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Archive for August, 2011

Waning Summer

August is nearly over and September is edging ever nearer.  It has been an unusually hot summer and the heat wearies me.  I’ve never been one to enjoy sweating, and this year I seem to have done more than my share.  But here in Virginia I’ve noticed that summer takes a decided turn, and I’m thankful that the intensity of it has passed.

But now, as the days grow shorter, the skies less bright, the nights a little cooler and the days not quite so hot, I find myself eager for autumn.  I noticed the other day that the leaves on a maple tree in a neighbor’s yard is beginning to turn.  It makes me eager to decorate our house for fall, bringing the rich color of autumn inside to brighten the shorter days.  I love tucking the rich reds and golds and russet colors around the house with a few pumpkins and gourds and some Indian corn.  The past few years I’ve been including a few candles of soft white light to brighten the shorter days and soften the deep darkness of the longer nights.  There’s just something cozy about the days growing shorter and I long to spend the long evenings inside again.

I’ve been eyeing the jigsaw puzzle collection and organizing the books for the long evenings and cozy Sunday afternoons.  I’m looking forward to a rest from gardening and planning some game nights with friends after a hearty dinner, filling the house with laughter and love.

Autumn and winter are a good time to touch hearts.  People will be vacationing less and it will be easier to have time to spend together, enjoying one another, lifting one another up.  As I write this I am remembering fun evenings of the recent past with friends gathered around our table, eating, playing, laughing, loving, sharing.  What a sweet gift God has given us in the seasons, and in friends.  God is SO good!  And I am SO thankful!

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Accomplishment!

Today I needed to do some cleaning.  As I gathered the tools I would need, I went to the closet to get out the vacuum and as I lifted it out of the closet something fell and hit my foot.  I looked down to see none other than the plug laying beside my foot.

Now, I’d realized for some time that it was getting loose, but I figured as long as it worked why mess with it?  Well as I looked at it lying there alone at my feet, my heart sank.  My vacuum has a retractable cord, so I figured the cord would be out of reach—and I was right.

First I sighed.  Then I prayed.  “Lord, what NEXT is going to fall apart around here?  What am I supposed to do now?”

In my heart I heard the quiet whisper.  “Fix it.”

“Fix it?  What do you think I am?  A mechanic?”

“No, but I am!  I’ll tell you what to do.  Your ears do still work, don’t they?”

Again I sighed.  The last thing I felt like adding to my already-long list for the day was tearing apart a sweeper and fixing it.  I really felt like rebelling.  Like kicking the old thing across the room.  Then I looked at it.  We were buddies.  We had worked side by side faithfully for a lot of years.  Just because it was starting to have problems, was I going to kick it aside?

Submissively I knelt beside the thing.  “Ok, Lord, what do you want me to do?  The cord’s lost in inner space somewhere and how am I supposed to fix it when I can’t even get to the cord?”

“Get off your knees and go get some tools.”  (I may have heard ‘Idiot’ about there—not sure.)

I rummaged in my tool drawer and laid the hammer aside—although that’s what I felt like using.  Bird-nosed pliers, screwdriver, Philips screwdriver…yeah, can’t think of anything else…

Again I knelt by the thing and lifted the lid where the tools are kept.  I removed it and laid it aside.  Next I took out the bag.  I looked everywhere I could think to look.  No cord.  I sighed.  “Ok, now what?”

“Take the top off.”

“What?  What top?  Nothing else comes off.”

Silence.

So I started poking and peeking and pulling and looking.  Oh, the little plastic piece on top felt like I might be able to snap it off.  Yep.  Off it popped.  Another filter.  I took out the filter and saw two screws.

“Ok, we’re getting somewhere now.”  I took the screws out and pulled up on the piece, but it wouldn’t budge.  I jerked and knocked it, but it was tight.  I looked along the edge, and there were two more screws tucked under a lip.  (Of course they’d be where you practically need to be a magician to find them!)  I finally got them out and tried again, and the whole section lifted off!  And sure enough!  There was the cord coiled nicely with the end I needed barely showing under the whole reel.  A little more poking (it was getting fun by this time) and I found a release that let me roll the whole cord wheel backwards until I clasped the end in my hand!

I cut the frayed ends and removed some rubber and then realized I needed to poke it out the hole or I would have a plug on the inside where it wouldn’t do me or anyone else any good.  With a little acrobatic effort I managed to get it sticking out the almost hidden hole and quickly clamped the safety back into place so it wouldn’t coil until I wanted it to.

With the cord on the outside now I twisted the white covered ends in one direction and the red in the other, took the plug apart and wrapped a screw with each set of wires, tightened the screws and put the cover back on.  Next I put the vacuum back together.  (I knew my jigsaw puzzle techniques would come in handy someday!)

Finally all back together and the plug nice and tight, I headed for the receptacle, plugged it in and stepped on the power pedal.  Voila!  Vacuum noise never sounded so good.

As I puffed out my chest and grinned at myself from ear to ear I’m sure I heard a soft “Ahem…”

“Oh!  Thank You, Lord!  I couldn’t have done it without You!”

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My Daughters

Last week a couple of the young women that have become a vital part of our lives in the last year returned to the area.  They were gone for extended visits over the summer (they are teachers, so have this luxury of a ‘summer off’), and have now returned to prepare for another school year and to ‘dig in’ once more.  I spent last Tuesday chatting with one that had returned from South Africa, and Sunday with the other that had returned from Indiana.  One more is coming soon from Ohio, and it is SO good to welcome them ‘home’!  I have prayed for them throughout the summer, and we’ve stayed in touch to a certain extent, but it’s SO good to have them ‘home’ again.

 

Just a few weeks ago we also went to Indiana for part of a week to be with family and to celebrate a landmark birthday for my father-in-law.  We had a bit of time with some friends there too, and it was good, but as we left Indiana behind and were driving across Ohio there seemed to be an unusual urgency in my heart.  I didn’t want to linger over meals in a restaurant, I didn’t want to stop and see anything along the way, I wanted to get ‘home’!  Halfway across Ohio when I began to see the mountains off in the distance the tears started running down my cheeks.  I looked over at my husband and said, “Look, Honey!  I can see the ‘edge of home’!”  I was weary, and home meant I would be where I could find rest.

 

And ever since returning here, I’ve had an unusual ‘nesting’ thing going on!  I’m cleaning and painting and redecorating and shopping and planning changes I want to make, going over and over the budget to see what is realistic and what’s a dream that I need to let go.

 

And now…the ‘girls’ have come home!  Yes, I know they are really someone else’s girls (young women really, but to me they’re girls!).  But they’ve adopted me as a ‘second mom’ and I’ve adopted them as daughters and we do enjoy SUCH good times together!  I look at them and wonder why in the world they want to ‘hang out’ with an old woman, and they just laugh at me when I ask.  All I know is that God made my heart to need children.  And now that my own have grown and have families of their own, He gave me more through these young women.  It’s not the same as diapering and teaching and cuddling—but it’s still ‘mothering’ to a certain extent.  They pop in and out for meals and ‘jam sessions’ on the piano and violin and they borrow items (and return them) and ask advice and we pray together and watch good movies together, put jigsaw puzzles together and do all the things I always dreamed a mother would do with daughters.  They keep me updated on ‘what’s the latest’ and answer my questions when I don’t understand a ‘new’ concept, but they also listen and ask advice and there’s just this bond of love that can only be from God.

 

After our sons married and settled into homes of their own, my heart felt so very bereft.  I often wept and prayed and asked God why He created me to have a ‘mother heart’; to need children to teach and love and then they grow up and I’m left alone.  (Well, not alone, but my husband doesn’t need nurturing!)  And then?  God started bringing the daughters!  My husband and I both marvel at how God started bringing young women into my life in a parade of love and laughs and good times of sharing God’s love together.  Through the years there have been many.  Rick loves our ‘daughters’ too, but mostly he just loves to watch me enjoy them.  And enjoy them I do!

 

And now, we have another year ahead to be together.  We’re planning what movies we’ll watch and the things we will do together, but we also know there will be lots of times that are not planned but will be fun all the same.  Yes, I am a very blessed woman.  My nest is ready and my daughters are home.  God is SO good!

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Fiddling

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband and I are about as opposite as two people can be and still get along!  One thing that we disagree about is the best use of a particular instrument.  It is an instrument we both love dearly—but in wildly different ways.  Yes, you guessed it:  the violin/fiddle.

I love a violin.  I love to hear it played in a full orchestra or symphony.  I love watching an orchestra filled with violins and violas, their bows waltzing beautifully in unison as they slide and glide across the taut strings; sometimes whispering; sometimes vibrant; sometimes merry; sometimes somber.  I love classical music more than just about anything.

Rick?  He wants to hear a fiddle!  He wants to clap and stomp and sing along as a fiddle (or band) plays country music.  He loves the rowdiness of the country songs as much as I enjoy the sometimes gentle, sometimes intense flow of classical.

We both try to enjoy the music the other loves, and while in the Midwest he went to numerous concerts in velvet halls with me.  And now it’s my turn to return the favor.  Now that we live in the south, we’re finding country music events are much more plentiful and available than good classical.

This past Monday we went to a Fiddlers Convention (a contest of fiddlers of all ages) with some good friends.  Their daughter was in one of the contests, and it was fun hearing her play in front of such a large audience, and she did very well.  This contest went well into the night and was a couple of hours from home, so we didn’t stay to the very end, but I have a strong hunch she placed well.  She’s quite accomplished!

Now this convention was sort of like a county fair in that there were the food booths all along one side and the smell of those are enough for a heart attack without even indulging.  Who wouldn’t love that aroma?  And in the center is the stage with lots of room for lawn chairs in front and stadium seating behind the open space.  It’s different than a concert in that people are coming and going, talking, and eating all during the evening.  Off to the left were rows and rows and rows of campers.  This contest goes all week long and people come from all over the world to play in it!  I find that utterly amazing.

I loved watching the tiny children playing their miniature violins (some in tune and some not).  I loved the energy and amazing fingering and quick bowing of the accomplished contestants.  I loved the way your foot taps–almost on its own.  But I have to admit that after an hour or so, all the songs started sounding the same to me.  I tried.  Really, I did.

On the way home that night I had to think about instruments in heaven.  I’m sure there will be fiddle-players as well as violinists with all the other instruments too.  How will it fit together?  Will there be different areas for each style of music?  Will it all fit together somehow to make one completely new style of music that is nothing but worship?  We can’t know now, but of one thing I’m confident.  I will know someday, and I plan to sing like I’ve never sung before!

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Smilin’

If you think flu is contagious, have you ever really noticed how quickly a smile is passed around?  Today as I was running errands and re-stocking a bit after being out of state for a while, it was hot out and the car was even hotter and I hate sweating!  But it was not to be helped today.  Anyway, feeling as I do about sweating, smiling was a discipline for me today.  I just wanted out of the heat completely, and did NOT want to be walking across paved parking lots with the heat radiating through the soles of my shoes, getting into a blistering hot car and feeling sweat run between my shoulder blades and dampen my hair as I waited for the air conditioning to put out something besides the hot air it had stored while I shopped.

 

It’s on days like this that I must remind myself to smile.  I must discipline myself to be pleasant and say kind words when I just want to concentrate on getting finished so I can get home where it’s cool.  For me, it’s easier to be silent than to speak up anyway, but especially when it’s so hot that breathing alone is an effort, let alone speaking!

 

And so…I gave myself the challenge!  When I don’t feel much like smiling, I challenge myself to find ten sober people along my way and say something kind to them, or smile at them to see if I can get a smile in return.  Do you know that I hit twelve today and by the time I was unloading the groceries I was practically laughing out loud, and I hardly noticed the heat at all!

 

My two favorites were the lady as I left Sam’s that puts her yellow mark through my receipt.  She’s one of two ladies that seem to monopolize that particular position.  She’s usually rather brusque, but when I told her “Well, hello!  I was hoping I’d see your smile today!”  I thought she’d hug me!  She lit up like a birthday cake!  Such a small thing to cause a smile!

 

The other favorite was a little girl that was obviously bored with her mother’s shopping.  She was actually being quiet, but was bored and restless.  I noticed her sparkly slippers and commented about her ‘magic shoes’ putting wings on her feet and making me smile!  She beamed!  And her mother whispered ‘thank you’ above her head as she smiled a tired smile in my direction.

 

There was the greeter at Lowe’s, and the bagger at the grocery store, and…well…I forget who they all were but my tally was 12 that went from sad faces to beaming ones!

 

All the way home I thought of how simple it is to smile, and yet what a difference it can make in someone’s day.  And the best part is, I think my spirits were lifted maybe more than anyone’s!  Yup!  I love a fun day–even if it’s a hot one!

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