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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Gift for the New Year

Gift left in greenhouse by island friend



When an island friend came to leave a Christmas gift while we were away, the only place she could find unlocked was the greenhouse,* amongst the dirt and the mice. It reminds me of the dirty manger that God’s greatest gift ever, Jesus, was placed after being sent away from the locked inns of the time.

Where have you locked Jesus out of your life this year? What is taking the place of Him in the center of your heart or life? We unknowingly push to our life's center our previous purchases, (which keeps our homes and cars locked) our time, our money, even ourselves. Because there is no more room, we lock God's gift out as we did our friend’s gift that had to be left in the greenhouse.

What other gifts might he bring us if we open our hearts and unlock our doors today and get out of the way?
Help us in the New Year to remember to ask.


“Come into my heart Lord Jesus, come into my heart to stay.” Emily E Elliott

*Usually islanders leave at least the car unlocked (except in zucchini season)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas wishes


We're leaving the island for Christmas

Watching from the ferry, leaving cormorants and gull behind on piling

All creatures on this earth who dwell,

(birds as well)

Sing praise to Him (God with us) Emanuel


May your Christmas be filled with wonder and joy!

Joy by letting Jesus, enter fully your heart today

Make a prime space room for Him which means getting out of the way

and leaving the old me behind.

(God help us and remind )

Where does your joy come from?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turning bad into good


Seed: Last week, I decided to bake some cookies to bring to an elderly wheelchair-bound friend. Early that morning I got this wild hair-brained idea to roll them in “Holiday Red sparkling sugar” instead of the usual white sugar, mixed with cinnamon. Along with rolling them too big so that they all ran together, I created an ugly mess.

Plant: This garden loving friend likes routine and perfection, and although wonderful, she is often set in her ways. Because of this, I contemplated throwing the cookies out to the birds or eating them ourselves, but the beautiful cut glass plate I had set aside for her could not be given empty.

Grow: As I pondered the dilemma, into my mind came the words:

  • "This is like the body of Christ, fellow believers, all imperfect, most a mess, all shapes and sizes, melded together to do God’s will on earth.”
  • “Look at the red as the blood of Jesus (Christ’s death on the cross to take on our sins and bring us back into relationship with God).Everyone has to deal individually with this.
  • “The cinnamon, the dark blotch of sin in our lives which becomes the spice of life, through Jesus’ work and life which we celebrate this Christmas."

    I mentioned this to my friend, apologizing for the unusual cookies. She understood and later in a letter wrote "The cookies are delicious and fun to eat -knowing the significance."

    Harvest: Thank you, God, for helping me make the best of all situations. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

    What difficult circumstances in your life can you turn to blessings for others?
    Let me know and I will pray for you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Under construction

Changing blog around. Let me know what you think?

Friday, December 11, 2009

On the Ten Days of Christmas

Crammed Greenhouse
On the ten days of Christmas my true love* sent to me,
Ten days of freezing temps, plants frozen by degree.
Melianthus major barely holding on
Fatsia suffering and windmill palm
Outdoor faucets now in blanket clothes
The worm bin taken in before it froze

Fushia gardenmeister shoved in the hallway
Echeverias into the sunroom all away
Our small greenhouse stuffed to the max,
Canna, alocasia, kalanchoe, not flax

Frozen plant saucers, birds skating through
Suet hung on trees for birds too
Frozen parsley collected for the stew
With frozen lettuce what can you do?
Oh to the worm bin.

Lots of plants flat upon the ground
I hope next spring they’ll come around


If not, it may be time for a next spring revamped garden.

*Thank you Lord for reminding me that, like plants we all have a limited life. But you loved us so much more than plants, so much that you “gave your one and only son,” Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this season, “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Have you asked Jesus, the “Master Gardener, Lord of Lords, King of kings” into your life to guide you, keep you, protect you and care for you? Maybe it is a time for all of us to be “revamped” before we are put in the worm bin. What do you think?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five Days of Christmas

Northern "red shafted" Flicker on frozen ground


On the fifth day of Christmas my true love* sent to me:
A flock of foraging flickers on frosty ground you see.
They woke me up that day,
So I wouldn't forget to pray.


Here outside my window are two video-captured foraging flickers.


*Thank you Lord for cheering my heart and helping me do my part.

Does God ever encourage you through birds?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obedience

"A note from the Editors" caught my attention in Rafiki 2010 Calendar

I’ve gone off track, attempting to study social media, marketing, and improve my blog links, instead of writing the book. It has brought me into a sort of “dark night of the soul”*, without pleasure and certainly no delight to my readers. I’ve begged a few friends and family to “follow” me. Thank you to those who have. But all this is not as important as what a friend in Africa writes:

Yeen Lan 2/11/02 I am learning that what God demands of me is obedience, no matter what; single-minded obedience in faith no matter what the circumstances,no matter how unknown the outcome. It has always been this way. God is calling His people to obedience and giving them at best a glimpse of the outcome of their effort. Some think this divine pattern cruel, but I am
convinced there is a sovereign wisdom to it. Knowing how susceptible we are to success’ siren call,God does not allow us to see, and therefore glory in, what is done through us.The very nature of obedience He demands is that it be given without regard to circumstances or results.”
Yeen-Lan is Rafiki Village Director, Muiki Kenya
Last week I received the 2010 Rafiki calendar in the mail as a donor to the Rafiki Foundation. I randomly opened it to “July”, featuring Nigeria where we sponsor an orphan. The photo of a newsletter in the corner, published by the older “budding journalist” orphans, caught my attention.
“…However, it (the newsletter) is not written simply for gossip and giggles, but to enlighten,delight, and make you laugh out loud. The Roman theorist Horace, writes in his critical work Ars Poetica: “The man who combines pleasure with usefulness wins every suffrage, delighting the reader and also giving him advice.” To say it more plainly, borrowing the words of an Englishman, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a stupid boy.” (my Dad’s saying as well)
"Lighten up," my husband says. I do think I am too serious. The pleasure of gathering at our December jam session this Friday night will feed my soul. You can pray I will be obedient this coming week to what God is calling me to do whether it is through the soul of the dark night or pleasure and delight. Thank you for following me on this journey. Let me know how I can pray for you.

*Notes on the Dark Night of the Soul from Tozer, "I Talk Back to the Devil", p. 80-81

How long will you forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long will thou hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1 “Some of you know something of that which is called ‘the dark night of the soul.” Some of you have spiritual desire and deep longing for victory but it seems to you that your efforts to go on with God have only brought you more bumps and more testings and more discouragement. You are tempted to ask, “How long can this go on?”... Yes, there is a dark night of the soul. There are few Christians willing to go into this dark night and that is why there are so few who enter into the light. It is impossible for them ever to know the morning because they do not endure the night.”



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remember November

The last remaining sweet pea picked Nasturtium sprouted out of the drain, after two year wait, too late to bloom

Rhode Island Greenings picked before the storms


First the wind and rain - broken leader on ornamental pear

Thunder and lightening and then hail.


Then a glorious morning before the next storm.







Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

God's island bounty at worship service Sunday



“Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with Praise.
Give thanks to him and praise His name,
For the Lord is good, and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations!” Psalm 100:4


Our Thanksgiving celebration this year will be non-traditional. at our son Chris’ restaurant, PALISADE, in Seattle where they are serving over 800 people (that's a lot of turkeys plus regular menu). We’re hoping we can catch him on the run.
Here is a 2007 Thanksgiving video of Chris cooking prime rib. We won’t see him cooking this year, but we can’t wait to sample his new creations today.

We will keep one tradition and tell what we are thankful for this year; I'm thankful for friends, family that bless our lives and God’s grace every day that renews my heart, mind and spirit, and for new friends here on this blog. For our bountiful gifts, we thank you O God.

At the restaurant we may not have 5 kernels of corn on our plates as a reminder of our Mayflower ancestry (Stephen Hopkins our ancestor) but will be grateful for God’s provision and heritage that continues through all generations.

What is your Thanksgiving tradition?
What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Gate is Open

from 11//20/09
Gate torn open by a severe wind storm
The huge November windstorm last week took the double garden gate, swept it off the poles, heaved the pins and latches about the yard and scattered the now single gates down the rock stairs leaving a wide hole open to the destructive deer.The timing was perfect. I needed a reference image.

As I toil fighting weeds, I've  often pondered the relationship between the original garden called Eden and the gardens we have here now. In Eden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in childlike dependence, and bindweed and thistle behaved. Adam and Eve had free will yet chose to obey God in every way, until the serpent, Satan in disguise, convinced them otherwise. They ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and for their protection, God banished them from the garden with no longer access to the tree of everlasting life.

"God said to Adam:
 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, '"You must not eat of it," 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field....'" Genesis 3:1718 NIV

As you know, everything changed from then on. The gates locked behind them, cherubim were placed, guarding the entrance, and now began pain, weeds, toil, work and death on this side of Eden for all generations forward.

 Yet because God so loved us, He sent His son Jesus, that whomever shall believe in Him shall have everlasting life.(John 3:16) and the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts and open wide the garden gate with the wind of the Spirit to enable us to walk and talk together once again.

Thank you LORD for hope, renewal and life, and your great wind of the Spirit that opens Your gates so we can commune. Thank you, that I can even talk with you about the bindweed and thistles.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the Road to commitment



Don't look back
(Lincoln Brewster singing )



Following my husband's advice to have more music and joy in my life, I stepped away from the garden writing and hit the road with our praise and worship team (I'm one of the vocalists) to CMS 2009 (Christian Music Summit) at Overlake Church in Redmond WA. . For two full days we heard top name performers, song writers, artists on stage and in workshops: Brentan Brown, Brian Doerksen, Paul Baloche, Lincoln Brewster and many more. I admired incredibly skilled Laura Story, Andy Leftwich and groups like Newworldson and secretly wished that I had decided to spend more time perfecting the music I loved to perform when I was younger. Off and on throughout the weekend, this background video of the road stripes as seen by someone looking out the back car window became the background for the song lyrics and for what God was saying to me this weekend.

Over and over I saw and heard the importance of dedication, - time each day, one day at a time, for practise, exercises, writing, doing what you are called to do. The message was loud and clear "commit." I decided If I look back too much instead of forward, by tomorrow, today will be backwards and I will have lost the chance for today. Does this make sense? For this week and each day I am looking forward, committing to writing the proposal and continuing the blog, (with time out for music) Pray I will rejoice in each day. I'll do the same for you.


Thank you to those who encouraged me.


Philippians 3:12-14 Press on to the high calling
Psalm 118:24 "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Proverbs 16:3 'Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

Monday, November 9, 2009

On quitting where there's no joy

Away from the garden. In a Victoria BC hotel room.
written November 9, 2009

God speaks to me through this morning’s devotionals. “The cost of Quitting, November 9” Tozer on Christian Leadership:A 366-Day Devotional, “The Spirit-filled life is not, as many suppose, a life of peace and quiet pleasure. It is likely to be something quite the opposite….sometimes there is a pitched battle with our own nature where the lines are so confused that it is all but impossible to locate the enemy to tell which impulse is of the spirit and which of the flesh….” (just where I am)
“Satan will not bother a man who has quit fighting. But the cost of quitting will be a life of peaceful stagnation. We sons of eternity just cannot afford such a thing.” That Incredible Christian p. 73

And from the Gideon Bible in the hotel room.
“…Pray for you and to ask that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously…” Colossians 1:9b-12


To be honest, I have been wrestling with quitting the blog lately. My husband complains that I have no joy when working on it and suggests I spend more time with music where I seem to have joy. Since most people are too busy to read my blogs, it may be time to quit. Not being able to know “which is of the spirit and which of the flesh,” and therefore not have “knowledge of His will,”  This morning I have decided to test the Spirit and not quit just yet. I will try to improve the content for God’s glory and continue to learn a little more about social media and marketing. I guess I really don't ever want to live a life of "peaceful stagnation".

When have you felt like quitting and what changed it?


1Compiled by Ron Eggert, (Camp Hill,PA, Windspring Publishers, 2001)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Writng

It seems that whenever I start a larger writing project, a tidal wave comes and sweeps me into the ocean with no pen, paper, nor thoughts other than to get back to shore with solid ground on which to stand.


I put an essay on aging regarding sinking sand here for three days until someone mentioned that if I published it here, I couldn't anywhere else. I'm not sure I will publish anything anywhere else anyway and I am still out to sea trying to get to solid ground.

In the meantime, here is some wisdom from others on writing from Michael Hyatt

"Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work." Steven King (I don't think time learning about social media marketing counts.)

"When I write I am inspired and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning." Peter Devries (I pray we writers can keep the set regular time.)

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." Helen Keller (How many trials and sufferings does it take?)

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller.

The song "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand," comes into my head. Lord, I don't want to be swept out to sea with nothing written or without a return to my commitment to honor you in what I believe you have called me to do. James 1:6 "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because you who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." NIV (Italics, my rendering)

Where is your slippery slope and where is your hope?

Monday, October 26, 2009

October remembered

Quercus (Oak)

Colchicum (Autumn Crocus)



"Red sky at night sailor's delight"



Sunday, October 18, 2009

Proud as a Peacock

"Proud as a Peacock" showed up at our door and stayed for three months.
The Lord has been talking to me about pride lately. I am a slow learner.
In trying to organize pictures for the book that I’m working on, I discovered this peacock picture, taken about 9 years ago. I remember that he strutted and fanned out of his feathers in front of the cottage door. I thought then that pride was all about blowing your own horn, giving credit to yourself and not to God, not so..
(As an aside, pride is not the reason for the peacock behavior, but a territorial defense and mating ritual, seeing its reflection in our window thinking it was another bird).

Two months ago, August 20, I read a passage about pride from The Best of Andrew Murray on Prayer*, that has stayed with me.
" God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6 NIV
Andrew Murray asked us to offer one prayer to God continuously for a month which I have continued.
“…show me and take from my heart every form of pride...Awaken in me
the depths of humility so that I might be open to Your light and Your Holy
Spirit...O God....(I pray... from the bottom of my heart)...Pain and darkness
results, but meets with Divine Love."

This week a sample of where pride was in the way, the Holy Spirit quenched, and pain resulting:
  • What I say: trying to interrupt people with my thoughts and not letting them finish, thinking I will forget what I wanted to say if I don’t. If it is important I won’t forget. Pride keeps me focused on myself and not what others are saying.
  • What I like: My husband wanted to throw away an old milk pail bucket filled with what I use to clean the bathroom, kept under the sink and get a plastic bucket instead. I love the old bucket and have intended to make curtains to hide it better so I bristled, besides, he doesn’t clean the bathroom. Pride puts my desires and wishes above other people who may be just testing to see if I love them more than a bucket.
  • Defending myself: Arguments in the morning, he criticizing, I arguing back. My pride in the way. Why do I need to defend myself? God knows my circumstances.
  • What I look like: A young couple showed up at my door at noon. I was up at six, but with the rainy day, I still had pajamas on. At first I ignored the knock, thinking my husband who was outside would see them, but then I noticed them still there. I had no robe handy so just as I am, I opened the door. I thanked them later for coming and helping me deal with pride in another way.
“But as this prayer of humility is met by divine love, the mercy of God embraces
it. Then your song is changed into songs and thanksgiving.”*
I just realized that the creatures at my door in blog post Focus September 20 was exactly one month from the time I prayed the prayer above. Praise God for his divine love and mercy, blessing and encouragement.
I pray you also might experience His love and mercy and encouragement in a special way this month and hope you might be a faster learner than I.


* Andrew Murray, compiled by Edward A. Elliott, (Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, Inc., 1997)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ask

McCoon apple tree bearing much fruit
John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit and - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." NIV

Because I was thinking of writing a book and interested in social media marketing, I found the site:

6 Reasons Why You Should NOT Write a Book
By Laura Christianson
Reprinted with permission. Here are partial clips of 2 out of the 6. ( my words in italics)
Check out the link if you want to read the whole article.

"Over 80 percent of the U.S. population believes they have a book brewing inside them. I’ll bet you do! But should you write that book? Probably not. Here are six good reasons why you shouldn’t. "
"5. You just want to write."

" Marketing your book takes 10 times more energy than writing it does. "

....."But it’s a reality of the highly-competitive publishing industry. No one but you is going to market your book. So, in addition to being a superb writer, you must become a savvy marketer. You have to be willing to put everything you’ve got into marketing your project. " (This is where I got discouraged)

"6. God told you to write a book."

"If you’re a Christian author, you have an obligation to honor God with your words. If your manuscript is riddled with typos, misplaced modifiers, passive voice, and run-ons, how does that honor God?

If you’re unwilling to hire a professional editor who will help make your book shine, how does that honor God?"
"... I strongly urge you to equip yourself for writing. God isn’t going to just call you to writing and then leave you hanging. He’s going to send you critique partners, teachers, editors, and proofreaders to help you become the best writer you can be.

Take advantage of these resources, and thank God for sending them your way."

I thank God for directing me to Laura. Here is the letter I sent to her:

"After reading your blog, I must admit I was
discouraged so prayed 'God, if you really want me to write a book, I need to
know once again.' Then I got in my car and drove the four miles to get the mail.
Outside the post office sat a friend, the former editor of Seattle Times, who
immediately asked me, 'Why aren't you in your loft writing?'"

Father God at every turn shows his loving kindness to his child who continues to doubt.

"I don't think I have what it takes," I responded to my friend.

He admitted it was a lot of work, like anything else, which I agreed. He then suggested I read Ann Lamott's book Bird by Bird, which I have read several times. Once home, I got it out and found underlined "persistence, faith, and hard work", much of what you were saying. Another encouragement came from the book back cover where Ann talked about her brother who was trying to write an assignment about birds and was "immobilized...by the task" Her father, arm around his shoulder, encouraged by saying, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

It happens to be a bird lover's devotional I am writing. All this just to let you know I am ready for the "persistence, faith and hard work."

Dear reader, I hope God encourages you as well. Don't let go of what He is calling you to do.




Sunday, October 4, 2009

The glorious days of autumn

Quick tour of the kitchen garden borders to gather pictures for the seasonal book.

Scarlet Runner beans

Dahlia guarding the greenhouse door


Echeveria agavoides mother plant

Echeveria agavoides progeny spilling over steps



Some kitchen garden produce ready for pesto and pizza
"Holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, and honor, and power: for you created all things, and by your will they were created, and have their being." Revelation 4:11 NIV







Sunday, September 27, 2009

Guidance

Here's the bleating fawn in the daytime


Every morning, for three days, a different creature woke me up. First a fawn bleating outside our open bedroom window, the next day the familiar tree frog, and the third day a spotted towee. God's alarm clock through His creatures to wake me up at my usual time to pray, read His word and seek His face. Otherwise I would have slept in since I was on pain meds due to the hip injury from falling on the stone floor a few weeks ago.

I start the day by climbing the loft ladder, stepping the good leg first, the left injured one moved by grasping the railing in order to drag the injured leg where the first settled, hoping it is sturdy and so on to the top. I start every day there praying to our Lord, interceding for others, asking for guidance for the day and strength and wisdom to do His work. "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

My God, my strength, in whom I will trust..." Psalm 18:2 NKJV


This week's guidance:

The writing loft needed an overhaul, getting everything irrelevant to the book out and bringing in supplies and relevant reference books. Instead of writing, this week, hard to do with a fuzzy head from pain meds, I researched new marketing methods to replace the marketing section in the 15 year old proposal.


  • It looks like this blog could be my best platform if I get more of you involved. Not sure how.

  • Megatrends 2000 shows a rise in "The Power of Spirituality" http://www.yourlifework.com/List-of-Megatrends.html "The surest route to self-mastery is spiritual practice. Time spent in peaceful reflection or mindful meditation clarifies thought, sharpens intuition and curbs unhealthy instincts. Spirituality, it turns out, is a lot more practical than most of us ever thought." This is how I write.

  • Social media the new way of marketing http://www.tribalauthor.com/ I joined facebook awhile ago.

  • Pondering twitter for weeks, I didn't want it to run my life. Today I ran into an island friend that I haven't seen and talked to for years yet he told me he has used it for three years and has thousands of followers. He had his IPhone with him and demonstrated to me how he uses Twitter on it. He mentioned I can download a program so I can see all categories, twitterfriends, twitter othercategories, facebook on one site. He will tweet me around to his contacts if I let him know when I get on. I'll let you know as well.

Sometimes I feel like I am stepping out into thin air and will again crash onto stone. One note that I stuck above my desk quite awhile ago, states, "There is nothing indeed which God will not do for a man who dares to step out upon what seems to be the mist; although as he puts down his foot he finds a rock beneath him." F.B Meyer


Better my foot on a rock than my hip on a rock.


Lord, You are my rock. Help me get everything personally irrelevant to your calling out of my life so I can focus fully and stand firm on what you have created me to do.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I get it

For the second week God has been speaking to me everyday through His creatures, encouraging me to write in spite of obstacles.



Monday noon God sent a mink to our front door and birdbath.


I have created a folder for the mink stories. Mink signify the obstacles to me, they steal the ground nesting bird’s eggs and are quite vicious, attacking neighbor’s chickens. They even eat my planted peas and crocus every year just as they sprout. I hardly ever see them in broad daylight except today.
Later that day I tripped and hurt my hip on our hard stone floor and my head on a chair. I am still limping around and can only get to my writing loft by holding onto the banister and stepping lightly on my left leg. Obstacles encourage me that I am on the right track. (scripture coming soon)

Tuesday 11:30 a.m. a buck came to the front door. This is not a usual occurrance


Later in the day he pushed his way through the closed but unlocked gate. We managed to get him out after he stripped the lower branches of the apple trees and then we found him back in again in the orchard after ramming his way through another gate. I have created a folder for the deer stories. They also keep me focused on overcoming the obstacles.





Canned pears on our Monarch wood stove

Wednesday, God brought a friend, Cherie, a published author and gardener, to encourage me while helping peel pears. She suggested I organize my files, writing area, and contacts, and to set aside time each day for writing. She also suggested that I start rug hooking with her again so I can finish the “Raven” hooked rug that I started well over ten years ago, when I first knew I was going to write this book. She thought a picture of it would work well in my book.


Thursday night several friends came to our door. They come every week for prayer meeting. I had the opportunity to ask them to pray for me: to keep focused on what God is calling me to do, for wisdom and persistence to do it and for protection.
Friday: Another friend stopped by and sat outside my door in the wonderful sunshine and I was able to encourage her through my experiences while we sipped lemonade.
Saturday: The bleating of a fawn outside our bedroom window woke me up early to pray and write. I am grateful for God’s continued incredible encouragement and even the bumps that show me the importance of pressing on. I am determined, by God’s grace, to get this book proposal off as soon as possible.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Encouragement

A tree frog arrived at our door

There are always obstacles and annoyances, especially when on this mission of writing a book proposal. Yet, the more interruptions, the more encouragement I have. If it were not important to do this, the path would be smooth. Yet, on this rocky winding garden path, God, rich in kindness, meets me at every turn. Psalm 59:10
The last few weeks we picked pears and berries from our garden and set them on the counter. The annoying fruit flies came with them. A cousin of mine suggested the microwave to trap them and zap them, but we don't have one. I put the fruit in the refrigerator and off handed asked God to help me get rid of the annoying pests. The next day a tree frog, specializing in fruit flies, showed up at the sliding glass front door, spending half the day looking in, God's sense of humor. Now I see encouragement, as the frog pointed out, to write the devotional not just about birds but about the rest of the creatures in the garden. Perhaps the new title under consideration,"I Come to the Garden"


The next day in rushing to catch an early ferry for a dentist appointment,errands, and spend a few days sitting grandson Dylan, my packed computer was left behind. I let go of spending any free time working on the book, so we went to a movie instead, since they didn't expect us in Seattle until evening. We went to see "Julie and Julia" since 9 months ago I bought Julia Child's volume on Mastering the Art of French Cooking for our chef son, and was bringing it to him for his birthday. In the movie, much to my surprise, Julie started blogging about working her way through a year of trying all Julia's recipes from this very book. I was taken back that she blogged partly because she wanted to see if she could finish something... one of the very reasons I started blogging.
By the way, in God's rich kindness, we also had a wonderful free time with our grandson.
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need,you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8







Sunday, September 6, 2009

Focus


The place set aside for writing
Over 10 years ago I knew in many ways, God was calling me to write a book, a bird lover's devotional. I had found an interested publisher and worked with them for several years, changing it to meet their needs, but then their focus changed so they let me go. One of the editors pleaded for me to keep persuing a place for it, but I stopped sending it out to anyone else.
I didn't stop thinking about it, so secured a private place accessable only by a ladder, the loft in our cottage, as recommended by an author at a writing conference, a place that was only for writing, nothing else. Here I gathered and organized files for uncompleted stories and every time I found an encouragement to write, I would post it around the window above the desk, so I would be reminded of the task I needed to finish.
I even started this blog, thinking that if I could write every week and be able to meet a deadline, I would be able to finish the book if accepted by a publisher. For years I have done everything except complete the book and send it to a publisher.
A week or so ago, God sent three swallows, one to the greenhouse, two into the cottage. Although the greenhouse door was open for bees to pollinate the cucumbers and tomatoes growing there, our cottage door was only open for a few minutes and two swallows flew right up to the loft and landed on my desk and then up to the window ledge above where the notes are posted. I climbed the ladder, opened the window and they flew out, their mission accomplished.
I pondered this experience for a week until it dawned on me. It is time to finish the bird book. I have already decided on sending a proposal to a publisher connected with the very first time God sent a bird to encourage me. (You'll have to read the book to find that one out)
The 3x5 note below the window ledge with the largest print on it says "FOCUS!" I even took a toilet paper tube as suggested in a writing book, and wrote FOCUS on the outside, looking through it to see what it was like to block everything out but the task at hand. I pray I can make a priority of getting the proposal out. Thank you God for sending birds once again to get your will to the front of my mind.
  • Keep at it "I must work the works of Him that sent me. While it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work - John 9:4
  • Follow through what He has willed "The sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know what to say to all these weary ones. Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will" Isaiah 50:4
  • Be obedient "God's mark is on everything that obeys Him." Martin Luther
  • When I feel like I cannot do it "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
I hope these will encourage you as well to continue what you are called to do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In a fog


Morning Fog


Lately in the morning we wake up foggy and with frogs, not just in our head and throat but outside our window. By midmorning it lifts and a glorious late summer day decides to stay. I love this time of year.


This last week I interviewed a friend to help him promote his book. He related several stories about friend's boats in the fog and I ended making a video of a fog related story about his Dad and his house. I tried to post it below on blogger but something went wrong and the whole page disappeared and it saved the blank page before I could get to the auto drafts. I sort of ended up with this story in the fog.


What I wrote is not reappearing even in my mind so I will just give the link to Henry's video and put it also on the sidebar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZkTrMSkqKU.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Delayed

Blog delayed, playing music instead.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More music in my life

Void of music - (Piano parts taken, hammers reshaped)

Last week I decided that it was time to become serious about wanting more music in my life. With so many deaths in our family this year along with moving, I have neglected to find joy. I have always loved music and surrounded myself with instruments and opportunities to play but never taken the time to really practise and get better. So last week when I saw an ad on the kiosk from a music teacher willing to teach mandolin, I called and had the first lesson. She put a few songs in my head and hand and sent me off to practise. At the same time last week the piano tuner called, said he was going to be on the island, showed up and took the insides out of the piano home with him to reshape the hammers. They had become dull from the previous owner's playing(not mine). He came again this week to put them back and tuned the piano and I've been sitting everyday playing
I know that joy cannot be hammered up but is a gift from God. It occurred to me that only when I am doing what God has ordained and in the place I have been designed to be, will there be joy. Music is a start. It has always been in my life yet I have never given it the time it deserves. With all the households finally combined and the funeral services over. It is time to do what I love. I'll get piano lessons too.
This round plays in my mind. I don't think it is theologically correct, but if it helps me to practice I'll sing it.
"All things shall perish under the sky
Music alone shall live, music alone shall live, music alone shall live
Never to die."

Piano delivered June 2008

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Family gathering

Pappy held still


Every family has its black sheep they say. If this were true and we had to point one out at this family gathering, it would be Pappy. It is not because we don't love her, but somehow if the black sheep demands a lot of negative attention she would be it. Unfortunately for Pappy, two great-uncle dogs showed up that had grace, poise and caused no problem except initially to Pappy. Jon, the new family dog whisperer (Matt taught him) decided they should all, Pappy and the two standard poodles, go outside to duke it out so to speak. Soon they were all running around and enjoying each other, except when Pappy ate their full supply of kibble for the trip which put Pappy out for a day with a tummy ache.

However, she made up for it when she ate Maggie's meal off the table when it was left for a second. Up on the counter licking the butter dish, up on the table when we left the room taking off with the bread, it was not like she wasn't fed. Too many other occasions to list. We took the child's gate from the stairs and put it to close off the kitchen. So we all got in and out of the kitchen by climbing over the gate, hands full of plates and food for the table. We heard she wandered into the neighbor's garden where she found a dead bird under their fencing, proceeded to get caught in the netting pulled it and broke their spinkler system. We still need to make amends. Some of us tried to keep her isolated, but she was also a door opener escape artist. She has lost her privilege to go from the house but we need to repair a breach in the back yard that goes under the deck and out by the back stairs.


Why did most of us accomodate to Pappy? I guess we all know that this is us sometimes. We need someone to show us they care enough to set the limits. Better yet a family gathering, stopping everything, and all together with love take the time to help get someone where they need to be. I hope for the same when I get out of line.

But then, the whole purpose of this family gathering was to celebrate Nan's life. All had stopped everything to travel to this four day event to lay her remains to rest in the ground where she needed to be and gathered around the table for good food as she would have us do. Perhaps it was Pappy that noticed her missing the most and acted out because Nan was not there to slip food to her under the table.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rescue

Didn't get the blog finished today. It has been a week of interruptions while trying to get ready for our whole family coming to visit. We are very excited. Perhaps I will finish this tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Storms


Last night we had the most amazing thunderstorm. Unlike where I grew up, we don't get many in this part of the world in summer. First faint flashes in the sky and much later thunder proved a storm. It moved gradually closer, the channel in front of the house changing texture and color much like marble, as wind picked up off shore. Then the long awaited rains started lightly and slowly, (Yes, it has been extremely dry in the Pacific Northwest) picking up speed and intensity as the storm came closer. The lightening, brighter, bigger and more frequent, the thunder close behind with the storm climaxed with a simultaneous huge crash and light. I wish I had my video camera ready as the scenes, sky and water, were amazing.

Storms can be thrilling or frightening depending on where you might be. To be in the water in a small boat as someone we knew was last night, could be frightening if you were depending on yourself to get to shore.
I think the message is clear, we are headed for another storm, financially, politically, literally or figuratively and it could be scary if we don't know what to do.

As our pastor related today, relating to Mark 6:45-52 the disciples on the sea of Galilee hunkering down in a storm depending on the oars and almost didn't see Jesus walking by on the water. As soon as they looked up and full of fear, saw him, he spoke to them then they knew that it was Jesus. He came in to the boat, the storm subsided and they were where they needed to be. I've experienced this peace that comes when I finally realize that I have left Jesus out of the boat and begin to look to Him instead of the problem.

I remember being terrified of flying . It began after flying into Seattle when I had a premonition that part of the plane was cut off and crashing. I prayed and we landed safely. But the next day I heard on the news that the same flight into Seattle, only the next day, the airplane had broken in two upon landing, cutting off right in front of where I was seated as I saw in my mind the previous day. This seemed to do nothing for my confidence in flying. So when I was called to go to Israel, meet a group I did not know in New York and the flights were going on strike the night before I was to leave, I got a plane out the night before getting into New York in the middle of the night, 3 am. The plane went through storms in and out of Denver. Many got off at Denver because the airplane was on strike at that point. I was ready to get off as well. As I considered this, a man asked if he could sit beside me, I mentioned to him the turbulence and he mentioned that he was a pilot trying to get back to his N.Y home base and that this happens all the time in Denver because of the mountains . He immediately fell asleep.
As we took off out of Denver the plane began falling once again and I became scared. I wanted to shake him and wake him up to ask if the pilots really knew what they were doing and were we going to crash? Then the scripture came to mind about Jesus sleeping in the boat with the disciples while a furious storm raged around them in the middle of the sea. I seemed to feel a hand on my arm near the window although no one was there. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:35-41
Then I realized that if the pilot beside me was sleeping, and the true pilot knew what he was doing, I needed to trust. All fear left me and I felt immediate peace. From then on, I had "peace that passes all understanding" with worse turbulence going into New York City with most people sick on the plane, arriving in New York City with an empty airport and not knowing where I could sleep and be safe, a scary ride with cab driver through back alleys to a hotel found on a sign near the wall pay phone ( they let me have the day rate and I began Jerusalm time). Then continuing the next evening waiting for the plane to load, we were called to go out to the tarmac to pick out our luggage and open the suitcases, since there was a bomb reported on board. That was just the beginning of the trip.... and me, because I met Jesus, with complete peace through it all.

So I guess, even though there may be storms ahead for us. I hope I will remember to trust that Jesus is in the boat with me even when he appears to be sleeping. Will you remember?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dealing with thorns

Kittsgate rose covering cottage several years ago
Goldfinch in the thistles

This week I've been pulling and cutting back thistles and stuffing them in black plastic bags so they won't spread to the neighbors. They made their many points on my arms and legs, putting up a fight before I put them in the sack, but I won the battle though scarred. One year I kept a field full of thistles just to watch the goldfinch. It was wonderful to see, but the neighbors and us suffered with more than twice the thistle the next year. So I purchase thistle seed and put it out in the Droll feeder and I stop and enjoy the goldfinch before I cut the thistles down. I know they both will be back.
Since I was already beaten up, I decided to tackle the dead-since-two-years-ago wood on the Kittsgate rose bush that climbed to the roof and over a trellis making an archway to the entrace to our home. It is the type that could engulf the house. In fact in England several cottages have disappeared under them. It has grown for years without much water with small profuse July white blossoms making a canopy over our heads as we enter and leave our home. Two years ago after a winter storm, it began to die. I noticed that one side was completely dead and the other, some canes cutting lose from the nibbling deer and beginning to find their way up the post to the trellis again. Now or never I decided. The dead wood needed to go to make room for the new shoots. More puncture wounds from thorns. I worked for several days with a ladder and longer handled pruners and made room for the new growth, winding it along the now bare trellis to start training the bush once again.
As I look at the sores on my legs and arms, how Jesus suffered wounds and death to set me free flitted across my mind. I have been thinking a lot about dead wood lately. I have a lot of it, old ways of acting, behaving that don't help anything new to grow. Time is ripe for freedom and a movement of the spirit here. My dead wood, the ways of thinking and acting in difficult circumstances, needs to go. It doesn't feel very good to be pruned or bear the scars, but I know that this is the only way new branches leaves, flowers can grow unobstructed and beauty returned. As I look out the window from our bed in the morning, I miss seeing the birds perched on the branches (and thistles) but they will be back and both the rose and I renewed.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steps forward and backwards

Downtown Seattle (picture by labradoodles)

We decided this week to go to Seattle to a Mariner's game and celebrate Neil's birthday at Chris' restaurant. Stayed downtown for two nights and became a tourist. It was an enjoyable break from catching up that caused us to be further behind upon return.


Seems like two steps backward one step forward, but was the two steps backwards when we left to enjoy the city or when we came back to pushing for order in this country house? I think the forward step was getting away for a break. Again the forward step was the trip back to continue our work. It seems that the backwards steps are just the ones that we dream up in transition between leaving and arriving somewhere else when we leave our minds and faith behind for a bit.


Philippians 4:8 "...I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." The Message

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day


Lopez Island fireworks

Sunday, June 28, 2009

catch up

picture of Neil spending two days fixing water hydrant leak (he didn't want me to put it in)


Back to mail piled high but not the grass - someone mowed while we were gone. Garden looking great, a friend cared for it while gone. Strawberries galore, best in 30 years. Maybe we should go away this time every year. We've been picking them and making jam and freezing them all week.

Baby birds everywhere. We can't get babies off our minds. Everything thrived while we were away especially with the water hydrant that sprung a leak. Neil spent two days trying to fix it. We are tired and trying to catch up with business along with putting out fires so haven't had a chance to do the blog. Perhaps it is time for another break but not like the water hydrant. When the fires are extinguished I'll get to the blogs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A time for everything

A time for everything except writing the blog.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Arrived

Eleanor Parker born June 10, 2009
7 lbs 7 oz, 19.5 inches

The week before Eleanor was born, preparation was in the works. Loads of dirt arrived by trucks and distributed by wheelbarrows to the back and front yard, transforming it from of river of red volcanic rock to a smooth bed for the rolled out sod, soon be grass, to lay on. Then the black mulch truck came and piled it all in the driveway and Daddy and grandpa moved it to the sculpted mounds of dirt on the sides of the lawn and they saved a corner for the woodchips for the playground.
A few days before you were born, there was a thunder and lightning storm, louder and longer than Sacramento has had in 20 years. The light lit up the sky followed by crashing thunder with hail the size of larger mothballs falling ping pong on the roof and new cement patio and sidewalks and street. The new blanket of grass muffled it.



On the day you were born, we were all prepared and very excited. We heard from a friend looking after our garden at home to hear that Rosa Paul's Scarlet was in full display welcoming your arrival.




"Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth bveneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees...he displays his glory..." Isaiah 44:23

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not hatched yet


Hummingbird nest in greenhouse we visited
We've done everything we can to prepare for granddaughter Eleanor's arrival. The yard is finished, new grass and mulch and rocks picked and placed. We even went to the garden shop to buy welcoming plants for near the front door. At the greenhouse amongst the perenials we noticed a yellow caution tape and looked up amazed to see a hummingbird nest perfect placed for raising babies, surrounded by flowers near the penstemon. It was so tiny, people didn't seem to notice her. But here she was sitting and waiting for babies to hatch, much like our daughter Lu, who at this point is not so tiny and finds it very hard to sit.
Will finish this later.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

No baby yet

Just sittin and waitin for God's timing for Eleanor to be born. Due date June 1, but everyone thought she would come early. In the meantime, we are getting to know Maggie, our first granddaughter and helping where we can. Blog for now, just not as important as the above. (will try to add pictures later this week)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Headed south

Mt Shasta I-5 California


We headed south as did our new grandbaby; however, we arrived but our daughter and son-in-law's baby has decided not yet. So blog and baby delayed for now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You've got a friend

Note and flowers found in my purse

To have friends, you need to take time for them to listen and care and go and see them. We took a break from the moving and catching up to visit with old friends in Seattle one of which travelled across the country to see and gather us together. I need to do this more often and plan ahead. As Neil and Chris and Dylan went to the ball game, another friend offered to drive me back to the ferry and drop me off. As I was waiting for several hours for the ferry and on the hour's ride I thought about friendship and the importance of it and was disappointed in myself for not keeping up with more friends. On the ferry just before our stop, three girls came up to me whom I know on the island, I didn't realize they were on the boat. They mentioned that they were putting flowers and notes by people without them knowing it, "random acts of kindness" they said. Some people were sleeping and they put it on the shelf beside them by the window. They were excited and I went with them as they showed me a few places where they put the notes. It was fun to see them enjoy making someone's day better. It was not until I got in a neighbor's car who drove me close to my house, that I saw a scotch broom flower sticking out of my purse. I looked at it inquisitively, thinking "Now where did I get that?" I am always finding surprises, unaware of what I am doing sometimes when I am engrosed in another activity, so I didn't think much of it until home and emptying out my purse I found the note. "You got a friend! Take these flowers home, Random Acts of Kindness." I have been smiling ever since.

Thank you Lord, for using the island children to cheer me up, make my day, and remind me of your amazing friendship and constant kindness.
""He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" Matthew 18:2-4 NIV (since we are also thinking about children these days, ready to head to CA for the birth of a new granddaughter.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mother's Day came and went - as did we, back and forth and I never got the blog done. Even the pad I write on is missing so no blog this week. Perhaps it is time to take a break. We will be headed to California soon for the birth of our next granddaughter, Eleanor.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not finished yet

Band tailed PIgeons arrive



Birds are in the air, everywhere I look. First I notice the swallows, violet-green, band tailed pigeons, white crowned sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, the wrens and many more have returned. It is a wonder they do not collide, but then they have their master air controller. They don't have free will like us, they just follow God's direction. Us however, it took since last summer's swallow and wren departure 'til now to clean out the nest boxes, left untidy for nine months. And now it is our nest, house, that's untidy from carrying our stuff north with us when we have no room for it.

These swallows remind me to enjoy the moment. I've been too busy inside cleaning, organizing and and trying to find places for and getting rid of stuff, working long hours to take much time out for pleasure. I did get together with some women on the island. I also paused long enough to capture the return of the swallows. Watching them reminded me that some things don't change in this changing world, God's sufficiency, care, and direction of his creatures who are programed with it, or for those like us who might not forget to ask and once in a while surrender our free will to the master controller. I'm thankful that God is not finished with us yet.

"I desire to do your will, O my God..." Psalm 40:8

Where does your will and the will of God clash? What keeps you from asking and surrendering?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

One week runs into another

Dylan looking at the native buttercups in the field

We spent a lot of time this week with a friend here, trying to organize pictures and furniture and make the place safe for Dylan our grandson and dog Pappy and his Mom and Dad who came to cook for the "community thank you" for the firefighters and EMTs.
While they were cooking, I got to spend time with Dylan and Pappy. Here's Dylan out in the field checking out the wild buttercups that we held under each other's chin to see if we liked butter on this day together.
We watched a movie, about Thomas the train and Dylan got on his spiderman mask and persona when he sees something bad like the mean locomotive and takes it off when he doesn't . As you can see by Dylan's maskless face, obviously these were not the bad buttercup I was talking about last week.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

cleaning up

"Buttercups" oil by J. Mat Miller
The "good" wild buttercups

This week I decided to get outside to clean up the pampas grass that was dragging its feet all over the patio while I was busy elsewhere. Every gust of wind dislodged sharp edged blades, spewing them across the patio and down the stone steps, a danger to anything in its path. As I cut and cleaned I thought about the Spotted Tohwee that hung around this area and hoped I would not disturb a nest. I got carried away and after a half hour of pulling out the dead grasses and cutting the old flower stalks, I looked up to see right in front of my eyes a perfectly formed grassy nest with four fresh green and reddish brown mottled eggs. I quickly stepped back, grabbed some of the cut Pampas flower stalks and lodged them tightly in front of the nest hoping to return it to invisible. I prayed it would be protected and not abandoned because of me. Here I destroy what I should not.

Yet in the same week I recall that I keep what I should not. For a long time there was native buttercup in the shade by the long flower border and I left it there because I liked the delicate yellow flower. Someone mentioned to me that I should not have buttercup in the garden and I stated that it behaved itself and never went anywhere else. That was until the seed landed in the fertilized and watered garden, taking advantage of my business elsewhere and spreading very rapidly.

I don’t know if this was the same type as the former, they certainly behaved differently, but this Ranunculus repens L., an immigrant from Europe, has healed itself in. As hard as I tried to shovel it out, I couldn’t help cutting off roots which clung to the clayish soil and wouldn’t let loose. Slugs made their home in the leaf clusters and nodules sent out new shoots to make more plants. I read that seeds stay in the ground for years, waiting for opportunities to flourish and take over. Who knows what I have left behind for future invasion?


While I was busy elsewhere, it had taken over 8 feet of the front of the bed into the grass another three feet in places. I guess I need to be more diligent and watchful. Now between it and the bindweed, the other non native immigrant, I have to destroy the lawn and lay waste the border for a season, taking plants out to put in pots and poisoning the rest if it persists.

It is a familiar theme, getting rid of and keeping stuff, as we try to consolidate. I guess I can’t get away from it, even following me outside. As hard as I try, I seem to do the things I don’t want to do and don’t do what I ought.
“...For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
For what I do is not the good I want to do – this I keep doing …What a wretched
man (woman) I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God –
through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:18, 24-25


I guess I need a season of laying waste, watching out for what might crop up unwanted in me, getting rid of it quickly out of my life before it takes over and not be so busy elsewhere for awhile.

How about you?