June Days

There is a freshness in the air today. Glowing greens and beautiful bloom where yesterday there were only buds.

Tradescantia

In the early mornings, This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations 3:21-24 NKJV

Times

Time.

The way we measure out life in minutes,hours, days, years.

Taking time and using it wisely and well.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:

I read that April was National Letter Writing Month, from Barb.  This took me back into my love for snail mail and I accepted the 30 day letter writing challenge.  30 days to think about relationships, to mark the days and honor those put on the path of my life. It was a time to remember events that brought people – unique and wonderful people – into my time.

writing

On the 15th of April, on FB, I read of the death of the Mother-in-Love of an old acquaintance. Over several months, Libby had briefly shared the illness, the frustration with medical care and finally, their decision to bring this lovely lady into their home until she passed into the arms of God.  Now it was time to write sympathy, condolence, a time to acknowledge a life well lived and loved.

I met Libby when we were young. She spoke highly of this lady through the years we shared an office and on every occasion before and after she married into that family.

A time to be born, and a time to die… a time to plant… a time to heal… a time to build up…

Iris

Death is never an easy thing to face. Whether long or short, a life is a great presence and its passing is loss that can make us fragile while it seems to expand our hearts.  Acknowledging the grace gift that is life is so important.

a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance;

spring bloom

I’ve mentioned that I’m reading Looking for Lovely. Annie Downs started her chapter, “Tragedy” with the text of Matthew 11:28-30 NIV,  and eventually drew me into Ecclesiastes*. She speaks a truth I’m learning, that only in Christ Jesus, can I find rest in the weary and burden and tragedy of life. Only if I look to Him, choose to come to Him in the pain and suffering. And that is not my usual response, my first response.

Like me, you are probably not a stranger to pain and suffering. No one wants to live in pain, sadness, loneliness, rejection, shame, war, tearing down, ripping apart… I want to  avoid it. Annie writes of this pain and tragedy and says, “I’m not sure I’ll find beauty in this. But the only way to truly see beauty, for my heart to grow in capacity and in ability to love and cherish, is through pain and heartache.”

Later, she continues, “I don’t know exactly how it works, I just know that the more I hang on and feel, the more I am able to feel; and each time more balm gets rubbed into the wounds of my soul.”  She finishes the chapter with these words, ” But there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending everything is okay.”

calla lily

The world is not comfortable with pain and often we are encouraged to ‘just get over it’, move, on, count your blessings. But the wise man said, there is a time to weep… a time to mourn…  And somehow in the mourning, in the weeping, there is a balm that is rubbed into the wound.

rain on the window

May 1, 2016. Sunny. Changing to sheeting rain, creating impressionist art outside my window. Reducing seed heads to earth stars.

dandelion star

May 1, 2016, checking FB updates in the afternoon, I found get well prayers for Libby. These were followed all too quickly by posts of grief at her death. Shock is not really an adequate word to express my state that evening.

Many old relationships just die a natural death, but some go on, changed, but connecting us to our history, our lifetime scrapbooks. She was one who knew me “then”; who was part of bridal and baby showers. We went to each other’s weddings. For Libby and I, our lives unfolded in different places and ways and we rarely took the time to meet although we promised in every Christmas update — next year!

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose;

Looking for the lovely, the good reports, the praiseworthy things**, I continued to read the FB updates.  I believe that the many seeds of goodness and love planted by this gracious woman will produce a harvest in the many lives she touched.

Dear Libby, you leave gaping spaces in the hearts of so many.  You will not be forgotten; your legacy will endure.  I’m so glad our lives touched.

white blooms of May

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-8   ** Philippians 4:8

Longings

Tim Willard in Longing for More, week 17, reflected on the mystery of beauty – it’s draw on our souls, the need to stop and see. I have found many writers who train my eyes, speak to my soul. My friend, Marta, challenges me the same way. Will I be still, will I allow myself to see, to rest in the seeing?

Twice in April, we were able to get away to the park. While the area we go to has a beach, it is the woodland that we enjoy. Each table really has a different view, almost a different plant environment.

park in AprilNot many people this Sunday, so the park is quiet with only occasional boat sounds from the river, bike tires whizzing by or the small birds that flit and do the original twitter. Bees buzz in blooms so small, I must bend low to look into the beauty. We are refreshed.

At the park week 2A week passes – we choose a different table. Fresh leaves shine green on some trees this clear day. On others, there are still buds of promise. Not so many wildflowers at this site. Here we have mosses and flowering trees and shrubs.  Mini suns – and a moon – explode from the ground nearby. dandylions

We picnic with hot soup and sandwiches then sit enjoying the last of our time here. I lean back to look up at the shining green against the clear blue. Sweet gum leaves like stars. Sweet GumThen looking beyond the canopy, I see them. Bald Eagles riding the currents, sky surfing!

bald eagle

This place is like a soul spa. A soaking, cleansing, refreshing place. A place displaying the beauty, mystery and wonder of Creator God.

Tim ended Week 17 with this prayer,  “Lord Jesus, I love how you unfold your truth in the mystery of your glory. Thank you for thinking of me enough to delight my sense with all that you are. ”             Amen!

 

 

 

The April Buzz

Like a bee let loose from hibernation — zigzagging from bloom to bloom — me.

And April seemed to go by in a blink!

We began the month in North Texas although we spent some of our hours deep in the German countryside — my brother is the engineer behind the multiple trains and detailed scenery.

trains

We enjoyed the warm days and our all-too-short visit.  These blooms are in his yard. I had never seen Passion Flowers before. They are amazing!  Tx garden flowers

On our way to the airport and home, we spent some lovely, quiet hours in the Israel Prayer Garden in Corinth, TX. I hope to post more about that stop.

Iris

Spring is a time to keep an eye on the weather. Frost. Storms. We knew that had been some storm violence but we didn’t see much evidence on the drive from the airport. It was a shock to round the bend on the driveway and come to a stop. A tree had fallen and the crown covered the driveway.

fallen treeThe next day, I realized that much of my outdoor spring cleaning would have to be done, again.  Our county has a brush recycling contractor — a blessing at the end of each truck load of pick-up and pruning. We were also blessed that your new lawn keeper came with a chain saw, took away firewood and left the driveway clean. I’m grateful for the stamina to do the work, however,  it has has been tiring leaving no energy for digging and refreshing the garden beds – my winter dreaming. And, if only I could record or keep my thoughts together, there would have been blog posts along the way, not just wishful thinking and coffee drinking!

writing

Late frost again nipped the new leaves on the hydrangeas and the bloom stalks of the Bleeding Heart. Time will tell if there will be bloom this year.

Indoors, the last stalk of Amaryllis bloom awaited our return from Texas. I had found an interesting article on caring for these amazing plants so I added to my normal regimen the advice to leave the spent stalk till it withered and faded. Another week or two and the plants can go outside for the summer.

Amaryllis collage

I had reserved Annie F. Downs’ new book, Looking for Lovely, at our library. She writes, ” I want us to learn to look for the lovely all around us and collect it, hold it close, and see how God drops beautiful things into our lives at just the right time to help us step forward on our own paths.”

Looking for Lovely This is such a timely read for me, I bought my own copy.  I had more experiences of loveliness in April, so – To be continued!

International Tatting Day (updated)

Tatting: Lace made by hand with fine thread and a small shuttle. I believe this piece came from the hands of my Grandmother Anna. I remember as a very small child standing by the side of her rocking chair as thread became beauty. It was a magical thing and I have never forgotten her beautiful hands with their long slender fingers, her wide gold wedding band and the tatted lace.  I think this might be where my love of thread began.

Anna's things The earrings were hers, always worn. The silver, a piece of hers as well. Small tokens can bring memories to life.

Update:  link to a past post with a photo of Anna and beloved August

I found a tatting shuttle in an antique store. It has a bit of thread attached.tatting

Easter Reflection

Easter blooom

Easter came and a few members of the family were able to gather with us for dinner. We ate well and talked long. Stories were told, travel adventure photos shown and messages shared from a distance. One from a long distance in time.

Since my Mom moved house in 1998, I have housed an old comforter made by her mother, Amelia.  I really can’t say why I’ve kept the old thing; it served no purpose. I decided to salvage the cover fabric. After dinner, I shared how I started to de-construct the blanket and saw the fine stitching and workmanship that set this utilitarian bed cover apart. This was the careful work of a skilled needlewoman, truly showing the Art of Work that she employed. I needed to share this glimpse of our Grandmother.

de-construction

My sister rose from the table and returned with a tote bag. She carefully unfolded a packet of tissue paper and unrolled history. Amelia came to the table then —  young, the Amelia we could never know.

 Amelia   My sister and I talked of trousseau and my niece asked – what is that? A truly foreign word to this modern career woman. We examined the fine fabric, the tatted lace, the exquisitely hand stitched French seams and fine hem, the embroidery of this camisole… like a fragile page from a young woman’s diary… hours spent stitching in her hopes and dreams for the future. camisole

And again I felt the ache rising, the missed opportunities , the un-offered opportunities to sit, to learn from this master needlewoman,

                              hidden in plain sight,

                                                     disguised as my grumpy grandmother.

 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

These words from 1 Corinthians 13:12 do not mean window glass, but today, they seem to reflect how we move through this earth, seeing, but not knowing what we see, how none of us is really known by another. I’m changing the stories I make up about Amelia and pray that someday, I will see her face to face and know her as I never did. I’ll know what made her laugh, what touched her heart with delight, which dreams came true, her favorite music…

I know I will like her.

Amaryllis

    snowdrops  daffidils

Both of these are Amaryllis, who knew! It’s all in the family and the reason they thrive here is that the Amaryllis family contains a lovely poison that deer and squirrels and rabbits can smell so they go off and eat something else!

Of course, I can’t let the season go without sharing my indoor Amaryllis family blooms.

   Amaryllis   Amaryllis

With several warm days, I began the spring cleaning. Not the house, but the “yard”.  I’m not sure if there is a standard definition of yard, but my body has always told me that this is something bigger. To keep it from overwhelming, I mentally divide the space into rooms, some large, some small usually depending on just how much there is to be done, picking up, pruning, raking, seeding, hauling in to recycling – four trips, so far.

Many years ago, I read a book which advocated starting at the front door and working clockwise through the house to declutter and clean. I apply that concept to the outdoors. Although I stared with the blueberry “room”, I’m now on track starting at the driveway and working clockwise, grateful to be out doing this work and enjoying the unusual warmth.

Along the way, I take note… Lenten roses are in bloom.

  Lenten rose

Hope you are enjoying your days and taking note of beauty.

Visits with an old friend

My writing here has been to try to share bits of life where comfort and joy touch me deeply. It’s a brief recording of my journey through life aware of beauty and the possibilities of peace.

In some ways I think my earliest readings fostered this search. The beautiful language and illustration of the Childcraft: Poems of Early Childhood, was precious to me. Then came the library with wonderful series describing more of life than my small world held. Eventually, I found Mrs. Tabor’s “Butternut Wisdom” in the Family Circle Magazine.

In a way, I suppose she became an example of wonderfully adapting to country living – if perhaps a bit romanticized.

book

I poured over my 1984 reissue of The Book of Stillmeadow, wishing for her connections and knowledge in my own country living. Perhaps it was she who encouraged my bread making efforts, the gardening, and the canning, preserving, and freezing seasons of life even without all the “amenities” of her old country farmhouse. And certainly without the bevy of Cocker Spaniels who so enriched her life!

My copy is worn from use, the edges stained grey by fire soot. Many years it was only dusted but for the last several, I have walked with Gladys through the months. It is a bit like revisiting old family letters. In February, I again came upon the “Comfort Powders”:

“My great-great-grandfather was a minister in Boston, and among the relics in his little haircloth, brass studded trunk I found this week something which pleases me very, much. I had forgotten about it during the terrible war years, and now it seems a new discovery. It is a small, yellowed box labelled “Comfort Powders.” The fading, flowing script says, “Take one every morning with a generous draught of cheerfulness and thanksgiving. Good for the mind and heart, will promote love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” Inside are thirty folded papers such as were used for powders by the old family doctors, folded at each end to keep the medicine from spilling. On each folded paper is a message, to be read for the day.

This is a lovely idea, I think, and bears repeating. For starting a new day with a beautiful thought might help us all. Grandfather’s comfort powders were Biblical, naturally.”

Gladys Tabor, The Book of Stillmeadow ©1948, reissued 1984

Gladys goes on to quote “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” From the Gospel of John 14:27

While she penned this book in 1948 reflecting back to WWII, her thoughts so apply today:

“In a world still uneasy, these are good words to hear. And as we hear the daily news, we might feel a world of peace was a most vain illusion. But under the snow, violets sleep, and in the world there is still love, gentleness and goodness.”

violetd

In our world, there is still great war going on and peace seems very far away. Today, I take a few verses to savor and to calm my heart and soul. May I offer you a few good and soothing words?

  • Psalm 94:19: In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.

  • Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. RS

  • Lamentations 3:22-23:  Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. NKJV

  • Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

And David’s words, so full of hope and promise:

  • Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Peace be with you, friend.

If not noted, passages of Scripture are  from the King James Version of the Bible.

Fragile beauty

I had my lengthy to-do list. It snowed in the night and I decided to keep to my plan. Then I looked outside and saw the woodpecker pecking at snow to find the small bit of suet left in the feeder. I picked up my camera as I went out to feed him. Beauty.

snow

woodpecker  I’m sure I heard my grateful little friend say, “Come out and play!       And  so I did. To-do list forgotten. But not the fresh coffee!   travel cup

lamp post  Join me on my journey – not to Narnia, but still, into cold winter beauty. The roads are clear!

Roadtrees

  IMG_7475

trees

trees

woods

lake

sycamore

lake

lake

It was a lovely morning adventure and unusually quiet at the reservoir with little traffic which made it rather perfect.

And then the sun came out and melted it all into memory. I’m so glad for digital cameras!

A click on a photo will enlarge the image for you.

February Quiet

January ended with deep snow and cold blowing in snow   the Snow Queen took up residence snow    and has been reluctant to leave, affecting this whole month. Barely had one storm been cleared when the next blew in. While this week brought heavy rains and flooding, there are still tall mounds of icy snow in some yards and many parking lots a month later.

squirrel  This guy was a frequent visitor harassing the birds and learning tricks to steal their food.  squirrel

Of course, he wasn’t the only animal out looking for a good meal. deer  Not that there is much left to browse, but still they come, now by the herd. deer

Usually February is the time to pour over seed and plant catalogs, dreaming of beautiful, lush flower beds, fragrant herbs and bountiful vegetables. No more.

The robins are delighted that neither deer nor squirrels have a taste for holly.  I spied them at the bird bath   robins   and realized they must be stripping the tree by the front deck, and they were.

Holly

For my indoor gardening efforts – a sunny window, occasional water – and the amaryllis are finally coming along. amaryllis  These bulbs are at least two years with me and get exactly the same care.  They seemed quite healthy when I potted them up so I find it very odd that one has no leaves, just the bloom stalk. It was very, very slow to even decide to put forth that effort. A mystery.

snowdrops

I’ll close now with the lovely, lovely snowdrops – pulsing with life, they pushed through frozen ground and soggy leaves this week. Like little bells ringing out good news – Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

I’m almost ready.