Friday, October 30, 2015

Psalm 118: Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good!

We've had a rainy autumn so far in Georgia, but there have been some really beautiful days mixed in. I like fall in Georgia. The colors are not spectacular (hey, I moved here from New Hampshire, where the colors ARE spectacular) but the subdued reds, oranges and browns combine with cooler temperatures to create a really enjoyable season... and so I can say, like Paul: "I have learned, in whatsoever state (Georgia or New Hampshire? [Sorry!]) I am, therewith to be content."
I am thankful to have had the blessing of returning to New Hampshire for a couple of weeks this year. While I was there I heard Pastor Nick Manha (at Household of Faith in Amherst) preach about contentment. He said something like this, "We become an enemy to what God wants to do when we grumble and are discontent... Complaining creates confusion."  
That helps to explain why it is so hard to find our way when we are not happy with where we are. One the other hand, and I love this phrase- I've got it on little sticky notes all over the place- "Praise promotes contentment."
We have this treasure in jars of clay (II Corinthians 4). What? God made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ-  I have to read that again- He makes His light shine in our hearts- your heart, my heart. My heart? My feeble, prone-to-sin, deceitful-above-all-else heart? Yes! 
To show that this all-surpassing power is from God (not from us), he deposits this treasure in human vessels, knowing full well that we are DUST... jars of clay. 
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is GOOD; His love endures forever."
When I remember that, I am content to be where I am... waiting on God, knowing that I can't even see to the next bend in the road, much less what might be beyond that bend. I wonder about it. I have ideas- but I don't know what is next. So I will wait, but while I am waiting, I will praise him for his goodness, his mercy and his love. And I will be content!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Evidence of Cataclysmic Storm Disappearing Fast!

So here in East-Metro Atlanta, everything has been shut down for another three days. This time it was icy- well- yesterday was icy. Tuesday it was just a little bit rainy but people were worried about repeating the disaster of a few weeks ago and took preemptive action, I guess.
We did get a nice thick coating of ice on everything yesterday, and then some snow to top it off and make it pretty. I enjoyed it, but didn't try to go out anywhere beyond our yard.
The snow petered out early this morning, and then the sun actually came out, the temperature rose, and snow and ice quickly melted off the trees. There is still a lot of white stuff on the ground, but it's mostly slush at this point. My chickens are huddled on their roost, trying to avoid getting their feet anywhere near this foreign substance. Funny, my New Hampshire chickens were not put off by snow unless it blocked the exit from their coop... but that's a different conversation.
Anyway, the ice and snow have been pretty disruptive over the past few weeks. Our regular routines and schedules have been interrupted, many people have been uncomfortable or inconvenienced and a few lives have been seriously impacted. But the snow melts, we make adjustments, repair damage, and get on with our lives by and large. Listening to the water dripping off the trees, clearing slush from the driveway and watching the winter wonderland quickly melt away, my thoughts wandered to things that impact us in other ways. Hearing an inspirational story, or reading some powerful message, we are lifted up, motivated to do something different in our lives. We want to strike out in a new direction or change course in some way, and sometimes we do. Sometimes we stay with it. But many times, maybe most of the time, the inspiration fades as quickly as the memory of this "catastrophic" snow storm. Our lives go back to normal, and nothing really changes.
So in some quirky way, the disruption of normal life is a reminder to me, that I want, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, to live deliberately. I was thumbing through my old copy of Walden today, and so I will end here with another selection from his writing:
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours...  If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." 
I would have ended that with an exclamation point.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

February Already?

I spent a little time in my garden this week.  I figure the asparagus will start showing up before I know it, so I pulled a few little weeds that had grown up, threw down a bit of compost, a handful of lime, and a couple of inches of leaves.

I plan to do some soil testing this year. Having decided that I want to be a little more disciplined and systematic about gardening, soil testing seems a good place to start.  Right now my garden seems like everything else in my life- sort of dead and unattractive. The rabbit(s) ate almost everything I planted this fall, only leaving the collards. I count on my collards! Every year they produce all through the winter, and in the spring they bloom with little broccoli-like flowers which are delicious sauteed with a little garlic. But even the collards are not looking very good this winter. It might just be that we've had colder than usual weather in between our warmer than usual weather, or those days of heavy rain when they were standing in three inches of water... or maybe I'll get some clues by testing the soil.

I know there is some spiritual application in all of this. Maybe I will figure it out while I'm planting my peas.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Another Year Begins: Time to Tidy Up!

OK, so last year I had plans to write regularly in this space.  Looking at my last post, I see very clearly how far that resolution carried me!

So today I have some new- not resolutions- what shall I call them?  Looking at my journal from a few days ago, I guess I am calling them "hopes."  What do I hope to accomplish in 2014?  Well, #1 is always my number one, but here are the highlights:

#1:  Refresh, renew, revitalize my walk with God.

#2:  I've been reading Gordon MacDonald's Ordering Your Private World, and yes, I hope to bring order to my world- that is, my whole world- physical, spiritual, and emotional.  Which is why, as soon as I finish this post I will be getting to some major de-cluttering of my physical space! This is a constant battle for me and (I think my mother figured this out about 50 years ago, but sometimes I catch on slowly) I have realized that it will require self-discipline.  I am not naturally tidy.

#3: Find my way back to Quietness.  Isaiah 30:15:  "In quietness and trust is your strength."  Quietness takes time, and I really need to take that time every day to be still.  Paul told the Ephesians, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands..."  That is so much what I want my life to be like!

There is more to my list, but I'll keep the others to myself for now.  One has to do with writing, another with gardening, and another with what I call Aspirations. There are only seven items on my list altogether, and they aren't resolutions (diet and fitness didn't even make it to the list, though as usual, I'm working toward improvements there), but I'm hoping that by keeping my personal list before me, I will make movement toward these goals- this week, this month, this year...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

January 2, 2013: Beginning with Praise

Another new year.  This year I am turning my focus toward accomplishing some writing goals.  I have three projects that I plan to work on this year.  But in addition to those goals, I plan to post here at least once a week.

     I am amazed at how quickly time passes.  First I noticed the years passing more quickly, then months and weeks-- but now,  even my days seem to zip by, and I feel like I accomplish less than I used to.  I know this has been a recurring theme for me... but it does make me realize that I need to order my life according to priorities if I am ever going to DO the things that are important for me to do!  This doesn't mean I will pursue things at a frenetic pace, though-- I had that kind of life last year, trying to balance family, full time teaching and being a full time student-- and while I got through it, I know that one of my priorities has to be my quiet times.
     So I have a (flexible) plan to get those times built back in to my routine.  I'm thankful to have a few days now that the holidays are over to get my physical and mental space de-cluttered, reorganized, and ready to go. My focus verse as the new year begins is this:  (Psalm 50:23)  "He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God."  The KJV says, "whoso  offereth praise glorifieth me...."
     So much begins with praising God-- and that's how I want to begin (and live) this year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well, a new semester is underway, and so far, it seems manageable.  My science class got cancelled, so I filled the space with American History I, which means I'm taking two history classes and British literature, and liking all of that.  My other class is a required Wellness course; I hope at my age I've kind of got a handle on that stuff... so all in all, it feels like a more relaxed semester than usual.  Yay!
I took some time a week or two ago to plant some lettuce, radishes and some thing else (I'll have to check my notes... but I know it was something like turnips or kale...).  I made some support using wire hangers stuck in the ground, and put plastic over it all.  I uncovered them this weekend because we were getting a lot of rain Saturday.  Then I covered them back up. When I went out to take care of the chickens this afternoon, I peeked, and I've got radishes sprouting!  I plan to start a lot of my seeds under plastic right in the garden this year~ I'll start some on the sunporch, too and compare the results.  We've had such a mild winter this year that it already seems like spring, which of course is no guarantee that we won't have cold weather to come in February or March, but I'm going to do a lot of experimenting.  Little experiments- I definitely don't have as much time as I'd like to work in the garden these days.  But I love the time I do have! And I plan to do a lot more winter gardening next year.  There is so much that can grow here in the winter, and if I protect things some, I can expand the possibilities. We had some freezing weather, but my lettuce survived and the collards have sweetened nicely- and  I should be able to harvest some brussel sprouts next week! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Whew! This last semester was fast-paced.  Getting the kids and myself out the door by 7:15 in the morning was challenging in itself.  I like my new job, teaching at Shiloh Christian Academy, but it means a very early start to my days- and it's always still dark when I get up.  I've had trouble with that since we moved to Georgia-- the sunrise is so much later here than any place else I've ever lived!  But we managed for the most part. 
None of my college courses were overly difficult (I didn't take any math this semester!) but a couple of them were very demanding in terms of the work load, and I couldn't always pace myself well.  I didn't pull any "all nighters" but I did have a time or two that I was up way past midnight.  Maybe it's my age, but I don't do well with two or three hours of sleep any more, and I don't have the luxurious option of sleeping in past 5:30!
Time to write anything other than assigned work has been scarce, although I had to keep a journal for my Creative Writing class.  That was a really good thing.  Maybe I'll post a poem I wrote in that journal.  For now, I just wanted to get something posted-- and this is it!