Friday, March 26, 2010

Saying Yes!

Some of you may have subscribed to the Lenten Meditations sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Sister Claire Joy of the Community of the Holy Spirit has been writing the meditations. Today’s meditation is based on Psalm 19:14.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Sister Claire Joy writes that she is not a writer and writing forty seven meditations has ‘been an act of faith and arrogance’ for her. She writes:
“Yet one of the outward signs of a religious is the willingness to go out on a limb for God, to say yes when asked to do something we've never done before. All that seems to matter is the faith that if it is God's will, it will get done, and it will be okay.”

What a joyous thought!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Birth

As we are approaching Easter, new birth is ever present in my mind. Easter Day is my all time favorite day each year! I love the beautiful Easter liturgies. I feel reborn each year as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The long penitential Lenten season causes the joy and celebration of Easter and the resurrection to be even more extraordinary.
Those who have been following me are aware that both my daughter and daughter-in-law are pregnant. I went with my daughter for a sonogram and must admit to having a hard time figuring out what was what on the screen. The nurse would point out HIS little body parts and I would smile and nod. Yesterday my daughter-in-law had her first sonogram and she texted me a picture! I definitely could not make heads or tails out of this one; but the doctor says HE is perfectly formed and active! New Birth! Two More Grandsons!
This is also the time of year I spread trays of little peat discs all over the house. My first seeds have germinated and I have had my first peek at the little seedlings. New Birth! Today I have a few more peeking out! I hover around the trays telling them to be well and grown strong. Isn’t that the same prayer we have for our children and grandchildren? I am carefully nurturing my little seedlings. I check their moisture level several times a day. Since my husband adamantly refuses to hang growth lights for me, I carefully take the trays with sprouted seeds outside as the day warms and let the sun provide the much needed light. At any hint of rain, wind, dropping temperatures or fading light, I bring the trays carefully in and spread throughout the flat surfaces in our house.
House finches raise several broods each year on the top of the posts on our carport. The first mother finch is already sitting on her nest. As I am typing, I am watching a sparrow beginning to build a nest on a post on our front porch. The bluebirds out back seem to be carrying nesting material into their box. I am still waiting for the arrival of my purple martins and hummingbirds. Scott and I celebrate all the new births of baby birds throughout the spring. We are entertained for hours watching the parents feed the babies and then the great antics of the babies fledging. New Birth!
May we all carry the joy and enthusiasm of new birth throughout the year and throughout our lives rejoicing in being blessed by God as Easter people!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Yellow Honeysuckle

Yesterday I promised to tell the story of the yellow honeysuckle. Last spring we had a tremendous storm: heavy rains, thunder and lightening, and high winds. We lost electricity and the pool was nearly overflowing. Since we had no electricity we had to manually bail water out. This storm was so strong it actually blew over part of our trellis by the pool. I actually think that the huge confederate jasmine was the only thing that saved the rest of the trellis.

The yellow honeysuckle was growing on the part that collapsed. It crushed and broke the vines and even uprooted it. It took us a while to get the trellis off the vine. My husband said it was a lost cause. Even though I was not hopeful, I pruned the vine back and replanted the roots. For nearly a year it did nothing except stay alive; at least that was all my eyes could see. Those roots must have been reorienting themselves, growing and establishing a strong base. As warmer weather is finally moving in, I am beginning to see signs of new growth on the vines. He is only about three feet tall today but I am hopeful of a great growth spurt this Spring.

Sometimes life seems to crush us too! Sometimes we need time to reestablish our roots. Sometimes it seems like nothing good is happening on the outside; however those roots may be growing deeper and stronger inside. God appointed us as stewards of His creation, but I believe He knew that His creation would teach us so much more than we actually give.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Discernment of Vines

I hope you missed my postings for a few days. I took a little time off to enjoy a visit from my daughter, Ginny, and grandson, Elliott. Ginny was on Spring Break from the college she works at and her husband was traveling on business so we had the pleasure of their company for five whole days. Ginny is pregnant with our second grandson and we enjoyed giving her a much needed rest. Elliott is nonstop play, reading and cuddling. A grandmother’s pure delight!
Now to those vines…twelve years ago I planted a confederate jasmine vine on my trellis by the pool. Over the years it has grown tremendously. Each summer we enjoy the marvelous aroma of its blooms and the hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy its nectar. It has been the safe haven of many a bird’s nest and even a few wasps’ nests. Ten years ago, on the section of trellis right next to the jasmine I planted a red honeysuckle and on the last section I planted a yellow honeysuckle. Although they do not grow as ferociously as the jasmine and do not have much of an aroma, the hummingbirds love them best of all.
Procrastination has created a humongous tangle on our trellis. Each year we say we must prune the jasmine. Each year we procrastinated until the birds were already nesting and we did not want to disturb them. The jasmine grew and grew and grew and spread and spread and spread. Eventually the red honeysuckle was completely engulfed!
This past weekend my husband and I stood firm, grabbed the clippers and headed out to prune this overgrown beast. The first section with the base of the jasmine required bold cutting and hearty pulling but we cleared it fairly readily. The second section, however, was another story. The jasmine and honeysuckle were totally interwoven. The electric and large clippers had to be retired and I had to go in by hand with my little hand clippers. All the vines look the same to Scott so he was not allowed in this section. I painstakingly began clipping little vine by little vine, untwisting and tracing vines to their sources.
I truly did not expect to find the honeysuckle but I did. Somehow, under the massive arms of the jasmine, it had been steadily growing. Tendrils wormed their ways through the jasmine to the sun. When finished, I had found a much larger vine that I had anticipated. I meditate as I garden. As I worked on these vines, I wondered what parts of my life were like the honeysuckle. Do I have parts of my life that are being overshadowed and squeezed out by something else? What jasmine in my life may smell good but may be overpowered by other important honeysuckle? Do you have some jasmine and honeysuckle in your life?
What about the yellow honeysuckle, you ask. Tune in tomorrow and see.



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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mr. Froggie Went A-Swimming

The warm weather is bringing the frogs and toads back. They can be so much fun. They come in all sizes and shapes with all levels of croaks! My grandson, Elliott, and I love to watch them. Elliott and I love singing the children’s song: “Mr. Froggie Went A Courting”. However, at my house, too many of them choose to go for a swim rather than court. Elliott considers it his chore to be the animal rescuer and save all the frogs from the pool. Even as a toddler with me holding him as he leaned over with the net, he insisted on rescuing the frogs himself.
As the rain cleared and the sun shone, I stepped out back and spotted a big toad in the pool. Retrieving the net, I began the rescue mission on my own since my helper is not here. As I dip the net in the frog dives to the bottom. Thus begins the ‘froggie’ tango around the pool: me waiting until he arises again, trying to stay behind him; dipping the net yet again to see him dash again to the bottom. We do this over and over. Unlike Elliott, I will admit to becoming aggravated after a while. Why does he not understand that if he remains in the pool the chlorine will kill him?
I suspect I am often like these frogs. God is always there with His hand out to grab me and I am diving to the bottom. Sometimes it takes me a while to see the path He wants me to follow. Sometimes I prefer my way and I take the dive! Since God always waits patiently for me, I think I will head back out with my net and wait patiently for this frog. I can even use this waiting time to listen and pray!
Happy dipping to all!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Glory of Thunderstorms

I love watching thunderstorms! I really, truly do! The majesty and power of God’s creation moves me deep within my soul. Darkness is the best time to watch. The rush of wind, the pelting rain, the bright flashes in the sky and booming rumbles draw me. If you drive past my house during a thunderstorm, you will probably see me sitting on my rocking chair on the front porch. I have also watched a few hurricanes in my life however, not from the front porch. The wind is simply awesome!

When I read the story of Pentecost in Acts, I vividly see in my mind the rush of wind and flames of fire described in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The wind is a perfect descriptor of the power of the Holy Spirit. Winds constantly blow through my life. Usually it is the wind of a gentle breeze, sweet and soothing. The breeze that makes the chimes ring out a beautiful song has blessed most of my life. But at other times I feel as if I am in the midst of hurricane force winds. Destructive winds that toss me about like a rag doll. Then Jesus steps forward and tells the winds to cease and life becomes perfectly calm!

What about those bright flashes of lightning during the nights? We are sitting in total darkness and suddenly there is this brilliant flash and we can see all the things around us. Lightning also reflects my life at times. I am so overwhelmed that all seems dark. There seems to be no answers to life’s problems. Suddenly God clears my eyes to perceive His answer. His light is now lighting the path!

I do love thunderstorms. These images of God’s power nourish me. God’s presence in all of His creation truly awes me. May I never take His creation for granted.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not One but Two Collisions

It is a fact that I have been inside too long over this lengthy cold winter. Yesterday was beautiful! It was so sunny and warm that I had thrown open the doors and was enjoying the nice breeze flowing through my house. Unfortunately it has been such a long winter that the birds that are flocking into my yard were not accustomed to seeing me out and about. As I slide open the screen to the French doors and stepped outside, a cardinal flew right into my shoulder. I am not sure who was more startled! He quickly flew up into a pine tree and sat on a limb fluffing his feathers. I dropped my glass of tea and seat cushion as I jumped off the steps! Luckily I did not break my leg and my ‘glass’ was actually plastic!
After refilling my ‘glass’, I arranged my cushion on the patio chair and sat to enjoy the sunshine. Suddenly something bounced off my back! Since both dogs are tiny, I knew it was neither of them. On the ground behind my chair was a little chickadee! He appeared to be stunned! Buddy, my constant companion, and I sat there watching him for a while. Of course, I did not have my camera with me. Buddy kept wagging his tail as if to say, “Let’s play, friend!” After a few minutes, the chickadee flew up to the top of the trellis with no apparent ill effects.
Hopefully Spring is here to stay and the birds will once again get comfortable with my presence in the habitat we share. The great advantage of using a laptop is that it can go outside with me to enjoy the marvelous weather! I am like many of my plants; I thrive in the sunshine! Many creatures share our backyard habitat: numerous species of bird, lizards, skinks, butterflies, bees, snakes, rabbits, turtles, armadillos, field mice (the most difficult of God’s creatures for me to love), bats, and many more. Stay with me throughout the year. I guarantee that Buddy and I have many close encounters and joyful experiences with our fine friends!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Gifts from God

God has blessed me with so many wonderful gifts! He led me to a wonderful husband, Scott, and gave us two beautiful children who have married two more beautiful children. He blessed us with a most dearly precious grandson and two more soon to join us. My ability to teach and organize truly came from God and led to a fulfilling career. He continues to give me good health as I have moved into my new stage of life as a retiree. The last few weeks I have been watching my husband prepare for his first Easter Vigil as a deacon and have wondered if I do enough with God’s gifts.
Scott has never been involved in any organized singing endeavor; however as a deacon he gets to chant the Exsultet during the Easter Vigil. He is both excited and nervous about this public performance! While preparing for the deaconate, he met a marvelous and truly gifted gentleman. Lavan is in his nineties and retired from a singing career and is married to a deacon. He continues to share his gift by teaching new deacons how to chant the Exsultet. Scott travels nearly two hours to get his lessons and then two hours home; however he loves every minute of it. I hear Scott practicing every day and he is getting better and better. My favorite story is from their second lesson. Scott chanted for Lavan first to show his progress. Lavan told Scott that if he did not increase the tempo that he would be dead before he finished! God blessed Lavan as a great music teacher! I cannot wait until the Easter Vigil!
Do I truly give from God’s gifts as I should? Are there things I should be doing that I am not? Have I actually discovered all my gifts from God? Am I using them as God wants me to? Am I being stingy with my time and talents? These are questions I need to pray about and I need you to pray for me too.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Large Churches??

I have not attended a large church since I was a teenager but as I survey the ‘church’ piles around my house; I cannot help but wonder if it is easier being a member in a large church. Yes, I have piles of church stuff all over my house because they are projects in process. In my foyer I have freshly washed children’s bags, waiting for me to collect more items to entertain the little ones during the services. On my dining room table, there are two communion sets drying after being washed and two acolyte albs. The albs have been hemmed for two new acolytes and are waiting for me to get the candle wax off one and then both need bleaching and laundering. The bar between the kitchen and dining room has a stack of DOK brochures for an upcoming meeting. The drainer is full of dishes from a bridal shower this past weekend. My office has a stack of materials used for the Sunday School class I am teaching and more DOK materials. My sewing table has a selection of ribbons, bought to replace the tattered ribbons in the altar book. In Scott’s office is a pile of reference material for his next sermon.

Do churches with large memberships still have parishioners homes covered in piles? I wonder!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Spring Sprung?

I spent several hours yesterday afternoon pulling weeds. The sun shining on my back felt marvelous. My thighs however are out of practice of being in the weed pulling position. The flower bed quickly cleared of weeds and I discovered new growth at the base of my ever faithful yellow lantana. The daylilies and daffodils are several inches high now. The daffodils even have some buds. No sign of my caladiums yet. I hope all the freezing temperatures did not do them in. The two miniature azaleas look good. I worked until I got to two large fire ant beds! My garden is mostly organic; however there are a few things that I do use chemicals on and fire ants is one of them. Hopefully they will all be gone by this afternoon when I head out again.
My hands look like I have been in the garden! I have never mastered gardening with gloves. I need to feel the stems and roots. I love the feel of dirt in my hands! When I come upon briars, I do put on my gloves-after I have carefully turned them inside out to ensure there are no spiders inside. Beyond that, it is flesh to soil! Delicious! Of course this is also why I occasionally have severe bouts of poison ivy!
Gardening, especially weeding, is good for my soul! Any frustrations I have are exhausted as I name each weed I pull! Mostly I marvel at our wonderful creation and how good God is to give us such a paradise in which to live. I am amazed year after year as the plants peek up again out of the soil. Watching them grow and bloom is a continually changing kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. I even love watching all the little creatures residing in the soil. I must admit that spiders are difficult for me. I love watching them from a distance; however I exercise my response speed when one crawls across my hand.
I pray that Spring is truly here! I would love to hear how all of your gardens grow!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Read Across America

I had a great time yesterday visiting Miller County Elementary to participate in Read Across America and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday events. I retired the end of last year as principal of this school. The main difference is I was the last principal in a very old school and this year they are in a beautiful new school. I had the opportunity to read aloud to Mrs. Andrea Givens’ fourth grade class. Being a recent retiree, I knew most of the children in the class and the teacher from my tenure there. It was a fun reunion!
I read Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat by Jeff Brumbeau. The book is delightful with awesome illustrations by Gail de Marcken. The story lends itself to a great prop and wonderfully expressive reading. I do believe fun was had by all and we ended with our own rendition of the Chicken Dance!

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Max, My Special Inspiration

My journey reminds me of Max-may he rest in peace. I want to grow up to be just like Max. Max was rescued from a puppy mill. He was about 15 years old and had heartworm positive, had poorly healed broken ribs, ears were stapled together and he had only one eye and that eye had a cataract. We were visiting friends, Cathy & Jim, who were foster parents for Max. Max fell in love with Scott. Throughout the evening he followed Scott around and stayed by his side or in his lap. At the end of the evening, Cathy suggested we adopt Max. I was concerned that Buddy would not be happy to have an interloper move in. We did not have TyNee yet; that is another rescue story. Not to be foiled, Cathy suggested a spend-the-night party to see how they got along. Needless to say, Max never left our house!
Buddy was actually very excited to have Max in his house. Max, however, brought a great deal of baggage from his difficult earlier life. Max could be rather grumpy and if Buddy got too close he could be a bit aggressive. Buddy learned not to run up on Max and, most importantly, to not approach Max from his blind side. When Max growled, Buddy quickly dropped to the floor and wagged his tail. I want to be like Buddy too. He could befriend the most difficult of souls.
Soon Buddy and Max were best friends! When darkness fell, Max would follow Buddy on their walks. Apparently Max could see Buddy’s fluffy white tail. Due to the heartworms Max could not run, Buddy would walk with Max each day as they sauntered around the fence line. Max went through an innovative heartworm treatment that is easier on old dogs. Within a year he was heartworm negative and was running once again. As he became comfortable with us, he lost his aggressiveness and was a lovable sweet dog.
I want to be like Max. Nothing held him down. He overcame terrible adversity. He became a healthy, happy friend to us all. I want to persevere like Max. I want to ascend above all the little adversities of my life. I want to enjoy life as much as he did. I want to lean on friends when I can use support. He only spent about six years with us but we will never forget him.