TREES AND BABIES

Now you are probably wondering how I am going to possibly tie together trees and babies.  Well, it started with the idea of the tree out front which is budding out again this spring. I noticed that the lower branches are filled with buds while those at the top are still waiting tight in their little sheaths.  I thought they were something like children in that they grow from the bottom up.

The tree out front has such a special place in my heart, as during the last year of Harry’s life, he sat in his big easy chair and watched the seasons spelled out in its foliage.  Gardening was always my thing, but he seemed fascinated by the tree.  It went through all its particular stages before his September death…he never saw the tree stripped bare of its leaves and I often felt like the tree, that Fall and winter,  bereft of all that had been so close to me for so many years.  But God in his mercy knew there would be needed rest and that come the spring I too would find there was still life in me and seasons to be experienced.

On the radio yesterday a psychologist was speaking about how a tiny baby is learning from the very beginning.  It is absorbing information and constantly using that  to become that which God has in mind.  We learn step by step, like babies and the tree out front has grown step by step until it has become mature and offers food to the birds and shade to the flowers underneath.  It has fulfilled its purpose.

And we are much the same; growing physically and spiritually, ever changing. He has a plan for us.  Sometimes we aren’t too discerning but hopefully we are fulfilling his purpose.  What an adventure this is…  with his help, achieving God’s plan for our lives.

GOOD DEALS AND CONDO FEES

Today, God’s creation is covered with snow.  I am less than happy about snow, as it is April but perhaps the earth needs a bit more rest and what could be more restful than sleeping under the cleanest white blanket you have ever seen.  And although for others it may entail a half hour of shoveling, for me, those days are gone forever and the cleanup crew for our streets has just left…a luxury that is covered in my condo fees.

For everything there is a price.  It would be great if living accommodation was free but even your tent space in a park costs.  I have lived in many places; some of them in different countries and none were free…not even the gravel pit we stayed one night, as overflow parking for our truck and trailer.

And someone had to pay the price for our home in heaven.  that accommodation didn’t come cheap…it cost Jesus his life.  Sometimes I think we have become somewhat blase about the price he paid…Easter reminds us that he laid his life on the line, not just for a few folks living in those times, but for all of us for all times.   So in some ways he has paid the price again and again.

In the past twelve years my condo fees have risen over 50%. I imagine other condo owners have the same complaint.  And of course taxes never go down either. There is no free ride on this railroad of life.

We are very much taken by advertising that lists ‘Free’ products…you know, that old come-on about buy one get one free. I think I got caught up in it recently which some packaged soups.  I have about a dozen of them.

Actually I think we all like a bargain and the best one I have found was in Revelations 21:6 which says…”to anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life with out paying for it.” ..and who wants to miss a bargain like that one?

HEAVENLY WISHES

A story in our local paper this week was about a young girl who had made possible her mother’s lifetime wish…to spend an hour in a library, with all the books to herself!  Now, that’s a story a lot of us can relate to.

I still recall the first time I visited a library.  I was old enough to “write” my name, so I could now take out a library card.  I remember opening the doors and seeing a room filled with books and a lady, sitting at a desk.  I walked hesitantly to her and shyly whispered that I’d like to take out some books.  A short time later I had my card, with my name written poorly but carefully at the top.  She led me to the far end of the room and pulled on a string and a lone light bulb illuminated the children’s books…Wow, that was as close to heaven as I could get…rows and rows of books…all for me.

My idea of heaven has changed through the years but I sometimes wonder what others ideas of heaven are…a new home, a bustling business, a new baby, a puppy…maybe a special fellow or girl.

I have asked my bible study ladies what they think about heaven. Ten ladies, all but three of them well over 75 years of age.  There  is a lot of wisdom in that group of girls.  I like to think heaven is a place of peace where all those you have loved and lost, are now living.  Scripture says there is no more weeping there and for so many of us widows that would be a plus. But best of all Jesus will be there.

I have found myself sometimes spouting off scripture to casual acquaintances.   The library clerk who stacks the books, is a familiar face and last week I tapped her on the shoulder and said “Did you know that in scripture is says..’of the making of many books, there is no end.’ So she will have a job as long as she wishes to work.  We are so lucky in Canada to have jobs…there are many whose heavenly hope is to have a job.

I can relate to that as for a year my husband was without work..tough times, lots of prayers, recycling everything, long before the word was invented.  But we managed with God’s grace and he found us work and our first glimpse of heaven was a small town in northern Alberta.

Fifty years later I still give God thanks for his gracious gift of a much blessed life in a town we loved, with people we loved…it has been my little bit of heaven here on earth.

SOLDIERING ON

Like a group of soldiers my bible study group has been “soldiering on” for about ten years now.  But last December we lost our first recruit.  Oh yes, we lost our two men who were part of us, but our “female fellowship” had never been touched before.  It was shocking because she went so quickly and has left a hole in our fellowship that only she could fill.

I have a “different kind of bible study group.”  At least that is how I explained it to our minister when I first approached the Session about it.  It is pretty loose knit…sometimes with movies, sometimes with guides and we even waded through “The Trinity.” Now that was a challenge.  Max Lucado has been part of our group for many years.

I recall a little boy we used to take to Sunday School. He went home one day and said “They keep talking about Jesus and he wasn’t there again today.” Max Lucado and his stories are a part of our bible study but he has not yet appeared physically in the room.

If some of my younger readers (are there any?) think being a Senior is all cups of tea, sitting in the sun and reminiscing about the past, they perhaps should have been following me around the other day. I dry mopped the floors and vacuumed the rugs, phoned a lady who recently lost her husband (and cried with her) and called another lady whose husband is in hospital with a stroke.  I wrote two stories and then got a call from a friend to go to a rock show.  No, not the musical kind…real rocks is what we had in mind.

It was quite wonderful.  God’s creation is sometimes hidden from us.  One of the participants shone a light on a rock and it showed tiny bits that were illuminated…not visible without the light.

The same could be said about my bible study group.  They may have a few smile lines on their faces but hidden inside them are wonderful stories of lives lived and faith followed.  They have been soldiering on for a long time and our relationship is so much more precious because we count each day as a blessing. We know our time together is a privilege and a gift to us from God.

Our Friday mornings together  are full of laughter, some tears and always there is love.  Love for the Lord and love for each other. We are truly blessed.

 

SCARS

Some time ago a rather nasty argument left me feeling terribly upset.  As a Christian I felt compelled to forgive the person, and did so.  Forgetting was a bit more difficult and it still haunts me at times.  I found the whole incident left me with scars.  When you hurt someone there is a wound and that wound takes time to heal.

I recall a story ( I don’t know the author but perhaps you have heard a variety of it,) about a bad little boy who hurt people.  His daddy reprimanded him and said he must hammer a nail into the fence every time he hurt someone.  The fence looked pretty awful before the boy realized how mean he had been.  Then the Dad said, “Each time you do something kind, you can pull out one nail.” Delighted the little boy, was soon pulling out the nails and one day announced they were all gone.  “What does the fence look like?” the Dad wanted to know.  “No more nails but now it is full of holes.”…We may be able to make amends but there are often scars left. It truly makes on think.

The story of Thomas comes to mind.  Doubting, he would not accept the resurrection of Jesus until he himself felt the scars in His hands.

Somehow it was necessary for Christ to return with the scars he had borne for our sin.  O yes, there was forgiveness, but scars too.

Life is similar.  They say regret is God’s way of punishing us for our sins and after all these years I can sure attest to that.  I know God has forgiven me but sometimes those old regrets surface and I can feel Satan standing there, so delighted that I feel rotten.  It is hard to kick him out of the scenario.

I often feel regret that I hadn’t spent more time with my Mom.  I left home at 17, right after Graduation.  Sometimes it was years between visits.  But Mom had such a forgiving heart.  she would have said, “I understand Sweetheart, you had your own life to lead.” How I would love to sit down at the kitchen table and again share with her a cup of tea.

I am still making mistakes and still regretting them so I ask God to heal my scars and help me learn from them and sometimes I feel gathered up in his arms, given a hug and set back down again. He is truly a loving Father.

KEEPERS.

I look at the new cookie sheets and can’t help smiling.  They were a gift from my daughter.  I had burned the last two batches of cookies and in a temper tantrum was going to throw them all out.  “Wait, Mom, I don’t mind burned cookies,” she advised. So I did scrape them a bit and they were edible but not exactly what I had in mind when I first pulled out the recipe book.

I have had those old cookie sheets for decades and they should be laid to rest. Actually they could be used for sliding down some of the snow covered hills up north here…we used to do that when the kids were little. Anyway, my daughter obviously still believes I am good for more cookies so she bought me new cookie sheets and I have washed them and put them in the cupboard with mostly vintage baking pans I have been using for years.

Getting rid of old things is hard because they carry so many memories .  Probably that is why we cling to our old friends.  There is a sense of contentment in spending time with them as sometimes to Seniors, the world of today is far from our understanding.  We need the comfort of others who are of the same mind set as ourselves.

Getting rid of old things is difficult for most of us. My husband never had that trouble, except for his fishing gear. I didn’t dare open his fishing boxes until after he died.  He held onto his old lures etc. with deep affection and I am grateful he hung on to me with much the same kind of affection too.

I now own the whole clothes closet, since he’s  been gone and am astounded how one small woman can collect so many clothes. I actually have a pair of red velvet slacks that I wore in 1998…they are so cozy and warm. I guess I should break down and give them to Goodwill, but who would want a pair of red velvet slacks that are nearly twenty years old?

I picked up  my bible yesterday.  I pick it up gently as it is old like me and its back is weary from holding all those pages.  I can relate to that.  But there is still so much to learn about in it and it comforts me…like my red slacks, and it warms my soul.  I have underlined many passages that have strengthened me.  I know a lot of people want to eliminate or disregard passages that don’t seem to fit with today’s lifestyle, but I don’t …I have found as the years slip by, there is greater understanding of what was once a mystery. God reveals his purpose in his time, not necessarily ours.  So like my red slacks, my bible is a “keeper” and its words warm my heart and direct my path and that is how it will always be.

NOT DEAD YET

I don’t want to alarm anyone with my title…but as I type this, the title does describe my present position. I think it describes the position of anyone who is presently reading this.  We are at this moment…alive!  I am as guilty as anyone else in not taking these ‘alive’ moments and making them into beautiful memories for tomorrow.  We get so obsessed by our planning for tomorrow we sometimes forget to live for today.

My story this morning is about a Polk Dot Hypoestes…nope, it’s not a dress but it too has pretty pink dots on it.  It is a plant a friend gave me a while back.  I usually have good luck with plants but not this time.  It grew lanky…I trimmed it.  It began to lose leaves…I gave it more light, I fed it bits of fertilizer..and then finally I put it in the bedroom window and said, “It’s up to you.”  So there it sat pouting, while I visited my other plants.  I don’t coddle them, but they know I appreciate their sharing their unique beauty with me.

Today I pulled up the bedroom shades and looked at my ‘polka dot’ plant.  The leaves had fallen off and three stems were now nude, but there at the base of the plant were two tiny shoots with green leaves and pink polka dots.  Wow! It was like a resurrection.

Within minutes I had it in the kitchen, cut off the old shoots and gave it a fresh drink.  It will now join a miniature rose that is sitting on the kitchen table…it needs a little company.

Life is sometimes like that too. We grow straggly at times, and it seems just at those times another crisis appears on the scene and we wilt a bit more.  About then, we often just back away from everything, convincing ourselves that perhaps God is telling us that he doesn’t need our input anymore…our job is done…we put ourselves in the bedroom window and wait to die.

But God knows that hiding way deep down inside is the child he created and the gifts he gave her that are still valuable and usable and he has a plan for them to be used.

Do you really think he would waste what he has built into you? He can use those gifts in some way to make this world a little better place.  So you’re a widow…comfort other widows, so your grandchildren are not around…cuddle babies in the hospital…you  can’t drive anymore…phone your friends, or offer to do phoning for non-profits…read to the blind, help the handicapped and be sunshine for those whose lives are in darkness.

I bet you’ll find lots of tiny green leaves of your gift, just needing a bit of water and direction, that will grow into new gifts for God to use out there in the world.  He has a plan for your life, so get out of the bedroom window and take a look out the living room one….a whole world is out there, waiting just for you.