party without thinking of Mary Poppins and tea parties on the ceiling? As we washed the tea-set, my little one was still all giggles.
She "loves to laugh, loud and long and clear"! And, what about me?

Wanting the “deep” stuff, I’m often too serious!

Wanting to study, I’ve been too busy to learn.

But, not any more…

When it comes to the sweet things of life, I want two scoops!

Hope for Those Who Aren’t in Denial

“People that aren’t melancholy are in denial,” I muttered to my husband at the end of a very long day.

“Sounds like the title of your next book,” he replied with a tender smiled.
- Boy, do I have an optimistic and encouraging husband.

I’ve often thought it was a little twisted of the developers of the four temperaments to give the “thinkers” a name like Melancholic. I picture them sitting around a table getting a good laugh at the expense of the quadrant of people prone to over think a label. Maybe business was slow, and they thought this might put some borderline-depressed people over the edge. (Why else would the ancients have called them “the four humors” and find their inspiration in body fluids like blood, bile, and phlem? Were they themselves insane or maybe this is what a counselors comes up with when they're giddy on lack of sleep?)

I am no psychologist, but after living with myself for 35 years, I’ve learned a few things about “me”:

I make a tired extrovert and a lonely introvert.
So, I frequently need a lot of intimate friends to leave me alone.

I can be too Sanguine: craving a stage, dominating the conversation, or planning another creative project that I won’t finish.
I can be too Choleric with my excessive research, planning, and type-A passion for doing things the “right way”.
And, be it the nature or nurture of my extremely shy childhood tendencies or the transient lifestyle I experienced as an Army-brat, I can be plagued by Phlegmatic cravings for predictability and stability.

(Should a psychiatrist count all these personal pronouns, I’m certain to be labeled narcissistic as well.)

One thing is certain, I’m Melancholic. I am a ponderer, a reader, a thinker, a writer, a poet, a wanna’ be artist, and on any given day, I can be a downright pessimistic.

I used to hate this about myself, but now I appreciate that my life is so rich and deep! As I dabble into the lives of “less-melancholy” friends on my Sanguine days, I realize there’s no one that I’d rather be than “me”.

Finding hope is like finding beauty. It is found by the one who looks for it, contemplates it, appreciates it, beholds it.

To all you mental cases out there, we’re in great company!

It was the thinkers and ponderers of scripture that actually had a clue about what was really going on. Life may be easier to deal with when you live in ignorance, but all the great-meditators of the Bible like Abraham, Elijah, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Paul, knew God and heard from God. When the rest of the world was misguided, they had a clue. Then, when the reality of what they understood overwhelmed and depressed them, they also had God to comfort them, feed them, hide them, rescue them, protect them, and give them perspective and hope.

More than all of them, Jesus was never in denial. Somehow, He knew everything without becoming cynical or calloused. He was the most sane and well-adjusted man who ever lived in this crazy world. Never defensive or self-seeking, He faced the abuse of others and all the hard realities of life. How did He do it? He was secure in His identity. He knew who He was, and He knew His Father. Jesus trusted the Father’s will completely which clarified His in purpose and kept Him focused on His mission.

A Life-saving-thought for Deep-thinkers:

Thinking too much without taking your thoughts captive is like holding your breath and trying to dive to the depths of the ocean. You won’t get very far and you’ll probably drown.

All of living doesn’t have to be done in the deep.
Playing in the shallows can be fun!

Blankets of Grace

Covering, wrapping, tucking in with a kiss.

What can be done for the sinner, tired and tangled in her mess? Feed her, bathe her, dry her, clothe her, and wrap her up warm in something soft.

“A quilt is a blanket of love,” I was told as a bed was made for me. A new baby in my arms, I felt like Mary being welcomed into a home rather than a stable. My husband was out of town, and I was locked out of my house. An heirloom cradle was brought down for my little one, and we were settled into the guest room in our pastor’s home for the night.

Christians being Christ-like; I have known it. And, the welcoming is never so needed as when night is falling and you have no place to go. It is a lonely thing to be locked out, but a beautiful thing to be brought in.

I have also witness the shunning. Rather than gathering in with tender mercy, the woman caught in sin is shut out by less-sinful-sinners, exposed and dragged out into the street by the teachers, leaders, and Pharisees.

A church door slamming is a cold sound.

I have been both, the sinner and the Pharisee.

It was the lack of grace that taught me grace, the third strike that brought me out from under the legalism that smothers joy. Caught in the middle of the unrighteous-self-righteous, I finally got the message. This is not Jesus.

Put on the stand, I am found guilty, but the grace of God breathes into the vacuum of religion and warms my cold heart.

“Love covers…”
Loving the child who deserves the spanking, scooping her up in my arms, kissing the hot cheeks, holding fast the fighting arms…

“Love covers a multitude…”
Love is abundant, enough, every child needs it, every child craves it, plenty for all 6.94 billion of us…

“Love covers a multitude of sins…”
Not calling evil good, rather singing truth over the lies, whispering a lullaby into the ear of the savage beast till the wretched one stops wrestling and snuggles into the security of grace...

I have been graced.

Looking back, I see that my entire life has been graced. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. And what Satan tried to use for evil, “God intended for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”.

I have been saved, rescued, spared.
So I will do the same for others.

I am sorry for everything: my sins, the sins of the church, the sins of my nation, the sins of the human race.

But, unlike Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 50, I will not keep groveling trying to secure forgiveness and fearfully replaying the past in hopes of finding some way to undo the irreparable mess of history… from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the Witch Trials to my own pathetic legalistic campaigns…

Life is too short, the tangle too sordid, and the answer too simple…

Only God can clean up the mess and mend the pieces together into a blanket of grace.

I will accept grace from the Author of grace, and give it… grace upon grace.

No striving, just grace. No bitterness, just grace.

Grace, Grace, Amazing Blankets of Grace.

The wrath and judgment are His. It will come, and He’ll set things right. Until then, He has called me to blanket the sinner in the truth of His loving grace.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

God's Paint

Spent the day at the computer... creating!

But, it only took stepping outside for a moment of fresh air to be reminded who is the real Creator!

What a blessing to be made in His image!

His paints inspire my brush.
His words inspire my pen.

I am so thankful for eyes to take it in!
...for a mind to meditate its complexity!
...for a heart to appreciate the beauty!

seeking things

"There is nothing lost that cannot be found if sought..."
Edmund Spenser (Faerie Queen)

 Can't find my keys... again. I just knew I put them in my purse, or set them by the phone in the kitchen, or on the table beside my bed, or on the piano. What do you know, they're on the hook by the stairs, right where I hung them!

Can't find my phone... again. I have my husband call to discover it was in my purse all along, only hidden in the side pocket.

August and January are the two months when I feel most motivated to clean and organize. As calendar years and school years begin a new, I want a sense of order. So, I am getting organized today, and it is amazing the things I am finding just where I left them.

The parable of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son come to mind as I find spare change here and there. How I can relate when I paraphrase "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost keys!" And, if I substitute my "puppy" for a "sheep" or my own "child" for the "prodigal", my heart is moved to search!

Things are only things; usually when they are lost or broken they can be replace. And, even if they can't, when I remember that all "treasure of earth" is ultimately lost, it helps to keep THINGS in perspective.

PEOPLE too can be lost and broken, and they are irreplaceable. Today I will not loose sight of why I am cleaning and organizing. It is not about the things, the stuff; it is about creating an environment of order and peace, an inviting refuge for the people who live and visit in this home.

I will not seek material things, covet a bigger house, or wish for newer-nicer stuff to fill this building. I will seek to make this place as beautiful and welcoming as I can. I will bless my home and my family today!