Warm Wednesday Words: Hope, Promises and Renewal

Fall is a time to slow down, renew and wait for, (if not invest in), the promises of spring.   It is a time of digging deep, burrowing in, savoring fall aromas such as fresh cut wood and pumpkin candles, and feasting on the deep, glorious colors of autumn just before the stark nakedness of winter.  It is a time to trust that what may seem bleak and obscure as winter descends will burst forth into its own “glory”, of sorts, in God’s time.

A bunch of tulip bulbs ready for fall planting.When my siblings and I were growing up, my dad would buy our winter wood supply in the fall and one of our chores was to stack it outside the basement door for use in the wood furnace that was in the basement.  Though we sometimes grumbled about the job, knowing the wood was purchased and stacked was one of many comforts of fall.

wood stackAnother nostalgic fall comfort is the sight of home canned goods labeled and on the pantry shelves.  This was the harvest that would help carry us through until the next garden season.

home canned goodsThis fall, in more ways then one, I am focusing on the promises of “spring” to carry me through the “winter”.

IMG_8576“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne

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Jacob’s dog, Cyrus (below), and Hannah’s dog, Prim, have decided to “help” me dig a large hold for planting bulbs here.  I just hope they will retire the job after the bulbs are planted!

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In the cocoon is the promise of a butterfly,
At the dawn, night is set awry,
Storms become a memory in the arch of a rainbow,
and God’s presence rushes in when on our knees we say so.
Though tulip bulbs are humble for a season,
and with our prayers we wrestle and reason,
Victory burst from the cross and the tomb
and is safe in the hearts of the bride of the Groom.

LaDonna English

IMG_8586What hidden promises are you standing on this fall?

Hymn written by Natalie Sleeth.  © 1986 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188, http://www.hopepublishing.com.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Kinsley Turns Nine

nothing like a grandchild Being into the grandma (or “Marme”) season of my life is sweet and fulfilling.  Tony and I love being grandparents and pray together for our growing family most every night.  It is hard to believe nine years have gone by since Kinsley Abigail made her debut into the world!  She has already grown into an incredibly thoughtful and creative young lady with the guidance and prayers of her parents, Candace and Dan.  She stays busy with her schoolwork, being a sweet big sister, skillfully writes fascinating stories and often takes part in plays with Fine Linen Drama.  She tells about herself below:

IMG_0252My favorite food is: Shrimp and Pasta. My favorite game to play is: Capture the flag.

My favorite book is: The Lord of The Rings and The Adventures of Ulysses.

I think the coolest person on earth is: Uncle Jacob.

My favorite thing to learn about is: Greek Mythology.

The thing I am most awesome at is: Imagining things.

If I could go anywhere in the world I would go: Exploring in the woods.

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My favorite color is: Green, yellow and blue.

When I grow up I want to become: A mom who studies the Liberal Arts.

My current favorite song is: Silent Night. 

Three words I feel best describe me are: Adventurish, Bookworm, Weird

IMG_0481When I was little I used to: Write my name on everything. Including one time on Grandad’s car that he was trying to sell. With a rock.

My favorite season is: All of them!

The absolute best thing about camping is: Sleeping in a sea of sleeping bags.

The snack I like the best is: Nutella on Graham crackers.

One food that I really dislike is: Tomatoes.
My best friend is: One of my imaginary friends named Jacob.
If I had one wish it would be: Three more wishes.
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My favorite movie is: The Lord of The Rings.
My favorite outfit is: I don’t have a favorite outfit, but I love my neon green ankle socks.
My favorite thing to do: Read.
Kinsley's sketch
A favorite memory of mine is: Playing with my puppy, Ignacio, on our trampoline.
My favorite animal is: Dogs, cats, and birds.
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Have you entered the grandparenting season of life yet?  How do you connect?  If you don’t and maybe won’t have “natural” grandchildren, there are plenty out there to “nurture” through organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, Awana Clubs and Operation Christmas Child to name a few.
love my grandkids

Warm Wednesday Words: The Right Posture and Accessories

Hannah postureThere is something about a good posture that can make us or undo us.  Recently our youngest daughter competed in a couple of queen pageants.  In the first competition (last spring), the parade car she had arranged broke down and she ended up walking in the parade separate from the other contestants.  For a while, we were unaware and were left to wonder what had happened when the queen candidates went by in there cars and there was no Hannah.  Then, at the recent talent contest of her second queen pageant, the curtains were drawn back on the stage and we, her family, did not see her in the row of girls sitting on the stage.  We wondered what had happened this time, as their entertainment began.  After a minute that seemed much longer, someone spotted her in the center of the row of girls.  The difference was her posture.  Being a typical tall girl, she often unconsciously slumps her shoulders; however, that night she had beautiful posture and carried herself very elegantly.

Similarly, when we “stand firm” in God’s truths, the enemy doesn’t see us, but God.  Though his roar may be deafening in our ears, he can’t have the victory over us as long as we are standing firm in the truth of God’s Word.  He may wreak serious havoc in our lives, but he can’t mess with our souls.  As Jack Graham says in his book “Unseen”, ‘When we feel helpless, standing in the face of too-big, too-daunting circumstances, we must remember that it is actually God who does our fighting for us.’  We need to be on guard and watch ourselves, but know Satan’s days are numbered.  As long as we stay with God and stand believing his Word, ours are not.  As Moses told the Israelites when Pharoah’s army was upon them “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.” (Ex. 14:13-14 HCSB)

respectable armorThe first important accessory to wear while standing firm is the Belt of Truth.  In Bible days belts were worn to keep the robes pulled in and to hang weaponry on.  Now days we wear them to keep things up and in as well, and sometimes we hang an important key ring on a belt or belt loop.  It is imperative that we live a life bound up in God’s truths while pursuing holiness and honesty and keeping our eyes trained on Christ.  The Breastplate of Righteousness was made of heavy material and designed to protect the vital organs.  Our vitality is protected by Christ’s righteousness, which is purity and living rightly, made possible only in Christ.  To continue to walk in sin obliterates the breastplate and leaves us dangerously vulnerable.  Our footwear is the peaceful submission we have in knowing that God is our Savior and, though we are going to have trials and hardships, we will have His presence and power in them and on through eternity and this is the good news we must keep telling.  Our footwear should mobilize us to keep testifying to God’s goodness, first in saving us to eternity and always in His presence and guidance in our daily lives.  Like the author of “Unseen”, I absolutely treasure the steps taken toward me by friends, mentors and Bible teachers along the way.  The steps of encouragement, reconciliation and counsel take time, prayer, humility and thoughtfulness, sometimes rare commodities these days.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Romans 10:15 HCSB)

beautiful feetAnother mandatory accessory is The Shield of Faith.  Ephesians 6:16 says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one”.  In Bible days the battle shields curved back on the sides and were designed to cover the front and sides of the body.  They were not designed to cover the back, since soldiers advanced in a forward direction only.  Our shield coverage is in believing God’s promises, of which there are thousands, and in not taking one step backward into unbelief, doubt or the discouragement that we are often surrounded with and sometimes indulge in.  Relying solely on God’s truth is how we fend off the fiery darts of Satan.  When soldiers were under attack, they not only used their shields in defense, but would link their shields together in order to make progression.  As Jack Graham said, “Sometimes when our faith is flagging, we need to link our shield with another whose faith is flying high.  It is often only in the context of such unity that we find protection from the enemy’s assault.” 

soldiers linking shieldsThe Helmet of Salvation is extremely important.  It is simply deciding to let God’s truth override any of the lies of the enemy that come into our heads.  It may take a little time to dislodge a lie of the enemy that is tailor made for our situation or our weakness, but it is imperative.  Again quoting Jack Graham, “….every sin we’ll ever know can be traced back to a single, errant thought….all ground given to Satan is given first and foremost between our ears.”  He says there are five key danger zones for these errant thoughts to occur:  1) on the heels of spiritual victory; 2) when we’re alone (because we are built for community); 3) when we’re tired; 4) when we’re in church (Satan loves to cause misunderstandings, unfulfilled expectations, disappointments, complaining, gossip, backbiting, pride, etc. to flare up in the body); 5) when we’re attempting something great for God.  Oswald Chambers refers to entertaining thoughts that don’t line up with the Word as “wool gathering”.  Satan may not take us out of the game and that may not even be his goal, but if he can cripple us up, even with just one errant thought that festers, he has accomplished much.  Instead, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”  (2 Cor. 10:4b-5)  How I love the friends and mentors who are humble and who value friendship over pride by forbearing and persisting in good communication. 

train your mind

take every thought captiveThe last “accessory”, which is indispensable for defense, is the Sword of the Spirit.  Ephesians 6:17 refers to the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit.  The Word is living and active, sharper then any two edged sword. (Heb. 4)  Though a sword is a weapon both for offense and defense, because of the victory Christ’s blood shed for us on the cross, all we have to do is stand firm and protect the ground Christ already gained for us.  Our challenge is to gain an appreciation for the Word as our two edged sword of defense.  We can do this by reading it daily, thinking about what we have read, writing and sharing about it, praying the promises and truths personally into our lives, and living according to it.

the armor of GodAs you face life’s challenges are you standing firm and wearing the right “apparel”?

having done all stand

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: A Few Favorite Things

When life gets a little too busy or sad, I find comfort and joy in a few favorite things.  The lyrics from the song, “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” portray the distractions I enjoy lately.  The song was sung by Maria  to the von Trapp children during a thunderstorm; and the lighthearted lyrics and melody were a purposeful diversion from the undercurrent of terror during the time of Hitler’s rise.  I am thankful for the diversions I find in my favorite things.

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.”

So here are a few of my favorite things….

big family at lakeThe English Clan (with Mom) who I love dearly

the bridge at the end of my runThe bridge at the end of a three mile run

zinnias and lavenderZinnias and lavender on the deck

the view from the hammockThe view from the hammock at night…add in a few zillion stars and that’s typical!

the hammock and the moon

IMG_8707Spending life with this guy!

books, lamps, chocolate

A stack of books, a few current cards (I keep a whole box of special cards and memorabila under the bed), a journal, a few pillows and a lamp!  There might be chocolate hidden in there somewhere.

my favorite pain

 

both laughter and tears shared with friends

 

when some shares your tears and accepts you

Oswald & WorshipBible Study, Oswald Chambers, Worship & Choir….and a cup of coffee.

So what favorite things do you think on when “the dog bites”?  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things.”  Phil. 4:8