Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday

Names and Prayers


I was excavating my desk yesterday and found a few descriptions of God that I had set aside to write about.  This week has had its emotional ups and downs, like most weeks seem to have.  I was looking at the dozen or so slips of paper with these descriptions and the one my heart settled on for this week is:
Who surrounds His people.  Psalm 125 is a song of ascents ~ one of those that the people would sing as they walked up the mountains to enter Jerusalem.  Listen to these promises:

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people
                                                                                                                         Psalm 125:1-2

The city was surrounded by mountains.  In David's day, that meant that it was protected.  In the same way, we are protected by being surrounded by God.  Sadly, in this day, that is no longer much of a defense or protection for Israel; we are aware of the existence of missiles and air-strikes and advanced weaponry that can penetrate the mountain defense.  God, however, is as much a defense today as He has always been.  The advances of the enemy in penetrating God's defense are no match for the defense itself.  We are surrounded by God who is infinite and eternal (that means without limit in space or time) in His power.  We are surrounded by God who is Above All.

In prayer this week let's start with some rejoicing:
  1. MacKenzie entered the world safely on Tuesday.  Her parents and her big sister are thrilled to have her join the family.  And she is a beauty!
  2. Persis will be baptized on Sunday morning and her great-grandfather will be a part of the baptism.
  3. John and Penny are moved into their new home!
  4. Pray for healing for John's knee
  5. Thank you for continued prayers for Nancy.  The treatment this week had some unexpected challenges.  Praise God she did not have to stay in the hospital; pray for recovery from these challenges.
  6. Please pray for Richard and Melba.  Richard had surgery for cancer and they were not able to remove all of it.  Please pray for wisdom to know what to do from here, and pray that God will be glorified.
  7. Please pray for Elise, who is sick, and for her Mama.
  8. Please do not forget to keep your pastor in your prayers.  We have a responsibility to hold these men in constant prayer for spiritual protection for them and their families, and that they would do the work well that God has given them to do!
That's all, folks.  Thank you for joining me in this work.

His peace to your homes.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Walkabout!

I am walking to New Zealand by way of Hawaii and a lot of fascinating stops in the continental US. If you are new to the blog, you may look at the labels over there on the right and click on "walking".  Yeah, I have waaaay too many labels.  I will get that cleaned up by Monday!

It's been challenging keeping up with my mileage because my pedometer keeps being ornery.  I have finally learned that when I drop it, that clears all the data and it quits working.  So what I have finally figured out to do after it gets dropped is to drop it again gently from a lower height.  While that does not restore the data, it does jolt it back into working again.  Kind of like a defibrillator.  Kind of.  One day I'll splurge and get a FitBit (or win one in a Pioneer Woman give-away).  Until then, I'll do the best I can with writing down numbers every evening and dropping defibrillating it when I need to.

Since October I have accumulated a mere one hundred fifty-two and seventy-eight one-hundredths miles.  That's 152.78 if you prefer to use the left side of your brain.  I know I have put in a couple hundred more miles than that (at least!); however, I only use the miles that I log on the pedometer and remember to write down before it breaks needs to be defibrillated.

This gives me a grand total of three thousand one hundred eighty-three and eighteen one-hundredths miles (3183.18).

I am still in the Pacific Ocean east of Hawaii.  VERY east of Hawaii.  I have one thousand six hundred eighty-eight and sixty-three hundredths miles to go to get to tea with one of my favorite authors.  If you don't mind, I am not going to put that in numbers.  It does make me even more determined to keep better track of my walking, and perhaps even work on doing a bit more of that.  Hawaii for Christmas sounds good.  Hawaii for Reformation Day sounds even better.

I have noticed something interesting on using technology.  When you go to Google Earth and look at the maps of the Pacific Ocean, you notice very large mountains scattered here and there.  The satellite images are remarkably detailed and make me want to climb around and explore.  Then you pan out and realize that the entire thing is under water.  To me, that makes it even more fascinating.

Here is a shot from Getty Images of what I am "seeing" these days. 


PACIFIC OCEAN WARMING

The Majesty of His creation.  Breath-taking!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wednesday

Names and Prayers

 

Good morning!  It is nice to be getting back into a routine again.  For as much as I can be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-impulsive-and-impetuous kind of girl, I do crave structure, routine and organization.

The plastic is coming down off our back porch.  I have a view again.  We love the vast array of green shades this time of year.  I tend to look up and out to see it:


Mr. Marvelous tends to look down:


We are both happy.

I love the longer days of sunshine.  I enjoy being able to hang out clothes as late as noon and still have them dry by supper time (please don't tell my Mama I hang my clothes out that late in the day).

As I was reading in the Gospel of John this morning, I found some names that are especially important to me right now.  

God is the GIVER.  We see this throughout John 3 as Jesus talks with Nicodemus.  God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17).  Because He has given us life through Christ, and filled us with His Spirit, we are able to see Him more clearly in the world He has created.

Twice in John 3, he says that Jesus is ABOVE ALL (verse 31).  That's a good name to remember as we finish our Easter celebrations.  Jesus is ABOVE ALL in authority.  Jesus is ABOVE ALL in honor and glory and power.  Jesus is ABOVE ALL our troubles and hardships.  Jesus is ABOVE ALL the distractions and worries and busy-ness of the world we live in.

Just a few thoughts for your day.

Now, here are the prayer needs this week:
  1. Please remember to continue in prayer for Robert and Nancy as Nancy continues chemo treatments.  Pray too, please, that Robert will know how God wants him to balance his responsibilities to his wife, his church, his business and all the other things that are his to take care of.
  2. Melba Reid is battling cancer as well.  Her chemo has been difficult.  Please pray for wisdom for Melba and her family, and pray that this season with her daughter will be a blessing to both of them.
  3. Larry needs a new kidney and his daughter Tera is hoping to be able to donate one of hers.  Please keep them ~ as well as Vicky and her son ~ in your prayers through this process.
  4. Pray for school teachers this week.  In many places students are coming back from Spring Break and this is the long haul til the end of the year.  Pray that godly teachers will be a faithful example to their students of God's grace and of perseverance.
Thank you again so much for your prayers for Mother and I as we were traveling.  We are both grateful for your help.  Mom is continuing to improve and is thankful to be back home.  As am I!

God's peace to your homes.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Home.

I feel like Sam Gamgee again.  "Well, I'm back"

What a month March has been.  A lot has happened and much of it was unexpected. 

Mother and I traveled to Vermont to see her sister.  After talking to my Aunt's nurses on Thursday, we put together a trip and on the following Wednesday I drove to South Carolina.  By Thursday, Mother and I were on the train for our two-day journey to see Aunt Roberta.  We had a good visit.  Roberta seemed to be doing better than I expected and we had a good time together.  There were necessary business kinds of things that were all taken care of.  We got to meet Roberta's pastor and pray together.  Wednesday was the day we were leaving to drive back over and catch the train home.  By noon, it was clear that my Mother was not well.  We drove over to Burlington and checked into a hotel.  Within an hour I had mother in the Emergency Room.  She was admitted.  We spent three days in the hospital, followed by two more days resting and recuperating at the hotel.  Friends made it possible for us to fly home, as Mother was not up to another two day train trip.  Thankfully, the prayers of many kept that from being a problem for me.  I have medical accoutrements that make TSA nervous and make flights physically challenging.  TSA were accommodating and the accoutrements functioned throughout the flight without a problem.  Relief is not a strong enough word for what Mom and Dad and I all three felt to get her safely back home again!

Meanwhile, back in Birmingham, Nancy started chemo.  This time is different.  It lasts for 8 hours or so.  The side effects are a little more harsh.  I was taking care of Mom and I knew that was where I was supposed to be.  My job for this round of chemo was to care for Mom and pray for Nancy.  Nancy and Robert have decades worth of friends in Birmingham, and they are the kind of people that everyone loves and delights in serving.  I am not so arrogant as to think that Nancy could not get through this process without me.  It still hurt not to be here. 

As Mother and I were waiting at the hotel, my Aunt's nurse called to let me know that she had taken a turn for the worse.  Again, my place was with Mother.  There was no question of leaving her to go and see my Aunt one more time.  It would not have been good for my Aunt to have to go through another Good-bye.  It still hurt.

I have learned so much this month about surrendering people I love into God's hands.  I have known this but in March I deepened in my understanding of this. 

It is one thing to daily place my parents into God's hands when they are safely ensconced in their own familiar home and neighborhood.  In a pinch there are numerous people we can call to go and check on them and be with them until we get there.  It is another matter when I have taken Mother 1011 miles away from her home where neither of us know anyone and have her in the hospital and not be able to stay with her at night.  Or when Dad is 1011 miles away trying not to worry over her. 

It is one thing to place Nancy in God's hands when she is off traveling with her girls, enjoying a fun trip to the beach for sand and sun therapy.  It is another matter when she is in the hospital having chemo pumped in. 

It is one thing to daily trust my beloved Aunt to God when physically she is well and she is surrounded by caring nurses.  It is another matter when the doctor says she suspects cancer and is not sure what her life-expectancy is.

It is one thing to trust my son to God when he leaves the house to drive to work every day.  It's another matter when he packs up his possessions into his car and drives off to his new apartment. 
 
In each of these circumstances there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change things.  I am powerless to "fix" things and for a fixer, that is hard.  I tend to be a Jacob in my prayer life, wrestling with God and desperately trying to get a hold on the situation.  I am learning to be a Mary; to sit down quietly and listen to Jesus with a bold trust. 

Surrender.  If I am still planning how to help my parents "in a pinch", have I truly surrendered them to God's loving, tender, faithful care?  If I am making plans for what I think Nancy needs and making arrangements for her (whether she asked me to or not!), have I truly surrendered her care to the One who can take the best care of her?  If I am figuring out what to tell the nurses and doctors to do for my beloved Aunt, have I really surrendered her to His tender provision?  If I still have my hands in my son's business and am trying to manipulate his life to be what I think it should be....well!

As I finish this up, I will take up the work that God has given me to do today (that's another blog post).  With each step, each stroke of the vacuum cleaner, each load of laundry lifted in and out and sorted and folded, I will again surrender my loved ones into His care.  I will ask His forgiveness for having taken them back into my own care and by the help of His Spirit, leave them with Him.  I will rest in the peace and the assurance that He keeps His promises and cares for His own.  In this, I find His peace and His light.

His peace to your homes, my friends.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Homestead Update

About those potatoes....


Do you remember the potato harvest from last fall?  We had several buckets full of three different varieties.  We put each variety in its own plastic bin and covered them with layers of sawdust.

it helps to have a friend who is a carpenter; we get as much of this as we want.

Then we put them in a cool, dark corner in the basement.

One day over the winter I went to the basement to get something off the shelf and looked down to discover this:


I did not expect them to start sprouting this much.  I told Mr. Marvelous.  He nodded and grunted.

A few days later, I told Mr. Marvelous again.  He patiently explained that our potatoes are not treated with the chemicals that store potatoes are treated with to keep them from sprouting.  I asked if we could use these for seed potatoes.  He said probably not.  

Finally Mr. Marvelous went down to the basement and looked into my potato bins.  Apparently a visual inspection is worth a lot more than a report from the wife!

The decision was made to see what we could do with growing potatoes in bins.

First you carefully remove the sprouting potatoes

 

Then you cut a piece of fine mesh from where you made screens for the back porch.

Add a piece of that to the bottom of the bin.

Then place a layer or two of dirt and sawdust to the bottom of the bin,

 

then ever so gently and carefully add the potatoes back in.


Cover them up with alternating layers of dirt and sawdust









You get the idea, right? 

Do you need more pictures of alternating layers? 

Are you sure?

Okay then.

Now put those bins back in a quiet corner until the weather is warmer.

Or if your husband is as handy as Mr. Marvelous, and you have a back porch greenhouse, then put them on the back porch.  Just be sure to give them a good bit of water.

When the weather warms up enough, drag the bins outside and put them in the sunshine.  If it starts acting like it is going to freeze again, drag them back in the basement and wait a few more days. 

If you live in Vermont and it is still snowing, you might have to drag them in and out every day for another month.  Or two.  Depending on how much you like home-grown potatoes.

Now wait.  That's the hard part of gardening.  It helps to have other projects going on at the same time.  In a few weeks, you will walk outside one day and discover this



Green leaves.  Strong, healthy potato plants.  Something growing.

That is a nice cure for the winter doldrums!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Memories

Mother and I had a bunch of adventures all rolled into one trip this past week.  There were the unexpected side trips and delays, and the trip back home was not what we anticipated. It is a relief to know that when we do not seem to have any control over circumstances we can trust that God is in full control.  The unexpected trials are His gift to us.

As we traveled we had some wonderful conversations.  One morning Mother started talking about Palm Sundays when she was a little girl and it got me remembering.

Palm Sunday was special.   When we went to Sunday School that day there were Palm Branches waiting for us.  After our lesson, instead of the usual play time, we lined up and went down to the choir room.  The mothers were waiting there with our little surplices (you had to be an intermediate to get a real robe) and the palm branches.  There was the usual hilarity and rowdiness that goes along with any children's choir pre-performance, but Mrs. Shirley kept us in better-than-average control (we all knew she was not above swatting us if we needed it).  Finally we were lined up and inspected and met with her approval.  That's when we stopped for a moment to catch our breath and listen.  Mrs. Shirley or one of the Sunday School teachers would take a moment to remind us of what we had just heard in Sunday School; the reason why we were getting ready to celebrate.  We caught a glimpse of the excitement of the little children of Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday so long ago.  We knew that Jesus is coming back for us one day and we firmly believed that it could be that very day.  Finally we were led up the stairs and lined up waiting (quiet, in theory) in the hall behind the Sanctuary.  And then the moment came.  We heard the music and we marched in boldly, waving our palm branches and proclaiming with the children of long ago;

"HOSANNA!
BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!!"

Oh, were we excited!  We tried to imagine what it would have been like to have been one of those little children.  We carefully put our palm branches in the aisles as we marched to the front singing.  We lined the front and we sang our songs of praise at the tops of our voices.

Things are different in most churches these days.  It seems like a long time since I have been in a church where Palm Sunday was celebrated with the excitement of my childhood.  It seems to receive barely a nod of the head to its significance.  I think that is a loss.  I think the children of today lose out when they don't participate in the excitement and anticipation of Palm Sunday.  I think that the elation of Palm Sunday serves a purpose in the church of underlining and highlighting the mourning of Good Friday.  I think that a Tenebrae service is enhanced by that emotional contrast.  I think that the Spirit of God may  work through these contrasts to enhance our joy on Easter Sunday and all it means.

I hope that we can set aside some time over these next six days to think about these things and to be willing to experience the week and its significance.  For now, I leave you with this:

They brought it (the colt) to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it.  As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road.  As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: 
"BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!".  
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples."  But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"                                                                                                                             Luke 19: 35-40



http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart3/enteringjerusalemmatthew21-1-11.jpg
This is the picture I have always had in my mind when I think of Palm Sunday


Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday

Mother and I are feeling rather like Hobbits right now.  You know, An Unexpected Journey kind of a feeling.  After a week of cold, snowy weather, meeting people we did not know in places we did not expect, we are both ready to get back home to warm, Spring weather. 






And our husbands!


 We aren't there yet, but we hope to be very soon.
Thank you for your continued prayer.

God's peace to your homes.