Welcome to my eclectic journey of my life and delights. This year my theme is surrendering my writing pen to the true author, Jesus Christ, while looking forward to the future, reflecting on the past and dancing through my journey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Orange in the Toe

Somewhere along the timeline of stuffing the stockings during my childhood days and all the way into my parenting-stocking-stuffing days was carried the tradition of putting an orange in our stockings.  I never thought about the why, I just knew at the end of pulling out all my goodies that the toe of my stocking would be stuffed with a beautiful orange.

Our Christmas collection of books holds a Christmas book describing how oranges were given during the holidays; this story is one of the best of Patricia Polacco's works.  This book added more meaning to the oranges in our stockings and this year, I researched where the tradition began.

I believe God gave me an orange to put in the toe of my stocking.  The truths that He poured out during my devotional will hold my stocking steady from swinging out of place.  The orange of truth will allow other joys of the season to be pure delight, if I grasp what His truths are teaching me.

Here are truths He unfolded for me while grounding my stocking for this season.

  • Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers - "Beware of 'the cares of this world' Mark 4:19 - they produce the wrong attitudes of the soul...refuse to be swamped by the cares of this world
Wow! Isn't that a toe supporting truth?  During this season, I am not to focus on the cares of this world.
  • Another distraction is our passion for vindication - Don't say "I must explain myself" or "I must get others to understand" - Jesus never explained anything.  He left the misunderstanding and misconceptions of others to correct themselves.
This second truth from Chambers will become my motto for ending this year and I hope it becomes how I walk into the future.  If this truth alone is all that comes from stuffing my stocking, I will be transformed.  Over the last few days I have stopped over and over again to think, "I don't need to explain!"  Truly life freeing!!  I know there is a balance here, but I am one who tries tooooooooooooooooo many times to explain myself, and usually it never helps matters anyway.

The Lord knows me; therefore, He also gave me some practical ways to enter this season.
  1. Drink in the remedies of God in nature- Dr. Clyde Kilby, "He pleads with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature."
  2. Stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things - instead be awed by an awakening amazement at the strange glory of those same ordinary things. 
"I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and       plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities" - John Piper
  1. I will not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work!  (Now that is a keeper during the season of such materialism)
  2. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a while, to be in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."
This word has been for me all year.  God has said over and over again... to be more childlike. When I stop and just see the world through Benjamin's eyes, this becomes very easy... and oh the joy!

The last and final word through my devotionals out of John Piper's Taste and See, along with Utmost for His Highest placed the large orange fruit into the toe of my stocking.

"Not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment."

Now my stocking will hold all the other treasures of this season of life.  I am anxiously watching for each surprise, just like I did all those years ago as a child.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Put Away But Not Forgotten

The season has come to an end, yet the gratefulness continues.  As I packed up my Thanksgiving decoration, washed another dish, pondered over the small group we had this year, I prayed prayers of thanksgiving.

This year was a change.  Adult children literally all over the world, or making memories with their soon-to-be extended families, meant less at our table.  In fact, I can't even remember a time that I only had Thanksgiving for six.  However,although the calm was awkward, it was still precious to have this quality time with just four of our children.

While picking up the decorations and putting our thanksgiving page on my desk to put into a scrapbook, the text from my husband came.  Our season of three months of unemployment....no pay checks, had come to an end as he deposited our first check!!!!!!!!  His new hourly, temporary job had come the middle of November.  He trained and started to work while still developing his insurance accounts.  How grateful we are.....our flesh cried out "Thank-you Lord!"

We all speak of God's faithfulness, though some know it through just His words, others know it through experiences like we have just walk through.  To experience provision from heaven through checks in the mail that arrived just the day that a bill was due....we saw His faithfulness.  As He did in the wilderness with the Israelities, He did for us, providing manna for each day.

I smiled as the decor was taken down from its place, the books returned to their shelf and the recalling of His faithfulness to the Pilgrims.  Our God is truly remarkable!

I pondered if I should just stop blogging through the Christmas season.  I really am not interested in so many of the traditional posts for this season....life is still very unpredictable at this time.  Then I set down to have my devotional and I felt I knew where I wanted to go this season with my posts.  During the summer I wrote posts on filling my sand pail.  The Lord knew that I would need each of those scoops to bring me through this unemployment journey, so why not see what He has in store for me through the Christmas season?

I am going to be filling my Christmas Stocking!  I hope you enjoy seeing what the Lord puts in my stocking...or join me also in filling your own stocking. I think He has some special things in store as I watch what He wants to give me this season as I focus on the Reason for the Season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time to Recall

The story never gets old...it just buries itself deeper into my heart and soul.  They sacrificed everything to start a new life in a world were they could worship God as they pleased. Across a vast ocean they sailed in a  wooden boat to a new land.  The facts still amaze me as I look at God's providence over this part of our Nation's history.

  • 66 days crossing the stormy Atlantic
  • 104 arrived safely including a birth at sea
  • "Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land," wrote Governor William Bradford,"they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries therefor  again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element."
  • over half of the adults died the first winter - leaving unmarked graves in fear that the Indians would see how many had died 
  • the spring brought Samoset greeting them with the English words "Welcome"
  • Squanto came speaking their language and teach them how to trap eels and plant corn
  • when the Mayflower returned, none wanted to go back
  • Fall brought harvest and celebration - Massosoit and 90 Indians came to celebrate- it was a three day feast
  • A peace treaty by word of mouth between the Pilgrims and the Indians survived 50 years
These brave and courageous men and women began our Nation. They acknowledged God's blessings through their great loss and hardship.

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation.
"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
"It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon' and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord."

I excitedly recall these facts to my sons. I want them to know the foundation of our country...and the sacrifices that were paid so we could bow our hands in a prayer of thanks this season.  If we don't keep recalling, it is just one generation away from being forgotten.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bless the Lord - Sunday Singings

Today I hope you join me in this song Bless the Lord.  As you sing will you lift everyone up in prayer who are going through struggles.   As we offer up praise our struggles are lifted before the throne.  I lift those going through cancer before the throne.  I lift all those suffering loss through the storm Sandy.  I lift those struggling through this economy.  I lift those whose marriages have come to an end.  I lift those whose life's disappointments seem overwhelming. I lift those whom this holiday season will be without love ones because of  loss this last year. 
 Lord, you alone we will worship with all our soul.

"Our lives should be an absolute hymn of praise resulting from perfect, irrepressible, triumphant belief."  Oswald Chambers

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Not to Wear

I propped my feet up as I grabbed my devotional book and Bible.  Our colder weather means I need to cover my feet.  So there they were staring at me when my mind went into a make-believe scenario.

In through my front door burst the host and hostess of What Not to Wear.  I could hear their giggles from the front door as they sarcastically blurted out, "You are dressed like that and you were planning on taking your 16-year-old son to school? "
The laughter continued as they told how I would have embarrassed him for life, (which I do think is part of our responsibility to do to all our children at one time or another...embarrass them with our funny looks).  Then they went on to harass me through photos candidly taken over the last month of me in my baggy jeans.  Yes! after one year of working my bottom off at the gym, 15 pounds of my stubborn fat has left me with bottom sagging jeans.  I was truly in need of some education in fashion (in their opinion)................as the laughter continued, I covered my makeup-free-and-in-need-of-a-haircut face, while leaving my fashion-less attire exposed.

My desire for a gift card of $5000.00 and total make-over went (puff!) up into smoke as I opened my devotional...........NO, I DID NOT KNOW THIS WAS COMING!

In 1997, there was an article written called the The Body Project.  In this article they compared the diaries of girls from the 1830's to the 1990's.  In the nineteenth century, the girls diaries focused on "good works", whereas, the diaries written in the 1990's focused on "good looks."

The goals of girls in the 1830's focused on character qualities

  • think before speaking
  • work seriously
  • be self-restrained in conversations and actions
  • dignified
Compared to goals of girls in 1982
  • make myself better with the help of money
  • lose weight
  • get new lenses
  • new haircut
  • good makeup
  • new clothes
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What a contrast and it is now 2012 and I must say we have not returned to the virtues of women in the 1830's.

I was startled from my daydreaming makeover.  Where could I find myself in these two examples?  Where does God see me?

  • "The biblical starting point in dealing with the fear of looking unacceptable to God.  Does a woman "hope in God", or hope in the approval of men (or women)?  This is the key to "not being frightened by fear" (I Peter 3:6)  (again not be frightened by fear, not be fearful of my future...my circumstances?)
  • Expressing God, not self, is what a godly woman wants to do.  Excessive preoccupation with figure and hair and complexion is a sign that self, not God, has moved to the center.  John Piper - Taste and See
WOW!!!  I handed back the imaginary Visa card and pondered these words.  Do I feel there is anything wrong with looking your best?   NO!!! I am sure my husband left the house this morning thinking...'you know that wasn't really an appealing sight"... so I agree you should do your best.  What I heard was.....girl, right now there isn't any VISA card....I am dealing with your heart!

I think my exchange of the VISA card for heart surgery with my Lord is worth more than any outward make-over.........it is inward, and that spills out onto the surface for all to see.  That is when I reflect His glory and no amount of make-up can do that.

"With God at the center-like the "sun", satisfying a woman's longings for beauty and greatness and truth and love - all the "planets" of food and dress and exercise and cosmetics and posture and countenance will stay in their proper orbit.
If this happens,the diaries of the next generation will probably go beyond looks and character and speak of the greatness of God and the triumphs of his grace.  And they will more often be written from Calcutta than from the comfortable houses of America."  John Piper - Taste and See

What strong words....I want my diary to change.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Facing the Wind

google image...Winnie the Pooh book

Winnie the Pooh: Happy "Winds-day", Piglet. 
Piglet: [being blown away] Well... it isn't... very happy... f-for me. 
Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet? 
Piglet: That's what I'm asking myself, where? 
[he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind
Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh! 
Winnie the Pooh: [grabbing Piglet's scarf
] And what do you think you will answer yourself? 

Benjamin and I were in need of a change of scenery.  We had been working away at school, recovering from a long weekend with family and the sun just beckoned us to come play.  Besides this could be marked off as a science and gym, while letting me exercise my stubborn fat off.  So off we went with our bikes packed into the back of the car to the near by bike trail.

As I struggled to remove our bikes from the truck I giggled to Benjamin, "well we might not have to pedal much the wind will just push us along." That is exactly what the wind did as we glided over the first mile of the trails.  Now you will ask, "doesn't she check the weather?"  Why NO!  The warm, breezy, sunny fall day was just what my mood was in need of.

I rounded the end of the lake trail to continue back toward our beginning destination while Benjamin following close behind.  The first gust of wind hit my face as I heard Benjamin cry out, "Mom STOP!"
I immediately dismounted my bike and turned to see this little helmet wearing, training wheel biker come flying past me grinning from ear to ear while yelling with a giggle, "You Loser!"

This competitive mother couldn't let a six-year-old pass his 51-year-old over-weight momma.

I climbed back on my pink bike, pushing my thunder thighs to pass him up with, "you called me a Loser?"

Then the wind hit us!  The leaves started flying, the dust started to hit us in the face.  Benjamin's speed came to a crawl and my thighs were feeling the burn.  We were inching along fighting the wind.

I encouraged my biking partner, "well we are sure using different muscles aren't we?"

We fought and fought to get back to our beginning mark.  The first mile the wind was behind us making the  journey pleasant, the second mile the wind pushed at us on all sides, making the ride a challenge.

Neither of us stopped, my thighs burned, his little legs pushed forward.  We came to a fork in the road, Benjamin chose to go around one way while I circled the other direction.
I beat him to the finish line.  He looked up and said, "you chose the right way!"
I laughed to myself, "Yes, there are times my wisdom in my old age pays off and he is still at the age of thinking I know everything...I am going to capture each moment of that if I can."

We carried our tired bodies and bikes to the car.  As we entered our neighborhood the wind damage was everywhere!   This mom had missed the weather report stating "wind alert".  Fences were knocked over, our patio umbrella was thrown across the yard and our suburban windmill was blown over!

Oh my!   We had survived the wind alert and won!
There are times that life just blows you forward...wind in your hair, the wind beneath your wings...then there are times you stand with your face to the wind!  You face the wind and move forward.

Prayers still being prayed for all those affected by Sandy and for the team from San Antonio, Texas - Blood and Fire (updates on their site click on name) who are there being His hands and feet...love you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thank You for Your Faithfulness

google image

Two couples sat across from each other, each having more wrinkles and grey hair than their first meeting decades earlier.  We were first brought together as neighbors, our shared love for the Lord and common interests sparked our friendship.  Between us we had eight children then, seven boys and one girl.  Each family was just beginning their journey of home schooling.  Eventually, job opportunities separated us by many miles... and time marched on.

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Ps 127:3-5 (NAS)

This week we reunited for a short visit.  Today, we now have twelve children between us...eleven boys and one girl.  We have a common bond again...our adult children are getting married, and it happens that two of our children will marry at the same place just months apart.

You would never know that years and miles have kept our friendship from daily interchange; you would think we had walked the last 17 years as neighbors.  We shared our journeys...both couples' mixture of joys and tremendous struggles.  We both agreed we were glad God didn't show us ahead of time what the journey would hold.  We both celebrated that our paths had crossed again.

Then during the chattering exchanges, trying to catch up on the past years and present day news, the husband stopped us all.  He gently spoke, "Before I forget to do this...I want to thank you both for being faithful."

My throat choked up and my mind went to Gideon as the Lord declared him valiant.  My mind also went to Moses as Moses questioned the position God was calling him to walk.

How could this couple, who we hadn't had the joy of walking close beside for years, call us faithful?  They just didn't know the whole story. Surely I needed to fill in all the gaps of our sin.

Then God tenderly touched my spirit.  The words from the man of God weren't his words. They were words God was having him say to encourage us.

They left...far too soon.

I noticed that I walked a little taller.  I started back into our home and, in the Spirit, I picked back up the weapons I had allowed to be stripped from my hands.  I put the arrows in my bow (the Word of God) and mentally directed them at the enemies' lies....those lies of failure, the lies of lack, the lies that our marriage wouldn't make it, the lies that our children wouldn't walk in their spiritual heritage...all of the lies.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph. 6:12

Just one short sentence put this warrior back in the game.  Maybe that is why scripture tells us to encourage each other while it is still today.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.  Hebrews 3:13

So I turn now to you to say, "Thank you for being faithful!"  So many times, your written words have encouraged me in my journey.  Your faithfulness has declared the truth of His word. As a fellow sojourner in this walk on earth, you have shown me faithfulness... and I am both encouraged and grateful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

W and W

Saturday was a "Family of W's" day.  I worked for a week to get ready for a dual engagement lunch for our children and their grandparents.  Off to buy a drop cloth and stencil "W" on all four corners.  Even though our daughter will change her name, she will still have a last name starting with "W", so "W" will work for our family gatherings forever.

I painted the back of my clear glass, Dollar Store plates with a "W".  The couples' pictures were put in frames on the table.  My large vase was turned upside down and stuffed with lace, pearls and wedding dress material.   They all gathered around the table to tell childhood stories...which always sound much worse than the actual facts.

The engaged couples were surrounded by two marriages that have passed 50 years and one 50+year marriage that lasted until the Lord called my father-in-law home to heaven when he was in his 80's.  My mother-in-law is 97!!

Here is the whole "W" clan...well, soon to be "W" clan.  Of course, someone always seems to be in too much light...now where is that professional photographer?

Weddings in 2013 - Katie, fiance of son Allen... Nicole, our only girl, and her fiance, Michael.  Prayers of blessings were prayed over all of them.   Anniversary blessings were given to sister-in-law and brother-in-law with applause for 51 years.  We all sang Happy Birthday to my Dad for his 75th Birthday.

Then, the news that brought us all to tears of joy while standing out on the lawn of our house.   Our oldest son Kenny and his wife Sarah are starting the process to bring a new Wright  into the Wright family through adoption.  Of course, all of this means "God" ...we haven't traveled this road before, nor entered "the system".  If you think to pray...please lift up these new prospective parents.............we are looking to add another "W" to our growing family.

Friday, November 2, 2012

He Needs a Family

Without any formal "hello, Mom!", she starts her entry into our home with a question.  "Mom, do you think __________ would be willing to adopt?"  I answered without hesitation, "I have no clue!"  I knew better than to just stop there; she usually has something behind her questions.  "Why?  Do you know of a child that needs a family?"

Throughout her life, she has been drawn to those who seemed to get themselves in trouble.  Like the stories of the person who could pick up every stray dog, she would gravitate toward the outcast.  Many times, she stumbled through and as she reached out to give hope, she also got pulled into the world often created by rebellion.

She has the scars to show and the testimonies to tell as she has walked through others' pain and her own. She has witnessed numerous teenage girl's pregnancies.  She starts to tell me whose child... and why?

This story is one of probably millions of children all of over the world...but this one is in our own backyard.  God sends some to mission fields and others He calls to minister to those in their own backyard.  What part are we to play in this story that tugged at my heart?

The girl found herself pregnant while in her late teens.  Her desire to have someone love her overcame the wisdom of giving the little boy up for adoption following his birth.  I have to praise her for not going to the local abortion clinic, even if the future for her as a single mother looked dim.  I heard of his birth and my daughter continued to try to stay in touch as this young woman began down the world of drugs.  My daughter continued to try to reach out.

The other day the grandmother (herself, fighting her own battles) called our daughter to ask if  she would take the little boy.  Of course as she told the story to me, through tear-swollen eyes, she adamantly said, "and if they don't want to adopt him, I am!"  Then she looked up and said, "well, I haven't asked Michael yet!"  

She will be married March 3rd, 2013 at the age of 22.  I couldn't see her starting her marriage with a 2-year-old, and yet my heart couldn't see us doing nothing.

Of course, then she had to show me his picture....and then came his name, Joshua. He was named after his uncle who is just a few years older and a child whom I knew from a young age.

The young mother will be spending many years in prison.  We had tried to reach out to her...we took her with us to church and had her in our home.  Just another story....there are so many.   So many right in our own backyard.  How this story will end I don't know, but this little boy is pulling on all of our hearts.  Yes, we are praying, as we ask God what He would have us do.  Of course my first reaction was..."where is he? I will go get him!"  The system is set up to not let you do that, but my heart just wanted to bring him home.  Restless sleep at night... tossing and turning as his picture crossed my mind over and over again.....divine appointment?... Lord what are you saying?  

My devotional just hours before my daughter entered the house....Faith in active opposition to common sense is mistaken enthusiasm and narrow-mindness, and common sense in opposition to faith demonstrates a mistaken reliance on reason as the basis for truth............The life of faith says, "Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I'm going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word." - Oswald Chambers

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