Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unexpected Fruit

“Have you seen what’s growing on your tree?”

“What?” I asked puzzled.

The Japanese dogwood looked normal from my kitchen window. Across the yard its leaves had just a hint to red as fall set in. At least that’s what I thought was happening. My daughter, Heather, had come to help us with some seasonal yard work.

“Come outside and look.” She said. So I went wondering what on earth she was talking about.

But when I saw it, I was amazed! From my kitchen widow what I had thought to be the beginning of fall colors was actually fruit. Strange looking fruit!

“Fruit, on a dogwood tree? This is mystery.” I declared.

Most of the fruit, and there was a lot, was on the side of the tree where the afternoon and evening sun shone brightly. So it was only sparsely visible on the side facing my kitchen window. Another much older Japanese dogwood across the yard had never fruited. I had no idea they would, or could.

I’d never seen this kind of fruit before…anywhere. But there it was!  It was about the size of an apricot, bright red and bumpy all over. Heather picked one off the tree and broke it open.

“It smells kind of like a…peach.” She announced thoughtfully. Then touching her tongue to it, she said, “It tastes, well a little peachy… maybe… only not so sweet.”

“I hope it’s not poisonous.” I said, wary of this odd looking fruit, that I had never seen and knew nothing about.

Later that evening, Heather sent me an email. She had ferreted out information on our dogwood tree’s strange fruit. I laughed as I read the description:

It’s a Cornus Kousa Dogwood, a dog-on good dogwood with large, bumpy, red fruit that looks like a raspberry on steroids.”

Thankfully, it wasn’t poisonous. However, people can’t agree on the taste… sort of like an apple, a persimmon, a peach…all were suggested. Evidently some folks have tried to make jam from it, but said the flavor goes flat with cooking.

Since cooking is not my first love, there is no danger that the fruit will go flat. It doesn’t seem like anything to worry about harvesting either. I’ll gladly let the birds and deer feast on it.

Unexpected fruit!

Sometimes a surprise harvest of fruit shows up in someone’s life, too. Someone may bless you unexpectedly without even realizing it. Like May…she’s a lady in my Bible study group. When we share our prayer requests, May always starts hers by thanking the Lord for a specific current blessing. The rest of us tend to go directly to our requests—our concerns, our worries—but not May.

The other day I told May what a beautifully thankful heart I saw in her, and how it blessed me. So when my turn came around to share requests for prayer, I made my first one an expression of thankfulness, too.

May, said, “Each day the Lord provides so many small blessings, they go unnoticed unless we open our eyes to see them.”

I’d like to do better at noticing God’s daily blessings and gain the fruit of thankfulness in my life. I want to start my prayers with a thankful heart to the Lord who wisely provides all things. Will you join me?

“…for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:9 ESV)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Summer Weddings

Summer makes me think of lazy days, warm and bright and generally relaxing. But when a wedding is afoot, there’s no time to relax. You’re busy before the wedding preparing for the big day. And after the wedding, it’s cleaning up and figuring out what to do with leftovers, decorations, etc.

Such was the case in our family this summer. We celebrated a wedding and a renewal of vows wedding. Two wedding celebrations, and both were special. The first had all the trimmings of a true wedding; the second very weddingish, but posed less fuss in preparation and take down. Yet both brought much meaning and rejoicing.

The first was our granddaughter’s wedding. Bridesmaids and groomsmen were dressed in somewhat casual wedding finery. A special venue was acquired with décor more on the natural side, summer flowers, votive candles set in rustic, sawn branches, and simple but yummy refreshments. The backpacking love of the young bride and groom was reflected as guests were encouraged to make themselves a small snack-sack of backpackers goodies to take home as a remembrance gift from the newlyweds.

The bride was lovely and the groom handsome dressed in their wedding attire.  Dad and Mom gave their daughter to her young man. The ceremony was performed, vows repeated, and bride and groom literally danced down the aisle after they were pronounced “Mr. and Mrs.” The cake was cut and a happy celebration followed into the night. It was a fun wedding…one with much laughter as well as great joy.

The second, was my oldest daughter’s renewal of her wedding vows with her husband. They’d not had much of a wedding first time around, so decided to make the vow renewal something special. She bought that wonderful wedding dress she’d desired, and became a lovely bride: he in his new suit became the handsome groom. The venue overlooked the water of a gorgeous lake, and décor though simple was elegant, the food delicious. The brides love of preserving was demonstrated in small jars of jam for each of her guests to take home as a gift. One of the groom’s relatives officiated. Her dad and I gave her away…again. They shared vows they had prepared especially for one another reflecting renewed love. How precious and sobering. The cake was cut while friends and relatives rejoiced with them.

Two wedding celebrations with contrasts and similarities.  The young couple starry eyed with love for one another anxiously looked forward to beginning the new experiences of married life together. The older couple, experienced in marriage with one another, knowing the ups and downs of life together, the rich and poor, the sickness and health, all of it, still wishing to openly continue loving one another.  The young couple chose to leave parents to cleave to each other. The older couple chose to cleave to one other more tightly than ever before.

God ordained marriage, and marriage is honorable.  It’s a place for intimacy and the expression of love on many levels and under many circumstances. Marriages fail all too often these days. Yet God intended marriage to be a close and loving relationship between a man and a woman that lasts a lifetime.

How can we preserve our marriages? Forgive, listen, set aside self and give time to our mate, preserve through hardship, so many things…if only we will do…do…do what God designed for us to do in marriage. Love and cleave. Isn’t that what we say when we marry, “I do”?

“… a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 NIV)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goodbye Birdies

They’re gone! Flown the coop. Vacated. The whole family! In one day they moved out of the birdhouse, lock, stock, and barrel. Totally and completely gone. We were so busy that day we missed their departure. And when we realized, it was a Blue day.

We had noted that one (or one at a time) of the little birds where practically hanging out the door for a while. This was much like what there mother used to do when she was nesting. But even though they were up, visible, and looking at the world outside, mother bird was still coming back and forth with food for them. We thought they were adventurous little ones, perhaps getting ready to fledge. I guess they were. I guess they did.

We’ll miss the little family. Watching them go through the stages of bird life was fun. It’s strange to me how birds can have a nice cozy home, and then vacate it as soon as the little ones fledge and leave. Camping out in trees or bushes must be more appealing to them. I’m spoiled; I’d take the cozy house any day.

A few other species of birds have stopped on the birdhouse stoop to peek in. But then they fly away. They aren’t interested in a once used home. (I have to say our bird neighbors left quite a mess!) The birdhouse swings in the summer breeze, quiet and empty of life. We’ll take it down soon.

Our plan is to clean out the birdhouse and paint it. There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to spruce up a home. We’ll have the little house all ready for next spring. Perhaps then a new family will move in. We’d love to welcome some new feathered neighbors.

The Bible tells of a religious man who knew God had said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So the man asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan and then answered the man’s question. “The one who showed him mercy.” (Luke 10:25-37) 
I hope we’ve been good and merciful neighbors to our little bird friends.

“Mercy”…It’s a word with many facets. What would showing mercy to neighbors mean for you?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hungry Babies

Mouths open wide, two baby birds sit at the birdhouse door. They’ve seen their mama coming with something good to eat, a juicy worm or delicious bug. These little ones are growing bigger and stronger. I’ve found that hungry little birds can raise a noisy ruckus, just as their human counterparts when they are hungry. I’m so happy they’re alive and thriving.

My heart jumps at the thrill of seeing them in action. I wish my camera shudder moved as quickly as my heart. Its slight delay causes me to miss the snapshot I’d hoped for. Food is transferred from mother to babies—so quick.

Nevertheless, I can watch. Those two baby birds returned to their nest made it through their trauma and are doing well. The bird family is intact and busy. My feet do a little happy dance while my face breaks into a broad grin. Life! It brings such joy. (See past blog for the trauma story.)

Watching this little bird family causes me to hark back to days with my grandparents. Grandpa was special, but he was elderly. His energy level was not that of a younger man. He kept as active as he could. But each afternoon he’d lie on the living room couch in front of the big picture window and watch life on the street. He saw neighborhood children at play, an occasional pet, the twitter of birds, all the general comings and goings of people and creatures doing what they do within his view. Life pulsating.

Sometimes we cannot participate in what is going on around us, or just don’t have the strength to do so—especially as age overtakes. Yet watching life hum on around us helps. Even as an observer, we are part of it. We can enter into the emotions of life, enjoy it, and learn from it.

The bird family outside my kitchen window warms my heart as I observe their antics. They fill me with awe. I’m certainly not part of the bird community, yet I enter in as an observer. They’ve taught me what it is like to be a bird—sort of—to live outside where predators lurk, and where the need for vigilance is paramount to survival. They’ve shown me that God has made ways for them to “live off the land” and yet do no preparatory work. They’ve taught me about faithful commitment to one another in a family…even when life gets tough.

Life! It is simply a wonderful gift from God.

Jesus said, “…I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly.” John 10:10b

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Birdhouse Continuity Returns  

After the disaster of my last blog, continuity seems to have returned to the birdhouse. Feathers from the predator have all blown away. The continuation of life as usual gives me hope that the baby swallows I returned to the nest are alive and recovering from their trauma of last week. Perhaps one day I’ll catch a glimpse of them under better circumstances than the first time I saw them. I’ll wait patiently to see.

Mr. and Mrs. Swallow are each at their posts. Mrs. Swallow hovers over her nest with occasional short flights, I assume for food. Too bad swallows prefer flying insects to birdseed. The bird feeder filled with seeds of various kinds hangs at the other end of the birdhouse pole. Mr. Swallow also seems to be supplying some food. He flies around and returns to stop at the birdhouse perch and poke his head in or enter briefly. Then he returns to his spot atop the pole, or flies off again to repeat the scenario.

Birds are twitchy and quick. They run fast, fly swift, and have wonderful coordination. They land so efficiently on a twig or the edge of a bucket. Their balance is unprecedented. They can take off and be at full speed in a nano-second. And they don’t run into anything or each other (well, mostly they don’t). Amazing! I am in awe of these little creatures.

I watched a robin bathing in the birdbath this morning. It was a quick splashy bath. His feathers ruffled and wings fluttered and water was tossed around. He seemed to enjoy his bath. Then he hopped on the ledge, looked around for a moment shaking his feathers, and flew off. So quick! Later two Cassin’s finches decided to enjoy a communal dip. It’s fun to watch their antics.

Each morning I awake to birdsong. Why, I wonder are the chirps and trills of these little creatures such pleasant sounds in my ears first thing each day? Sound is such an interesting thing. Pleasant ones are quite soothing. Many birdsongs are a delight to hear.

Sometimes a break from the rush and drama of life is so refreshing. I think our birdhouse dwellers are enjoying that today. I’m so thankful things are continuing on normally in the birdhouse. We also need occasional days that just hum along…mellow and predictable…days that start gently and end quietly. Today feels like one of those days for me as well. I’m glad. I hope you’re having a peaceful day, too.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gloomy Gray Bird Day

It’s been gray all day. First the sun hid behind gloomy gray clouds creating coldness like fall, not warmth like almost summer. I needed a warm jacket when I went out to buy groceries. Finally the sun  peeked out beneath the clouds late in the afternoon, but by then another gray gloominess had settled over us.

Returning home from shopping, I found that a tragedy had occurred. As I put away my groceries, I peered out my kitchen window and noted feathers—lots of feathers on the ground around the birdhouse. Immediately I went out to investigate. The birdhouse was quiet. The feathers were not from the swallows. They were wide feathers, white, black, and gray/brown stripped. “Whose feathers could they be, and why are they scattered about,” I wondered?

As I walked around the area puzzled, my eye caught a tiny pink form lying on the deck step a few feet away. A featherless baby bird, Its eyes not even open, lay helpless. I went over and examined it carefully. It was breathing. The tiny body felt warm as I gently picked it up. It seemed unhurt, but its belly was large and bluish. I wasn’t sure if the fall from the birdhouse nest had perhaps caused an internal bleed.

Everything came clear. A menacing bird must have attacked the little family. There was surely a fight! The vigilant swallows no doubt fought for their little family’s lives. It happened while I was gone, so only a short time had passed since the fray.

As I gazed at the tiny creature warm and breathing in my hand, my eye caught another below the step on the pebbly sidewalk. Why hadn’t I seen it? This little bird was also alive and breathing. I gently picked it up and laid it beside the other in my hand. It's belly resembled the others', so I hoped that represented a normal look for baby birds instead of an injury. Neither made so much as a peep. Then I saw another tiny form about two feet farther on the path. This little bird was not breathing and had obviously been injured. Sadness filled my heart. I searched the area carefully for more, but no more were found.

The nest seemed abandon for the moment. I didn’t know if other babies were still inside and safe. I also didn't know if mother swallow would reject these two little ones if I returned them to the nest since I had handled them. Yet they could not survive without their mother. One-by-one I put the two surviving babies back inside the small round door of the birdhouse. Then I went inside to watch from my kitchen window.

Soon Mrs. Swallow returned. She sat on the perch and looked inside. Then she looked again. She flew off and circled around quickly returning to repeat the same behavior. But this time she went inside and disappeared out of sight. I hoped she was glad to find her two lost babies there.

I prayed for the little bird family as I buried their tiny sibling. It helps to know God knows. He understands the ways of nature in our fallen world. He doesn’t miss even the difficulties of his smallest creatures. I cared, but He cares more.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”  (Matthew 10:29)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Practicing P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e

My new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Swallow are still busy nesting. Mrs. Swallow is in and out of the birdhouse. Mr. Swallow continues as a vigilant watcher and helper to his wife. By now we are certain they have some young ones. Yet the smallest family members are very quiet. It is only Mr. and Mrs. Swallow who decide to chirp every now and again.

I marvel at how baby birds can be so quiet—nothing like their human counterparts. We have a new baby in our family circle. With loud vocalization he does not hesitate to let his mama know when he feels a need for her attention and services. When he wails, anyone holding him quickly responds by returning him to her. Mothers gladly take their crying infants and comfort them. Human babies are loud and demanding.

I tried again to peep into the birdhouse today. It was swaying in the breeze, so I steadied it with my hand. As I brought my face closer to the circular door to take a peak inside, Mrs. Swallow suddenly flew out. She startled me so that I nearly toppled over!

My desire to see her little ones is great but far too threatening for her. So I guess I’ll have to be patient and wait. The little ones will grow and venture out soon enough. Watch and wait is my new motto. Yet waiting is not what I’d like to do. I am far too curious.
Watching and waiting has a familiar ring. Isn’t that what we are told to do as we consider the return of Jesus Christ? An angel told the disciples that Jesus would come again, in the same manner they saw Him ascend into heaven. (Acts 1:11) Watch and wait.

Waiting on our little bird family creates another opportunity to practice the task of observant watching and patient waiting. I’ve not done too badly at observation, but my, how I need to practice the patience of waiting. How about you?

“…we wait for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,…” Titus 2:13

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

White: New Life in 
the Birdhouse     

Something on the ground piqued my curiosity. Lots of things are there: dirt, pebbles, sticks, dead flower peddles, and such, but not usually white things. I bent down to examine it. Small and curved at one end, I could see it was half a tiny eggshell. It was near the birdhouse. That meant only one thing…baby birds!

I was so excited. I called my husband to come and see. He thought it was nice, but didn’t display quite the passionate joy I experienced. For me, all the birds are such fun to watch; and babies, well that’s just over the top wonderful.

I found a new bird book at Costco. I looked up swallows and found that our birdhouse residents belong to the family called tree swallows. They are not barn swallows as I had previously thought. Their back and wing feathers are a deep iridescent blue-green and their tails are shorter than those of barn swallows. They also have a snow-white breast and they lay white eggs.

Usually the males are more colorful. The bird book said females are slightly duller in color, but Mr. and Mrs. Swallow seem equally colorful to my untrained eye. I’ve noted more comings and goings lately. But it’s becoming harder to know who is coming and who is going. They flit about in and out so quickly.

The bird book also said they liked to eat flying bugs. It told how papa swallow would feed mama while she incubates her eggs. So if incubation is over, then maybe they both need to be out hunting flying bugs to feed their hungry brood. It all makes sense when you realize they have four to seven babies to supply.

The birdhouse hangs on a chain and gently rocks when there is a breeze. I wonder if rocking is as soothing to little birds as rocking is to little people? I ventured as close as I dared trying to listen for baby bird sounds after I found the eggshell. But it seemed awfully quiet inside the birdhouse. Maybe baby birds don’t cry like baby humans do when they’re hungry. I hope we’ll soon catch a glimpse of these tiny additions.

My experience with the swallows makes me think about new life in Jesus Christ. When I was a teenager, I realized my need for His saving grace. That was a long time ago, but I will never forget the peaceful feeling I had when I finally yielded my heart to Jesus. I knew He had forgiven my wrongs and accepted me into his family. It changed my life. Without a doubt I knew I’d done the right thing, and I’ve never regretted it. In that moment I was born again. I became a baby Christian. And those who knew rejoiced with me. New life…it’s a wonderful thing!

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1:12-13)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Guardian

Be aware -- Mr. Swallow is on guard! I mentioned my new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Swallow, a couple of blogs back. They’re working together to hatch a little clutch of eggs.

I haven’t actually seen their eggs. The circular door to their birdhouse is small and the interior so dark, I can’t see inside. However, they are far too vigilant to allow me to think of anything else but that they are nesting a potential family.

Their cozy house is at the end of three-foot horizontal pole high above the azaleas. The other end holds the bird feeder. Many birds of various kinds come around quite often for a snack. Mr. Swallow tolerates them as long as they don’t get too close to the birdhouse. If they do, he’s quick to chase them away. He’s a dedicated mate, father-to-be, and protector of his family.

Mrs. Swallow appears at the doorway every so often. She pokes her head out, and stays a while just looking around. Like all dedicated mothers, she needs an occasional change of scenery. Once in a while she will take off for a short flight, then return and disappear inside her home. No doubt her warm body and fluffy wings keep her eggs snug and incubated. Mr. Swallow stays outside either on the pole above or on the birdhouse roof as faithful guardian.

Watching the continuous vigilance of my feathered neighbors, I am reminded to be thankful that my Heavenly Father is the same. He constantly watches over His family with love and protection. Nothing escapes His view; nothing is allowed that is not within His will. Even the difficulties we perceive become pathways toward growth and good under His care.

Are you part of His family? God faithfully guards those who belong to Him.

“How precious is your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Black on Black

A subtle quick movement caught my eye. Something was there that shouldn’t be! I reacted. Picking up the black cover containing my Bible by its handle on the opposite side of the movement, I shook it hard. A small black spider fell to the floor…and to a fast demise under my shoe.

Black on black is hard to spot. I shudder to think that spider could have been right in my lap had my eye not caught its tiny movement. (Thank you, Lord!) He tried hard to hide by blending in and getting out of sight. But I spotted him. He preferred darkness and secrecy to light and notice.

I don’t like spiders. Any spider entering my home does it at the risk of his own life. Inside the house is my domain, and outside is theirs. A spider is an interesting creature to watch…outside. They make lovely webs and catch a variety of annoying bugs. But inside, they become frightening creatures to eliminate on sight, no matter how small.

As spring approaches and doors and windows are opened to the warm balmy air, more of these little black spiders will find their way into my home. I wish I could put up a sign that says, “keep out” or “danger” or anything that would detour them from entering the house. Killing them is nothing I find pleasurable. But sadly, spiders don’t read. So far, no effective way to keep them out seems to exist.

After a spider encounter, I always spend the next half hour hyper-aware of another possible presence. My son-in-law gleefully informed me that statistics say there’s always a spider within three feet of you. I’m still annoyed by the twinkle in his eye as he proclaimed this bit of knowledge. It makes me cringe to even think of it. My only consolation is that spiders like to hide, which means they don’t care to be around me anymore than I care to be around them.

Spiders remind me of how the Bible shows us the difference between hiding in darkness and living in the light. Jesus is the way we can come out of the darkness of sin and into the light, clean and bright. Unlike spiders, we are welcomed into his home and family when we come. As we follow Jesus, we can walk unencumbered by darkness. Are you following Him?

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.” (John 8:12)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Joy of New Neighbors

We have some new neighbors. I’m excited. I haven’t formally met them yet, but we’ve had some friendly acknowledgement from a distance. I hope we can become friends before long.

There’s nothing like moving into a new house. A few things have had to be changed to make their home fit them just right. I noticed that they jumped right in and did the work enthusiastically. Now they seem happy and fairly settled into their new home.

My new neighbors are expecting soon. Nothing has been said, but well, it seems pretty obvious. I’ve seen no other children, so they are probably first time parents. New home, new baby. What could be more exciting!

I watch them sometimes as they come and go when I’m in my kitchen. The kitchen window gives me the best view of these new neighbors and their comings and goings. I’m not really a nosey neighbor, but they just seem to be actively doing things outside when I happen to be doing dishes or preparing a meal. Its fun to watch them. They chat and tease back and forth. They seem very committed to one another.

I’m not sure when their baby is due, but I’m sure I’ll know when the time comes. Babies are such fun and so precious and cute. It will be nice to have a new little one in the neighborhood.

Oh…did I forget to mention? My new neighbors are a couple of swallows. We hung a birdhouse outside for the first time this year, and Wa-la almost instantly we had new neighbors! They're quite entertaining. I’ll keep you posted on the little family and the new addition(s) when they arrive.

    "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"  Matthew 6:26 (ESV)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Book Review

The Turning by Davis Bunn, is a new novel, just out this month. Published by Moody, it is 292 pages in length.

The book opens with Trent Cooper, a man who desires to climb to the top of the Mundrose corporate ladder. He wants to be in the inner circle where he can be in charge and make things happen…whatever it takes. And he has what he considers a winning idea.

John Jacobs, a Christian family man and the assistant manager of a trucking company, is at church on Sunday when something happens…he hears God speak to him. “Take the turning…and walk the unlikely road.” John is not the only one who hears God’s voice that Sunday. Five Christians with their own unique stories get the same message. Five lives are drawn together to experience a challenge that threatens personal loss and difficulty.

Each person knows God has spoken, but they find themselves unsure what to do with the call. Step-by-step God unifies their thinking and reveals His purpose as they follow Him. Together they are emboldened to fight against an evil ideology that steals hope. As they obey, prayer support comes. It’s not a likely road nor an easy battle, but strength appears at every turn.

The story challenges us to realize that as Christians we must not sit back in silence when evil is afoot. God may call us to stand strong against a specific evil in our community or nation. We need to be ready with prayer, and obedience to our Lord. God works through the hands and feet, and words of his people. He becomes their strength giving them direction as they obey Him and peace in the midst of trouble.
I’d definitely recommend The Turning as a good read for Christian folk seeking to follow the Lord.

I liked the short chapters; these helped me when I had small spurts of reading time. Several distracting editorial errors appeared in chapter 12, as well as a few later. But once I got into the story, error ceased to distract as interest in the content held my attention.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for my honest review. While this book is one I might not have chosen this book on my own, I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it. I plan to read more by Davis Bunn.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Reminiscing about...  

The Secret

              My attention roused, I scooted to the edge of the seat listening closely. This missionary speaker promised to reveal a secret that I wanted to know. I longed for a closer relationship with my Savior. Now, before me was a man whose words indicated he had the answer.

“I’m going to tell you ‘the secret’ of the Christian life,” he said. That’s exactly what I wanted to know! But his next words stunned me!

“Read the Bible and pray,” he said with absolute confidence.

“Read the Bible and pray?” My mind repeated his words. “Is that the secret…is that all? I already know that! But am I doing it?

He went on to explain that it’s not easy to make Bible reading and prayer a daily priority. Yet, that’s what it takes to have a close abiding relationship with Christ. As we do this, we find that we not only learn about God, but we understand Him and His purposes better. We begin sensing His nearness. Our praying ceases to be only a list of concerns and shallow blessings, and becomes a conversation with a trusted friend. But it must be done intentionally.

As a young mom with small children something more in my busy schedule felt daunting. Yet I wanted a relationship with the Lord that was close and personal.

“Lord,” I prayed “help me to make my relationship with you a priority. Help me read your Word and pray consistently with an open heart.”

              How is your relationship with the Lord? Do you need to apply “the secret” as I did? It’s never too late to start reading the Bible and praying regularly. Choosing to draw close in relationship to Him is what life is all about.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 NKJV)

Saturday, March 8, 2014


It’s not pretty, lacks color, and isn’t even valuable…this special ring of mine. In fact, it looks more fake than real. Yet it is real. It’s too big for my little finger and too small for my ring finger. I put it on my little finger anyway even though it was loose. I didn’t think it would actually fall right off, but it did. That’s how I lost it.

I was sad. Why would I be sad about loosing a non-valuable, ugly ring that doesn’t even fit? Sentiment. Yep, that’s the only answer I can give. But there’s always a back-story when something has sentimental value.

My remembrance started with a writing group assignment about a relative. So I wrote about my Grandpa, his grocery store, and the great depression. During that time, many men were out of work, and therefore unable to provide for their families. Their wives came to grandpa’s small grocery store needing to somehow obtain food to feed their children and themselves.

My grandpa had a generous heart, but he also understood the value of dignity. Housewives would offer him jewelry in lieu of actual cash. A lot of the jewelry was only costume; but a few pieces had a little worth. My tiny ring was one of those pieces. Grandpa had saved it, most likely in case its owner could redeem it at some point in time. She never did.

The ring is made of some kind of pot metal that is gold washed. The wash is mostly gone. It also has 6 tiny diamonds chips across the top that are dark, dull and gray with no sparkle left. At the time of the exchange, the owner of this ring was given $20 worth of groceries. Before you gasp, this was the 1930s, and $20 worth of groceries would be like filling a grocery cart to the brim. The fact that her ring was obviously not an expensive wedding band, speaks to the fact that this woman had little to begin with. These were indeed hard times.

To enhance the story of the ring for my writing group, I found a picture of grandpa in his store, and took the ring out of my special keepsake box to take along. After the group ended, I came home completely forgetting about the ring so loose on my little finger. It wasn’t until that night I realized it was gone. I searched my house to no avail. I prayed about my lost ring and left the result with God.

The ring, along with its story had been given to me long ago by grandpa when I was ten years old. My grandpa had a special place in my heart. I’d valued the story and felt blessed that grandpa chose to give the ring to me. So that little unattractive ring became my sentimental treasure.

After it went missing, I went on with normal activities, yet the ring kept popping into my thoughts. With a sigh, I tried to resign myself to its loss.  But miraculously two days later as I approached my computer desk, my eye caught a tiny glint of shine on the carpet under my chair. As I bent to look, there was my ring! The sunlight had caught one of the remaining gold washed spots on its rim. Picking it up, I rejoiced and thanked the Lord, then joyfully informed my husband. My little ring with its treasured story was found!

It made me think of the lady spoken of in Scripture who lost her special coin. She was so happy when she found it that she called all her friends and neighbors together and told them. Her story analogizes how the angels hear heaven rejoice when one lost soul is found; when just one sinful person comes to Christ to be redeemed. My lost ring being found is only a small example of something to rejoice over. But a lost soul saved…why that’s a miracle of God’s grace! Rejoicing simply cannot be held back!

"…And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."     Luke 15:8-10 (NKJV)

Friday, February 28, 2014


A Word on Dinners
They wait…not long mind you, just a few moments…then if I don’t say it, someone around the table will sigh and comment, “Just say it, mom!” And so I do.

“Oh, this is such a colorful dinner!” I say it with great gusto and thankfulness, totally unable to contain my delight.

I’m so thankful that I only had to make one of the appealing dishes set before my family. I was blessed with daughters, a daughter-in-law, and granddaughters who don’t seem to mind cooking. When all the contributions are brought together, the table is beautifully arrayed with colorful foods.

I always seem to notice when meals are particularly colorful. Have you noticed that, too? Colorful meals are so much more appealing than plain colorless foods brought together to make a meal. Those plain foods might taste just as scrumptious, but somehow colorfulness seems to enhance the enjoyment of the meal.

Fortunately, when my family gets together to eat, there are usually plenty of interestingly colorful foods that are quite delicious. The display simply begs a comment. So I oblige.

God was so good and wise to create color. It seems to bring life to everything, even the food we eat. I think that fact is deserving of a word of praise, don’t you?

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in him." (Psalm 34:8) 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hello! Welcome to my blog!

When I was a little girl with a coloring book and crayons, I used to pretend that as I colored each item on the page the picture came to life. When my picture was finished it seemed full of vitality. I felt satisfied with my work, especially if I had managed to keep my colors inside the lines. This represents my childlike view of how God must have felt when he spoke the world with all its contents and its living beings into existence. The world was brilliant with the new colors of life. God said it was “very good.” I agree. How about you?