Saturday, December 22, 2007

My First Train Ride

Last Monday we took our two grandchildren on their first train ride. We rode the TRE to downtown Ft. Worth to see her all decked out for Christmas. It was a memorable experience for all of us.

Faith was delighted to find out that she could walk around on the train. For one who does not like to sit still, this was an awesome bonus. Brother Charlie was captivated by all the scenery passing by, and being able to watch the engineer operate the train. You could not wipe the smiles off their faces.

Freddy, the conductor, was truly an angel. He took us under his wing and told us lots of stories. He directed us to some seats at the front of the train so we could have a terrific view of the tracks. He wrote his name and other information including a blessing on one of the train schedules as a souvenir for the kids.
What a gem!

Before we took the grandchildren back home, Faith made sure she had my full attention, and summed the day up with: "Gram, this day is going to be one of my first best memories!" Charlie impressed upon us his interest in going for another train ride soon in the opposite direction to Dallas. Freddy, the conductor, had suggested that to us. I imagine he will not let us forget!

I can tell you, as a parent or grandparent, nothing is better than knowing your children and their children love to spend time with you, and knowing they feel safe and protected in your care. We have been so blessed in these generations to make such wonderful, loving memories together. That is worth more than gold and silver.

A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children.
Proverbs 13:22

Angels on High

We took our grandkids, by way of a train, to downtown Ft. Worth last Monday. The walk to Main Street took us by Bass Hall. Its architecture, as you can see, is magnificent.

Any time of the year these angels leave an incredible impression on me. But at Christmas I imagine they are part of the angelic choir trumpeting the good news of great joy that was for all the people:
Today your Savior was born in the town of David.
He is Christ, the Lord. Lk. 2:11

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Reflection on Giving

This mirror in my front hall reflects red jingle bells. Somehow a bell ringing at Christmas just gives a feeling of lightness and childlike wonder. As I get mired down in lists, errands, expenses, commitments, the season takes on heaviness and I let those things steal my joy. Actually, I give the joy away as I try to achieve getting things done and checked off my list, and rushing to that perfect holiday.

There was a time in my life that I had to practice saying "NO" in the mirror. I figured if someone asked me to do something then it meant I was supposed to do it. I didn't want to disappoint others, and wanted them to like me, so found myself doing lots of things I didn't enjoy for all sorts of wrong reasons.

I find, especially at Christmas, that unrealistic expectations can get me in lots of trouble. My greatest joy in these last few years has been to give several gifts to people that don't expect one. Sometimes they are even given in ways that the person does not know who was responsible for the gift. The joy of giving something done in secret is its own reward. The funny thing is that it covers up the giver in delight and blessing as much or more than the recipient. It tilts the world system of lists of expensive, expected wants and must haves.

Don't get me wrong...I love giving presents to my family and cooking traditional holiday things for them. But I find myself yearning for simpler times and ways of giving and being together. I have found glimpses through a few practices.

I highly recommend:
1. Giving an unexpected gift to someone God leads you to bless.
2. Giving yourself the gift of a block of time with a friend or loved one.
3. Saying "NO" as a complete sentence in response to something you really do not want to do, and does not bring you joy.

It is very freeing, and you may find yourself, like me, delighting in the childlike wonder of Christmas again.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

By Faith

Sometimes I get a photograph that my friends call a "God shot." The interesting thing about going digital is that I see immediately, without having to wait for film, what showed up in the picture. There is evidence of things in the photo that my eye did not see. But there was a call of deep to deep that drove me to take the picture.

What delight when I realized that taking a picture of the wreath on my front door captured a Texas sunset in the glass at the center! The Father of light and life gave me a light show smack dab in the middle of the wreath I hung to honor the babe we celebrate this season.

We received the light when we believed on him, the Word that was with God that became flesh. Those first enthusiastic responses of faith are fired again when He reveals himself in photographs such as this one. When I am stirred by the spirit to shoot some photos, I know by faith that there is something He wants to show me. I have confidence that responding to the nudge of God's will actually stimulates hope and perseverence in me that likewise can encourage others in their faith. I think that pleases God. He is always the proper object of genuine faith, and richly rewards it. He nudges us to seek him; find him. He delights in being found!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blue Poinsettia

I am amazed when I see a flower bloom in a new color. I have been drawn to photograph roses that looked black, silver, or lime green; and lately I succumbed to buying a blue poinsettia. I am not sure if it was grown, dyed, sprayed, or just how it arrived at its color. All I know is that I like it. I can tell you by looks that I get not everyone thinks it is pretty. Maybe pretty odd, "silk??"; or nothing spoken at all accompanied by rolling eyes.

I remember reacting negatively to some green catsup a few years ago. Catsup is supposed to be red. Poinsettias are supposed to be red. No wearing white shoes certain times of the year. No mixing gold and silver, although there is a current trend to do exactly that. I guess I use color to illustrate how much we get in the box with certain expectations of how things are supposed to be. We can even become legalistic with color.

I imagine that some of my free spirit is because of the right brain artist thing. But I imagine my mind will be totally blown each time I get to see another dimension of God when I am in heaven. A blue poinsettia will be pretty mundane. I suspect that when we experience something out of this world we may be getting a small spiritual preview of that thing we cannot wrap our minds around, about whom we cannot lean unto our own understanding.
That would be GOD, OUT OF THE BOX.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Perfect Gift

I was taking some pictures of Christmas decorations around my house when the scene above my front door caught my eye. As the sun began to set, the scene changed because of the light.

I got two different pictures of the very same thing in a matter of less than an hour because the sky showing through the window changed from soft blues into sunset hues. As I searched scripture about "light" I came across the scripture about every good and perfect gift. It also contained a line about shifting shadows. The figures in the window are Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The babe who is the word of truth made flesh, the perfect gift. Wow! God so loved us that He gave the perfect gift.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17-18


For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

I received a package in the mail yesterday that was worth more than silver or gold. My Colorado friends sent me a package full of the mountain. It contained fresh green boughs, a great book, chocolate, and precious fox and moose ornaments.

I thought about putting the boughs together with the wired ribbon enclosed so I could hang it on my front door. But God led me to exactly where all the gifts should reside: a treasure chest. The chest lives in the front hall, but now is full of smells, tastes, thoughts, and heartstrings from Evergreen. It reminds my heart that the simple gifts, many times the least expensive, are the ones we hold dear.



Thursday, December 6, 2007

Nostalgic Toys

Every Christmas when I set up my elephant tree I remember the small grey and red stuffed elephant I had as a child. Some of my earliest memories were of taking it to my mother to mend when a newly exposed tuft of stuffing showed itself through worn seams. Finally, there was little left to mend. It was my Velveteen Elephant, so to speak.

As an adult, I saw a similar stuffed elephant at a garage sale. It brought the memories flooding back of my special toy. The tears ran down my cheeks. I collected unique elephants from that point on until I let them all go in favor of just having elephant ornaments on a Christmas tree. I've posted a few of my favorites.

My two daughters had a similar strong reaction to some childhood toys in a discussion during Thanksgiving dinner. I had recently found a little red loom at a garage sale that came with bags of stretch loops for making pot holders. My girls spent hours making them for Christmas presents when they were little. They were beside themselves when I gave it to my granddaughter for her birthday. I wonder if they all have made my Christmas pot holders yet?

The girls also talked about Cabbage Patch dolls, and how they had to settle for a homemade one by me, because I couldn't afford to get them the real deal back then. They were hard to get; availability, fighting over them in stores with women grabbing to get the few that came in, and the ridiculous price of 60 dollars. That was in the young children age of our marriage where, after the bills were paid, we were lucky to have 60-80 dollars to last for two weeks until the next payday. There was hardly a choice between dolls or food on the table.

Anyway, those are a few of my stories about my, and my children's nostalgic toys.
What toys do you remember having as a young child?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nature Calls

Back from church on Sunday, our first task was to get the Christmas decorations down from the attic. Our second was to take a quick nap. The third might have been putting up Christmas decorations, but we were overtaken by a beautiful day and rich autumn colors. We found ourselves driving to the Ft. Worth Nature Center to hike through the wonderful late splash of autumn.

We saw buffalo, deer, ducks, heron, butterflies, and a wonderful variety of autumn leaves and berries. The leaves, many of them heart-shaped, seemed to scream the Creator's love for us.

So, as many neighbors were putting outdoor lights on their houses, we were lagging behind, though it be December 2, in the beauty of the fall. As a funny side note: the park hours had changed to the winter schedule of 5:00 closing time for the refuge instead of 7:00; and we found ourselves locked in the refuge center at 5:15. We had to call the Ft. Worth P.D. to unlock the gate. The two officers looked rather solemn as they unlocked the gate, and informed us that there would be a $75 fine. Their response to our "Are you kidding?" was "yeah," followed by a gotcha stream of laughter. PTL!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Paws to Celebrate

I hope these doggies
dressed up for the Jingle Bell Run
will give you Paws to Celebrate. (groan)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Run the Race

Yesterday my husband ran a 5K race in downtown Ft. Worth. He came in fourth in his age group. This running thing is relatively new in his life. He has lost 65 pounds and kept it off for three years! I went to cheer him across the finish line, and was very proud of his perseverence in the race down the city's streets and also how he runs the race called "life."

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Banquet Hall

When I set a table with tapestries,candles, gifts, china and silver or gold flatware, it is because I want the guests to feel loved. I want each one to know the place at the table was especially prepared for her. I can only imagine what it will be like to sit at in the Lord's Banquet Hall. But I know the main ingredient in every part of the feast will be LOVE!

He has taken me to the banquet hall,
and his banner over me is love. Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am faint with love.

Song of Songs 2:4-5

Friday, November 30, 2007

Little Baby

I can remember exactly where I was when I got the words to this song. It was the end of November, 2000, and I was sitting in traffic along Hall Johnson Road. The highways were jammed with stressed holiday shoppers. I decided to turn off the radio and just rest in the Lord as I was waiting in traffic.

It dawned on me, having been listening to Christmas music, that I had never gotten a Christmas song from the Lord. I asked Him to give me one, and the words started flooding in. The only thing I could find to write on was a McDonald's napkin.

God charged me with the idea of going to the manger and ministering to the Christ child. I told him my heart and held him in my arms. If you could do the same, what would you say?

copyright Connie 2007







Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bridal Gown

My daughter and I had several months since the Christmas morning engagement to prepare for her wedding. She asked if I would make her gown. With much trepidation I suggested that we look for a pattern, but before I sew it see if we might find something already made that was like what she wanted.

We found the dress, but it needed alterations. As the wedding neared, we had to go back three times to get it fitted properly. Amy had selected a veil that had a red satin trim on the edge. She had purchased tiny red beads for me to sew into the center of the small flowers that edged the bodice.

Finally, a few days before the wedding, we got the dress and I began the task of replacing the white beads with the red ones. As I got into the rhythm of attaching them, I accidentally pricked my finger with the needle and left a small dot of blood on the dress. I panicked, but decided to leave it because it was so small and trying to fix it might make a bigger mess.

The whole issue of my blood on her wedding dress had me bursting into tears. I believe that most parents would lay down their lives for their children. My child's birth came with blood, and this intensive labor of love on her wedding gown also came with a blood sacrifice.

Christ came as the Lamb of God to Earth, to give his life for God's children. The spiritual wedding gown is a blood issue. He makes us his holy bride through the sacrifice of his own body, once for all...

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am~it is written about me in the scroll~I have come to do your will, O God.' "
Hebrews 10:5-7

Talk about a labor of love!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Army of Napkins

I have been so busy with my daughter's wedding, Thanksgiving dinner, and preparing for a Christmas by Candlelight tomorrow evening at church, that I have not been to blogworld. Part of the preparation for the wedding reception was sewing 200 cloth napkins. As I had them starched and folded on the counter, they reminded me of soldiers. The Acts 19 scripture of miracles happening through handkerchiefs came to mind.

I began thinking about how these napkins would touch people's mouths, to clean them up. I prayed over them that they would bring longing for deeper relationship with God, along with joy, and healing to those they touched. They were sent out prayed over, and I knew they would bless many.

By the way, the wedding was great fun, and a beautiful day! It only went off with one hitch: the bride and groom! (groan)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Immeasurably more...

My friends had told me she had been visiting their cabin and would occasionally take a peanut from their fingers. I longed for her to trust me enough to have the same experience during my visit. I sat as a statue on the front porch of the cabin and waited for her. My friend had left me alone outside to see if she would approach me. She came timidly, taking a step, stopping, taking another; cautiously watching for any quick movement or reason to flee. I started singing softly in the Spirit. We made eye contact and the trust was secure... she came and grasped the peanut from my fingers, then dashed away. I sat there with tears streaming down my face. What an incredible gift God had prepared for me! Beautiful "Light" came several times a day when I was there. I will never forget her!

Praise to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Eph. 3:20

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meditation on a Moose

We had prayed to see a moose on our girl trip, so we were thrilled when we rounded the corner to see this incredible guy at the side of the road. Friend Les at the wheel was well-acquainted with the habits of Colorado wildlife. She had cautioned me before about how fast a moose can move; but I was still taken by surprise at the quick mental and physical process he went through of choosing to charge us or retreat down the steep mountainside. Thankfully, he turned and picked up speed so much that he was but a blurry mass easily maneuvering the steepness of his escape route. His diminuative backside was quite a contrast to the massive shoulders and rack we encountered but a short distance from the car a few moments before.

I thought about how we all will find huge, dark, dangerous things in the middle of our paths at points in our lives. But those very things, passed, will have added a depth and maturity to our journeys. They will grow our faith and compassion, teach us perseverence, and give us witness to encourage others and extend to them the hope of conquering the huge darkness which seems impassible.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

God's Garden

I was amazed when I looked out of my mountain window at this unexpected palette of colors in morning light. I expected yellows and oranges; even some reds. But this combination was quite stunning. I was equally drawn to the many colors on the pepper in my friend's garden. Both reminded me that God plants a garden pleasing to the eye and good for food (Gen.2:9)

Thank you Lord for how you paint the harvest and the autumn forests. Thank you for providing our food in such varied textures, colors, flavors, and shapes. Thank you for flooding your creation with such abundance and beauty!

Fan the Flame

I took this picture in my friend Fran's backyard. The flower captivated me because it looked as though it was shooting out flames. It brought to mind the terrible fires in California. The Santa Ana winds sometimes reached 100 mph as they fanned the flames of destruction. Evidence was found that some of the fires were the result of arson. The intention was to kill, steal, and destroy.

One of my favorite life verses tells us that God did not give us a spirit of fear. But sometimes directly before or after a well-known verse, there is a pearl just as valuable. When I searched the book of 2 Timothy for the "fear" verse, I found these precious words leading into my life verse:

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2Tim. 1:5-7

We believers, being developed by the Holy Spirit, are purposed to fan the flames of life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Search

Get in the wagon!
Let's have some fun
searching the field
for the very best one!

This one is skinny;
that one is spoiled.
The hunt is intense,
but undaunted we toiled.

A big one for mama;
two small ones for us...
all part of tradition
to make such a fuss...

Later, we'll call her:
"Gram, come to our place!"
The carving's completed...
each now has a lit face.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Children's Children

My journey in life has taken me through abuse, addiction, and cancer. Surviving each one has given me an appreciation for every day. I had the cancer occur when I had two young children. I wondered if I would get to see them grow to adult women.

Well...I spent this morning with my two grandchildren in a field of pumpkins. They couldn't wait to call me this evening, inviting me to see the finished jack-0-lanterns! It is a treasure beyond description to have the love and respect of my grown children and the giddy delight on the faces of my children's children when they see me. The Lord has done great things for me!

These are scriptures close to my heart:

...and may you live to see your children's children. Ps. 128:6

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

Those who sow in tears

will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with him.

Ps. 125:4-6

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mirror, Mirror

I have always loved the colors blue and yellow together. I remember picking blue and yellow wildflowers out in the pastures of Nebraska, and arranging them in small bouquets stuffed into a small jam jar. I also found the color combination in beautiful fabric prints I discovered while motoring through Provence, France.

But this scene has got to be one of my favorite blue and yellow memories. We were driving around hunting for smaller roads that might lead us to a hidden treasure such as this. We could see through breaks in the trees what seemed to be water. The adventure continued as we tried to find an opening to see the promising panorama. The view of the slim, taller than you can imagine, aspen trees stretching into the blue sky, and seeming to reach for us in the mirrored image across the lake, was one of those visual blessings that I will forever cherish. It was as if they were holding God's hand in heaven, and reaching out for ours across the water.


When I look at myself in the mirror these days I see the reflection of some older woman with crow's feet, sagging neck, and graying hair! I know that inwardly I am being daily renewed to reflect my beautiful Jesus. So, I choose not to lose heart by what my eyes see; but fix them on what is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18) It is interesting how we are more able to reflect God's image when we are less concerned with our own. Holding God's hand and reaching out for others is what He sees as Beauty.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Same God

While my friend and I were driving through the Colorado Rockies, we often wondered how many trees were on a given breathtaking hill.

Some hills were totally green with pine: others were a solid yellow mass of aspen trees.

Sometimes He lined those mountains up with aspens on one, pines on the next, and snowy peaks on the third!


It is the same God who measured the mountains in a scale (Isaiah 40) that knows the number of trees in a forest or the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12.)

That is a BIG, yet PERSONAL GOD!

Nothing is too big, or too little for Him.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Daily Bread

While I was in the mountains we baked a loaf of homemade bread.

I can remember the heavenly aroma filling the cabin, the impatience while the loaf was cooling, and the anticipation of the first bite slathered in butter and blackberry jam.

It is good to go back and look at this photograph: it reminds me to stay in the moment, and out of the troubles of the future. Preparing for tomorrow is one thing, but worrying about it is quite another! Gratitude and trust for provision go a long way in receiving God's peace.

Give us today our daily bread.
Matt. 6:11 (NIV)

"Give your entire attention
to what God is doing right now,
and don't get worked up
about what may or may not
happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal
with whatever hard things come up
when the time comes."
Matt. 6:14 (The Message)

Friday, October 5, 2007

On Track

This morning I finished the last of 200 napkins I have been sewing for my daughter's wedding next month. The track from the first to last was long, including miles of thread and two breakdowns of the sewing machine. But starting and persevering were the keys to getting to the finish line. It is not my nature to do a little work on any given project, and set it aside. I wanted to finish them all in one day. Impossible!

This effort was a good reminder about building skill and letting go of perfection. I remember an instructor in massage therapy school saying that after working on a thousand bodies your hands will begin to know what they are doing! When napkin "200" stood proudly finished on my kitchen counter, I had no doubt about how to efficiently sew, starch, fold, and box these napkins!


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Wind

Sometimes in the land of aspen trees the wind is heard swelling from afar.
The "quaking" of the leaves almost sounds like rainfall.
Once experienced, you can hardly wait to see and hear it again.
Though the wind is invisible, its effects can be seen
as the flittering of leaves moves like a tidal wave
or ray of sun across a hillside.
It is as if the Holy Spirit has swept through, and you
were standing in the wave of the rapture.
These kinds of impressions can draw you to God.
That is why I send out Picture the Word;
believing that what He has let me see for you

through my lens will draw you closer to Him.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from
or where it is going.
So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Jn. 3:8