The Right Conditions

Down by the river.
Along the river.

“If He was calling me to Middle school, He would have made the conditions better.”  My youngest whispered to me recently in a Sunday’s service in objection to my whisper to him that God had indeed called him to this “jail” for a time.  It voices my son’s objections, and often, mine.

I object to lesser conditions.  Yet, my life conditions are better than most.  I am blessed.

What is the remedy for such thinking?  To overcome the fear of, or outright rejection of, lesser conditions.  Bible reading seems a good way start.  Recalling that the Lord often calls those He loves through hard circumstances.  And of course, following Jesus, whose own earthly footsteps lead to the cross.  Though they did not end there ultimately, He endured hanging naked and bloody in public and yet I complain about the traffic?  Weather?  Candidates?  Hmm.

In the end we will have eternally delightful conditions.  That is the promise.  God is a faithful, promise keeping God.  We can trust Him to deliver us safely to our eternal home.  We can be assured also that He is with us and that our path in this world will lead us through the valley of the shadow.  We are not yet home.  So as you journey may you find refuge in the sanctuaries with His people and of His Presence.

Blessings!

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Pieces of Puzzles

We enjoy puzzles here. At least the oldest and myself. The others are good sports about participating some in an non-preferred activity. The Senior Engineer is a patterns guy. He likes to get down to the part where there are shapes to fill and sort by. A good gift when there are only solid or same colors left. Friends of the girl can entice her to spend a little time. I finished the 1000 pieces many weeks past Christmas, for which it was a present, and began the next. It is out on the dining room table. There is a break for Spring and Easter this week so I have high hopes for getting it done.

1kpuzzlePuzzles are non-competitive, non-electronic activity, thus hard to convince some of their appeal. So what is it? There are memories of my grandparents who left out a puzzle on a folding table with seemingly no sense of urgency in completion. They just noticed it as they walked through their house and put in another piece at a time. They sat and talked around it some.

This year was extra stressful after Christmas, perhaps a growth spurt had set off another round of authority conflict for the youngest at school and at home. Particularly with me. Yet he would sit at the puzzle as calmly as anywhere. It carries little to no anxiety, unless the last piece is missing. That’s happened twice. Once I found it, once I didn’t.

As I sat each night finding the likenesses and differences in tiny pieces that would fit together despite seemingly no connection it occurred to me that the comfort of knowing the frame work and the picture that would come, as it is printed on the box was calming. There are things in life that none of us will solve, illness, disease, death, how others respond around us but there is a frame work. There is truth.

For those who believe, the framework is given. We put together the edge pieces of our own lives that instead of the nice smooth side have ridges that allow our smaller puzzle to fit together with the larger picture of the plans the Lord has to love the world though the life, death and resurrection of His Son and the comforting presence and healing power of His Spirit.

So as you look at all the little pieces in your life, be encouraged to believe that one day you will see exactly how they fit into the plan of God, not only for you but for His Kingdom as it comes. He is coming! One day, even better than Easter.

Blessings!

The Long View

pghriverview2016A funny thing happened while I was reading my Twitter feed.  I was reading an article by a long time family friend about a city we both have lived in.  And it turned out that we were both in said city last weekend.

He was lecturing a group of leaders who devote time and energy to praying for their beloved city.  He was praising their commitment and the discipline of taking the long view for the Kingdom of God to revive and prosper a place, not just physically but spiritually.

I was in the city watching our oldest march with the band from his Christian college in a parade sponsored by the public schools  The story of God’s hand moving the oldest to said college is of great encouragement to me as his mother, as well as an alumna; and a story for his own blog.

I’m struck by the continuity of God’s work in our lives.  I enjoy and recommend the writing of Dr. Steven Garber for the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture in the article The Way The World’s Supposed To Be.  There are many good things to enjoy on the website for the Institute.  And I’m encouraged by the long view.  As discussed in the last blog, my vision is changing as my children grow up.  Opportunities for broader work have presented themselves, though are not yet firmly established as there is still plenty of homebuilding to be done.

I had to laugh at the joy I found in knowing that God’s work goes on around me even in a city where I made plans to spend time with our soon to be on her own girl just so we could have an outing to watch her brother’s band play.  In this season that gets so busy, may you find the joys of God’s continuing work surrounding you.  Blessings.

 

The Mom Thing

This blog is inspired by this give away of my favorite things; tea, books and Panera. http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2015/11/20/happy-thanksgiving-giveaway/

Check them out then come back.  Or read on and then check them out.  Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up for their poems.

In fact, that’s really what the blog is about.  Missing opportunities.  The choices before us as mothers of how we spend our time and energy.  It never ceases to amaze me that the supposed endless monotony of my days as a “stay home” mom really are ever changing.  Fascinating that there isn’t really one instruction book specific to every mother and certainly not to every child.  

The phases of growth in the lives of our children are individual.  They are experienced by us through our own unique filters and responded to in ways unimaginable to others.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep up.  

As mentioned previously in this blog flexibility and a good attitude remain foundational.  As well as grace, forgiveness, sincere apologies and a solid prayer life.  

Each of our children teach me much and the oldest two are beginning a season of bearing fruit of their own.  They are a tribute to us in ways that can only be explained by the graciousness of a loving God!  I’m truly blessed not to have missed the opportunity to be their mother.

And They’re Off

29 years and about 11 months, in fact, 30 years to the day from my upcoming 48th birthday, I went to college.  I was so excited and ready.  I don’t remember anyone crying.  I do remember the video with my dad holding my Cabbage Patch doll while waiting at the door of my dorm.

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This week, we sent our oldest off to my alma mater and he is settling in to band camp and being on his own as I type.  I’m not really sad.  I can’t ask for a better return on an 18 year investment than the young man the Lord has allowed him to become.  The way the path led him to his college choice had the fingerprints of God clearly displayed, beginning with a move to a city I didn’t want to make in 7th grade that ultimately led me to a small college I might not have otherwise know about.  God is good.  And so very faithful.

My parents figure heavily in the story of God’s faithfulness to me.  My father closed most of our family prayers with, “And for all the ways You love us and care for us, we are grateful.”  All the ways, we can see, and some we can’t until years, even decades, later.  God loves us and cares for us.

So we send off our firstborn with anticipation and trepidation.  As our sermon illustration pointed out last week, you can see it’s a chair, you can test it’s a chair, but you don’t know you believe it’s a chair until you turn around to sit on it.  Today we sit in the grace of our gracious God.  Having watched as He brought this one to the place in maturity to acknowledge his faith, grow in his gifts and talents and be ready to see what the world apart will hold for him.  And we sit in faith that the things we have assured him, and ourselves, about the love of God and the faithful presence of God will go with him, even though we can’t.

Blessings for the moments of letting go, and finding faith, in your days ahead.

Forward Progress

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Due to this year’s extreme cold and a bit of snow this is our 9th snow day.  I have been meaning to write more this year. But, “best laid plans” are sometimes unfinished, or interrupted, or changed for better.  Thanks to a Facebook thread with Mrs. L and company, today’s the day.

I would like to affirm that we do not live in Narnia, at least the “Always winter, never Christmas” part.  There will come spring.  And this year with the added bonus of a couple of our family having given up key ingredients of their diets for Lent, there will be the added relief of either having the habit established past this transition (read withdrawal) or reclaiming the freedom to bring back the ingredients.  It is a good reminder though that transitions, even ones with good intentions or outcomes, are not easy.

And failures are not fun.  Last year at this time I was just beginning to enjoy employment with the public school system as a substitute in both the classroom and health clinic settings.  But I had signed up in the fall for real estate and was still committed to my broker.  He did ask me if I wanted to be continue when I called to tell him that I had accepted a long-term assignment of three weeks.  In hindsight I should have said, “no.”  I had only rented one apartment and was freezing my nights and weekends away showing rentals without results and paying all the dues and fees.    Finally in June, after two more rentals, one for which I would never get paid, and just before the next set of dues and fees, I placed my license on “inactive” status and picked up a hearing and vision screening team assignment from the public school health clinic administration for a semester.

It was good to be free, and good to learn the limits of my working while still having home as my primary focus.  Another extreme winter has altered my working schedule again this year.  I am not paying dues and fees but I am losing the money for days I was scheduled but don’t actually work.  Monday the automated system called not to offer me a job but to cancel one.  At six in the morning no less!

In all this God has been present and active, of course and gracious enough to let me see His work.  I’ve made lovely friends from my fall team. Thanks to some summer school sub work, I have been befriended by the office staff at our local middle school where I can work and keep a not too intrusive eye on things.  The schedule has been just right for this year!

My plans to begin a five day assignment this morning did not work.  Yet as I sat and watched the snow fall and anticipated spending one more day at home with our soon departing Senior and his quickly growing siblings, I am grateful.

Blessings to see the work of God as your days unfold, even unexpectedly!

Throw Quilts and Making Lasting Memories

throwquilt14This is my first as requested blog.  Mrs. Y commented on a quilt picture my mom posted on Facebook with a request for more information, so here is the story.  I inherited many things from my grandmother and one of them was a full length denim skirt my mother made as a Christmas gift for her in 1973. The backing is from another full length skirt my mother made; one of three, one for herself, one for my grandmother and a pinafore for me.  I found us pictured wearing these.  

70sWomen (3)My mother says she saw the idea on the Dinah Shore show.  A denim skirt with memory patches for each of the members of our family at the time.  Mary was my paternal grandmother who loved Hawaii, a trip she wrote about in great detail in a travel journal I also inherited.  Bill was my paternal grandfather who had a favored wingback chair in the den from which he watched Mr. Cronkite’s evening news. My uncle Chuck was a sailor who always returned bearing gifts.  My mother, Jeanette, sewed the skirt and made the patches among many other gifts each year.  Also pictured is my Christmas stocking that must have been a popular kit around the same time. Twenty years later I saw one a friend’s mother had made for her.  My father Bill, who my grandmother called, “Billy” to avoid confusion, had a passion for books evident even before he lined floor to ceiling shelves in the old coal cellar of our Pittsburgh home and was either in, or soon attending seminary. I’m Amy, formerly a lover of swing sets in the backyard and my brother Charlie, now Charles, has easily transitioned from sandboxes to beaches.

My grandparents are now in eternity and my mother doesn’t sew, nor does my father read as momstockingmuch.  My uncle lives on land and, as stated, my brother is doing fine in his home by the sea.  Life is worth remembering as we journey homeward.  I thought it unlikely that my mother, myself, or my daughter would ever actually wear the skirt yet it was too much work lovingly made to leave folded up over a hanger in a closet any longer.  So, a throw, though needing to be used only for display, would at least allow it to be in the family a little longer.  And that, friends, is the story.  

Blessings for the memories of those who you love and who have loved you.  Remember too, the One who loves you best and is forever faithful.