Summertime Snippets

Window Treatment

Buttercup Dogwood

Open Spaces

Sunday Meeting

Wildflower

Queen Anne

Narnia

Porching

Butterfly!!

Random splottering of photos that nevertheless are something of an accurate glimpse into the my world of early summer: growing things, roadtrip, going to church, hiking in the canyon, Fourth of July celebrating, butterflies…

We’ve recently been fixing our porches up – Dad in big ways (re-flooring, putting in light fixtures, new railing), Mum in grand ways (painting, decorating, curtaining), and I in little ways (watering the flowers, giving my opinion). Now, we’re getting to enjoy each covered nook. (Our jolly, generous, old house has five!) Apparently it’s a verb – “porching” – and involves reading, sipping iced tea, waving at passer-bys, and reading. Hear! Hear!

Minutiae

Johnny Jump-Up

Lady Pink

Powder Puff

Nesting

The Rosy Apple-Blossom

Periwinkle

Ladybug, Ladybug

Strawberries to Come

A cheery new coat of paint on the garage door.

A cheery new coat of paint on the garage door.

Minutiae (noun): The small, precise, or trivial details of something. “The minutiae of everyday life.”

Once again I (sort of) apologize for seemingly only ever taking photos of flowers. There’s something about the hope and promise of Spring that pulls me outside into the warmth to document the changing of the seasons. My mum says when I was little and we would be working in the yard I was forever being distracted from the task at hand by studying some enthralling bug, or root, or plant specimen. I still marvel at God’s design in Creation. Ladybugs are astounding. The fact that rosy blossoms will soon turn into delicious strawberries and apples is miraculous. Dandelions are ugly and troublesome yes, but, they’re also absolutely gorgeous. Wonder is a worthwhile thing to have. If God has designed and upholds such astonishing things in Nature will He not also design and uphold equally astonishing things in our hearts and lives?

Because joy, laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously (self-importantly) is also good to cultivate:

Jim

This is James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree. (Commonly known as Jim.) Originally he was a small, garden ornament frog gifted to us years ago by my Auntie J. I christened him (because names are important) after one of my favorite A. A. Milne poems. Wind, weather, dogs, and time tend to be hard on small, clay, frogs and eventually Jim’s body disintegrated as did the teacup originally topping the above garden stake. Mum united the two, giving decapitated Jim a rather dainty, Elizabethan ruff and us a slightly bizarre, giggle-inducing, flower bed adornment.

In the Waiting

Pastel Row

Naturally dyed Easter Eggs. Choose to hope in His unfailing promises.

“Your husband sure is fortunate to have such a lovely, beautiful wife”, the pleasant, elderly man leans in to confide to me. “Oh, I’m not married”, I grin back, twisting the little, gold, ring from my family that for the thousandth time in habit I’ve forgotten to put on another finger. “Well, some young man needs to hurry up and get with it while he can”, he rejoins. Then, as if it puzzles him how a nice, young thing like me could possibly be single and attempting to come up with a logical reason, “You don’t want that right now?”

Once again I lightheartedly laugh at the well-meant mistake. This time though there’s an accompanying, inward sigh. A new, yearning ache for that holy, wondrous role God has created for me as a woman – a Helper. Marriage – that deep, hard, self-sacrifical, vulnerable, covenantal, love that’s learning to live the Gospel to one another and the world. Don’t want? Try, the total non-existence of the godly, young man pursuing me.

Then, later on in the day I stumble across a blog post about a young lady passionately serving Jesus as a missionary (in Uganda, of course.) Why, Lord, are you allowing my heart to overflow for these beautiful, mighty, good, ways of ministry without an outlet? Don’t You know it’s getting kinda hard to keep telling people I’m still doing the same thing?

To some people God gives deep, agonizing, valleys of the soul to draw them to Himself. To me He grants the wildernesses of waiting. The horizon-to-horizon deserts of sameness. Oh Lord, let them not be wastelands. I can’t bear to waste this precious life that no longer is my own.

And Jesus, once again, so faithfully, so gently, so graciously, teaches me.

Through the words of Ann Voskamp: that I want neat-as-pie answers and Jesus wants me to know Him. That Love doesn’t happen when I’ve arrived at some rosily imagined place or future, but, when my heart arrives at the place of recognizing the deep gulfs of need for Christ all about me. Choosing to let Jesus love through me the precious people and places He’s chosen for me right here, right now.

Proverbs 27:5: “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.” In other words, do you really love them? Do you really love Him? Then, let His love spill out for them in your actions. Otherwise you might as well give them a harsh slap of chastisement.

The words of a worship song: “The river knows its bounds.” Remember again, O my soul, Proverbs 8:29: “When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command.” He says to the Sea of Circumstance threatening to flood the coastlines of my heart, “You can come this far and no more.”

Through John Piper and His telling of the biblical story of Ruth: that God sovereignly orchestrates every detail of the universe for the glory of Christ. Which means that any other way I could imagine for my life right now would actually mean that Christ would be glorified less.

Wham. Nevermind. What was I doubtful about again?

“Put your trust in God – I will yet give thanks to Him. Whatever God ordains is right; to Him I leave it all. Be still and know your Maker; be satisfied in Him. Then I will go to the altar of God, my exceeding joy!” More snatches of lyrics from the beautiful, song-prayers of Sandra McCracken’s new Psalms album. Yes, O Lord, turn my heart from narrow-seeing fretfulness to looking to You in joyful thankfulness and praise!

His Voice speaking to my heart: “Will you surrender all this to Me?” Shaky breath out. Yes. Yes, because I love You Jesus, more. I wouldn’t want my life any other way than You lovingly decree.

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” ~ Psalm 37:7

“Wait upon the Lord.” Again? Yet, what does that old, childhood verse say?

“They that wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” ~ Isaiah 40:31

And (shout of exultant promise!) Isaiah 35: “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad…the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing…they shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God…waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.” 

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” ~ Psalm 27:14

Teach me, Lord, to wait.

Orphan Heart

A Home that welcomes.

A Home that welcomes.

Rejection. Abandonment. Vulnerability. Just wanting to be loved and accepted. Feeling like a burden. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of letting people down. Fear.

 Words tearing through the stillness of the living room and stabbing into my composed mask as I listened to my friend expound to our small circle what an Orphan Heart was and how you can possess one even if you’ve not actually lost your parents. Orphan Hearts grow in the wastelands of abandonment and rejection.

Having a reluctance to “unload”, I sat quietly, leaving my brain to whir and process. Some things about the way I am I blame on personality or being an introvert. If I’m really honest with myself though, a lot of it’s just pride that I need to allow the Father to carve away at. Ouch.

Still, I’ve often considered that part of the way I am might stem from the story of my early years. (If I haven’t told you this story yet, I’m sorry. The opportunity probably hasn’t presented itself or maybe I was scared of boring or burdening you.) Anyways, my life starts out with two teenagers way too young to be having kids, the inevitable inability to take care of my brother and I, and two people in astounding self-sacrificial love taking us in as babies. Then, seven years of uncertainty until my parents were finally able to officially adopt us on the first day of Spring in 1999.

Growing up, I don’t remember ever not knowing my story, but, I’d oftentimes forget it because the day-to-day reality was a Home of steady, “normal”, faithful, love. I still forget, but, now I see my past through the lens of the Father’s story. It’s no longer a story of rejection or my being a burden, but, of God’s awesome grace and redemption to my family. Of His will prevailing. Of wanting us to be family from the beginning – no second-best, no plan B – and putting us together as He desired. Of making my parent’s faith real when they were facing the daunting reality of not being in control and having to surrender their babies to Him. Of bringing my brother and I to Himself through parents who were faithful to speak and live the Gospel in our lives.

God has given me this wonderful gift of having first-hand, literal experience to understand His adoption of me. I was in a state of utter lostness, despair, and rejection because of the evil darkness of my own heart. But then He came. Knowing exactly what I was, and yet with unfailing love He rescued me, bought me with a staggering price, and made me His Child. My identity is no longer Orphan, but, Daughter. I belong to His Family. Home is where He is.

Now, I’m intensely passionate about Home, Family, and Relationships and how they can so wondrously, beautifully, breathe forth Who God is. Maybe that’s why ever since I went to Uganda last year, tears well up in my eyes whenever I have any glimpse of anything relating to African orphans. Maybe it’s just the Father (what a wondrous title for God!) working His heart in me…His love for precious children that He has created in love and purpose.

And as always the Father is reminding, teaching, and revealing Himself to me through music. The superlative Josh Garrels’ latest, excellent record explores the themes of “Home”. (Below is one of the tracks if you care to take a listen.) For worship tomorrow morning, I’m playing Jenny & Tyler’s “Psalm 46″ telling of the Lord’s enduring faithfulness and I “just happened” to stumble across a version of it this week that includes the beautiful voices of African orphans. :)

How can we ever be done worshiping our Almighty God Who relates to us as Father and takes away our orphan hearts? Hallelujah!

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.” ~ Romans 8:15

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

My Luve Is Like

Later this afternoon you will find our house filled with friends celebrating the day with a high tea complete with eccentric finery, delectable goodies, and poetry reading.

Somewhat in jest, one of the invited guests recently sent me a poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer somberly titled “Death” as a possible reading for the tea. Chuckle. But…you see the power of Love that can transform even Death into something wonderful.

Coincidentally, for a while now I’ve been enamored by a poem/hymn of John Newton’s called “Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart” that is a paraphrase of Isaiah 54. The Scripture and the song tell of God’s faithful, redemptive, Love that abounds and triumphs in the midst of our desolation and seemingly forsaken-ness. Below is the Indelible Grace version to ponder if you like. (However, I’d even more strongly suggest digging into the even better source material of the Isaiah chapter!)

My favorite line in the hymn is the last one: “All thy walls I will repair, thou shalt be rebuilt anew; and in thee it shall appear, what a God of love can do.” In the Bible verses we find that God doesn’t just restore our walls (our life, soul, relationships etc.), but, adorns them with rubies, sapphires, and precious stones. He doesn’t just revive us, He makes us beautiful reflections of Himself!

“This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord.”         ~ Isaiah 54:17

 Aren’t you glad that the God we belong to doesn’t have the fluffy, weak, sentimentality that usually passes for Love around Valentine’s Day? His Love is mighty, enduring, renewing, and redemptive!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

An Incident of Meticulous, Unmerited Goodness

Lone Pine

Isn’t God good? Isn’t His grace inconceivably, flabbergastingly lavish?

Isn’t it worth reveling in, shouting, singing…retelling?

Here’s a little, recent tale of a wink of His goodness in my life:

Some friends of mine were off to Uganda this January and kindly offered a corner of their suitcases for sending a little something to a few of the dear souls I’d encountered there last year. Merrily I assembled a few seemingly suitable odds-and-ends and scrawled out letters to be tucked in. Happy, little, easy Service that would more fittingly be named Joy.

February now and the hometown friends have returned to their firesides and handed off to me responding notes from the Ugandan friends. Honey-sweet words of how The Lord had taken my meager, pitiful bundles and turned them into His lovely, precise, timely, blessings. Tears seep into the crinkles of my eyes and dance steps take hold of my heels.

This particular account is so exquisitely The Provider I must share its details: one of the Recipient Families had recently taken in an precious girl who is an Orphan No Longer. That poem of the Father’s heart having recently captivated me I wanted to send Her something specific. The Spirit jolted into my memory the box of donated fabric I had started turning into dresses for the Ugandan young ladies. Life’s fullness had impeded the progress of that project, but, there was a slim row of finished frocks hanging expectantly in the Upstairs Spare Bedroom. Now what size do you suppose a fourteen year old girl I’ve never met wears? “Lord, let it be a blessing; Lord, let it fit.”, I silently pleaded as the dress disappeared in white tissue wrapping. A month and God’s incomprehensible working later I’m staring at the inky testimony of a Girl wanting a dress, the counsel of “Ask Jesus”, and a purple frock that was “just her size”.

Isn’t He a God worthy of trust and praise? To reiterate the verse from Isaiah I sent one of the missionaries: “Lord, You will establish peace for us. For You have also done all our works in us.” (Is. 26:12) The wonder isn’t just that He’s good, but, that He (the infinite, Universe-breathing God) works into our weak, minuscule frames His dazzling, holy, goodness. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us”. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

~ Psalm 107:8,9

Treasuries of Snow

Around the Bend

Trekking

Cool Defined

Top of the Line

Little Hope

CR

Boarders

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power…

He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold? He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow…

Praise the Lord!”

~ Psalm 147

All Glory Be To Christ!

Clear Blue Sky

Through the Trees

Gateway

Snow Shovel

Madame Blueberry

Overhead Still

Christmas Cupboard

Snow: In & Out

Candles + Cards

Snow on Snow

Tannebaum

Holiday Home

Silent Night

Unseasonably mild weather lulled me into an incredulous complacency about the increasing acceleration of Christmas’ arrival this year. Meanwhile with work, festivities, relationships, and just plain living, my attention to blogging has been minimal…so, do forgive the flurry of catch-up photos from the last month.

Below is a song that has been currently running through my mind and out my mouth. Seems a particularly good one to reflect on at the turning of the years. Reminds me of Peter’s comment to Jesus, “Who else can we go to? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68), and of a preacher I heard once say, “Jesus isn’t all you need….Jesus is all you have”. 

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your Name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.”     ~ Psalm 115:1

May your 2015 be overflowing with the joy and presence of the One who is The Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Life, and King of the Universe!

Harvest Home

Welcome Home

Despite an unusually early September snowfall, we’ve had a beautifully mellow Autumn. Makes me feel much more hearty about the oncoming snow and ice of Winter!

As a new month steadies its legs, a month that contains Thanksgiving, I’ve been considering God’s limitless faithfulness, sovereignty, and provision. How worthy of trust and praise He is! We are so, so, blessed and even if He were to take back all the material and relational gifts He’s bestowed – yet, He would still be good. He would still be enough. His grace the air in my lungs.

Consequently I’ve also been meditating on Zechariah. Don’t know where my head was the last time I read this book of the Bible. I seem to have forgotten all the glorious imagery of Christ that it contains. I suppose that just goes to show how the Lord always has MORE of Himself to reveal to us in His Word! In Chapter 3, Zechariah has a vision of the high priest, Joshua, standing before the Lord. He is clothed in filthy garments and Satan is accusing him. God’s response is to take away Joshua’s dirty rags and clothe him in rich robes. And it goes on to tell of the coming BRANCH, Jesus, whose righteousness is our perfect covering. Behold God’s ultimate Provision!

Music : Lately I’ve been finding myself entranced by John Mark McMillan’s Borderland album. It’s the sort of album that necessitates unearthing anyhow. More poetry than prose, the lyrics demand excavating, but, reward you with their uncommon treasure. Musically, it’s slightly different than my usual fare, but, somehow I rather like the pulsing beats, mournful saxophone, and gravely voice of McMillan. Give the first track, Holy Ghost, a listen. Guessing you’ll either be inspired or conclude I’ve lost my marbles.

In contrast, are the gentle, earnest, heart-songs of The Hedgerow Folk. Scripture-imprinted calls to abide in Christ. Their new album, Come Close, is currently available for free download over on Noise Trade. Below, is one of their songs that dwells on the utter completeness of what we owe to Christ:

 

 

 

When Life is Rosy

Polka Dot

This melody has been following my brain around lately, so, I decided to attempt recording a snippet of it on my phone.

It’s an old, French, love song, called La Vie En Rose – which essentially means “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”.

Rather the sort of thing to accompany Autumn, I think…