Ready for Spring

Spring has come to the south and so have I.

What a gift to retreat from the grey of snowless winter to a wonderland of sunshine and color!

I want to take it in and keep it with me.

Stepping out of my routine for a few days, visiting family, followed by a full week of solitude… the change and the quiet allows me to tune into senses made alive!

This last season has been a long one.

Something dormant inside of me is awakened, and I’m inspired in a way I haven’t felt in a year or more.

Ideas spring up like flowers.

Beauty inspires beauty.

Beautiful thoughts make the soul beautiful.

New life is everywhere!

I came a long way to see it, and I don’t want to miss a moment…

I want to take it all in, remember these precious little moments.

Oh, the beauty of a moment.

Moments don’t last.

Babies grow,
flowers fade…

If I don’t enjoy the gifts of life today,
they will be gone.

Today offers me a gift.

Something
fresh,
alive,
new…

interesting,
different,…

I am rested. I am refreshed. I am ready to give to the weary. I am full of hope of the newness to come because I’ve seen it. I know it is near.

As I travel and the scenery changes, as I venture further from the warm, sunny, blooming places, I sense a mission of encouragement.

Lord, help me hold on to what I have seen.
Keep this fresh and alive in my heart.

Greater Expectations

Expectations

What is too hard?

What is too much?

What is possible?

What is unrealistic?

I remember being totally confused reading Beowulf in college. How in the world would my kids ever understand this story? They’re too young for this kind of stuff!

Veritas introduces the poem with an “image this” scenario…
You have a sleep over, and find the next morning that a monster under your bed has killed all the friends that spent the night. So, you invite an exchange student to come and kill the monster for you. Etc, etc…

After that, the boys couldn’t wait to start reading.

Thanks to LibriVox (free audio recordings of public domain books), we could follow along with a reader (English accent and all) and hear the rhythm of the poem that I never caught in college.

The kids found an animated version of the story on Youtube and then told me what details the cartoon had left out.

I gave them the assignment of describing something from modern times in the style of Beowulf using kennings and alliteration and was amazed with what they came up with.

Every afternoon, the boys wanted to “play Beowulf” with their toys. They decided to put on a show. They drew pictures, had “cast auditions” for their plastic men, and planned set designs. Retold the story with great detail. I was so impressed.

My boys not only understood and appreciated Old English Literature, they enjoyed it!

Monsters, Heroes, Swords, Kings, Dragons…
What boy wouldn’t love a story like this?

Expectations…

When I first saw the Omnibus book list, I thought it was ridiculous. I was overwhelmed thinking that I would have to read these books. I spent months rethinking whether I had chosen the wrong curriculum. Would this be “too hard”?

Surprisingly, even on the most daunting texts, which we take turns reading aloud as a family, have not been more than we can handle.

[I’ll mention that I also ordered the older version of the Kindle with the read aloud option for each of my boys. Most of our texts are in public domain and are free downloads.]

Once again, my children have surpassed my expectations.

expectations:
hopes
dreams
optimism
…disappointment?
fulfillment
looking forward
waiting

to consider the probable… the possible?
with confidence
with longing

expecting:
pregnant,
awaiting the birth of a child, a dream.

What are my expectations?
“If (I) aim at nothing, (I’ll) hit it every time.” -Zig Ziglar

Though I am tempted to aim low so I won’t be disappointed, I idealistically aim for perfection and set the impossible as the goal.
This only sets me up for the temptation of never starting for fear of failing.

Temptation is not the sin. The fault lies in the choice.
Knowing myself, I must reject the lure to live “safe”.

When I was growing up, my mother framed and hung the following quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

This doesn’t mean I should rashly rush into foolishness for the sake of proud ambition. I’d rather be bold with wisdom and courageously attempt the challenge of a mountain that initially appears to be too high, and if I fail, dust myself and either press on or find another mountain.

It would be ashamed to miss out on the “greater works” (Jn. 14:12) because of laziness or fear.

I’m stepping out today with Greater Expectations!

Smile or Frown?

It’s a matter of perspective.

“Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you.”

If labels come from judgements of comparison,
a perception of a person or situation
from the vantage point of limited perspective,
what have men named you?

“You’re so like _________ ”
(“the lady with the mystic smile”).

Things are not always as they seem.
… Nor are they always as simple.

If we can’t trust even our own best judgement;
then why do we pay attention to the judgemental voices of others?
And, why do we judge other people at all?

Sometimes we’re too removed from a situation to know all the facts.
Sometimes we’re too close to be objective.

1 Corinthians 4:3-5 says,
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed,
I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

These were a few of the verses I was memorizing at the time I was visiting Raleigh, NC where this reproduction of Mona Lisa made from 5184 spools of thread is on display in their local gallery.

Too often my emotions have transposed Paul’s word to sound more like this:

I care very much if I am judged by you; indeed, I even judge myself.
My conscience is not clear, but that does not make me guilty. After all, I am my own judge, except for when society judges me. Therefore I will judge everything on my present perception; not waiting until the Lord comes but rather listening to the latest popular poll that will keep hidden what is in the darkness and not expose the motives of my heart. Rather, it will bring to light any physical assets and superficial qualities while exposing and magnifying any external flaws and blemishes. Right now, I want my praise from men.”

When you look in the mirror,
do you smile or frown?
What image do you see?

If we’re impressed with ourselves because we’ve compaired ourselves with others and thought ourselves supperior, maybe we should turn that smile upside down.

If we feel inferior because of this globe’s convex distortion of success and beauty, it’s time to invert our thoughts to a more accurate view.

Looking into the mirror of God’s word, we can see ourselves for who we are. Then, if we come away, not forgetting what we look like, we will be able to confidently echo 1 Thessalonians 2, “We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests hearts. We (are) not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.”

More Than Georgia On My Mind

“Just an old sweet song…
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines…
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you”

I’ve been away too long.
“Ya’ll” doesn’t slide so smoothly off my tongue.

A few days in Atlanta brought me closer, but
I feel so far away from
“arms (that) reach out to me”
and
“eyes (that) smile tenderly”.

Georgia.
Home sweet home of my happiest childhood memories…

great-grandma’s porch,
guitar pluckin’,
swing and rocker sittin’,
lightnin’ bug catchin’,
homemade biscuits… made by feel, a bit – a dash, poured and shaped in the wide flat metal flour bowl… I’d love to see that towel covered dish again… ready with fine ground wheat for every meal,
the old coke-a-cola clock,
feather beds,
jams, preserves,
pomegranates,
and
family, lots and lots of family,
great uncles givin’ dollars to the kids who could name every cousin and their age or write a list of all their aunts and uncles…
parading cross the street to Mr. Brown’s grocery (originally Mr. Bartlett’s) to spend our fortune on Now and Laters, Bubble Gum, and Lemon Heads.

Sweet Coastal Georgia…
Passing Savannah, I’m almost home.

The smell of pine takes me there.
I’m homesick for the south…
azalea, camellia, and pyracantha berry bushes
dogwood, red bud, and magnolia trees

sittin’ in the shade of spanish moss and giant oaks to escape the sun,
still wrapped in a blanket of humidity… I can almost feel the heaviness and am comforted.

drivin’ across town from one grandma’s to the other
with the windows down
past Winn Dixie and the Piggly Wiggly,
the old Presbyterian and the First Baptist,

my memory overwhelms my senses…
lovin’ on necks, the smell of Avon and MaryKay,
peanut butter cookies with criss-cross fork lines,
eggs and white toast,
soda-water, coke-a-cola, a grape nehi in a glass bottle,

I could almost cry with longing for a syrupy-sweet familiar voice.

My daddy calls me a “missionary of hospitality” cause I went north.
Maybe it’s time for a furlough.

I want to pull into the drive way of an old brick house and see the front door open with a flood of family. But so many are gone, and I know I’m homesick for more than Georgia. I’m homesick for “home”.

I’m blessed to have had a family like mine. Simple folk. Honest, hard-working, God fearin’, lovin’ folk.

Oh, heaven, the hope that you are more than I can imagine fills my soul with grander dreams… of when my faith shall be my sight.

Spring

Tiny child, waist high to her father, face beaming,
looks up to heaven,
raises hands to the sky,
and yells
at the top of her lungs,
“Thank You, God, for spring!”

Then running to join me in the barn, giddy with excitement,
staccato words through a smile of tightly gritted teeth,
“Mama, I – just – love – SPRING!”

She spins and twirls.

“Me, too, baby.” But my echo of her sentiment is faded in comparison as our conversation bounces off the barn walls. There was an amused smile but no exclamation in my voice.

She runs out, dancing into the yard with shouts of, “I love SPRING!“,
and I wonder…

When did I grow up?
When did the wonders of
warm breezes,
new buds on trees,
V’s of geese returning north,
early and late hours of bright sunshine,
and robins in the fields
become so tame.

I’m up early this morning.
House is silent.
Sun is shining.
The memory of her joy stirs my soul…
I feel joy growing, rising and bubbling over.
Little one, be my teacher.
I will rejoice today.

“Thank You, God, for spring!”
Thank You, God, for little ones like mine.
I can see why You love children…
Why You tell us to come to You as a child.

“Thank You, God, for spring!!!!”