Friday, September 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

Psalm 71:14
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
Along with beautiful rainbows (see previous post) I have some other favorite things...
Fall flowers (especially bouquets from my hubby), colorful leaves,  kitty cats, babies, children, sunny days, my home, family, friends, good husbands (I only have one, but I know there are other good husbands out there...not as good as mine, but still), green grass, my pool, friends to share the pool with, walks, a cozy bed, a cup of coffee (first thing in the morning, or later in the day while talking on the phone with a good friend, a sister, a daughter-in-law, or over dessert with company), books, music, the Bible (as I read it and hear God's voice, not necessarily the way others interpret it), people, and the Creator of all -- these, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite things.
At this moment they are. 
 Then I look at this picture and I'm reminded -- my bright dining room with big windows, an abstract painting from an artist friend, a dry sink (that belonged to my husband's mother) laden with sentimental gifts from friends and family, an antique butter churn (always loved that butter churn), and through the windows I see my big back porch -- these are all high on the list, just a few of my favorite things.
Looking outside to see deer browsing in the front field, squirrels chasing, rabbits hopping -- those too, are a few of my favorite things.
I haven't scratched the surface, but this list did the trick. As long as I have breath to praise God, I will always have hope. And, as long as I have hope, I will praise Him... more and more.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hope and a Promise


Rainbows paint the sky beautiful in the midst or aftermath of storms. Don't you just love those colorful arcs? Signs of hope and a promise since the days of Noah:

"I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life." Genesis 9:13-15

Hope. To look forward to with confidence, great expectation. If we lose hope we've lost our way. So don't lose hope. Hang on to hope. There is... Always Hope

To the beaten and broken, to the callused and bruised,
To the one who's crying silently inside,
To the helpless and hurting, to the lost and confused,
To the one who's searching for the meaning of life...
There is an answer. There is a Father, a love like no other. There is a God...
...There is hope in the One who promises, we are never alone.
I play that song over and over again when I need a reminder. There are challenges, upheavals, difficult circumstances and difficult people in everyone's life at one time or another. But, until we take our last breath, there is always hope.
I'm taking this as our very own sign of promise...
And guess what? The sun will probably come out tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Rest for the...

Uncle Billy from Jan Karon's Mitford Series says, "No rest for the wicked, and the righteous don't need none." Not sure which category I fall under, but we've been busy here at the farm. And I'm not one to deprive myself of rest, a quick power nap or a refreshing swim.

Saturday Tom and I stormed the barn, working alongside a fellow who is going to paint the inside of the lower level. First the old (perhaps 75 year old!) whitewashing has to be scraped off and the clutter has to be busted. Leaving him to the paint prep, we pitched junk, organized, cleaned up and cleared out all day long. Meanwhile a mason is patching and pointing up the stone foundation -- another huge project.

The rush of accomplishing so much on Saturday inspired me to clutter bust the house with gusto on Monday and Tuesday. Closets, pantry, cupboards...whew... I've got a big collection for Salvation Army.

But it's not that much fun to be indoors while these last days of summer (less than 20 by the calendar) wane.  From where I sit typing I see the shadows growing long, dahlias, mums, and black-eyed susans dot the landscape with color, lush grass, vibrant in the sunshine, and I can tell by the leaves of the trees there is a slight breeze. I need to get out there...

Still to do... the pool will have to be closed, but not just yet. Christmas tree fields need more attention, a bit more shearing, mowing, weeding, and fertilizing. When the leaves fall, oh dear, there's another big job. Other jobs I can't wait to tear into: the upper level of the barn, the old milkhouse that I want to turn into a bathhouse for pool guests, and the old cow barn, which is begging for a makeover. Wicked or righteous, I'm making myself weary just thinking about all there is to do. So I'm off right now to simply do the next thing. There will be a reward in it -- a canoe ride on the creek this evening to help a good friend celebrate her birthday.

Later that day...
You know you're getting old when -- we were all too tired for the effort of a canoe ride. The birthday girl opted for dinner out at the lovely Riverside Inn of Cambridge Springs instead. Followed by an evening swim. Ahhhhh, restful, refreshing and ready to face another day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lord, Make Us Intsruments of Your Peace

A prayer by Jena Lee Nardella, of the Blood Water Mission:
God, I stand before You and ask that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto You.

I pray for our President, Barack Obama. May he know Your presence, oh God, as he continues to serve as a leader of this nation, as a husband to Michelle, and as father to his daughters. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

I pray as well for Governor Mitt Romney. May he know Your presence, oh God, as he continues to serve as a leader, as a husband to Ann, and as a father to his sons and their families. Help him to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.

I pray for our country in the next nine weeks leading up to this election – for those of us meeting here and for our fellow citizens who met last week. May we make our children proud of how we conduct ourselves. We know our human tendencies toward finger-pointing and frivolousness. Our better selves want this race to be honest and edifying rather than fabricated and self-serving.

Give us, oh Lord, humility to listen to our sisters and brothers across the political spectrum, because your kingdom is not divided into Red States and Blue States. Equip us with moral imagination to have real discourse. Knit us, oh God, as one country even as we wrestle over the complexity of how we ought to live and govern. Give us gratitude for our right to dissent and disagree. For we know that we are bound up in one another and have been given the tremendous opportunity to extend humanity and grace when others voice their deeply held convictions even when they differ from our own.

And give us wisdom, God, to discover honest solutions for we know it will take all of us to care for the widow and the orphan, the sick and the lonely, the downtrodden and the unemployed, the prisoner and the homeless, the stranger and the enemy, the thirsty and the powerless. In rural Africa, I am witness to thousands of HIV positive mothers, fathers and children who are alive today because Democrats and Republicans put justice and mercy above partisanship. Help us keep that perspective even as we debate one another.

God, I thank you for the saving grace of Jesus and for the saints who have humbly gone before us. I thank you for the words of St. Francis of Assisi whose prayer I carry with me both in my home in East Nashville and in my work across rural Africa.

As we enter this election season, I pray St. Francis’ words for us all.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

This was recited at the Democratic National Convention. It is beautiful, just beautiful.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gotta Love Erma Bombeck

Keeping with the theme of my previous post on writing, really, you've got to love Erma Bombeck, gone from this world way too soon. She entertained, enlightened, and exhorted. She made us laugh and cry, knowingly nod, and then sheepishly hanging our head in shame. And gosh, she handed out some valuable advice. It was the very wise and witty Erma who said, "There's nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

That thought affirms what the wise guy said, whoever he or she be, which I posted last week: Writing is easy. All you have to do is just start writing, finish writing, and make sure it's good.

What the reader, and wannabe writer, needs to extrapolate here is the sarcasm. There is nothing easy about writing. First of all, you have to do it. That entails this: sit down, tune out the rest of the world, turn a deaf ear to all of your obligations and responsibilities for hours upon hours, focus, focus, focus, and let your life blood flow. Then, after making a mess -- what with blood everywhere -- you have to clean it up, hide most of it away where no eye will ever see. Then, hope against hope for a little leftover, publishable snippet, which will look to the reader like it took 15 minutes to produce. Yeah, it's easy, simple as that.

Writing is fun and oh, so rewarding. After all that work, I'm talking blood, sweat and tears, you have something you're pleased to have someone else read. If that someone laughs or cries or is moved in an intended way, you did your job and you did it well. There in lies the reward. And getting paid real money makes it all the better, wink, wink.

Writing is not all torture. Occasionally I laugh. I laugh at myself and I laugh at my own jokes, because yes, you can tell yourself a joke you never heard before. Ask my brother, Scott Bruce, the comedian, his livelihood depends on it. And he's done the Bruce name proud. He has even given me some opportunity for success in the writing field. All sibling rivalry aside, bless his heart.

It looks to me like I began, and this is a fine place to end. Whether the writing is good or not is yet to be determined. However, this is not at all what I was going to blog about today. I was going to tell of how lucky and blessed my life is. The 28th day of August marked our 41st wedding anniversary. Tom and I have a lovely home (albeit, it's been years getting that way -- which only adds to the richness of our relationship and the wonder of its survival), an idyllic and private space, green in spring and summer, mulitcolored in fall, which is fast approaching and pure white in winter on days the snow isn't dirty, opportunities for wildlife viewing abound, and French Creek runs through it. This is our sanctuary these days, and we are more than grateful for all we have. If I have no inspiration for writing it can not be blamed on location, location, location.