Archive | February 2012

Reflections

When I awoke to the radio alarm, I just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep.  I was feeling miserable with throbbing head and had slept fitfully throughout the night. However, the lyrics of the song that was playing caught my attention.

“…my God’s not dead; He’s surely alive…”

With the season of Lent underway, many Christians set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – His suffering, sacrifice, life, death, burial and resurrection. That’s exactly what happened when I heard those lyrics, I began reflecting.  My thoughts centered on the horrible beatings and ill treatment of Jesus, and then moved on to the torturous death of being nailed to the cross.

Shame washed over me. Here I was, laying in my warm bed, beginning the day with complaints of my discomfort and inconvenience of lingering sinus pressure headaches and fatigue from sleep deprivation. These are so minute and petty compared to what Jesus endured!

Dear God, forgive me for my self-absorption, and thank you for the reminder of what you endured because of your love for each and everyone. Amen.

May I encourage you to read the Biblical accounts and reflect on Jesus death, burial and resurrection during these weeks leading to Easter. These accounts can be found in the New Testament of the Bible: Matthew chapters 26-28, Mark chapters 14-16, Luke chapters 22-24 and John chapters 18-20.

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No Scrap Goes to Waste

As I searched for something in storage, I came across several quilt tops. These were pieced together long ago by Grandma from the era – “No Scrap Goes to Waste.”

Each quilt top has an untold story of its own. Why was a specific pattern chosen? Was it best suited for the fabric on hand? You see, a lot of the small quilt pieces were fabric scraps from another sewing project, or re-purposed from a garment too worn or outgrown.  Were the light colors from Grandpa’s Sunday dress shirts? Were the vintage patterned scraps from a child’s romper or Grandma’s house dress? Maybe they were from the neighbor’s scrap bag. It was not unusual for non-quilters to bring their bag of scrap fabric to Grandma. If only she were here to tell the story of each quilt.  Instead, I let my mind and imagination fill in the details.

Quilt making was something Grandma loved. As long as I can remember, she always had one in-the-making; either cutting & piecing, quilting in quilt frames, or both at the same time. In fact, she died at her sewing machine while piecing a lone-star quilt top.

Once the tops were pieced together, friends and neighbors were invited for a quilting bee. Often the morning started with a short Bible lesson followed by coffee, good conversation, potluck lunch, more conversation, laughter and always LOTS of stitching. Not only did each quilt have a story, can you imagine the buzz of stories shared as the women stitched? I imagine there was plenty of advice shared on gardening, baking and canning as well as parenting, grandparenting, grown children, in-laws, and all things family. I know there was laughter, but I imagine there were tears and prayers shared too.

If I was with my Mom, Grandma would always encourage me to make a few stitches. I don’t remember how old I was when she first taught me how to make the tiny up and down running stitches. Though sloppy, uneven and sometimes not all the way through all layers of fabric and batting, as far as I know, my stitches were left in.

When I was an expectant first time mom, it was Grandma who taught me how to bind and finish the baby quilt I was making for my little one. Oh! the lessons one learns from a Grandma.  I miss Grandma, but I cherish memories of her with girlfriends bent  over quilt frame, needle in hand: caring, sharing, working together. I need to work on nurturing those kind of friendships because they are a vital part of my quilted life, and I don’t want to let any “scrap go to waste”.

“Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 (The Message)

I have good intentions to hand-quilt the unfinished  tops for my grown children, but unfortunately the love of quilting is primarily in my imagination. I guess I need a circle of friends to join me in some good ol’ fashioned quilting bees. In the meantime, the tops have been refolded and tucked once again into plastic storage bags stored behind closed closet doors.

Cheerful Birdsong

I woke with the dawn of light, and soon realized I was being greeted with cheerful birdsong.  As I began my day with prayer and Bible reading a song from my childhood came to mind and continued to repeat itself just like the round we used to sing.  Over and over it went until I could keep quiet no more.

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say Rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say Rejoice.

Rejoice. Rejoice. And again I say Rejoice.

Rejoice. Rejoice. And again I say Rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say Rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say Rejoice.

It is easy to rejoice when all is well, but what about when life is crashing down?

when the pain is unbearable (physical or emotional)
when the loss is so unexpected
when the family is falling a part
when God feels so far away
when….

I began to re-read these Psalms of praise. (Psalm chapters 145-150) On these pages I found a God who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. He is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord lifts up all who fall and who are bowed down. He is near to all who call on him. (not just when I FEEL him near, He IS near!) God hears my cry and watches over me. The Lord remains faithful forever. He sustains the fatherless and the widow. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. My God is great, mighty, powerful. His understanding has no limits. His love is unfailing (even when…)

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. 

Praise the Lord.”  Psalm 150:6 (NIV)

Let the birdsong continue with cheerful praise, as I too rejoice in the Lord.

Stepping Stones

My Sis-in-law gave me a beautiful monogrammed stepping stone, too ornate to actually step on.  As I deliberate on the perfect place for this one, I begin to think …

Stepping stones usually mark a path; they lead somewhere. Sometimes they simply stop, other times they meander through a garden or yard where one cannot see both beginning and end. These paths make me curious. They beg for me to follow one stone after another, to see and discover what lies beyond.

Life is a path of stepping stones laid before us. At times, it is easy and exciting to skip along. It’s enjoyable and beauty abounds.  The path can also be confusing when it divides, and I’m not sure which direction to go. Other times, it is scarey and/or painful, and I want to turn around and go back. (Turning around and going back is not usually an option in life.)

Too often I’d rather settle for the path that allows for a leisure stroll.  I don’t want to endure a rigorous hike that is going to take sweat and tears, yet this is when I grow the most. When I know I can no longer endure what lies ahead, and I do not have the courage or strength to take the next step, God lays down the next stepping stone. Then He holds my hand and helps me take that next step. One step at a time. That’s all He’s asking of me – Trust Him one step at a time.

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps  firm; though he stumble, he will not fall,  for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”            Psalm 37:23 & 24 NIV

I’m still not sure where I’ll put my monogrammed stone. but I’m eager to see where life’s path of stepping stones takes me today.

“I Love You” Hearts

One February early in our marriage, little valentine’s began showing up in the most random places.  One in the barn in the feed sack saying, “I fed the calves so you don’t have to. I love you.” Another in the cupboard on top of the stacked plates saying “Thanks for dinner.  I love you.”  Some would have a simple poem – some serious, some humorous, but all expressions of love. For two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day my husband showered me with random acts of kindness and notes of love.

The following year, I joined in the fun.  Armed with my own valentines, I began looking for little special ways to express my love to my husband. Year after year, this has been our Valentine tradition.

I don’t remember for sure how old the children were when they were included, maybe 4 or 5.  By this time, we were just passing construction paper hearts with “I Love You” written on them, and we established a few simple rules:

  1. Whoever found a heart had 24 hours to pass it on
  2. One could not pass back to the same person before passing the heart to all other family members

Though we encouraged showing love to one another throughout the year, spending two weeks intentionally and secretively was not only fun, but also rewarding both for the receiver and the giver. What fun to see the children sneaking around, into another’s room to make a bed, eager to set the table when it wasn’t their turn, making a cup of tea or hot chocolate for someone without being asked. Of course,  an “I Love You” heart was always left.  As the kids got older they would sometimes buy a favorite candy or gum and leave it in a backpack or on a dresser with the heart.  A note of love and appreciation found under a pillow was an extra special treat. These were treasures that were held on to long after Valentine’s Day.

Leaving home for college, one by one the children “graduated” from our family tradition. I would usually take or send something to the 1st year college student and always include an “I Love You” heart. I thought it was a good reminder to them of our family tradition and that I loved  them.

In the rat race of life, too often we neglect showing love to those we love the most.  We let our guard down and treat family in ways we’d never treat our friends or acquaintances.  Shame on us!! In John 15:12 and John 15:17 we are COMMANDED to love one another. Love is more than saying “I love you” or buying diamonds, roses, chocolate or the most popular toy.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does NOT envy.

It does NOT boast.

It is NOT proud.

It is NOT rude.

It is NOT self-seeking.

It is NOT easily angered.

It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does Not delight in evil

but rejoices with the truth.

It ALWAYS protects,

ALWAYS trusts,

ALWAYS hopes,

Always perseveres.

Love NEVER fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

Expect the Unexpected Continued…

Praising God today for the unexpected!

I woke up to blowing wet snow. I’m really not a huge fan of cold, wet, windy weather , and I enjoy snow best when I’m inside by the wood stove. However, I did need to mosey out to check and feed the cattle since Hubby is in Haiti. (According to flightaware his flight DID make its destination. Praise the Lord!!)

We have been praying and begging God to send moisture to replenish our drought stricken part of the world. So I sing praises this morning!

These girls didn’t seem too concerned with the weather

And these liked the morning snack I brought

Reminder to self: God DOES answer prayer when and how He chooses.

Jesus said in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Expect the Unexpected

One never knows for sure what will happen (good or not so good) when Hubby takes a trip away from the farm, but we’ve learned to expect the unexpected!

One time, I surprised him by refinishing his family heirloom desk while he helped build a church in Ecuador.

Another time, Hubby was enjoying a prayer meeting at the State Capital when we got a Spring Blizzard, and momma cows decided it was time to have babies.

Youngest Son & I tore out the kitchen while Hubby watched Second Son lead the pack at National Track Meet.

Hubby arrived in Haiti just a couple hours before the devastating earthquake.  Instead of working on a church, he did search & rescue and played soccer with some orphans.

Today, he boarded a plane again, and I dug out paint supplies to give our tiny half-bath a facelift. While painting around the toilet, water began dripping from the tank.

Steady drip, drip, dripping!

My first thought was, “Oh no! Who am I going to call for help?  Hubby usually handles such things!” Last visit to Haiti, he built this lil’ outhouse after the earthquake made using the indoor commode impossible.

I decided I could and would handle this, so I found Hubby’s BIG BLUE Binder titled “Easy Home Repair.”  The first paragraph in the “Toilet” section was encouraging. It said, “This is a job you can do without special tools or experience, and you can save the expense of hiring a professional plumber.”  🙂 That’s always good to hear! I continued to read, and greatly appreciated the step-by-step photos and the exploded diagram of all components of “the basic toilet.”

I returned to have a closer look at the dripping and have concluded I only need to replace the tank bolts and nuts.  Easy enough!!?  After a quick trip to town, I’ll be set to tackle the bathroom again.

With the unexpected beginning on day one of Hubby’s absence, I wonder what will be next.  I must remember….

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24