Friday, February 5, 2016

Quieting the Noise ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life

Dear friends, as I write, it is Thursday morning. After a week of warm weather, the air is cool again but not too cold. The sun is out and there’s a gentle breeze blowing through the trees.

I plan to get outdoors later today, which is why I'm here now, attempting to drum up a blog post from thin air. Some days I sit down at my desk and find it easy to put words on paper, or type them onto a blank screen, as is usually the case. Other days, the well seems dry, nothing bubbles up. On such days, I stare at my office walls, covered with framed articles from the past—representing just a fraction of the thousands of words that have come out of me through the years—and I wonder how on earth I wrote all of those words and sentences. Just how?

In the past, when I sometimes wrote on a deadline, a blank screen could bring a panic attack, but these days, life is simpler and I find a certain value in having nothing to say. It's usually a sign that I've been drowned out by other voices, that I need to turn down the volume and clear out the cobwebs. 

If you think about it, there’s something chaotic about exposing your mind to a continuous dialogue, whether it be via radio, television, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or even engaging with people in the real world. My brain needs frequent breaks, else it hits an overload status, accompanied by a deer-in-the-headlights expression. That's why Facebookwhich I enjoy sparinglyand blogs are the only social media platforms that I use, and why I’ve never opened the can of worms called Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram. Well, I tried Instagram for about a day and could see right away that wasn’t the forum for me. Frankly, I can’t even comprehend that people actually have time to be active in so many places at once, or that they have the fortitude to keep it up, day in and day out.

For me, there are times when every outside voice has to be shut off—radio, television, blogs, Facebook, people—in order for me to find my own voice again. It may be only for a day or an hour, but I find such rituals are essential in living a balanced life.

Well, well ... that richness (wink, wink) will have to do it for this time. I hear my granddaughter stirring in her bed, awake from her nap, and I must go smother her with kisses. In the meantime, I leave you with some favorite images from the last few weeks.

But first, if you need to smile, and who doesn't, this 22-second video of cupcake playing a fun game with Memaw should do the trick. Is there anything more delightful than the pure laughter of a baby, or the appearance of three teeth?


Until next time, sweet friends, have a happy weekend and may the sun find you, wherever you are.

Note: There were video issues with certain browsers, so I uploaded to YouTube and it should be visible to all. If not, let me know.


Monday, February 1, 2016

What Love is ... and Isn't

I've thought a lot about the L word lately. It is, after all, that time of year when you walk into a store and are deluged with hearts and flowers and boxes of candy the size of Montana. 

In my humble opinion, the word “love” (both as a verb and a noun) may well be the most abused word in the English language. Take a look:

“I love you too much to let anyone else have you,” a husband tells his wife, just before blowing her brains out. 

“If you loved me, you would do this for me,” a boy says to the girl who is refusing to have sex with him. 

"I can't stay with your mom, because I'm not in love with her," a father tells his sobbing teenager, who is begging him not to leave. 

What stands out about the above examples is the fact that those using the word love in these scenarios, all have selfish motives. It's all about them and their satisfaction. What is best for me, seems to be the underlying theme.

So what is love? Perhaps the best definition can be found in the Bible. Often referred to as the “love chapter,” it reads like this:

“If I could speak every language in the world, but didn’t love others, I would only be making a noise.

"If I could predict the future, knowing everything about everything, but didn’t love others, I would be worthless.

"If I gave everything I own to the poor, or were burned alive for my faith, but didn’t love others, it would be of no value to me.

"Love is extremely patient and kind, never jealous or envious. and never proud and haughty.

"Love isn’t selfish or rude.

"Love does not demand its own way, and isn’t irritable or touchy.

"Love does not hold grudges, and scarcely notices when others do it wrong.

"Love mourns in the face of injustice, but celebrates whenever truth wins out.

"If you love someone you will be loyal to that person, no matter the cost. You will believe in that person, expecting the best of that person, and you will always be ready to defend that person.

"When all is said and done, you have not accomplished anything, if you have failed to love.

"Love is the greatest thing in the world.”

~ 1 Corinthians 13

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Musings ~ A Weekend Getaway and Splendor Under the Trees

Dear friends, Friday morning, The Man and I boarded Cloud Nine and drove west to a favorite getaway, the Alamo city, the lovely San Antonio, for a long weekend. Since the arrival of our dear granddaughter, our travels have been few and far between, so it felt good to be out there on the road again.

Although the captain battled strong winds, he brought us in for a safe landing to the charming KOA, a familiar place where I don’t feel rushed or anxious, but find it easy to be in the moment.

Saturday evening found us enjoying a full moon and the harmonies of the Gaither Vocal Band. Music is a unifying force, bringing people together regardless of philosophies and ideas.

And then there was Sunday, a magical day. After dawning crisp and cold, the afternoon sun warmed the air to a perfect 65-degrees. 

A slow walk around the park reminded me just how much I crave the outdoors, that unmatched art gallery designed by the Creator, open to the public day or night.

Under a brilliant winter sky, I strolled among the pecan trees, captivated by the unique beauty of their barrenness, their openness, their ability to wait patiently for the spring. 

Would you like to walk with me through this magnificent symphony of trees and sky?

Every tree has a story to tell; you know this by the way they're bent, some leaning this way, some that. As I walked, I prayed, and talked, and sang, and it seemed as if the trees heard and understood. 

We live in a world that can get crazy and busy and heavy. While you may not be able to get away for a few days, sometimes a simple stroll among the trees can slow you down just enough to get your bearings, to stretch your limbs, to open your hands, to return home with a heart uncluttered.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Andrea Bocelli ~ What You May Not Know About His Mother

I first published this post in March of 2013, but since this is the solemn anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I'm posting it again. I hope it will touch you as much as it touched me. You can also read my personal views on abortion in the "Today's Featured Post" column, found in the right sidebar, or follow the link to this and other posts on abortion here.

Here's the post from 2013:

A few years ago an article was published about how tenor, Andrea Bocelli, praised a young mother for rejecting her doctor's advice to have an abortion, even though she knew her child might be born with serious disabilities. 

The young mother was Andrea Bocelli's mother, and he was that child. Because his mother chose life for her son, she gave an incredible gift to the world, through his music.

Andrea Bocelli is one of my favorite singers. I've been privileged to see him perform in person, and his talent is something to behold. Being blind, not only does he have to memorize the complex lyrics to all of the songs he performs, he must also memorize the melody, the arrangement, the tempo, the starts, the stops. He possess true God-given talent, and what a testimony about choosing life!

You can watch Andrea share his moving story on YouTube here

Andrea said his hope in sharing this was that women would consider his story, when facing difficult situations. That is my hope, as well.

Until next time, dear friends, will you join me in praying for those whose lives have been impacted by the horrors of abortion?


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January's Blank Canvas

Dear friends, it is Tuesday as I write. The air has cooled down and I couldn’t be happier. I’m grateful I don’t live in the deep winter states; I’d never survive all the snow and ice and harsh temperatures, but here in my little woods, winters are mild and summers are extreme, so I embrace whatever cold we get with open arms.

Over the weekend, I finally mustered up the strength to dismantle Christmas and was happy I had put out less than usual. It seemed to come down with little effort.

January’s blank canvas always excites me. This year, I decided to keep a touch of winter in my d├ęcor, using winter berries, greens, pine cones, and branches here and there. I hope it isn't too Christmasy. 

It’s been said that winter is the time for enjoying the simple comforts of home. I say “Amen” to that.


Today, as I cared for my darling Arabella, we played hard and laughed hard. At one point, I studied her sweet image from a distance and felt my heart fill up with an array of emotions not easily defined. And it was in that moment—that fleeting moment—that I was reminded how blessed I am to have her near, to kiss her cheeks, to hear her chuckle, to feel her breath on my neck as she lays on my shoulder while I sing her to sleep. I’m learning more than ever to live in the moment, for this moment is all we have.

As I type these words, darkness has fallen. I can hear the little clock on my desk, ticking away the minutes, the tumble of clothes drying in the laundry room, the gentle sounds of my granddaughter as her mother rocks her to sleep. Here in my home, surrounded by the sounds of the night, I feel as if I’m hearing Father Time, marching steadily ahead into the new year, that blank canvas yet to be written upon. There will be obstacles that challenge us and blessings that humble us. We’ll be weak. We’ll be strong. Nothing stays the same, only the faithfulness of God.

Until next time, dear friends, thanks for stopping by. Your gracious comments are always a blessing.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Acceptance ~ That Thing I'm Learning to Do

Most of my life I have struggled with accepting situations that could be changed, but can't be changed by me, sometimes wrestling with them until my fingers are sore and my brain is idling dangerously close to zero. I lose sleep. I talk to myself. All of this, despite having read "The Serenity Prayer" a thousand times.

After awhile, there generally comes a time of acceptance—thank the good Lord—and when that happens I wonder why it took me so long to reach that point, because relief only comes then. Acceptance doesn’t mean I approve, admire, agree, or endorse the situation. It doesn’t mean that the situation doesn’t still bring me heartache, but accepting it as being one that I cannot change means I can stop the wrestling match and move forward. In the words of Havelock Ellis: “The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”

Giving up is a subject I’ve blogged about more than once; my favorite can be found here, entitled "When Hope is Misplaced." I don't mean giving up hope in God, never, but when we place our hopes in people, well, that can be an idea destined for failure. Sometimes, expecting nothing is a healthier choice.

Just this week, after having yet another honest conversation with someone about serious choices, I sat on the sofa, worn out, feeling helpless and hopeless and very tired. 

Suddenly, out of the blue, a thought came to me, a thought so foreign to how I was feeling that I knew it was from God. The message was, in essence: “Accept what you cannot change. You're wearing yourself out, emotionally, and your efforts are changing nothing. Accept this situation. Accept it!” Such a thought startled me. How could I accept this situation when it was choking the life right out of me? And that's when I realized that I have to accept this situation, because trying to change it is what's really choking the life right out of me. 

So, there in the darkened room, alone on a sofa, I decided to do just that. And when I embraced the idea, it felt as if a great weight fell off my shoulders. Knowing I'd done all I could do to change things, to make things better, left me free to move forward, to find peace, to leave it in the hands of God and to never stop praying about it.

Here’s the best part. I went to bed and had a dream. Seldom do I feel as if God has anything to do with my often crazy dreams, but I know He gave me this dream. In my dream, I was still wrestling, my spirit in a state of mourning, when a woman handed me a copy of "The Serenity Prayer" and said, “Accept what you cannot change.” I fretted and resisted this notion, but the woman kept pointing to it and saying, in firm tones, “Accept what you cannot change! Accept what you cannot change!”

After waking, I knew, without a doubt, it was what I had to do—accept it. I went to my computer and pulled up a copy of the long version of "The Serenity Prayer." Often, the one we quote is a condensed version, but the long version says it so much better. It has not only become a real prayer of mine, but is currently my desktop screensaver, reminding me of my goal, setting me on a path toward peace.

As if my dream wasn't confirmation enough, later in the day, I browsed through my blog list and came upon Brenda's blog that contained words I needed to read, both her own words, and the words of others, as well. She has no idea how much. This quote about acceptance rang my bell:

Life doesn't always go as we'd hoped, and accepting reality can be tough, but the best we can do is do our best to live peaceably with everyone, to change what we can and to leave in God's capable and faithful hands, all of the situations that are out of our control, those that bring us pain. That's my goal in the year 2016—acceptance. Won't you join me?

Until next time, dear friends, thanks for keeping me company, for listening to me ramble on, for just being there.


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Stillness of Winter

I’ve discovered there’s a stillness in winter unlike any other season. It’s as if nature has taken a rest from outward striving, a respite from doing, taking time to gather strength for the coming months.

A few years ago, on a crisp, cold morning, I took this photograph of a solitary figure walking along a winter beach. There’s something about a winter day that encourages silence and inward reflection. Be still, it seems to say. The time for rushing will come soon enough.

As for me, my heart echoes yes.


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