Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Softly and Tenderly"

A number of years ago, while vacationing in the Ozarks with my twin sister and her family, my daughter stumbled upon a wandering baby bird. A fierce storm had moved through the night before, and by all indications, the little bird had been blown from his nest, located in one of the tall trees surrounding our cottage.

Not sure what to do with a motherless baby bird, we gathered some grass and twigs and placed him atop one of the picnic tables on our high-rise deck. It was the best we could offer, but the little bird seemed quite perplexed on his bed of spiky twigs. He knew he didn't belong.

Dinner time came, and while my brother-in-law flipped burgers on the grill, my sister videotaped the little bird.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, large drops of rain began to fall. The sky darkened, and in the distance, the sound of thunder rumbled across the hills. Another storm was moving in.

While we debated what to do with our unexpected visitor, the baby bird hopped off his make-shift nest, skittered across the picnic table, tumbled to the deck below and wobbled clumsily to the edge. Before we could stop him, he flapped his wings and sashayed to the ground, some 30-feet down. A suicide attempt, perhaps?

Not hardly.

There, on the trunk of one of the trees, was the little bird’s mother…chirping for all she was worth. A storm was brewing. She was worried. Her baby was lost.

Amazingly, even over our noisy chatter and the sizzling meat, the little bird had heard his mother calling. Now, he would follow her home.

As I watched the mother bird leading her little one up the trunk of the tall, tall tree, I marveled at God’s creation and pondered the importance parents play in the lives of their young.

I also thought of my Good Shepherd, and how he calls out to me whenever I'm drawn away by the winds of the world that blow. I might not grasp the danger of my wanderings, and I might not even care. But the Good Shepherd loves me dearly, and he won't rest until I'm safe with him at home. ♦

My Prayer: Dear God, as the little bird so eagerly responded to his mother's frantic chirping, may I eagerly come running whenever you call.
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Linking to Spiritual Sundays, where inspiration can be found.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Simple Pleasures - Bowl of Cherries



The first time I plucked a fresh cherry from its stem and popped it in my mouth I fell in love. Sweet and juicy, with the perfect bit of crunch. Simply put: Simply delicious. Of course, those little red balls of goodness have powerful antioxidants, too. Sounds like a win-win to me.

If something simple makes you smile, share it at my twin sister's party: Simple Pleasures.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Doing Nothing Refreshes and Restores

In 2002, my 20-year marriage ended in divorce. Wanting to be near family, I migrated south, put my belongings in storage and moved in with my sister until I could find work and get on my feet. It wasn’t as easy as I’d envisioned. After months of no interviews, I needed more space—physically, mentally and emotionally—so I loaded up a few things and headed to my parents’ house. It was a risky move, but something had to give.

Adjusting to life in a small town was challenging, for sure. Nothing exciting going on. Not even a fancy restaurant. Just a scattering of small businesses along Main Street, most of them locked down at sundown.

To complicate matters further, Mom and Dad aren’t your “normal” mom and dad. They have no televisions. No computers. No surfing of the web. The radio is Daddy's domain, and once the news is over, the radio is off.

In a nutshell, there just isn't much to do at Mother's house besides sit on the couch, eat lemon pie and watch logs burn in the fireplace.

Initially, I didn't do so well. I felt an inexplicable urgency to be busy. My canoe had capsized in the deep, blue sea, after all, and I needed to be doing something besides breathing and batting my eyelids. I mean, I really, really did!

Didn’t I?

No. Not really. Just the opposite, in fact.

Yes, I was drowning in a storm unlike any other, but for my own self-preservation, I needed to stop struggling, release my fears and be still for a spell. I needed to learn the art of doing nothing, you might say.

And, finally—after much kicking and screaming—I did.

I learned how to take deep, cleansing breaths, long, warm baths and slow, lazy strolls to the mailbox.

I learned how to see magic in the morning sun, dancing through the pines, outside my bedroom window.

I learned how to stare at nothing in the yard swing, while a choir of cicadas sang evening’s shadows away.

(The view from my window at Mother's house.)
I learned how perfectly round the moon is, how exquisitely detailed a sparrow is and how comforting flannel sheets are on cold Texas mornings.

In essence, I learned how to see--and not just look. How to feel--and not just touch. How to listen--and not just hear.

But above all, I learned that doing nothing clears the mind, strengthens the body and restores the spirit like nothing else can. Like a magical antidote for whatever ails you, it opens your heart to God's whisperings and focuses your eyes on things that matter most.

It puts life in perspective, you might say, so that wind-blown souls, capsized in the deep, blue sea, can sit peacefully on the couch, eating lemon pie, watching logs burn in the fireplace. ♦

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3
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I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays, where Faith Lifts are free.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Resolutions

This year I'm resolving to do things that I've always wanted to do but never took time to do them. Nothing earth-moving, understand. Just simple things that appeal to me.

For starters, I'm going to take painting classes. Since I was a kid, I've been amazed at what paints, brushes and skilled hands can produce. I don't expect to be an expert when the class is over, but I do expect to have loads of fun along the way. Maybe I'll even create something worthy of a wall.

Next on my list is to re-decorate my guest room with garage sale and flea market finds. I've considered it many times over the last two years, but I've never committed and taken the leap. This year, I'm diving in. It might take me a few weekends (maybe many weekends) to find what I want, but what fun I'll have looking!

My friend Ann wants me to take shooting lessons with her, and I've agreed. As a single woman, I feel safer with a weapon, and I'd like to get better skilled in that area of life. Ann has friends who own property, and I think it'll be fun to return to the Wild West every now and then and hit some targets.

Some say that guns are bad and kill people, but it's people who kill people. And if a person wants to kill, he doesn't need a gun. Just ask Jesus Christ.

I'm sure I'll embark on other exciting things over the next 12 months, but these three should keep me busy for awhile. Wish me well.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Seeing Single

I never thought I'd be divorced after 20 years of marriage, but life doesn't always go as planned. Unexpected detours can be forced upon us by the decisions of others, and, like it or not, we find ourselves on strange roads in strange places.

For me, being a single woman again was a very strange place. While my husband had always dealt with our financial transactions, I had devoted most of my years to raising our daughter and being a wife.

Regrettably, I was clueless about so many things, and having to learn it so quickly was overwhelming at best. I couldn't sleep at night, fretting over "tomorrow" and how I was going to do what had to be done.

Fastforward nine years, and you'll see a strong woman, not easily frightened and capable of doing most anything. I have a great job, making more money than I ever dreamed. I have a lovely home, nestled among the pines. I have family and friends who love me, come rain or come shine.

Admittedly, some evenings I long for a special someone to share myself with on an intimate basis. A person to witness my life. To laugh when I laugh, and cry when I cry. Someone to hear me breathing, if you please.

However, despite those times of aloneness, I've come to understand that life without a husband has its upsides.

I cook only if I want to. I wash nobody's dirty clothes but mine. Nobody's wondering where I am, what I'm doing and when I'm coming home. And when the lights go out at night, nobody's sprawled on the opposite side of the bed, snoring like a diesel on an incline. Indeed, life alone isn't all bad.

Maybe Mr. Wonderful will show up one day, and maybe he won't. Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm focusing on what remains, and I'm liking what I see.

"For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Philippians 4:11
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Linking up to Spiritual Sundays today, where soul food is served.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Simple Pleasures - Holding Ainsley Brielle


I held Ainsley Brielle, my neice's newborn, for the first time last night. Sniffing her soft hair and skin sent me skyward. I was reminded of a song I wrote many years ago. A couple asked me to pen lyrics for their newborn daughter's dedication ceremony at church. I was honored to be a part of such a special occasion. I called it "Kimberly's Song." I'm posting them today with Ainsley in mind. Bless you, little one. Great-Auntie G loves you already.

KIMBERLY'S SONG

Music and Lyrics by Gayle A. Cox

A bundle of love
Sent from above
A dream come true.
Sugar 'n spice; everything nice;
Baby’s brand new.
Tiny hands; tiny feet
Eyes baby blue
We stand amazed;
Hearts filled with praise;
So grateful, Lord to you.

CHORUS:
She's our Master's piece; a work of art
A picture of love, created by God.
Perfection in lace; that smile on her face
Designed by God.
Just a little child, but Lord, we pray
When she is grown others will say
What a Master's piece; a work of art
Created by God.

BRIDGE:
Let Your glory shine within her eyes;
Let her be the image of You.
A portrait of love; Your perfect love
Lord, let it shine through.

Repeat chorus.

Written especially for Kimberly Annette Cain.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 ~ The Year In Pictures

 January - Finding joy in the comforts of home.

February - Unexpected roses from a long-lost friend. 

March - Glimpses of spring at Big Sister's house.

April - My dear mother celebrates another year of life, and...

 
 ...a puppy named Charlie charms us to the bone.

May - My lovely niece makes us all proud.

June - Daddy's tomatoes make summertime good.

July - The magical circus, shared with a friend.

August - My twin and B-I-L mark 30 years of marriage.

September - Fall fairies decorate my stoop, and ...

... my beautiful niece says, "I do."

October - Another birthday with my beloved twin.
 
November - Thanksgiving memories with people I cherish. 

December - Ainsley Brielle comes into our lives, and ...

 ... my Sweet Sunshine turns 25.
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I hope 2010 held memorable times for you and yours.