The Aftermath

Dogwood 2

I was restless when I got home from work because I had eaten too much of the wrong food, like chocolate chips right out of the bag, and that cookie I got from Panda Express the other day. I had to get out, so I pedaled out into the neighborhood and made my blood pump a little faster through my veins. This bike and I, we’re old friends. It’s a sturdy Raleigh that I will never give up, it is solid like a tank. Not one of those titanium lightweight models.

On the way to the main road I saw a van emptying the house of a woman who recently passed away. Died of a massive heart attack. On the side of it was written, “Aftermath.” As if all that’s left of a life could possibly fit in that van. I hope she didn’t die alone. I pedaled on, past the van with the old bed mattresses and furniture and odds and ends stuffed inside.

The dogwoods both pink and white are blooming all over town, and the wisteria. The cherry trees too. Fruit stands will be popping up now. I meant to pedal past the little Library on Edgewood but I missed it. I got sidetracked by the lake, I hadn’t meant to go that far. The evening was so impossibly perfect I went further than I meant to.

I kept pedaling and passed by two houses I used to deliver meals to for the senior center. I envisioned each face, wondered how they were doing. I also passed by the cat lady’s house. Used to, she had a sign up in her yard asking for donations for cat food. I made a note to leave some money next time. It must have been close to feeding time, several were milling around the front porch. I said hi to them and waved to her.

I would be happy with any one of the houses I passed by. I miss having a house, planting and doing and cleaning what you have a stake in. I have a kind of sorrow for our stuff all boxed up in storage. I am okay if I don’t think about it and really I don’t miss it most of the time. I hope my bed is okay, I hope the brass isn’t tarnished, I hope the artwork is not being destroyed by the elements. I hope the teacups aren’t smashed to smithereens.

My time is filled with helping Special needs kids at school, which has been a tremendous opportunity and each day I am thankful God gave me the work. It has opened up a whole new place in me that I didn’t know existed. And I come home and it really does feel like home here in this idyllic spot of beauty by the river. Each day Elaine does her magic to make this whole thing work. Okra is coming up back behind the Motorhome and we are excited about that.

This latest chapter of my life involves helping my Mom remember things. The other night I looked out to see a crescent moon with a star shining by it. I called Mom and told her to go out and look up at that moon. I asked her if she remembered calling me in Arizona when she saw a moon like that because it reminded her of me. She said, “Did I do that? Wow, that’s amazing. Well, I’m glad you live here now.”

I said, “I am too Mom, I am too.”

The Way Home

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“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home” Matsuo Basho

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie

“The beauty of inviting Jesus into our heart and life means we carry Him with us into every circumstance of our lives, essentially He becomes our home wherever home is. Knowing Jesus is returning to our original home.” Me

It was hot out and I had been cooped up since I got home, moldering in my cave/chair with a book and my phone. Finally I had to take a break from the inside and step outside. You know how when you’ve been in a building for too long and you go out and it feels a bit like Narnia just to be out? I used to feel like that at work. We had no windows to look out. I would go out and feed the sparrows in the patio and reset my compass.

I was met by my the feline comedy duo who zigzagged across my path vying for attention. They followed me to the feeding station and then I was surprised by a dash of pink behind the shrubbery. My Aunt informed me they called these lilies naked ladies. (Come to find out, Elaine has been watering it)

I have come to realize in this place we have carved out here, that you can have a little piece of domesticity and it can feel like home, even when you are between homes. I sat with a glass of wine as I watched the cats roll in their own little piece of heaven and felt peace settle around my shoulders. I breathed deep…….it was a welcome feeling and I felt gratitude fall around me as I  aimed my camera and clicked away.

When you know who Home is and that every step you take is leading back to Him, you can rest assured that all will be well wherever you land. Basho was somewhat right, the journey can be home when you know where you’ll end up.

And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. Jesus…….John 14:3

Peace be with your weekend friends………enjoy your journey.

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The Bee Lesson

After morning prayer I went out into the garden, hoping to catch a small breeze. It is August in Arizona, truly the dog days of summer. Eighty degrees this morning at 6 a.m. I sat and noticed that the bees were up early too. Doing their best to pollinate every last Okra bloom. I sat and watched them going about their business, doing what bees do.

Really it was a form of meditation, watching them…..and there is one thing I thought about as I kept watching.

They don’t have to set an alarm to get up.
 
They don’t decide they aren’t going to work a certain day.
 
They just rise with the light and go, without question or thought.

And do.

What a lesson I can learn from them about residing in Christ. I tend to wrestle and war with my emotions with every decision. Everything becomes big. Stress rises within me. I lose the peace.

Jesus was kind of like those bees the garden. He got up at first light, and went about doing good. He did what His Father had created Him to do, and He did it perfectly. And my own lesson here, the one Jesus tries everyday to teach me, is that I can do the same.

I can get up and just rest in Jesus, knowing that He is willing and able to carry out the work He would have me do. And perfectly. All I have to do is take the first step, and keep walking along the path He wants me to walk that day.

And instead of striving……….I can just be.

Like the bees…..and Jesus.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” Psalms 46:10

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” Matthew 11:29

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Counting the gifts once again……Thankful for the bee lesson today……a great day yesterday……moments where I forget to strive and live instead…..new shoes……physical health……a connection made once again with old friends……technology that makes spreading the Word into all the earth possible……froth on my steaming cup of coffee……fresh batch of library books coming…..#933-944

Change a comin……

The relentless heat has tired us all out, even the birds. The desert is waiting for change, waiting to be relieved from the oppressive grip of summer which will surely come, it always does. Just not when we’re ready. In the desert, you live by its rules, not your own. But there are ever so slight whispers of it nonetheless.

This morning I sat outside and there was a breeze and it was bearable. Enjoyable. I sat there thanking the Lord for moments of peace and time off after a challenging work week. The garden yielded a beautiful watermelon yesterday. When I think that this patch of green was a patch of dirt not too long ago, I think of what God does with our lives, that is when we let Him.

Elaine is off to Texas for a few days for a cherished and much anticipated visit with her Aunt Billie Ruth and her cousin Sandra. Billie Ruth is 88 years young, still active doing tours for local historical buildings and spending hours in the library doing genealogy research for others.

I have been alone with Elaine’s Mom and it has been interesting. She keeps asking where Elaine is, and I keep giving the same answer. We are both learning steps to a new dance, neither one is us sure of the steps. But so far, so good. The hygiene issue is ongoing though, and I never thought I would be thankful for the absence of the sense of smell, but at times like this it does come in handy.

Work is stressful right now, and though I have a few days off now, work looms large on Thursday. The biggest challenge? How can I glorify the Lord in a place where I am fearful and anxious?

I feel it sapping my emotional, mental, and creative strength, nipping at my heels even when I am not there. And even though I am so very thankful for this time off that replenishes, Thursday feels like a steamroller and each day brings me closer to its flattening shadow.

Yet, when I think of all that the Lord has brought me through there from my very first day until now, and how He has been with me with every step, it humbles me greatly.

This will be my seventeenth year there, and while there have been countless anxiety ridden moments and nights where I have tossed and turned with worry, there have also been countless victories, and God has brought me some wonderful friends I would never have met otherwise. Friends who I know will be with me for life.

All along, each worry and fear has been calmed and tempered by His gracious Spirit who has been with me every moment, and with me still. Somehow He always keeps the wave from engulfing me totally and until such time as I am able to walk out the door for good, I want to be faithful with what He has given me.

The only possible way is by leaning on Him. Totally.

And to keep a count of all the good, and there is much that is……….cool morning breezes, whispers of rain that hit my window, fresh melon from the garden, Elaine being able to make this trip, that my niece loves her new school, a wonderful Birthday, telephone conversations with friends and family that always lift spirits, fresh batch of books via Amazon, His daily grace raining down even when I don’t deserve it, words that somehow come together, time off……..always grateful for that. #922-932

Multitudes on Monday

I love that we started out in a garden…….And I also love that Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener when she first saw him after He rose again. Somehow the garden holds great significance for God and for us. I don’t think it is any accident that it was also a garden where He suffered either.

There is something supernatural about a little patch of earth. Something of Heaven. I always feel closer to God next to the earth. I love how you can make a garden anywhere. You don’t have to have a lot of space and you don’t even have to live in a part of the world where the weather is cooperative or mild. No matter if the dirt is like clay, you can buy good dirt where plants will thrive.

And then, there are all the wonderful analogies about seeds, planting, and harvest the Bible uses. It just seems right to have a little place where you can sit and meditate on all these things……and here is the magic part. It can even happen on a little window sill of a 16th floor apartment, that’s the beauty of it.

My illustrious friend puts in gardens and landscaping and watering systems the way others arrange furniture….I always tell her she missed her calling, then again maybe she didn’t. She has build a little oasis right here in the desert. A place where all but the very hardiest refuse to grow. Who would think to do it?

Dreamers, and life-givers, and gardeners that’s who……people who don’t mind getting a little dirt under their fingernails, people who love the seeing results, people who love to see things grow, and someone who loves to bring something out of nothing……who coaxes a green shoot out of a small seed.

Bringing life out of something dormant.

Someone who doesn’t see the impossible, but someone who has a vision and carries it out, who says, “I could plant a garden there…..”

Kinda like God did once upon a time.

Blessings in number…….#867-877

A new place to dream……..tomatoes coming……promise of new life in the desert……evenings to eat outside…..days that are warm, but not too warm yet…….friends to sit and dream with…….family that binds us all together……good hard work that gives satisfaction…….gathering with the saints in worship, one more Sunday…..answered prayer for my brother

Thoughts

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

There is something divine about the simplistic beauty of doing tasks around the house……around the yard. There are times when everything you set out to do seems thwarted by some sinister being you can’t see, and then there are those times where everything flows and there is a rhythm in it. One task leads to another and there is supreme satistaction that comes when a task is complete. A peacefulness.

That was today.

I wonder about the time when I will no longer be able to “do.” I think that Jesus will come back before then but I really don’t know. The way the world is going, I don’t think He can keep from coming down and straightening this mess out for very much longer. But that’s just me. I wonder about the “full number” the Bible talks about. I picture Jesus on His throne in His Nikes just waiting for that magic number to come up, and Him coming down here faster than a lightning bolt.

I wonder about the trumpet blast. I wonder if I will really be ready or if he will catch me off-guard. Every now and then I go to a movie on a Sunday, and I sincerely hope He doesn’t come back on one of those times. I have just enough Baptist in me not to want that to happen.

Funny the thoughts that float around in this little ‘ole mind of mine.

That’s me today, just thinkin thoughts and writing them down…….

And it was very good.

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

noun /ˈnərCHər/
1.The process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something
– the nurture of ethics and integrity

verb /ˈnərCHər/ 
1.Care for and encourage the growth or development of

I was thinking about the word and process of nuturing this morning when I went out to collect the daily offering of okra from the garden. What is it that makes this one little task so satisfying? Because I was there in the beginning. I saw the little seeds when they came in the mail. The little seedlings even had to be taken on a vacation when they first came up. They were coddled, protected, nutured…..and even so some didn’t make it. That made me sad…..I had invested in them.

They had attached themselves to me in a way, or I had attached myself to them.

The ones that did make it were tenderly transferred to the ground that stood ready to recieve…….all spring and part of the summer we waited……watered……spoke encouraging words to.

Oh, the excitement when they began to grow taller and straighter……almost as if to defy the odds, their small heads reaching for the sun……soon they were strong enough to withstand the elements of wind and the pounding summer rain.

The whole process gave me a sensitivity for those who depend on their crops for survival. Those who look to the skies to study their signs and signals; who read the Farmer’s Almanac and study the weather report. The heartbreak of the ruined crops. I was upset over a few little plants, but imagine someone watching their livelihood dry up?

Now as tall as me, they have been producing like crazy for the past 3 months. Sometimes I just go out there and sit. I swear you can almost watch them grow. These plants have been one of the most satisfying joys of this long hot summer.

In the beginning God created………and then He nurtured. I am so glad He didn’t stop at the creating part. I am so glad He didn’t create us and back away.

Well, our work here is done……hope they make it.
He knew it wouldn’t work with plants or people.

And I am so glad.