Truly Seeing

The holidays are over and a new year is about to begin. The stress is over, or should be soon.  Relax for a minute with me.  This is merely a collection of photos from the past year with the occasional thought of what I intend to do more of in the coming one.

Friends are where it’s at-

GrayC-Tom

Take time for golf, even if it’s in the median strip.  Drive your favorite car there, just so it looks like you own the joint. (I don’t golf, but there are so many carpe diem lessons here!)

Golfing

There is beauty around you, even if you have to crop the photo or change your angle to see it.  Morning light is always more flattering.

Horses

HankFlowers

Hens

EarlyMornBarryStreamTrainTree

 
Home

PipsOcean

TomSandcastlesHome is not a place; it’s where those you love are.

Enjoy new places, new things, and don’t worry about your clothes.  Some of the best moments of your life happen when you were willing to just do it and be there. The moment will pass far too quickly.

 BrenKnox

Take the photo, even when the camera seems to intrude.  You’ll be glad later.Butterfly2 Babies are beautiful, in whatever form they come.  All the hope and promise – ColtTree

 

Invest heavily, with whatever you have to give. Raelynn

Lifejackets

Look for God’s glory in the smallest things.  Sometimes it takes a camera to truly see what you were looking at.  And too often, even then, it’s only in hindsight you see the blessings of where you’ve been.

 

May today be the beginning of a new life with your eyes attuned to the glories that surround all of us.

OnionCreek

As always, my photos are copyrighted.  Please do not share them without my express permission.

God Provides

The drought is not letting up. I have never seen pastures lose all trace of grass and animals belonging to neighbors get so thin. I get regular emails from the horse rescue society about abandoned or donated animals that need help and there’s no room to take any more. The demand is high, and I have two acres lying fallow. Yet there’s nothing growing on my lot, either. I have nothing to offer.

Driving down the road today, I was struck by this cow. Well, I didn’t hit him, but the scene moved me. I live on the Chisholm Trail; this is cattle country. This is what it must’ve looked like in the post-Civil and Mexican Wars era when the men came home from fighting those battles to find their ranches blighted by drought. They just wanted to rest, but it was time to start the cattle drives. They had to get the cattle to market before they starved, because then the family would starve.

And just like then, God provided. While the economy sinks, my husband’s work has been steady. We’ve not gone hungry. And just to make sure we knew He loves us, He answered my daughter’s prayer for a dog of her own. We rescued a puppy that needed bottlefeeding, which was something my daughter had always wanted to do. This dog, which guards her night and day, gave birth to the answer to my prayer. I wanted a walking partner, tough enough to keep the yard clear of varmints, gentle enough for the kids to play with, and more devoted to me than to life itself. He gave me Jake.

The last thing we needed was another dog, another mouth to feed. But these two dogs have filled the hearts of the girls in this family when the outside world seemed so bleak. Often in the Bible, we hear Jesus say, “Fear not, for I am with you.” When the going seems really hard, and you cannot go any further, look up. For He is right beside you with a hand held out. For us, it looked like a leash – I don’t know what it will look like for you. All you need do is take it.

What I Do

A strange new light has appeared. I feel like this sunset that happened a couple days ago. Everything’s turned upside down and I like what I’m seeing, but I don’t understand it.

I find myself consumed by a need to organize. Now I’ve never been a messy person, but Grandma’s mantra about “a place for everything and everything in its place” just hasn’t worked in this small house. I didn’t notice until after we moved in that the builder apparently didn’t think closets were necessary. The inability to devise any sort of working organization scheme overwhelmed me. It overran my very being.

Until just the last couple weeks. Something, somebody, I don’t know what, inspired me to take control of my life. No more waiting for the world to come right. All of a sudden, I realized that the difference between what I see and what I want is what I do. What I do. Me. Why didn’t I ever grasp this before?

But something else is going on here. Cool gifts have come, totally out of the blue. My husband appeared last week with a beautiful, framed mirror which just fits in my entryway. A small stack of books from my favorite author came home in a discarded box. A lovely chest, the perfect size to house my oldest son’s treasures, was given to us just as he left. In the past, I’ve dreaded Christmas because I didn’t have space for anything more to come in. Now, each gift is so clearly from God and, like that mirror, brings new light into the dark corners of my world. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Is this God? You’d think, as a Christian, that I’d immediately spout grandiose praises of any blessings that come my way. I do know He is behind all this. But I’m human, too. I’m confounded by watching changes happen in me that I did not instigate. I watch the children get into yet another trivial argument and I want to throw up my hands and quit. But then I watch myself walk calmly over to them and handle them wisely. Who is this woman in the mirror? Where is her stress?

It’s just not there. Just like the toddler outbursts, it is disappearing before my very eyes.

Something else has become clear: even if what I do is small and insignificant, it is not worthless in the larger scheme of things. Every single positive move I make brings my world that much closer to goodness. And that is beautiful. It is the ray of light that originates with my Maker and moves out, one step at a time, until a glorious wake is left behind me, which in turn emanates outward to others.

I thank you, my beloved reader, for the ripples your life has washed into mine. They are no small part of who I am and what I do.

Godvision Goggles

My head has not been in writing this week. It’s been scattered, unable to concentrate on reading, even. Just as I convinced myself that I was hopelessly lost, we had a baptism and pool party with the church. The words that were spoken at that ceremony touched me, letting me know that it’s not all up to me. It’s not me that reaches out to God to beg salvation. Like a drowning man reaching for the hand of the rescuer, I’m merely accepting the outstretched arm of the one who sought to pull me from the jaws of destruction. He reached out first; I’m merely taking His hand.

That’s what I needed to hear. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sinking in a pool of my own making, and I have no clue how to escape. I pray that God would pluck me out and put me in a better situation. But Jesus said he didn’t come to take us out of the world (John 17:15); he came to give us a new perspective. He gave me godvision goggles. I can wear them on my forehead and look like a pro, but they work best on my eyes, protecting me from injury and putting the true hue on all I see.

The little stuff doesn’t bother me with my goggles on. They allow me to see more clearly than ever before what is going on around me and not be bothered by it. All will be well; I can relax.

But not too much. I still have work to do, and I must use my goggles for all they’re worth. So gently, as soon as possible, he puts me back in the water and teaches me to swim. First in a safe environment, and then in gradually more threatening situations, he encourages me to build strength.


I thank the Lord that He always girds me with the floaties of Scripture. As I gain facility with them and their properties become my own, I am enabled to stay afloat, even in rough waters.

False Evidence Appearing Real

My sweet Pips and I had lunch with an old friend today.  He calculated we hadn’t seen each other in 28 years.  Good grief.  I must’ve been 6 last time I saw him.  No wonder he said she looked so like me when I was younger…..

Anyway, we were discussing perceptions of each other when we were in school together.  He described me as shy.  I never would’ve used that word, but I definitely feared jumping into others’ conversations where I may not be welcome.  He recalled the feeling of never being accepted at the “in” table, which I also remembered clearly.  Then he talked about a girl we both knew, who’d confessed to him that she had feared rejection badly.  I had always thought she was arrogant and had avoided her accordingly.  I didn’t need her looking down her nose at me, since I was already nearing the bottom of the social heap.  I was really surprised, when I reconnected with her, how genuinely open she was.  And how much we had in common.  Others I never expected have welcomed me as a friend just as generously.

It struck me how we all gauged our relationships on fear.  Of the unknown, of uncertainties, of potential humiliation.

And once we got past the expectations and perceptions of high school, we could all be friends. It makes me happy I’ve chosen to homeschool.  My kids have no conception of peer pressure or expectations – because it’s not part of reality.  It’s only a construct in schools (and beauty shops.)  My kids, like most adults,  just like or dislike a person based on actual experience with them, not who they keep as friends or what they drive.

It also makes me happy I’ve grown up.  There are people I’ve known for years and feared being friends with for nothing more than a perception of who they are.  That is so wrong.  Everybody suffers when a potential friend is not realized or developed.

Growing up,  I was the only girl on my street, and I didn’t get a sister until I was in college.  I’ve had precious few female friends.  Which was fine for a while; it’s a lot easier to talk cars with guys than girls.  Only for the four years I lived in Las Vegas did I have a circle of female friends.  I missed them before we met, and I miss them again now.  But all the way through school, most of my friends were male.  My initial choice for my maid of honor was male.  I didn’t have bridesmaids; I had bridesbuddies.  No joke.

All this just to illustrate the power of perception and it effects on friendship.  Years ago, I was invited to a family party with a friend.  My family didn’t have parties, so this was a real treat for me.  It sounded like fun.  The minute I arrived, I met my friend’s grandmother and parents.  It flashed across my mind that I was not merely a friend, but a marriage prospect being considered by the elders.  I saw other friends I knew at this party, including the guy I went to lunch with today, but that didn’t change the perception in my mind.  I panicked and extricated myself immediately.  I don’t remember, but I may have walked home.   I never explained to my friend what happened nor spoke to him again.  While I’m sure he has not spent years pondering what he did to offend me, I’ve often wished I’d given him the benefit of an explanation. Because that’s what friends do, and I wasn’t one that day.

I was in the 8th grade when that happened.   Fear is a powerful force, and drives us to do stupid things.  It’s also not from God.  I desperately wanted family and friends, and yet when they presented themselves, I ran away.  God wants us in fellowship with others.  Anything that isolates us from humanity is not from God.  I thought about the truth of 1 Sam. 16:7, which was the theme of the book Pips asked me to read when we got home.  “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”  (It’s an Amish book, so the King James Bible was quoted.)

I am so glad I had a chance to talk with this friend today.  Fear will no longer rule the day.  Because perfect love casts out fear, and (I’m hearing a mantra I recite to my son) communication is key to every relationship.  I could have had many, many friends in school had I merely asked if I were welcome to join the group.  Because we all know how honest schoolkids will be.

Reset

I’ve been seeing this page an awful lot lately.   It means I’m back to square one.  It reminds me of playing “Sorry!” with my big brother.  No matter which cards we got, he always moved forward to the goal and I always got bumped back to Home.  Start over, Brenda; you do it so well.

I know that what’s really going on is that I’m asking for things above the capability of the system.   While some have commented how quiet and peaceful my rural home is, it takes Eddie Albert to keep my phone connection working.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the constant upgrades to the computer to rectify speed issues have been no different than when Grandma put a bigger octopus on her wall outlet to handle the sewing machine, the reading light, the heater, and the radio together.  She never understood why she had power failures when she sewed heavier fabrics.  I wish I could just put a penny in the fusebox of my computer….

Thankfully, if my penny fails, I have an entire department’s worth of firefighter friends moments away.  The homeschool community is full of competent young men and ladies to assist me when I cannot get my blog to function or the right angle on a photo.   When I complain about my computer woes, my daughter gives me that look that only she can give and says, “At least it gives you a screen.”   Each one of them is a godsend to me.  They are my surge protector and backup power supply.

So, while yesterday’s post may not have made it to the page until today, I’m up and running.   I did what I could do and called it enough.  I moved on to better priorities.  I spent some time with my older kids talking about hamsters and farmwork.   When they organized a demolition crew to pull down their fort before it killed someone, I agreed to drive the “wrecker”.   It will take another day to clear the debris, but my backyard is now clear of ugliness.  After dinner, I moved a project I’d been wanting to do to the front burner.

I gave my piano a new life.  This project has been on my mind and my dresser for exactly a year now.   I will find a place to hang it tomorrow, after I’m sure that everything is dry and secure to put it in the frame.

And isn’t that what the reset button is all about?  Something wasn’t working – the piano was too big, too old, and too far beyond repair.   It had given many years of service before delivering its final lesson on sound dynamics and mechanics.  And yet, as it settled into its new role as artwork, it taught me about decorating and home beautification.  The piano has been reset – and is bringing me smiles once again.

(Day 34/365)

Bass Notes

I’ve been reading through Charles Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening for my daily devotional.  One line has been ringing in my head all day.  So here’s my photo of the day, to go with the words that inspired it.

The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now.  Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song, “He hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.

I have played a little bit of piano and a little more guitar.  My most experience with music is actually with handbells, where the entire song is taken apart into distinct notes for the players.   The best songs are the most complex, that move across the entire set of octaves.

What does my song incorporate?  If I were to put my life to music, what would it sound like?  If it were all warm, sunny days, it would be no more interesting than a nursery ditty safely played on one octave in the key of C.  There must be sharp notes, flat spots and pauses – exciting crescendos and timid pianissimos – all blended together to make something unique enough to be worthwhile.  Big thunderclaps of bass notes counterpoised against bright cheery trebles bring interest and meaning into the everyday middles.

May I see each day as merely a note in the larger song.  May I enjoy the trip as much as I would playing the entire melody from memory.

(Day 26/365)