Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Moon of 2009


These photos were taken this evening when I came home from town. I was excited to take my first moon shots with my new Canon - and was not disappointed with my initial attempts. These photos are unedited, except for some cropping. (Two different shots are posted at birddreams.blogspot.com)
I was across the road, in the pitch dark, using the mailbox like a tripod. I'm sure the people in the cars passing by must have thought I was a crazy lady. And you know? It was exhilarating to be out there, in one of those unlikely moments, doing something I really, really enjoy - and couldn't help but chuckle as I wondered, "Where will my Canon take me in 2010?"

Happy New Year, Everyone! May you have many wonderful adventures throughout 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas

After I left home, Christmas never felt quite the same as it did when I was growing up in Nova Scotia. I couldn't quite put my finger on it - I blamed the fact that there wasn't enough snow, too much commercialism, or too much stress.
As a young girl, I remember "feeling" Christmas from Christmas Eve through the New Year and then, celebrating Old Christmas Day or Epiphany, on January 6th, by eating any leftover sweets and putting away the decorations.
This year, I became acquainted with the Twelve Days of Christmas, as recognized by many older denominations within the Christian faith and, suddenly, it made sense! My mother's mother was Anglican (who had come from England with her family) and much of what my mom did in our home, at Christmas, was based on traditions she, too, had grown up with. I didn't realize until this year that these traditions were based on her religious background.
I'm not sure she would have understood it all - I'm not sure I do, but many of my memories around the Christmas season are reflective of what she did in our home.
Oddly enough, this Christmas does feel like what I've been missing and it is accompanied with peace and contentment and deep personal joy. It feels like I "came home."
The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, has different stories of origin and as many interpretations of the lyrics. What I think is most important, though, is the difference between all the preparation for one day (Christmas) and actually having a "season" when my heart can meditate on and appreciate God coming to us. Like the wisemen, who journeyed to Bethlehem, these twelve days are a time for my own spiritual journey to the King.
During each of the 12 days, I am considering some aspect of my Christian heritage, in relationship to the birth of our Lord. I started out with some of the traditional symbols of the song, i.e., a partridge in a pear tree representing Christ in the cradle and Christ on the cross; two turtle doves representing the Old and New Testaments which tell His-story. But, with each day, my focus becomes more personal, i.e., today, there were many things that came into my life that were unpleasant and unexpected, so when I pulled myself together, I focused my thoughts on the peace that the angels spoke about - "Peace on earth..." and the peace that surpasses all understanding which keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This is day #4 - the Christmas season has barely begun! So, I invite you to join me on a journey to see the King - to get close to Him, as the kings of old once did.
May this be a memorable Christmas for all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

While Shepherds Watched...

While shepherds watched their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
And glory shone around

"Fear not," said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind"

"To you in David's town this day
Is born of David's line
The Savior, who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign"

"The heav'nly babe you there shall find
To human view displayed
All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid"
Emmanuel - God with us



Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Bells

Hark! how the bells
Sweet silver bells
All seem to say,
"Throw cares away"
Christmas is here
Bringing good cheer
To young and old
Meek and the bold...
(These bells are on my tree and are gifts from my daughter on Christmas' past.
Photos taken with Panasonic Lumix)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Remembering ~~~

Today, my heart remembers my daughter, Odessa.
March 30, 1982 - December 23, 2005
She walked into heaven's gates from the top of
a mountain where she had been skiing.
She is dearly loved and greatly missed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Memory and December

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December~
Sir James Matthew Barrie
(creator of Peter Pan)
Photo - Diane Nelson - Panasonic Lumix 12-18-09

Friday, November 27, 2009

Light and Water

The beauty that is portrayed
when a vessel
is filled with
light and water.
Anybody see the analogy here?
(iPhone photo taken 11/27/09 - Diane Nelson)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to all


May your Thanksgiving day be filled with
pleasant, warm moments
which will turn into
lasting memories...
treasures of your heart

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mountains of Spices - Gentleness

Chapter 10 - Mountain of Calamus
Gentleness (The Terror of Love)
This contrast became very vivid to the consciousness of Grace and Glory as she sat up there on the rocky throne beside the King of Love. On the one hand she saw the terror and the grandeur of the rocky cliffs, and on the other the grace and gentleness of the reeds which clothed the mountain slopes.
"The terror and the beauty of love." The words suddenly came into her mind with such force and clarity that she turned and looked at the king to see whether he had spoken them....
"My Lord," she said, "I have another question to ask you. You have brought me here to the Mountain of Calamus where the reeds of gentleness grow. And I know so much about the gentleness of your love in my own experience. But is there another side to love? Can love be terrible as well as gentle? Is love really like a consuming fire which cannot be approached without fear and trembling? Can love even appear to be cruel and terrible?"
..."Yes," he said, "Love is a consuming fire. It is a burning, unquenchable passion for the blessedness and happiness, and, above all, for the perfection of the beloved object. The greater the love, the less it can tolerate the presence of anything that can hurt the beloved, and the less it can tolerate in the beloved anything that is unworthy or less than the best, or injurious to the happiness of the loved one. Therefore it is perfectly true that love, which is the most beautiful and the most gentle passion in the universe, can and must be at the same time the most terrible ---terrible in what it is willing to endure itself in order to secure the blessing and happiness and perfection of the beloved, and, also, apparently terrible in what it will allow the beloved to endure if suffering is the only means by which the perfection or restoration to health of the beloved can be secured."
Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, Copyright 1977 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mountains of Spices - Longsuffering

Chapter 8 - Mountain of Saffron
Longsuffering (The Suffering of Love)

Grace and Glory had seen the saffron crocuses growing on other parts of the High Places, but never in such glorious profusion as on this mountain. It was impossible for them to walk anywhere without treading on these delicate hued flowers and using them much as a doormat! As soon as their feet were lifted from them, however, she noticed that the dauntless, gay little things bobbed up again at once, as fresh and uncrushed as though they had not been trodden upon.
When she remarked on this to the King he explained with another of his happy smiles that this was the characteristic of true longsuffering. It bears quite happily everything that is done against it, resents not at all being trampled under foot, and reacts to the wrongdoing of others against itself as though no wrong had been done at all, or else as though it had forgotten all about it! For longsuffereing is really the lovely quality of forgiveness and bearing contentedly and joyfully the results of the mistakes and wrongdoing of others....
"My Lord," she said, "this is called the Mountain of Longsuffering. Has love no power to save and help others apart from suffering? Why must love suffer at all, and why, above all else, must love suffer long?"
"It is because the very essence of love is oneness," answered the King. "That is why love must suffer. If the beloved creatures whom the Creator created for love's sake must suffer, then the oneness of love makes it impossible for him to allow them to suffer anything which he is not willing to suffer with them. It is because the whole body of mankind is suffering so dreadfully from the disease of sin and all its dreadful consequences, that I, who am so one with mankind, must suffer it all with them. Ever since the first sin, the love of God has been, as it were, upon a cross of suffering....Think of what it means to be able to save and to heal. To be able to raise up out of that which has been so cruelly marred and deseased, something far more glorious than would otherwise have been possible."
Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, Copyright 1977 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mountains of Spices - Peace

Chapter 6 - Mountain of Spikenard
Peace (The Atonement Made by Love)

The next of the nine mountains of spices to which the King led Grace and Glory was the Mountain of Spikenard, or Peace....The King's spikenard could be produced nowhere else in the world....It was from this lovely medicinal plant that he produced the famous balsam of peace, a great balm for all restlessness and pain and fever....
As they walked together among these bushes the King spoke to Grace and Glory and explained to her the nature of the true peace which can only be produced by acceptance with joy of all that the will of God permits to come to his people along the pathway of life, and of the streams of pleasure which sing as they leap down from the High Places, 'I delight to do thy will, O my God....'
"I would have you learn this truth, that love can never rest until real peace, which is perfect harmony with the law of love, is brought to the hearts of men everywhere....It must give to others all that it received or it cannot remain love. Love can only live in your heart as it propagates itself by sharing....
Love is the constraining power which makes my lovers willing to go all lengths, even to death itself, in order to bring the good news of the love of God to those who have never heard it. It is love to the Lamb of God who bears the sins of the world and still must bear it and suffer with sinners until every sin-defiled creature turns at last from their sinning and seeks his delivering power. For as long as sin lasts and defiles and ruins his creatures, Love cannot come down from his cross nor cease to bear the sin of the world."
Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, Copyright 1977 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mountains of Spices - Joy

From Chapter 4 - Mountain of Camphire -
Joy (The Victory of Love)

The Shepherd speaking to Grace and Glory: "The season when the (camphire) bushes are stripped bare and the bitter substance is poured into the soil and is left to be watered by the rains of heaven, is called up here 'the night of sorrow.' But this present season, when the bushes are all laden with blossom and the oil is ready to be extracted from them, is 'the morning of joy' when all the sorrow and bitter experiences are changed into gladness."

Grace and Glory thinking: "Oh, that I may always react to sorrow in such a way that it will be overcome and be changed into his joy."

The Shepherd: "Grace and Glory, have you ever thought of what joy it is to me to be a Savior? To be able to take something which has been marred and spoiled and ruined by evil and to produce out of it something lovely and good and enduring -- something which can never again be spoiled? No cost can possibly be too great in order to accomplish such a triumph as that. Whatever the price, love will pay it exultantly and with 'joy unspeakable and full of glory...."

There is absolutely no experience, however terrible, or heartbreaking, or unjust, or cruel, or evil, which you can meet in the course of your earthly life, that can harm you if you will but let me teach you how to accept it with joy; and to react to it triumphantly as I did myself, with love and forgiveness and with willingness to bear the results of wrong done by others. Every trial, every test, every difficulty and seemingly wrong experience through which you may have to pass, is only another opportunity granted to you of conquering an evil thing and bringing out of it something to the lasting praise and glory of God. "
Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, Copyright 1977 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved.
This is the goal, the desire and the prayer of my heart today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mountains of Spices - Love

I've been reading "Mountains of Spices" by Hannah Hurnard. It is the sequel to the book, "Hind's Feet on High Places." I've read these allegories years ago, but am encouraged, again, in the simple truths.
The main character is a girl whose name was "Much Afraid" in the first book. The story was told of how she decided to leave her home in the Valley of Humiliation to follow the Shepherd to the High Places. In "Mountains of Spices," she returns to the valley to visit. She has a new name, "Grace and Glory," and is no longer crippled, disfigured or afraid. She is in the service of the Shepherd and lives in the Kingdom of Love.
For the next several days, I will post excerpts from the book that are meaningful to me. Most of the passages will be from conversations between Grace and Glory and the Shepherd as he takes her on a journey through the Mountains of Spices.

From Chapter 2 - Mountain of Pomegranates -
Love (The Law of Love)

The Shepherd speaking to Grace and Glory - "Righteousness is the condition of everything which is in harmony with the law of the universe and therefore right. Unrighteousness is everything which is out of harmony with the law of love and therefore unright. Love which worketh no ill to her neighbor is the fulfillment of the whole law on which the universe is founded. Holiness and happiness and health are the result of complete separation from everything which breaks the law of love, and a holy people are those who are set apart to love.
"Sinners are the poor miserable people who break the law of love and so bring evils of every kind upon themselves, such as abound down there in the valley. When men love they fulfill the law of their being. When they break the law of love they disrupt and frustrate the very law of life. As long as they love they are healthy and happy and harmonious, but when they cease to love and begin to think envious, resentful, bitter, unforgiving and selfish thoughts, then they begin to destroy themselves, for every part of their being is then poisoned by unloving thoughts."
"My Lord and King," said Grace and Glory, "what is true love? How can it be recognized?"
The Shepherd: "I am love," said the King very clearly. "If you want to see the pattern of true love, look at me, for I am the expression of the law of love on which the universe is founded. And the very first characteristice of true love, as I have manifested it, is willingness to accept all other human beings, just as they are, however blemished and marred by sin they may be, and to acknowledge oneness with them in their sin and need. To acknowledge also that every human heart needs both to love and to be loved, and that herein lies the very root of the oneness of mankind. For unless you sons and daughters of men are loved and also love all others besides yourselves, you cannot become what you are destined to be, the sons and daughters of the God who is love."

Mountains of Spices by Hannah Hurnard, Copyright 1977 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers,Inc. All rights reserved.

Swine Flu

There are plenty of things that raise their voices begging for my attention - all of which I choose to ignore today. I don't have the energy, and even if I felt I did, it would not be wise to use it up on "things" when it is critical that I take care of myself and my daughter.
She was diagnosed yesterday with H1N1 and she is not doing so well. She's running a fever (over 100 for a couple of days), her body is sore from coughing, tired, headache. The doctor prescribed an inhaler for the cough, lots of rest, Tylenol for fever and no school for a week. We were told to watch for "trouble breathing" - at which point we need to go to the hospital to be monitored.
After spending 2 hours in the freezing doctor's office yesterday to have her checked out, I went downhill pretty fast - feeling exhausted, weak, headache, fever (which broke in the middle of the night) and head congestion. For me, it seems like it was a "one-night-stand" with whatever virus it was. My daughter, on the other hand, is still slogging through with all symptoms present.
I am thankful for the Lord's angels. I had set my alarm for 11:00pm to check on her - I went to bed around 7:00pm. When the alarm went off, I couldn't move, I was so weak. I prayed a desperate prayer asking the Lord to protect her. I know that He did - there was no emergency. I am well aware of the swiftness with which some cases of the flu can take a turn into critical, so I am humbly grateful for His protection and presence while both our bodies battled through the night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Mother's Heartache

It is so hard for a mom to watch her children go through their own trials. Mom knows what it feels like to face disappointment again and again and again. The toughest part is feeling their pain in her heart and knowing that it's not in their best interest if she tried to change the situation. There's not much she can "do" except to try to understand what they're feeling and give empathy when possible.
Adolescents and young adults are living life - learning the decision making process and living with the consequences of their choices. The time for mom fixing the problems is over. Her efforts are channeled toward praying for them and hoping they are becoming stronger in their sense of responsibility, accountability and self control.
I don't like seeing my kids lose their privileges; fall short of their goal; or face disappointment in relationships. All of these things are important tutors at this stage of their lives, whose instruction is invaluable for the bigger choices in life, yet to come. It's very hard to look into the face of the kid you love and hear their plea for one more chance, knowing that if you give in, they would be ecstatic - but, they wouldn't have gained the priceless reward of better judgment and stronger fortitude for the bigger decisions in the future.
As a mom, I haven't done this perfectly, but I am learning that "tough love" is real love. And, believe me, it's tough to love this way.
To all my kids, right now - know that I am and always will cheer you on to the highest you can possibly achieve. Life stinks right now. I know you don't like what you are dealing with - anymore than I did at your age, or do even now. I would change things if I thought it would help, but I know that changing things right now, won't help in the long run. I'm here to listen and love you, with the firm belief that you'll come through this difficult time well.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I give you...
raindrops....





(iPhone photos - 10/31/09)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn


Autumn
Lingers close like an old gray, woolen sweater
Silent, damp and dreary weather
How it chills me to the bone...

Autumn
Triggers meloncholy feelings, restless, loss of ease
Lull me fast to sleep, as you do the trees
So I won't feel - winter...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cyber Harassment - Is there a line to be drawn?

Electronic communication - texting, IM, and email, etc.
Electronic social networking - facebook, twitter, and myspace, etc.


In the last couple of months, I've been barraged by aggressive, disturbing messages in various forms. Harassment, whether intended to be negative or positive is still harassment and is disconcerting just the same.
It is interesting how things "come my way." At this time, when I am dealing with these unpleasant communications, I was given a couple of articles to study in my English 101 course. This first link will take you to an article having to do with the etiquette of respecting the privacy of people. In days gone by, gossip was passed from person to person, and though it was damaging, it is no match for the speed at which a "Reply all" button can fire out information to vast numbers of people at one time. And, just as fast are the public posts made on sites like "facebook" or "myspace" or even a blog!
Think! - before your spread your news (especially about someone else), whether good or bad, publicly. http://tinyurl.com/ykv5xvx

This second article has to do with the lengths to which some people can or may need to go when faced with dealing with unwanted communication. I've often said that it is very easy to click "send" but it's impossible to click "send back!"
We often let down our guard when it comes to propriety because we feel a false sense of safety "behind the screen." Thus, we feel we can vent things that we would never say face to face or even in a hand written letter - and not think twice about sending it off. People are getting tired and quite sensitive to the this kind of treatment. I know I am! They are beginning to draw a line, set boundaries, in order to protect themselves and ones they love. I feel we will be seeing more and more cases in court having to do with issuing a "cease and desist" order (a restraining order) to individuals who won't respect a person's "No!".
http://abcnews.go.com/m/screen?id=8807685

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Whisper and a Promise


This morning I read this quote on Twitter:
"God whispers to us in our pleasures.
God speaks to us in our conscience.
God shouts to us in our pain."
C.S. Lewis

It caught my attention because it was a C.S. Lewis quote, and I enjoy him thoroughly.
Later today, I was in a "chocolate mood." I hardly ever buy the stuff - but, today it just felt like the thing to do. I bought Dove's Dark Chocolate Promises - you know...the ones that are individually wrapped in foil with little messages inside?
When I got home, I was in the midst of putting things away, and I opened the bag of Promises and took one. Don't ask me why, but I enjoy the anticipation of the secret message written inside - kind of like a fortune cookie ;) But, I was a little disappointed...

"Simply be and not do for the moment."

Ho hum...nothing special about that one. I continued to do what I'd been doing, which was putting groceries away.
After everything was cleared and the grocery bags knotted and stashed, I indulged in a second Promise, hoping the message would be more "special" this time. I couldn't believe my eyes!

"Simply be and not do for the moment."

Then, coincidentially, I remembered the quote from this morning - the part that says,

"God whispers in our pleasures..."

I was experiencing pleasure in eating this chocolate, that's for sure, but these little messages weren't making my day. I kept moving - put water on to boil for my ear of corn, checked email, fed Mr. Kitty, etc. etc. etc.
When my corn was ready, I sat down at the table and turned on my iPhone. When I'm alone, I enjoy reading Twitter while I am eating. I'm scrolling down, down, down, and...STOP! A lady tweeted,

"Just b yourself & be present."

OK, so you think I'm supposed to "hear" something this evening? I'm beginning to get the message that I need to "stop doing" for a few moments and "just BE!" Heavens! So, I'm going to finish this post, grab a glass of water and one more chocolate Promise, and sit in my blue chair for a while and "just be."
(Incidentally, how many times do YOU have to read this to get the message? :) )

Finding Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham


Subtitle:
What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently
The premise of this book seems to be that "...'having it all' means drawing enough strength from life to feel fulfilled, loved, successful, and in control" and that "...it is something every single one of us should aim for and every single one of us can attain." (Marcus Buckingham)
Normally, I would be excited about a book with a message that helps women find out who they truly are and how to build on their strengths for a fulfilling and satisfying life; but I was frustrated by the lack of depth and connectivity which seems to characterize media for the masses today. I haven't read any of Marcus' previous books, but on the basis of this read, I don't see myself looking for them.
Though, there is some good information within the 263 pages - enough to be published in a pamphlet format, basically, I found the book to be a long-winded lead-on. I was very disappointed in the repetition, the excess number of testimonies and the over all feeling that I was reading an infomercial on the snake oil that will cure all your ills.
If you are really curious about "What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently", I suggest you go to the library - this book, in my opinion, is not worth its weight in gold or the US dollar, for that matter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Walking Through the First Day

Today was a "see how it goes" kind of day. I had a tentative schedule mapped out for my day and before the morning was over, I scrapped it. There were things I hadn't thought about like wanting to be free to spend time with my daughter just before she heads out the door for the school bus, and scheduling in things that get me away from the computer for a break!
As the day progressed, I feel I found a workable rhythm and wrote it down so I can try it out tomorrow. Personally, I need a schedule to keep me motivated and on track.
It is "Week Zero" which means I didn't actually study English 101 today. This next week gives students an opportunity to learn and become familiar with the Angel Network which carries the online courses. I am very thankful for the orientation! ! !

My daughter is having a good week in high school - I can see her determination to do well, not only in her studies, but also in her social circles. It's not easy being a teen or being in high school; but she is doing great and I'm very happy for her!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Day Back to College

My last post was Sept. 2nd, which was my daughter's first day of high school.
Tomorrow is the first day of the online college course that I registered to take this quarter - English 101. Week zero - a week of orientation.

My daughter was excited to see all the people on the campus.
I am excited to be able to study alone.
She knows what she'll be doing for the next few years - finishing high school and on to college.
It's all a mystery to me.
She even "knows" what she'll be when she grows up!
I haven't a clue!

It's interesting the difference a few decades can make in one's perspective!
What I do know is this...Every day will be an adventure on the way to where I'm going. Every day it will get clearer as I get closer to the destination, and, in the meantime, I'll keep studying and learning and living to the best of my ability!
(and, hopefully, I'll learn where these silly commas are really supposed to go!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of High School

I just dropped my youngest daughter off at the High School. It's her first day of school, first day of High School and her first day in public school. Only one other of my children has attended public school, but he was a couple of years older - and a guy.
I am very excited for her. Her first word, as we drove into the parking lot, was, "PEOPLE! ! !"
She is going to do well and I know that this was the right decision for her this year.
Its the first year, in 26yrs, that I won't be responsible for the education of my children. I've home schooled all six - 4 went to community college, 2 went on to university, 1 excelled in the IT programs at the Vocational School -also hopes to take Massage Therapy soon - and now the youngest is in High School.
There are many reasons for making this choice this year - not the least of which is her desire to go, so when I stopped the van to let her out, I had no qualms about it. I told her "I love you, with all my heart...have a great day!" She smiled back and got out.
As I watched her walk toward the buildings, she looked very young, very individual and very alone in the huge crowd of students that had already gathered outside. She doesn't know very many kids there, but she has determination and it won't be long before she has more friends than she'll be able to keep track of.
So, thus begins another chapter in our lives - "The Daughter in High School."
I wish you all the best, sweetie! I know you'll do well!

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Choice Calling For Discipline

When we look critically at the many thoughts and feelings that fill our minds and hearts, we may come to the horrifying discovery that we often choose death instead of life, curse instead of blessing. Jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, greed, lust, vindictiveness, revenge, hatred ... they all float in that large reservoir of our inner life. Often we take them for granted and allow them to be there and do their destructive work.But God asks us to choose life and to choose blessing.
This choice requires an immense inner discipline. It requires a great attentiveness to the death-
forces within us and a great commitment to let the forces of life come to dominate our thoughts and feelings. We cannot always do this alone; often we need a caring guide or a loving community to support us. But it is important that we both make the inner effort and seek the support we need from others to help us choose life.
(From Henri Nouwen - Today, Aug.31, 2009)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Worship

This morning was the sweetest gift to be in church. As I sat in the pew, I looked up toward the altar where the candles were lit and the prettiest floral arrangement of pink roses was just behind the flame of one of the candles. My heart melted.
The responsive reading was from Philippians 4:4, 6-8, and it seemed more beautiful than any other time I've read it. The voices of over 200 people (all older than I) made me feel safe and protected by the ageless Word of God, which they have proved over their lifetimes and which never changes.
"God So Loved the World" by Stainer - a beautiful piece that intertwined the two women's voices like soft but flourishing brush strokes across a canvas. I had the privilege of singing this same arrangement of this hymn in the college mass choir 32 years ago! Even though there were only two voices singing it this morning, in contrast to the 150 voices back then, it was no less moving.
Finally, the scripture text for the sermon was from Psalm 103:8-13. I can't help but copy it here to keep the memory of it with everything else that happened this morning:

"The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Downtown with my Daughter

Some days are especially beautiful and wonderful to live. Some photos are just meant to be taken. I don't know how people choose which flowers to put in their planters, but this one sure caught my eye and I couldn't help capturing it with my iphone.
It was just one part of a great afternoon with my daughter. We watched a movie, had chocolate dipped cookies and iced lattes (special treats now) and walked downtown to where she will be working at her new job.
Moments of feeling carefree and in-the-moment had rejuvenating effects on us.
At the end of it all, my heart is full of thanksgiving for the smiles and hugs we exchanged. Thank you, Sweetie...I love you!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cultivate a Positive Outlook

Here is an exercise I am working on lately. When things seem less than favorable, there are three basic thoughts that cultivate a positive outlook.
1. I have hope...(...in God...that all will be well...etc.) No matter how adverse circumstances look at the moment, I can and I do have hope.
2. I have already accomplished...(...list the things that I've done that I didn't think I could do) When I have to do something that I don't feel I can do, I have to remind myself of all the things I've done that seemed insurmountable to me before I did them, e.g., birth to a baby, cooking a meal with no idea of how many guests would be arriving, raising six children, re-entering college after 30 years, etc. These accomplishments serve as reminders and my outlook changes from uncertainty to focused purpose.
3. I am thankful for...(...list anything I can be truly thankful for at the moment) Reminding myself of all the things I do have, helps me put in perspective my desires for what I don't have. Thankfulness protects me when I become discontent. Whatever I can be thankful for today, will keep me 'in today', enjoying all that is available to me in the present.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Profound Thought

My teenage daughter shared a profound thought with me a couple of days ago while we were preparing supper. She observed that no matter how creative we are, or how talented we may be, we can't make anything out of nothing. Everything we make, we make from something that has already been created.
She was wow'd by God's ability to make all that we have - from nothing; and she was struck with the realization that we can't make ONE thing out of nothing.
I asked her if I could share this with the readers of my blog and she graciously consented.
Thank you, H. ! Keep up the good thinking!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Afternoon Visit With My Daughters

This afternoon, my youngest daughter and I spent a couple of hours visiting with my married daughter in the new rental home that she and her husband have moved into. We were bringing her the baby kitty she had picked out and, of course, we wanted to visit and catch up on news.
After the excitement of getting the kitty 'moved in' - buttered paws and all, we settled in the living room where she served coffee and bits of chocolate :) News flashes passed from sister to sister, mom to daughters and back again. It felt like a dream I'd once had of how it might feel to be in the home of one of my daughters.
A little while later, she put in a movie and we three sat on the huge, black leather couch that takes up almost all of one wall. The movie made me laugh out loud, which is rare. I think it was due, in part, to being affected by the 'familial female-ness' all around, in and through us. There is a certain feeling between girls in the same family and these girls have it strong!
I couldn't help but soak in the pleasure of the moment with a thankful heart. Thank you, dear daughters! It was a sweet afternoon with both of you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Destinations On the Way to Your Destination

Sunday afternoon, I was walking along this trail; my camera filled with photos of Flora and Fauna and my heart filled with the wonderful experience of being there in the middle of it all; the warmth and scent of the air, each sight that I saw, each sound that I heard, each berry that I ate :)
The turn, up ahead, intrigued me. I had no idea what was beyond the bend, having never been on this trail before. I had no particular 'destination' in mind; I was just walking to wherever, or until whenever. All I knew was that each step of the day felt like a wonderful little destination in and of itself!
I was reminded of the truth of enjoying the journey in life as I'm on the way to wherever it is that I'm going. I may be headed toward some great place in life, but if the destination is the only thing I focus on, I will miss so many great 'destinations' that can be enjoyed along the way.
Interestingly, this was the last photo I took before heading for home.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sail On!

Discouragement rolls in like thick and heavy clouds of mist across the landscape of the mind. Resting, and yet moving, it veils the terrain, removing the certainty of even immovable landmarks. The mountain heights, the peaceful meadows, the many paths of experience - all obscured.
The water may be still, but there is no sense of peace. It feels deceptively safer to put down anchor and stay. Fear of moving, fear of tragedy pull in the sails to keep from moving in any direction. Its easy to be lulled to sleep by the wet, heavy shroud.

But, awake my soul!
This is but a mist, a vapor!
It cannot hold me fast.
It cannot keep me against my will.
There is a Light and Voice
that calls me out of my self induced trance
and can guide me safely through.
"Lift anchor!
Follow the Light!
Sail on!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Benefits of Regular Prayer Times


It is the practice of the Benedictine monks to come together several times a day for prayer and reading/reciting of the psalms. I have had the privilege of being a guest at the Blue Cloud Abbey and have been blessed to participate in these prayer times whenever I have desired to do so.
I have always been one who lives best with routine or schedules. My first introduction to daily schedule was at Bible Camp when I was 9 years old. I remember trying to emulate the schedule when I would come home from camp because I loved the rhythm of the day and the regular times for Devotions and Bible study:
7:00 Wake up
7:30 Devotions
8:00 Breakfast
9:00 Cabin Cleanup
9:30 Class
10:45 Sports
12:00 Lunch
Etc. Etc. Etc.
7:00 Church
8:30 Snack
9:00 Get ready for bed
9:30 Devotions
10:00 Lights out!

Of course, my attempts never worked for very long, because soon summer was over and school schedules ruled my life and I could never seem to make a reasonable facsimile that satisfied my desire.
A few weeks ago, I was really low physically, emotionally and spiritually. My circumstances seemed to whirl around in my mind like a tornado and all I could do was cry - seemed like I was crying all the time during some days.
A friend shared with me that there is a site where Prayer Times and Readings are available, similar to those used by the monks. I remembered how much I enjoyed camp schedules and so I've been spending time praying and reading the word at regular times throughout the day and I have to testify of the indescribable peace and grace that is mine right now.
I really didn't realize how low I was spiritually because of allowing my concerns to roll around in my mind instead of prayer. I guess, maybe, I thought I was praying...but, the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
The line between prayer and worry is very fine and crossing it can be very subtle. And yet, there is a significant difference in a life when it is touched by the presence of God and His word regularly. It is unmistakable.
You would think I would know that - and I do. I guess I'm just very thankful for His grace and unfailing love that never changes in spite of how I fail to remain faithful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Everlasting God

One of the worship songs this morning; one that I know very well but haven't thought about for a while, blessed my heart... When I sing this song, my soul truly feels lifted up 'on wings like eagles...'

Strength will rise
as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

by Chris Tomlin

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In His Sanctuary


I love your sanctuary, Lord,
the place where
your glorious presence dwells.
Psalm 26:8

The one thing I ask of the Lord--
the one thing I seek most--

is to live in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord's perfections

and meditating in his Temple.

For he will conceal me there
when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.

He will place me out of reach

on a high rock.
My heart has heard you say,
"Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds,

"Lord, I am coming."
Yet, I am confident

I will see the Lord's goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.

Be brave and courageous.

Yes, wait patiently for the Lord

Psalm 27:4-5, 8, 13-14

--Photo courtesy of Ivars Krafts--
see his blogs at
http://ivarsvoice.blogspot.com
http://ivarsbirds.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

South Dakota, July 2009


"As your understanding of God is enlarged,
you realize there is no end to
His love,
His wisdom,
His abilities,
His resources.
Once you realize there is no end to Him
and all that He is,
you then realize there is no way to define Him.
And if there is no way to define Him,
there is then, therefore,
no way
to predict Him."

~yours truly~
April 2008

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Apple Art ?


This afternoon, my daughter wanted to bake something. She was looking through my Joy of Cooking Cookbook and was considering a very involved apple pastry. I reminded her that there were pie crusts in the refrigerator. It didn't take very long for her to change her mind to making the easier apple pie.

Before I knew it, it was coming out of the oven, and I was amazed at her piece of art! ! !
I'm not sure she's even made an apple pie before! I can't wait to try a piece :)

The photo was taken with my iphone :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Be or Not To Be the Garden of Eden


Today I posted some photos on my Bird Blog http://birddreams.blogspot.com/
They were sweet discoveries I made when I went outside after a thunder storm.
I mentioned that I hadn't been paying attention to the garden because of other matters that have distracted me. So, the photos can be a bit misleading, because they are beautiful and look like they could have come from a well maintained garden. I didn't intentionally try to give that impression.
The truth is, I haven't, nor has anyone else, been tending the garden this year. As a result, the weeds are waist high or higher. I had trouble finding a couple of Blueberry bushes that I know should be there and next to every rose bush are huge thistles.
I couldn't help but think of Adam. What a shock it must have been for him to sent from the Garden of Eden and have to deal with the weeds that would aggressively take over any piece of ground not tended to.
My garden was like a paradise, a Mini Garden of Eden, in years past; but, now it is like the outside of the Garden of Eden. In spite of that, I will still enjoy what sweet treasures I can find out there and maybe someday, it will be restored again.



Thursday, July 2, 2009

Personal Declarations

Sometimes, when I find myself in the middle of a few very challenging situations and I feel like I can't take one more step, I begin to talk to myself - not out loud. I engage my brain to recite the truth to my heart so that I don't let myself get carried away by emotions that could really keep me from imploding.
In the last number of months, I've begun writing these thoughts down. I call them "Declarations." Writing things down seems to give strength to the process and it is also interesting to look back over a Declaration or two sometimes when I can't think of what to tell myself. :)
This is a Declaration I wrote yesterday. It was 'one-of-those-days' and I realized that I needed to sit myself down and strategize or I would be mowed down by despair. I thought I would share it with everyone and maybe it might help someone else who is having 'one-of-those-days' today.

I will choose to keep my focus ahead of me
-I can't get stuck in this moment or in the past
I will choose to do what I can in this moment
-instead of giving up
I will remind myself of the truth - the basic facts
-and not get overwhelmed by extemporaneous chatter
I will not let my emotions carry me down a negative path
- that disables me
I will resist the temptation to run away
-though I so wish I could
I will allow the Holy Spirit to work His life in me
-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

I will endeavor to be all I can be - right now - right here
-so that I don't waste the moment and I can still make progress

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Poem by Annie Johnson Flint

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where, in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, "Move on."

And His hand will lead you through -- clear through --
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But o'er the seabed you will walk dry ground
In the path that your Lord will make.

In the morning watch, 'neath the lifted cloud,
You will see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears will pass as your foes have passed,
You will be no more afraid;
You will sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the LORD
In the land of the living.
Psalm 116:5-8


For more Annie Johnson Flint's biography:
http://www.preceptaustin.org/annie_johnson_flint%27s_biography.htm

Thursday, June 25, 2009

John Wooden


Found this quote on Twitter:
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
John Wooden (1910- )
An American Basketball Couch

I liked Mr. Wooden's quote, so I looked him up on Wikipedia and found lots of interesting and inspiring information about him. In the article, I found his Seven Point Creed which had been given to him by his father when he graduated from grammer school.

Here is a copy of the Seven Point Creed:
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Make each day your masterpiece.
  • Help others.
  • Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  • Make friendship a fine art.
  • Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  • Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day
He was outstanding in his field having many great success stories and honors given to him. I would encourage anyone to look him up, if you don't know him, and be inspired to be all that you can be!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All Will Be Well

Dear Lord,
Thank you that I can trust in you
because you will always keep your word.
Help me to trust you more
and to not worry about things which
I can't do anything about.
Give me faith so I can give you
everything that is too big for me.
I know you are good
and
you do all things well.
Thank you for the hope that
'All will be well'
I don't want to waste my time
worrying about things that are beyond
my ability to control.
I want to use my thinking energies
to appreciate
all the beautiful wonders
around me.
I want to be free to be creative
so I can be
one of those beautiful wonders
in the lives of others
for your glory.
Amen

Words of Encouragement

"The Lord looks on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul is waiting for the Lord.
The Lord is our help and shield.
Our hearts find joy in the Lord.
We trust in God's holy name.
May your love be upon us, O Lord,
As we place all our hope in you."
Psalm 33:18-22

"They call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed God will save."
Psalm 34:18,19

As I was praying last night, I came upon these verses of hope in the Lord. I am sure there are others who will be blessed to hear these words, so I decided to post them. Where ever you are in life, take peace in knowing that God is close to you, He will rescue you when you call out to Him, He will never let you down and His great love is all over you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Keep Your Eyes on Him


"When the Lord calls you to come across the water, step out with confidence and joy. And never glance away from Him for even a moment. You will not prevail by measuring the waves or grow strong by gauging the wind. Attempting to survey the danger may actually cause you to fall before it. Pausing at the difficulties will result in the waves breaking over your head."
(From "Streams in the Desert" - this morning)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Truth

Nothing changes the truth.
Whether or not I have been
successful with applying it,
doesn't change the validity of the truth

A path should be well worn between
heart and brain
by the frequent passage
of truth
~yours truly

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer and Faith


"Delayed answers to prayer
are not only trials of faith;
they also give us opportunities
to honor God
through our steadfast confidence
in Him
even when facing
the apparent denial
of our request."


Charles H. Spurgeon


"My hope come from him." Psalm 62:5

Thursday, June 4, 2009

From Twitter

This is a quote from 'redstarvip' on Twitter:

"Good Morning! Where there's a will there's a way!
Go hard! Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes!"

I like it! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Destination in Time

Time -
so intangible - and yet,
it's spendable
it drags
it flies
it can't be stopped
you can give it
you can take it
you can save it
you can waste it
you can't borrow it
you can't store it up
it can disappear
it can be your best asset
it can be your worst enemy

Destination in Time -
where I want to be

Lately I've found that time seems to move proportionately to the pace I am moving.
If I am sitting around, in a negative or even wishful mindset, time can drag on and on and on. It seems to go nowhere - which is exactly what I'm doing then, too!
But, if I am busy, even if it is doing something not pertaining to a 'Destination in Time' where I'd like to be, time moves along at a good pace as well.
So, I am endeavoring to keep busy (even with a torn triceps muscle that hurts like H---), that way, I am getting things done, even tho' they may be small or not related to my ultimate goal. I can keep a positive attitude which is very important for creativity, health, and an optimistic outlook! And, I can live the day; count it off with a smile; minimizing the pain of longing with the emotional endorphins that result from feeling I have accomplished something!

Here's a little poem I wrote this morning:

I constantly make choices
Some insignificant, some great
And whether or not I sit or do
Each choice creates my fate

I can choose to settle or go far
Be hopeful or full of pity
The fact remains, no one to blame
(I wrote this little ditty)

SO! Let's choose to move time! Let's make some good choices, even if the choice seems small or insignificant! And let's enjoy all that we can on our way to our 'Destination in Time' :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Peanut Butter and Friends


Today, I am reminded of a quote from Charlie Brown as I was making a bite of lunch.
"If you're eating a peanut butter sandwich,
it means that you're lonely.

If it sticks to the roof of your mouth,
you're extra lonely."

Whether or not that is true :)
peanut butter on toast with coffee
is a yummy way to reflect on friends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Victoria Day

HAPPY VICTORIA DAY TO ALL MY FELLOW
CANADIAN CITIZENS!

Victoria Day brings back many pleasant memories:

*Sunshine sparkling on the water of the
Bras d 'Or Lake

*Warm Spring breeze
*Thoughts of celebrating the day off from school
*Dreaming and living adventures with my sister
*Carrying a picnic lunch
that tasted especially good that day
*Peaceful, clear thoughts that seemed to
set the day apart from all others
*Reflections on my geneology which connected
my to this day
*Anticipation of the end of the school year

Those were wonderful, sweet days
which I will treasure always!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

St. Therese of Lisieux

I am reading "The Story of a Soul", the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux. At the age of 15, she was given permission to enter Carmel to become a nun. She died at the very young age of 24 of tuberculosis. Her writings express the sweetest heart of love and adoration for Jesus.
In the first part of the book, she is introducing her family and last night, as I was reading, I came upon some thoughts she wrote about mothers. Today, being Mother's Day, I thought it appropriate to share them with you.
"...Ah! How delicate is the heart of a mother! How it translates its tenderness into a thousand watchful caring acts that no one would think about!"
As mothers, we often don't think about it either because these thousand acts come out of love for our children. Its just part of being a mom to care lovingly for our children.
Bless you, tenderhearted moms! I know One whose eyes are ever attentive to every thing you do in love. Nothing escapes His notice.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mothers
May you be honored by your families
May you be encouraged by your friends
May you be blessed by your God
Happy Mother's Day - May 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memories

Raining, heavy, constant, relentless
I cannot sleep - so many memories
Tears, questions, shock, grief
It was raining like this that night, too
I remember lying in bed feeling sure
that all of creation was mourning with us
Tonight, I tried to sleep but my body was tense
I had to remind myself
"Joy comes in the morning."
And I remembered that
Joy comes in the mourning
He, who is my joy
Comes in the midst of my mourning
And brings rest and hope
For the new day yet to dawn

Monday, April 27, 2009

April Sancturary

This morning the sunrise announced
the never-ending hope of a new day,
fresh, and filled glory!
In the last few days of April, the mornings have become glorious sanctuaries filled with every beautiful color and sound imaginable. I am alone in the wonder of it all and immerse myself in every living detail that meets my senses. In the pure delight and exhilaration of experiencing all of that, my heart worships the Creator.
The chorus of birds rivals the greatest human choir. The live 'surround- sound' experience is unmatched as is the complicated variety of theme lines that weave in and out as they sing and echo to each other.
The colors are vibrant, intense and dance off the ground like living droplets of paint from the brush.
The fragrances fill the air and saturate my entire being with their sweetness - I breathe them, I feel them, I want to eat them or drink them.

OH SPRING HOW WONDERFUL THOU ART! ! !

I found these miniature works of art on the side of the road this morning - beautiful symbols of new life, new hope, new joy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Falling in Love on This Spring Evening

Its another beautiful evening in Spring. I was wandering out in my backyard and was taken captive by some of the simple messages of love I found there.
These two little blossoms seemed to reach out, in their own way to say,
"Look at the beautiful Creator's heart!
You can see what He is like when you look at me!"
I did look...
and I did see...
and I did fall in love with Him all over again.



Friday, April 24, 2009

These are two scripture passages I read this morning.
Both are quoted from the NLT:

"We can rejoice, too,
when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens
our confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit
to fill our hearts with his love."
Romans 5:3-5
"If you fail under pressure,
your strength is too small."
Proverbs 24:10

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Quote for Today

"Unless you choose happiness,
you will wait forever for it." ~
Dr. R. Holden

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Sacrifice"

Today, I think about the fathomless, incomprehensible, all sufficient demonstration of the love of God toward us. He gave His only son, Jesus, to pay the full penalty of our sin, so that we could truly live and come close to Him in spirit again.
I wrote this song in November 2000. I share it with you, with the hope that our hearts will be filled with a new and more profound understanding and love for Him and His sacrifice of love.


Oh, perfect Sacrifice
Pure and spotless love and life
Poured out in crimson streams on my heart
Washing clean the darkest part

Oh precious Sacrifice
Broken body in my place
Such love, as I have never found
Healing wounds in broken ground*

I will ever praise Your name
Lamb so sweet, who bore my shame
I lay down my life, to follow You alone
Sacrifice, alive and on the throne!

"Sacrifice" words and music by Diane Nelson - Novemeber 2000

* "broken ground" has a multipicity of meaning.
Our hearts are often referred to as 'ground'. In the Bible it talks about 'tilling up the fallow ground of your heart' which points to the fact that our hearts can become 'hard' because of sinful habits and attitudes. The heart is broken by the very fact that is is 'hardened' - it becomes dysfunctional.
Also, when something is hard, it can 'break' or 'shatter' when a blow is hard enough. We can respond to circumstances and relationships in our lives in selfishness, bitterness, hostility and revenge which all harden our hearts and at some point, some element comes into our lives and hits us causing our hearts to shatter in a million pieces. A heart broken in this way is devastating.
Thankfully, God, in His great love and mercy, knew that we would need a remedy for a broken heart, and in the sacrifice of Christ made it effective to bring healing to the brokenness that can occur in our hearts.
Remember, also, that we were created from the dust of the earth (ground) - Isaiah prophesied that "...by His (Christ's) stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) In God's incredible plan, it was ordained that in Christ's sinless, perfect body being broken - our sinful, broken bodies (ground) would be healed.
I truly cannot explain or describe all that my heart sees and feels in this one concept alone - but, suffice to say, I am in awe, lost in speechless worship before Him because of the magnitude of His love.