Thursday, May 29, 2014

Valley Living (Blog Hop with Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study)

"I will set pines in the
the fir and the cypress
so that the people may see and
may consider and
that the hand of the Lord
has done this,
the Holy One of
Israel has created it."
~Isaiah 41:17-20

I grew up in the Tucson valley, a desert dweller from birth. On every side of our dusty town stood stately mountains in shades of purple and blue. My heart favored the range to the north, with her familiar jagged peaks and her promise of green trees and cooler weather. In 30 minutes you could drive up her climbing road, leaving the prickly wasteland for the comfort of "real trees" on (what felt like) the top of the world. The scripture above reminds me of the desert, and the respite in the mountains for those who live in the valley.

Living as a desert dweller in the valley wasn't difficult. But it was sometimes hard. After all, there is the heat, and the thorns, and the slithery animals.  Seasons don't change with significant signs of showy bloom or vast changes in temperature. Occasionally the winds blow storms in, covering everything in dust, while prayers for rain are whispered.

As far as the calendar is concerned there are four seasons, but in the desert, seasonal variant is not a pendulum given to sway. It's range, in temperature and color, is subtle at best. The desert valley has a beauty of it's own, but you mustn't look too closely, lest you get poked. So, when I was young, I would look to the mountains and pine away, for a life lived on mountain tops.

And so it is spiritually, when I find myself in a season of dryness; when the work is tough and dry winds make vision fuzzy. 

King David, long before he wore a crown, tended sheep in a valley. He toiled and cared, and waited on the Lord. He had brothers who thought him too small, and his work not important.Yet, with his eyes on the Lord, he did what he was called to do. And when the time came for him to fight a giant named Goliath, it was David's strength in the Lord that won.

The Bible is full of lessons in the valley. There is battle and beauty there-- a breeding ground for dependance on the Lord. It is Him alone who quenches our thirst when living in arid lands. When the day is long and the scenery the same; when unrelenting heat presses in and discouragement settles in like so much dust, we can remember our True Strength, and cling to Him. He is the same God who turned a Valley of Trouble to a door of hope.  He can do that with our valleys too.

Twenty years ago I moved from the desert, to a little yellow house set in the piney woods, but He's never called me out of the valley. I can visit the mountaintops for refreshment and rest, but my strength is born when I focus on Him in the battles and beauty of valley living. 

Psalm 121

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.
 God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.
  God guards you from every evil,
    he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    he guards you now, he guards you always.

P31 OBS Blog Hop

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Coastal Getaway

We found a sleepy coastal town to spend one day and one night together. A celebration of nineteen years.

I do believe I could walk with him all day. Especially near water on a sunny day. He is in his element when he's walking outside. Walking near water was the goal of our trip. Eating occasionally was important too. 

He patiently waited as I snapped pictures. He shared my excitement over birds on the water and turtles on land (though I'm pretty sure he's seen them before). We sipped Italian sodas (with real cream) and wondered why we hadn't done this sooner? 

We admired the color of boats. I favored the colorful ones… he, the ones built for power.

We talked about trees that thrive in brackish water. And how it is that our children are suddenly so grown. 

He ran up a green hill with me when my curiosity could no longer be held. I had to know what lay behind that stately white gate.  

He bought me coffee, and ice cream… my love language for sure. 

The house where we stayed was over a 100 years old, and we wondered what lives had been lived there. We laid in the early morning light of a lovely yellow room, content to wake up without an alarm. He didn't even laugh at me as I tried to figure out the crochet pattern of the canopy over the bed. {I think I figured it out!} :)

We celebrated nineteen years by just enjoying each others company. We cannot wait to do it again.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Gift of an Ordinary Week

This week I was given ordinary gifts that made my heart full of gratitude: early morning kitchen floor fellowship with the kids and the dogs; helping The Boy order a corsage; weeping with a friend over not-so-great news; a play date with an adorable baby (and his awesome mama); crying and laughing late at night with friends; enjoying the sudden, and lovely, coming of spring; Rosie the puppy, and her big funny ears; cleaning the barn with The Girl while the rain fell outside; seeing Mandisa in concert… and meeting her too; receiving good news from the dentist; learning about Maypop flowers from my art students (and watching them teach each other how to make them out of paper); praying in fear when the kids left in the minivan for Starbucks on Friday afternoon… a sibling celebration of freedom, a mother's daily lesson in trust; wrapping up peaceful gratitude when they came back home; finding happy selfies on every camera in the house. 

These teenage years are full of so many good things… and so much letting go. My prayer life is growing and i'm trying to learn how to wear Peace at all times. I fail more than I succeed. The learning curve is very wide. I'm grateful for that gift too. 

I'm grateful for a week of ordinary… the good, the not-so-good, and the mercy and grace that covers it all.