Wild Clover and Laundry on the Clothesline {It is Evening}

It’s summer and on the Saskatchewan prairie that generally means hot sun and temperatures above my pay grade. I don’t do well in the heat. I’m like a wilted flower. Lazy, listless and lethargic.  We don’t have a pool or even a lake very close by. The A/C is running, the blinds are drawn.  We open the door only if necessary and even the dogs are begging to come in and lay on the cool tile floor. But the sun brings generous gifts: green grass, blue skies, thunderstorms occasionally and magnificent sunsets. The evening is my favourite time. I feel alive. I am energized.  And I am beckoned outdoors and this is my sanctuary.  God’s holy tabernacle of praise.  Meadow Salsify lifts its seeded head towards the sun.  The various flowers and grasses gently sway to the rhythm of the crickets and frogs’  evening song.  The fragrance is intoxicating and I want to bottle it up and save it for those cold, rainy October days that are bound to come. Evening. My soul is alive.

Psalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

 

When you don’t feel it~ Praise Anyways

I’m feeling grouchy tonight.  I’ve been trying to figure a way to get myself out of this mood. Being miserable doesn’t achieve anything but more misery.  When I don’t know what to do, I go to the Word.  Even when it doesn’t tell me exactly what I want to hear it still gives me the answers I need.

In the Bible, the Israelites wandered a long time before they got HOME.  I feel their pain. I feel like I’ve been wandering in a desert for a long time and HOME always seems to be just out of reach.  David, as King, decreed that the people should worship and PRAISE as they brought the  Ark of the Covenant to its new HOME in the Temple in Jerusalem.  It’s a wonderful passage to read.  You can almost hear the cymbals and trumpets playing, the drums beating, the voices rising.  It is a symphony of PRAISE to the Lord.   As I read it tonight, I was drawn to one small portion:

1 Chronicles 16:

31Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing,
let them sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

 

And I realized….I haven’t been watchful of God’s creation around me lately. Usually I am intent upon noticing every detail in the changing seasons and photographing them(to seemingly no end).  But I haven’t been doing that lately.  And  I miss it.

“Let the heavens rejoice”

“let the fields be jubilant”

 

“Let the trees of the forest sing”

his love endures forever. “

Sometimes, I just need to be reminded.

 

 

It is Evening

Something about evening calls to me.  I cannot explain it but I am rejuvenated after 8 p.m. After a long , hot day~ there’s a cool quietness in the air. It’s calming.

I went out into the yard this evening to mow.  I love mowing, especially in the evening.  Cutting down all those weedy heads that stick out like bothersome pests. Our yard is nothing special~ not really a lawn but rather a matted mess of weeds and quack grass.  Not very soft under the feet or inviting.  Except after a mowing. In those moments, the lawn becomes an inviting, dreamy carpet.

The sun was setting, I hurried to finish my chores before it was too dark.  But pausing along the way~ I notice the glow of the sun against turning leaves.  The sunflowers too, are not so vibrant but bowing their heads~ as if in earnest prayer.  I am reminded: it is in these secret places of my yard that i am compelled to pray too.  Thankful for a loud motor, I hold nothing back. I call out to my Maker~ my evening Companion.  I ask for his mercies on my kids, my husband and our future.  I proclaim thanksgiving and anxiety in the same breath~ not unlike these flowers dying and living on the same stalk.

Revealed in evening’s soft light this humble yard becomes my sanctuary.  These trees and flowers:a congregation of praise.

I love evenings!

Psalm 55:6But I call to God,
and the LORD will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
   I utter my complaint and moan,
   and he hears my voice.

40 and Lilies in the Woodlands

It has been just over 7 weeks since I last posted here. It wasn’t intentional, just something that happened. It’s been sort of a busy summer in some ways and in other ways very uneventful.  Last week I was thinking it would be time to blog again but what would my first post be about? There’s many things that have happened in the world, many ideas that have come across my desk and many conversations that have peaked my interest.  But writing has not come so easy. I decided that 40 would be my topic.  Why? Because this summer, that is the threshold that I crossed.  Yes, I am now in the over-40 club! Wow! It really sort of snuck up on me.  No fanfare, no party , no real celebrating other than a quiet little cake festivity with my husband and kids.  And so, I decided to mark this historic event by dedicating this post to the number FOUR-O.  And as I just looked at the calendar, it has been exactly 40 days since my birthday. How’s that for timing? Or maybe it’s God’s way of sending me a message.

As I was looking for examples of 40 in the Bible I saw a pattern.  It isn’t the first time I noticed it but tonight it has a clear significance for me.   Noah and his family endured 40 days of rain in the ark.  Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days two different times.  Jonah warned the city of Nineveh that they had 40 days to turn from their wickedness in order to escape God’s wrath.  Goliath came out to challenge the Israelites 40 days before he faced David.   The Israelites roamed the wilderness for 40 years before getting to the promised land. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.  He then was seen on the earth for 40 days following his death and resurrection before he ascended into Heaven.

There are more examples but here’s what I noticed:   The 40 days or years always preceded something great.  David killed Goliath in one shot of a stone.  Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments.  Jesus revealed WHO He really was. Jonah and his family were saved got a chance to start over fresh.

I have no idea why God has chosen us to be where we are right now at this time.  But I do know that He has brought me through 40 years of struggles, triumphs, tears, joys, sorrows, mercy and grace overflowing.  I do know that He has a plan even though I don’t know what it is.  I do know that He will redeem all of the negative things I’ve done and said and been through in order that His glory will be revealed.  This I know.

We are here…in the wilderness. And for the past 40 days I’ve been waiting for God to DO SOMETHING.  We have 2 houses up for sale and for the past several months we have been a week or two away from defaulting on a mortgage payment, loans, credit, etc….and yet, here we are, months later and we have not missed one payment.  I don’t know how. I really don’t.  My husband only started working last week and we haven’t received one paycheque yet.  But God has provided .  He has miraculously made sure we’ve had gas in the tank for countless trips to the city as we looked for work and a house.  We have had food on the table and we have paid our bills. We’re still behind on many payments and by no means are we out of the woods…but HE has given us lilies in the woodlands.

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you,even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This passage stirred within me 6 weeks ago as I was driving to pick up my kids from camp.  I had to drive very close to the area where I grew up and I always enjoy so much seeing  the dense forests.  When my sisters and I were very young we lived with the woodlands right outside our door. We spent hours a day roaming through the trees, creating our secret hideaways and houses, sunlight filtering through and causing all sorts of shadows.  Some people find it creepy and scary but we thrived on the mysteries within those forests.  And each summer we looked forward to seeing the forest floor covered in Tiger Lilies.  Beautiful and perfect these orange beauties would sprout up all over the place….in a place where few eyes would even see them God had lovingly crafted each one and placed them in the darkness and shadows……for who? I often have wondered who they are for.  Why would God hide them? But he hasn’t .  In his word He clearly tells us that he lavishes His creation with beauty and clothing and so how much more will He then clothe us?   I just think it’s the perfect picture of my life.  Even in the shadows and the woodlands, He gives me lilies….the gifts and the joys in each day.  

These days are sometimes hard.  The unknown is always a bit scary and uncomfortable but I have learned….am learning…that HE has not forgotten me.  He’s giving me lilies ~ beautiful gifts, provision, clothing, food, comfort~ even in the shadows of my circumstances.

Thank you Lord for the lilies…and these 40 days of seeing your hand move and provide.

And as I drove………..I saw the lilies….

Happiness isn’t expensive

Google happiness and see what comes up.  Everything from books, DVDs, websites and counselors. Apparently our world can’t get enough of how to be happy.  Oprah, in her prime, often talked about that feeling of “true happiness and fulfillment” where you are at peace and content with yourself and your life.  A lot of it centered around self-visualization, self-discipline and self-enlightenment.  Quite honestly I find most of that to be a bunch of bunk.   The idea that getting your life in order will somehow propel you to utter peace and contentment is silly and near-sighted. Not to mention self-serving.  Let’s face it: life isn’t perfect, it won’t be and it certainly isn’t void of stresses and failures.  And not only that but I find it really disturbing how much time and effort people spend on bettering themselves to somehow become happier people.  The weight loss program epidemic~TV shows, books and an entire industry~ are proof positive that you have to do something to your body to be happy.

Even the Home and Garden Network portrays elaborate lifestyles that we all love to drool over.  “If only I could have a house like that , I’d be happy.”  Bigger houses, newer furniture, better TVs, fancier vehicles, nicer dishes, matching bedding, $500 end tables, more square footage, gold-plated cutlery, clocks, shelves, desks and more!!! When will it be enough?  Never.

And then there’s vacations.  Every year, more and more Canadians are flocking to warmer climates. We simply cannot be happy in our four-seasons even though we lived here our entire lives.  In the winter we have to go someplace warmer, in the spring we have to go to Disneyland, in the summer we need an adventure or two and in the fall we have to just get away from it all.  Sound familiar?  We all know people who frequent Mexico, Vegas, Florida and California.  It makes them happy~ right?  They’re happier when they go away but sadly, not so happy to come home. :(

Contentment is what we’re lacking.  Gratitude. Not happiness.  Appreciating that which we already possess and being thankful for what we already are experiencing is the true path to happiness.  As I was pondering this the other day I started to make a mental list of those things that make me happy.  You know, the stuff that puts a smile on your face and makes you *sigh* out loud.  Here’s a few of the things that I came up with(and none of them require weight loss , a plane ticket or a big bank account….thankfully!)

1. Bubble bath at midnight

2. Watching a sunset

3. Cheesecake(oh ya baby)

4. Storm clouds brewing

5. playing the piano when no one is home

6. watching a baby sleep

7. campfires

8. letters from sponsor kids

9. a phone call from a friend

10. Rollkuchen and Watermelon for supper(mmmmmmmm)

11. Sleeping in.

12. family reunions

13. reading the Psalms when life seems hard(it’s never quite as bad as when David writes about his life)

14.Picnic by the river

15. Sleigh ride

16. Christmas dinner

17. Fall leaves and warm sun

18. Standing in the summer rain

19. A juicy peach

20. Freshly painted toenails

21.conversations with a 3 year old

22. Scrapbooking with a friend

23. Holding my husband’s hand

24. Singing a hymn in 4 part harmony

25. thinking of Heaven.

I could go on….and on….

Try it. You’d be surprised and what REALLY makes you happy.

Thoughts for today…

Do you ever notice how the best seasons are the shortest? Why is that? Why do lilacs and apple blossoms last barely 10 days? They’re beautiful~ really, they’re amazing if you look at them up close.   I have one little pink blossom tree in my yard.  Every day I go out and stand there and look at it.  I know that one day soon the blossoms will fall and it will be green only for the rest of the summer.   The fragrance is amazing..I wish I could photograph that! 

And then there’s fall. Warm sunshine, cool breezes, 1000 different colors of leaves and foliage. Blue skies and migrating geese.  It only lasts a few short weeks and then it’s gone.

Babies…..oh babies…..they don’t stay little very long.  I had a dream about a baby last night. I could almost smell that fresh baby scent, soft, chubby skin and precious sleepy eyes.  They grow so fast.  It seems so unfair to have such a cute little being, so helpless and needy for such a short time.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in the shortness of the best days.  We long for more.  Like a vacation that fills your days with joy and rest, you just can’t imagine going home to “regular” life.  But I always tell my kids: it’s so much better to go home when you still LOVE your vacation than to wait until you’re SO ready to go home.  Because the memories are sweeter.

Isn’t that the way it is? We long for springtime blossoms, warm fall days in piles of leaves, Christmas morning and wedding days…our heart and mind crave them.  We desire them because we have learned to appreciate them.

 Sometimes, the shorter the moment of joy, the greater the JOY moment is. 

Today, I challenge you to find the blossoms.  Cuddle the baby.  Enjoy the fresh baked bread.  Smile at the neighbour on her porch. Watch the sunset. Stare at your daughter or son. Hold your husband’s hand.

These are the short, sweet moments of joy…and they are fleeting.