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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Our hopes and wishes for a Very Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hope has come into the world neither in the form of a political figure nor economic upturn but through a Savior, Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace whose birth we celebrate this season. He does not push himself into our lives but gently knocks at our door waiting for us to open it and invite Him into our hearts. It is only He who will calm the seas of our life. A peaceful and joyous Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December Adventure in White

Balmy beaches Barbados (where videocam began to break) 12/9/08

Kicking back at Half Moon Cay Bahamas 12/17/08


Sweet swans where we slept on ship 12/18/08 (anniversary)

Snowy Seattle sidewalks 12/21/08


More to come....




Sunday, December 7, 2008

Touch and Go

Sorry for the short blogs. Last week Neil's mom was in and out of the emergency room and hospital with kidney failure. We cancelled the first part of our trip to Florida and a day later when she recovered we booked shuttles, airlines, hotels again. Several had been praying for wisdom for us and healing for his mother. God answered, giving us peace to leave on Friday rather than Thursday and tomorrow morning to fly to Jamaica touch down for several hours and go to Barbados for a long awaited trip.
I keep thinking that I will have time to post pictures and video but too much else going on. I will catch up with it all one of these days.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, a surprise visit from our daughter Lu and husband Matt and little Maggie and a scrumpcious Spanish turkey dinner tweaked by Chris and Tomoko from Food and Wine magazine.

Two days before, Neil's mom was sent to emergency room with renal failure and now very slowly recovering in the hospital. God's timing was good for her to see her great grandchildren and her grandchildren that she doesn't see very often.

I know we are to praise and thank God in all circumstances so we are trying, along with praying for her recovery and wisdom regarding our planned trip starting Thursday. Sorry for the short blog without picture.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's happened to the blog?

We are back in the San Juan Islands for a few days after our fun travel to California for Maggie's baptism and to see her parents as well. We've been on the go this and next month too, so I can't seem to get caught up and may not.

The pictures Neil took last week, when we were visiting our granddaughter and her parents, were accidentaly deleted (not again). I had hoped to get them on the blog. I think I will have to get my old camera up and running again and take more time to write. But perhaps it is time to take a break and change gears on this bumpy road.

We are thankful this season to have good health to travel, as well as some funds for now, and a family that we enjoy. Thank you for checking in on us even though this spot is under construction with road blocks.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In California

Grandaughter Maggie on day of Baptism
We are in California for Maggie's baptism today, a wonderfully memorable day where the parents and congregation confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior and committed to helping raise Maggie in a way honoring God. It was a fun filled week getting to know her better. This is a clip from my video camera as all the other pictures were accidently deleted.
Memories are made and memories deleted, unable to retrieve. We spend most of our lives trying to delete the unpleasant ones and retrive the pleasant ones. I have been learning lately that when emotional pain is connected to memories, it is not caused by the event itself, but the lies we believe about ourselves in relation to painful events. As these memories are retrieved and the emotions felt, Jesus personally gives us truth in place of the lies and we are set free from the connecting pain surrounding these events. I've experienced it recently and am learning to quietly help others so Jesus can set them free from the pain and be transformed as well. How wonderful to be available to Maggie and other grandchildren in the future to help them connect to Jesus who will also give them insight through tough times as well.
John 8:32 "Then you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Peace

We are away in Victoria BC this week. The heavy rains have hastened the colorful leaf drop leaving a carpet of color under the bared trees. So today with a rain free walk in Buchaart Gardens, and sun peaking through, we enjoyed the peace and beauty of less crowds and the changing seasons, my favorite time of year.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll have a chance to put some of the pictures on this spot.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn color

Neil at Buchart Gardens


Until I get my camera and my brain working again, the posts are sparce.
This week I noticed the brilliant autumn color here in the Pacific Northwest, more beautiful than I remember it for a long time. It is my favorite time of year and as the leaves let go of their attachments, so am I letting go of the too many things I have crowded into my life, not bad things, but too many interests and not enough focus. So bear with me in this season of change.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pressed down

Apples chopped, pressed and overflowing

This week I have felt scattered, chopped up and pressed down. I've taken on too much and have to let some things go. Tasks have piled up like the apples in the bucket. My life is chopped up into too many pieces and I feel the pressure. I don't want interruptions in my life, yet, You, Lord want me to be available, to give according to your timing. Come to think of it, the cider pressing we attended last Sunday reminds me of my life right now, under pressure. I just hope that something good and sweet, like the fresh cider, overflows in my life, "a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into (my) your lap" as a result of all that pressing. Luke 6:38
Check out the video http://www.youtube.com/ angelambryant cider pressing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Memoriam

Brother Joe left this world October 7, 2008 3:40 pm

When I received the call, I had been reading from a copy of our greatgg Grandmother McLeod's writing about our ggg Grandfather's death, Feb 3, 1825, 6 pm.
"My dear daughter,
The Lord in his tender mercy has taken our Father from this world of sorrow to enjoy a better inheritance in that world where sorrow never comes and the power of darkness and the weary troubled no more...he seemed himself sensible of his approaching end..he thought his hour of departure was near and was blessed with a resignation to the will of his maker... I cannot pretend to write particulary much of his conversation as death approached he said, 'I am willing to go; I have ... had time enough given to prepare for death and am through the grace of Lord Jesus well ready.' This with many other expressions of the same nature seemed clearly to show his perfect resignation to the will of his blessed Master. .."

Below is my brother Wally's description of brother Joe's last hours sent to me later via email.
“We all grieve at the passing of Joe. Once cancer was discovered in his right lung, it was all downhill. The surgery for removal of his lung was successful and radical. Pneumonia set in and an infection that was never identified for treatment. For two months he suffered. disability and discomfort without complaint until his last breath Tuesday the 7th. Below is an account of his final hour.

I had requested a team evaluation of his desire to live or die, with family members there to ascertain the correctness of the staff’s interpretation of his communication to us. Present were the staff: the male charge nurse, the surgeon, the head nurse, and a rehab nurse skilled in communicating with patient's unable to talk.

Also the family was there: Karin, Danny, Lee and myself. We gathered around his bed at the appointed time listening and watching the procedure. The staff had reduced the level of his medication so he was awake and conscious. The questions asked entailed his answers be by nodding Yes or shaking his head No. Pretests were made to see if he could comply with these requests, and he passed.. Then the three staff who questioned him took turns, first the head nurse, then the specialist nurse and finally the surgeon. Each required an answer from Joe: whether he realized the seriousness of his illness, second did he understand the consequences of staying alive, and thirdly explaining the procedure of removing the breathing tube. Did he want the tube to remain in? “No” Did he want to risk passing on? ”Yes” Did he understand that there would be no fear or panic if he were to pass on as he would be medicated correctly? :”Yes” He was asked three times if he wished to have the oxygen removed, and three time he nodded Yes.

Then we all retired to a conference room where we all agreed that Joe had adamantly made a decision to have all life support removed. After some questions for the staff, we left. An hour later his arms were untied from the bed slats, his tube removed, pillows adjusted and brow and mouth wetted and the family was left with him, one at a time. His last words were to Lee:” I love You” and then minutes later he took his last breath, very peacefully and quietly.

The family went afterwards to a restaurant and a quiet room where we reminisced, toasted and celebrated Joe’s life. It was a draining time for all, but all agreed it was the right thing to do for Joe: their father, her husband, and my youngest brother.

I slept little last night as I am sure others as well were affected.
Awake, nor out of guilt or grief as much as replaying all the events of a dramatic and sorrowful ending to Joe’s earthly existence. I was the last to go in to his room after he passed on, earlier the family asked me to say a prayer as we held hands around the dying Joe, the last visit was the Scriptural blessing:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you
May the Lord lift up his countenance and give you Peace. Amen."

I believe that Joe also resigned himself to His maker's will and through the grace of the Lord Jesus was well ready. Now it is just time for us to grieve his loss.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Waiting

No blog this week
We are back home, praying and waiting. My brother Joe in ICU nodded yes, that he wants to live even though he will never be the same and will be placed in a nursing home. He has a fighting spirit and we all support his decision. God has plans for him - and all of us. He knows the perfect time when we live or when we are to die.
In the meantime we all, his kids included, celebrate his life. I pray that we can continue to support one another and work together for Joe's benefit during this tough time. May God send His peace, wisdom and comfort. to all involved.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Working together

Aquarium in waiting room of ICU
My brother Joe, one lung removed because of cancer now the other lung  pneumonia,  is struggling for his life in the ICU unit- tubes helping keep him alive until he can breathe on his own. We spent the week there in Arizona to be with my brothers and Joe's wife, to do what we could and to pray.
I was encouraged to see how the people in the ICU worked so well together to selflessly take care of my brother. Each with their own task, not getting in each other's way but doing their important part to get him better and keep him alive while he regained strength and pounds. He was as low as 93 pounds when we arrived, skin and bones, not able to speak with tubes down his throat so we could only ask him yes or no questions.

 When it was time for us to leave AZ, the new antibiotic was starting to be effective and he had gained 10 pounds, but a long way yet to go. It was hard to leave except for the assurance of the competant medical care he was under and staff who hugged us. We knew God was there caring for Joe.
As I waited for my husband Neil outside Walgreens one night after being at the hospital most of the day, even the ants moving the grasshopper encouraged me to to trust God and the staff who were working together for Joe's healing. I knew we, who loved him, needed to work together the same way.
Isaiah 40:27-31

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Out with the old


For some reason I identify with the land. I want to protect it and keep it from harm. So when the bulldozer comes to tear it up, dig holes, fell trees, I usually go into a state of despair and vulnerability. First my phone dying, my blackberry, all my contact numbers, my calendar, then my mind, my sanity, my stability, only you Lord stay the same and never leave.

The place I have been meaning to get to on the land, the homesteader’s dump, has been dug up and taken away to prepare for a new septic system and drain field. As I think about the excavator service taking out the old stuff, the artifacts, broken objects of the past that I cling to and hold onto, I let them go. I put on music, loud operatic hymns to drown out the squeaking and banging of the repair. I let it fill my empty places instead.

The excavator also digs out deep roots to make way for the new system. “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and many to be defiled.”[1] Who knows what bitterness I might have, but take it away even though it hurts. “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me,”[2] I sing. I want it. I give you the right, Lord, to excavate my heart, mind and soul, tear out the things that get in the way of your work through me. I am weak and vulnerable but I know this is where I can be best used for your glory and your work, because in my weakness, you get the credit. The hole that opens up what is buried deep within me, the squealing wheels of the excavator slowly moving across the landscape of my life, all opened up with my permission. I trust you Lord. There was lots of stuff plugging me up, lots of waste blocking my life like the old septic system. I need a clean out, Lord. Thank you for sending your pump truck to pump me out, and your backhoe to do a new work so I can be effective for You.
[1] Hebrews 12:15 NIV
[2] Psalm 51:10

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Freedom

Mouse trapped in bucket for awhile can't figure freedom out
(click blue link to watch video)

A few days ago when we returned from town, I went into the greenhouse to water some plants. In the attached shed, I picked up some gloves to get rid of thistles and I heard a noise coming from the bucket that I use for weeding, - a trapped mouse. We have found them before when they fell in and couldn't get out, but usually they were already dead. Finishing my tasks, I came back to put away the gloves. I knew I could not let it be, even though I set lots of traps in the house. Somehow the shed was fair game. So I carried the bucket to the end of the field and tipped it on its side. The mouse tried to climb up the rim like it had been used to doing in the bucket, going around in circles even though now freedom was less than an inch away.

The autumn of the year reminds me it is time for a change. Most years northwest autumns come gradually until one day you discover the leaves turning color, the crisper night air and lower sun of the days. Autumn seems to me to be the time to reorganize my life, make living more manageable and meaningful.
I get in a rut making it harder to change the way I do things and manage my life. Yet the ruts, the normal way of doing things in my daily life, even though ineffective, feels like the only way. Some of the ways I do things have outlived their usefulness. I go around in circles a lot, not accomplishing as much as I could. I'm stuck lately too. Instead of trying to avoid change, I want to face this change head on with a meaningful solution. Maybe I, too, need to be taken to a different place (in my mind) and put in a place where a different perspective is visible. So I ask, "Lord open my eyes to see your way to my internal freedom and give me the courage to follow."

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." Galatians 5:1



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Visiting Boston

Where we stayed

where we visited

The British invasion of Boston Common

George Washington in Boston Gardens


From New Hampshire we drove to Boston, turned in the car and took a cab to the guest house. Rainy afternoons set a slower pace to walk to old haunts with umbrella in tow. We spent a few afternoons at the New England Historic Geneological Society where we discovered new links to the past; and taverns, restaurants, landmarks, old links to the past. More to come

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tourist in NH

Petey's for fried clams in Rye NH

Room with a view in Porstmouth NH

Capitol building Concord NH

Pembrook NH mills in Suncook (from Strawberry Bank museum)


Forgetting to turn video camera off captures my skirt "is good"


August 11-18


I've decided to post a few pictures of the remainder of our trip to New Hampshire. (Boston in a day or so) Will also put some on youtube this week. Because of the rain most of our time was spent relaxing, going to museums and galleries, getting together with cousins, and eating our fill of fried clams and lobster. Life is good.




Monday, August 11, 2008

Catching up with family and friends

August 9-10
Took bus back to Logan Airport and rented a car to New Hampshire for Neil's reunion. His class of 43 people had 22 show up for the dinner at a restaurant in Concord. A great brunch at Common Man the next morning before we departed for the coast. To be continued next week.
Nobska Lighthouse Woods Hole MA

Dottie, my friend since before I was 2


August 6-9 Cape Cod


We arrived in Boston at about 7:45 am and took a bus to Plymouth on the Cape where we got a hotel, slept and explored the area for a day, eating the fried clams and lobster and haddock that we miss. I gathered some information on Pilgrims as we are of Mayflower descent. Dottie picked us up and took us to her home the next day. Her husband Bob baked fluke and scallops that he caught and we got to meet Dottie's sister Susan (and her husband)whom we had not seen since our wedding. We had a wonderful time with them.

Meeting Lu and Maggie at SF Airport


Maggie Grace napping at SF airport
pictures by Neil


August 5 Serendipity

Our plane to Dulles and then to Boston was cancelled because of thunderstorms so we were rerouted to San Francisco with a 5 hour wait. Excited, we called Lu who lives in Sacramento and said we would be near and so she took the 1 1/2 hour ride and met us at the food court of the international terminal. We hadn't seen them both since April when Marguerite Grace was born. What a wonderful surprise as a start to our trip. I had been wishing we could see them soon.


pictures by Neil
Blue Angels over our townhouse


August 2-3 Seattle
When the pictures on the wall move and the windows shake, it's not an earthquake but the return once a year of the Seafair hydroplane races and the Blue Angels. They practised over our town house for several days so we called Chris and Tomoko to come to our deck to watch them fly over us. So Dylan and family came for lunch and to view. But it was way too loud for Dylan even plugging his little ears. Sorry we didn't get a picture of him.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

End of July

A fun week with son and grandson visiting from Alaska.
A change for the blog is slowly brewing.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A two week break

When my computer slows down so much wait 15 minutes for it to shut down and when I try to get onto the blogger site it says my cache is full. I get the message. It is just mirroring me. It's time for me to slow down, take a two week break and just enjoy the friends and family that come to see us in July. I'll post a video or two or a picture or some thoughts on the way when it works, but time schedules are out the window this month.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

Dylan at parade


A wonderful full day with Chris, Tomoko and Dylan watching the community parade and picnic at the park, walk on the beach and watching fireworks from our deck. Too busy having fun to write this week.

Friday, June 27, 2008

June in all its glory

Robin fledged, roses bloom

June reminds me of roses and the early sweet days of summer. It all happened last week. June came in like March, windy and cold. The first set of barn swallows either found it too cold to raise babies or didn’t find enough mosquitoes to feed them and so the three featherless birds died. But last week the weather changed for a few days and a new couple excitedly came to take up residence on the community nest. Fledgling juncos, and robins are everywhere, and tree swallows are feeding young in the nest boxes. There are finally peas on the vine, potatoes ripening underground and fresh sweet ripe strawberries for picking.

I have heard about the trees clapping for joy, praising God. This windy week when the sun came out, it was the roses that were dancing. Red petals from Paul’s scarlet rose filled the air. The sun on the bright red single petals glowed and made me praise God for the beauty of His creation. The coldness of the month, makes this last week of sunshine even more glorious.
See: June rose display on first summer’s day.

Isaiah 55:12 "You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Instead of writing

I took a watercolor class on figure drawing this week. Here is what happened.
It was a fun and productive week between playing piano and painting.

Child on beach


Beach artist


Dylan

Jon and Cindi

Friday, June 13, 2008

Serendipities

Dylan's party at the park

It was a week of serendipity (making fortunate discoveries by accident). Last Saturday, June 7, we held Dylan's belated two year old birthday party at our condo in town. Just the day before, I saw a sign for a grand opening of the park across the street which has been under renovation since early last winter. It was planned for the same day as our party. What crazy fun! A surprise park party with Dylan thinking it was just for him and maybe it was.
God's extra blessings come when you least expect it. A few weeks ago in my daily quiet time with God, I made a note to tune our spinet piano for the next jam session at our house. Just then an image of a baby grand went through my head. "What was that about?" I asked. Later that morning as I searched the piano bench to find the tuner's number, Meghan, who is staying with us, asked if we were tied to the piano. "Not really,” I said. “Only that our kids all learned to play piano on it.” “Why?" I asked. She mentioned that a mutual friend was selling a piano. "It is a baby grand," she said. “He needs to get it out of the house to make room for his children."

I never even considered letting go of the Baldwin spinet and getting a black baby grand piano before the image of it in my mind and Meghan’s question that day. But these “accidental” discoveries started me thinking and before the end of the week we got rid of a bookcase and contents to make room and our mutual friend gathered three more men to break down and pack up their piano, belt it on the back of a truck, the only day it did not rain, move it to our house, put it back together in the living room and load our spinet into the same truck and to their home to the delight of their children, who will be freer to learn to play piano now.

So here it wonderfully sits, made for the space, beautifully blending with the rest of the living room. I’m drawn to it every day to play it, instead of writing and grateful to God for His surprise encouragement and the “accidental” discovery once again of his love for me (and Dylan) that is no accident.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Perspective

Island view from air


It is great to get away and view a different perspective of where you live in relation to surrounding areas. It was that way with the fun helicopter ride this week and the boat trip to Victoria last week, a view of the Islands by water and air and a refreshed spirit.


This week I viewed myself differently as well. Sunday, our pastor mentioned that perhaps we could give the Holy Spirit permission to access our heart to change us. So I started praying this. The result was more "problems", more "confrontations" by people I love and more stress, but a different perspective. I realize I don't listen, but defend myself instead. I realize that I often think more about myself than others when I judge others for not thinking about me. Being quiet and self conscious is as bad as the opposite. I misinterpret what people are saying. This is a prompting to change within. I do want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not bound by ways that are so natural it seems to be a part of me. There are times when I experience this freedom that comes with Holy Spirit change and I want more of it.


I cannot change myself, but I trust you will Lord. When I become self conscious, help me to think of others. When I become critical of others help me to pray for the "others" and myself; the same when I am criticized. When I become frustrated and angry, help me let go of the situation and trust your sovereignty that you allowed this into my life for a purpose. Help me have the courage to examine myself rather than defend. I pray this not be a moment's change and then turn back to where I was before. Most of all help me to remember that I was the one that granted you permission to access and change my heart and you heard me. Thank you for taking me up as in a helicopter so I could see myself from your perspective, Lord. The scenery was not as pretty as the helicopter ride, but it will be someday!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taking a Break

The week got away with me. I decided to head out of the country, Victoria BC Canada, for a few days with a friend and reconnect with Canadian roots. We also have overnight guests and programs to coordinate so I'm taking a break this week. Thanks for checking in.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Detour

Detour from Robin's nest in rose trellis
I made a sign today and placed it in a pot beside the rose trellis over the pathway, “Detour…nest”. Lately, every time we walked from the cottage to the parking area and main house through the rose bud covered archway, a robin flew out scolding and chipping after us. “The detour won’t be for that long,” I said. But according to The Birder’s Handbook, by Ehrilich, Dobkin and Wheye, looks like the a month long sign, 12-14 days before the young hatch and another 12-16 before they fledge. The pink Paul’s Himalayan Musk Rose surrounding the trellis will be in full bloom by then.

I sometimes feel like that bird, always interruptions and indignant because of them, disturbed, distressed, and flying off my task in a huff. Perhaps I need a “Do not disturb” “Detour, danger ahead!” sign on myself so I can get something completed, like this blog.

Upon reflection, I realize that instead I need a “Detour” sign for myself to look at, to change the way I think, go in a different thought direction. I say that I want to be interruptible, to be used by God for His purposes, but when it comes down to it, I forget and get angry. You are my real refuge and quiet place Lord. I want your peace. I know you are sovereign and have my best interests at heart so I give you my anger and frustration and I know you will take it away. I want my life to be a sign post pointing away from me to you. Perhaps I have a month to look at the sign I put up in front of the robin’s nest and remember that whenever I am disturbed to ask for your help to think differently so that others might see a blooming rose, your glory instead of me.


 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lost and separated

Fledgling alone and abandoned


I’ve always had a heart for birds, to rescue the injured, distressed, or separated, motherless. So when Neil pointed out what he called a “sick bird” outside our door on the stone patio last week, just before Mother’s Day I paid attention, stopped what I was doing and asked God what to do. It was all fluffed up feathers, trapping warm air for better insulation, wobbly legs and head resting under its wing, tired and cold. Many say that you should just leave it alone unless it is injured in that case get it to a Wildlife rehab center. This fledgling was not injured but was distressed and alone. I thought about placing it up higher in a tree or bush, but wasn’t sure where its nest was, nor what kind of bird it was as most baby birds look somewhat alike when young, and its legs did not look stable enough to do this, so I left it alone to fend for itself. I decided that I would put it in a box overnight for safekeeping if throughout the day I didn’t see its mother and it still looked abandoned. Just before nightfall, I looked out to find it under a large saucer, cold and abandoned and dead.
.
How could I let it die? What should I have done? I was distressed and distraught now; extremely sad, I sobbed for its loss. Wondering why I had such a heartbreaking reaction, God then showed me that I had been praying daily for over a month a quote from “Seeker Small Groups,” by Gary Poole. “Lord help me see the lost as you do, to have a broken heart for them and great compassion. Help me think about their spiritual condition. Help them really matter to me. Lord, give me a renewed passion for lost people. Give me new eyes to see them as they really are - lost, separated, distressed.” We learned about these groups in February at a confernce and had been praying about starting one, when and how. To help us even more understand the important timing to sart a group soon, God brought a family with 10 month old adopted Ethiopian orphan twins to join us for Mother’s Day. What a delight to watch these happy African babies that had joined their family of four, knowing they were rescued from death and no longer motherless.

The message seemed clear, the timing was here to reach out to adults around us who are separated from God, distressed or alone. We stared our first group last week. With fear and trembling and God’s direction, we openly discuss spiritual issues in a safe place where they can self discover where they might be hindered spiritually, participate in out of the box discussions and learn how to be no longer alone. Pray with us, even more important than birds these human lives, that they might be found, rescued and no longer alone and many more would flock to our door.


see http://www.youtube.com/ angelambryant Lost fledgling

( If you are interested find out more about sponsoring an orphan from Africa as we have, not adopting, check out Rafiki Foundation, http://www.rafiki-foundation.org/ )

Friday, May 9, 2008

Repair

Stair needing repair on ladder to my loft


A month ago I started praying for help. There’s a lot around here that needs repair. The cottage faucets increasingly drip and can’t be stopped. The step to the loft is broken and hanging, the laundry room cabinets are sitting in the garage waiting to be hung, holes in the garden where electrical wiring needs fixing, the two year old LG refrigerator drawers and shelves lying outside broken. The list goes on and on. Then God started sending first help with housework, then extra help with the garden. Now someone came and hung the cabinets in the laundry room. Tomoko helped me to figure out how to call and get new parts for the refrigerator, I found a website selling old faucet stems and Neil replaced them and cleaned out the nest boxes just in time for the arrival of the former residents.

While I was inside cleaning up and organizing the new cabinets the laundry room, Neil and friend Cherie, working in the garden, amazingly saw five eagles soaring right over them in formation. They told me later and I wished I was outside to see them. But a few days later at a women’s conference I experienced eagles in another way. We sang a theme song, “Like an Eagle my wings will be repaired and life renewed”. Yes, even more needs to be repaired and rebuilt within me than around me. The disrepair around me is just a mirror of my broken inside. Lately, I’m seeing God restoring me within and hopefully setting me free to soar like the eagles I didn’t’ see. Revival is coming and God says it’s with me first. My dripping words of discontent can now be shut off and controlled; I pray. Maybe now I will give more encouragement and compliments. The writing loft ladder step is not repaired but you Lord can show me the next step and where to place my feet on a solid footing every day. It is a reminder as I climb the ladder to write. Lord, thank you for answering my call for help.

Psalm 138:1-8

Friday, May 2, 2008

Back to the nest

Old tree swallow nest removed from nestbox



We had a great weekend with Chris, Tomoko and Dylan visiting. I taught Dylan to roll down the grassy hill (Neil had freshly cut the grass, composting the clippings) and we, Dylan, Tomoko and grandma had a fun, dizzy afternoon. They also helped me clean out one of the nest boxes, just in time for the rest of our summer residing migratory birds to arrive and begin to claim them. The tree swallows are still deciding on two favorites, the house wrens taking up three and the barn swallows spending just the nights in the old nests.
We are also getting a new boat. Perhaps that is the "nestbox" that will keep our family coming back here often as well.
Too busy with garden and house maintenance, a weekend conference away, and social activities to do justice to a blog this week. Will post some videos in the next few days.
see www.youtube.com angelambryant Tree Swallows are back and House Wrens are back

Friday, April 18, 2008

travelling north

Flyway

Sadly leaving behind our granddaughter and her parents we travelled Thursday and Friday from sunny California to snowy Seattle! We knew Maggie's parents were doing well and that they could ask her real Creator for her operating instructions. *


We took it slow. In that inbetween zone of leaving and return we watched the haymaking on the center strips of the highway, bales carted away on double flatbed trucks secured by metal straps. In Oregon we noticed truck after truck of huge cedar logs. We loved the old farms and barns along the highway, and green fields of cattle in California and sheep in Oregon.

We stopped and felt most at home at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, the only car there, pausing every few minutes along the automobile route to view wildlife. Most of the birds had headed north before us, returning to their nesting sites as far away as Alaska. We, however, enjoyed the natives in their natural habitat and some newly arrived shorebirds. Wildlife, not having reason and will, but a guidance system and operating instructions built in, migrate the Pacific Flyway north and south according to the seasons since the beginning of time. We, with our will yielded to God's direction were instructed to have dominion and care for these creatures of the earth. I am thankful for refuges that help us experience that care and this rare peek at God's avian creation.

Because 90% of California's wetlands have disappeared, these wetlands are mostly manmade. Established in 1937 more than 35,000 acres of wetlands and uplands are managed by draining and reflooding, burning, mowing and irrigating grasslands and creating ponds, a replication of natural habitat. We drove at the edge of seasonal marshes, watching waders and by permanent ponds the waterfowl finding abundant wildlife in a fun few hours. The brochure states, "... appoximately 44% of the Pacific Flyway's waterfowl population winters in the Sacramento Valley. Three million ducks and over one million geese migrate here." We will try to come back at the peak in November, but then again, I don't think we can wait that long for another trip further south to visit our new granddaughter and family. If it keeps snowing in Seattle, we might just turn right around south again.


* 2 Timothy 3:15-17

See www. youtube.com angelambryant Sacramento National Wildlife Reguge

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lost looking

Marguerite Grace one week old


Holding Maggie I'm lost this week

Looking at her face, hearing her squeek.

A smile, a scrunch, wiggling around

I'm caught in a dream I've found.

Her eyebrow up, mouth turned down

a wrinkled brow shows a frown.

An outstretched arm hits her face,

a simple squeek speaks Maggie Grace.


I'm not the same from a week ago.

My single focus lets all else go

the past, the future melt away.

Only in the present here I stay.

I don't want to miss a single smile,

or change, or first, so I sit awhile.

I get lost in a dream just watching her face,

taking every move in, oh Maggie Grace.

Friday, April 4, 2008

To Marguerite Grace

Maggie Grace born April 3, at 3:28 p.m., 5 lbs 8 oz, 18.5" long


On the day before you were born, the earth and surround started slowing down. Two pairs of ravens soaring the skies over the field, talked in their quiet “qworks” to each other. The small helpless injured junco quiet in a box with blanket and soft tissue found its way on a long slow ferry ride to the bird hospital. At dark, the deer sauntered from the woods to the fields for dinner. On the forest floor Morel mushrooms pushed their way from the dark earth, and picked by a friend, found their way into my hands.

But on the day that you were born time slowed down so much that life became like a dream. People were moving but not going anywhere so it seemed.
As you were waiting for the time to be born that God ordained, I waited to get on the ferry to go to meet you. As I boarded the delayed ferry, and traveled extra slow through the waters, you were carefully brought to the hospital in your secure box, your mother’s womb and were gradually passing through the waters of the birth canal,

But on that day and very time you were born, the time and place ordained by God, the ferry boat I was on, and the whole earth, stopped still for just a quiet moment. The heavens and the earth were celebrating your arrival. A very little while after landing, with the word of your arrival from your Dad, we all shouted and cried for joy. Time sped us the 850 miles to California to finally find you in our hands and arms. Then time stood still just for a moment once again.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below.”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hummingbirds

Picture of found Hummingbird nest for my art class
This week, with the blooming of the native red currant, arrived the ear buzzing hummingbirds and the first white crowned sparrows from the south, and three varied white winter days, flitting hail, sleet and snow from the north! The hummingbirds reminded me of the nest I found while cleaning up at the edge of the woods. It had broken off a tall Douglas Fir tree in a winter storm and lay on the ground underneath. Because I often wondered what a hummingbird nest felt and looked like and where they might be found, knowing they nested nearby, I was thrilled to find one at my feet, pick it up and hold the delicate nest of spider webs and lichens in my hands.
I remember the first time I saw baby hummingbirds at the Seattle Wild Bird Clinic when I brought an injured robin through rush hour traffic with my children in tow to Mrs Butler's door. I was amazed to see her feeding 3 hummingbirds with a hypodermic needle. "Round the clock, every two hours," she said. She kept the solution and needles in her refrigerator and the birds were on her kitchen counter. The babies were barely as big as my littlest fingernail.
Speaking of babies, we are positioning ourselves to head south, opposite the birds, when we get a phone call from our daughter and son-in-law in California that our granddaughter is on the way. We are packed and ready to be with them the 11th if not before. We are wondering what she might be and look like and in April we will get a chance to hold this most wonderous creation in our hands.
"...fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter

This week, instead of writing, I took an oil painting class from Matt Miller and was reminded of my first blog a year ago "fallen". (see it copied below)


"Fallen" by J. Matt Miller

"Why would I want to buy a picture of a dead bird?” was the questioning look I got when I bought Matt’s oil painting titled “Fallen”. He painted and posted it on his daily life painting blog on Good Friday. In the past I talked to Matt about painting birds, but he said they don’t sit still long enough for real life painting. I recall last summer when our grandson, Andrew, and I sat at our dining table drawing a bird. It was a window-crashed-dead pine siskin after which we buried it with ceremony, a cross as its marker.

Easter Sunday, Matt told me that he did paint a bird on Good Friday, one that crashed into his living room window. I looked at his blog and woke up on Monday knowing I had to buy the painting. I spent the week pondering why. Yes, I have a "thing" about injured or dying birds. Ask my kids. More than once I dragged them and various boxed birds with concussions through rush hour traffic for 20 miles to the Seattle Wild Bird Center, then the only state-licensed wildlife clinic in the area. I learned a lot about helping birds survive a crash.

So now, in our island home closet sits an electric heating pad and a cardboard box with towels just for these occurrences. The picture reminds me of two winters ago. Upon hearing the all too often terrible “thud” against the window of our island home, my heart and I race outside to find a spotted Tohwee, feet up, not a good sign. As only its red eyes move, I gather it in a soft towel and place it in the box, out of the way of noise and traffic, and set the heating pad to low. All the while softly muttering, “Please God let it live”.

With many hours passing and several tries taking the box outside and lifting the cover to release it, it finally flew to safety. Often when I see what I think is “the” Tohwee scratching at the grass for seed and scurrying with its mate under the lavender bushes that line the flag patio, I thank God for its revival. Perhaps I need to do more about the ignored problem of our window glass.

The Bird Conservation Network gives some solutions mentioning window glass crash as the number one human caused bird mortality with an estimated 1 billion birds killed in the U.S. each year. I’ve hung metal birds from the door frame on a raffia chord and stuck an outdoor chair in front of the glass door, neither of which works well. I pull curtains when we are gone.

So today I try “designer” vertical lines of soap every four inches down the window. We’ll see what my husband says when he gets in. “I still think a barn would be best for you,” was his response. Maybe so, at least there are not many windows to crash into.

But then, God, don't you know when a sparrow (or tohwee) falls?1 Don’t we all continue to exist by Your will? You, God, say how much more valuable we are than birds.2

 Stuck in my head this week is the song that we sang on Easter Sunday, “Crucified, laid behind the stone, you lived to die, rejected and alone, like a rose (or a rose-sided Tohwee), trampled on the ground, you took the fall and thought of me, above all.”3 You found me fallen because I saw and worshiped a reflection of your image, not you. I've worshipped a reflection, a visual barrier, that is the form of religion, not you; my own independence, not your way, my sometimes greater interest in birds than people.

You picked me up, wrapped me warm, and put me in a safe place. You loved me so wondrously, God, that you took the fall and died yourself, your substitute sacrifice, not for birds who still obey your commands, but for my sake, so I can be revived and set free. Did you sacrifice the tohwee so Matt would paint it, I buy it, so every time I look at it have a visible reminder of my worth to you Lord who died and rose for me, what Easter is all about.

Notes: 1. Matthew 10:29 2. Luke 12:24b; Matthew 10:31; Luke 12:4-9 3. “Above All”, Paul Baloche and Lenny LeBlanc.


By the way, a year later, no more fallen birds at our windows, the "designer" vertical lines of soap work.
Dead Spotted Tohwee (alias Rufous-sided Tohwee)
Pipilo maculatus L 7 ½ (19 cm)
Friday, April 06, 2007 Painting by J. Matt Miller
"Fallen" 8x10 oil/linen

Friday, March 7, 2008

A two week break

Heading outside


As we came back from our trip, too much else to catch up on...taxes, gardening, planting vegetables, attempting to order my life, spring cleaning, and fitting in some music, art and reading.

I reread Billy Collins poem "Advice to Writers" again.

"Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.
The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks to swab in the dark forest upper branches,
nests full of eggs.
When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and the brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of clean world.
From a small vase... sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods."

from Sailing alone around the room: New and Selected Poems.

I took Billy’s advise. The reason for my increasingly poor writing is the clutter and surrounding disorder. These weeks ahead I'm starting in one corner floor to ceiling with brush and pail and vacuum and rag. The loose wandering papers will be gathered and teathered or placed in caged files. Away with the cobwebs, away with the piles. If I happen to head out the door it might be two years before I fnd my way back to the desk and talk to you, just so you know.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bird song

Mockingbird outside window in California

A year ago we went to see our daughter and son-in law in California and they were complaining about a mockingbird outside their bedroom window that was singing, chattering doing its thing all night long. I brought a book to read at the time, Why Birds Sing: A journey into the mystery of birdsong by David Rothenberg. The author stated at the end of his scientific search, “Before we are artists or scientists we are human beings, and when we confront phenomena as enigmatic and tenacious as bird song, no single one of our faculties is enough. The beautiful songs of life are older than our entire species, and they will continue long after all human music has dissolved. If the works of God are to be heard on Earth, there is no better place to find them than in the deep intricacies of incomprehensible bird song.” (P. 218)
I have a Biblically based theory that especially birds, who did not fall from grace as we humans did, are directed, as from the beginning, by their creator for His glory. I also believe that God is sovereign and anything that comes into our lives is for His purpose, especially for those who believe. I've experienced birds waking me up early so I could get up and pray and they did not stop until I did. So I said to our daughter and husband, “There must be a reason why God placed this bird there. Perhaps you need to wake up for some reason. By the way, it is mating season and this is what mockingbird males do.” When we returned to see them this year, we slept on a blowup mattress in the baby to be’s room. The mockingbird had no need to sing near their window but was outside our window. He didn’t start his repertoire until it was past time for us to rise so we could join him in praising God for the new life that will come to our family in April.
To hear the mockingbird: http://www.youtube.com/ angelambryant Mockingbird song

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sore spots

Yucca at the patio edge


From last time’s blog, I continued to think about what traps me in life. I thought of how often I get too busy, a trap, and don’t ask others for help. Often if I do ask for help, those I ask are too busy and I can’t get the help I need. So I asked God, “What can I get rid of in my life and who could help me with what is left?” The first thing to go was the predisposition to expecting others won’t help me when I ask. “Forgive my "bitter root" expectations. Take them away, Lord," I asked. The very next day I ran into two people who offered to help in the future and another friend that showed up to work in the garden. I seized her and my husband, Neil, and we tackled a job I have wanted to do for at least seven years, hide a sore spot. It is easier to grab my husband when there is another person willing to help.

We targeted to move some sun loving Yuccas that multiplied with too much fun beyond their space to a new place and purpose. The two of us rounded up the long spikes to tie them up with twine so we wouldn’t lose an eye over it or get injured elsewhere. We cleared out the area underneath and cut the connecting roots with a pruning saw, so the surrounding plants would not be damaged when we moved the few. Neil dug them up and moved them below, three of them as well as babies to a dirt mound he had been preparing to hide the generator, the eye sore in our view. I love the way it softens and we hope the yucca love it there as much.

Again, in these weeks of Lent, I look at sore spots. I am thankful, Lord, that you have the answer to dealing with them. All I need to do is ask. Thank you for the quickly answered prayer, the encouragement of a friend arriving at just the right time to convince Neil to help. Thank you for moving me to another spot in life for your purpose, protecting me and keeping me out of the traps.

Matthew 7:7-8

Friday, February 1, 2008

January's over

Our newly refurbished Monarch woodstove

My mother always said, “If you get through January then you’ll live for the rest of the year.” The Januarys she probably referred to were the bitter cold and snow filled Nova Scotia Januarys where she grew up and where we spent summers. Even in the summers the woodstove in her homestead would be lit first thing in the morning to boil the water from the spring at the foot of the hill, and warm up the chill of the night. In January it would burn day and most of the night. We got through January here in the Northwest easily with just a little snow this week. Not so my favorite aunt, Mom’s sister, Aunt Dolly, from Nova Scotia. This last day of January she died of a stroke surrounded by family. She was an inspiration to me, still writing books at 93 and active in her community making a difference. I will miss her.

So the day after she died, today, Friday, I lit the fire in our newly refurbished Monarch wood stove in memory of Mom and Aunt Dolly who cooked on them. I was glad our regular first Friday of the month jam session was at our house tonight. It was fun to gather with friends who also love music while in the back of my head remembering aunts, uncles and cousins in Nova Scotia gathering every summer to welcome us back. They didn’t call it a jam session then or even a ceilidh (music and storytelling gathering) which it was. For the family gathering everyone brought food and drink, and musical instruments, voices and dancing feet. They gathered at the old homestead, with its pump organ, woodstove and warmth of music and life and stories we didn’t want to end.
Today, I believe there is an even a greater homecoming party in heaven for Aunt Dolly with music and singing and stories as she gathers with her nine brothers and sisters including my Mom in who passed before her and my grandfather and grandmother, who read her Bible stories that she now sees for real. The party, unlike January will never end.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter day

Snow geese in Skagit Valley

The snow geese and trumpeter swans gather in the Skagit Valley fields as the wind and rain storms beat upon the Northwest coast. Winter is here. No hurry to get to the ferry line ahead of time, just “locals” riding the ferry. The tides are high and the passage is often rough but all of us depending on the ferries have done this for years and just consider it part of the seasonal change.
There are more winter ducks appearing every day near the shoreline of the bays. The easily noticed abundant birds now are the Oregon Juncos, Chestnut-baked Chickadees, and Flickers. Just lately the temperature drops flocks of robins from higher frozen elevations to congregate on our unfrozen lawns, searching for worms in the deep earth or any plant with berries. I need to plant more berried bushes, such as cotoneaster, pachysandra when the weather warms.

To celebrate Robert Burns Day, Jan 25, and since the days have been cold and crisp and snow capped mountains spectacular, four of us took the ferry to Orcas Island, we made the ferry at the very last minute, and hiked the trail to Turtleback Mountain. We don’t do this enough, stop everything and head off, to forget the lists of chores and capture a day that will not be anymore, with friends to share the fun and beauty. We hiked to over 900 ft elevation enjoying the crisp of weather and spectacular views. We are all thankful that this beautiful 1575 acre piece of land, which was designated a conservation area last year, has public access and will remain this way for future generations. I can look at a beautiful old garry oak, one of the few that survived the shipbuilding era, and know that it will not be cut down unless naturally. I can look at the high grassy meadows that frame the amazing view of the Gulf and San Juan Islands, and know the view will be unhindered. The patchwork quilts of farmland on Orcas may change with new generations and perhaps the sparkling waters will be filled with more than just the single ferry we see ducking in and out from view, but we were grateful for the day to appreciate God’s beauty and good friends. We hope you can do the same this week.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Change

Park renovation started
At our town home in Seattle we awoke last Friday to notice we could suddenly see the lights of the town instead of trees; and upon reflection, the town could now see us. Just the morning before, the trees in the park across the street provided us a sense of privacy, muffling the sounds from the main street beyond. These 80+ year old healthy trees were felled while we were at Neil’s aunt’s side. It was her last day on earth too.

In the past, when loved healthy trees were cut down, I’d be outraged that such beauty could be instantly removed for “progress”. If they were also trees that sheltered and protected, I’d feel exposed to the world, vulnerable. But this time, I was upset about trees only momentarily; the loss of Neil’s Aunt, created in God’s image, immensely outweighed the loss of trees and privacy. We held a memorial service for her a week later and I am still outraged at a death of a loved person, even though she was 92. Although she was not a protector or shelter to us, any loss of life of someone you love still leaves you feeling vulnerable.

The trees removed for park renovation confirm a change in me as well. As a previously private person, exposure of any kind is difficult. Now the lights of the city and traffic remind me to be more at ease with my visibility in the community at large, including this blog. In the beginning, I felt God wanted me to write this blog in spite of fear. Now again He confirms, “Let your light shine before men." I can’t see my own light, not even sure that it is there. But because I can no longer hide behind old trees, the people on the main street can see it coming from my window. My hope is that you might see a little of it shining from this window too.

1. Matthew 5: 14-16

Friday, January 11, 2008

Promise

Worn and old but full of promise


We are in grief. Neil’s 92 year old Aunt Maine, us at her side, stopped breathing life giving air, Wednesday January 9 at 5:30 pm and passed to the other side.

We headed back to the city from the island on Tuesday morning and spent time with her until the end. I grabbed an American Bible Society “Promises of God” booklet and read portions of scripture from it to her. She remained attentive with eyes opened whenever we spoke.
Whenever her breathing became labored, I prayed out loud for God to give her peace and a sense of His Holy presence and that she would have no fear. I held her hand and she held mine and the labored breathing stopped and she breathed more peacefully. I felt it a privilege to be there as I was not able to be there to the end with my mother.

Neil and I took turns sitting by her side and talking to her and just sitting quietly. When she was attentive to Neil or resting, I took the elevator to her apartment two floors up to clear out her room as we knew she would no longer return. and others were waiting for it. While cleaning out drawers and shelves, I found a small well used book as well as some notes with scripture verses, the same that I had read earlier, confirmation that we were on the right track. I also found cards with questions on them. Just then Neil came in to the room wondering what he might read to her. I said to him, “There is no coincidence that I found these notes in the desk drawer. Take these and answer them for her.” On two 3X5 cards she had written, “What does it mean to be born again?” and “What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” We both felt a clear directive from the Holy Spirit to give her the answers for which she had been waiting and encouragement for us that she was and would continue to be in His hands. She attentively listened to Neil’s answers and seemed content and peaceful when I returned. I brought her old small frail well used book, much like herself, Ave Maria, from her room. Again, she turned her head toward me and opened her eyes and I read from the most worn pages “Morning Prayers.”
“O my God, my only good, the Author of my being and my last end, I give Thee my heart. Praise, honor, and glory be to Thee forever. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I will raise myself up from this bed of sleep, to adore my God, and to labor for the salvation of my soul. Oh, may I rise on the last day unto life everlasting. ...Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!" I ended by saying, "You will soon be with your Lord Jesus." Within an hour she was praising God on the other side and we were grieving only because we will miss her.
Hebrews 9:23-25; 10:19-23