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...( 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!"