Sunday, May 31, 2009

Joyful Joyful

This old hymn is on my mind...and while you wait to scroll down and refresh yourself I have to tell a short little story.  The first five words, "Joyful, joyful we adore thee" could apply to our love of our son Luke.    He is a very joyfilled little man and we do adore him, and as parents we can in some small way relate to how much we adore God, and as children of God we are able to adore Him back.  
Each day we should be as children - finding something to explore, something to be in awe of, something that makes us laugh and something that makes us feel busy, dirty and tired.  We also can try to, as children do, laugh freely, love without reserve and forgive with a hug or high five. 

 I think about that alot, especially after we've frustrated each other and moments later I'm being given a yellow flower, a hug or a "Mama you are so pretty"...and we both know we are okay with what is done, and we are looking forward to whatever adventures lay ahead.  We look ahead with trust, with love and with a kind of peace that only comes when we truly know what it is to love joyfully but also to accept joyful love. 

 I do love the Hand that Created our world, and that same Hand gave me the miracle of our son and the miracle of his father and I's love.  There is so much in the world that is lovely and wonderful that gets missed in our quest to be busy and get things done.  

As we look forward to another week, I pray that we look for the beauty around us and for a tranquil spirit to apprecate it and of course an open heart to see and feel the love of God all around us.  May you be brightly bless, always and in all ways!

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chickadee Rescue Story

I wonder sometimes about our spiritual world, and how the angels and demons battle things out where we can not see, hear or feel them - and yet we can sense the battles that sometimes rage.  I was wondering about that tonight as I was watching my little hummingbird guarding what she considers 'her' feeder.  No one can feed there but her, and later on she'll allow her offspring to join her there. She chases all comes - males, orioles and wasps.  She won't back down, sitting and watching she chases and flies and then rests.  

She is a real little tiny toughie.  But many birds are - they have to be.  Migrating long distances, surviving cats and other predators, seasons of rough weather and humans.  We do impact our bird friends in nasty ways with our buildings, wires, cars and pets.  We also bring them abundant feeders, overflowing flowerbeds and often admiring stares and keep the bird book pages turning. 

All of this got me thinking of a while back - a Saturday morning.  Me hanging out in my bathrobe, Luke playing in the sunroom and Earl doing some homework (he was still in University then).  We looked outside in time to see the cat 'R' catch a chickadee.  Like some avenging angel I dashed out of the house, bare feet hammering on the rocks, bathrobe flying behind me.  I grabbed the cat by his head, plucked the chickadee free and with a flip of my wrist the cat was flying to the grass and me and the bird were on our way to the house.  A quick check revealed no injuries (it wasn't a catch to eat for 'R' but a catch to play) and just a very stressed out little bird. Some sugar water and warmth later we were enjoying some family time learning about birds. Luke was especially intrigued with the wings, tiny beak and that the bird would 'talk' back when he called 'chicka-dee-dee-dee'.  Soon, when the coast was clear of cats, we went outside and let the little bird fly free - most likely with no idea of what just happened except that it was still alive.

I think, sometimes, our lives are like that.  We have close calls both physically and spiritually where the power of God and His grace saves us for another task on another day.  We often, like the chickadee, don't know that Divine hands are grabbing the Devil's workers by their heads, prying us out of their grips and then gently caring for us until we are ready to fly again.  We don't know how often we are brushed by and covered with the protective wings of our Angels - but we should be thankful.   Thankful for angels, for divine hands guided by grace and for chickadees.  

Luke 12:6 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bent Nails & Crooked Screws

I was doing some cleaning up today and found some nails my dear husband was saving, salvaging actually, and I wondered how many times he has done that (10,000+ I would guess and still counting) and then I remembered the crooked screw story...

We have animals, cows and horses, which means you have fences and gates. Boundaries are good for everyone and we all need them in some fashion or another.  The hinges are usually put on with lag bolts or screws or nails - dependent on what is on hand or will best work.  You can hammer nails straight again, or close but screws you cannot.  That means when they are bent that's the end of their useful lives - unless of course you are Earl!  So this gate, which regularily gets beat up by animals,weather and errant stock trailers, fell off the post after said stock trailer snagged it.  

After getting it unsnagged I was faced with the task of removing some screws, putting on a piece of 2x4 and putting it back up until we could build a new gate.  NO PROBLEM!  Grab the wood, the drill a hammer and some nails and screws - and Mama is in business.  Except for one thing - the last screw (not much of a story if it was the first one I know) is not coming out.  It isn't turning at all.  

Drill check - going in the proper direction, correct bit head and size and the batteries are good.  Yep all checks I start looking at the screw - it is different from all the others and it is the only one that is still holding strongly.  Why is that?  Grab the screw driver and start turning and my hand starts going in a large circle because the screw is crooked, and has to be removed by unscrewing it crookedly.  Not bright and shiny, not straight and true but strong, old and bent and twisted.  

I finally get it out and I'm laughing so hard there are tears in my eyes, the two fellas with the trailer are looking at me like I've let my good sense run off.  They were cross that the screw was used when it was obviously not new, straight or 'good enough'...but then I showed them two important things: it was an older style that held strongly, and it was the one that didn't pull out of the wood when the trailer snagged the gate.  It wasn't perfect in appearance but perfect in how it did the job it was put in place to do.

This, is I think, a modern parable for us.  God has tasks for us to do, and when we are doing them we are the tool He has chosen.  We may be bent nails hammered straight, we may be crooked screws holding things together because we could not be straightened for another task.  When I look down at the scars on my body from the living  of my life I realize that I am more a bent nail used many times for the tasks given me than a new, shiny one that is untried and unknown.  God has straightened me out many times, and I'm still a little bent, a little crooked in places but for the tasks He chooses me for I am as true, strong and reliable as I can be.

The experiences of our lives give us not only character and strength, they can give us resilience, drive, passion and understanding.  When the things that shape us leave their mark, it is more than as scar or a bump - it is a reminder of the things that make life worth living...and the things that have made us into the people we are today.  And who are are today is who God needs us to be today...

The Roan is Back!

Some of you may remember back in the day I had a column called "Strawberry Roan" (a nickname from a friend that sorta fits if you know the old song...anyway...) and I've been inspired to revive it in blog back and have some fun and fellowship here!

To get us going I'll repost something from Mystic-Mom but on this rainy day I think it fits very well!

Bright blessings,

Make a Joyful Noise

Psalm 100 - Make a joyful noise to the Lord

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! 
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into God's presence with singing! 
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him, bless his name! 
For the Lord is good; 
his steadfast love endures for ever, 
and his faithfulness to all generations.

When I listen to Luke say his prayers, it is usually with a high degree of enthusiasm and often he sings them rather than says them.  He likes to talk to God with the joy of a little boy, just like Psalm 100.  We have our prayers for bedtime, we thank God for our food and for wonderful things we enjoy each day.  It is very humbling to see someone embrace fully joyful worship.

It did get me thinking that perhaps he is on the right track for him, and I think that nature and the world around us also praises with the same exuberance and joy.  Birds, flowers and trees in their riot of color, texture and song praise their Creator.  The roaring rivers, the rushing waterfalls and the endless waves add their notes to the endless song.  Even the seemingly senseless barking of my blind dog plays a role, as they are all creations of the Creator's hand.  

Our senses are gifts which allow us to experience the world around us.  Many would argue they are genetically selected functions which enhance the survival of our species, and yes to some degree they do fulfill that function (not was well for us as for some animals but we have other advantages sometimes).  I would argue they also serve a purpose for the survival of our souls and spirits - they allow us to sense and embrace the world around us in ways that feeds our spiritual selves, and brings us closer to God.  I do not believe that nature and all her wonders are meant to be a distraction from God, but rather a reminder of just how magnificent the hand is that can bring us beauty, wonder and joy. 

Spring, for those of us lucky enough to enjoy it as a season, brings hope from a dark dormant season, it brings life new and renewed, and it allows us after many months of monochromatic living to burst into a multicolored riot for the senses.  The world, after the silence of winter, bursts forth in joyful noise with the works of the Creator.  Just as my little boy bursts out in joyful praise, so do we when we allow the spirit of joyful praise into our worldm, into our lives and allow it to feed the gardens of our souls.  Let the birds sing, let the flowers bloom, let the new life that is waiting come forth and fill us with a joyful noise.

Be brightly blessed, always and in all ways!