Friday, November 27, 2009

A Grateful Heart

I have so much to be thankful for! The past few days have been a heart-warming reminder of that fact.

Having all of our family together was a priceless blessing! Paraphrasing a Charles Dickens' line: It was the best of times; it was the best of times!

I am so thankful for . . . my husband, who did a superb job cooking our southern-fried catfish and all the trimmings . . . two great sons, who kept friendly, but fierce competition going . . . two wonderful "daughters" (I don't like the "in-law" part), who can clean up a kitchen before I can turn around . . . and last but not least in importance, our four GRANDchildren pictured above, who made the time special just because they were here! You grandparents know what I mean!

As I relive those hours together, many snapshots and sound bites leap off the pages of my mind's family album . . . the kids skipping rocks on the pond and gathering cattails . . . arm wrestling contests between the "big kids" . . . target practice . . . lively conversations . . . laughter - oh, I love hearing the laughter . . . gathering for a delicious meal and bowing to give God thanks . . . going for a walk . . . the children playing outside until dark . . . a full house . . . beautiful, crisp, sunny weather . . . a perfect day!

For these blessing . . . and countless others . . . I give thanks to my Heavenly Father!

"Give thanks with a grateful heart . . . "

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sittin' on the Riverbank

Recently, one of my young, very busy friends commented that she was having trouble keeping her head above water. My reply to her: Sometimes you just need to get out of the river and sit on the riverbank!

I know that's easier said than done, but we all need time to "chill" . . . "hang out" . . . "stop and smell the roses" . . . simply put, we need to relax. Sometimes life gets so full of living that we forget to enjoy the simple pleasures all around us.

This past week has been full of family and fun. So, amidst all the good times, it was extra special to have a few minutes to "sit on the riverbank" - literally - with three of our four grands. Not only was it a much-needed rest from our walk in downtown Natchitoches, but these were moments John David added to our long list of "cherished memories."

And those are the memories that we can recall in the busyness of life . . . and be refreshed . . . 'til we can get back to the riverbank!
"Hey, Mister!
Where you going in such a hurry?
Don't you think it's time you realized
There's a whole lot more to life than work and worry?
The sweetest things in life are free,
And they're right before your eyes.
You got to stop and smell the roses;
You've got to count your many blessings every day."

(Anyone my age or older remember this old Mac Davis song?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Visit to the Potter's House

A favorite mug made and purchased at Alwine's Pottery
in Pigeon Forge, TN

I love to visit a pottery and watch a skilled potter at work. It's absolutely amazing to watch as he/she transforms a shapeless, colorless, ugly lump of clay into a beautiful creation of his/her choice. And even more amazing is the adeptness of the potter to "start over" when he sees a flaw in the piece or when it doesn't match the finished product he has in mind. Throwing that piece of clay away is apparently not an option; he just calmly begins again with the same clay. After watching a potter at his wheel, the words of Jeremiah come alive!

I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: O house of Israel (put your name here), can I not do with you as this potter does? (Jeremiah 18:3-6)
What a beautiful, hope-filled word picture of our relationship with The Potter! It's one of my favorite passages, which may explain why I love the song by the Perrys below.

"But the Potter knows the clay – how much pressure it can take,
how many times around the wheel ‘til there’s submission to His will.
He’s planned a beautiful design, but it’ll take some fire and time.
It’s gonna’ be okay - ‘cause the Potter knows the clay."

(If you turn your volume up, you can hear the song! It may take a moment for Playlist - in the lower right side - to load.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kaleidoscope in the Sun

No, these are not homemade tents set up for the grandchildren - although they'd love that! I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and warm sunshine to "sun" some of my quilts. Now these are not just any quilts; these beautiful masterpieces were lovingly pieced and quilted by John David's mama, Vernie Thaxton.

She was an expert quilter with an eye for color and design, as you can see. When she had a spare moment, her hands were busy creating quilt after quilt. I wish I knew just how many she made. She loved making them for her children and grandchildren and even her great-grandchildren - for Christmas, for wedding gifts, or graduation. She didn't always need an occasion to go to the back room and bring out a quilt for someone in the family.

For as long as John David and I have been married, we've always had her quilts to warm us on cold winter nights. In fact, we used several of them so much that they are worn and put away as keepsakes. Both Deron and Andy have their own "Mawmaw quilts." The three pictured above will eventually become worn and frayed, but that just adds character to them. Faded colors, ripped seams, and worn edges just mean they've kept us, our children, and grandchildren cozy year after year. After all, there's nothing quite like snuggling under a homemade quilt, especially one made by a loved one who's no longer with us.

So, when I put them out to sun today, Mrs. Thaxton's talent as a quilter once again amazed me. In the sunlight, with the three of them grouped together, the quilts looked prettier than ever . . . like looking through a kaleidoscope of bright colors and varied geometric shapes. And after they've soaked up the sun's rays, they'll smell so fresh and clean. I'll bring them in and place one on each bunk bed. You see, the holidays and company are coming! The quilts will once again provide warmth for the three special people who'll curl up under them and sleep. They never knew Mawmaw, but it's almost as if her hands, the work-worn and arthritic hands that touched every inch of those quilts, soothes them to sleep and keeps them warm.

I've always loved quilts and include them in my list of simple country pleasures. I am thankful for those things - priceless things - that make my life richer by evoking good memories of people, places, and things. Today it was sunning my quilts. The simple things, however, usually speak loudest - if I take the time to listen. Today I listened and was reminded that we, like the quilts, have been lovingly pieced together - the Psalmist uses the word "knit" - by our Creator. We are each His specially designed Masterpiece, and we come in all colors, and shapes, and sizes! But we need the Son to shine down on us and in us. We need to find time to soak up His cleansing rays . . . His rays of peace and hope. Sometimes . . . no, often, we just need to find a quiet spot and "air out" our hearts and our minds . . . let Him clean us up, freshen up our attitudes, and rid us of "stinkin' thinkin'," as someone said.

Then we'll be ready to spread His warmth and comfort to others who need His healing touch.

"Lily of the Valley, let your sweet aroma fill my life.
Rose of Sharon, show me how to grow in beauty in God's sight.
Fairest of ten thousand, make me a reflection of your light.
Daystar, shine down on me; let your love shine through me in the night."
-composed by Steve Richardson, 1988-

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just for Fun!

No thoughts . . . just a pic to make you smile! I caught this little creature trying to drink from the hummingbird feeder. He didn't sip the sweet stuff with his long tongue very long, however! A humming bird with an attitude soon drove him away! Maybe you can come up with a song for this one! Something like . . . "smile a while . . . and give your face a rest . . . " Or maybe not!!