It’s Amazing What You Can Find

Each time I do a bit of straightening I am amazed anew at what’s right under my nose, what treasures are in my house. In a recent re-rereading of Alexandra Stoddard’s Living a Beautiful Life I was inspired to deal with some of those little things, those seemingly unimportant details, which get let go when life, elections, holidays and worldwide pre-planned panic attacks occur simultaneously.

Renewing a friendship with old fave authors is the very thing when taking to heart God’s admonition, “Let not your heart be troubled.” And if that trusted friend reminds me of an old truth–that the beauty of small things are worth notice and even close attention–it’s off to the races.

Yesterday I cleared my mind as I cleared drawers and closets. I gladdened my heart as I cleaned and organized my pantry. Heeding Alexandra, I made my fridge a joy to behold–everything straight, neat, and beautiful. I even took the eggs out of the big egg flats and put them into a lovely burlap-sided fridge basket. I may have to pause here and go stare into my fridge.

Homemaking is art.

And art, no matter who says otherwise, pays. It pays to discover there are peppercorns in the pantry, when I had decided I must have been mistaken about buying them. It pays to find my tape measure when I’m going through drawers in the utility room (I had decided to buy a new one). There was great joy in my heart when I found missing lingerie (I had decided I must have given this item away, and wondered why) when I cleared and organized my lingerie chest.

And the great joy to be had simply by straightening shoes in the closet and finding the missing mitten (one I personally knitted which therefore has a bit more “personality” than your ordinary mitten) I’ve been searching for and mourning for almost a year–this is good news, Reader. Why isn’t it on national TV? Bev found her mitten!

And in her Lazy Susan what did she find? As always, lids without bottoms and bottoms without lids (I store containers and a few other items in the Lazy Susan cabinet to the right of my kitchen sink). But I also created order out of chaos as I made my kitchen a bit more user-friendly, and a lot more attractive.

And what wondrous joys await me today? Today, or so I say, I am going to clean the “junk drawer.” I can see myself now: throwing this away and that away and this away and that away; putting the stick pins in thier own little slot, the rubber bands all together; and rejoicing in the “finds”, those things that got stuck in the drawer because I didn’t know what else to do with them. But now I will know.

You can say I am easily entertained, and I will agree with you. It’s quite the life skill, and as I said, it’s amazing what you can find. At home. Right under your nose.

New Sound

Day in and day out I am reading scriptures about praising God, about shouting, singing, going into battle prefaced and protected by songs of praise. Last night as I went to sleep I began singing snatches of a forgotten song, and as it began to come together I sang it over and over, knowing my sleep would be sound, my dreams beautiful.

Phil Driscoll’s New Sound was, I believe, a gift to my heart from the Holy Spirit. There’s a new sound in the earth, there’s a new voice to be heard.

Listen. Be blessed. Praise Him.

Evacuated Yet Again, But My House Will Stand!

It was a Thursday morning, five or six weeks ago, bright and beautiful, during my Quiet Time.  I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “Take care of business at home.”  What did that mean?  I prayed about it, for my home and beloveds therein.  I walked through the house, praying, listening, and felt led to go outside.

Outside I walked around the house, praying God’s protection over it.  I then felt led to turn and extend my arms in all directions, praying for all that I could see.

That evening my daughter said, looking outside, “Look at the light, it’s so golden, so beautiful.”  John and I looked, and then at each other.  “That’s not normal.”  From the west it was, the light of a sun setting through the smoke of a forest fire.

I called the daughter who lives safely down the mountain and told her what I’d been led to pray, and that there was a fire, the “Cameron Peak” fire.  “That’s wild, Mom,” she said. “I had a dream last night that the entire mountain was on fire.”

A week or so later (during Labor Day weekend) we were evacuated.  After a few days in the friendliest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, the Cheyenne, Wyoming Days Inn, we were allowed back home.  A lovely rain and snow storm seemed to have defeated the monster.

But alas, here we are again, in Day 10 of Evac #2.  The winds came along with the heat, dead timber, rough and inaccessible terrain and the fire re-ignited, growing to today’s acreage of over 124,000 acres.

Many people are in shelters, their possessions piled about them, wearing masks, coughing from smoke.  Others, like a lovely couple I ran into yesterday are struggling because they’re staying in a condo without a TV.  We are pitied because there are four of us in one hotel room.

Perspective.  I choose a 5-Star perspective, to borrow from Fiona Ferris in her lovely book, Thirty More Chic Days.  Fiona noted that if you read the 1-star reviews of a book, even one you’ve read and loved, it will taint your opinion of the book.  She’s decided to only read the 5-star reviews, as those will enhance your experience and enjoyment of the book.

I would add that the 5-star reviews are written by people who are thankful.  If they were masked and in a shelter, they’d be ever so grateful for the heat and running water.  If they had a condo, TV or otherwise, they’d be glad, glad, glad they could afford privacy.  If like us, they were in a hotel, they’d be grateful for the funds (our employer is paying, hooray!) to cozy up and get acquainted with the charming town of Cheyenne.

It takes a bit of wisdom and smarts to be thankful.  It takes nothing but bowing to the flesh, which anyone can do, to gripe.

So, even though I really want to go home, I’m making the most of, praying for ideas of how to spend, each day.  And I’m knowing we’ll be home when we go home.  Meanwhile, home is where my beloveds are, and our good God is always there.

If it doesn’t feel like it (such as a few days ago when the winds came up to 60 mph and the fire went straight toward our house) it’s because I’m not doing a 5-star lookout.  A 5-star lookout means my mind’s working right and is certain that I was led to pray protection for my home, and that my home is protected.

We have also been praying for protection for our firefighters and thus far (and we’re believing this will continue) there have been no injuries reported.  Numerous structures have been destroyed, but again, no injuries, no lives lost.

Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me to be thankful.  And please bless this lovely coffee shop we’ve found in Cheyenne, The Rail Yard, which had we not been evacuated, I might never have discovered.

I think I’ll do a post about my Cheyenne discoveries.

Doors to Delight in the Details of Daily Life

There is a bed to be made lovely, a thank-you card to send, a bit more Quiet Time to be had, as mine was interrupted by a lovely breakfast with my husband.  We talked, rather than eating, so I reheated my walnut-topped raisin English muffin to be split with my son, this after buttering and toasting and topping it all with pumpkin pie spice and raw honey.

Of course, French press LaVazza on the balcony is the only thing for this, along with birdsong-interspersed conversation, and then back inside for a few more details.  Back to a resumption of my Quiet Time.  Earlier I read the words in red (hanging with Jesus so I can be like Him) and now for Oswald.  In My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers I read this:  “The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it.”

Does this resonate, even ring out, to others as to me?  Possibly not.  We are all so very different, unique.  I’m reminded of a previous day’s devotion:  “Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.”

It occurs to me that, other than prayer, all other people really need from me is an example—that of the enjoyment of each and every detail and duty of my life, and the smile on my face because I have chosen to obey God in “the tiniest detail(s).”

Putting each moment, task, and detail under the protection and blessing of His Love adds up to a beautiful and wondrous life.  A unique life.

What if my Success is More Successful than Your Success?

I know about Vision Boards and The Five Habits of Successful People; and about Morning Routines!!!  I’ve heard about The Seven Things Successful People have in Common, or is it Eight?

I’m familiar with the idea of turning off the loveliest of classical music, and certainly not listening to The Eagles telling me to Take it Easy, because there are motivational speakers to be heard while I drive.  And when I’m putting on make-up.  Then as I whip up a politically correct dinner, I can listen some more.

I know “successful” people are disciplined and determined and consistent.  At what?  At going after their dreams, being all they can be, living life to the fullest!

I am thankful for such people, and thankful I’m not one of them.  I, too, have my eyes on the prize, my goal clearly mapped out and pursued.  The prize is the high calling of God, and for me that is first and foremost the care and keeping of home and family.  The goal is to be so enamored of God, my ears so keenly tuned to the Holy Spirit, so after Jesus, that like Him, I only do what I hear my Father say to do (not there yet, but on the journey).

That means I get to live a life of adventure and excitement and a somewhat giddy unpredictability.  This life is much tougher than getting up at 4:00 am to write a by-God-I-will number of words daily, do my prescribed workout minutes, eat my egg whites, drink my protein shake, dress for success, and all before 9:00 a.m.

This life is for those crazy enough to forget all that and to try walking on water – no formulas, no gurus to look to.  Only Jesus.

This life is for those willing to labor to enter into His rest, to be led down the path straight to His blessed, favor-filled, victorious Garden of Eden life.  Success!

So Many Opportunities for Joy, Why Let Anything Steal Them?

We went to a Christmas ballet we’ve dubbed “Ballet Bizarre”.  We looked at the checking account and decided repurposing is indeed a wonderful thing.  It will be our first Christmas with our son overseas in the Middle East.  The world is a powder keg, and our child is in the smack dab middle of it.

And so on.  There are reasons to lament during this Season.  There are reasons (but then aren’t reasons simply excuses?) to Bah Humbug it all.  But I am not one to say “Tis the season to be jolly!, or as I was singing (shouting) all morning, “Tis the season to be Jarry, fah, rah, rah, rah, rah!”, and leave it at that, fun as it may be.

I am here to dig and delve deeply into the Reason for the Season.  I am here to say the money (or lack thereof) in the checking account and the bizarrre-ness of “Art” and the locale of loved ones are simply opportunities to remember Jesus.  This is the season for the ultimate of all beauties – the Love of Christ.

And so the bizarre ballet is an opportunity to be thankful that I have yet another focus for prayer.  The repurposing is a reminder of all the treasures I own that will now grace the lives of others.  The son overseas reminds me that technology can be a wonderful thing – his Christmas package will arrive today or tomorrow most likely, and he will open it in our presence via Internet.

The powder keg world?  Still and as always, Jesus is our refuge and our strength, our high tower and deliverer. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Amen!

Sharing Him at Christmas can be done with or without cash.  We are opening our home on Christmas Day for the first time.  We will be sharing a Christmas brunch with people the Holy Spirit has put on our hearts to invite, and there will be much merry-making, joy and celebration.  We’re including the most important of guests via the special invitation of prayer, and as always, He will be right on time.

I have decided and decreed that I will not even think, for one moment, thoughts of lack this Christmas, much less speak words of lack.  What indeed, do I lack?  I serve a Risen Savior.

As for those pesky arguments about December 25 not actually being His birthday so what?  I was born December 28 and I would have no problem with people celebrating my birthday on July 28 or whatever day suited them.  What I would have a problem with would be people being upset because they didn’t have a gift for me, or feeling pressured because the day was a reminder of what they lacked in their lives, rather than a reminder that I loved them.

So, that’s it – the key to joy in this Season, no matter what your circumstances:  We must choose to worship and serve and receive His great gift to us all.

Mr. Bennett, in Pride and Prejudice says, “No lace, Mrs. Bennett!”  I say to myself, “No Lack, Mrs. Bev!  You have Jesus and it’s time to celebrate.  Each and every moment of each and every day.”  Jesus the Savior is Born.

You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.

“I’ll Take a Hug.” “Thanks, and How About a Kiss?”

“Come here,” my daughter Rebekah said this morning.  I knew the drill.  I was trying to hurry and forgetting to put first things first.  Hugs.

And as I wrapped my arms about her good (and soon leaving home) self, I had a revelation, a knowing.  God loves her like this – huglike, all encompassing, embracing Love.  All-is-and-will-be-well Love.

“What’s in a hug?” I pondered.  Beyond what we can imagine, I’m certain.  I know science will bear me out – in hugs are health and well-being and so much more , so that we all want to be on the receiving end of hugs.  Well, that’s not quite right, is it?  Both ends of hugs are receiving ends.  What I mean is that we are glad when someone opens their arms and says to us, “I’ll take a hug.”

“I’ll take a hug,” is a never-forgotten sentence spoken to me years ago by a woman of grace, and when I really needed that hug. 

Give a hug, take a hug.  Especially if it’s from and for one of the beloveds in your house. 

I usually get up before my darlin’ and am more excited about mornings than is he.  So, to wake him properly I always crawl back into bed and hug him.  He pats me on the back in his sleep and says nonsensical things like, “It’s too late.”  More pats and moans.  “I mean early.  It’s too early.”

And then a kiss before I jump back up and get to something lovely like tea all alone on the balcony, where I muse a bit more about hugs.  And kisses.  Sometimes on the cheek from and for people I hardly know.

I, one raised without a lot of hugs and kisses (we all have learned better by now), and kind of shy about the whole thing, especially the kisses, am now a big fan of both. 

Here’s how this came about as regards the kisses:  A fine young man named Gabriel was spending a holiday with us, and because I knew he was missing his mama and vice versa, I tried to be extra nice to him.  Plus, as he was a friend to my son, I felt quite dedicated to his wellbeing and happiness. 

And so, when it came time for his departure, he very sweetly and naturally kissed me on the cheek, and as in this morning’s hug with Rebekah, I got a bit of a knowing:  This is a good thing.  This is a blessing.  This is like being a little baby when people kiss on you non-stop, head to toe without a second thought.  This is grand.

From that day on I often kiss people on the cheek when I hug them.  It’s lovely and I know sometimes they are surprised, and perhaps even displeased.  But for the most part, they are getting a knowing, I’m hoping.  A revelation that they are not only hug-worthy, but kiss-worthy.  Appreciated. 

Loved.

 

What was the highlight?

mountains

This past weekend my daughters Hannah and Rebekah joined me and nine other ladies from our church at a women’s conference entitled “Women Arise!” held at Charis Bible College (Andrew Wommack Ministries) in Woodland Park, Colorado.

We arrived home Sunday just before my husband, John, arrived from the airport with my mother-in-law.  We all unpacked, chatted and chattered, and it wasn’t until this morning at breakfast that John got a word in edgewise, saying, “What was the highlight?”

Hard question, but I’d given it some thought.  The spiritual highlight was perhaps the final teaching from Audrey Mack, which lit a fire under me that seems to be getting hotter by the minute.

flame

The setting, the weather, the thousand small favors of God on each minute – these were all highlights.  Maybe, as I said to Hannah last night, “Maybe the most important thing was the bonding between the hearts of the women of our church, and no doubt between all the women there.  The revelation of sisterhood in Christ, the shared hilarity and heartache, the love..

John asked me a few more questions this morning, then turned to Rebekah.  “What was the highlight to you, Rebekah?”  Rebekah said she “got new dreams and remembered forgotten ones.”  She didn’t mention that we got to the conference early and feasted on Brat Kolaches and amazing pastries at Woodland Park’s Donut Mill, but perhaps we’d already said enough about that, and about the other culinary delights experienced by all.  If Rebekah was reticent, Hannah could regale her dad on that account at a later date.

Hannah was already gone to work when John asked his question, but she would have had so much to say, so much to praise.

I could say the praise was the highlight, the worship of our good Father.  I could say bringing home a heart full of praise and thanksgiving and joy was the highlight.

But how do you describe the highlights of God?  It’s all highlight.

Certainty.  I came home with certainty.  With peace and power and a new and greater level of dominion, a new revelation of authority in Christ.  More humility, more surrender, greater power.

More.  Always more.  Because His depths are unfathomable, endless, and marvelous.  I marvel at the question, and so enjoy exploring the answer.

How to choose one highlight?  Would it help to eliminate those things that weren’t my favorite parts?  There was a workshop time slated Saturday afternoon that I skipped out on, in favor of walking around the sparkling lake, crossing the high wooden bridge, and making tracks to sit under a pine in the sun, where I whispered to God and He heard me.  That was definitely a highlight.  So, even the parts that weren’t looking like the best parts, became highlights.

“It’s all highlight in Jesus,” I could say to John.  And I remember what I told Rebekah, and then repeated to John last night.  “You know what’s really great,” I said to Rebekah as we ate lunch on the way home yesterday.  “What’s really great is to go somewhere so astoundingly beautiful and have such a wonderfully blessed time, and yet the best part of it all is going home.

english cottage

And so, dearest husband, the highlight of the entire beyond-all-I-asked-or-imagined weekend, was coming home to you.

Pentecost, and all Things Richly to Enjoy

 

creek 2

Taking a walk in the cool not-quite-summer breezes the other morning an old question popped into my mind:  Which of the senses would you miss the most, were you to lose it?

Loss of sight would mean no more color, no more iridescent, translucent, sparkling, proof-of- God color.  No more looking into the eyes of my beloveds, no more laughing at a child’s guileless smile.

Not good.

Loss of smell would mean I couldn’t smell this sage I’m crushing in my fingers and thereby being lifted, transported.  Same for the juniper, pine, spruce, fir and cedar on the heavenly breeze.

Loss of smell would mean roast beef and vegetables and gravy and hot buttered homemade bread would be irrelevant.  Also not good.

Loss of smell would mean I wouldn’t notice the clove on John’s breath when he kissed me.

A kiss.  A touch.  Not being able to feel the kissing face, or hugged neck, or the touch of a hand of another of God’s children.

marmot

Hearing.  A marmot is sounding the alarm because the dogs are busy sniffing out his rock pile, and the spring snowmelt has made the creek practically roar as it rushes out of its banks, but not above my favorite creekside blessing rock.

And I couldn’t hear His praises sung from the depths of the hearts of His children in church this morning, on Pentecost Sunday.  This thought makes me catch my breath from the sudden glitch of alarm, the actual physical ache, in my spirit.  But, on this day of all days, I am choosing not to think about “what ifs” and possible losses.  I am thinking of my utter inability to even begin to grasp the magnitude of the Love of God.  This is the sense I want to exercise, increase, develop.  This is the realm into which I want to delve more deeply.  More richly.

He has given us all things richly to enjoy.  I call the dogs off and they happily dash off to the next thrill, all senses alert.  He has given us all things richly to enjoy.  This thought again wafts into my mind and I think of how all the senses will be alive and blessing me at once if I simply take this walk with a loved one, sit by the creek eating roast beef on homemade bread with also homemade mayo, and watch steam swirl up out of a thermos of tea as we sip and smile at each other.  And as we see on each others’ faces peace.  How beautiful, how marvelous.  Oh, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth.

In all the earth.  He has given us so much to enjoy.  Let us not, in pursuits of manmade enjoyments and entertainments, forgo, forget, become blind to, the wonderful world He has made.  In all of our seeking, with all of our senses, let us tune into Him.  Let us daily live a life of Pentecost.  Amen.