Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blessings in Review

So many blessings have been showered on us that we don't always know which opportunities to choose from in our household.

Yesterday, we visited the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, visiting the outdoor and indoor displays, as well as the hot shop and the hands on room. We especially enjoyed the fountain forest, although I'm not sure that's its official name. We hadn't visited it for about seven years, since it was broken and had to be re-made.

Then we had dinner at Woody's on the Water, a wonderful Tacoma waterfront restaurant that has a few gluten-free options. Unfortunately, we have other allergies, and we couldn't even eat as much there as we could have at Ruby Tuesday's. It was a beautiful place, and reasonably priced. My mom enjoyed it, and since it was her birthday . . . that was a blessing.

After dinner, my parents took our daughters home to do crafts, and watch movies while John and I went out. We had tickets to see "At Night," at the Showbox in Seattle. Two guys in the band also play on our church praise team and it was a great show. Their band has a good sound, and they were very excited about playing at such a big venue.

After that, well, we were blessed with a lot of choices because my parents had told us to go out and stay out, and I'm not sure a late night viewing of Transformers 2 was the best choice, but that's where we went. We were thankful to return home and sleep last night.

And now, with the dawning of a new day, we are blessed with more activity, and more fellowship with fun people. We have worship, and church softball, and after that . . . well maybe we will rest.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Humble Stumble

Have you ever been reading along, full speed ahead, and then found yourself tripping over a word, a phrase, or a collection of sentences?

The kind of words that stand out in your mind with such force that you can't keep reading, and you just have to stop, re-read them and think about them.

Sometimes, it feels as though someone put their foot out and tripped you, so you end up on the ground with the wind knocked out of you gasping for breath, or startled with wonder.

This happens to me in almost everthing I read. Even if the story is so well-told that I want to keep reading without stopping, there is often something, some idea or word picture that leaps off the page, and startles me to a stop, or trips me up.

Yesterday that happened when I was reading a book for younger readers, "The Boy Who Spoke Dog," which I highly recommend as a great read for kids and adults. The idea of sheep dogs turning into "fangoes" because they missed human contact was interesting and slightly reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies." I had to think about it, and then I had to put the book down and get on with reality, but the idea stuck with me. Not just the idea of dogs turning wild without human contact, but the idea of humanity going wild without any sense of being loved.

This leads me to this morning's "humble stumble." I had a plan for my Bible Study, and I couldn't carry it out after the first four verses. These are verses I've read before, countless times. And yet, today, I stumbled over them. Maybe it's because I've felt like an egomaniac lately with my writing. Maybe it's because God wanted me to hear these words. Maybe I've been trying to grow up too much, and not rely on God for that loving base for my life. I still have to think about it. But here are those verses:

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:1-4

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gardening and Biblegateway

I am not a gardener, I am the gardener's daughter.
I like gardens. Sometimes, I try my hand at gardening.
However, if you know my mom, you'll know that she is a passionate, sometimes obsessed gardener. I have yet to meet anyone, even a trained horticulturist, who knows more about plants than she does. She is dismissive of her knowledge and her talents, but if she doesn't know the answers about a certain plant, she will look up the information and report back within a day or two. She loves plants. She loves growing, green, living things.
So I am her daughter, and I am the Master Gardener's daughter.
Wanting to get my mom-gardener a good gift for her birthday tomorrow, I went in search of plants, and a devotional book about gardening.
I found several plants, but not one book . . . at least not the one I was looking for with my mind's eye.
So . . . I decided I might try my hand at writing some gardening devotions and see how they turn out. In honor of the two gardeners in my life, the Master Gardener and my mom.

In the beginning of my research for such a group of devotions, I went in search of verses at Biblegateway.com - and excellent resource for scripture verses. Sure, my Bible works too, but Biblegateway is easily searchable for key words and key verses, in several English and non-English translations.
So, if you're looking for a Bible search engine, check out www.Biblegateway.com
It's a great place to dig up truth. :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

God is our refuge

"God is our refuge and strength,
and ever present help in trouble."
Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

My soul is satisfied with these words. I feel as if I've been searching in my heart and mind for the right words to soothe my troubles, and to give me peace. Today this one came to mind, so I looked it up, and I know that God provided it in my heart.

I praise you, Lord, for your refuge and strength, your ever present help in my troubles. I am so thankful for the blessings you have showered my life with, and I ask only your guidance to decide which is the right path, and which is the right way to go. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Confidence of Company Dancers

Each day we move forward, practicing, writing, loving and finding our way in each moment of our lives. I wasn't looking forward to this weekend, but after a week of dress rehearsals (practice), finishing a summer devotional project (writing), spending time as a family (loving), and preparing for the weekend with rest (finding our way), I'm excited and confidant about the dance recitals tonight.
Anna and Trisha have learned so much, and come so far since last year's recital. I can see that in how they act backstage at rehearsals. They know where their costumes are, and they stay calm (most of the time) in crises. Yes, they get excited, and they get the giggles, and they jump up and down while waiting their turn to go on stage.
And yet, they aren't scared. They aren't worried. They aren't panicing at the drop of a hairpin, or feathered hairpiece.
All year, I have wondered if we started dance company at too young of an age, but this last week at dress rehearsal, seeing their confidence and ability to handle each moment, I am glad they have been company dancers. I am glad they have had enough stage experience throughout the year, that the recital is another performance and not the end-all, final, drama-filled moment of truth.
They already know the truth. They are loved by God. They are loved by us. And they are good dancers, even if they forget a step for a moment of time on stage.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crossroads

Approaching the crossroads between an ending and a new beginning slows me down every time. I keep looking back at where I've been, and trying to plan ahead for where I'm going. Thankfully I don't drive like that, but when it comes to just living life, I seem to do a lot of slowing down and speeding up, with no steady travel time.
Traveling has been on my mind lately since I am writing some summer vacation devotionals for my church. I've been writing about maps, steering wheels, sunglasses, tents and campfires, and connecting them all to God's word.
This whole process has been like a journey for me since it is the first time I've done any writing like this . . . not my usual strange short stories or poetry. When I journal, I come close to devotional writing if I'm journaling about my Bible studies. I still think that maybe I was a bit arrogant to tell my music and worship director, and my Pastors, that I could write devotionals for summer that were as good as any that could be found for free online.
There is actually some decent writing done online, although not necessarily here at my "writing spot". When I named this blog, I was thinking of Winnie the Pooh's "thotful spot" at Pooh corner.
So here I am in my "thoughtful spot," thinking about endings and beginnings. Yesterday we ended our regular school year. We ended a four year long commitment to WAVA - a distance learning experience like none other. Next year we will be starting something new, and hopefully better at the Homeschool Co-op here in the Harbor, and with a completely different curriculum at home. Math will stay the same . . . at least in textbook format, but without the online component. tmi
Regular dance classes have ended, and we are headed into Recital Week, with rehearsals M-Th, then rehearsals and recitals F-Sat. The girls are signed up for two classes in July, just to keep their feet tapping and their "wings" sharp. Then they have zoo camp - 1 week, and VBS - 1 week, and we are going to try and sign up for skateboard camp - 3 days. We have one "camping" type trip planned out, and one nebulously working in our minds. Despite all these plans, we are looking at most days filled with swimming and friends, and relaxation. A nice change from our hectic pace these last nine months.
Tomorrow night I'll be putting the finishing touches on my summer devotional series, and yet I'll be starting summer and I plan on writing more steadily all summer.
Definitely at the crossroads.
Jeremiah 6:16a "This is what the Lord says;
'Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk
in it,and you will find rest for yours souls.'"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The fix for addictions

I'm not sure which addiction withdrawl is hitting me the hardest this morning: caffeine, bible study, hard exercise, or blogging/facebooking.
My routine was thrown off this morning by a surprsing event - my youngest daughter woke up at 6:15 and wanted to snuggle and then go for the morning walk with Grandma and me. So . . . I didn't read my Bible, I didn't have tea, I didn't get any hard exercise but only walked one mile somewhat slowly.
And yet, despite the headache from lack of caffeine, or lack or hard exercise, I am glad that I had extra time with my youngest daughter. We both needed those moments of just being together, holding hands while walking down the road, and talking about the horses, sheep, caterpillars, birds and neighbors.
Sometimes, fellowship with a wonderful family member makes us realize where our priorities need to be: with people, not computers . . . with love in action and not just thought . . . . with a slow look at the wonders of nature and not just the hurried pace . . .
All good things . . . now where's my tea!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

sore muscles

This morning when I woke up, I wasn't sure which was worse: sore legs and hips, or a sore writing muscle. My brain feels like it needs some stretching this morning, as well as the stretches I've already done for my body.
Yesterday I wrote two devotionals, and this morning, I could barely draft one.
Yesterday I walked a mile in the morning, plus two or more miles at a parade, and this morning I could barely walk one mile.
Exhaustion and weariness are key words this morning, although the bees tried to wake me up on my morning walk.
I'm not sure if my dogs disturbed a bees nest and I didn't notice, but being chased down the street by a few angry bees is not my favorite way to pick up my pace in the morning.
Breakfast is waiting . . . I hope it will wake me up.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rocks and Sand

I woke up early to birdsong and grey skies. After a quick Bible study, and some prayer time, I wrote a devotional about sand castles, leaning into Jesus' parable about building on sand or rock.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat agains that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27, NIV.

I don't know if my devotional flowed well enough from one segment to the next, but I sent it in anyway. It's kind of like that word "grey" in first sentence today . . . it keeps bugging me. Is that the UK spelling of grey or the American one. One is spelled "grey" while the other is "gray." I think I have the UK spelling up there, but I'm not entirely certain. I could never win a spelling bee, because I would be quibbling with the judges over usage and language differences. As a kid, I spent far too much time reading classics like Anne of Green Gables, and The Secret Garden, and my grandmother's Green Dolphin.
If I had just stuck to American classics, I would have less spelling problems . . . probably.

Anyway, that bit of "hmm, I don't know if that one part is good enough" seems to stick with me for a while after I write something. I just have to trust God, and keep my building on his rock, and not my sand.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Writing Sruggles

An awesome day, and I'm already in the thick of life this morning. My daughters and I are working on our lessons, and I sent off two devotionals to the worship music director, and my Pastors at PLC. I volunteered to write some summer devotionals, and it has been challenging. Fun, and interesting, pushing me deeper into God's Word . . . so altogether good. However, some of my writing has been a struggle. Ideas that just don't seem to flow when I get them on the page, and overused words that keep popping up again, and again.

In my other writing, I have had a good news/bad news thing. Another poem of mine will be published at everydaypoets sometime in the next 18 months (love the timeline). Sounds like good news, right? However, I wrote that poem in a bitter mood, and there is no hope at all in it. I sent it off without thinking, and everdaypoets has an interesting submission process where the authors sign a publishing contract while submitting. If they don't accept it for publication, the publishing contract is destroyed. If it is accepted, the publishing contract is valid.

So, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to seeing "Night Terrors" in print. I wrote it well, as far as just writing goes, but from an ethical standpoint, it might not be something I can take pride in.

Night Terrors is a poem based on my Dad's experiences at a charity hospital where he lived for nearly three years, and the night terrors he's had as a result of those experiences. Not happy stuff.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"The heavens declare the glory of
God:
the skies the work of his
hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the
world."
Psalm 19:1-4

Once, when I asked my dad earnestly about his beliefs, he replied, "I don't know about Jesus and all of that, but I know that there is a God. Just look around. Look at the mountains, the people, the oceans. There is too much detail for just some random event."
I don't know if I have his reply right. I was sixteen at the time, and we were driving from Enumclaw, Washington to Eugene, Oregon together.
His faith was, and is, of burning importance to me. At the time, I wasn't even sure what he believed. He had come to church with us, off and on, and had even sung in the church choir for a year. Most of the time, however, when I was growing up, he grumbled every step of the way to church and all the way home. He always seemed to come on those few Sundays when money was mentioned, and he believed that "the church" was just trying to swindle us out of our money so that someone of power in the church could live "high on the hog" while we didn't.
Thankfully, almost thirteen years later, my Dad attends church every Sunday. He has a small group with my mom, and they enjoy Christian fellowship and Bible study. He knows the Lord more intimately now. And I am thankful for that. My prayers have been answered in many ways.
I know that God is responsible for the faith of my Dad. I know that prayer is powerful and effective. I also know that having the heavens declare His Glory every day, God has a powerful witness in his creation. Am I, one of his creations and adopted daughter through Christ, declaring God's glory as much as the heavens, the birds, the mountains and the valleys do? I wish I could answer yes, but the real answer is no. God's creation declares his glory every moment of every day. I declare his glory when I keep my eyes on him.
So today, one of my prayers is: Lord, awesome God, creator of heavens and earth, help me keep my eyes on you, and help me to declare your glory as unconciously and freely as the heavens. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Healing

Matthew 15:29-31 "Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel."

Last night, at a Sonicflood concert, I heard testimony of healing from the lead singer who suffered from Khron's disease for twenty years and had 8 feet of his intestines removed. He gave his life over to God, and then went beyond that. He decided to Praise God even if God wouldn't or didn't heal him. Then he went to a new doctor, and that doctor found only scar tissue. Not a trace of the disease was left in him.

How many times have I really laid my troubles at Jesus' feet? I think many times I show Jesus my troubles, like I'm playing peek-a-boo. Now you see them, now you don't. Even with God, my creator and redeemer, I attempt to put on a brave face and hold things back. His Holy Spirit dwells within me, and yet I try to put on a show of bravery, and independence. It's kind of crazy. It's definitely foolish.

So today, Lord, I ask that you heal my wounds . . . the wounds of my body, the wounds of my spirit, the wounds of my mind, and the wounds of my heart. Lord, I place them all before you, and ask for your healing touch. I trust in you alone, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.