Monday, October 12, 2015

Finding Autumn

A few days ago, the weather turned a bit cooler, but it didn't last long, of course. Back in the 90s this week. Ugh.

I feel certain the cool air is just around the corner, but over the weekend, I made the executive decision to make autumn happen in my house. It's my favorite season, after all, and it always makes me smile like the little straw girls on the mantel and front door—ear-to-ear!

Judith's Mosaic Monday
Smiling Sally's Blue Monday

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Love Trees

I've been fascinated with trees since I was a young girl, playing chase under a beautiful Mimosa. The fuzzy blooms dazzled me, along with their sweet, delicious aroma. I never considered how messy the tree was, but I'm sure Daddy did—every time he mowed.

After my divorce in 2002, I bought a house surrounded by tall pines. For sure, pine trees are beyond messy, but their soaring beauty always leaves me in awe.

And if you're looking for me around lunchtime, you'll probably find me here, parked under these sprawling branches. I don't just eat here though; I often sing, and pray, and count my many blessings.

I hope the tree stands forever. It reminds me of my Father's love, hovering over me, keeping me sheltered, keeping me safe. ♦

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mosaic Monday ~ My Beautiful Leslie

"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart."

My beautiful Leslie, I love you so.

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Joining Judith's Mosaic Monday,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blue Hour Blue

Blue Hour is one of my favorite times of the day, and I couldn't resist this shot prior to dinner at a favorite Mexican place. The sky almost looks fake, it's so lovely. If Blue Hour interests you, click HERE.

I'm joining Sally for her Blue Monday linkup.

Friday, September 11, 2015

God Works From A Calendar All His Own

If I've learned anything at all in my journey as a believer, it is that God works from a calendar all his own. No matter what my calendar says, he's never late, and (alas) he's never early.

I recall an instance a few years ago, during a challenging time of unemployment.

With only a few hundred dollars left to my name, and no more unemployment checks coming in, I was a bit anxious about paying a mortgage without an income. However, I reminded God often that his Word promised to provide. I didn't know how, but I knew he would.

Out of the blue one day, I thought of a tax credit that I should've claimed the year before. How had I forgotten something so significant? Within a few weeks, I had researched the matter, filed the proper paperwork and received over six thousand dollars in the mail. The facts of my calendar said those funds came to me a year late, but the facts of God's calendar said they came when I needed them most.

And recently, while perusing through my Facebook messages, I found a message that had been sent to me over a year ago. I hadn't seen it at the time, because it had been diverted into a "spam" folder of sorts. 

“Hello, Gayle. You don’t know me,” the message began, and indeed, I did not. However, as I read this person's gracious words and sensed the honest emotions shared, I knew that the message had been diverted and delayed by divine design.

My immediate circumstances had me feeling worthless, as though my life had no value, no meaning, just a colossal waste of time. But the writings of this thoughtful stranger was God's way of assuring me that my life has eternal value, and nothing can ever rescind that.

The note ended like this: "I hope you realize the importance of your life, ministry and music, and how it has influenced others. It has instilled in me something that will never diminish.” The facts of my calendar said those encouraging words were meant to be read a year earlier, but the facts of God's calendar said I read them when I needed them most.

Romans 8:28 says: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." That scripture can be puzzling when your heart is heavier than bricks and you cry every day, no matter how hard you try not to. But every believer's journey is a journey of faith. You either trust God, or you don't.

The other night, while standing in my kitchen, tears falling like rain, I told God—in a very loud voice—that I still trust him. I don't understand the inky darkness surrounding me, Lord, and some days I can hardly breathe, my heart is so heavy within, but my faith in you will not waiver. It will not waiver, Lord. It will not waiver!

Though I can't see my hand in front of my face, I will trust you! Though the storms rage and the waves crash, I will trust you! Though the howling winds of sorrow blow, and blow, and BLOW, I will trust you, Lord! Today! Tomorrow! Always! You are the captain of my vessel, and even if it's dashed into a million tiny pieces, leaving nothing but me and the angry sea, I know you are with me, Lord, and you can walk on water. ♦

"Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield," Psalm 33:20.

I'm linking to:
Spiritual Sundays, where hope and inspiration can still be found.
Me, Coffee and Jesus, my first time to share here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Spontaneous Getaway to the Seashore

The sea has a way of lifting my head and lightening my load, so I made a quick getaway to the Island on Labor Day. It was a last-minute decision, and I was happy twin sister was able to join me. She makes everything better without saying a word.

Sitting on the beach, listening to the waves roll in, I considered the seagulls standing on the shore. Day, after day, they come, and day, after day, they find what they need to sustain them. Knowing I am more valuable than many seagulls to the one who made me brought a renewed sense of peace to my soul.

Dinner was fried oysters at one of our favorite spots.

Coffee and dessert was served on the balcony. 

And as the evening sun painted glorious hues around us, I thanked the Creator for the priceless gift of another day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy List

When the heart aches, finding relief is often difficult, so this week I made a "Happy List." It's something my daughter and I used to do during the initial days of my post-divorce life. It forced us to look for ordinary things that made us feel good and forget our worries, if only for a moment. The list can have one item or 10—doesn't matter. If you're struggling with heartache, I highly recommend it.

My "Happy List"

1. The freshness of the mini-bundt cake I ate yesterday.

2. A cheery voice calling, "Hello, cowgirl."

3. The snowcone truck at work.

4. The way the evening sunshine streams through my front windows. 

5. Blue Hour in the suburbs.

6. Rocking Arabella to sleep, her tiny fingers wrapped tightly around mine.

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  (Philippians 4:8)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Snapshots ~ Home For The Weekend

For the last four months, I have been walking the darkest valley of my life, struggling to even breathe some days. I've always found home to be a place of comfort and strength during seasons of distress, so on Friday afternoon, the twin and I headed east to spend some time with our dear mom and dad. 

After a bit of a rainy morning, the sky was a perfect blue when we rolled into the driveway. Daddy's flag was standing tall, swaying majestically in the balmy breeze.

After a delicious dinner of fried pork chops, Daddy did some final trimming around his freshly-mowed property. Since his fall from the roof in 2012 (blogged about here), we've offered to hire someone to keep it mowed and manicured for him, but he assures us that, even at 88, he is happy while he works. Yes, his ankle made of plates, pins and screws slows him down, but he almost can't be stopped.

The old yard swing always draws me in when I visit. How well I remember sitting in it one night in 2003, after my divorce, wondering how I would be able to make a good life for me and my teenage daughter. I had been without work for nine months, and no offers were coming in. I wondered where God was and why he wasn't meeting my needs.

Through tears of desperation, I suddenly noticed a breathtaking moon behind the tall pines, rising in the east, big, buttery and bright. Within a few moments, the swing creaked and God was there, assuring me that I was exactly where I needed to be—under a full moon in an old yard swing with the one who loved me most. He held the moon in the sky, after all, and he knew how to hold me. I needed to trust and believe.

It was a defining moment in my journey, and I mentioned it in a blog here a few years ago. If you need encouragement, I hope you'll visit the link and listen to the song posted there.

Once Daddy was finished with his yard work, he joined me in the swing and we studied the impeccable sky. There was that breathtaking moon again, reminding me that God knows where I am, and that he's faithful when times are hard.

As the sun was setting, I made a trip to the nearby grocery store to buy a few things for lunch the next day. I never tire of magnificent sunsets, and I always marvel at the Creator's handiwork and his immense love for me.

It was almost dark when I returned, and I couldn't resist a shot of the old home place in the twilight. Countless memories had been made inside those wall, behind those glowing windows, and this weekend, thanks to God's goodness and mercy, more memories were being made.

With dinner all done, the dishes put away and the crossword puzzle conquered, it was time for some popcorn and dominoes. Mom and Dad are excellent players; Dayle and I, not so much. However, miracles do happen, and my wombmate won a game, and I won a game. Woohoo! Twins rule!

The next morning, heavenly aromas drifted upstairs long before lunch time, as Mother scurried about the kitchen, doing her thing. My favorite dessert is her homemade plum cobbler, and as I wandered into the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, I saw she was making sure I had some. I smiled and snapped a shot of her magic in progress.

In the midst of her magic, she paused to pose with her kid in the kitchen.

As we feasted on the goodness of Mother's hands, a soft rain fell outside, bringing a much needed refreshing to all living things, including Mother's lovely fern. I could almost hear it saying ahhhh beneath the tiny glistening drops. ☺

Much too soon, it was time to go, and as we joined hands in the living room and prayed for safe travels, I thanked God for his amazing grace and for my parents' endless love, still reaching out to me after all these years, lifting my head and lighting my way. Even in the darkest of valleys, I am blessed. ♦

Please join me at Spiritual Sundays, where faith is still proclaimed.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Me and Arabella Marie

If you follow my twin Dayle you know all about her granddaughter Arabella Marie. I can't believe she's five months old now, and my love for her grows and grows. I wish I could see her every day, but I kiss her face as often as I can. Here are just a few pictures of me and my beloved grand niece.

I fell in love instantly with this beautiful bundle of joy.

After a hard day at work, she lifts my spirits without doing a thing.

Easter Sunday with proud Memaw and Big Sister.

Pure innocence, staring at me. Isn't she heavenly?

Before heading for an Astro's game, I sing her a tune.

The best part of my day—Arabella.

Giving me reasons to smile on Saturday.

Since the birth of my own granddaughter two years, ago, I've often sung the Oak Ridge Boys' tune "Thank God For Kids." My favorite line says: "The nearest thing to heaven is a child." Until next time, my friends, please pray for children everywhere, born or unborn.  ♦

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tiny Details; Big God

My heart was heavy the day I stopped by the botanical gardens on my lunch break. I had never experienced such emotional pain, and I wasn't sure I could keep breathing. I had tunneled through dark places before, but in all my years of living, I had never faced a mountain of such vast proportions.

As I walked along the beautifully manicured pathways, talking to my Creator, I was suddenly drawn to the various flowers nearby, particularly the tiny ones. The intricate details of each minuscule bloom astounded me. Such perfection!

Suddenly, I was reminded of how big God is, and that he is able to do "exceedingly abundantly" above all that I can ask or think. No matter what tomorrow held, God was bigger, and not only was he concerned about the big burdens I carried, he cared about the tiniest details of my life, too. It was just the reminder I needed to keep breathing for another day. ♦

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

I'm linking up with:
Judith's Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage
Joan's Sharing His Beauty