Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Props for Your Leaning Side

"Lean on me . . . when you're not strong . . . I'll be your friend to lean on."

Remember that popular song? I'm sure you do. It's one of those songs that seems to be timeless and relevant for young and old alike. That's because we all need someone to lean on in life . . . someone to support us . . . and prop us up . . . and be our strength when ours seems gone. And if we have that someone, we gain confidence and courage just knowing that we are not alone.

I'm so thankful for family and friends who've "held me up" in my "leaning times" - with their prayers, encouragement, and presence. And I'm grateful, most of all, for Someone who never leaves my side . . . who understands me better than I understand myself. . . whose everlasting arms never tire . . . and whose shoulders are big enough to carry the weight of His world.

I like what W. E. McCumber said: Jesus "props us on the leaning side," and the prop is Jesus Himself.

Learning to lean, learning to lean,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I've ever dreamed,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.
~John Stallings~

Mill Creek - John David's favorite boyhood swimming hole
I chose these pics because of the trees leaning across the creek and propped up by other trees.

Monday, March 29, 2010


In the dark times . . .
when life gets so complicated and tangled . . .
The Light can reach us!!

Lord, the light of your love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness - shining;
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us . . .
Shine, Jesus, shine . . .
~Graham Kendrick~

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Feathering the Nest

When I'm cooking or washing dishes, I enjoy watching birds outside my kitchen window, and my camera is not too far away. Yesterday, I watched as this female bluebird "feathered" her nest. I watched as she perched on top of the rugged little house with a big white feather in her mouth. The feather, which reminded me of a tiny boa, blew in the breeze making her look regal!

Shortly, she moved down on the perch and waited.

After a minute or two, she squeezed through the small opening and carried the feather into the house.

At that moment her mate showed up . . . to check things out . . . to give his approval . . . to supervise . . . or just to be there . . . I don't know!

Whatever his part in the process, he didn't stay long, and the female emerged and flew away, too.
One down . . . and how many more to go, I wonder?

That was yesterday. Today my blogger friend Bev wrote so eloquently about memories made in her present home and about moving soon to her new home. She ended her post by looking ahead to "feathering her new nest," and that inspired me to think about my own "nest" that I've called home for the past 35 years.

I find it difficult to adequately express my feelings about our home. Modest in appearance and furnishings, our "nest" is a place of shelter, comfort, security, rest . . . a place where so much of our living takes place. And it's "feathered" with so many priceless, endearing and enduring things:
The love and care of our Heavenly Father . . . and our faith in Him

The love and respect of family . . . both immediate and extended

Memories . . . oh, the memories that no one can take away . . . especially those of the days when our two wonderful sons were growing up here. In more recent years, we've made precious memories with them, their wives and children. Grandchildren have brought new energy and many opportunities to make happy memories.

Enough "stuff" - which God has blessed us with - to be very comfortable (too comfortable, maybe)

As much as I love my home, I know that I should never get too attached to it. It's not my final home! One day I'll move into my eternal home . . . one that God is preparing now!

And I'll have eternity to check out all the priceless, endearing, and enduring things He has "feathered" it with!

There's a roof up above me; I've a good place to sleep.
There's food on my table and shoes on my feet.
You gave me Your love, Lord, and a fine family.
Thank you, Lord, for Your blessings on me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tiny Beauties

As a follow-up of my last post, I thought I would share some of my favorite hummingbird photos from last year. Hope you enjoy them! Click on the pic for a better look!

(Look closely and you'll see his tongue!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

They're Back!!

I saw my first 2010 hummingbird this morning!! Not the one pictured above - that's a 2009 photo - but a ruby-throated beauty like this one. I just put up a feeder yesterday because John David thought he saw one dart across the front porch. Today I added three more feeders and will buy at least one more to attach to the outside of my kitchen window.

Although we have hummingbirds every year, the first sighting is always so exciting, and I look forward to watching and photographing these fascinating little birds. Let the fun begin!

Other "firsts" in our yard this spring: our rose bushes are just starting to bud (you have to look really closely), and the azaleas are beginning to bloom. Each day Spring displays more of her beauty!

A Desperate Faith

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sounds like desperate times, doesn't it? But more than desperation, I hear an unmovable faith speaking. A faith that can still rejoice though the world seems to falling apart. Joy . . . not in the desolate circumstances . . . but in the God who sees it all and IS IN CONTROL!

I need to remember that - especially when I hear or read the news! And God does His part in reminding me.

Just this morning I read the words below in Streams in the Desert. Although written many years ago by Rev. S. Chadwick, the message couldn't be more relevant for today.
Faith for desperate days! The Bible is full of such days. Its record is made up of them, its songs are inspired by them, its prophecy is concerned with them, and its revelation has come through them. . . . In every story of deliverance, the point of desperation gave God His chance. The "wit's end" of desperation was the beginning of God's power. Recall the promise of seed as the stars of heaven . . . to a couple who were as good as dead. Read again the story of the Red Sea . . . Study once more the prayers of Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah, when they were sore pressed and knew not what to do . . . Stand with awe in the darkness of Gethsemane, and linger by the grave in Joseph's garden through those terrible days. Call the witnesses of the early Church, and ask the apostles the story of their desperate days.
Desperation is better than despair.
Faith did not make our desperate days. Its work is to sustain and solve them. The only alternative to a desperate faith is despair. Faith holds on and prevails.

O God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

~Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Only best friends tell each other useless information.
~author unknown~

Monday, March 22, 2010


(Photo taken through my window)

Seemingly carefree
Unaware that Spring is here
Or that God provides

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry . . .
Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25a,26-27

"I cast all my cares upon You.
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.
And any time that I don't know what to do,
I will cast all my cares upon You."
~Kelly Willard~

And I must admit that I need His help in this area, and I say with another songwriter, "Oh, for grace to trust You more." I do know . . . without a doubt . . . that He's never failed me! Failing is one thing He cannot do! That Truth alone is the antidote for worry!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Wildflowers

Did you notice the angle from which this photo of little wildflowers was taken?

You're right: ground level! And I was the photographer! Are you getting a mental picture? Let's just say that . . . it was not one of my most graceful moments! I don't think anyone saw me . . . in the backyard . . . on the ground . . . with my camera almost touching the grass!

These little flowers are growing wildly in our yard and are so pretty that we don't want to mow them down. Just about six to eight inches in height, they grow in clumps and are a brilliant yellow. Just wildflowers . . . but so pretty!

Wildflowers don't need pampering . . . or watering . . . or fertilizing . . . or trimming. They don't grace the shelves of flower shops or the pages of seed catalogs. Without any coaxing, they just push through winter's cold, hard soil . . . and shine!

Reminds me of some wonderful people who just do what they are supposed to do . . . no prodding . . . no pampering . . . no recognition. They're not showy and never draw attention to themselves. They just shine!

And they have no idea that they are our everyday heroes.

"Cause you know heroes come in every shape and size -
Making special sacrifices for others in their lives.
No one gives a medal; the world don't know their name,
But in someone's eye, they're heroes just the same."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Puffed Up

A goldfinch - like this one outside my window this morning - may be puffed up for several reasons. Sometimes the little bird is sick, but it may fluff its feathers in an attempt to stay warm. This morning the temp was in the lower 40's and the wind was cold, so it seemed that this cute, fluffy finch was sunning.

A "puffed up" person makes quite a different impression! I'll let you visualize your own mental picture! It's not a pretty sight, is it? Whatever the reason - pride, hurt feelings, grudges, inflated ego - this spiritually unhealthy characteristic is not an endearing one; neither is it Christ-like.

He's all about love . . . and forgiveness . . . and humility . . . and servanthood!

And so I should pattern my life after Him. When I am tempted and feel my feathers beginning to ruffle - you know the feeling - He's as near as a prayer and ready to help me . . . for a love like His "is not jealous or boastful or proud [puffed up]." (ICor. 13:4)

"O, to be like Thee; O to be like Thee . . .
Stamp Thine own image deep in my heart."
~Thomas O. Chisholm~

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Splashes of Color


Peach blossoms

Eastern bluebird

Spring splashes of color are appearing everywhere! And if you read my blog, you know by now that I love it :-)! So many beautiful shades and hues and brilliant colors . . . it's impossible to say which is my favorite.

I'm thankful that God splashes color in our daily lives - no matter the season. Here are just a few of my favorite "splashes" - other than birds, blooms, and nature:
Visits from our two sons and daughters-in-law and GRANDchildren
A good book that I can hardly put down
Calls from grandchildren
A warm hug from someone special
Family get-togethers with good food, conversation, and fun
A drive down country roads with John David
Children's laughter
Good music
Learning something new (even if that's harder these days!)
An unexpected, encouraging call or card in the mail
A child holding out a bouquet of wildflowers
Visiting some place I've never been
Meeting new friends - and that includes blogging friends
Satisfaction that comes from doing a good deed for someone
A Bible verse that comes to mind just when I need it
Meaningful worship
Inner assurance that all is well between God and me

And my list could go on and on . . . These things and many more make life pleasant, interesting, and full of warmth and love. Just what God planned for me long before my life began. He "gave His only begotten Son" that I "might have Life and have it more abundantly"!

Or to put it another way . . . in full, living color!

"Open my eyes so I can see
The wonderful thing that You do.
Open my heart up more and more,
And make me wholly devoted to You!"
~Terry Butler~

Monday, March 15, 2010

Keep On Singin'!

I try to keep my posts fairly short, but I really want to share this rather long story that someone sent me in an email. I don't know who wrote it, but it's titled "The Sparrow at Starbucks." Hope it touches your heart like it does mine!

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night because our basket was almost overflowing.

It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked.

"No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?"

To my delight, she accepted my invitation. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?"

"Well, do you know any hymns?"

Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. "Name one."

"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one."

"Okay," I replied. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one."

She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.
Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.
I sing because I'm happy;
I sing because I'm free.
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

.When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink, just like you!"

But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"

"Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.

"Why is that?"

"Well," she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song."

"Really!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?"

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine." She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to imagine that He could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting Him and singing His songs, everything's gonna be okay!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waiting for Spring to Unfurl

Holly fern frond unfurling

Try saying that five times really fast!

Definition of unfurl: Unroll, unfold, or spread out or be unrolled, unfolded, or spread out from a furled state; "unfurl a banner"

I'm anxiously waiting for Spring to unfurl all her beauty! Can't wait for her to unfold her palette of bright colors and shake them over the deadness of winter . . . and unroll shiny green leaves and grassy lawns . . . and spread out the cheer that comes with the creatures of spring - butterflies, hummingbirds, and new families of bluebirds.

It's beginning to happen! Among other things, the beautiful blooms on our Japanese magnolia, which we call a tulip tree, have already unfolded. Although the tree is still small, its size does not diminish its beauty.

The rosebushes are putting on new growth, the hydrangea bush's leaves are unfolding, Easter lilies have pushed through the ground, bright yellow jonquils blow in the breeze, and the peach, pear and redbud trees are budding and blooming.

And all the while . . . His banner of love is unfurled over His creation!

He is the Vine and we are the branches;
His banner over me is love.

His banner over me is love.
~Kevin Porshe~

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bugs and Blooms

I love walking in the yard and looking for new signs of spring!

We have one small plum tree and it gets more beautiful every day now. The blooms are are not showy like those on the tulip tree, but I love their lacy, delicate look. While I was snapping a close-up shot, this little ladybug showed up, adding color and contrast!

The tiny little bug, the shiny new leaves unfolding, the beauty of the blossoms . . . just more reminders of a Creator who pays attention to detail . . . who faithfully ushers in each season . . . who specializes in new life!

Just think about how much He plans for and cares about the details and seasons and growth in each of our lives! I think He must find great joy when He sees us blooming where He has planted us.

Summer and winter,
Springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above -
Join in all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness,
Mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness.
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Lord, unto me.
~Thomas O. Chisholm~

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Windows of Hope

It's in the shadowy times . . . the dark times . . .
that the Son's Light is the most comforting.

He always . . . always provides a window of hope.

But we have to look up to see it!

"O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus;
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."
~Helen Howarth Lemmel~

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Country Road Trip

There's just something very peaceful and refreshing about riding the country roads. I'm talking about way-y-y back in the country! So far back that you can stop in the middle of the road (to take pictures, of course) and not even think about who's behind you! And on a day like today, you can roll the windows down and enjoy the cool country air.

That's what John David and I did today. After being sick and cooped up inside for much of two weeks, our three-hour excursion was just what I needed. Although the trees are still bare - except for the pines, magnolias, and holly - the tranquil woods and rolling hills and country roads are beautiful. Here are a few of the things that caught my attention.

Ducks and cranes swam and sunned in a pond alongside the road.

Not far away beavers had built a dam.

Flowers grew along a rickety fence at an old home place.

We visited the little white church where my grandpa and aunts and uncles are laid to rest in one of the most tranquil pieces of woods I've ever seen.

Bees buzzed around the sweet-smelling flowers that grew around the little church.

Moss-covered trees have graced the small churchyard for many, many years.

Country fences like this one just add character to the piece of ground they guard.

Huge pine cones grow on the majestic long leaf pines that tower over the country roads.

Sunlight streamed through the tall pines and was especially warm and inviting today.

And we saw and enjoyed it all on . . . country roads!

What's On Your Mind?

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth,
so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.
To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over
the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
~Henry David Thoreau~

Our voluntary thoughts not only reveal what we are,
they predict what we will become.
~A.W. Tozer~

Whatsoever things are true . . . honest . . . just . . . pure . . .
lovely . . .
of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think on these things.
~Phillipias 4:8 (KJV)

Lord, I realize I choose the thoughts that find a home in my mind. I need your faithful reminders of this truth. I don't hide any of my thoughts from You; You know me better than I know myself.
As I think, so I am.
Help my thoughts to reflect the person You want me to be. Amen.

"Think about His love;
think about His goodness.
Think about His grace
that's brought us through."
~Don Moen~