Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Barrel of Memories

Every time I walk past the  potato barrel, a memory flits across my mind making me smile. I wasn't smiling on the day the memory was made. 

Newly married and barely 18 years old, I felt a need to prove myself, a city girl in a farm family. On the particular day in memory, I set out with my sister-in-law to work in the potato house, bagging potatoes. I jumped at the chance to drive when Judy offered. Inexperience and a sharp corner became the scene for my first embarrassing moment that morning. I plowed her green car into a local's yard instead of making the corner. No harm done, except to my ego, we managed to get to work on time.

Everything went fairly well until my father-in-law asked me to roll the barrel of potatoes off to the side. Judy worked as well as any man so he took it for granted I could too. Barely 5 feet tall and 105 pounds, I fastened my gloved hands on the rim and attempted to roll it away. You guessed it. A barrel full of potato seconds ended up on the floor.

How humiliating! For years to come, I winced every time I thought of it.

Only now, decades later am I able to laugh at my disastrous introduction to farming. Now I recall my father-in-law's precious smile and gentle ways whenever I look at the barrel. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Snow on Sunflowers

"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?" Job 38:22

Waking up to the first snow in October usually makes me want to pull the covers over my head. Today I donned my robe and grabbed my camera. I am working on a photo project and snow on sunflowers works for me!

The air was fresh and clean as if washed by white crystals. I snapped several photos before slipping reluctantly inside for my morning tea. 

Taking my tea and toast into my office where I meet daily with the Lord, I opened my Bible to Job. What a surprise to learn there are actually storehouses for snow in heaven!

I love it when God changes my heart and mind to see things from His point of view. I could have visited Facebook and grumbled with a dozen or so people who I know are doing just that today. Instead here I am delighting in the photos I snapped in early hours.

The Lord has been shifting several of my perspectives lately. You may recall the other day when I poured out my heart about the election. Since then God has done a work and I plan to cast my vote by faith, with peace on November 8. Here's a link to one of the tools he used-

I learned so much by watching the whole of part 1.  I plan to return to part 2. This wasn't the only tool that God used but very informative.

No matter who I vote for in the coming election, my mind is fixed on the promises of Isaiah 9, knowing the true government of my life is upon the shoulders of Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Thanks for tolerating my ramblings, the journey through my thoughts these days.

What does the end of October look like where you live? I'd love to hear from you. Reply in comments or email. You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter as artsyfaithchic. Hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Heartbeat of the Season

Nearing the the end of autumn here in northern Maine, a few  straggling plants have been pruned and  remaining planters, chairs, and hoses gathered and stored for the winter.  Sunflowers stand stark beside the bird feeder  in an otherwise empty yard. The birds love the sunflower seeds almost as much as the birdseed.

Tamarack trees transition from green to yellow. Hubby always says when they drop all their needles, winter is here and we can expect the first snowfall anytime.

Breezes blow raw, chilling the bones with an occasional warm afternoon heated by the sun. My days of walking outside have come to an end. 

My inner rhythms shift slowly. My brain struggles to catch up or gear down. Several projects call out to me. There's the cabinet I wanted to restore, painting in my bedroom I've thought about for three years and now the trim around new windows needs staining. 

Yet I sink into a chair by the heater and read a book. Guilt plagues me but I push it away, reminding myself how important caring for me is. I want to follow the rhythms of my body and soul rather than the to-do list, which screams out, "Christmas is only two months away."

I drove to the gym in the dark this morning, rain gently falling upon a few glorious leaves hanging on to their branches. From their I went to my massage therapist who is working diligently on my problem left shoulder. 
As I lay upon her table feeling the pain and tension in my neck and shoulders, I know I must continue to find ways to relax and release the things weighing upon my mind. Like the tamarack tree, letting go is a part of the transitions of seasons. 

My OLW (one little word) for 2016 is shed. Nine weeks remain. Next to"open," which was my word for two year, shed has been perhaps the most meaningful. 

As an English major, I learned the importance of writing with a sense of place and how it affects the characters and the story. My sense of place grows deeper with each passing year of my story. The heart of each season connects with my soul, beating a rhythm filled with guidance, if I will but listen.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Which Way is Up?

Have you ever used a pair of binoculars and you couldn't get them to focus? You may have felt a little dizzy or frustrated after trying. 

If you are like me, as a Christian wading through the months and weeks of pre-election coverage, you may feel frustrated and out of balance. (I chose not to watch the debate last night.)

The media wants to be our binoculars, attempting to focus our attention on all the gory details of this election and its candidates. I have struggled throughout the entire process. 

This month God has been calling me into stillness, out from the widening circles of life, which often draw me away. He is instructing me to draw the boundary lines of my life circle smaller, closer to Him.

Lean back into Jesus and breathe.

Last night NBC News had a brief report at the end of their broadcast where they interviewed children about the election. I felt a shift in my spirit while watching, validating my struggle.

Confused and fearful students had been taught to respect each other, to respect authority, and to always tell the truth. Now they are watching the candidates for the next president of the United States break all those rules. 

They were also taught that bullying is definitely unacceptable. Here we are with a candidate who holds "bullying with words" in his daily repertoire. No wonder they are confused. So am I.

At least I was.

This morning as I drew near to the Lord and began to pray for our nation, my focus shifted to the Kingdom of God. I lay aside the binoculars of the media and the filters of Christian people I respect who say vote for platform. I picked up God's word, leaned back into his arms and felt a tiny bit of his heartbeat. 

Tears filled my eyes as a longing for the Gospel stirred in my heart. 

I want to see your glory cover our country Lord. I want our hearts to love you, to love each other, to be kind. I want us to return to values instilled in the very soil of this land, when our Founding Fathers dropped to their knees in worship and prayer, before making decisions they knew would affect nations.

I want to focus on your kingdom.

Matthew tells us that God takes care of the smallest sparrow, so we need not worry because he will take care of his children.

"But as many as received Him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." John 1:12 KJV

This was the first Bible verse I memorized over 30 years ago when I made a decision to believe in Jesus Christ and surrender my life to Him.

Surrender has been the pathway to peace for me.

In God's Kingdom, the way up is down.

Help me to keep my focus on Your ways, Lord.

I don't know what I will do on November 8 but I do know how I intend to live every single day of the rest of my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Trees, Testing and Trust

Autumn dressed in her finest colors this year. Absolutely stunning! I went out one afternoon for a photo shoot, only to discover a glitch in each of my pictures after downloading them. It seems I had something on my lens. Frustration threatened to wipe out my joy until I let go of my need for perfection. Nature had given me a gift, for which I was grateful.

The past two weeks I've been reminded how much I love being home. The Amish came and replaced our old porch with a new deck and two new windows, opening up our home to abundant light. I weeded out a few things in the room where they were working, including a bookshelf. I filled three bags and headed to one of the local thrift shops. 

We closed our camper a week ago today, lugging totes home full of food, bathroom essentials and bedding. I spent a whole day making space for all the stuff! 

Yesterday we met our daughter halfway and brought our granddaughter home with us for a few days. Our home transformed into castles and princesses and fun.

I love fall.

In the midst of ordinary living, I've experienced moments of God's presence breaking through, but for the most part, he's been speaking quietly through his word or the books I am reading each day. I've had a sense he's been preparing me for a season of testing. The tests haven't been anything traumatic, but personal and sometimes hard.

Today my reading landed in Proverbs 3:5-6, mainly on the words, "don't lean on your own understanding." 

This is the season I am walking through. 

 I really thought I made a good choice. I don't understand Lord.

Of all places, why would he choose there? I don't understand Lord.

I thought this was a done deal. I don't understand Lord.

I am so disappointed. I don't understand Lord.

Dont lean on your own understanding.

I need to lean away from my perception right now and lean into quietness, into His knowing even when I don't.

Halfway through October, I am grateful for my home, the beauty, the everydayness, and the bigness of my God who sees the end from the beginning.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stepping Gently

In some ways, I welcome October. September was a rough month. 

If you read my last post, things didn't get any better. My mom landed in the ER twice. My daughter had surgery and I came down with a fierce cold (which I'm still fighting) so I couldn't help her at all. 

I knew the joy I'd gained in the summer months was tender and vulnerable, so fresh and new. I didn't want to lose my joy, so I found my self grasping with both hands and trying to hold on. 

Rest is found in the letting go.

Yesterday in Journal Club, Jamie gave us two questions to write about. 

"What is it time for me to release?"

I knew it was time to let go of summer and all its joy, with gratitude.

"What is it time for me to begin?"

This was harder. I listened. I knew I needed room to breathe. Even my body was sending this message.

Words whispered in my spirit.

Embrace your life, finding the quiet spaces where they are. No fighting for them, just moving into them.

 I step gently into October. 

My eyes rest upon the scripture I found yesterday.

"I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me." Psalm 16:7 NLT

In the night seasons, my heart will instruct me.

Help me to step gently and listen to the whispers.