See the sky and hills!

See the sky and hills!
In Quiet Moments Here

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What a Friend

Someone posted on Facebook, "God doesn't have a blackberry or an iPhone, but He is my favorite contact. He doesn't have Facebook, but He is my best friend. He doesn't have Twitter, but I follow Him, and He doesn't have internet, but I am connected to Him. " 

Not everyone notices it, but God actually is the easiest friend to contact.  In spite of all the wonderful new worship music being sung these days, I still cling to a few old hymns.  One of my favorites is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus".  However, rather than just taking it for granted, I keep thinking of these words from the song: "O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer".

That's my problem; I keep forgetting that I don't need to handle situations on my own. 
I do believe God is even closer than a telephone call away, but He waits for our call.

Time Flash

Husband & I decided this was a "not too busy" week, thus a good week for a garage sale.  I had threatened to try to sell the whole garage, or just all its contents "as is" (Husband is rather a collector), but he decided it was a good time to get it cleaned up.  This has been the busiest "not too busy week" I can remember for a very long time.  Now, the sale is just 6 hours away, and I am sleepless.  If a woman can get that excited about having a garage sale, I wonder what would happen if she went to someone else's sale--or just went shopping in a regular store!  Lightheartedness aside, it just comes as a reminder that our plans are not always God's plans, and left to plan our own time, we can get really messed up.  Asking God to bless my plans seems to happen much more often than asking what His plan for me is on any particular day.  I'm so glad that my Creator has not stopped creating me; I definitely know there's room for improvement.

I had a doctor appointment this week, and I was apologizing to my doc for my lack of "doing" what I am already "knowing to do".  He kindly said that sometimes we just need another reminder, another person telling us what we need to do, or someone saying it in just a different way.  I think that's the way it is in talking to God; He's gentle, yet persistent with His reminders, and seems to always have another new way to teach me what I need to learn.  Sometimes I feel that I am a very slow learner regarding these Heavenly lessons, but The Comforter has come, and He's also a very good teacher/tutor.  Yes, I will learn what I need to know for the next step in life, but maybe not a moment too soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Be Ready

Never do I have nothing to write about; it's always a difficult decision to know what NOT to write.  Some thoughts are worth sharing, some are not.  Permit me to share where my mind was today.

This morning during our church service, we were reading the familiar Psalm 23.  The words "When I walk through the valley of shadow & death" brought me back instantly to the hospital room of Karine, the daughter I still miss so much.  In her last few days, it was a deep valley, full of shadows, yet she knew where she was going.  "Am I still here?" she asked several times. She was ready.  As tears kept escaping my eyes this morning, I had a clear-as-a-bell thought, "I'm ready too; I want to go".  It startled me with its clarity.  The church service changed its emphasis, and my thoughts were drawn to other things. 

Once at home, my mind went back, and then I remembered this: I have many things to do; God's not ready to have me come yet; I had better get busy!  I believe that Heaven has many great experiences for us, joys that will never end.  Yet, God has promised His blessings on what we do here, if we're living in obedience to Him.  My wandering thoughts brought me to Heaven and back; I think I'm ready for a Monday morning and a fresh new week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just Let Go

Inspiration comes from many places, but I have found that music speaks to me more often than anything else.  When I was on my own, living alone for the first time in my life, many times I was so fearful, and felt so broken, yet music could soothe my spirit and renew my strength.  It's not just the tune, though I appreciate many styles, but it's the lyrics that reach through to grab my attention.

I've recently become familiar with a musical trio going by the name of "Barlow Girl".  They reached me today with the following lyrics:

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown,
When all along You've shown
Your plans are better than my own?

This week has been a whirlwind of making plans, having those plans change, trying to adjust, and then having those plans change again.  This morning I was in the middle of a very challenging dilemma, and I actually prayed.  (I do that far less than I know I should.)

In just a few hours, God answered in a way that I would not have expected, so there's peace in my household, and in my heart, once again.  Why, oh why, should I be surprised!  Way too often, I try to figure things out on my own, until I get to the point where I just can't do it, at which point, I ask God for help.  Such foolishness! Why not let go much sooner, to even out all those bumps in my life?  In the same song, Barlow Girl says, "And I know I won't make it if I do this all alone".  That's my reminder for today, that I don't need to do it all alone.  The Creator of the universe, the Creator of me, is eagerly waiting for me to call.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dead End

Today my husband and I took the afternoon off; we headed north to Cornucopia, the home of the northernmost post office in the state of Wisconsin, and also the home of awesome sand beaches on Lake Superior.  We went off the paved highways part of the time, and sometimes found we were going in circles.  Several times we decided not to go down particular roads because there was a sign posted saying "Dead End".  After some time spent on the beach and some time investigating various areas with the car, we finally went back to the highways that connected to others that would take us home again.

After seeing about a half-dozen "Dead End" signs, I started thinking.  Car trips are good for that!  So often, if you are at all like me, we go on life excursions that really get us nowhere; they are just dead ended.  Other times we spend time going in circles and getting nowhere.  It's good to remember that we have a road map for life in the Bible, and we have the perfect guide in the Holy Spirit.  I'm happy to be able to avoid some of the dead ends in my life.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I don't walk a tightrope, or even try walking on a fence or a log, but my word for today is "balance".  Specifically, right now, I've been trying to balance my checkbook.  All the numbers in my records are supposed to match the ones that my bank says represent the money that has come in and gone out of my account.

I'm tired.  Of course, that may be because I was up last night until about 2 a.m. and I still got up this morning about 7:30.  That seems a foolish thing to do without a very good reason, and that good reason I did not have.  I just felt like doing it.  Oh, how many things I "feel like" doing, and have to pay the conseqences later!  Eating too much and exercising too much are the things that come to mind right now. 

If I actually was going to walk a tightrope, I suppose an important requirement would be to pay close attention to what I was doing.  For balance in any part of life, do you think a requirement might be the same?  If we pay close attention to every action and/or decision, balance wouldn't be so difficult to achieve!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I'm going outside soon to prune my tomato plants.  The tomato garden resembles a jungle right now, and I know I planted too many, too close together.  However, I have learned that the actual tomato fruit will do better if I prune (cut out) some of those lush leaves and branches.

I'm thinking, too, of pruning my possessions.  It seems that I am finally realizing that my house is not too small, but that I have too many things in it.  A garage sale is in the works before the summer is over!  I just have to make sure that my husband doesn't have his way with what I consider "my" stuff.

Did you know that God is in the pruning business too? I'm not sure if I'm ready to have Him prune things out of my life even though it's probably necessary in order for me to bear better fruit.  It might hurt. Just as I don't want my husband to have his way with "my" stuff, I don't want God to have His way with "my" stuff either.  This attitude is something I'll have to work on.  As a visiting missionary once told me, if you are not willing to have God do something in your life, ask Him to make you willing.  If you're not willing to ask Him to make you willing, then ask Him to make you willing to be willing--or willing to be willing to be willing to be willing.  You get the idea.  I guess I'll have to start where I am.  How many "willings" do you have to ask for?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

While They are Here

This past Saturday, my sister Jeannie was honored by a celebration of her cancer-free status after vigorously fighting it for 2 1/2 years.  When I first heard it was planned, I felt moderately happy for her even though I was radically happy that her last medical report showed no cancer anywhere in her body.  I toyed with the idea of attending, but it was a 3-hour drive away, and I thought it just wouldn't fit in our necessary plans for that week-end.  When it was just a few days before the event, I began to seriously consider it; my siblings and many of their children and grandchildren were attending, and I questioned "why not me?"  As it came time, my husband and I did attend, and I realized why it was so important.

In past years, most of our family came together because of a death of one of our family members. In our grief, our conversations were limited and tears were flowing. Now we could come together because of a life!  

Jeannie is not only a precious member of our family, but she is a very special person in her community as well.  We were astounded at the number of people who came to celebrate with her.  It was so exciting!   On a hot summer Saturday afternoon, people who knew Jeannie gave up any other plans to spend time in a crowd that was honoring her, honoring her while she was very much alive, instead of waiting until someday when she may be gone.  
Who are the people in your life that you will mourn upon their death?  Besides your family and close friends, do you know of someone in your community that is making a positive impact on others?  Is it a grocery store clerk who always has a smile and a kind word for customers?  Is it a member of the police force or emergency team?  Is it a teacher or minister? Is it a military member?

Do not wait!  Tell them now, with a spoken "thank you", a letter of appreciation, or a direct smile.  Spend time with people you love.  Love is really an action, although we treat it as an emotion, so exercise that love.  Do something positive and helpful for special people; make them feel special.  Have fun with someone.  Have a serious conversation with a sister, brother, or member of the younger generation.  Ask your parent, if you still have one, what life was like growing up. 
Okay, I'm talking to myself here.  There's a song by Matthew West called My Own Little World: I've heard it many times lately, and one part keeps running through my mind:

What if there’s a bigger picture?

What if I’m missing out?

What if there’s a greater purpose

I could be living right now

Outside my own little world?

I personally have been living a life of  very limited love; my life's purpose has mostly been sitting on the back burner.  I've not been comfortable putting out more effort, and "being comfortable" seems to have been selfishly elevated to a necessity.   Most of my hours have been spent just trying to handle my own little world, but  I'm ready to expand. 

The celebration for Jeannie has awakened my desire to be part of a bigger picture.  Thank you Jeannie for all your effort to stay with us!  Thank you Jeannie's friends for making the effort to celebrate a major achievement--Jeannie is still with us!  

Let us celebrate, every day, every person, while they are still here!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


So often we compare times of our life as "sunny days" or "in the shadows", comparing the shadows, of course, to the times of sadness or difficulty.  We also use a descriptive phrase "a shadowy character" for someone unpleasant or untrustworthy; the person with evil intent is often "lurking in the shadows" in a scary story.  Perhaps the idea started centuries ago, as the Biblical Psalm 23 speaks of the "shadow of death".
However, does the shadow really deserve such a poor reputation?  I think it serves a purpose. In our normally cool climate, we have recently had some days with a very hot sun, and I have longed for a few clouds to give their shelter. 
Today, I've been waiting a bit longer before I go out to check on my garden.  Therefore, I spent some time this afternoon catching up with email and Facebook, after being away for 2 days.  One friend consistently posts thought-provoking quotes, and with thanks to Nancy, I want to share one here:
"Worry gives a small thing a big shadow."

- Swedish proverb
Do you remember as a child how it seemed so strange that your shadow was so much taller than your actual body, how the shadow of your house made it seem you had a skyscraper for a home?  It's not a big leap then to apply that proverb to a habit you may have, and I know I've spoiled more than a few days with--worry.  So then, let's apply this proverb to our own lives, and not waste any time thinking about any difficult thing that isn't happening right now. This moment, choose to be happy, to be mindful of the good in your world.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Acute Awareness

It hurts.  Some things are so wonderful that I can hardly stand to see them or think about them.  Some things are too painful for expression.  A dear friend once asked me, "Oh, Jan, why do we have to have these emotions anyway?"  This was after we were just in the middle of a good cry together.  Did you notice I said "good" cry?  I reminded her, she of the tender heart, that she would not be herself if she couldn't care so deeply about so many things, if she couldn't love the way she loves.  Yes, it is true that unbridled emotions lead to trouble for so many people.  I wish it wasn't so.  Yet, to see a dew-tipped rose bud, a baby's smile, a sunset or rainbow or starry sky bring such pleasure that we could not deny ourselves the ability to notice them.  A dear one with cancer, a loved one who dies too soon, a picture of a starving child or an abused animal are painful to see and experience, but we would not be fully human if we were not moved by such happenings.  Yesterday on a trip into town, I noticed houses.  Have you ever noticed the variety of homes in most cities?  Who lives in all these places?  A beautifully painted stately 19th century home with a manicured lawn, or a run-down rental unit with one flower in one pot on a step--what do they say about the people who live there?  Farther than my curiosity could even take me, I did realize, God loves all of those people.  Shouldn't I also?  A popular Christian song has the words, "Give me a heart like yours."  Am I, are you, brave enough to ask for that?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blessed by Beauty

I was outside late again tonight and was able to view the most awesome sunset that seemed to go on and on.  Last evening, just before sunset, the cloud formations were so incredibly beautiful, and sadly, I didn't have my camera with me.  The night before, July 4, we watched the city fireworks right from our backyard, as we were sitting by a campfire; when that ended, the stars were spectacular.  I often wonder why I am so blessed by beauty.  The author Scott Peck began one of his books with the words, "Life is not fair."  I have occasionally felt it wasn't fair to me, but through most of my life, I have had the best. I can do very little for the poor locked into city tenements or African villages without even clean water.  Nor can I cure cancer or heal crippled children.  I don't have the ability to employ the unemployed or end the wars or solve any of the world's big problems.  However, what I can do, I must do.  Above all, let none of us take our blessings for granted!  Today, I choose to be thankful.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Run Well

"Run well the race that is set before you."  This is a quote used by athletes and coaches, by preachers, teachers, and commencement speakers.  Why?   I certainly am not an athlete, but I've learned a few things from son, who is.  He is the runner in the picture above; his physique was chiseled not only from running, but also from biking, swimming, mountain climbing, skiing, and general training in our country's Marine Corps where he now has the rank of Captain.  These days, he often has more to teach me than I have to teach him.  I've learned that it sometimes helps to read about running, but that reading about it isn't going to help very much.  I've learned that running a race doesn't mean you just start running on race day; you prepare with healthy habits and training nearly every day.  I've also learned that you have to know where the finish line is, and the best way to get there.  It helps to learn the terrain, the expected weather conditions, how you will be judged, and what kind of competition you have.  And yet, some do not run to win first prize, but only to do their personal best.  Why do we talk about running?  Simply because running is life.  There's a beginning and an end, and as much as we can possibly control, we are responsible for what happens between that beginning and end.  Whether our life is 10 years or 100 years, it is "ours".  Do we know and do our "personal best"?  Running a  life is a big responsibility.  Let us run well, my friends.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


When I took this picture, I was only thinking of the beauty that exists right outside my front door.  In looking at it much later, I was awestruck by what a picture it is of life--so many things that we cannot see even when they are right in front of us.  For me, as for many of you, it is "a reason".  Oh, how often we wonder "why"!  As another holiday is upon us, I so much feel the loss of my daughter.  It's been 5 years since I lost her to cancer, and some days the pain feels as great as if it happened last week.  To me, a holiday = Karine, and I know I need to get through one more without her.  When we meet in heaven, the mists will have been taken away, and I will know the "why".  Until then, I can celebrate the family that I do have, and be always aware of what a blessing they all are.  We have so much to celebrate; let's do it well.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life Lessons

Why is it that there is so much good in the world, yet our news media and our own personal conversations tend to be focused on things that are bad, ugly?  My mom used to say, many, many times,  "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Of course it wasn't original to Mom, but it sticks in my mind because she said it.  My mom had so much wisdom to share, and even better, she lived what she talked.  The best thing I remember about my mom was her smile, and I marvel today how she could be happy no matter how she felt, and she could spread that happiness around.
Some friends & relatives posted this on their facebook page today, and it hit a strong note with me:
An old man once said,
 "There comes a time in your life
when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it.
You surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
Forget the bad, and focus on the good.
Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't.
Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Falling down is a part of life;
Getting back up is living."