See the sky and hills!

See the sky and hills!
In Quiet Moments Here

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Words don't come easy to describe the week that has passed.  It was so ordinary, and yet exceptional at the same time.  I look back and see troubled hours, tears, difficulty, and disappointments.  I look back and see victories, and joy, and beauty in many places. There have been many weeks that have disappeared into my history that I have not looked back and examined.  When that has happened, I think I have lost something.  Our personal histories are important to our future.

How would you describe your week?  Will you let it disappear into the past without looking back, without remembering the good times and the bad?  Your week, or month, or year, or entire life is witness to the strength you have found to survive and to go on.

Someone asked, just yesterday, how to have hope when circumstances of life seem hopeless, when pain is the predominant feeling, and when all your hours are under a cloud of despair or grief.  The answer, I believe, though it seems much too simple, is God.  When you take time to look back, you will know that God was there with you.  He may have taken some of your pain, or He may have let you go through it, but know this--He was there.

I have said times before that one of my favorite words is "through".  In my life, I have witnessed trouble and experienced trouble, but those troubles either are or will someday be in the past.  We have gotten through.  Because of that, we can know that whatever comes next, we will get through also.  If there is joy, embrace it, celebrate it.  If there is pain, we can embrace that also, because it will not last forever, and soon we will get through.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today my ambition regarding blogging seems to have decreased to the point where I wish it would be fair to do a rerun.  Some irregular readers probably wouldn't even notice--but I would, and it wouldn't be fair to me.  Writing is something I have always enjoyed, but it has never become habitual for me.  I enjoy routine, and I often work better under pressure.  That said, I have always had difficulty making my own routines, setting and meeting my own deadlines.

Believing that the ability to write is a gift God has given me, it has yet been a challenge to use that gift.  Beginning to blog has been a gift to myself, a way to give me more accountability in writing.  If anyone is helped or blessed by what I write, that is a bonus!

"Run with patience the race that is set before you," is how one translation of Hebrews 12:1 reads.  Another translation uses the work "perseverance" instead of "patience".  Yet another says "Run well..."  Comparing each slight difference to my way of running my life puts   "running" in better focus for me.  As it happens, I don't always run well, run with patience, or run with perseverance.  When I fail in my goals, I think it's time to start over, run again.  I guess you could say, that is  my rerun.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blessings in Abundance

Being in the midst of taking care of our garden produce (tomatoes and cucumbers), it seems like that would be abundance enough.  When some in our world have so little to eat, we never go hungry.

I went to visit my sis JoAnn in the hospital this week, and was excited to see her out of bed, doing therapy, and demanding (she is a bit anxious) that someone move her wheelchair to the outside courtyard and then to a roomy spot indoors when the rain caught us.  She is making progress much quicker than anyone expected.  When we pray for something to happen, why are we surprised when it does happen?

JoAnn (and all our family) received another blessing this week--JoAnn's first granddaughter was born, beautiful and healthy.  Steve and Annie already have 3 adorable little boys, and now they can get ready to spoil their little sister.  The miracle of birth heals our hearts in so many ways.

I am reminded that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . ." (James 1:17)  That reminds me also, to count those blessings, to set my mind on good things, and always to be thankful.

I'm sure you have blessings also, possibly ones that you have forgotten about.  Try counting them up, and be thankful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I was on my way to Bible study this afternoon, and had a flat tire.  While waiting for help, I started reading the chapter in the book that is our study guide, which I hadn't taken time to read all week.  While I didn't get to my group, reading even the beginning of this week's chapter proved quite valuable.  Last week we discussed anxiety, and I have had my share of that.  On contentment, which I began reading today, I'm a slow learner, so I hope I can get the remainder of the chapter read, and read over again, maybe a few times.  Contentment is the opposite of anxiety, it seems, and I had not thought of it in that way.

My feeling has been that contentment is the opposite of jealousy, or greed, or naturally, discontentment.  Sometimes, I've even thought that contentment wasn't all good, in that it could lead to a lack of ambition; a person too contented may never have a desire to change, even to improve.

The problem with my definitions and wandering around the meaning of the word is that I have been relying only on my own understanding, or lack of it.  If I had made it to my group today, and had revealed that last bit of information about myself, I'm sure someone would have (or should have) reminded me that the Bible says not to depend on my own understanding.  Well, I guess I learned that on my own, even though I forget all too often.

About contentment, the Apostle Paul must have been an expert.  He was in prison, in chains, and yet could say he had learned to be content.  The nice thing about that, for me, was that even Paul had to learn it.  There is hope for me then.  Today I learned that the word Paul used came from the Greek word (autarkes)  meaning " 'to be self-sufficient,' 'to be satisfied,' 'to have enough.' " (John Macarthur, Jr.,1993,  Anxiety Attacked)  Now that I have that straightened out, there is hope that I will begin to really understand what it means in my life.  In this same chapter, Macarthur goes on to remind his readers that Paul didn't leave us hanging helpless.  On the contrary, it would be impossible to be content in that deeper sense Paul speaks of unless we become aware of one truth: God is able to give us everything we need, therefore, with God, contentment is possible.  Without God, I would challenge anyone to tell me true and complete contentment is possible.

For myself, I try to do many things without God, but those are the things wherein I fail.  No matter how many times I need to be reminded, the fact remains, I need Him.  How about you?  Are you, like me, still trying to do way too many things on your own?  Just remember, it isn't necessary.  He's waiting for your call.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Work is Not Finished

On this 9/11, I still find my heart so heavy, and my words so few.  As many have said, "How do you describe what happened?"  Yet, grief and loss are not limited to what happened on that day.  We send our strong ones to war, and some never return.  Illness and accidents claim those we love and those we do not know, many times, each day, each hour.

I was particularly impressed with words said today by Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania Governor and first Secretary of Homeland Security.  He quoted a poem by Isla Paschal Richardson, which begins this way:
             If I should ever leave you whom I love
             To go along the Silent Way, grieve not,
             Nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk
             Of me as if I were beside you there.

Near the end, the poem says, "There are so many things I wanted still to do . . ." 
This is the line that really touched my heart, for I have witnessed similar words from those I loved before they went away.  My daughter, whose busy life was interrupted at only 34 years of age, told me, "You'll have to finish it for me, Mom." 

My heart gets examined once again, my deeds reviewed.  Grieving is necessary for a time, but grieving and recalling memories are not enough to honor them.

When some have gone, seemingly before their time, who will do the work they left unfinished?  Am I doing my part?  Am I fulfilling my mission, my purpose? Will you, too, examine your life?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


At the end of a very busy week, I wonder how I could have gotten more important things done.  After wondering that, I have to stop and ask myself, "What are the more important things?" 

This week, I had visitors; our adult children were visiting for a few days.  This wasn't in my plans, not written into my schedule, but it definitely was important.  It became an honor, my calling, to prepare food, clean up, and spend time talking with them and watching them interact with each other.  They refreshed my vision of how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful place, and how blessed I am to be able to share my corner of paradise.

What I have learned this week is that priorities can be adjusted.  While scheduling and acting in a proactive manner have great value, they are good only if they allow room for flexibility.  When situations change, we must willing adjust. 

Proverbs 16:9 tells us, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  I can give thanks this week that the Lord had plans for me that I had not anticipated.  His surprises are the best of all!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Procrastination, Progress, Patience, Persistance, & Pitfalls

Can you use all those words in one sentence?  I can certainly find them all in one day.  Putting things off until later happens with so many reasons (or excuses): too busy now, too tired, don't feel good, have to go somewhere . . .  So I try harder, and make a little bit of progress; it happened yesterday, and felt so good.  Later, my head said to do more, but my body said no; that tried my patience, and drove me to frustration and a few tears.  And here arises the pitfall, discouragement.  When things in life get discouraging, it is just too easy to quit for a while longer, to get angry, to do something else that will make me forget about the issue, and yes, to just cry.   All of these things are somewhat helpful though!

Think of a baby learning to walk.  That precious little one must have been given an abundant amount of patience and persistance as Baby tries, takes a step or two, then falls down (Bump!) and gets back up and tries again, repeatedly.

Yesterday I read a devotional that used a verse from the Psalms, "If they fall, it isn't fatal, for the Lord holds them with His hand".  Another translation says "Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand".  I like that.  Toddlers just learning to walk are much more secure with an adult holding on, and I think that I am, in many ways, still a toddler.  My Father holds my hand.  That's a very good thing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I have really dragged my feet on posting this week.  I was in Minnesota visiting my dad & uncle, and my sis in the hospital.  She is making progress, but of course everyone wants it to be faster, and complete healing will take a very long time.  It is so sad to see her suffer so much, but we are so very happy she is still with us.  Yesterday I tried catching up on things around the house, and took a wonderful, refreshing walk under our big sky, being in awe once again of the beauty only God can create.

Yesterday, and again this morning, my mood was dark and my emotions were fragile.  I knew I needed to be in church this morning, but it took all my resolve to get myself ready and get there.  Back in 1964, a song was written with the lyrics "Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord . . . "  It taught me a great lesson, that when I feel most empty, God can fill me again, but first, I have to offer myself to Him for filling.  Time and time again, I go along in my own strength, doing whatever I need or want to do, until my strength is gone.

When we are exhausted and overly stressed, black clouds seem to hover right around our heads, sometimes taking over our every thought and word.  The remedy often is simple rest, and nourishing food.  (Man or woman does not live by sugar and caffeine alone!)  Advertisers tempt us with food that really shouldn't be called food, leaving our appetites little room for protein, fruit, and vegetables. In the midst of our strong-willed determination to be and do all that we can be and do, we can so easily forget the basics.  Wisdom tells us what we need, but wisdom is often ignored.

Thankfully, God can also give us wisdom!  The New Testament writer James says, if we lack wisdom, we should ask God, who gives generously, without finding fault.  That's a big relief to me, since asking someone else for help often results in judgement, and even condemnation. 

The exchange of fullness for emptiness, in emotional and spiritual realms, doesn't necessarily come instantly, just as it doesn't when in need of physical food.  Therefore, it would be wise to prepare ahead of time, and to partake regularly, in order to avoid those times of complete emptiness.  Using ourselves up requires longer recovery.  I'm learning my lesson at this moment.  If you need the same, will you begin with me?