The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Grace through pictures in our days... through Tuesday Grace Letters

"Grace, grace,
   marvelous grace....
       Grace that is greater than all our sins..."

Grace--a gift that comes in spite of me.
    Grace--a gift that brings me to the end of me.
         Grace--a gift that opens up eternity for me.
             Grace--a gift that many times comes because of darkness opening up the Light of Truth.

I'm looking for the grace these days...posting on FaceBook when I see it and wondering if it wouldn't be good in a book some day. I know seeing these graces has helped me and I hope God will use it to help others.

Grace in my recent days of care giving after 37 years with Larry following a closed head injury:

"I'll just sit here and watch you while you work. " says Larry 25 times in one hour.
 Me?? I'm thankful for the company and the work I got done. (Living with Larry is never dull, if I look for the grace. )

Watching a video I saw on FaceBook where a man keeps telling random people they are "beautiful"...
After a short time he says, "I'm handsome, not beautiful. " 
Then the grace... He looks at me, "You are beautiful." 
Guess he has those words figured out--Grace.

Living life with Larry... The lady on the radio said, "on April first do you greet others with 'Happy April Fools Day," or do you say "Merry...?" Without missing a beat Larry says, "You say, 'You look great today!!!! April Fools!!!!'" Gave me a good laugh which is always grace given.

Larry went to our Red Hat planning lunch today. After lunch he dozed off and about fell over sideways. Someone asked him if he was bored. "I'm always bored with a lot of women. "
But as can be seen in the photo he is happy, grace for me. Grateful for his almost constant happy spirit.

Living Life and Loving Life with Larry 
"Look! I have a friend!" Says Larry before they both fall asleep. Peaceful Grace.

Ready to work... Larry for a running dialogue, sun screen, a hat, a shovel, gloves and seeds. Oh, and temps in the 60's and the sun. Blessed beyond measure.

Singing along with the Barbershop music on Pandora while Melvin tries to find a lap to sleep on. Amazing how many of these songs he knows the words to. The deeper the bass goes, the more he likes it. The grace? Hearing him sing.

Larry during Call The Midwife... "Wow...." Over and over in a bored voice. He is from the era of no fathers in the delivery room.

"Larry, are you sleeping?" 
"No, my eyes are just resting "

Another great group of women Larry has hung out with this year at Bible Study every Thursday morning. He will miss you all. Grace extended by all of you.

Tonight during" Call the Midwife" we have a running dialogue 
"it's a baby." 
Guess he is learning from the show. And I smile. 
Grace...at least he is wide awake. Maybe tonight he will sleep well. Me too.

Having lunch with my Dad and other family. The subject of snoring comes up. 
Larry pipes in, "I don't snore. " 
My sister says, "Larry, say, forgive me for telling a lie." 
Larry laughed, " Well, I don't hear it.."
We all laugh.  Grace.

And so living with Larry and seeing life through his eyes and mind does give graces beyond what I could have dreamed.  I'm just glad grace indeed is greater than my sin of selfishness...when that slips in I find it difficult to see the grace... I love the surprise and joy that comes when grace is evident especially through Larry.

Father, I do ask to see the graces that are so abundant in our every days....Thank you. 

Linking with Kara and her Tuesday Grace Letters.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Graces after Winter

Grace...... such a little word and yet so real in our everydays.
    Grace....... what I'm given that I don't deserve, can't earn, can't even anticipate.
        But it is a gift given that many times I don't see....    
               because I am distracted, self-absorbed, blinded by fake gold and false promises.

Grace.... for me in the Spring is flowers everywhere after the white, cold, and barrenness of Winter. Evidences of the Resurrection that we celebrate is seen all around us as the earth comes back to life after the death knolls of winter.

I am so glad that Spring in our hemisphere is the time of new life in creation...going right along with the celebration of the empty tomb and because of that the new life we have through Jesus Christ.

First a poem, and I do love poetry, from the same brother in Christ who wrote "Amazing Grace", wrote this:

Kindly Spring
Kindly spring again is here
Trees and fields in bloom appear; 
 hark! the birds with artless lays
Warble their creator's praise. 

Where in winter all was snow,
Now the flowers in clusters grow;
And the corn, in green array,
Promises a harvest-day.

Lord, afford a spring to me,
Let me feel like what I see;
Speak, and by thy gracious voice,
Make my drooping soul rejoice.

On thy garden deign to smile,
Raise the plants, enrich the soil;
Soon thy presence will restore
Life to what seemed dead before.
John Newton 1725-1807

What a wonderful promise we have... that just as Spring brings new life to the Creator's earth, so too
He will continue to restore us, to give renewed faith and love when we have been depleted by life in this broken world.

I do get tired.  Just when I think I have this all figured out, just when I think I am doing pretty good handling what I have been given... change comes, life gets turned upside down and for whatever reason I try to fix it myself instead of laying down, looking up, and focusing on my Grace Giver, my resurrected Savior who gave me new life by sacrificing His own.

You would think after all these years of care giving, I would remember that I can't do it myself, I can't fix anything--after all I couldn't even save myself because I was dead. It is only as His Spirit in me reminds me, whispers in my soul that I begin to look for God's presence, love, grace. As I am grateful for His grace, the new growth appears.

And when I look, when I pay attention,
    God is all around me,
         but the truth is
                the winter must come first for me to really notice the spring.

These days you will find me out in my yard, and it is a big one as my oldest son reminds me often, doing what I love to do. There is something about being outside that is grace in itself. Being able to anticipate what the view will be in just a few short weeks... the smells, the colors, the sounds.

You will find me turning the soil over in my garden, planting seeds and plants, applying needed nutrients around worn out plants, cleaning out all the garbage that has piled up including pine needles, pine cones, weed skeleton leftovers from last year.

And I find as I immerse myself in His Word, His truth; when I spend time with Him, praying, listening, being, as He pours in nutrients that I need and His water flows to my thirst; As I ask Him to remove the garbage, and to grow in me the fruits of the Spirit, the striving, the worry, the discontent eases.

Sometimes, especially while I'm on my knees, I marvel in absolute wonder, at the work God is doing all around me, right in front of my eyes, and I thank Him for the work He is doing in me.

If there is one thing I've learned in my life, it is that Spring comes every year, every single year.

And likewise in my life, Winter comes, but right behind it is Spring waiting to show her beautiful face and renew my spirit as the evidence of the resurrection, of life being born out of death is all around me.

One more poem:

After the Winter
As spring the winter doth succeed
And leaves the naked trees do dress,
The earth all black is clothed in green.
At sunshine each their joy express.

My suns's returned with healing wings,
My soul and body doth rejoice,
My heart exults and praises sings
To hi that heard my wailing voice.

My winter's past, my storms are gone,
And former clouds seem now all fled, 
But if they must eclipse again,
I'll run where I was succoured.

I have a shelter from the storm,

A shadow from the fainting heat,
I have access unto his throne,
Who is  God so wondrous great.

O hath thou made my pilgrimage
Thus pleasant, fair, and good,
Blessed me in youth and elder age,
My Baca* made a springing flood.

O studious arm what I shall do
To show my duty with delight;
All I can give is but thine own
And at the most a simple mite.
Anne Bradstreet 1612-1672
*baca: valley of weeping

Linking up with Kara at Tuesday's Grace Letters

Monday, April 14, 2014

What kids and clean rooms and prayer and grace have in common

Grab a cup of tea and join me for some thoughts.

Parenting is not easy.

Now that I have a grandchild, I remember how wonderful the kisses, the smiles, the hugs, the arms reaching for me were.  Sometimes I actually long for those days again.

The great thing about our memories is that we tend to forget the hard of parenting, but one thing I do remember is a question that went through my mind often and that was, "What am I doing or not doing that will ruin my child for life?"

Her 7th birthday
I actually thought that my parenting could result in them being happy or unhappy, successful or unsuccessful, a good citizen or a criminal, a good parent or a bad parent. I felt responsible for what they would be as adults.

I remember one particular day when my daughter, a first or second grader, was at school.  Getting her to keep her room clean was a huge struggle but when I really became firm, she would go to her room and it would look much better in a short time. I thought she was being obedient and I was a good parent.

I have to admit here that I was not a great housekeeper but I certainly wanted my kids to do better than I did.

This particular day, I went into her room and decided I would begin to do a deep cleaning.  I remember going into her room and thinking what a good job she was doing..  After straightening her quilt I noticed something sticking out from under the bed.  Upon further inspection of that hidden cavity I realized there were bags of "stuff" including food, paper, clothes, dishes, silverware, towels, toys... you name it and it was there.  Opening her closet door I found that it was also stuffed as high as she could reach.

I felt like a failure.  Furious and terribly disappointed with her, I berated myself for not being a good parent.  I hadn't really taught her how to clean her room. I waited for her to get home from school.

I'm sure there were harsh words on my part and tears on hers, but over the next few days when she was home, we went through
Lighthouse on Grand Turk
all of that "stuff," working together to put each thing in its proper place, much of it the garbage.  Much to my surprise, we found items from the kitchen, tool drawer and bathroom that I had been missing for months.

Was that the end of it?  No, she struggled with "stuff" throughout grade school and I know there were more harsh words and discipline, mostly ineffective in the moment.

The end of the story?  By high school, she was the one who cleaned the house since I was too busy and the truth is, she really was good at it.  Today, her house is clean, organized and she finds it less difficult to throw away "stuff" than I do.

Hindsight always sees things from a better perspective but if I could do it over, I wish I had known a few things...

---God was and is doing His work in my children to work out His purpose and it will be His will that is done. (I knew it, but my actions didn't demonstrate the truth of it.)
---my praying for my child does more than all the talking, teaching, persuading and convincing could ever do. (I'm learning that now in their adult years.  I just watch, pray, and then watch what God does.)
---understanding His grace and love is the most important thing in all of our lives. Children learn about that as they watch us depend on His grace and love in our own life.

I love this quote.

“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes I think we work so hard at making sure our children are successful in everything that they do, we actually teach them to be self sufficient not needing God.

I keep reading about how narcissistic children and young people are today.  Oh that we might teach them how much they need a Savior, how hopeless they are without God.  If kids don't learn that when they are young, God will use the circumstances of their lives to teach them their need, just like He teaches us.

For reflection:

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Pictures taken in the Caribbean

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Ft. Lauderdale sunrise in the port

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Off the coast of Grand Turk Island where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea run into each other.