Monday, May 31, 2010

Christ Above All

Psalm 139 (Most of it)
The Message
God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can't take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, You'd find me in a minute— you're already there waiting! Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

My heart is heavy today. I have decisions to make that are not easy. It doesn't mean they don't need to be made. I have come to realize that I have allowed my eyes to lose their focus. I have let other things take first place in my life. The Lord knows my thoughts. He knows everything I think I've kept hidden. He knows that I have looked away from Him and grown complacent. This has affected my relationship with Him and blurred my vision. I want Christ to be my compass, my source of strength, my comfort and protector. I will look to Him for guidance. Only He can meet my needs and satisfy the empty places.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Today's Thought

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Project #3: Lamps

I went to my favorite haunt tonight: Value Village. I found two glass lamps that are kind of ugly but show promise. I picked up some brushed nickel spray and other random items from Jo-Ann Fabrics so we'll see how they turn out when I'm all done. I don't have a definite idea yet what I'm going to do to them but I know where I am going to begin. I need to take the lamps apart so I can clean the inside of the glass and also spray the ugly, fake gold stuff. I'll do that tonight. This weekend I will buy plain, inexpensive lampshades and use what I got at J.A.F to make them look the way I want. I'm making progress. When the lamps are complete the only unfinished business will be the headboard for my bed and the picture I want enlarged for the bedroom wall.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bedside Tables

Storms and Anchors

I received a letter today from Women of the Harvest - also called Women of Compassion - depending on what country is being visited. They still need massage therapists for the retreat in Goa, India this October and also asked if I would be interested in serving with the team that goes to Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March. Why, oh why, can't I be self-employed so I had the freedom to go to every retreat, every year?

Last night I completely took apart the nightstand I built the evening before. This morning, I started over. I finished building two of them before I had to work. Later, I will sand the edges, whitewash the boards and add a layer of finishing gloss.

Today we had rain off and on. When I ran to the store it was coming down pretty hard. I got soaked. I don't know why, but it reminded me of my summers on the Vineyard when I'd sit out on the deck in the middle of a big nor'easter. The rain would be coming down, the wind blowing, the sea-grass whipping around, sand would get in my eyes and I would watch the anchored boats bobbing wildly up and down in the crashing waves of the ocean. I would think how glad I was to be sitting safely on shore and feeling sorry for some of the crew that were left on the big yachts. It had to be scary. It was scary where I was and my feet were firmly planted on the ground. There is something big and awesome and breathtaking and powerful about storms. As long as I know I'm safe, I don't mind riding them out and taking everything in. God displays a side of Himself in the strong winds, the driving rain, the white-capped waves. It is breath-taking to witness. Lots of times during those East Coast summer storms, I would sing at the top of my lungs because the wind was so loud no one could hear me. I loved to sing "How Great Thou Art," but one particular night when I watched a boat moored out in the harbor - the only thing I could really see was the light from its cabin - I thought of the song, "We Have An Anchor." The little light was shining through a window, the boat was bouncing up and down and looked like it would flip over at any time. The next morning when I walked out with my hot chocolate, the storm had subsided and the small boat was still there, floating placidly in the water.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Savior's hand;
And the cables, passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy that blast, thro' strength divine.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
~Priscilla Jane Owens

I love the second verse, particularly the phrase...and the cables, passed from His heart to speaks to me deep inside. Sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I am afraid when I think about the future. Sometimes I wonder who will be there to protect me and keep me safe. Will I always be by myself? Will I be the only one looking out for my welfare? Not really. My safety, my welfare, my life is well-secured by the Savior's hand and I am connected heart to heart with Him by a cable stronger than anything made by man.

Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
~Hebrews 6:18b-19a

Monday, May 24, 2010

Entering the Final Stretch

The dresser drawers are almost done. Tomorrow's post will have a picture of the dresser, COMPLETELY FINISHED!!

Face to Face

I wonder what it will be like to SEE Christ. I am living in anticipation of seeing loved ones very soon. MA will be home tomorrow, Bec will be home this Sunday, I will be at my childhood home in 3 weeks - surrounded by Mom and Dad, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. I am looking forward to being with each one. I have kept in contact with them by text, email and/or phone but nothing can replace actually being in their presence. I have images in my mind of what they look like - the color of their eyes, the way they smile, the shape of their hands - but when we are actually face to face the images are replaced by the real thing. I get to look at their eyes, know that I am responsible for that one particular smile on their face, feel their hands as they hug me close. What will it be like to experience Christ's physical presence? I wonder what will run through my head? What thoughts, what visions, what sensations?

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ Who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ Who loves me so.
~Carrie Breck

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Before and Almost After (But Not Quite)

MA is away for the week, so this is for her. I'm ready to chuck the dresser out the window.

Hobo Dinner

I haven't had time to sit down and think through a real blog posting but I have been having fun decorating, painting, cooking and "nesting" this weekend. Today I made Mom's Hobo Dinner for lunch. Here's a step-by-step.

...And a strawberry-banana-soy smoothie for dessert!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I thought today would be a relatively straight-forward day. I would get up and begin painting the dresser drawers. Wrong. First I had to drill new holes for the handles. The drill bits I had were not the correct size so I had to go to the store to buy different ones. Then I had to fill in some of the newly-drilled holes that were not the correct size and wait for the putty to dry. Then I had to re-sand. And re-drill. Then the paint I was planning to use was so separated I couldn't mix it. Another run to the store for another gallon of paint. When I finally began painting it was so warm I thought I was going to melt. Guess what? One of the landscapers knocks on the window and asks if I can please close it because he is going to powerwash that side of the dorm. So there I am in an unventilated, stifling hot room - painting away. As I'm hunched over the drawer, sweaty, achy, stiff and miserable, I began thinking that maybe I would just never finish. There was too much to do and too little time. Being creative isn't all that it's cracked up to be. It's a lot of work, especially when nothing seems to be cooperating. Now, I'm not trying to turn this into a super spiritual soliloquy, but the thought did cross my mind that our Father must sure have a lot of patience. He's been working on me for a really long time and I'm a lot more uncooperative than these silly drawers. He doesn't give up. He keeps on sanding and painting and polishing and carving. He has the end product in mind. He knows it (I) will be perfect and beautiful upon completion.

So, to remind myself that progress IS being made, here are a couple of pictures showing what I did today.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wishin' I Was Fishin'

Only 24 days until I'm home...visiting my favorite fishin' holes. Can't wait!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Sunday

My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress.
I will never be shaken.
~Psalm 62: 1&2

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eleanor Roosevelt and Sanding 101

Several years ago, I came across a prayer by Eleanor Roosevelt. I have often included it in my own conversations with the Lord. It jump-starts my thinking, inspires me, gives me hope and challenges me to look outside of myself.

Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may drive to thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of the world made new.

Different parts of the prayer speak to me more forcefully depending on the day or what I happen to be struggling with or praying about. Today, I was reminded of this line, "Open our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them." I was getting the emissions test for my car so I could renew my license tabs and this older, disgruntled, disheveled-looking employee was working at my line. He motioned me forward, grunted his instructions, wouldn't make eye contact and seemed altogether miserable and unhappy. My first instinct was to look straight ahead so I wouldn't have to make small talk. Something (or Someone) made me look at him, however, and casting around in my brain for something to say, I asked, "So, are you going to get off work in time to enjoy this weather?" He gave me a withering look and mumbled, "Yeah, in an hour." Conversation over, I thought. After about thirty seconds he said, "How do you like that Kia?" I gave him what I hoped was an intelligent answer and then he launched into a discussion about history and foreign relations. He said I was probably too young to remember any of this but maybe I learned something in one of my "fool-history classes" about the United States' refusal to buy anything from Asian countries. "Now everything we own comes from them. It's a sad day when our own country can't produce anything high-quality enough to entice its citizens to buy domestically." Something clicked in my mind and I thought to myself, "It's a sad day when Christians can't present Christ in a manner that entices our neighbors and peers to buy domestically." Is that why so many are looking elsewhere for the solutions to their problems? Is that why they are turning away from the truth of Christ? Have I failed in presenting an accurate, quality picture of my Savior? There really wasn't any way for me to bring Christ into our conversation by name, but I tried to look beyond the man's gruffness and unkempt appearance and acknowledge the loveliness he kept hidden because others didn't try to understand him. MA talks about the secular vs. the sacred. There isn't always or doesn't have to be a distinction. Talking to this man, valuing him, acknowledging him -- I think -- was allowing the sacred to enter the secular. As I prepared to drive away, he placed his grubby hand on my car door and winked at me. "Have a nice day, missy. Enjoy this beautiful weather."

A interaction I could have missed because my heart was closed to hidden beauty. Thank you, Father, for opening my eyes.

Switching gears now to something a little less spiritual...

a progress report on my dresser!!

Today I finished sanding. I am including a few pictures to remind myself of the work involved. I forgot to pick up masks for my face, so got creative and hair-clipped a pink pillowcase around my mouth and nose to prevent excessive sawdust inhalation. I know, I'm a genius!

Drawers sanded? Check!

Frame - Before

Frame - After

Mountain Dew - the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions
I couldn't have done it without you MD

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Testing 1-2-3

I uploaded Gram's video tribute to YouTube and I want to see if it works when I post it here.

Hurray! Successful. I'm a happy camper.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project Report - Day One

I have this neat little sander that has small parts you can add to the "nose" to sand difficult edges. I'm including pictures of one of the parts because I think whoever designed the attachments was pretty clever.

Today I finished sanding the mirror and began working on the dresser. I completed the top -- so now all the nicks and scratches have been smoothed away. I also picked up drawer handles and knobs and a can of robin egg blue paint.

I'm tired but feel a sense of accomplishment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Need A Project

I have way too much time on my hands. This usually results in me over-thinking and over-feeling.

I am also in need of a dresser.

Add these two things together and what do you have? A project! I went to the thrift shop on my dinner break today and found an old dresser for $49. I am going to sand it, give it a coat of white paint, apply a crackle layer, finish with a coat of robin egg blue, sand it again, apply a light layer of walnut stain...rub it off...and voila...I will have the dresser of my dreams. Hopefully. Oh, and the inside of the drawers will be plain white. And I will replace the handles.

The unfinished dresser

The unfinished, upside down mirror

Robin egg blue

Desired bedroom color scheme

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

The grandmother-grandchild relationship is simple. Grandmas are short on criticism and long on love.
~Author unknown

The greatest compliment anyone can give me, Mom, is to tell me I'm just like you.

There are two other very special women in my life. May has been mothering me long-distance for almost 19 years. Her letters and emails lift my spirits, encourage me, comfort me and remind me how blessed I am. She faithfully prays for me every day and rarely lets a day go by without telling me she loves me. The times I'm able to be in her presence are some of my most favorite moments.

A few years ago, my mom and grandma gave me a figurine along with a card which read: "Protect and cherish my girl, Father. Provide for her when I am not there to hold her."
God answered with the gift of my WA mom. She is part friend, part mentor, part mom...all love.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Old Rhodie Park

I took a walk this morning through an old, unfinished rhododendron park. There are a few short trails that are evidence of planning, but otherwise the area is natural -- overgrown in parts -- but beautiful. There are several varieties of rhodies and azaleas, dogwoods, forget-me-nots and decorative trees. The towering evergreens, for which this part of the country is so well-known, are also present. Stepping into the park is like stepping back in time. I feel like I'm in a fairytale. My footsteps are muffled and I find myself talking in a low, quiet voice. Last time I visited nothing was in bloom. Today there were different colors around every corner. I took these pictures for my MI mom. My WA mom took some of them, too. I thought MI mom would enjoy seeing them. Can't wait for her to get here!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Living With Abandon

"She smiles, but I laugh."
~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The idea of resting and trusting is still rattling around in my brain, as is the thought I wrote about the other day from Sarah Young...allowing moments to be half-lived, slipping through our fingers. I have always had a thirst for embracing the moment, soaking up every last ounce of living from each day. I never wanted to miss even a second. Somewhere along the way, I've lost that passion. I don't know when it happened. I don't know why. I just know I want it back. I want to get up in the morning and smell the new day. I want to feel the wet grass on my bare feet. I want to sit outside and listen to the birds. I want to feel the breeze on my face. I want to talk to my neighbor across the street. I want to hike in the mountains, camp by the ocean, fish in the streams. I want to pay for the person behind me in the drive-thru lane, talk to the commuter next to me on the bus. I want to leave an extra big tip under my empty water glass with a note of thanks for the service I received (even if it wasn't that great!) I want to water-ski, jet-ski and downhill ski. I want to do cannonballs off the front of the pontoon. I want to lick the frosting from the knife. I want to play with the little ones God has brought into my life. I want to play with the teens God has brought into my life. I want to play with the older friends God has brought into my life. I want to learn...EVERYTHING. I want to be the instrument of care and compassion to someone else. I want to sit on my balcony and listen to the frogs at night. I want to sit on my parents' deck and listen to their frogs at night. I want the love of my Father to be poured out on those with whom I come in contact. I want to be used up by my Savior. I don't want to hold back. I want to embrace my journey with open arms. While others are content to smile through life, poised and proper, I want to laugh -- deeply, from the core of my being, head thrown back, eyes closed, tears trailing down my cheeks, totally abandoned to the moment.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This and That

First of all, I didn't make it to the gym today. Why? I didn't make it out of bed until it was time to work. I will try again tomorrow. What I am learning is it is better to listen to my body than try to force myself to do what I think it "should" do. If it was too tired to get out of bed then it was probably better that I allowed it to rest.

Secondly, I was going to write about what I read in 1 Corinthians today but the only thing I came away with is that it seems as though Paul likes to boast even though he tells everyone not to boast and assures us all that he is humble. I got sidetracked. I'll have to read with a more spiritual mind later.

Thirdly, (are these words? secondly, thirdly...??) here are a few reasons I haven't quit my job yet.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I think it is interesting how we can read something and hear something a thousand times but then, one day, it's like the meaning of it has opened to us in a new way. I have been learning about "rest" for the past 2 1/2 years. What does it mean to be still? What does it mean to rest in the Lord? I was thinking about the verses in Matthew (11: 28 & 29)...

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

When I first began studying this topic it was because my life was "too full." I was teaching and supervising the dorm, raising a teenager, volunteering, and spending most of my free moments helping my Amy escape the confines of her home. I wanted to know what it looked and felt like to be still. I wanted to learn how to shake off the expectations of others - including those of the church - and find rest in the Lord. I wanted to be doing what He wanted me to do, not what others wanted me to do.

This doesn't seem to be a subject I have exhausted because today it came to mind again only from a different angle. I have simplified my life, I no longer meet myself coming and going, yet I think I am far from being still. My habit now is to excessively plan. I try to force a new future for myself. I try to do it alone. In Luke (12:22-34) Jesus talks to his disciples about planning and worrying. I'm going to summarize and paraphrase a little bit...

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life...who of you, by worrying can add a single hour to it? Since you can't even add one hour - a very simple thing - why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies. They don't work or labor. Yet you won't find even a king dressed as splendidly as one of these flowers. If God cares so much about them, imagine the thought He bestows on you! You have such little faith. And DO NOT PLAN what comes not worry about it. This is what the world does. Your Father knows what you need. Seek Him. Everything, including your future, will be provided for."

My Father does not ask me to "help" Him plan my life. He created me for Himself. It is only through Him that I will find refreshment, restoration, guidance, stillness. Sarah Young says in her book Jesus Calling that "most people let their moments slip through their fingers, half-lived. They avoid the present by worrying about the future or longing for a better time and place." I'm afraid I am guilty of this. How many moments have I allowed to slip through my fingers? My Creator is with me now, at this moment, in the present. He longs for me to come to Him, to walk with Him, to rest in Him.

"You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in You."
-St. Augustine

My New Toys

A few weekends ago my laptop accidentally got kicked off a bed. A couple of pieces busted off and by the time I replaced them plus bought a new charger and new battery it ended up being cheaper to buy a new computer. I decided to purchase an Inspiron Mini from Dell. It has a 10" screen, built in Digital TV tuner, extra "rabbit ears" to clasp on top of the screen and fun video and picture stuff to play with. It was less expensive than a full-size computer and will be much lighter when I travel. I also bought a new digital camera. I love my old one -- it was just too expensive to keep it in batteries. I am excited to start taking pictures again.

See the "mini" size?

Notice the rabbit ears!

Now I don't have to use my phone to take pictures.