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Loyalty

Quote:  Faith is the soul riding at anchor.  –Henry Wheeler Shaw (Josh Billings)

Pansies and petunias were in full bloom throughout the city.  In only one more month the hot Phoenix sun would burn them dry.  I was late.  I began work to restore my garden with only two weeks left in the prime spring season.  This was just the kind of urgency to show off my dual talents:  organization and perseverance.

I grabbed shovels and rakes just as the sun came up each morning and worked until the pink glow of sunset faded to gray.  Body muscles surprised by any kind of exercise at all retaliated with full-blown pain.  I burned them into submission under the pulsing heat of a hot shower each night.  

At the nursery, I avoided the final packs of pansies and sought out summer flowers and vegetables suitable for our six month dry sauna climate.  I knew I could catch up on the growing season if I checked the nursery each morning for new shipments, picking out tomato and pepper transplants four to six inches high, mature but not yet root bound in their tiny plastic pots.

I hunted down hidden shady spots for basil and cilantro seeds, hoping to coax out some late spring herbs.  With no time to spare, I planted all the yellow squash seeds in the packet.  Heaven knows, we didn’t need that many plants, but there was no time to replant if they didn’t sprout.  Best go for broke.

For ten days I planted seeds and flowers with great expectation. The smell of moist soil in the morning confirmed the success of repairs to our water system.  In the next week, I watered, paced, and surveyed my handiwork.  It felt good to invite visitors to walk through a garden of color and order.

Now came the hard part.  What talent I had for organizing and executing the Great Garden Recovery was equally matched by my greater weakness:  a short attention span.  Just as seeds sprouted and plants started to thrive, competing interests started working to pull me away from the garden.

Concerts, writers meetings, lunches with friends, books to read, stories to write, dinner to make, son’s trumpet lessons, shopping trips with daughter, e-mail…Moment by moment, day by day, I was tempted to turn my attention out of the garden and leave my precious plants to fend for themselves.  Meanwhile, in total dependence, the plants in my garden waited for me to guard their welfare with daily loyalty and care.  

I’m reminded of my debt to the Lord for his unswerving love and devotion.  Loyalty is the great protector of life.  God is loyal to us.  How I would wilt and fade if it weren’t for His ever-present love!

And what an honor it is to sing His praise each and every day!  Today’s song of love is not meant to last forever.  It is a renewable gift, received daily from God and owed back to him with loyal devotion.

Scripture:   My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.  I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.  [Psa 57:7-9]

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Out of the Maze

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies—make straight your way before me.
Psalm 5:8 (NIV) Scroll Divide Horizontal 2

Cornfield NewThe shoots of corn stand eight inches tall. The sun has only just come over the horizon, giving a pale pink glow to the morning sky. We are in the middle of the long western expanse of the cornfield, Vic holding a paper map in his hand and surveying the project. A smudge of jam on the corner of the map recalls the fun of last night as he and the kids had penciled in and erased lines. Together, they worked hard to plan the maze. Better yet, they had fun.

Today Vic is beginning to put their plan into action. The map is filled with straight Cornfield Maze Enterlines. He steps forward, pulling all the corn out of a row of dirt in an exact copy of the straight lines on his paper map, leaving a walking path through the cornfield. The trail through these baby corn plants will be almost invisible today, but what a wonderful adventure it will be when the corn eventually grows green and tall.

Cornfield Maze KidsCome fall, the great cornfield will hide a complex trail pattern of lines, turns, dead-ends, and hidden “rooms,” the whole maze carefully drawn out in the map in Vic’s hand today. One way into the corn maze. And among all the twists and turns…there is only one special way out.

As Vic works, cutting his path through the cornfield, I think of life’s trials this past year. Oftentimes, we felt blinded and lost in a maze. Today, catching the flutter of God’s map in the breeze, I am reminded of the Lord’s incomprehensible plan and His protection in our journey through life’s maze. He is the great Creator and Protector. He makes the crooked way straight.

Looking ahead to November and the fun of children laughing in the middle of the cornfield, I bow my head in thanksgiving.  God watches us in life’s maze.  He will bring us safely home.

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PRAYER:  Lord, strengthen our trust in your plan for our lives. Help us feel the love you surround us with in the midst of our daily walk.  Amen.

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

 

God’s House

 

When Vic and I bought our dilapidated Victorian house, all of our friends knew where our time and money would be going.  They were right…fifteen years marked off not by seasons or holidays, but by home-improvements.

What they didn’t know, though, was that my heart really wasn’t tied to the house that would demand such devotion.  My heart belonged outside in the yard, even more run-down than the house.  Oleander bushes around the back yard were no more than stands of tall dried sticks.  At least they hid the sorry truth of our yard from neighbors, a full expanse of packed, hard dirt, a vast brown wasteland.

Move-in day was simple for us as young marrieds in our first home.  We set our clothes in the closets and carried in our dining room table and chairs.  Move-in finished!  Excitedly, we grabbed our remaining small wad of money and drove to the nursery, making our first home-improvement purchase, trees.

Trees wouldn’t care how bad the house looked.  They would grow undaunted by the list of tasks demanding our attention.  We could survive without tile in the kitchen or curtains on the windows, but we absolutely needed trees.  And grass, a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a hose, a drip irrigation system, lawn sprinklers, and monkey vines to grow over the new trellis and up onto the peaks of the roof.

Almost immediately after we planted and mulched the last tree, Vic arrived home with two long 4×4 posts, a stack of lumber, a pile of used red brick and a sack of cement.  “What’s that?”  I asked.  His answer, “A patio.”  I had no idea!

One year later, plus ten more stacks and piles of lumber and bricks, an electrician, planter beds, and an overhead drip and mister system for twelve pots of hanging ferns and spider plants, there it was.  We had our Mexican brick patio.  It doubled the square footage of our house.

Meanwhile, inside the house, we hung curtains, patched cracks in the walls, put up a new ceiling in each bedroom as soon as falling plaster made it necessary, and rewired the house to eliminate the fire hazards of ancient cloth covered wires dangling across attic beams.  We refinished wood floors and installed new bathroom fixtures.  But the improvement projects that really mattered most to us were the ones that took us outside.

We slept inside the house.  But we lived outside on the patio.  We grilled, we hosted neighborhood garage sales, we entertained with volleyball, and we sat swinging on the porch swing, just ‘hanging out,’ breathing in misted air and watching new fern fronds grow.

Improvements on the inside of the house soon were merely ways of moving the outside in:  a skylight over the bathtub, an enlarged kitchen window looking out over the ferns on the Mexican patio, and French doors from our bedroom directly out to a separate, smaller redwood deck patio with a gurgling fountain.

Fifteen years after planting our first tree, I think of the early Jewish nation traveling with tents, living under God’s sky.  I know they suffered terrible heat and suffocating dust storms.  Insects slept with them.  No, life wasn’t easy.   But life had its rewards.

I wonder how much of God’s beautiful house do we no longer “see,” living inside the permanent homes of comfort we’ve built?  How many conversations with God never happen because we don’t have a tree overhead and a bed of grass to lie in?

Oh, to hear the wind pushing at the side of a tent!  Oh, to hear the clear call of the birds, “Come out!”  Oh, to live unfettered outside in the house God built for us with His own hands, looking up to the majesty of the house God holds for us one day.

 

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Meditations:  In the Garden
TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved.

Hello world!

Sky Soft

 

 

 

It is a day just like all the others before …

You raise up in bed, turn and drop your legs over the side and onto the floor.  How can you know that you will come back to this spot at the end of the day a changed person?  Nothing will ever be the same.  Ever.

On this page…and the many pages to follow…in the coming weeks and months…this day and the many that have passed by since will be shared by the survivor…me.

If I have anything of value to say…it owes much to the love that has changed…and continues to change me…from the arrogant, self-righteous person I used to be…to the semi-arrogant, semi-self-righteous person I am still struggling to control, manage, and change.  Join me in the battle.  At the very least, you will feel much better about your own struggles.

Thanks for dropping in today.  I hope you will check back in with me in the days ahead.

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WHAT’S NEW

December, 2013:  The Lord’s Prayer

  • Do you say debts, sins or trespasses?  What difference does it make?
  • What does this prayer sound like in Aramaic, the language of Biblical times?
  • Who was the Singing Nun?
  • Did you know American Indians translated the Lord’s Prayer into sign?
  • Where can I find remembrances and keepsakes of this prayer for myself, my home and my friends?