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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Let Me Count the Ways!


1The Song—best of all songs—Solomon's song!

The Woman

2-3 Kiss me—full on the mouth!
Yes! For your love is better than wine,
headier than your aromatic oils.
The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook.
No wonder everyone loves to say your name!

4 Take me away with you! Let's run off together!
An elopement with my King-Lover!
We'll celebrate, we'll sing,
we'll make great music.
Yes! For your love is better than vintage wine.
Everyone loves you—of course! And why not?

5-6 I am weathered but still elegant,
oh, dear sisters in Jerusalem,
Weather-darkened like Kedar desert tents,
time-softened like Solomon's Temple hangings.
Don't look down on me because I'm dark,
darkened by the sun's harsh rays.
My brothers ridiculed me and sent me to work in the fields.
They made me care for the face of the earth,
but I had no time to care for my own face.

7 Tell me where you're working
—I love you so much—
Tell me where you're tending your flocks,
where you let them rest at noontime.
Why should I be the one left out,
outside the orbit of your tender care?

~Song of Solomon, Chapter 1, The Message Bible


Yes, today, once again, is Thankful Thursday - and I have many blessings, too many to count. But today, the one thing on my mind, the one thing I am most thankful for when I consider my earthly blessings, is my sweetheart, my husband, my friend.

I don't really remember the first time I met Larry, we were only toddlers, you see. Attending the same day-care, playing in the sand box. I don't remember, but I've heard stories from the lady who kept us while our parents were off doing what grown-up do. Evidently there was an incident with a toy shovel and a bump on someone's head. Truth or legend, we'll never know... but we have known each other for a very long time.

My first real memories of Larry only go back to middle school. Every day, on the way to third hour choir, my friend and I would pass him in the hallway where his shop class was held. He was a cutie! My friend was bolder than I was, so it was she that wrote him one of those classic, 8th grader, "I like you" notes. We can't remember exactly what it said, but if it hadn't been for her boldness, we'd have all went right on smiling shyly at each other as we passed in that hallway.

On that fateful day, my friend wrote the note, and clutched it tightly in her hand on the way to choir. She was nervous, and I was nervous for her. As we rounded the corner just seconds away from the place where we knew he would be, she got cold feet, quickly shoved the note in my hand, and begged me - "You do it!" So, being a good friend, I swallowed my fear, and approached the cute brown haired guy, with the greenest eyes, and the smile that made my hands shake. I passed him the note with a whispered "My friend likes you."

Though he was obviously surprised, he didn't stop. He took the note, and kept walking with that smile plastered to his face. My friend and I ran the last few yards to the choir room, before we collapsed against the wall with nervous laughter. Reveling in the sweet victory of initial contact, we giggled nervously and almost got called out for disturbing choir rehearsal.

After third hour, we left the room and came face to face with Larry. He smiled at my friend, passed her a note, and dissappeared into the crowd -- the rest, as they say, was history.

Larry and my friend shared an on-again-off-again romance for the next three years of high school. She treated him badly, most of the time. But the friendship between he and I grew. I remember him leaving his truck keys in his locker and giving me the combination so I could spend the lunch hour listening to my favorite cassette tape on his stereo. I think I wore out two tapes, and he just kept buying new copies, so I'd come sit in his truck while he was in Algebra class.

As their romance waned, and our friendship grew, we cheered each other on in new relationships, and consoled each other when those high school romances failed. I now know the many time's I crushed his hopes by saying "Let's just be friends." and "I love you like a brother." He was always there for me, and wanted to beat up the guy who had just broken my heart.

I invited him to a church Christmas banquet one year, and ended up wearing his class ring all night as part of a joke. He later told me he'd wished I'd kept it. Later, that ring was stolen, and I wish I still had it. It's a great memory. I remember holding hands once as we walked around the mall; and even though he surprised me with a kiss behind the Sonic where I worked, we remained friends, and nothing more through high-school, and well into our respective first marriages.

Fast forward five years, and we're both facing divorce. Long story short, we fall in love, and eventually marry. That was 13 years ago. Today we have five teenagers between us, four of which live in our home. He's still my best friend, my confidant, and my cheerleader. He works three jobs to provide for our family so I can stay home and make sure they get a quality education. He helps me through the ups and downs of life with teens, romances me, calls me every day on his breaks, and on the drive to and from jobs. He hears our song on the radio and records it on my voice mail. He kisses me every morning before he leaves and comes straight home to me every night. He prays with me, brings me flowers, asks about my day, sits beside me in church, and dresses quietly, in the dark, every morning, so as not to wake me.

He loves God.

He loves me.

He loves my children.

In so many big and small ways, he's my gift from God.

And for every way he loves me, I am thankful.

P.S. (Click the 'Thankful Thursdays' icon above read more great posts.)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Persimmon Season


Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
~Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.
~Moliere (1622 - 1673)

Your descendants shall gather your fruits.
~Virgil (70 BC - 19 BC)


I was sitting on the couch this evening, minding my own business, when the local five-o’clock news began a story about persimmons. Yep, persimmons. I’ve never eaten a persimmon, but they seem to be pretty popular here in mid-America – as a winter weather forecaster. Who’d-a-thunk-it.

So, here’s the gist of tonight’s news story about persimmons: Evidently, several months ago, some local school students conducted an experiment, sorting persimmons from this year’s crop. The story goes that when you cut open the persimmons, if you see the center looks like a fork, the coming winter will be mild and dry. If you see a spoon, the winter will be cold and snowy, and if you see a knife, the winter will be bitter cold. The students cut open 194 persimmons, and here’s the breakdown they found:

Forks = 15
Spoons = 140
Knives = 39

Guess what kind of winter it’s been in my neck of the woods? You guessed it, lots of snow, sleet, ice and cold.

I understand how you can see signs in nature that indicate what seasons have been like, rings in trees indicating drought or lots of rain, for instance. But fruity weather predictors ---how does that work? There are lots of things in this earth, and outside of it, for that matter, I don’t understand. That’s what intrigues me about the Creator.

Life is about seasons. Winter, spring, summer, autumn --- I love them all. There are other seasons in life, too. The seasons of my life have been marked by jobs, relationships, homes, churches, raising children, releasing children, births and deaths. And I have learned that some seasons overlap. In the past few months my seasons have been about graduating my daughter from homeschool --- and sending her to college, losing a job, changing churches, watching my adult and almost adult children make decisions on their own, (some that scare me), buying a new house, and bringing my husband’s teenage son into our home. If I could have predicted how these seasons would go, I might have chosen differently --- tried to avoid them. But you can’t stop the ice storms, any more than you can choose when to have snow – and in both, there are challenges and blessings.

Snow can be fun --- watching from the window while my teenagers build snow forts and organize a neighborhood snowball battle. Hot chocolate, beef stew, beautiful white flakes falling peacefully to the ground. But the cold weather also meant not one, but two visits from the heating and air repair guy, with a bill that really challenged our budget.

Ice storms can be threatening and dangerous --- they can bring power outages, property damage, slick streets, burst pipes. But there’s nothing like an unexpected early closing of the college, the restaurant where my daughter works, and the company where my husband works. Once everyone was home safe, we spent the evening in front of the fireplace, playing board games. One more memory to treasure.

I’ve had my share of storms recently – arguments with my kids, financial stress, etc. But as a result, I’ve learned to communicate with my loved ones in a healthier way, to trust who my kids are when they are making decisions that don’t reflect the way they were raised, to rely more on God’s provision for my financial needs. I’ve been blessed with insight into my own character flaws, and experienced the changing power of Grace --- that helps me to be a better wife, mother, and woman. And I’ve celebrated the snow!

I haven’t always enjoyed these recent seasons, but I trust the goodness of my Creator, and His wisdom. If it’s supposed to be cold and snowy, He has His reasons. And if there are persimmons to predict the weather, then I’ll try to be prepared, but if there aren’t, then I’ll sit by the window and watch the sky. Whatever comes, I’ll make the most of knowing that the same good God who created persimmons has it all in hand.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Today is "Thankful Thursday"


“One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.”
~ G. E. Lessing

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”
~ Celia Thaxter


I’m learning that an attitude of thankfulness changes my perspective. Thankful Thursday’s are my chance to cultivate this attitude of gratitude in my heart and in my home. Though I don’t post every Thursday, my goal is to list several things I am thankful for at least a couple of times each month.

First and foremost I’m thankful for the revelation that my heart needs changing. Personally, I have faced some daunting challenges in the past several months. Struggling through those challenges, I must confess that my attitude has suffered and my joy has vanished. I have been emotionally and physically drained… tapped… exhausted. But God, in his mercy -- through His word, the wise counsel of friends, and an exercise in thankfulness -- has begun to change my focus and thereby change my circumstance. The Thankful Thursday posts have helped me regain my joy; and for this I’m thankful.

As I sit before my fireplace watching the snowfall outside my window, I am thankful for heat. Yesterday, much to my shivering chagrin, I discovered that my heater was blowing cold air. Additionally, just last week, I cut and mailed a check to our friendly heating and air specialist for repairs we found necessary during the last ice storm. Wouldn’t you know that my dear old heating unit would choose the very next winter storm in which to announce that it was again in need of a special kind of physician? My poor children would have frozen in their beds last night if it had not been for our much adored fireplace and our recent happy location of a very difficult to find supply of firewood. They, being teenagers who missed their preschool slumber-party days, happily gathered blankets and pillows and a sundry of warm fuzzy objects, and camped out in the den. Bright and early this morning, the happy heating and air specialist cured our ailing system and warm air is being pushed through our duct work in copious amounts. Thank you, God.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the life of my 80 year old grandfather. Grandpa celebrated his 80th birthday this past weekend. He lives with my parents about 45 miles from my home. We visit at least monthly and have benefited from his wisdom, his love, and his humor. Our family is very close. Everyone lives less than an hour from each other, and it’s not unusual to see four generations seated around mama’s kitchen table (it seats sixteen) eating dinner, drinking coffee, or playing dominoes. My children have learned at their great grandfather’s knees. For this I am extremely grateful. And as a special birthday gift, my younger sister’s son and his girlfriend gave birth to grandpa’s first great-great grandson on January 25th. I’m doubly thankful – for little Tristan Allen, the first in the fifth-generation still living, and for the singular joy of knowing that my baby sister became a grandmother before I did. Yippeee!

This may sound shallow, but, shallow or not, it is true. I am thankful for TiVo. I’m not unusual in the fact that my life is busy. Everyone leads a busy life. But I take great pleasure in the ability to sit in front of the television at 11:00 at night and to choose from the “now playing” list several of my favorite shows that are waiting for me. Last night as the snow fell I watched American Idol, C.S.I. Miami, Gilmore Girls, Seventh Heaven, and Digging for the Truth. Fast forwarding through commercials makes me smile.

I’m also grateful for ZOOBA. It’s one of those book-a-month clubs. On the ninth of every month $9.95 is deducted from my checking account and my friendly postal worker brings me the latest hardcover novel from my favorites list. Now I read more than a book a month and rely heavily on our local library to feed my addiction, but anticipating a good read in a brand new book that will make a nice addition to my library shelves makes me feel happy. Since today is February 1, I am looking forward to my next book. It will immediately find a place on the table next to my comfy chair and I will spend some upcoming afternoon under a cozy throw, with a pot of tea and a handful of Dove sugar-free dark chocolates, escaping into an alternate reality with my nose in its’ favorite place -- between the pages of a really, really good book.

The past two weeks have given me much to be thankful for. Life is good – because God is good. I am blessed beyond measure. Thank God it’s finally sinking in to my thick skull. I’m thankful for my children, my parents, my extended family, my marriage, my husband, and my relationship with my creator. His mercy blows my mind.

This is the end of my Thursday Thankful list, but, being the loquacious poster that I am, I’m not finished. I wanted to share what God comforted me with yesterday. Maybe someone will read it and find much needed comfort, today:

From 1 Samuel 30
To make a long story shorter, the Amalakites raided the city of Ziklag, where David, his army and all their wives and children were living. They tore the city apart and burned it down, while David and his army were away fighting. They took all of the men’s wives and children captive. David and his men returned to Ziklag, where they found their razed city and realized that their wives and children were gone -- maybe dead. He and his men have literally exhausted themselves with mourning and wailing. They are devastated! So much so, that the men are threatening to stone David.

David, having lost his own wives and children and now facing the threat of his own death, strengthened himself with trust in his God. In perhaps one of the darkest hours of his life, David prayed and asked God what to do. God told David to go after the Amalakites, and rescue the wives and children. So, with renewed hope, David took six hundred men and pursued the Amalakites.

When they came to a brook and prepared to cross it, two hundred of the men were overcome with physical and emotional exhaustion. The trauma was more than they could bear. So, two-hundred men stayed behind at the brook and watched over the equipment. David and the remaining four-hundred men pursued the Amalakites, and overtook them. They attacked and with God’s help, destroyed the Amalakites and rescued every single wife and child.

Imagine the anguish of those two-hundred men who succumbed to exhaustion beside the brook and were unable to go and rescue their own families. But, God provided an army of four-hundred other men to go on their behalf. These men who stayed behind were not lazy; they weren’t half-hearted or quitters. They were exhausted. And when their strength had failed, God proved that He was enough -- more than enough.

Every man was reunited with his wife (or wives) and children. And although there were a few of the army of four-hundred who were mean-spirited and wanted to withhold the spoils from those who stayed behind, David refused to listen and decreed that the same reward went to both those who went into battle and those who stayed behind with the gear.

God’s overflowing blessing comes even to those who are too spent to keep fighting. What a comfort it is to realize this, when exhaustion sets in and despair threatens us. We don’t always have to be strong. We must simply rely on God’s strength and on His goodness.


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