Friday, December 30, 2011

Ring In the True

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Many of you shared some rather inspiring, if not altogether humorous grown-up Christmas lists this season.  So it's quite likely you're crafting an equally grown-up New Year's list of resolutions, wishful thinking, intentions.  I know I am.

I like that word:  intentions.  It speaks of responsibility & accountability; of purposefulness; of will. It's the antithesis of leaving things to chance, or of expecting that someone else will fulfill my intentions.  

By being intentional, it means I have skin in the game.  It means I'm willing to pay the price (ostensibly, because I've counted the cost) for those things I've selected, a willingness that means there can be no playing of the blame game.

For many weeks now I've been making notes in my journal, collecting ideas & scriptures, considering where I've been (the rearview mirror), and wondering where I'd like to go.  No ... that's not quite true.  I've actually been wondering what it is that the Lord has in mind for the next steps of my journey.   Rightly or wrongly, I have concluded that 2012 is long stretch.

Crafting a grown up New Year's list is no easy task, but in order to ring in the true, it is well worth the exercise! 

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand their own way? 
Proverbs 20:24

 LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
   it is not for them to direct their steps. 
Jeremiah 20:23

This is true:  I'll have no more to say here for 2011.  The pages on the year are now sealed, a calligraphy'd "The End" emblazoned on their backside.  Therein lies all the adventures, joys, challenges, sorrows, frustrations, learning, memory-making, concerns, curiosities and losses of a year now packaged for history.  From now on, to get at them I'll have to again use the rearview mirror - - not all bad if I'll be honest with myself.  And quite good if I'll acknowledge just how much I owe to the Lord in their coming-and-going.   Sometimes blessings actually hide amidst a loss or a frustration, which is often overlooked until the passage of time seasons such. 

This is also true:  I'll return in 2012 and, hopefully, have much to share within the pages of this entirely new book.  Fresh starts are just that, fresh.  I will also be around to collect those things that are born of your grown-up New Year's list.

Farewell 2011.

Above all else, guard your heart,
or everything you do flows from it. 
Keep your mouth free of perversity; 
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; 
fix your gaze directly before you. 
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways. 
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. 
Proverbs 4:23-27   

For last year's words belong to last year's language 
and next year's words await another voice. 
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~ T. S. Eliot

Monday, December 26, 2011

Life in the Rearview Mirror

There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book
~ Josh Jameson

Have you ever noticed the little words imprinted on your car's rearview mirrors: "Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear." ?  Apparently it's a warning in order that understand the device's peculiarities in order to benefit from its usefulness.  It's an aid for navigation; one that can also compensate for the vehicle's blind spot.  And don't we all loathe that vacant void that isn't, in reality, so very void at all?!

Interesting wisdom.

I'm not a huge fan of hindsight.  I've been told it's 20/20, whereas foresight is much less accurate.  Not sure who coined that particular factoid, but it's highly suspect, if you ask me.  I would much prefer to choose rightly going forward rather than have to assess what I'd done - rightly or wrongly - by looking back, especially by looking back via a rearview mirror.  Not only do things look closer from than perspective, but the blind spots are much more troublesome.

Forwards or backwards, I still don't know what I don't know.  I am forced (dare I say, blessed?) to be dependant upon maps & signage; upon a certain degree of trust in road maintenance crews & Highway Patrolmen.  Then there are those items that are simply part of the journey and not to be fussed over too intensely.

2011 is swiftly melting away like Frosty on a too-warm day.  Already my reflections cause its nearly 365 days to look closer than they are in reality.  How do I know that?  Because 2011's days are nearly ended when it seems they just began!  Then there's the fact that I'm always 32 years old in my rearview mirror.  That may well be due to a blind spot, if not the mirror's "closer than they look" peculiarity.    

Hindsight is rarely 20/20, no matter what they (whoever they are) tell us.  Oh, I do believe I see things a bit more clearly ... perhaps.  Then again, distortion is ever a hazard.   Rearview stuff always means I have to take my eyes off the road which is, in turn, rather dangerous all by itself. 

Still, I take stock of all that lays behind so I can navigate more intelligently going forward.   Theoretically I'll then know best when & how to make a turn, or to pass, or hit the brakes.  I'll not be inclined to run off the road or take a detour that may well lead me into hazardous realms. 

I best remember all the benefits & drawbacks of the rearview mirror's positioning.  It's a tool ... nothing more, nothing less.  And how I use it will determine which category it falls into. 

Interesting wisdom.

  Just because it's not what you were expecting,
doesn't mean it's not everything you've been waiting for...
~ Unknown


Sunday, December 25, 2011

For Unto Us

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
Those who live in a dark land,
the light will shine on them.”
(Isaiah 9:2)

The image of light is central,
not only to Christmas, but to Christianity.

Jesus said: “I am the Light of the world;
he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of life.”
(John 8:12) 
This is the sum and substance of Christmas.
The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Those who have lived in a dark land have now experienced
the shining of the Light of life.
~ Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

In the right light, at the right time,
everything is extraordinary. 
~Aaron Rose

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bedford Falls or Pottersville?

This guest blogger doesn't even know I've designated him so.  However, what he crafts here is, as they say: "spot on"! 

I don't know this guy, but I like him.  Or I should say, I like what he has to say ...

My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

My favorite Christmas movie is, unquestionably, Frank Capra’s 1946 feel-good flick "It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George and Mary Bailey, a happy couple living a life of genteel poverty in the small American town of Bedford Falls.

George is a kind and generous man. He is active in his community and in the war effort. Most importantly, George is all that stands between the town’s mean old man, Mr. Potter, and the demise of all that is good in Bedford Falls.

As financial pressures crowd in on poor George, he begins to question his value to the community. So much so, that he wishes he had never been born. To demonstrate to George the folly of his wish, an angel is sent to give him a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would look like if that wish were granted. In Dickensian fashion, the angel takes him from one scene in that small town to another. The difference is stark. Indeed, Bedford Falls isn’t even Bedford Falls anymore, but a place called Pottersville. The town’s main street is a red-light district, crime is rampant, and life there is coarsened.

When George, in desperation, turns to the angel, seeking an explanation for these drastic changes, the angel says, “Why, George, it’s because you were never born!”

According to a recent poll conducted by The Hill, 69% of voters think America is in decline, and 83% say they are worried about the country’s future. And that has generated a lot of finger-pointing: Republicans blame President Obama; Obama blames Republicans; environmentalists blame industrialization; the “Occupy” people blame everybody who isn’t occupying something - most of us agree that there is a problem, but efforts to identify the source of it are incomplete, misguided or downright evil.

The problems of human society are the problems of human nature, wrote "Lord of the Flies" author William Golding. Indeed. This was the discovery of the monastics. Seeking to escape the evil of the world, they found instead a doctrine central to Christianity: that evil is innate to us all. History tells us that a given philosophy, creed or religion will either restrain our darker impulses or exacerbate them, but escape them we cannot. Not in this life, anyway.

So what will save us from ourselves and preserve human dignity and life in the societies we create? Democracy? Socialism? Stitching up the ozone?

These days, there is a lot of talk about religion - Christianity in particular - and its role in public life. Whether it is protesting Nativities, the debate over “In God We Trust” as our country’s motto or the controversy surrounding the public faith of Tim Tebow, a national discussion is taking place on what the present and future role of Christianity in America should be. The consensus among the secular elites seems to be that it is a bit like smoking: It is harmful, but if you must do it, do it in the designated areas only. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist and atheist provocateur, calls Christianity a “mental virus” that should be eradicated.

The professor should be more careful in what he wishes for. Like many others, he grossly underestimates the degree to which his own moral and intellectual sensibilities have been informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. The data bears this out. According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed - “the least of these,” as Jesus called them. (This is precisely what Nietzsche, and Hitler after him, hated about Christianity.)

But Christian influence goes well beyond benevolence: Our laws, art, literature and institutions find meaning in a rich Christian heritage. In his new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest," Harvard historian Niall Ferguson argues that the decline of the West can, in part, be attributed to the decline of a robust Christian presence in Western culture. Ferguson’s point is largely an economic one, but the inference that Christianity has served to strengthen the fabric of life in the West as we have known it is unmistakable. T.S. Eliot made a similar observation: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes.”

That is just another way of saying that the difference between a nation with meaningful Christian influence and a nation without it is the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton

SOURCE:  CNN's Belief Blog

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas

From my house to yours comes this 
heartfel expression of Christmas joy. 

May it be a season of silent & holy nights;
of wonders & grace.

May you find riches & treasures
among your loved ones near & far.

May you & yours forge
new memories, new bonds.

May we all love the Lord more
than we did last year, or yesterday.

What a gift each of you has
become to me - - among the very best
of my delights this season.

Merry Christmas 


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Uncompromised Pruning Process

Pruning your roses is easy, but it's like so many things in life, you need to do it regularly, every year in fact, to see results.

... some people just shear their roses about half way down and leave it at that. The problem with doing this is that you have not removed old dead wood, or suckers, or cleaned out built up debris, and in time, I think, you compromise the health of your plants and the quality of your flowers.

So skip the short cuts, and prune your roses properly and you'll be rewarded with really gorgeous flowers.

The above text came directly from a gardening website (link below), as did the exact details for carrying out the actual pruning process.  I rather believe God Himself penned this piece because He NEVER compromises or takes short cuts - which is to say:  "We can be assured of the unrivaled beauty of the blooms to come." 

From a barren & seemingly dead sprig of wood grows a sublime flower and - with it - a fragrance equally so. 

Source:  The Weekend Gardener

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Season's Wisdom

The most trustworthy statement that we will
ever know is that Christ Jesus came into the world
to save sinners.
That, above all other declarations,
deserves full acceptance.
This is far more than the reason for the season,
it is the only reason for our hope.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth,” declared John (John 1:14).
“While we were still sinners, Christ dies for us” (Romans 5:8).
~ Albert Mohler

Christmas.  I absolutely relish all things about it, from glitz to glitter; from Balsam to cinnamon.  Twinkle lights still captivate me.  The sounds of my favorite tunes sweep me away to precious memories new & old.  With the season's progress, my mother & father are alive; my own children still small.  Laughter decks the halls of my soul.  Well worn traditions settle in like a blanket of new fallen snow.  Savory delights torment my determination to be disciplined.

  It is good to be children sometimes,
and never better than at Christmas when
its mighty Founder was a child Himself. 
~ Charles Dickens 

I welcome the season's onset, and I mourn when the tinsel is no longer tinseling.

Yet it is here in these quiet morning hours -- with soft light & a bedazzled tree to accompany me -- I am awed anew by the strange way in which God chose to save all who would believe, and me among them.  

No hoops. 
No religious ceremony or ritual. 
No "ten steps to gaining God's attention & favor".   
No good works or self-prescribed misery.  

Just an invitation to come, just as I am.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. 
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. 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus answered,
“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me." 
John 14:6

Is it any wonder that wise men still seek Him?

At Christmas, all roads lead home. 
~ Marjorie Holmes

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Resolving to Resolve

It's a powerful little word, resolve.  When I hear or read it I immediately think legalese; about how "I hereby & hereunder do, to wit, to resolve ...", as if selling a parcel of land, or turning over an estate to some worthy beneficiary, or issuing a penalty sentence.  

In both of its verb states (transitive & intransitive), resolve has facets that vary, like the facets or surfaces of a diamond.  Those facets give it its powerful appointment; and what they have in common is this:  they determine or form a resolution; deliberate & conclude. 

Resolve shows up in our English vernacular in the 14th century, where it derives from the Latin word resolvere.  That is to say:  to unloose; dissolve.  Thus is has the potential for being powerfully positive, or powerfully negative.  Like any choice we make, what we resolve has far-reaching implications. 

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself
with the royal food and wine,
and he asked the chief official for permission
not to defile himself this way. 
Daniel 1:8  (NIV)

Other translations render the word "purposed" or "determined".  But whatever translation you use, the word is decidedly decided! 

If you (religious leaders) do not listen,
and if you do not
resolve to honor my name,”
says the LORD Almighty,
“I will send a curse on you,
and I will curse your blessings.
Yes, I have already cursed them,
because you have not resolved to honor me.
Malachi 2:2

Today I want to resolve to resolve some things.   I'm not talking New Year's Resolutions here ... We all know how they typically go anyway (unresolved).   I'm also not talking big things, but all the little ways in which I might be compromising.   An accumulation of small stuff can become quite a mound.

I'll take Daniel's resolve over the leader's un-resolve any day.   Trouble is, the latter is far easier than the former.

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?
He will instruct them in the
ways they should choose. 
They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land. 
The LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
Psalm 25:12-14


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Granny Go-Go

With all of December's customary doings, I've added Nanny-Granny (not "ninny") to mine.  For the past week I've been hanging out (code for chauffeur, shopping advisor, chef, fan) with my 15 year old granddaughter while a certain set of parents vacation in Hawaii for ten days (poor dears). 

I'll leave here this week to pick up the Nanny Train again with yet another set of grandchildren while certain other parents celebrate their anniversary with a four day, cross country skiing getaway. 

In the midst of it all, I drop by home to gather my wits & enjoy a bit of time with hubby.  He has opted out of my current adventure.  Mostly he's delighted to have the channel tuner all to himself.

Grandchildren are God's way of
compensating us for growing old. 
~Mary H. Waldrip

As I made my way to school on Thursday for the fourth trip in one day, the thought occurred to me that I used to do all this stuff all the time, times three - - AND work full time.  Little wonder my unusually congenial & amazingly patient personna was anything BUT in those long-ago days.  Like trying to master the Rubix Cube, I'm still wondering how I did it?   It's pointless. 

There are many best parts to all of this, and only a few worst ones.  Being out of my routine, not getting my daily dose of 4 miles walking, eating on the fly & sitting for long periods has damaged the bath scale.  The worst part?  The darn thing is reading about 5 - 8 pounds too high.  Ugh!

Anyway, given my residence in reality I'm doing precious little visiting via the virtual.  Thus the Blogosphere suffers and, with it, my connection to friends here.   

I'll return ... of THAT you can be certain!   Hopefully the bath scales will be fixed by then.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter's Charm

The color of springtime is in the flowers,
 the color of winter is in the imagination. 
~Terri Guillemets

It won't be long and many of you will be hosting pictures & tales of of winterscapes.  Some of you are already dreaming of a white Christmas.  Likely I won't be joining you.  You see, Winter in the Pacific Northwest - at least along the coastal regions - is mostly wet.  Our soupy naturescapes find it difficult to compete with Winter-Wonderlands.

Yet from where I perch I am ever reminded of Winter's glories.  Forever reigning over the valleys Orting, Sumner, Puyallup & others is the stately, 14,000' Mt. Rainier.  Winter has arrived up there.  I know.  I can see if from my perch.

I thought by now I'd surely be homesick for Arizona's sunny skies and warm climes.  Afterall, wet is a condition that often accompanies gray & gloomy.  No such thing exists in Arizona.  So far, homesickness has not afflicted me; and many a day I find myself enraptured anew by God's unique touches on the water soaked sod beneath Mt. Rainier's gaze and my feet.   

Oh well, it's never too foolish to dream of a white Christmas.  They're rare here, but not impossible.  My mind & heart are spattered with memories of them from my childhood, and from the childhoods of my own children.  Laughter accompanies such thoughts.

So I look to the hills, watch the temperatures, and dream a little dream or two.   Never mind checking signals with our weather prognosticators.  They're customarily wrong anyway - -   false prophets of the worst sort.

Should I grow tired of dreaming, I can always don my snow boots and head to the hills, where I can be absolutely certain Winter is living out it's destiny.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

In the depth of  Winter, I finally learned
that within me lay an invincible Summer. 
~ Albert Camus

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Most Vulnerable

This post isn't exactly going to appear on the marshmallow side of blogging.  Even so, hardly a day passes that we don't hear about yet ANOTHER missing or murdered child in this country.  With each passing report my heart aches as the headlines abound.  A few of the most recent ...

  • Authorities arrest suspect in toddler's death
  • Body of infant found near family home
  • Two year old thrown from bridge
  • Baby abducted while mother sleeps following a night of drinking
  • Infant abducted while mother goes for gas
  • Parents allege an intruder took their toddler
  • Skeletal remains of missing child discovered

There's a lot to be said about these & other heinous crimes perpetrated upon the most vulnerable among us; yet rarely do any of our own news agencies take on anything indepth or meaningful, much less morally-direct by way of an explanation.  That would not be politically correct, or atheistically kind.  It's as though we know these things occur; we're appalled by them, but digging for answers is much-too indicting.  

So I was heartened to see that someone, even someone located far from U.S. turf on European soil probing the subject-matter further ... never mind the fact that they overlooked an opportunity to connect some major, huge dots.   They write:
Every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect in the US.
The latest government figures show an estimated 1,770 children
were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009.
A recent congressional report concludes the
real number could be nearer 2,500.  

In fact, America has the worst child abuse
record in the industrialised world.

Good question. 

Another of the their findings?  Nearly half the child fatalities in 2009 were children under the age of one.   Bear in mind, these statistics were taken from 2009. By today's standards, such estimates could well look anemic.  It is not some slippery slope we've found ourselves upon.  No, we're caught dead-center in the gaping maw of a black hole!

You can read the BBC's report on their website (the link is provided below).  They offer a larger picture of this epidemic and quite a few - albeit complex - answers to their own "why?".  I saw nothing about godlessness or virtue -- or the lack thereof. 

How does one describe virtue by today's standards anyway? 

I wonder if ever we will connect these crime-dots to our schizophrenia about public displays of faith, or the seeking of Divine blessing or favor - much less moral laws or Divine accountability?  I wonder if the fact that we have systematically devalued life will ever be cited?  I wonder if these perilous times are indicative of the hope we - and the little ones - have for justice?  

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Isaiah 5:20

Jesus said,
“Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven
belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

NOTE:  I've turned off comments, asking instead that you take a few moments to pray - not only for the children, but for our country.  To have achieved such notoreity as "worst child abuse record in the industrialised world" is nothing to be proud of ... and this doesn't include even an iota of data pertaining to the hideous predatory sexual component linked to it.  That's subject-matter for even more prayer.

Also, I realize this is the 2nd post in a row with a rant flavor to it.  I'm not so sure the two aren't connected.   

News Source: BBC, U.K.

Friday, November 25, 2011

For Your Viewing Pleasure?

Her name was Mrs. Lauderback, and she lived directly behind & across the alley from us.  That's when they still had allies.  She was a widow - and an old lady (no doubt AT LEAST 50 then).  I didn't know her at all until that fateful day when she invited we neighborhood children over to watch her new television set.

T.V. was new & novel then; very few people even had one.  So, with our parent's permission some 8 of us curled up on the floor in front of the magical device.  To our great delight, Disneyland was about to air - no doubt it's Maiden Voyage.  Mrs. Lauderback was prepared for us, having slathered fresh bread with Peter Pan Peanut Butter for her wide-eyed guests.  16 eyeballs were riveted and we were, at once, hooked on all things televisiony (a new word).

Today that memory takes me to the long ago; a long ago which epicenter circa 1954.  It - and Disneyland - has become the hallmark of & synonymous to simpler times.

Last evening, following a grand day of giving thanks, I roamed my viewing options by way of some 50 channels.  I was disheartened to find nary a Variety program; and oh how I missed Perry Como.  I was perplexed that not one - nada - Shirley Temple movie was offered.  For the life of me I couldn't even find Snoopy & Charlie Brown. 

It occurred to me then (and many times previous) that you can tell a good deal about a culture by it's viewing preferences.    

From Father's Knows Best & Blondie, to Mr. Peepers & You Bet Your Life; from Our Miss Brooks and the Cisco Kid to Hawkeye & the Mohicans during the pinnacle of good, clean viewing until today (a span of some 60 years), evidence of our decline in taste is baffling.   Or can we consider it taste at all?

Light has come into the world,
but people loved darkness instead of light ... 
John 3:19

Right here I could launch into a rant that would, most likely, culminate some 50 pages hence.  I'll spare myself & you.  Suffice it to say, the line-up for programming offers pretty slim pickins' for one who longs for an invitation from Mrs. Lauderback. 

When one bases his life on principle,
99 percent of his decisions are already made. 
~ Author Unknown

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Core of Thankfulness

May all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation
always say,
“God be exalted!”
Psalm 70:4

Such a heartfelt prayer David offers.  Here we witness the essence of the believer's thankful heart - the headwaters, if you will:  a tenderness towards those that are still searching for the Lord, and a profound understanding & exclamation about His bountiful saving grace upon those already saved.

So eloquent.  So simple.  So powerful.  So humble. 

David's prayer, then, shall be my own Thanksgiving blessing for those still searching and for those that have been found, followed by his humble request to not shame or confuse either of them. 

Let God be exalted!  

Let not those who wait for You,
O Lord GOD of hosts,
be ashamed because of me;
Let not those who seek You
be confounded because of me,
O God of Israel.
Psalm 69:6

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In All Things, Give Thanks

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving I have been mindful of just, exactly, how many are my blessings. Some of you have been counting your own, one-by-one on your blogs, so I know you're taking inventory too. It's as though a mighty chorus is enjoined to give thanks.

For the record, I seek to capture here just a few of my own.  The list is by no means exhaustive, as you can be sure we'd all be exhausted if I produced such a list.

1) Yesterday, the love of my life & I celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. It was a quiet celebration: pancakes & bacon in the nook while we watched the first of 2011's snow fall. A trip to Lowe's (hubby's favorite vacation destination). We then began to drag out seasonal decorations while listening to Christmas music. Simple delights all.

2) At 63, I am so grateful that both Terry & I are in good health. We have annoying maladies, like arthritis, but nothing that prevents living life to the fullest. 

3)  What is any list of gratitudes without the inclusion of family & friends?  I dare not begin listing names or we'd be at this for days on end.  Yet there are a few I must include, for my heart is full beyond expectation because of them:  Brad, Megan, Erik & Allie; Molly, Tom, Rylie, Megan & Ava; Kelly, Katrina, Katheryne, Kelly, Kaden & Kole.  My children, their spouses & grandchildren.

(Photo:  Terry, Kathleen, Brad, Megan, Kaden, Allie, Kole, Kelly, Katrina, Katheryne, Rylie, Molly, Tom, Kelly, Erik.  Missing:  Megan & Ava).

4)  My parents, Helen Evelyn Grinnell-Wells & James Uvo Wells.  They're both in Heaven's Land, but I can assure you their impact is felt still.  Their love of faith & family & fun (and all things yummy, clean & orderly) is a precious legacy.  Dad's birthday, his 109th, was just this past Thursday.  I celebrated it with my own quiet remembrance & joy.  Mother, who turned 102 in August, left an imprint on my heart to remind me of how dear are her "girls", even for eternity.  How they loved us.

5)  My sisters have always had a special place in my life.  I'm the youngest of four, with Dolores being 15 years older; Barb 13; and Carol 7.  In some ways both Carol & I were raised as "onlies", but in all ways we are devoted to each other.  How I love them.

(Photo:  Carol, Dolores, Kathleen & Barbara)

6) I have not left the best for last.  It's not last at all but, rather, the crown.  How could any collection of blessings be complete without acknowledging the Giver of all Good Things?  From my birth - both physically & spiritually - He has blessed, guided, gifted, protected, placed, challenged, forgiven, lead, saved (and kept on saving) me.  Whatever & whoever I have in my life are His doing; His blessing.  Today I can even include some things I heretofore had not considered blessings but, with the passage of time, have also become so.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Appointment With Destiny: Andrew

As I made my way from the parking lot into the Ross store this afternoon, I heard singing & guitar strumming - - one solitary voice that belonged to someone who was, at that time, obscured by the posts in front of the store.  As he came into view, I confess I readied & steadied myself for what would surely be begging.  I needn't have bothered.  He never looked up; and just kept strumming & singing.  I went about my business.

For the better part of 30 minutes I made my way through the store.  I hadn't intended on stopping at Ross at all this afternoon, but I made a last minute decision to drop in to see if I could find burgundy tree ornaments.  They didn't have any.  Drats.  But I did find new turkey prongs, so the stop wasn't a total waste of my time.  I made my way through the check out, then out of the store.

The young guitarist was still sitting on the cold ground with his guitar; quiet now.  Out of the corner of my eye (since I was trying my level best NOT to make eye contact with him, lest he beg) it looked like he was trying to warm himself.  I continued to my car, giving little thought to the guitarist.

Then I felt something ... A twinge?  A touch? A query?  I knew at once the Lord was nudging me and, though He rarely speaks to me in sentences, He does leave distinct impressions.  I interpreted Him to impress upon me:  Would it hurt you to ask the young man about his music? 

Odd question, but I wasted no time in turning around and making my way to the boy.

Hi there ... I couldn't help but hear your beautiful voice as I arrived a bit ago.  Tell me about your music.  I smiled at him then, and was greeted in return by his own large, warm smile.  I noticed at once how handsome he was in spite of being poorly clothed and under-dressed for today's cold weather.  His wavy light brown hair hung in wisps across his forehead.  He made me think of my oldest grandson.

With obvious pride he said:  I write all my own music.  What would you like to know?  Did you hear a song you liked?

Actually, I thought I heard you singing something with a Christian lyric.  Whatever it was, it was lovely.

He looked disappointed - - not for himself, but for me.  He said    I don't really know any Christian songs.

Something about this handsome young man tugged at my heart.  I couldn't begin to explain to you now why I stood there having this exchange with him. 

As I formed my next question I could see how cold were his hands.  He kept pulling them into his jacket sleeves - - a jacket far too small & lightweight to keep the damp from penetrating his bones.  He wasn't wearing socks, and his shoes were well worn tennis shoes.

I offered:  I imagine your parents are very proud of you; of how accomplished is your voice & guitar playing?

With little hesitation my new friend replied:  I don't mean to be disrespectful or crude, m'am, but my parents are pretty krappy (he used a more descriptive term).  They don't much care what I do or where I am.

Oh, I see.  So are you in school?

No ... but I am working on my G.E.D.  I'm working really hard at it too.

So how old are you?

16.  I'm just 16.

I then noticed that people had dropped change, or a dollar or two into his guitar case.  I put some money there myself as I asked him his name.


Andrew, before I leave, may I pray for you?  It seemed such a meager gesture, but I felt prompted to proceed.

I'd like that, came his immediate response.

I stooped to the ground where he was sitting and wrapped my right arm around him.  I bowed my head and began ...

Father, thank you for Andrew.  Thank you for gifting him with such an amazing voice, and such a heart for song.  We know You are all about music, and that the entire universe sings of your glory, so I ask that you reveal to Andrew how great a gift You've given him because of Your love for him, and because of the purpose you have for his life.  I ask that You protect & guide him, delivering him with Your salvation.  Fill him with great joy & a sense of belonging that You alone give.  Call him to Yourself that he would understand how valuable and loved he is.  Make a way for him where there seems to be no way. 

I ask, too, Father that you touch Andrew's mother & father.  Draw them to Yourself and save them.  Give them a sense of their value, and their son's.  Heal the broken places in this family.

Thank you for Your goodness & love.  Keep Andrew in your sights & care.

In Jesus name I ask this.  Amen

Throughout the prayer people came & went dropping change into Andrew's guitar case.  One woman came & remained, standing in silent prayer herself.

As I stood to leave, my new young friend looked up at me and said:  Thank you.  That means more to me than you can know.

I could no longer speak for the lump in my throat.  I simply nodded, waved and walked away; but ... oh, how I wanted to take that boy home!

An unintended stop.  A nudge.  An appointment with destiny.  I'm having trouble keeping it together.

Andrew.  It derives from Greek and means "man, warrior".  Somehow I knew that.

Photo:  Google Stock

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coming Through & Going On

 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
   and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
   when you run, you will not stumble.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
   guard it well, for it is your life. 
Proverbs 4:11-13

A good portion of my life has been spent in the offices of various business disciplines - - largely manufacturing.  Everywhere my briefcase traveled it landed in the realm of Marketing or Customer Service.  In these I came to understand servanthood in a much broader sense than I'd known it previously.

Long ago & far away I entered the work world by way of Pacific NW Bell.  There, in much the same fashion as Laugh-in's Ernestine (Lilly Tomlin), I would utter my most profound "Is this the party to whom I am speaking?" (snort-snort).  Laughter aside ... I learned to handle crisis calls as well as local long distance.  Problem solving was the day's by-word.  It was the Viet Nam era, so I patched through many a soldier to a loved one state-side.  Split shifts & long weekends, which made for many a newlywed challenge, eventually sent me packing.    

I took a few interim steps - several in a more personal manufacturing manner:  motherhood.  But once the children went to school I found myself working for the world's largest grower & shipper of fresh cut Christmas trees & floral foliage: The Kirk Company.  Behind the administrative scenes I allied my efforts with those of Marketing and, after a few years found myself captaining the Customer Service ship.  A financial blight hit hard, rendering this once mighty giant of all things Christmas to a shadow of it's former self.  After eight years I moved on.

After a few years of bouncing between employment walls (or lack thereof), I made my way to the company I'd call home for ten years:  The Lucks Company.   Within the halls of all things Bakery, Lucks provided a wide array of commercial baking equipment, bakery supplies and decorative items to wholesale bakeries, grocery chains, schools & other institutions.  My segue to this industry began, again, in Customer Service though it eventually lead to my heading up numerous departments:  Customer Service, Inside Sales, Warehouse, Purchasing and Shipping.  What might have been work or stress to another, became my hobby - a pass time I relished for ten years until the day we decided to move to Arizona.

In Arizona I wrestled with the employment market, uncertain if I wanted to work at all, but certain I didn't want to retire at the ripe old age of 52.  Semi-retirement sounded like a good compromise.  So it was that I heeded a friend's call to work for Remuda Ranch, a large Christian medical facility devoted to the treatment of eating disorders in women.  There, hidden away in the smallest office at the farthest corner of the Administration Facility, I worked alongside the Executive Director.  Need I say this was a swooping descent from my former life?  It was, and it took me quite some time to adjust to this relatively insignificant role.  I grew to love it, and was saddened to bid farewell when hubby's employment took us from Arizona to California for one very brief season.

Upon our return to Arizona a good friend and State Farm executive hollered for help.  Responsible for numerous agencies via their Regional Corporate offices, he was left without an administrator and asked that I come aboard.  I'd no sooner gotten my land legs in this new & strange industry, when my pastor asked me to join our church's staff.  Seems even churches have need of infrastructure, and I was delighted beyond words to climb aboard.  So it is that I packed my satchel of skills and made the move.  I remained there for four years until we returned to Washington State just last year.

So why have I blogged about this today?  It's certainly more reflection than boast because I've had so little to do with how the path was laid out, or even in the going upon it.  I didn't study long for, or seek hard after it.  It's to remind myself that every place & every season - now as then - has been & will be ordered by the Lord.  There have been so very few days in the realm of work that I could call unpleasant.  Most have been full & rewarding & challenging.  I have been so blessed to work with & alongside some of the most dedicated teams you could ask for - - just one among the many.  How could I have orchestrated all that?

So why do I need a reminder?  Because I continue to wait upon Him for direction as it concerns the what now?/what next? questions I have.  I may have retired in the world's eyes, but all the aforementioned has been and will continue to be used for His glory - of that I'm certain!  Even now, in this quieter side of living, much is being readied. 

Above my kitchen window is this little signage:  If God has brought you to it, He will bring you through it.   Another, like it, is a great companion:  God rarely does a work THROUGH you until He's done a work IN you.

He did.  He does.  He will.  I like that.

The LORD makes firm the steps of 
the one who delights in him
Psalm 37:23

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. 
How then can anyone understand their own way?
Proverbs 20:24

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Roaring Lessons

“I am sad and lonely.
Lay your hands on my mane
so that I can feel you are there
and let us walk like that.”
Aslan, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

It wasn't until my advanced years that I became a fan & semi-resident of Narnia.  I don't know what, exactly, it was about that place that compelled me, but I do know that I recognized Aslan right away.   At first the sight & sound of him scared me like nothing in this world had ever scared me before.  Then, once he beckoned me to lay my hand upon his mane, all dread diminished.   

I come-and-go from Narnia at will now, though I've found a way in and out that doesn't require a wardrobe.   I wish I could say I live there but, alas, that's not possible yet.  Aslan's kingdom, the whole of it, is yet to come.  Thus I enter & exit in great anticipation of that day. 

May I also say that the lion's roar has new meaning these days.   Long a National Geographic fan, I have seen enough Serengeti tales to know that lion's connote danger, complete with visions of sharp fangs & stalking predators.  Not so in my mind's eye.  To me, their roar serves to remind me of Aslan's power - power that will one day vanquish every true marauder; power that protects me in ways I cannot possibly fathom this side of Narnia.

The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man,
He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war:
He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against his enemies.
Isaiah 42:13

The LORD shall roar from on high,
and utter his voice from his holy habitation
Jeremiah 25:30

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion,
 and utter his voice from Jerusalem;
and the heavens and the earth shall shake:
but the LORD will be the hope of his people,
and the strength of the children of Israel.
Joel 3:16

What joy it is to count Narnia as my Homeland, and Aslan my King Who roars.

Once a king or queen of Narnia,
always a king or queen.
May your wisdom grace us until the stars
rain down from the heavens.
Aslan, from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

It never hurts to remember ...

1.       You shall have no other gods before me.
2.      You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
3.      You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 
4.      Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
5.      Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
6.      You shall not murder.
7.      You shall not commit adultery. 
8.     You shall not steal.
9.      You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”