Saturday, June 26, 2010

Simple Country Pleasures Are Best Shared!

Sharing simple country pleasures with our grandchildren is something John David and I enjoy immensely!

Back in April, I posted a photo of a place we found and enjoyed far back in the Kisatchie National Forest. Yesterday, we enjoyed that beautiful, secluded piece of woods with Andy and our grandchildren! Before exploring the creek, we spread an old bedspread on the ground and had a picnic. Have you ever noticed that a peanut butter sandwich tastes so much better when eaten under shade trees growing along a sandy creek?

Now you can't explore a creek with three energetic kids with your shoes on! And besides that, it was oh-so-hot! So, off came my shoes down by the creek, and I stepped into that cold, clear water. Oh, how refreshing! It had been a long time since I felt cold sand oozing between my toes in that kind of setting . . . way too long, in fact.

We had taken unshelled peanuts with us, and the halved shells made perfect little boats. Isaac and Abby launched boat after boat and followed them down the fast-flowing creek.

They splashed up and down the creek, made dams to direct the flow of the water, and explored the winding creek.

Em liked burying her feet and legs in the sand. We all "soaked up" nature's best!

We made lots of good memories, and of course, I loved snapping shots of our excursion. Maybe we'll go back soon!

In my last post, I talked about how much I learn from my grandchildren, but we grandparents have much to teach the young ones in our families. I think it's our responsibility to provide opportunities for this generation to experience the simple pleasures that have been so much a part of our lives. Kids of today still like to use their imaginations, create their own fun, and enjoy nature - at least our grands do! And that kind of fun is good for them - physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Time spent in quiet places in the outdoors - away from TV's, DVD's, DS's, I-pods, MP-3 players, and cell phones (there was no phone service there) should be part of every child's growing-up years! Just sayin' . . .

And more importantly, it's our awesome responsibility and privilege to pass along the truths and the faith that have been the foundations of our lives . . . truths that will anchor them in this fast-paced, chaotic, ever-changing world that they are growing up in. They need to know that there is a place of quietness . . . and refuge . . . and an ever-flowing stream of God's love that began at a place called Calvary. Let's show them by example that choosing to step into that stream is the best choice they'll ever make!

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
His power, and the wonders He has done.

Psalm 78:4

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buddies and Black-Eyed Peas . . .

They headed for the bunk beds with their music and DS's after playing outside with a remote-controlled car that ripped through the yard at an unbelievable speed. Two cousins . . . who have been separated all of their lives by many miles. But yesterday they, their dads, and their Poppa got to spend time together - a special gift for John David (and me).

I loved eavesdropping listening to the two of them talk and laugh - as music played in their ears and they clicked buttons all at the same time! I heard one ask the other about black-eyed peas. (Did you know . . . that black-eyed peas are not just a food anymore??) What Isaac really asked Aiden was: Do you like The Black-Eyed Peas? A few capital letters and "the" stuck in front changes things, doesn't it? Now for those of you who may not know, that's a singing group . . . whom I have never heard! I'm still wondering how they chose that name!

Ahhh . . . I have lots to learn!

And I can learn lots from my creative granddaughters, Emily and Abby, who know how to knit, crochet, and embroider. Or maybe Em can teach me how to play the piano . . . or Abby instruct me in the game of chess!

I do have lots to learn . . . in many areas! I'm thankful that we never get too old to learn - especially about living. . . and loving . . . and enjoying a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I'm reminded of this line: and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

And this: The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Mark 10:12-14 (The Message)

Yes, I have much to learn . . . but learning and growing are part of an exciting, satisfying lifestyle! One thing I have learned is this: Words may take on different meanings as culture dictates, but His Word never changes! And I'm learning to live by that Truth!

Learning to lean, learning to lean -
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I'd ever dreamed,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.
~John Stallings - 1976~

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Choose Life!

Life is like a game of chess, in which there are an infinite number of complex moves possible. The choice is open, but the move made contains within it all future moves. One is free to choose, but what follows is the result of one's choice. From the consequences of one's action there is never any escape.
~S. Smith~

I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse.
Choose life so that you and your children will live.
And love God, your God, listening obediently to Him,
firmly embracing Him.
Deut. 30:19 - The Message

I choose to believe that You are faithful
And my heart is in Your hands,
And this mystery that I face today
Is part of a greater plan.
I choose not to be discouraged
When the sun will not break through;
I have the choice of trusting You,
So Lord this is what I choose.

I know this road will not be easy;
I know I’ll have my weaker days,
And Satan will tell me I don’t mean it
When I say, “I’ll trust God all the way.”
But that doesn’t really matter;
I refuse to hear him out.
With my faith I’ll find the power
That will overcome all doubt.
Lord, I’ve never felt so strong
As when I’m resting in Your arms.

~Lyrics by Rodney Griffin - Sung by Ivan Parker~

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is There a Titmouse Whisperer in the House?

As I type this, a young titmouse is clinging to my kitchen window - and there's very little there to cling to, pecking loudly on the glass, chattering like he's in distress, and desperately trying to get in! He's done this repeatedly for two days now, and I have no idea what his problem is! I've never seen anything like it!

His - or her - crazy antics do make good photos, however!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


A shelter from the rain -
It's a universal need.

Sometimes we experience rainy days even when the sun is shining outside.
That's universal, too; no one is exempt.

Sometimes a deluge of problems leaves us drenched.
We need a refuge - a shelter.

Many seek one frantically in the wrong places.
But the best shelter is not a place.

It's Him.
His everlasting arms are big enough for all of us.

So let the storms rage high,
The dark clouds rise;

They won't worry me,
For I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God.

~Dottie Rambo~

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unlikely Beauty

I didn't plan to have sunflowers blooming this summer - even though I love their beauty! I didn't plant any seed, yet I have several beautiful blooms adding their sunshine to the backyard.

The birds planted them . . . in a pot of chrysanthemums - which happened to be very near one of the bird feeders containing a variety of seeds. I noticed some very spindly little plants in the pot earlier but wasn't even sure what they were. For some reason I didn't pull them up. There were three or four of them, and they looked unhealthy - pale, thin stems and few leaves - with no potential for producing flowers that I could see.

About two weeks ago, however, as I watered the mystery plants, I noticed the formation of flower buds and recognized them as sunflowers. I still had no idea that those frail stems could burst into the brilliant, cheerful blooms you see above.

No, they aren't the largest or most showy sunflowers I've ever seen, but shine they do - especially when the sun directly hits them. As you can see, I've given them a prop and attached them to it. Their bold, golden-yellow color definitely brightens their corner of the yard!

If you've read my blog very long, you'll know that I believe that nature is a great teacher. Jesus Himself often used both inanimate and living creations to illustrate truths in a simple, easy-to-understand way. He spoke of sand, rocks, sheep, goats. lilies, sparrows, grass, wheat . . .

Maybe I'm just simple-minded, but I "get" those stories. And I "get" the following simple truths that I see in this homespun anecdote. I just need to be reminded of them now and then!

First impressions aren't always accurate.

Humble beginnings don't spell failure.

Outward appearances can be misleading; the ability to produce
beauty comes from within.

Sometimes God plants us in not-so-desirable places, but with His help
we can bloom wherever we're planted.

In the process, however, we often need to be "propped up." He can handle that and offers His Spirit, His Word, family, a compassionate friend, an inspiring song, a sermon . . . Himself.

He is the Vine; we are the branches. As long as we are abiding in Him,
we will brighten our world as we reflect the Son's light.

Our often-dark world needs a plentiful crop of "Son-flowers"! Reminds me of this old song we used to sing when I was growing up:

Here for all your talent you may surely find a need,
Here reflect the bright and Morning Star;
Even from your humble hand the Bread of Life may feed,

Brighten the corner where you are.

~Ina D. Ogdon - 1913~

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Imperfect Beauty

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect.
But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and
struggling to take hold of the prize.

My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived.
But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.

I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven.
This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.
~Philippians 3:12-14 (Contemporary English Version)~

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blowing in the breeze is OK . . . if you're a dandelion!

Then we will no longer be immature like children.
We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching.
We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies
so clever they sound like the truth.

~Ephesians 4:14~

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.
~ I Corinthians 15:58a

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Very Basic Stuff

I don't think I'll ever "outgrow" VBS - Vacation Bible School!

When I was a child, VBS was a highlight of the year, and I have fond memories of those days. Not only was it fun, but during that week I learned some important truths that have kept me grounded as a Christian.

We just finished a week of adventures on the High Seas at our church, and it was a wonderful time for children - of all ages. Although methods and music and the energy level have changed, the truths we teach have not.

Each night one simple but powerful truth was highlighted and reinforced in everything we did. I believe the boys and girls will remember these facts:
God's Word is true.
God's Word is comforting.
God's Word is powerful.
God's Word is life-changing.
God's Word is surprising.

Very Basic Stuff . . . VBS! Stuff that gives us roots and anchors our souls . . . stuff that will hold us steady on the sometimes-stormy high seas of life . . . the kind of stuff that we don't "outgrow" and never changes.

I say "Hooray!" for VBS!

Words of Life, words of hope -
Give us strength, help us cope.
In this world, where e'er we roam,
Ancient words will guide us home.

Ancient words ever true -
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts;
Oh let the ancient words impart.
~Lynn DeShazo~

(This was one of my favorite songs we sang this week.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just a Cup of Water?

"This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing."
Matthew 10:41-42 (The Message )

"Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' "
Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

You know the feeling. You've read a Scripture over and over and think you understand it. Then you have a "God moment" and the Words take on a whole new meaning.

It happened to me yesterday . . . at a nursing home in a nearby town. I was visiting a dear elderly friend who is having a very difficult time just surviving these days. Because she is so weak now, I am barely able to understand what she says. Unable to do very little for herself, she depends on someone to feed her and give her something to drink. With no immediate family to care for her, she's often alone and at the mercy of whomever is on duty at the home, which is a beautiful facility with helpful employees.

While there I poured her a cup of water, put a straw in it, and held the cup close to her mouth. She seemed thirsty and drank, even though it was very hard for her to swallow.

Before I left, I remarked: I wish I could do something for you.

Her almost-inaudible reply: You gave me a drink.

Her words struck - and stuck - deep in my heart and as I drove home, brought tears - lots of them - to my eyes.

Such a small act that took so little effort on my part . . . but meant so much to her! And according to the words of Jesus, it was as if I gave Him a drink. What a staggering, yet humbling, thought!

. . . that was Me . . . you did it to Me . . .

Little is much if God is in it;
Labor not for wealth and fame.
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name.

~Kitty Louise Suffield~

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Full House . . . Empty Nest

Yesterday the mockingbirds' nest on our front porch was full of life . . . literally! Four tiny, hungry birds had plenty of room at first, but as the baby birds grew, the nest looked awfully crowded. But maybe my definition of crowded was cozy to them. An earlier post shows the newborns waiting - with mouths wide open - to be fed.
The parents were always close by, watching and guarding the nest full of babies. I was often amused as I watched them chase away any bird - from a hummingbird to the crows near the highway - and the squirrels that tried to eat at the feeders hanging nearby on the porch. I was often scolded and threatened as I got near the nest with my camera. They were good parents!

What amazed me most, however, was watching the mama and daddy bird teaching the babies to fly. Over and over, both birds flew from feeder to feeder then to the babies in an attempt to get the little ones to leave the nest. All the while, they "chatted" noisily. When they perched on the feeder hook that you see above, they didn't just rest. Instead, they slowly flapped their wings up and down, and I realized they were showing the babies how to fly. This went on hour after hour. Persistently and consistently they led by example. Teaching by example . . . a pretty wise model for us human parents, don't you think?
Finally, one brave little bird decided to try his wings. It was such fun to watch him try to fly. He mostly ran while flapping his little wings until he made it to the tree, as you can see above. Isn't he a beautiful little creature?

Today, the routine continued, and the parents' persistence paid off. The second sibling (pictured above) left the nest. And then the third, leaving one little fellow alone in the nest.

It seemed he wanted to stay in the comfort of the nest, for at first he looked to be hiding as far down in the nest as possible. But finally, he followed the lead of his insistent parents and his brave siblings, and he, too, spread his wings. I could hear the chatter of parents and young as they flew in nearby trees, and the mama and daddy still got upset with me as I tried to find them among the branches. Still protecting . . . still parenting . . .until the four young birds could make it on their own.

Speaking of hiding in the safe comfort of the nest . . . I know about that! Sometimes God gently encourages me to get out of my comfort zone. I should know by now that He knows best when He asks me to do something new or challenging. I can really identify with the last little one to leave the nest, but I can say for sure that God has never led me anywhere that He was not with me.

I went back to take a look at the empty bird nest . . . where lots of nurturing and growing took place. It had served its God-given purpose well!

Although our nest, John David's and mine, has been empty for about thirteen years now, the scene brings back memories of the days that our sons spread their wings and began a new chapter in their lives. It was not an easy time for me, but that's the way God planned it so very long ago.

We give our children roots . . . then wings to fly!

They leave our care but never our hearts!