New Life

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly." Richard Bach

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kettles aren't just for cooking

Recently, I was given the opportunity to be a bell ringer through our church,  and thought it would be a neat experience for my kids.

Isn't it funny how we end up being the ones blessed?

It only took an hour or so of our time.  It was no great feat.  It wasn't a huge inconvenience.  We had fun.

And it was an interesting experience.  They managers of the Wal-Mart couldn't find the bells.

How can you be a bell ringer without bells?

So we bought some bells, strung them on a necklace, and made our own.   (Incidentally, the necklace was a bell necklace that belongs to my four year old and had been left in my car.)

Jessica strung them on one by one.

Did I mention it was freezing cold!?!

Between all of us we made enough bell ringing noise to attract attention to our kettle.   And hopefully made a difference.

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18 

Years ago, when my mom was still alive and not doing well health wise or financially, the Salvation Army sent her a check for an obscure amount of money.  It was something like $27.42.   I will never forget that.  I was struck by how much it meant to my mom.  Ever since then I have always donated to the bell ringers at Christmas.

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Proverbs 22:9

The Salvation Army bell ringers have been around a long time, beginning with the desire to help feed the poor and destitute during Christmas.  Click here for the Red Kettle History.

 The history of the Salvation Army began in 1852 and has been making a difference ever since.   It started with one man, William Booth,  and his wife.

"Booth was reading a printer's proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army."..."

"...he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women."

Isn't that what we are called to do?  Isn't that The Great Commission?

Soon after volunteering, I heard a piece on NPR  about being a virtual bell ringer.  So I signed up.

I decided to do it in honor of my mom.

Click here to donate, sign up, join my team, or just to check it out......  Even just a dollar.

 "If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10 

Because it will change lives.

Thank you for considering.  And blessings to you and your family this Christmas and New Years!

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:35 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My big brother

My big brother is extraordinary.    
I realized just how much this Thanksgiving.

Both of our parents died within a year of each other.  They were young, just in their 60's.  It  has been over 11 years since mom died.
I never thought of our relationship as close until they passed.  Most of our growing up was done apart; he with one parent and I, the other.  Divorce tore us in two.

We are much closer now.   Death does that I guess.  We had to learn to depend on each other.   I can honestly say that I need him now.  He and my aunt are all I have left of my family.

I remember when our dad died and he and I experienced the year of going through our dad's things, the unexpected death,  as an opportunity to learn and grow closer instead of seeing it as a hardship.  I learned a lot about life that year.

Starting out homeschooling 10 years ago, Harry supported me when most everyone else didn't.  I think he is my biggest fan.  He is the reason I started blogging in the first place and he even encouraged me to become a pen pal.  He stretches me.

Encouragement is a powerful force in this world of ours.  You never know the difference you can make in someone's life.

 "You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits.  When we all help one another, everybody wins."  Jim Stovall

He believes in me.  Really.

There aren't many people I can say that about.

I admire him as only a little sister can.  However, Harry is very accomplished in his own right; his skydiving career stretches over 20 years,  an amazing aerial videographer , photographer and sports announcer, he helped found several organizations dedicated to jumping;  performed a lead role in the play, Arsenic and Old Lace, a student of communication, and of course; a writer and blogger.  He even wrote the forward to a base jumping book

And he has cool hair :)

But what happened this Thanksgiving is what really makes him a hero.  My daughter was chewing food long after dinner.  My littlest (four year old) had apparently made cud of her chicken.  She tripped over something in our rec room (we later found a gash on the back of her arm) and screamed.  I knew that it was a really hurtful scream and I ran into the room and was holding her asking if she was alright.  She never exhaled from her scream, screwed up her face, and became limp and unconscious in my arms.  There was only a second that went by as I yelled to my oldest to call 911.  Literally 3 seconds tops.   There was no time to even peruse all the CPR instruction and classes I have taken.  And Harry swooped her up, gave her the Heimlich and literally saved her life.  Right in front of my eyes.  I am still not over it.

He never hesitated.

"Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero's heart." Frederick Jezegou

He has always been a risk taker.  We are about as different as two siblings can get.  I am the safe one; shooting for two weeks paid vacation a year,  a rung on the corporate ladder and a white picket fence.  At least right out of college.  Now I am content and most grateful to stay home with my kids.  I am boring in comparison.

Harry is different.  On the other extreme, his life is measured in the risks he takes and the adventures he makes and all the people he meets.  He was crossing the country right out of college.  He is the kind of guy who finds sea manatees off the beaten path while tourists go to the 'tourist traps' to see them in tanks.  He is the one who says 'wait' when everyone else says go.  He follows the beat of a different drummer.

He is a modern day Thoreau.

"Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you...Explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being."  Henry David Thoreau

I worry about him and pray constantly.  I  don't really want to hear he jumped a dozen times a day from a perfectly good airplane.   Where will he be on Christmas Day?   I choke up just thinking about it.

(Now, if I can just find him a good Christian girl...:)

When he is on his deathbed (although I can't imagine that) he won't have the regrets most people have.  "I wish I would have....."  His whole life has been a bucket list.  He has crossed the country more times than I know and has traveled abroad as well.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."  Mark Twain 

We are blessed to see him once a year, if we are lucky.
Usually in the fall.   My girls always start looking for him when the leaves change colors.

This visit was different.  It is a new start.  And he came as a brother, Unkle, and professional.

We haven't had a family portrait since before our littlest came on the scene four years ago.  It has been six years.  She looks at our old family portrait hanging on the wall in our den and asks pitifully, "Where am I, momma?"

There are advantages to having a photographer as a brother.  The girls learned and helped with a real photo shoot.  We all learned.  He is quite talented and so absorbed in the moment, I don't think he knew I took his picture.

It has been many years since we spent Thanksgiving together.  And it was wonderful.  I am thankful for him.

The girls think he hung the moon.....  He is a pretty cool uncle.  Loves playing video games and held his own at chess with a 10 and 13 year old..  Even passed the Toxic Waste candy test.

(He is gonna kill me for this picture.)

I am very proud of him.

Before he left, he had a heart to heart talk with the two oldest, packed up, and then was gone.

I hated seeing him go.  I love him to the moon.

We are all going to miss him....

..............But I can't wait to hear about his next adventure.

Be safe big brother.

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blessings in disguise

Can being broken be a blessing? 
photo by

I initially found this story of the Lost Horse in my new favorite book, Sabbath.  He entitles it as, The Story of the Taoist Farmer.  I am finding , however, that it is an ancient tale known throughout the world.

In Japan,

Ningen banji saiou ga uma means,  'Inscrutable are the ways of Heaven. An evil may sometimes turn out a blessing in disguise.' 

It's literal meaning is: 'All human affairs are like Saiou's horse.' 
It comes from this old Chinese folktale:
photo by Neecie Herndon

A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, "What makes you so sure this isn't a blessing?" Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, "What makes you so sure this isn't a disaster?" Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, "What makes you so sure this isn't a blessing?"

A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other. Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.

(Huai Han, Tzu, early Han 2nd Dynasty B.C.)

I am finding that this is so true in our own lives.

On a small scale.....Not being able to do something I wanted to do opened up an opportunity for something else even better.

On a larger scale.....The tree that fell on our home provided us with a new heat pump at little cost.  

On a huge scale.....My husband's diagnosis has brought us all closer to God.

I would never before have been grateful for these things.  And although hindsight is always 20/20, I am pondering about making quick judgments on 'bad' things that happen or trials I find myself in when I base it only on what I can immediately see, reason, or perceive.

As I write, my aunt faces discouragement after four botched hip surgeries for a hip replacement that was supposed to improve the quality of her life.   She faces not being able to walk without aids, or do what she used to be able to do, constant pain, and another surgery.   One last chance.  Where is the blessing?
As I hold her while she sobs, I wonder.  And I think about the son who fell and broke his hip.

Our church offered a class on The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis this fall.

 "The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as "the Patient".  In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils' viewpoints."  (Wikipedia)

The instructor introduced The Law of Undulation which states that humans have spiritual peaks and valleys that we go though during our lives.

 un·du·la·tion  n.
1. A regular rising and falling or movement to alternating sides; movement in waves.

Screwtape mentions it in Letter 8 when telling his nephew Wormwood that 'the patient' may not be falling away from his faith but that it may be the natural part of the life of faith.....
Thus the law of undulation.

The life of faith?  Hmmmm.....

Screwtape writes about God, ("our Enemy" is referring to God; remember this is a demon talking)
"Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the trough even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else…It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayer offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best…Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round on a universe from which every trace of Him has vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
C.S. Lewis "The Screwtape Letters"

The trick is to remember the peaks when you are in the valleys.  And to know that the valleys will soon give way to the peaks.  And to trust.

Just being aware of this is so huge.....  So you don't get stuck.

My girls and I are almost finished memorizing The Beatitudes together.
There is nothing quite so breathtaking as hearing your 4 year old recite scripture that is being imprinted upon her heart.

Matthew 5:2-12
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Wayne Muller  in Sabbath,
"He said blessed are.  Not "they will one day be blessed, "  but they are blessed right now.  The poor are blessed, even in their poverty.  Those who mourn are blessed, even in their grief.  The meek, the merciful, even those who are persecuted--blessed, blessed, blessed.  Not later.  Not when their trials are over.  Not when they are fixed.  Right here, right now.  There is a blessing for you here, now, in this very moment."

I am finding that I am considering blessings and trials differently now....
And my aunt's hip?  I can't wait to see how God plans to bless her through this. 
I think the key lies in the looking, waiting, and expecting.

James 1:2-4

 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 34 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 

My prayer for you...

Numbers 6:24-26
"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." 

Continuing Simple Praises.....
#325- Finding the story of the Lost Horse
#326- Learning about the Law of Undulation
#327- C.S. Lewis
#328- Being able to hold Sandy on Thanksgiving
#329- being broken
#330- the life of faith

Monday, November 8, 2010

The letters...

My brother suggested I write her last summer.  It was in July of 2009 that I wrote the first of many. 

He thought it would be good for the kids to write her too.  I never thought it would end up being such a personal thing, for me.  I didn't even know her. 

This picture is not an honest portrayal.  She is very beautiful and my sketch just doesn't capture her beauty or her glow.    She shines like a light, in the picture I have of her, and I imagine her lighting up a room when she walks into it.  I can feel the 'light' in her words whispered on lined paper.

Getting to know her this past year has been such a blessing to me.....  Meeting through messages.
I didn't always know what to write.  It seemed awkward at first.  I had so many questions. 

Soon, I just began writing.....  My thoughts, my feelings, my hopes, my fears and she began to write hers too.  I asked her about her day; when she rises, her schedule, and when she sleeps.  It helped me to visualize where she is during the day and I can pray for her as I think about her and what she may be doing.  She works very hard, physically.   And she gets tired too, just like me.  Prison isn't exactly as I had imagined.

I love receiving her long, handwritten letters.  When they come, I selfishly try to find a place away from everyone and everything so I can read her words and soak up the scripture she writes.  Funny how she always seem to have the right verse I need at that moment.

This was one of my favorite letters.  She let me see inside so much of her thoughts and feelings.....her world.
I still can only imagine what a day in her life is like...
...even though I have glimpses from all the letters of the past 16 months.

This is her 3rd year of a 7 year sentence. 
This writing journey changed my perspective on freedom and forgiveness. 
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Gandhi

Just going outside and breathing deeply is appreciated more.

I asked her once what she missed.  She misses many things.   Important things.
But one small thing that stuck with me, seemingly insignificant, was her mentioning missing being able to open a refrigerator and getting seconds of orange juice..... I don't think I have ever been grateful for that before.
Until now.

Knowing her impels me to be grateful for abundance where I had previously perceived lack.  It encourages my collection of simple praises.

She is a talented artist and frequently sketches along the envelopes or makes bookmarks that we use everyday.  My girls and I adore these illustrations.   I love Jeremiah.....

I treasure reading about her hopes and dreams for the future.  But what is most meaningful is reading how she prospers day by day,  how she is healing, what she is learning about herself,  her accomplishments, and sometimes..... just how she gets through the day.

It takes a week or more to write her.  There is an art to writing letters by hand that I have missed in our techno world of blogs, emails, and facebook.  I steal snatches of time here and there
and when I can.

My pen pal has become a believer in the truest sense of the word and can see the adversary for what
She fights discouragement and uses it to encourage others.  She encourages me.  If only we all did that.

"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. " Philippians 4:11-13
Funny, our sermon this past Sunday was about Paul being in prison and how our circumstances, no matter what they are, work for the good of those who love Him.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  " Romans 8:28
I wonder about my own circumstances...
I am here for a reason.....  In this place.
In the middle of this muddle, managing my messes, precisely where God has planted me.
So are you.  And our influence is broader than we know.

She mentions that they are not allowed to hug each other or even hold hands during prayer.
So they touch their shoes instead.

Imagine that.
I think that is beautiful.
It makes me look at my feet differently.

Paul's Chains Advance the Gospel
 12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

Simple Praises...continued... #187-#193
my pen pal
reading in quiet
the letters
being encouraged
seconds on orange juice
Jeremiah bookmarks

If you are interested in writing to and inquiring about my friend's testimony, please contact me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Color Therapy

We drink in the colors of Autumn while the girls earn a Keepers at Home hiking pin.
And I pursue my Simple Praises... for the healing therapy that only nature can give.  I sure did need this.

#133- Inhaling...Breathing deeply

#134- Spatterings and flashes of pigments, tints and hues in a wild abandon

#135- Winding paths

#136- The way the sun hits the trees and leaves in splashes of color

#137- How you can see something so beautiful in between railings of a rusty old bridge...

#138-  A beaver dam
 #139- purples, pinks, and blues...
 #140- the fragrance of the trail in Autumn

I Chronicles 29:11
   Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you ore exalted as head over all.
#141- lingering

#142- a burst of intense orange

#143- majestic displays
Psalm 66:4
   All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.

 #144- little fellers....

 #145- unrestrained daisies...just when I thought all the flowers were gone...

#146- #151- priceless treasures...

 #152-#155- and precious friends.....
Photo by Jessica
#156- Exhaling :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Simple Praises

It started when my husband was diagnosed.  My best friends provided for me to go to a ladies retreat.  I think it saved my life.  The speaker, Rachel Carmen,  said "Write down all the 'Plagues of Your Life' that God has carried you through."  And so I did.  I wrote everyone of them down. The big ones.

I was so taken aback after following through with the exercise that I purposed myself to begin a gratitude journal right then and there.  That was five years ago and I haven't stopped. 

I didn't call it a Gratitude Journal.  The title on the first beat up spiral notebook says 'Blessings' on it.  But that is what it is.  As I look through them now, I can see a difference in my thinking then and my thinking now.   I realize that the things (or persons) I am most thankful for were repeated over the years.   And they were usually big least of that moment or that day.

I never numbered them and never thought to until I read about Ann's gratitude journal.  I have no regrets and know that these journals saved me many days.  Some days I struggled to be grateful.....  Funny how it becomes easier as you do it.

 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

What I am learning this year is that it isn't always the 'big' things that produce gratefulness in me.

Mostly it is the small things in the day that I value so much when the day as a whole seems so ordinary.   After learning about the gratitude community, I realized that I too want to recognize daily the small endless blessings from God, intentionally.  Those things that you can miss if you are not looking for them.  And really, they are already there, waiting to be noticed.  And really it is the small things that make up the big things.

"The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you."
Robert Louis Stevenson

I also want to teach this attitude of gratefulness to my girls so that they will see it too.  I can't imagine what a different person I would be if I had known then what I know now...and also, I want to pay it forward somehow.

I decided to start a fresh.  For several reasons.  I see the power it gives me in my life.  Just to recognize these small simple tokens and expressions of love.

It transforms your thinking when you are constantly looking for His gifts and purposing yourself to look up and out....   particularly when things aren't always going as I plan or wish...   It makes you look at everything differently.  Like having your eyes widened.  Or like having a film peeled off your eyes.  It helps you to see things more clearly.  To see Him more clearly. 

When I started rummaging through my closet looking for these old blessing journals, I found a pretty celestial decorated journal that was my mom's.  I had bought it for her before she died.  It was never used.  I didn't even know I had it.  It was like it was waiting for me, after all these years, to find.

So I begin my journey.  This time, more refined.......I cannot wait to discover what I will learn from it....and I can't wait until I get to a 1,000!

Thank you Lord for.....
1-- the smells of little girls
2-- sleep and the slow rise from sleep to wake
3-- a good friend to run with and
4-- burning lungs
5-- Finding George MacDonald

"The careless soul receives the Father's gifts as if it were a way things had of dropping into his hand... yet he is ever complaining, as if someone were accountable for the problems which meet him at every turn. For the good that comes to him, he gives no thanks - who is there to thank? At the disappointments that befall him he grumbles - there must be someone to blame!"
George MacDonald

6-- breathing deeply
7-- the Most Beautiful Woman I Know
8-- the opportunity to serve dinner in a homeless shelter
9-- seeing humbleness and awkwardness in my girl's faces when they too served
10-- even Gabrielle, at four, who exclaimed a little too loudly, "You mean they don't have houses?!?!!"

"How rich is anyone who can simply see human faces."
Corrie Ten Boom

11-- our old worn out vehicles that still run
12-- My new book I am reading, Sabbath 

"Who is it that can make muddy water clear? asks the Tao Te Ching.  But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear itself." Wayne Muller  Sabbath 

13-- Memorizing the Beatitudes with my girls... and learning.....

 "He said blessed are.  Not "they will one day be blessed, "  but they are blessed right now.  The poor are blessed, even in their poverty.  Those who mourn are blessed, even in their grief.  The meek, the merciful, even those who are persecuted--blessed, blessed, blessed.  Not later.  Not when their trials are over.  Not when they are fixed.  Right here, right now.  There is a blessing for you here, now, in this very moment."
Wayne Muller Sabbath

14-- Bubbles...

15-- Winnie The Pooh... 

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.  ~A.A. Milne

holy experience

Wanna come too?
 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
John 1:16

Friday, September 17, 2010

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands.

She picked a really good book from the library this week.  
I am amazed at how so many things I have encountered and observed this last week, month, and the last of summer worked together and pointed in the same direction as the week unfolded.
And it all was revealed through this song.

The book came with a cd and I played it, opened the book, and snuggled up tightly to her 4 year old frame.  We sit under a map of the world in a sea of blue. 

The woman on the cd sang the words and it felt like my heart started beating softer and slower so I could hear better as I listened to her simple words.  Words I remember singing a long time ago.
I wonder if her little heart hears what I hear.   The morning light streams in softly through the window as we listen and sing.

He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

I have been keeping up with bloggers this week who went to Guatemala and were transformed by genuine poverty and authentic love.  They helped transform me too through their eyes and their words.  Words like these enable you to see God in everything.

"He's got the whole his hands"

They helped me see that He holds the broken hearted in His hands.  I read Ann's words and I think I actually stopped breathing for several moments.  I read it out loud to my 13 and 10 year old girls and we unraveled it together.
My oldest had to continue reading as I couldn't see the story through the blur of tears or read the words as my throat constricted.  You know how you feel when you can't swallow (but you must), when your throat tightens and burns.  I think my daughter stopped breathing too,  for a moment.  It was the moms that got me.
The whole world.....

He holds those who ask God to  "Come By Here"As I listened to his song looking at the pictures of Guatemala, seeing such deprivation through their picture window camera and comprehending (or trying to) their words that detailed the experience, it became my own experience.  I wonder just how many other people went to Guatemala like I did this week.

The song reminded me of the song "Kum Ba Yah".  I sang this to all 3 of my girls when they were babies.  It wasn't until my youngest was born that I researched it a little and discovered that "Kum Ba Yah" is an African-American spiritual song from the 1930's that means "Come By Here."

My girls would quiet and welcome...
"Someone's crying Lord, Kum Ba Yah (Come By Here)...  Someone's praying Lord, Kum Ba Yah (Come By Here)... Someone's singing,  Lord, Kum Ba Yah (Come By Here) ...Oh Lord, Kum Ba Yah"
It is like singing a prayer.

Even though I know it wasn't the same as being there in Guatemala, in some small way, I went too.
And I did see that He's really got the whole world in His hands even though it can be difficult to see His big picture in what appears abandoned and dejected.  I am turned inside out knowing that I can get that from mere words and pictures. 

Honest poverty where there isn't anything but prayer.

Seeing Mommys (like me) holding together their nests with only walls of tin and and not much else.    And here I sit with so much.  I never thought of myself as wealthy before. 

I am so thankful.

I went through my daughters' clothes the other day to see what they need for the fall and felt almost guilty for such abundance.  Most of it is used, hand me downs from sisters or bought at a yard sale; but it is royal compared to what hangs from knots on rigged clothes lines in these pictures.....

She sings,
He's got my brothers and my sisters in His hands.

It isn't very often I see this.  I caught them reading together Monday.  Sisters.  Their legs entwined and relaxed.  Teaching, reading, experiencing.....  Loving.  (How can I bottle this up and share it with them when they bicker?) I can almost see His fingers cuddling them.  They want for nothing right now.  Can they see that?  How can I show that to them?    ...With a million kisses?   ...By counting raindrops, books,  warm blankies,  and everyday ordinary blessings?
...By pointing them to Him and by showing them other people who point up?

How blessed we are.

He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got the sun and the rain in His hands,
I have seen the son in the rain thanks to The Most Beautiful Woman I Know.

News of more unrelenting cancer this month disheartens me.

"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:7

My soul has been pierced and penetrated by her testimony again and again .....  His words through her.  My perspective has been forever changed.  My heart will never be the same.

I still see her in His hands.... although not always the bigger picture.....    because  I am so blind, busy and oblivious most of the time and because I just don't understand why.
Seeing her suffering tears my heart right out.  But glimpses of His face in hers heals it.  I just need to look.  Doesn't He command us to look?  .....Lord, open my eyes.....

"Always be joyful." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I am taking a class on The Screwtape Letters at my church.  "The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as "the Patient".  In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides a series of lessons in the importance of taking a deliberate role in living out Christian faith by portraying a typical human life, with all its temptations and failings, as seen from devils' viewpoints."  (Wikipedia)

The adversary distracts us in the ordinary and the common.  He uses the busyness of cleaning the house or being hungry or seeing the same things every day, day in and day out... dulling our senses.
I see how the the many distractions of a mother's life can deaden us to be shallow and not to go deep and look for Him.  Sometimes I feel accomplished just to get through the day.....

Screwtape told Wormwood to distract his Patient.  I found it profound that  it wasn't a huge matter that took 'the Patient' away from thinking about God.....  It was a hunger pain.  It was trivial and ordinary. Wow.

The instructor is excellent and spoke about God's '2 Words' tonight;
and how Scripture is the spectacles we use to see.  That God gave us scriptures to view all He created so we can see Him.  All of creation points to Him. 
"For as the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any book, however fair, is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written, are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words, but, when aided by glasses, begin to read distinctly, so Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly."  John Calvin
She sings...
He's got the moon and the stars in His hands...
As I said goodbye to summer these last few weeks, I tried to capture the heavens, the moon He holds, with my camera.  I couldn't do it justice.

He's got the oceans and the seas in His hands,
I saw Him, this summer,  in the pounding surf,
the dancing waves,

in the broken shells, and in the unity of friends.
I could smell Him in the salty air and feel His breath in the breeze on my back and the wind in my face. 

He's got the itty bitty baby in His hands.....
I remember this verse from my childhood.
Just this week, I called my dear friend about an unrelated matter and she excitedly told me that she had just got the call.  I could hear the joy in her voice.
They were finally going to be foster parents.  That a baby was ready to be picked up at the hospital and she was scrambling to find everything the little guy would need.  My heart burst for her.  It has been 4 years of waiting.
And He wasn't late.  He was right on time.
Regardless of how long this little boy can stay or the tears he will bring; both joyful and heartbreaking, I know He was saving him for this family.  It isn't random.  Again I see His handiwork,  His designs.

He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got you and me in His hands, 
(This was my favorite picture in the book)
 Me?  Me.
Why is it so easy to see it for others and not ourselves?
I should behave like He does have me in His hands,  so that others will see me pointing.  So that my children will see me pointing.  So that I won't give Him my worries in the morning when we meet and then take them back from Him at night when I can't sleep;
So that I can aim and steer and zero in on Him.  So That my faith would grow so big.....

He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got everybody here in His hands,

 He's got everybody there in His hands,
We finished reading Peace Child by Don Richardson today.   We read how primitive cannibals In the 20th century were shown Christ.  It was disturbing and beautiful;  Shown through words..... And legends.
 "Peace Child's name comes from a tradition in Papua New Guinea, where, to make peace, warring tribes would exchange a child. The children would grow up with the others' tribe and in the future, when conflict threatened again, the 'Peace Child' from each tribe was sent to negotiate."
We learned how everyone is looking for the 'Peace Child'.
We learned that God can be seen holding Papua New Guinea and Guatemala in His hands.

Funny how the week was wrapped up in these simple words, this simple song.  I feel it in the joy of the baby finally arriving in my friends tirelessly waiting arms, and the sorrow and pain in my dear friend fighting cancer.  I see it in the pictures of poverty in its purest form, I see it in the restless beach and in asking God to 'Come by Here',

I know it when I see the Extraordinary in the ordinary.

He's got everybody everywhere in His hands,

He's got the whole world in His hands.

~Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ be continued...