The Spin Cycle

My dryer is in pieces in my laundry room.  Blech.

The part is on order, and one of my sweet friends will be putting it in for me, but…we are going on Day 11 of no dryer.

Don’t try to come to my bedroom right now.  I would definitely tackle you if you headed up the stairs.  My bedroom looks like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies.

I could wait until the dryer is fixed to wash, but that may mean that we have to climb over clothes to get to the beds.

There has been a great side-effect of this time without a dryer, though.

As I handle each piece of our clothing to hang it individually, I have been aware of God’s provision and blessing to us.

My guys tend to pick t-shirts as souvenirs when we take a trip.  I have had a lovely trip down memory lane, reflecting on all the fun places we have been, all the joy in being together.

We have been truly blessed over the years with the number of hand-me-downs we have.  Clothes in our own family have lasted well to be passed down from boy to boy, but also dear family and friends have passed down many things to us.  Looking at a load of clothes, the number I have actually had to purchase is relatively small…often just socks and underwear.  Huge blessing!

And…we have plenty of clothes to wear.  There are widows around the world, around our nation, who are struggling to put a meal on the table for their families, much less purchase the necessary clothing, and yet…here I am with clothes to spare.  Blessing again!

I would not have noticed all of these blessings, had I not been put in the slightly uncomfortable position of hanging up my clothes to dry.  This light and momentary trouble has brought me closer to God.  Praise Him for that!

In this fast-paced world where we are over-taxed, over-committed, and over-tired, don’t we sometimes need just a few minutes to relax and reflect on our blessings?

I sure am glad over these past couple weeks that I have had a few moments to reflect on mine!

But…I will be glad to have my dryer back.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. – Psalm 34:8

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Thank You, Lord (A Poem)

Beside my bed I kneel and pray
And thank You, Lord, for another day.
For friends and family near and dear
And knowing You are always here
To guide me, love me, hold my hand
And to always understand
Even when I am pouty and sad
Or I am having the worst day I have had
I remember Your love and constant care
And then I have not only enough for me but also to share
With my boys, my church, my community
And all those who have blessed me
Forever I will remember Your love
From now until I go above
To the world that is waiting beyond for me
Because You were willing to die on a tree.

The Glory in the Morning

Tuesday was just a glorious day for walking!  The sun was shining, the birds were singing!  We were having one of those Virginia midwinter days that hit the 70’s.  A wonderful reminder and promise of the coming spring!

I love when these days hit, and we seem to get a few each winter–contrasting with our normal weather of darkness and gloom, bluster and rain, and even cold and snow.  Everyone around seems to smile just a bit more, basking in that pre-spring glow.

A promise of the warm weather to come.

Isn’t it the same with God?

In the darkest times of my life, when I have felt broken to pieces and lying in a heap on the floor, ready for the dustbin, He gives me reminders that He is there, that He cares, that one season leads naturally into another.

A long time ago, 1990 to be exact, I was leading a life that was very far from God.  Then I was introduced to some wonderful Christian people, and decided to get my life together and to walk with Him.  I met with the minister of our church to discuss my baptism.  We met in a local restaurant for coffee, sitting for a couple hours in discussion.  Our waitress was diligent during our entire visit…carefully filling and refilling our coffee cups…and probably catching snippets of our conversation as she was in and out of our area.

It came time to leave.  Our sweet minister Dale and I prayed and then asked for the check.  Our waitress came over and proceeded to hand us bits of paper instead of a check.  “Merry Christmas,” she said, not understanding fully what was going on, perhaps not being a believer herself, but recognizing that things of God were happening right there in front of her, and reacting, prompted I am sure by the Lord to respond.  Our endless cups of coffee cost us nothing…and may have even cost her a bit.

We were surprised, of course.  Dale said, “I’ve never had anything like this happen before!”  I just smiled, even then.  God was talking to me through this sweet and attentive waitress, a promise of things to come in my life with Him, and I recognized it as such.

Thus began my life with the Lord.  He’s always there, whether I see Him working or not.  And…when I need those reminders the most…like the warm spring days in the middle of a Virginia winter, He reminds me that He is and always will be.

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,

But a shout of joy comes in the morning. — Psalm 30:4-5

Treasuring in My Heart, Part 3

Today was baptism day for my sweet Jackson!  It was glorious!  These are the moments that make this mom proud…bring tears to my eyes…provide me with great joy…and make me miss Keith.  Joy and pain…happiness and sorrow.  That is the stuff life is made of.  Praise God that we have ridden the roller coaster of this world with our hands up and our hearts open!

Jackson boldly stepped forward for Christ, and was baptized into Him by our sweet minister, Mike.

And therein lies my last segment of this story.

In our church, it is typical for the dads to baptize their children.  It is a wonderful tradition, the passing of the baton of life with Christ in a blood family, and is very moving.  For us, it presents a quandary.

But, like all quandaries, the solution can be a joyous opportunity.

My boys have the opportunity to choose who baptizes them.  They do not take this lightly, but instead pray over whom they want to immerse them.  And both Matthew and Jackson have chosen well.

Matthew chose my self-proclaimed “little brother” in the church, Dave.  He is the uncle who wrestles with them, is ready to kick their behinds or have a talk with them if I need it done.  This bond was already there with my boys, but has only grown stronger since baptizing Matthew.  I guess the best thing I can liken it to what the godfather is intended to be in the life a child…Dave has invested himself in Matthew spiritually, and the dividends to both of them have been beautiful to see.  Praise God for His provision!

Jackson knew he would have the same choice, and had been thinking and praying about it almost as long as he had been pondering the question of baptism in his heart.  After careful consideration, he decided he wanted our minister, Mike, to baptize him.  All my boys have been blessed to spend a lot of time with Mike and his wife Linda.  Mike was present for the births of all but Alex, supporting us and reporting the joyous news to the congregation.  Mike sat with me at the hospital when Keith had his heart catheterization eight months before he passed away.  Ironically, that day we talked about baptism.

Since Keith’s death, Mike has often watched the boys for me so that I could attend ladies’ functions at church.  He gamely played paper airplanes, Legos, Wii, and anything else the boys wanted.  He has come to soccer and baseball games each season, often accompanied by Linda.  Together, they love and support my boys, getting nearly as teary as I do as we watch them grow into men.  And I know that the relationship will be there always.  Provision again!

I am blessed beyond measure to have so many fine Christian men speaking into the lives of my boys.  These men have taken on the task with the same gusto that they have used with their own children.  I have no worries about my boys learning to be the men God intends them to be.  They have many wonderful examples…the list is too long to mention.

Today, I was overcome by the beauty of the day, the beauty of friends who have constantly loved and supported us over the past five years.  God’s church as it is supposed to be!  I cried, but not an inordinate amount.  The boys were pretty proud of me for that.

In a few years, Tanner will face the same decisions…for Christ and for whom shall immerse him.  That will be just as glorious a day as this.  He might even choose his brother Alex.  Just the thought of that makes me smile. 

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3:5b-7

Seeing Your Breath

When we leave home on a cold winter day, my little boys automatically look to see if you can see your breath.  Each and every time.  To them, it is the best indicator of how cold it is.

Often, I don’t notice.  Intent on getting into the car and wherever we are headed, I hurry them along.  “Yes, yes, it is cold today.  Let’s hustle!”

The other day, however, I did notice.

My walks have been especially cold the last few days, below freezing when I step out the door.  Nice brisk air in my face.

Even then, I can ignore the fact that I can see my breath…until I turn at the bottom of one particular street and all that breath blows back in my face, creating a haze for me to see through.  I couldn’t help but notice.

And, in that moment, I realize that sometimes I am like that with God.

Now, I don’t try to forget Him in my daily walk.  It just sometimes happens.  I get stressed out by the problem of the day, the things on my agenda, the schedule I have created, and I forget that He is there, in everything, a strong indicator of where I am and an even stronger indicator of where I should be going.

And at moments like these, this analogy girl sees more clearly that I need that breath, His breath, that reminder in the cold.  No matter where I am and what I am doing.  For my whole life.

And praise Him, He will be there to remind me.  That’s a promise He gives me over and over in His Word.  There is great comfort in that.  Amen and amen.

Breathe on Me Breath of God
Lyrics:  Edwin Hatch; Music:  Robert Jackson
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Treasuring in My Heart – Part 1

Well, he’s done it!  This is a good “it!”

My seven year old has studied.  He has pondered and asked questions.  And now he’s ready…to commit his life to Christ through baptism.

Praise God and hallelujah!

Now, in this mom brain, that has brought about a series of emotions and feelings, all in short order.

My first thought when he told me was a very human response, I think.

Well, I guess I’m doing OK raising these kids without Keith.

Again, praise God and hallelujah!

Not that I think I am going to mess them up; and not that I think it’s really all up to me.  I just water those seeds in that sweet little soul and pray…and pray…and pray for God to bring the increase.  And He does.

And then my thoughts turn to Keith.  I want to tell him…that I’m carrying on…that we are progressing as a family…that we are moving forward with our lives here on earth.

I want him to be proud of me and the job I’m doing.  I would give anything to see that smile and the love in his eyes.

These are his kids, too.  I want to raise them to be the men of God we dreamed they would be.  That desire has only increased since Keith’s death.  I want my sons to be in the image of their earthly father, who had his eyes always on his Heavenly Father.  That is the best legacy that I can give them.

I have a quote that hangs on my wall that says the following (I’m afraid I cannot find the source):

Motherhood
It will be overwhelming.
It will be difficult.
 It will bring you to the end of yourself.
And at the end, you will find Him.
Mothering kids is hard…very hard.  Single mothering can be an extreme challenge, one that I often feel absolutely unable to complete.
But the good news is that I do not do this alone, even with Keith on the other side of the divider between here and Heaven.
And God’s grace is sufficient to cover me at my weakest, my most ineffective, my most sinful, my most foolish, my most selfish.
Praise God for His provision! But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunrise and Sunset

There is nothing like watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.

I have lived a large portion of my life on one coast or the other…but primarily on the East Coast.  So, I probably have seen more sunrises on the water than sunsets, at least in my adult life, since I have been walking with God.

One of my favorite sunrises was shared with two friends when we were on a singles’ retreat weekend on a Delaware beach many years ago.  We got up early and headed out to the shore, huddling together in the cool morning air.  As the sun broke through the blackness, we sang hymns to our Lord and enjoyed the beauty of His creation.

In my moments of stress, I often go back to the stillness of that morning beach, singing to my Lord.  A day began, full of promise.  Joy was in the air.

But I have learned there is joy to be found in the sunset as well.

My parents moved to Naples, Florida a few years ago.  Gulf side.  Sunsets.

At first it was a bit of an odd concept for me, after years of solitary sunrises full of quiet promise.

Sunset in Naples is an event.  People come and set up chairs just before it occurs, cameras posed, to capture the beauty of display.  There is stillness, but it is a shared stillness as all present pause to look in wonder at the beauty before us.

The end of something lovely; the icing on the cake.

What a picture for our lives!  Joy in all the moments.

I love that we have a God who wants an intimate, personal relationship with me…one who will meet me in the sunrise, full of promise that He’s got it, that He loves me, that we will always walk this walk together.  Just the two of us, in quiet solitude.

I love, too, that we have a God who loves us in the sunsets, with others around for our journey, when the times are hard and the day needs to pause in order to be with Him and see Him.  The human family to help transmit the love of God to me here on earth, to sharpen as iron my walk with Him, to share the joy and beauty of the days of my life.

I need both…the sunrises and the sunsets…the times with God alone and with God in groups of  brothers and sisters in Christ.

And I praise Him that He gives me just what I need!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:19-20