Not feeling it

The lucky penny poncho pattern that I found in April is one of my favorites. The crocheted design was a follow up to the driftwood poncho. I made two of the driftwood in late winter. One with a white base and hooded, the other shades of red and cowl necked. What I like about this one is the incredible sweater border all around the edge. And the border is made while making the garment. The only finishing touch is the cowl neckline, in the ribbed sweater stitch.

The first poncho that I made was for my great niece in April. While she may outgrow it before it gets cool enough for her, I find mine quite comfy on the cool mornings. Or in the shock of the air conditioning after being outside. I like the fact that you can mix lefties or two different ombres to get a variety of looks.

Pattern sizing is quite simple also. Circumference of the head times two equals the width, and the length is foot to neck with a few added inches on the back side. Such an easy , cozy moss stitch fills the interior of the garment that it can be used as a lapghan on chilly mornings!

This time of year the heat can take the wanna right out of us. They use to call it the “dog days of summer.” When the heat in the shade reaches 101 degrees Fahrenheit, I feel like a long afternoon nap, too. But the shade of the old apple tree is not quite cool enough for me. We take up the Library floor, chairs and cushions. Ceiling fan on high, and away the crochet hook flies.

So while I sit in my air conditioned house with the air feeling like the fridge door got left ajar, the dogs snore. When I come back inside after a mailbox run, and giving the flowers a drink, this poncho or another shawl sits ready to provide it’s shelter from the breezey air.

Here is the photo I took of my first attempt at the “lucky penny poncho.” For this project I used a wool blend that is washable. Lion Brand mandala yarn makes lots of different cakes to choice from and this peachy flavor was one that I could not resists. I think the child’s size poncho turned out perfectly.

Someone suggest going shopping and I am simply not feeling it. No feeling the hectic panic of having to wear a mask. No feeling the endless search for what I might have on my list. Not feeling the hours on the internet looking for the best price.

“Not feeling it” is how I think of the riotous civl unrest that has followed the protest movement. Of all the busy no good actors that have nothing better to do with themselves, I am sorry, but I am not feeling it.

My compassion is better spent on the local gentleman whose mother just passed away after a life filled with prayer and faith. My compassion is better spent on the family of a local boy whose body was recovered from a nearby pond. My compassion? What compassion have I, but that the Lord first lent to me?

Laminations chapter three is one of my favorite compassion passages. The idea that the Lord gives His mercy new every morning and but for His compassion towards us, He would consume mankind in an instant. Wow! If only people could see, that God’s wrath is just beyond the next wrong thing they chose to do… Then my anger is dosed like the embers of the evening fire. I think about the flood and how God was sorry that He had made man… Genesis six.

Not feeling it? God’s mercies are new, His compassion tender. I feel His banner over me like love. This lovely blanket shawl warms my cool skin. Now, perhaps maybe I am feeling it and I pray that the violence ends. That people who need Jesus will find Him. That God in His tender mercies will protect my family. That our garden will bless more than just our own family.

Compassion and empathy does not mean that I jump off the bridge when someone else does. It does not mean that I won’t call the foolishness of others out as idiocracy. And that’s how I feel about the lack of common sense these days.

I live a peaceful, quiet, country life. We are blessed that my husband has a job that he has kept through this whole pandemic time. We know that giving of our abundance is what God sees as a generous heart.

Why am I here and those there are there in the city and in difficult circumstances? I do not know why the choices we have made have not covered us over with a flood of riot gear. But I am thankful for every little act of kindness that our Lord lends to me while here on this earth.

I am not feeling lucky at all.

I have never felt lucky.

Not feeling it, nope.

Blessed beyond my own comprehension. Yep. Blessed by God and filled with His compassion for those who think that lighting someone else’s things on fire or lashing out at any person in their path is the answer. Not the answer. The people who go at life with their arms flailing, their eyes darting, and their fist and tongues blasting everyone in their path will eventually be brought down. For those in the way, the others that they pull down with them, I am also filled with sorrow.

Life is too short to spend at war with God, others or yourself.

For bitter or for sweet

The long and short of it all…

This blog was suppose to be published in June, as we celebrated 29 years of marriage.I should not be so bold to say celebrate. Actually we spent the week waiting for the arrival of our second grand baby. At the time we were still guessing wether he would be a boy or a girl. Boy, some of us were wrong!

Twenty nine years is significant in some ways. Many people don’t make it through the adulting of their children. Either by illness or divorce. This year the month concluded with news that indeed was the case for some people we knew. Divorce. Our hearts were broken for the friend. And especially because the news took two years to reach us.

“For better or for worse, for bitter or for sweet, in sickness and in health, until death do we part…”. Does anyone even make this kind of a vow anymore? It seems the whole of world thinks the rose bushes no longer have thorns. I am glad that my daughter has such a bush right out her kitchen entrance. Every time they leave and come back to the house, it is visible and during the summer on full display.

Marriage is work. And it takes two. So many are disillusioned by the pursuit of happiness they forget the true purpose of marriage. Here is the jist of what we believe: marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church. Marriage is so that the onlookers will know that the Lord is God. Marriage is so that each partner has an opportunity to learn the value of unconditional love.

Unconditional.

For bitter or sweet, I love and serve the needs of another. It’s up to me to make the bitter sweet. Like making chokecherry jelly. Those little berries have got to be the most bitter things (buffalo berries are pretty bad too). When we are handed a pail of these cherries, it might take the whole bag of sugar to make them sweet. Roll up you shirt sleeves, gather up your best character values and make some jelly. Be the sugar if the other partner is the berries.

Does anyone know how to become better or is the whole world just becoming more and more bitter every time things get a little difficult. Learning to do things that are hard becuase of the value of doing it. Like a marathon, life can be hard sometimes.

Marriage in the evening years.

Maybe I should not classify us in the twilight of life. But some grandparents really do see this time of life as a sunset

Last week, I made a phone call. Perhaps it was a bad decision. But we adopted a ten year old retired breeding labrador retriever. Young families with children in the house don’t want to watch a puppy grow old. Let alone, an old dog get older.

The twilight of life for a breeding dog is the pleasant years. No more working for this sweet little girl. She can laze away her days on the porch swing if she chooses to. But don’t be deceived, Eva has a lot of energy yet. The first twenty four hours her little feet did not stop once! I think she tried to smell the whole acreage.

Adopting an elderly dog has both it’s sweet parts and its bitter parts. Of course learning all of her quirks will take at least a year. The sweet part is that she is already trained to heel, follow, retrieve, and does not nip or step on your toes. She really is a good oe’ girl.

Why in the world would we get another chore? Well, doing for another is not so bad when the another is so sweet. Serving the person with an applesauce attitude is much better than serving a person with the attitude of a rotten banna. You know what I am talking about don’t you? Please don’t make me spell it all out.

Honey was absolutely sure there was no room for another dog. She has tried to be the boss of everyone since we’ve known her. She snarls at nearly every dog she meets. Even with socialization, she is not real friendly towards other dogs. To other people she is on the top of the friendliness chart. She would go home with anyone. That’s why her collar has her name and phone number on it.

Eva… our evening doggie is so subservient, it makes Honey look like shoe leather. How one dog can be soft an another like shoe leather is pretty visible quite quickly. Of course this little bulldozer does know how to crash through the thicket that has been a stand alone for over twenty years. The only think I have ever seen come out of the thicket was a cat we had once that would eat the baby bunnies. Eva went right through like a bulldozer. she is pretty thick skinned actually. And so now the lily garden has a fence around it. And she gets tied up when I am in the garden. Or there won’t be any lettuce to eat.

So when things get a little too rough for this grandma, it’s time for an iced coffee and a lazy cat on the bench. This cat is Tabitha, or Tabby for short. She is last years kitten from a neighbor. Only two of the five stayed off the road. Our house is less than 100 feet from the pavement. Some of the cats are truly suicidal. I have to feed them before taking Honey fo a run or bike ride. But now the old mama cat had six kittens this spring and four of them are orange. Might have to come up with some new names that mean orange or maybe just the names of the oranges, like tangelos, nectarines, cuties, and mandarins? Do we have the right lifestyle to adopt another dog? We had all of the accommodations. Our kennel outside sat empty and there were plenty of leashes around here to hook up another walker. Right lifestyle or not, there are some things that change. For instance who is feeding who when? And perhaps we could use another walk at the state park nearby.
Affording the change? Well, she’s pretty small and there’s not much hopefully to anticipate for her needs. But just a week or so ago, at my annual physical, my doctor told me that I could afford a lifestyle change.

Really she said just that. Okay, maybe it was “your cholesterol ranks a little high and you could get those numbers down with diet and exercise.” I heard, “you are getting a little fat, this weight gan cna be reversed by taking up rowing,m running, weightlifting and it would be best to remove all the seet tasty treats in your life and eat just rabbit food. You know at your age you could afford to make a lifestyle change!”

Doctors never make those calls. It is always the nurse. She was mean. I knew all that just by lookin in the mirror. That’s wjy I avoid looking!

Twisting the facts a bit is not really telling a fib now is it? i just turned her bitteersweet news into a more audible warning. Twisting my nose would have been just as effective.

Eva and I have a lot in common actually. I’m pretty set in my ways at this point in life also. I can relate to the few extra pounds that one puts on after going into menopause. I know what it’s like to have habits that drive me to do things a certain way. But I refuse to a be a bulldozer into other peoples thoughts or lives. Hopefully, we can be sweet enough that the chokecherry jelly will turn out to be great syrup for pancakes. Just have to use more sugar I guess.

Summer wind’s days

The under current in the air

Ecclesiastes is the book of vanities. The study of all that is whether, doing or being was the goal of Solomon’s wisdom. He wanted to, above all, be wise and able to lead the people of His Lord and his father’s kingdom inheritance. David’s legacy was not to end in the simple wisdom’s of one of his sons. No, while the biblical heritage that Solomon left to us is vast and deep, the physical lineage of the Christ child was the true source of all wisdom.

I enjoy reading the book of Ecclesiates. When I was younger, I thought the book very depressing. To be told that “all is vanity” when young and still in the pursuit of the stuffings of life… well, I did not want to hear that. Now that I am constantly trying to downsize, including my shapely figure, most pursuits do seem pretty vain to me.

Chasing after the wind…

So.omon likened the pursuit of earthly things to the chasing after wind. Wow? Watching a kitten try to catch a tall blade of grass the other day made me think of this goal. Runners trying to catch their breath after a long jog. Honey panting beside me while I pedal the bicycle. The birds in the evening diving after the cloud of gnats that are driven across the plain. A kite?…

Whoever decided a toyshould have the same name as it’s objective adjective? The word hyper describes my doodle girl to a “T.” Perhaps that is being a bit offensive for the cat or the dog or the fish. Who would name thier dog Hyper. Maybe they really meant hyperbole.

Saying that my dog is an obvious and intentional exaggeration as a pet is actually more accurate that saying she is not just hyper. Her exuberance while playing fetch with this particual toy would probably get her killed if was too close to oncoming traffic. Playing in the safety of our large meadow in the middle of the acreage is best.

This morning her aggression with the frisbee was like an eagle with a salmon. Her grip on the fabric disc was a locked vice. The visitors could not wrestle the toy from her clinch. Yep. Hyperbole city is on…

The video below was taken on a nice day. As opposed to wind’s days. The heat was just rising to the point of uncomfortable. Honey still went after the flyer at least twenty times. Some days it seems there is no stop in her. My hubby-dear can usually get the speed whipped up on the wind to take a sail out of her notch though. After a few of his tosses, she will lay down right where she caught it and ignore all calls to “Come.” This day it was just me and the birds. She came and went without a word or command for many a retieve.

It is a rare day lately that the undercurrent does not pick up the plate and grip it upward just before touching Honey’s teeth. This under current seems to have caught the whole of humanity. While some desperately fight for a cure to the Covid-19, others simply ignore the breeze and paddle on as if nothing has changed. Everyone has made up their mind on how they want to deal with the pandemic health crisis. But once a bug has come into existence, it is not going away on it’s own. Kind of like my greenhouse and the recurrence of the aphids. How do we get the pests out unless we use an insect fogger? Tear gas, pepper spray, mace, smoke screens, or firehose has not worked to stop the violent anarchists.

There is an old proverb about the wind and the sun arguiiung over who could get the man to remove his heavy woolen coat. The wind blue from every direction, but the man held on tighter with every gust. Finally, the sun asked if the wind had given up its war on the poor man. Yes, the wind would quit the battle. Out came the sun, in it’s full heat and brightest rays. Soon the man was dripping with sweat and gave up his grip on the heavy jacket. He removed the coat and glanced up aty the beautiful sky. His happiness at the wind’s absence radiated injoy as he whistled and continued on his way.

The objective of course is to find thte toys best suited to the use of your particular need. So if a dog is an over zealous tug of war fighter, don’t buy tug of war items they won’t easily relinquish. For instance, why would I buy a bone for an aggressive chewer? Really maybe the type of bone actually demans aggression and my dog just gets more upset while chewing on the bone than if perhaps I should.give her a soft bone instead. Sometimes I do not really understand the packaging concepts to sell dog toys and treats.

Yeah, well. I never gave this dog a balloon to care around for a week either. So it is probably my fault that I missed so many training opportunities.

She is hyper. Honey is a zealous greeter. Anticipation only gets her more wound up. I am still trying to get her to stay in some circumstances rather than “door dashing.” Does she have self control? Probably. Do I have control over her? Only in non-distractive moments. Do I still have to curb her temperament with a harness? You bet your ceiling fan, I do. She is a much bigger hand full than we bargained for.

Trying to get the dog that I wanted, is like chasing after the wind. We have had enough pets that I want to take the best memories of each and have that dog. We all have faults. All dogs have faults. There is no perfect pet. But why do I have to buy the “Hyper Pet” toys just to keep her exercised? Uff day.

(Meanwhile, the horse had is hooves trimmed today. The garden go a bit of a wind break as we put up the snow fence to block some of it. We still need to get more wood chips or moisture block on the whole garden to keep the plants from drying up. Hubby has been back on site for work more lately. The family is trying to have more gatherings, but we all get a bit nervous about the social distancing thing. Church is still a drive inn service that I have been memorizing music to play with the praise team. I still get to visit my grand children weekly. Our whole family has been spared from the corona virus to this date.)

Ecclesiastes 1:14 “I have seen all he worKs that are done under the sun, and indeed, all is vanity and a grasping for the wind.” NKJV

Place

Purple blanket in the grove

From this place in my grove, I can see a linear view of beautiful purple flowers. The wind did not ravage them much. They have dressed our grove in a blanket of lilac that can not be captured adequately.

Today the breeze demands a cup of iced latte under the deck umbrella. From this place on the deck, the world seems fair and beautiful. The wind is my friend on such a heated summer day.

The flowers are here. How do the June bugs know that it is June? How do those purple flowers in the grove know when to bloom? I wish I could share the families funeral flowers with you. My husband’s great grandma (I think) picked them from a cemetery or got them from a funeral. When they finally wilted from their viewing, she threw them out into the trees to compost naturally. She did not know that we would enjoy them for generations to come. While the lilac bushes and trees grow old of root, the beautiful funeral flowers bloom year after year. From this place on the forested floor, they gain nutrients and are regenerated constantly.

June flowers may not be the calendar normal, but because I was a June bride, I don’t seem to mind looking for a flower or two. In fact, the search for the latest bloosom drives me to keep my camera handy. The other evening on our anniversary we took a stroll around the yard to find all of the flowers that were in full array. No need to bring home some from the flower shop.

Anniversary presents come in so many different fashions. We received two very wonderful cards from some wonderful people. The excessive heat for early summer was a bit much. But the funeral flowers blanketing the grove were the best. From this place, it felt like a special greeting card from the relatives no longer with us. His grandmother’s blessing upon our special day.

The bird song is continuoys even in the high heat of late spring sunshine. My husband has become quite the bird watcher during these pandemic days. Being home more, means he gets to put out song bird grains and find a finch block to put their orange on. This morning while I listen to the symphony I am thankful that someone can see the birds for me. No need to see the dove. She is loud enough for me to invision with grand imagination!

The cat wanders under my chair every few minutes to tell me she is here. Her tail tickles my leg then out of the corner of my eye I see she and the dog are nuzzling noses. I am okay with having my two kittens outdoors. At least in the summer days I can pet a soft fur buddy when I want to. These two are such entertainers. And they have stayed away from the cars and the road.

The crunch of gravel under tires tells me that the engine whirl is the post lady pulling into the driveway. We share greetings while the I remind the dog that she does not have time for frisbee. We laugh and comment on the heat of the day. Though the wind whips hair strains into my face, I am grateful for the peaceful exchange.

The climate of our nations gatherings seems less peaceful than ever. I am asking our Lord for His intervention every time that I think of it. My life has really taught me that protest has no response. It’s best just to make cookies or do something nice for a nighbor. From this place it looks as if the whole world has gone mad.

Beauty of beholding…

These flowers above are growing under the trees that once held the fort. The fort that my kids and their puppies spend a lot of hours looking… Looking at what I do not know. If it is a clear day, they could see their cousins place just three miles as the crow flies to the northeast. The platform up in the trees was not much to look at, but it was a great place to lie on your back and behold the skyline. From this place, the boards ridges felt hard, the shadow of the waving trees seemed to massage away stress. They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Sometimes we say that in reference to a child, or family member. But lately I think God is saying that of his image bearers. Watching the news and the behavior of persons letting rage and anger be their dictator makes me want to cry. Surely such ugly feelings should not be allowed to have reign over us. Does anyone know what self control is anymore?

Behold the beauty of the heavens, the splendor of the oceans. Consider the depths of the human spirit and find beauty in another’s eyes. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Take some time to behold the beauty around you today. Look into another person’s life and find hope the bursts forth into a smile!

Little Shadows

Strength and energy

The energy and exuberance of little ones is sometimes overwhelming, sometimes joy filling, and sometimes simply beautiful. This morning as I reflect back on the past week, my Lord brought me to a passage in I Chronicles 16. Here Kind David is celebrating the return of the ark of the Lord to Israel. In the chapter there are several noteworthy considerations.

“To each was given a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins,” verse 3. In celebrations with large crowds, it’s usually just one person who is the center of all the attention receiving the gifts. Here in the return of the ark, it is the entire assembly who receives the celebratory brat in the bun, and fruit cake. This week our nation found ways to celebrate the high school graduates in this unprecedented times. Gone were the backyard barbecues of previous siblings. Gone were the crowds cheering the flying hats.

But my little grand daughter celebrated two years old in her own fashion. A few balloons and the grandeur of up and down action, soon had her hollering “Weehoo!” Each and every time the balloon flew up into the air at the hoist of her little arms, she cheered the flight of the pink balls filled with air. Until just a few days later she learned how to volley the balloons and keep them from touching the floor. Her simple joy and energy to play the whole day with four little balloons delighted my soul. This is true joy!

“To invoke, to thank and to praise the Lord,” verse 4 the appointment of the ministers. This verse tells the purpose of ministerial calling. In these uncertain times and the canceling of all gatherings and large group socials, our pastoral caretakers have taken a very differing approach to the viral disorder in the world. Some proclaiming the end of times, some changing all of their focus to the moment, others grieving the loss of community and the attempt to gather through social media platforms. Church has become a completely different body. As a church musician and through the years as a teacher, and now as a “time abundant” prayer warrior, I find it my call also to pray for others, to thank God for his provisions, and to praise the Lord for all that He is doing. Opening our eyes to the new reality of families, singles,, widows and orphans is just as important today as it was before Corona virus 19. We still have people who need each other, and people who need Jesus more than ever.

“First appointed that thanksgiving be sung,” verse 7 tells of David’s appointment to Asaph and the musicians. Even in times such as these, there are those who find ways to get their song sung. Listening to the music of pandemic expressions, I find both those who continue in the sinful, selfish ways, and those who use their talents to help others. The goal is not just to fill the silence that being isolated creates. Rather we are to sing thanksgiving to the Lord. Finding Christian musicians who are doing just that is not always easy. I am so thankful for the technology we have today. I can listen to the music of the past through so many means. Today’s musicians have no excuses in giving glory to the God of all these abilities.

David’s song of thanksgiving contains one of my favorite verses. Verse 11, “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually!’ We have been working very hard at keeping our doodle dog home. We hired a runner to come once a week, we bought bacon flavored toothbrushes bones, we play frisbee even while doing yard work. So far we managed to keep her from running away for nearly eleven days straight. As a person going bling, having the presence of my dog continually nearby is very beneficial. I never really know when her alert nature will be of service to me. But being able to just call out her name and have her immediately by my side is pretty amazing. Out little grand daughter is also learning the value of “Come.” But alas, for her it is not a simple command to the the receivers ears. It is a request. As her mamma’s second expectancy nears completion, the request for momma “Come” does not always recive the expected “coming” that her little ears want to hear.

Praise the Lord that His presence is always continually near. In fact the Bible often uses the words, close at hand to describe the Lord. This verse is one that I have shared with several this week. Praying that my loved ones will know the presence of a God so close at hand, so always, and continually present in their lives. Being alone much these last two months has led to some very sad endings for so many people during this present health crisis. Oh, how I pray that you will seek the Lord and His strenght and His presence continually in your life these days and always.

Verse 36, “Then all of the people said, AMEN! And praised the Lord.” These days our church and another have teamed up to do drive in service for church. The praise above “And all of the people said Amen” does not ring through my head without the constant beeping of many car horns. Before this virus hit the land, the sound of a car horn ususally meant an angry person at a stop light, or rather green arrow. People used the horn to express impatience and frustration. Today, we use it to express gratitude to our healthcare workers. It is used to shout solidarity with graduates, and birthday well wishes. The car horn is now the sound of an AMEN at our drive in church services.

Just this week, my son in law leaned a rough lesson on the parroting power of little tongues. Thank goodness I was not party to the expression. But a little two year old can be a shadow of parents whether we know it or not. Praise God that with some mild coaching she will forget the phrase of word nearly as quickly as she learned it. I will never forget my own lesson in such shadowing behavior by my young daughter. Little shadows though not identical to the larger figure still do a pretty good rendition. It all teaches us that others are always watching. But more importantly, our Father in heaven looks down upon the children of men, seeking for those who bring him pleasure. May we be the one to whom the Lord says, “Well done!”

And all the people said. “BEEP! BEEP!”

Clouds in my blue sky

First ride and a poem

There are clouds in my blue sky. Yeah, I know it’s not really my sky, it belongs to the Creator who made it, but it’s the sky that I see. And there are clouds in my blue sky. Here’s why.

The first ride of the year dawned on a day nearly seventy degrees perfect. We sat in our house all day on COVID -19 lock down trying to warm up. The chill in the air just would not go away. I, in my kerchief, and Opa in his sweater. Well, okay it was not really that bad off. But I was wearing my warming poncho most of the day. And Opa was in his sweater.

The sun was shining and the breeze was out of the south. So the furnace found it’s way into remission and the house just felt cold. The clouds would roll over and then we had to grab another hot cup of coffee to warm up our fingers. Finally at four hours past the noon meal, I called for a truce with the wind and decided to fight the gale for a walk. We made it to the corner and back in record time, with the wind to our backs.

And then, the question was posed, “How about a motorcycle ride?” Of course, after a fast paced walk the best way to cool off is with a motorcycle ride. So cool off, we did. What a beautiful lull before the storm. Never mind that after we arrived home again, we’ll probably have to clean the dog up from her fox hole digging. Who would have thought her idea of stay home means go dig a hole to China!

At this point in the COVID -19 pandemic, our lives have changed in minor ways. We are not shopping at physical stores, and have tried to keep our focus on necessities. We purchase most of our goods at the local stores eight miles from our home. My husband has moved his desk from plant location to the corner of the kitchen. This was the first week he saw a decline in his number of conference calls. His work involved the housing market and until this week most of it was business as usual. Production has just started it’s decline and that will probably show up in his hours and pay at some point. Clouds in the horizon?

My activities outside the home have come to a stop. For the most part, I was pretty stay at home anyways because of my eyesight and no driving. But this week, I did not go see my little granddaughter for the first time on Tuesday. It is hard to think of the possibility of no visits at all. But for the foreseeable future it looks like a halt to visits is best. Since her mother is expecting in late spring, we want to keep her safe from the virus. Thank goodness for video calling and the ability to see her on the screen as she plays and discovers new word meanings.

A friend of mine posted a status on social media that bears repeating, but I will try to summarize in my own way. All my nieces and nephews are now doing school at home or on line. This is not anything like the home schooling that I did with my girls for eighteen years. This is crisis schooling. And finding a new normal for cabin crazy children is difficult. I pray for all of them daily. From my cousins who are juggling children learning at the kitchen table with their own technical careers, to my relatives that no longer have a job because the entertainment has all canceled or gone online, I pray for you all. There are puffy little clouds diluting the suns rays.

All of my relatives that work in front of a screen have moved their offices home. Some find it wonderful and some find it extremely challenging. The environment that one is use to working in has all changed. I pray for you too. The sun is brightening the sky in the parts that there are no clouds, really.

We have not had coffee with the elder folks in our lives for a couple of weeks now. It is hardest not to see them on a regular basis. The phone calls do help. And it seems that for now, most people are spending a lot more time on the phone catching up with everyone. Encouragement does go both ways though. So I think especially of all our clergy friends. Their strength is relative to their faith in God. Thank you so much, to all of you, for your encouraging words through commercials on television, on line streaming of upligting messages and prayer conferences. I pray for you. Pray that you will send rays of hope through sky’s clouded and blue.

And we have relatives and friends in the healthcare field also. You are outstanding individuals and we pray for you most. While the sky is covered with clouds and grey, you are indeed the sunshine in so many days! There are nurses and families that seem torn apart and need our love and support in any way that we can give it.

So, the world has changed and it will never be the same. We are behind the curve here in the midwest. Our natural distance has helped with the social distancing measures that others have mandated for the the hardest hit places. We realize that for us the distancing may be for a longer period of time simply because our population numbers are lower. This can surely make the sky seem like storms are brewing every direction that we gaze.

There are clouds in my blue sky

Some are sweet and low

Some are dark and high

Though I hear them rumble

While I watch them grow

There are clouds in my blue sky

I am glad for the moment

I watch them roll by…

-written by Yvonne Annette March 31, 2020

Battle won by singing

Jahaziel’s prayer

In Second Chronicles 20, we read the story of Jehosophat’s Decree, Jahaziel’s prayer and a very unconventional battle strategy. The chapter recalls the moment when the Israelites surrounded by enemies, win the battle by singing praise to the Lord. The king makes a decree that the people are to meet and choose singers to Praise God. The Prayer by the priest Jahaziel tells the desperate situation. “We are powerless before these enmies, but the Battle belongs to the Lord,” is a good summary of his words. The King’s faithfulness is cited near the end of the story after the enemy all turned on each other at the sound of the Israelites singing praise to their God. Verse 21 states the words that the people sang, “Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever.”

It took the people three days to retrieve all of the spoil (or loot) from the defeated armies. And the scripture says there was more left behind. They named the Valley of Baracah such that means Valley of Blessings. “Blessing the Lord He blessed us in return.”

Last night I stayed awake to pray for a family member awaiting surgery. While doing so, my husband came across a documentary on Ragtime Pianists. Supposed to be just a distraction to sleep, I found it fascinating to watch the Battle of Song. The fingers on the keyboard were giving testament to the hours of practice. When the young student out played all of the old timers, youthfulness won the day. But there was one particular “blessing the maker” participant. Only one player spoke of God’s gifts to the talent. The people were still in pursuit of the song, not the Creator of Song.

It saddened my heart to hear our dear little patient was still awaiting surgery this morning. That is such a long time to go without eating for a preschooler. God grant her parents patience. God grant a quick recovery, I pray.

Our church has been having prayer meetings by conference call. It helps to feel connected and to know others find gathering in prayer so important. Indeed we need to heed the command to Blessing the Lord, He will bless thee.

I heard the other day that the front porch family photo is back in demand. I remember a family photo taken when I was about fourteen. We girls, my mother, and my brother went over to the neighbors front steps. Our neighbor Perry took the snapshot of us all dressed for Easter Sunday. The morning’s crisp air and the sound of spring is recalled in my mind. One photographer in the twin cities is taking portraits of families on their front steps, so that they can remember this time of family at home-ness.

I wonder how many families will get dressed up for church on Easter Sunday, take these family photographs and then walk back into their homes to watch a streamed on-line church service. This is truly a moment in history that needs to be recorded.

Our family gathered via video chat the other evening. It was good to be “together” even if it was just for a half hour. I am so thankful to live in the 2020’s instead of the 1920’s. And will try to repeat “Give Thanks to the Lord for His Steadfast Love Endures Forever” as often as I can. Perhaps I will even begin to sing it!

I remember as a child singing this beloved old hymn during out benedictions on Sunday. It still makes me cry every time I hear it, read it, or think of it’s meaning. Jesus is truly a more binding tie than any other zip tie, keep tie, glue binding, book binding or kinship tie.

John Forest wrote Blest Be the Tie That Binds in 1782

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Out of Orbit

Our changing world

Office sounds in my house, white noise cafe chatter, constant keyboard clicking, and a new normal… what a changing world we live in now. This past week has been one for the history books. My son-in-law read a social posting from one of his friends that stated, “Does anyone else think that a fourth grader got ahold of our world leaders and is writing the news head lines right now?’ While it does certainly feel very surreal, our connections to the whole world through the social media outlets helps us to understand that we are not alone in this thing.

A friend of mine teaches on-line English lessons and was given the low down on Covid-19 from an eight year old. Along with the pantomimes and the demonstrations. It sounded something akin to the game Telestrations. Of course I remember our older version of Pictionary that use to bring us to the floor in laughter. These connections to international students and relatives around the globe help us to comprehend the needs of our time. They are also the reason the whole mess has happened.

Genesis chapter 11 is the story of the Tower of Babel and the Creator God who confuses the languages. In the story, the people decide to make a name for themselves and build a tower to the Heavens. God sees that His creation has forgotten Him in less than five generations from the events of the world wide flood. So He puts an end to the togetherness by confusing their communication. Imagine the chaos as workers in one part of the project do the exact opposite as another group. Imagine the driving discord as bosses and employees no longer understand the acronyms and decisions of the corporate leaders.

This whole week, I have been listening to the four or five chapter in Genesis and the beginning of Exodus at night. The Scriptures are always applicable to our day. We just have to open our ears and our eyes to the message behind every story. Why have I been so drawn to these two stories about the masses. The first is the story of God’s decision to spread people throughout the earth. The second story is His gathering of His chosen people from Egypt to the promised land. The next story that I am focusing on is the book of Acts. In this book the spread of the gospel is taken from the apostles to the Gentile world of that day. Acts tells the acts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles were only the tools of God’s flaming tongue. Each of these Bible passages have this in common: God is writing and making His story.

Today, we are a world on the fast track of travel to wherever, whenever we want. God has brought out planet of people to a screeching halt with a little tiny bug. This is not the story of “Because a little bug went Kachoo!” Or is it? Because a little virus makes people sneeze an cough-Oh, my!

How quickly a virus spreads has nothing to do with how the gospel is shared…well, maybe. My thoughts also turn in amazement and awe to the gospel of the Billy Graham era. Back when mass amounts of people gathered in woodstock fashion to hear someone from a stage tell them the need for a savior. Today the masses have been sent home to hunker down and what? They all spend time on the internet still trying to connect with others. People need people.

Gratitude ripples through the air as I hear people calling others on the phone. Sending text messages of comforting words. Sharing in the use of technology to gather via streaming church, conference prayer meetings, and on line portals. Thank God I live today instead of during the plagues of 1918 or earlier pandemics.

In my life, I have gone from home school teacher and kids club leader to the moment when my driver’s license could no longer be renewed. My eyesight gradually changes who I am on a slow eroding process. My feelings of loss and impending identity crisis plague me. However, I have never wished that everyone else could feel as I do. The sense of grief and the constant shift in my world often brings me to tears. I would never wish this lonely, exile, isolation upon anyone. Yet here we are. How can I be there for others?

Many people I know have immunity disadvantages. They have just fought cancer or some other illness and will not be able to fight this virus. Staying home away from other people who might share the bug inadvertently is their best option. Wow! Now there are people all over the globe in isolation. Now there are people everywhere trying to come up with things to keep themselves busy. Preoccupation is the best weapon we have against boredom. How long will the work last? Hopefully families can reconnect and learn the art of communication and proper scheduling disciplines. Those that are home schooling now? Well, there are even more resources than ever on line. Parents will be doing a little more homework, I suspect.

Today, if you feel like the planet Pluto once again taken off the planetary list, look for a new hope. Hope in Jesus. He often challenged his disciples to get away from the demanding crowds and pray. Now, once again the prayer warrior in me has taken up the battle cry for God’s story to be told. While the world waits for a hero (a vaccine against the virus) we who know Christ Jesus as our Lord can proclaim His name.

I already have my hero. I know whom I have believed in! Below you will find a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite old hymns. This hymn written by Daniel Webster Whittle from the late 1880’s. His story includes time in the Civil War army. His New Testament scriptures that he carried with him during wartime was given to him by his mother. Check out his story in The Story Behind the Song. Then go find the New Testament that someone gave you, or look up the Bible readers on line. Wow! We have so many tools available. Praise God!

I know whom I have believed!

Horse sense

If only I had an ounce

Crafting is really not my thing. I own a glue gun so that repairs can be done. It never fails that at some point in using the glue gun I burn myself. Part of the reason is simply not having the peripheral vision to see where the other dots of glue landed in comparison to the one that I want to use for adherence. Bother, I tell myself. Why am I fixing this broken thing anyhow? Maybe I should just toss it and buy a new item.

This morning the horse had his date with the ferrier for the second time. Trimming hooves could be a dangerous job without the aid of a good bridle and hitching post. Thank goodness my husband had enough sense to put in a hitching post after the pony was here for a year or more. It makes any chore with a horse safer. Coco still stepped on my daughter’s toe when she took him back to his stomping grounds. He has such good aim when he wants to express his opinion.

Common sense is hard to find these days. The advertisements for the covid-19 all talk about washing hands. It’s as if people have forgotten how or something. I remember the fall the H1N1 was here. My whole family fought the illness and I did not. I was washing my hands so frequently with the canning season the virus never had a chance to stick.

So it’s time to pick up the soap bottle once again. Hopefully with our ready access to hot running water and the soap dispenser more of my family will be spared from the illness that has spread throughout the rest of the world faster than fire.

That’s perhaps the part of the virus that people misinterpret from the media. While there are other illnesses like the influenza that cause havoc on society, it is the fast vast far reaching spread that is the hype here. Common sense says that people aught to stay home some. But very few know how to live more than 3 days without a grocery store.

I remember hearing my grandparents say something about someone and then following up with “that fellow does not have an ounce of horse sense.” It took me a number of years to understand what they meant. My dad use to break horses for people. So the only thing that I had to relate the statement to was those times when I go to go along or ride along with him.

Having horse sense to me at the time meant that I should stay where the horse could see me. Being in the “blind spot” near the rear or behind the horse was dangerous. I never saw anyone get kicked, but I understood. Horse sense meant staying in the safe zone around the large beasts.

Now that my peripheral vision is disappearing, slowly but surely I have to set up new safe zones for myself. Puttling rails on all the decks and steps was key to staying upright. Having an open area of the yard to throw frisbee and launch the chuck-it balls is important also. I do not enjoy nursing the scrape wounds on my hands from being too close to a tree trunk.

Life at the hitching post is a thing of the past. Today there are still some that enjoy the comradeship and conversation that happens here. It does not take long in the company of those there to find out who the nearest relatives are. And not long into our first visit, we discovered the connection. Around these parts there’s usually some fifth cousin married to another’s third. So there, you have it, we’re related.

Maybe people that own horses have more in common than just owning a horse or two?

I am not a horse person. Neither am I a crafter. But I do crochet. So that usually helps me find a connection with someone who either knits, or sews, or has another hobby like painting. My cousin is a painter. We enjoy talking “shop” during out visits.

So whether you are in the line at the grocery store or on the phone with an aunt, find the connection. Use a little horse sense and keep your distance for the blind spots. And wash your hands a few more seconds longer. Stay in the safe zone everyone!