The Ugly Is Beautiful

Another day of gray smudged sky and cooler temperatures. On my way back across the yard I noticed a single turkey vulture flying in slow loops over the llama field across the road. He didn’t appear to be looking at anything in particular, but instead was enjoying the ride on the cool morning breeze. Although turkey vultures are not attractive birds, this one looked almost majestic as he glided over the farm fields. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have the ability to fly and glide on the wind.

A couple of weeks ago I was taken aback by a large group of vultures sitting on a tall piece of dead tree on the edge of the pasture. There were about eight or so vultures sitting on the branches and one sitting on the top of the old tree. It resembled a vulture totem pole. They were perched on the branches, but had their wings out spread…a little unsettling to happen upon. A few weeks earlier, i had seen what I will assume is the same group of birds, sitting on the peak of the barn roof…lined up in a row. Just watching. They were probably taking a rest or maybe meeting up with friends to discuss plans for later on in the day.

Although, turkey vultures are not very attractive birds, they are important in the big scheme of things. They are wonderful scavengers, and play a necessary role in nature.

Taking the time to stop and watch the vulture fly in lazy loops in the late morning sky was nice. Often times the simple, ordinary, mundane things of life get overlooked, but if we take the time to stop and notice even the smallest things—we are left in awe of the wonder of it all. Knowing that even the ugly can be beautiful.

 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 NIV

turkey vulture picture

www.free-pet-wallpapers.com

Advertisements

Slowing Down

IMG_1214

The sky loomed dark on the horizon when I went out to feed the animals. It was going to rain, and I hoped I could get back from the barn before the rain started. The air was moist and a cool breeze was blowing. It felt wonderful against my warm skin. I do not enjoy the uncomfortable heat and humidity, it is for those reasons that I tend to not like summer very much. On my walk across the yard I allowed my gaze to rest on the newly sprouting corn, the stalks and leaves covering the field with vibrant green. The sky was smeared in gray all the way to where it touched the horizon. I saw (and heard) the killdeer letting me know that I was intruding on their space. Jack, one of our male barn cats, followed along with me, as did the dogs. The raindrops started to lightly splatter to the ground. I imagined the countryside scene on this rainy morning looked a lot like a scene from an Old English storybook. I’ve never been to England, but this is what I see in my mind’s eye. I think I might have read too much Beatrix Potter as a child.

Life seems to have slowed down a bit on this late June morning. I don’t have anything pressing for my schedule, aside from needing to finish up some necessary paperwork. I like days like this. Quiet and peaceful with time to reflect. God is so good, and there is so much to be thankful for.

Philippians 4:8-9   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and  the God of peace will be with you.

Snapshots Of Life…Written In Ink

I am currently reading If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by, Heather Lende. Mrs. Lende wrote about the ups and downs of life in small town, Haines, Alaska. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes.  My next reading selection will be Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon. I love books about small town life, and can get lost in them for hours at a time if left to my own devices. I love to read, I always have. I also enjoy writing. I was the child that always had a diary, then, as I got older, a journal. As a young child I made a family newspaper of all the happenings going on with my relatives. As a teen, I wrote poetry and nine years ago, I started this blog.

The other day I was looking through keepsakes. I have letters from my Nannan, from when I was in college. Her familiar handwriting allowed memories to wash over me, even though nearly three decades have come and gone since she was here. I keep notes and cards from my mom and read them over and over again when I need encouragement or reminders. I even keep snippets of paper that I’ve left simple notes on for the kids. Snapshots of life…written in ink.

Words…..

Reading.

Writing.

Meaning.

Memories.

IMG_1181

That Day Could Have Been My Last

THAT DAY COULD HAVE BEEN MY LAST

That day, in June of 2009, was gray, as the rain poured from the heavens. We were in the process of moving, packing up all we owned to move to another state. My husband, and oldest son, were in the truck ahead, pulling a trailer behind. I was with our son and daughter in my Camry. We had one of the cats in her carrier in the back seat.

The rain was hard as we drove north on I-75 that day, as we crossed over Jellico mountain. I didn’t have the radio on, I wasn’t talking to the kids, absolutely no phones were used…I was concentrating on my driving in this east Tennessee summer deluge. I had no idea, as the minutes ticked, as rivulets of water poured across my windshield, what would happen…in one heart pounding moment.

There was so much water on the road. I was focused on driving behind my husband, and keeping an eye on the loaded trailer. My car’s tires lost contact with the pavement. The car jerked violently sideways, across lanes of oncoming traffic. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. The moment froze, for what seemed an eternity. I heard myself scream. Then we were ripped back to reality, as the car careened across the interstate heading for the solid rock wall of Jellico mountain, that I-75 sliced through. In that one brief moment, the car jolted again, caught pavement and threw us backwards, like a sling shot, back across several lanes of traffic in the opposite direction. We went, 50 mph backwards down an embankment of dirt, all four tires blew out, and the under carriage of the car dug hard into the ground…before we hit the mountain of trees behind us.

After checking the kids (we were all seat belted in) and the cat, and realizing we were all okay, I breathed deeply. Shock. Horror. Crying. Emotional. I called my husband, who was further up the road and had not witnessed the accident in the rain. I called the insurance company, and the police.  Some people stopped to make sure we were okay, some sped by with not even a glance. After my husband circled back around and the car was towed, we ended up in a small Tennessee town. We had to wait on a rental car, transfer all the stuff from the Camry to the other car…in the pouring rain. The church across the road was having a service. We needed boxes or bags to put stuff in from the totaled car. We walked over. We looked soaking wet, emotional, and bone tired after hours of the after math of the wreck. They could have took one look at us and turned away. Instead they took us in, fed us, and offered to help in any way that they could. They were Jesus’ hands and feet to us that evening. They were a living testimony of what it is to be Christ’s followers.

I look back on that day, and I still get goosebumps. I feel the terror of having no control over my car. It washes over me. I am very aware of the fact that it could have ended differently. If I had been going faster the car could have flipped, if the cars in front of me or behind me had been any closer, it might have been a multi-vehicle crash, if the tires hadn’t caught pavement when they did we would have went head long into solid mountain rock. If the car had hydroplaned just less than a mile further up the road, we could have easily gone through a small guard rail and plummeted thousands of feet to our deaths, down the side of a mountain. I am grateful that the only thing destroyed that day was my car. God was merciful to us that day, in that moment. I don’t understand the reasons, as I know that so many aren’t as fortunate as we were.

One thing that I learned from this experience is this…..I am not in control. We all like to think we are, but it just isn’t true. We never have been in control. God, and He alone, holds our futures in HIs hand. Our days have already been numbered in HIs book, before even one of them came to be. I did not wake up that morning, thinking that that day could be my last….but, if it had been, I was ready. My son was ready, my daughter was ready. No question where we would spend our eternity.

Friends, do you have that same confidence? Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, where you will spend eternity? The start of your forever could be 50 years from now, or it could be this afternoon. Don’t leave your eternal destiny to chance.

102_3434

*************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (We all do things that are wrong–sometimes others can see our sin, but sometimes our sin is hidden in our own hearts. We know it is there. None of us is perfect or blameless.)

Romans 5:8 “But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Jesus died for you. A perfect, sinless life, laid down to take your place. He knew that you would one day walk this earth, and when he took your place, your name, your face, was on his mind.)

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (It is not God’s desire for anyone to perish–but, that is what sin does to people, we die….that is why Jesus stepped in the gap between the darkness of sin that brings death and eternal life with the One true Living God.)

Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”  (This couldn’t be more simple. One cannot work their way to Heaven. The price has already been paid—you just need to acknowledge it.)

 

It Is More Than Just A Word

Photo-1

I am a huge fan of the Gaines family of Waco, Texas, so whenever I see something about them, I drop whatever I am doing to watch. Joanna Gaines and her husband, Chip, are the stars of the wildly popular show, Fixer Upper, on HGTV. This morning I watched a short video clip of Joanna Gaines discussing some of her life story. She talked about trusting God, and believing in His timing. Her words resonated with me because they felt so familiar to my own.

I, too, have often asked God what His plan is for me? He knows me and is intimately knowledgable of all my thoughts and dreams. God knows what would make me happy and ultimately what would bring Him glory. I am left wondering how will He intertwine my personal passions into His plan? I realize that much of my frustration comes from the fact that my timing is not His. So many times, I have wanted something to happen, and it doesn’t. I tell God, “I don’t get it”! He reassuringly responds, “You aren’t ready yet. Be patient.”

There is a peace in knowing that God has me. When I am unable to see even a few seconds into the future–He already knows how everything will turn out. There is no safer place to share my dreams than with the One who knows my soul. He hears the whispers that no one else can hear. He reminds me of all the ways that I am His unique creation, and that there is no one else in all of history that is just like me. More importantly, He has and continues to show me, His abiding love.

Trust.

It is more than just a word.

It is an action.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Love In Action

IMG_1695

I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I say things that I later regret. Occasionally, I have less than stellar opinions. At other times I can nail it, clearly making my point. Many times I even get it right. I am still just human, with human frailties. Can’t we each relate to that?

Lately, it seems like every time I get on the internet, watch something on TV, or read the latest magazine article, there is something about “tolerance”, “being non-judgmental” or “showing acceptance”. Tolerance used to mean, I have my opinion and you have your opinion on an issue. We might never fully agree, but we were able to accept that differences exist and move on. There need be no hateful words, or name calling because of it.  That is no longer the case. Now, it seems as if someone disagrees on any number of subjects he/she is considered wrong, bigoted, or even worse. How is that being tolerant–for either side?

The main stream media tries to eviscerate anyone who dares to say anything differently than what they deem as right and appropriate. Now, I don’t know about you, but I most definitely do not look to the MSM for my core values, or how I conduct myself. The media is looking for the story, what will sell, and how to get people talking. That is the whole point. Most main stream media sources will sell their soul to the devil for a good headline.

I don’t have to love every single thing that people do…and that is okay…but, I can still love them. I am called to love them, even when it is hard….and sometimes it definitely is. This does not mean that I cheerfully accept everything that a person does so I can proudly proclaim, I’m “non-judgmental”, because that would be for the wrong reasons and born out of fear, not love.

If love is truly real, it will not just be words, but will be shown through actions…. Because love without action, really isn’t love at all.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbora]”>[ and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. —-    Jesus words in Matthew 5:43-48  

Aren’t There Miracles For Each Of Us?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.             I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Life isn’t always easy, we all feel that… but, when I make a concerted effort to search for all the good, all the wonders, all of God’s amazing graces, I am the one that changes. I am the one whose eyes are opened. Everything around me might stay the same, but my attitude of thankfulness allows me to not be blinded to even the smallest miracles of the day to day. 

And, aren’t there so many miracles for each of us?

IMG_1693

*dark clouds and summertime rain…I love summer thunderstorms

*big, fluffy clouds stacked high

*a cool breeze

*a relaxed schedule

*running barefoot

*a good nights sleep, rumpled sheets and a soft pillow

*petting the dogs and de-stressing, is there a friend more loyal than a dog?

*beautiful pink and purple and red flowers

*freshly mowed grass

*friendship and fellowship

*the sweet smell of lavender

*a cute new hairstyle

*God, who loves…