Tag Archives: goodness of God

5 Friday Faves – Writing, Bumper Stickers & Lawn Signs, Old Men Grooving, Friends Who Wound, and a Clean House

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Friday again. Nice. This week has been an easy one – lighter work load, early morning walks with neighbors, visits with old friends, and marveling at sweet grand-babies. Life on the side of simple. There was one significant dip in our week when my dad had a bad night, but he has improved remarkably since then. Each day is different. Rejoicing in the good days.

Here are my favorite finds from this week. Please share any of yours in Comments below.

1) Writing – Always an outlet for me. I’ve written journals from childhood (called them diaries in those days). blog-writing-lithubPhoto Credit: LitHub

All my life, people who were privy to some of my writing, have told me, “You should write a book!” I don’t have the discipline, message,…or passion, maybe, to write a book…yet. One day. I started this blog for my children, during a time I was frightened that my memory was fading. So far, it seems to be the forgetfulness of my aging (not diseased) brain. Still, blog writing continues to be a joy…almost a mission. When life keeps me from writing, as in the last couple of weeks, I miss it…and then it’s hard to get back into the habit.  Rebecca Solnit posted recently suggesting 10 Tips on How to Be a Writer. Her article is beautiful writing in itself. Here are two of her most encouraging observations:

“It’s not only time that gets the kid onward to more sophistication and skill, it’s effort and practice. Write bad stuff because the road to good writing is made out of words and not all of them are well-arranged words.” – Rebecca Solnit

“It starts with passion even before it starts with words. You want to read people who are wise, deep, wild, kind, committed, insightful, attentive; you want to be those people.” – Rebecca Solnit

2) Bumper Stickers & Lawn Signs – It’s a big year here in the US. In just a few days, we will, together, vote to elect the next Commander and Chief of our country. Usually by this time, lawns and cars are covered with signs and stickers that declare our preferences (or decry the prospect of “the other guy” becoming President). blog-lawn-signs-and-bumper-stickersPhoto Credit: YouTube

Bumper stickers abound broadcasting our various allegiances, in general. [Dave and I are not a bumper sticker people, but various ones make for fascinating distractions while stopped at traffic lights. Quite telling of the mixed bag of cultural values we have.]blog-bumper-stickers-cafepressPhoto Credit: Cafepress

Oddly this year, where we live, political loyalties are less obvious. Only occasional bumper stickers. Even fewer lawn signs. Not that they are relevant to election outcomes. Still, they were interesting predictors of where neighbors, co-workers, and random strangers stood politically on issues and candidates.

I wonder why there are so few this year. Are we less sure or even despairing at our options? Is it fear of displaying our colors? What do you think (without going all political in the comments)?

A postscript to this is the possibility that we now live in an age where “putting it all out there” on our vehicles, or in our yards, is not wisdom. Again, thoughts?

blog-bumper-stickers-pjmediaPhoto Credit: PJMedia

3) Old Men Grooving – On a lighter note, I discovered this British dance group, of 40-60-somethings, who performed on Britain’s Got Talent . They call themselves Old Men Grooving, and you will get a sweet chuckle watching them dance together. Very impressive really. Reminds me of when I took a tap class, for the first time, as an adult. Never too late to dance! Find Old Men Grooving on YouTube.

4) Friends Who Wound – OK, this isn’t for everyone. Greg Morse recently wrote a piece for Desiring God on finding a friend to wound you. What seems counter-intuitive is actually something I welcome…and it’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment.

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We see on social media, and say ourselves sometimes, that it’s right to just get rid of negative people, walk away from punishers or diminishers, and hang with people who only affirm us. This article talks about friends who love us enough to say the hard thing. I appreciate people who love me and take the risk to point out the huge potholes in my path or who reach into my life and help hoist me out of a ditch of my own poor choices. Here’s a quote from Morse’s article (he’s speaking to Christ-followers):

“The world cares nothing for our eternal good. Ungodly friends cheer us on toward destruction. They bequeath the kiss of flattery — the Dementor’s kiss. They coddle our egos, telling us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Even the most genuine and moral among them sets sail away from God. Thus we need a crew of Christian companions — a body — to keep us from shipwreck. Finishing the race is not an individual endeavor, and eternity is at stake.

Praise God then for the faithful wounds of true friends who protect us from ultimate injury. They tell us plainly, “You’re flirting with destruction!” …Friends who ask us hard questions, who crush the whispering lizard on our shoulder, who are for our eternal soul above our momentary feelings — these are true friends.”   – Greg Morse

There is a delicate balance here…and relationship matters. We’ve too often been put off balance by words unfitly spoken. What is your experience of friends who wound in a good way? For me, the best experiences I’ve had with this have turned into crossroads in life…isolated incidents where a friend helped me step back from a habit, a person, a life choice that could have destroyed me…and step toward a better way. Very thankful for the courage and love of such friends.

blog-best-friends-woundsPhoto Credit: Dgreetings

5) A Clean House – Who doesn’t like a clean house? When our first child was born, my mom-in-law and her sister came to help me for a week. They were wonderful! One day, while I was sitting all pampered with Baby Girl in my lap, Aunt Nancy asked me what I used to clean the baseboards. Baseboards? First of all, I wasn’t sure what baseboards were, and secondly, I was positive I didn’t clean them. Years later we lived in North Africa and had house helpers all through our time there- those years of my school-aged children. A time when the kids thought that she was their helper rather than mine?!

What a blessing to have the so-daily dust of the Sahara Desert washed away by someone…else! Now back in the US, I am faced with the dust of Richmond, Virginia…Alas. There are endless numbers of articles out there on how to clean house, and I’ve read several. Reading does not necessarily lead to cleaning unfortunately.blog-messy-mom-clean-housePhoto Credit: Quadcity

The article by Valerie Fraser Luesse entitled Do You Clean Like Mama? is my most recent helpful, funny, and non-judgmental read on this subject. It gives me hope again that if I keep at it, one day the house might be clean…for a glorious moment or two, at least.

Those are my faves…although I could also go on and on about the goodness of God, babies, and the sweet arrival of Fall…but those we’ll leave to another day. Have a restful and restorative weekend out there.

A Walk in the Wild – Or a Walk in the Park Very Near the Main Road

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Ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not now that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.Job 12:7-10

Sometimes, we all just need to get away. To hear quiet again; to see green and rocks and wild creatures; to refresh our senses and regain perspective. My husband was, in years past, an avid outdoorsman – fishing, hunting, hiking, biking all reset his week as a younger man. I myself can do all that inside my house, with a book, a look outside, a cup of coffee, and maybe a phone call with a friend.

This week we took a couple of days and got out of town. Not deep into the mountains. No equipment needed. Just a couple of days out the door with our sneakers on. It’s been a week of sorting through life – and our minds were tired. We have had a lot of work stuff going on and just lost a dear friend to cancer this week…clearing our heads seemed a good idea…and it was.

We walked in the woods. Sometimes by a stream. Cool beneath the trees on a hot summer day. The sun’s light pushing through in places.

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There’s a sweet mystery in hiking…even with well-marked trails, you don’t know what you’ll find exactly, at the turn ahead, around the bend. In the quiet and the green, there’s room to think.2015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 389Of course, I didn’t just think about God and His amazing world He’s given us to steward. I thought of deer ticks, and bears, and snakes. Hard to keep an “indoorsy” gal’s mind from hopping over those possibilities. Especially when the trail marking also pointed to which direction went nearest the local hospital. We went that way…also because, in truth, it was marked “extreme difficulty” rather than “most difficult”.

No worries. We walked a long way without any of the crittery wildness of nature imposing itself on us. In fact, the biggest danger was my own propensity for falling down – which I’ve done in major cities around the world, and sometimes on hiking trails. This was a bitty bit of our walk in the wild that day – tripping on a rock and rolling into the bushes beside the path, uninjured, thankfully. I thought of the kids who would always say, “Mom, don’t run. Mom, be careful.” It made me smile as I picked myself up out of the briars, with Dave’s help. And on we went. Glad for a walking partner and no twisted ankles.

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It was a sweet day, and a much-needed time away…a healing time.

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 The next morning, we needed to get back early. There were budget meetings and other commitments. It was all we needed this one full day…and still the Lord, in His generosity gave us this sunrise to go.2015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 4252015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 4272015 July - Blog, Garden, Flowers, Massanutten, Jeannie Elliff 430

 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4

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I hope you get a walk in the wild this summer…or even a walk in the park (or backyard) near the main road. God is there to meet us, as He is with our cup of coffee and book.  It seems we sometimes stop short of worshipping God in His creation. We soak in the gift without acknowledging the Giver. This time away, processing the great gift of our friend, and the great gift of nature, gave sweet clarity…to the other of life before us.

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…all to His glory and majesty.

YouTube Video – The Majesty and Glory, by MetroSingers, Hyattsville, MD – performed at close of the Memorial Service for Jeannie Elliff, by Sherwood Baptist Church Choir

Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville, Virginia – two-day get-away we won as a prize for helping in a school fund-raiser through Papa John’s – highly recommended

Worship Wednesday – All Good Gifts – Thanksgiving Memories

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  – James 1:17

For most of 20 years, we lived in North Africa where a Thanksgiving holiday was a foreign concept. “Eid el Shukr” (“Feast of Thanks” in Arabic) was understood but not a day set aside. We, along with other expat Americans, brought Thanksgiving with us and invited our local friends into the experience. On the surface, American Thanksgiving has pretty much three constant components – food, family, and football. In those days of living overseas, watching football on T.V. on Thanksgiving Day was a bit challenging, but these days, it seems, all things are possible.

Now, back in the States, the old traditions are changing. My Mom, who always laid out an incredible Southern-style feast on the kitchen counter back home in Georgia, is no longer with us. As with some of you, I’m sure, I miss her still every day and how she lavished love on us through these family times together. Our children are grown now and establishing their own traditions with more families and friends added into the mix. After so many years being away, we find ourselves needing to re-work our own traditions as well.

Last night, we participated in a community Thanksgiving dinner for international students. This is our fourth year, So I’m thinking it’s a new tradition for us. As we visited with new friends from Iran and Colombia, we marveled at how small the world has become. Enjoying Thanksgiving yummies together with them took us fondly back to our years in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.

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Thanksgiving is, for us, all about food, family, and football…but there’s also another element…faith… I am grateful every day for the kindnesses of God and those he’s placed in my life. Celebrating Thanksgiving allows us to put an exclamation point on being grateful. It’s not just about a tableful of food, although food is clearly a focal point. Thanksgiving, even as a national holiday and not a religious one, focuses our sight beyond ourselves. There is an object in Thanksgiving beyond ourselves.

Over 30 years ago, a funky little Broadway musical was turned into a film – Godspell. It was an adaptation of the life of Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew. At that time, I was in that season of life young people pass through of searching out what I believed. It wasn’t going well at that time. Praise God, He did not forget me during those days when I had all but forgotten Him. Watching Godspell, of all things, was one of the occasions God used to wake me up. There’s a wonder and delight in the young followers of Jesus in the musical. It reminded me of what I had once with God…and what could be again.

All the songs in the musical Godspell are lovely. Composer and Lyricist, Stephen Schwartz, beautifully captured some of Jesus’ teaching and the depth of love and rightness between Him, His followers, and creation, in general. All Good Gifts, adapted from an old hymn, is one such song and is a pure and proper doxology of praise for Thanksgiving.

Worship with me.  [Here’s the YouTube video from Godspell to give you the melody.]

All Good Gifts*
We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land..
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand..
He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain…
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain…

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love…

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good,
The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food,
No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts
But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!

All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love..

I really wanna thank you Lord!
All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above..
Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..

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Food – Family Favorites in Mom’s Kitchen

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Football – on T.V. or out on the street with cousins and friends

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Family – Time together…savoring every minute.

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Happy Thanksgiving…

Oh…just in case Thanksgiving is a struggle…and it isn’t all happy family fun…I pray you take courage and rein in your heart to remember that God sees and loves you. We can be a blessing…if you’ve read this far…you are a blessing to me. Wish you were at our table…maybe one day you will be. You are definitely welcome at God’s table.

*Lyrics and Story Behind the Song – All Good Gifts (Godspell)

YouTube Video – All Good Gifts (Godspell 1990)

YouTube Video Clip – All Good Gifts (Godspell original cast 1973)

Wikipedia article on original hymn/lyric – We Plough the Fields and Scatter (1862)

 

Here I Raise My Ebenezer* – Stones of Remembrance to a Faithful God

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:17

What a weekend we’ve had…whew! Over the course of a few days, we’ve seen God answer prayers that have been daily raised to Him for several months. His timing is perfect and I’m reminded of that every time His answers come at what seems, for us, the eleventh hour.

Above my kitchen sink is this small pile of stones. I’ve loved rocks since my childhood trailing around behind a mom who loved rocks. She has moved stones in and around our yard for years, making rock walls and garden paths. We’ve collected stones from around the world, weighing down our bags with precious finds from ocean beaches, mountain trails, forest streams, and rocky deserts. These became stones of remembrance from those trips.

My little pile of rocks has no particular answered prayers attached to the stones. They just remind me, every time I look at them, of the faithfulness of God. It’s not like I always need visual reminders of God because we are surrounded by them. These windowsill sitters do help me to remember His constancy in my life and His care of His people throughout history.

Here…above my kitchen sink…”I raise my Ebenezer*” (from 1 Samuel 7:12) – my stones of remembrance that say, to my heart, “thus far the Lord has helped us.”

You may be waiting for Him to answer a prayer of your own. Don’t let your circumstances blur your vision of God; keep your eyes and heart fixed on Him. Sometime in the days ahead, you will add a “stone” to your heap of gratefulness, as you see Him move…either in the situation, or in you, or both…most probably both.

I leave you with an old hymn written by Robert Robinson who, as a young man, would have destroyed his life, but God had a different plan for him. Robinson wrote beautifully of this faithful, loving God who does not let us go.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing**

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer*;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

YouTube Video with Lyrics – Come Thou Fount – David Crowder Band

*“Here I Raise my Ebenezer” – origin of word and phrase – Ebenezer –  Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer (eh’-ben haw-e’-zer) –  “stone of help”

**Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Lyrics & Story Behind the Song

On Thankfulness

20 Bible Verses On Being Thankful – Jarrid Wilson

23 Bible Verses on Gratitude