Tuesday, December 27, 2011

UNWRAPPING THE BLESSINGS….               
It’s all over… the tree is being replaced by the easy chair that usually sits by the fireplace.  The gifts have been distributed, either to be used, worn or in many cases, returned to the places of purchase.  Leftovers are warmed over – crumbs of the last piece of coconut cake and pecan pie are scraped clean so that the special Christmas dishes can be stored away for another year.
How dear to our hearts are these memories that are relived from year to year –  growing sweeter as does wine with age.  With each year that passes, inevitable change is necessary – life in general creates change.  One thing, however, that never changes is the ‘reason for the season’ – the birth of the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ. 
Christmas is not just any celebration – not just another holiday – another reason to light candles and sing - it’s the original gift that keeps on giving 24/7.  Just because the visible signs of the season are put away and our lives are, for the most part, back to normal – it isn’t over, far from it!  When Jesus comes into your heart and becomes, not only Lord and Savior, but your best friend, He becomes a way of life – a belief that each new day is a blessing – a gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed as on Christmas morn. 
How special we are – how much we are loved!  There are no special requirements – no tests – no expiration date.  All we have to do is to accept, and by faith, believe, in order to receive His gift of Life and Love.
As the New Year approaches, my thoughts turn to resolving issues, doing better, being better – promises to begin a new and improved year – the best ever!  Only time will tell – God has the year already planned, and the year after and the year after that.  All I can do is stay close to Him and be thankful as I unwrap the Blessed Gift of each new day.
                        ________________________________________________
·        “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”    1Thessalonians 5:16-18  (The Message)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Window to the World


The size of one’s window doesn’t necessarily define what one sees.  The limitations of my vision are oft times due to self-inflicted boundaries.
As I looked out my window recently, the sky was tinted with a color that when I tried to think of the words to describe it, I realized there were none.  It wasn’t pink, or orange or another ‘earthly’ color one can pick from a Crayola box.  This sky was painted using God’s special ‘sunrise’ palette.
My eyes, transfixed on the sky as it changed from moment to moment, followed this display of the most amazing colors until the sun rose to its fullness above the trees. To witness the awesome beauty of a morning sunrise, one doesn’t require a grand floor-to-ceiling window overlooking a panoramic horizon – God’s colors shine equally as well through the smallest of dormers in the most modest abode. 
What we see comes from a place deep inside –
For so many years the window to my world was seen through eyes that were clouded to the beauty that lay beyond my windowpanes. Even God’s colors couldn’t penetrate the shield that covered not only my eyes, but also my heart and perhaps to the depths of my soul.  That place deep inside was not discovered until the Lord began healing me from within – beginning so far down in my inner being that for a long time I didn’t recognize the changes that were taking place. 
The Lord works that way, increasing awareness of the smallest, most insignificant things we sometimes take for granted, or worse yet, rarely even notice. They become more important, more interesting – until one morning for no apparent reason, the colors in the sunrise take my breath away. I watch in awe wondering, are all sunrises this beautiful or is today special?  And I hear as if in answer to my silent question - Yes, they are all beautiful, just as every day is special as well as every blessing I bestow upon you – I had looked, but had not seen – not until the Lord persistently made His way into that deep inner place within the soul where, when reached, one’s entire being is transformed.
The windows of my world have changed over the years – the vistas to which they open have changed, but no matter, whether city streets, mountains or the shore, I see with greater appreciation the creation that lies outside my window – nature’s  continuous evolvement from season into season, each with it’s own uniqueness and wonder. From my window that looks eastward toward the sunrise, with all boundaries removed, physically and spiritually, I see the ebb and flow of life.

Be Blest and be Encouraged,
Bobbie  

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11

September 11
Two days before the tenth anniversary of that fateful day in our country, September 11, 2001, memories flood back as the media begins its coverage.  Many tragic events have taken place over the years, but for me 9/11 is one of the most heartbreaking.
Over the past decade, I have watched the event being played and replayed, and it is no less horrific now, nor do I believe the impact will lessen, no matter how many more anniversaries of this date are observed.  I have heard some say they shouldn’t make such a ‘big deal’ every year – it’s over and done, we need to move on – I strongly  disagree.  Although it is especially difficult for the families of the victims, I believe it’s necessary, not only to remember those who were lost and the tireless efforts of the first responders, but also to recognize and be aware of the vulnerability of anyone at any given time. Who would have thought that such a thing could happen in our country?
On my first visit to New York in ’04 with my granddaughter, Kate, out of so many venues and events we planned to see, the one ‘must-see’ was ground zero. What a moment it was to actually be there and see it in person.  I was amazed that it was such an emotional experience – it looked like pictures you see in war movies – total devastation – indescribable!  And then there was the little church across the street from ground zero, St Paul’s Episcopal Chapel, circa mid 1700’s, which turned out to be the highlight of our trip, at least for me.
It was a beautiful old stone building with an arched doorway and small cemetery in the front surrounded by an iron fence.  After seeing the small historical sign that said George Washington had worshipped there, I knew I had to see inside. The moment we opened the heavy wooden door, I was overwhelmed – hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures, mementos, fireman and police badges and hats, handmade quilts from all over the country covered tables and walls.  Thankfully, there were also boxes of Kleenex scattered about… there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen.

Three years had passed by the time we visited the little chapel and there had been countless people who had come through – in the beginning, it served as a refuge for families, workers, visitors, for rest, food, prayer, whatever the need, its doors were always open.  And now it had been turned into a memorial, a sanctuary for the memory of lost loved ones. That was a special day for Kate  and me – the memory of it remains in my mind and heart and is always more vivid at this time each year.
I feel a connection and an obligation to these people, those who were taken and those who remain.  We were all created by the same God, each of us a small part of the whole.  On Sunday, the tenth anniversary of this fateful event, I will as always have my Kleenex handy as I watch the ceremonies at the new World Trade Center site.  Time has not lessened the sadness of it all, but time does remind us how thankful we should be to live in this awesome country.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you - I welcome yours.  May God continue to bless our nation, and may God bless us - every one.

Bobbie

Sunday, July 10, 2011

FREEDOM
The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states:
 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We have many freedoms in this country, many of which are taken for granted.  The most important, at least to me, is freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Just imagine if we were bussed to a place of worship, one that was dictated by the government – or, when writing our blogs, emails, letters, books or educational materials, they would have to be censored.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot even comprehend having to live under these conditions, as many people do.
When I sit down to write my blog, or my notes which one day will be miraculously transformed into my memoir :>) , many times I have no clue what I’m going to say after the subject line is written. I had planned to write about ‘how we know when it’s God’ which I will at some point, mainly because with all that’s happened in the last 2 or 3 weeks regarding my move, there is no doubt that He has been in control.  But, as I said, that’s for another day.
Freedom comes in many forms, and most likely we all have our own appreciation and definition of the various freedoms we enjoy.  There is always that chance that one or more of our freedoms can be taken away, especially as we get older – older I said, not old – there is a difference, you know.  As I write, I am answering my own question as to why this subject?  I see the words and realize that this is a subject closely related to my present circumstances – not that any of my freedom is being taken away, but that a new season in my life is beginning – decisions are being made regarding what is really important, how much is enough and how will I spend my remaining years.   
Living in America, freedom, for the most part, is a choice. We can be free physically, but at the same time, we can limit our freedom by the burdens and baggage we choose to carry – whether real or imagined.  I think of my Mother, gone now for 14 years – she lived alone and had the freedom to do whatever she chose after retiring – but although she had this gift of freedom to learn, travel, volunteer – whatever – she chose to do none of these. She became an agoraphobic in her last few years – fear of the outside world robbed her of her freedom and quality of life. It saddens me that so many, whether due to their choices or their circumstances, are not free but are limited because of health, finances or that old enemy, Fear.
I thank God every day for my country - for the freedom it offers – for health and being of sound mind – I know, some of you are frowning and shaking your head at this remark – but most of the time it works okay.  The Lord has blessed me far beyond anything I would have dreamed – my family and friends who make life’s journey worthwhile and interesting, not to mention Maggie, my dear little four-legged companion who brings so much joy. And now as a new season begins, I look forward with anticipation to whatever is in store – to embrace and explore the gift of freedom that opens the door to unlimited opportunities and possibilities.
God Bless you and yours.

   

 

  


Friday, July 1, 2011

Friendship





What a blessing - the gift of friendship.

The Lord knew we would need someone to lean on, someone with whom we could share, not only our sorrows and disappointments, but our joys and achievements as well.  One may have numerous acquaintances during their lifetime, but  true friends are counted among life's greatest blessings.

From the beginning, the Lord knew our needs. He knew there would be the darkness of the valleys - those times when a kind word can be so reassuring and a strong hand  taking hold of ours to steady our walk. Most of all, He knew we would need those who would accept us as we are, giving us companionship and love unconditionally with nothing expected in return.  These, I believe, are the qualifications of a friend.

The Lord brings people into our lives for different reasons and different seasons. Some are with us for just a season, while others remain, steadfast and true. During my lifetime countless people have walked with me, encouraged and endured the trials and tribulations - many were not destined to remain and have gone their own way - but those that the Lord chose for my long term friends have been and are among my life's greatest blessings.  Those are the ones who accompanied me through the darkest times, as well as those who shared the awesome view from the mountaintop.
Time spent there is like no other - a place to be refreshed, renewed and restored.

Thank you, Lord, for friends - for these special blessings in my life.
                                     ***********
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"  Eccl 4:10



Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not Father, but Daddy



As with all special occasions and holidays, they come around every year.  Father's Day is no exception.  God called Daddy home forty-six years ago.  He was only forty-nine and had finally stopped drinking, remarried and was happy, probably for the first time in his life. After so many years of turmoil and unhappiness, I ask again, Why, God?  

I didn't know Daddy very well.  I won't bore you with all the details, but briefly, Mother and Daddy divorced when I was seven - the typical dysfunctional scenario - young parents who didn't have a clue, throw in alcohol, very little money, struggles within the family members to stay afloat and stay together, and there you have it.  As I look back, we didn't have a lot going for us - that's not an excuse, it just was what it was at the time.

After the divorce, Daddy and I were, you might say, estranged.  Oddly enough, I didn't think much about it then - my life was moving along, ordinary but okay.  I was married at eighteen in my sister-in-law's home - I don't remember either Mother or Daddy being there.  Later, the children came along, and from time to time we would visit Daddy and his wife.  As well as I remember, it was always an obligatory thing - not a 'real' family gathering - I guess it was because we were never a 'real' family. 

After he quit drinking, Daddy was a different person, but perhaps by then, we had grown too far apart, too distant in our own everyday lives.  Had I realized, of course, that our time was limited, I would have made more effort - but isn't that always the way?  As they say, you never miss something until it's gone - and my Daddy was gone way too soon - before I could say, "I love you, Daddy - I'm sorry we weren't closer, but we'll do better from now on."

Daddy died in a tragic car accident - taking someone else's place at work one day.  Why that day?  Why couldn't it have been the next day?  If this doesn't confirm the adage 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time'  - or maybe not.  My beliefs have changed over the years and today I know in my heart, it was his time - I don't know why, but I know God was ready for him to come home. He gave Daddy that opportunity to change his life and to come to know Him - if not for that, I would have some serious doubts, but thankfully, I am comforted knowing he's with the Lord and hopefully can look down on me and my family and look forward to the day when he can meet his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and we'll finally be a 'real' family.

So, here's to you, Daddy - I hope you can hear me when I say I love you and miss you.  Sorry we didn't spend more time together, but one day we'll have all of eternity to catch up. 

Happy Daddy's Day

Thursday, June 16, 2011

AFTER THE STORM



As most of you know by now, mornings on my porch are my favorite time of day. A place to meditate, contemplate and mentally and spiritually restore, reflect and renew.

I marvel at the tranquility and sense of normalcy after the intense storm last night. I have seen storms in my life, but this was different, not just in intensity, but the overall experience. The power went out shortly after sunset - the darkening night sky began its transformation into an awesome display of nature's fury totally unleashed!  What made this storm so unusual was this cloud in the distance, clearly defined and set apart with a display of  continuous lightening so bright I would have to look away. That's not so unusual you might say - but what was unique to this particular cloud was its color - it was red.  It looked as though the area below was in flames and the lightening was reflecting this in the night sky - like something you see in one of these 'end of times' movies - honestly, that's what it looked like - a special effects scene staged to frighten its audience with 'shock and awe.' 

Usually, summer storms blow over quickly, but not this one.  Although the wind was fierce, this storm wasn't affected - it kept its steadfast position until all its energy was used up.
In the midst of it all, my grandson, Tony, who always comes up with his own particular style of humor, says "I think it's the rapture."  But, since we're still here this morning, that was not the case.

A new day has dawned, God's in His Heaven and all's right with the world.  We are back in the morning routine that pervades my little back yard world - birds busy with the things birds do, cows contentedly grazing ( I did worry just a little about them, although I am much better about that), flowers are bright and refreshed after the much-needed rain and the air is a bit cooler. This is life - this is how it's supposed to be.  If we didn't have the storms, we wouldn't appreciate the moments of quiet inner and outer peace that surround us - such as this, another ordinary morning after an extraordinary experience of God's amazing Power and Love.

Be Blessed and Be Encouraged............

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Actions - not Words

As much as I love words and love to write, that scripture keeps coming back to me: "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only."  Words are empty without action - a false commentary with no meaning, no committment - the easy way out.

Do we see and hear ourselves as others do?  I think not. We all come from our own place, where we are, and we think what that place is is important - and well it may be - important to that person, but not necessarily to anyone else. As they say, 'you have to be there - you have to walk in another's shoes.'  Not always possible physically, but if we learn anything from God's teaching, it should be compassion and sensitivity to those less fortunate.  

Being less fortunate doesn't mean, less money, less material things - it means 'less anything that keeps a person stifled in their suffering and feeling of inadequacy.  "Do I count?  Do I matter? Why am I taking up space on this earth?"  If any of us have these questions, we could be one of the less fortunate.  One definition of 'fortunate' is:  receiving good from unexpected or uncertain sources. 

I am the first to admit, I don't understand how this works - knowing God doesn't play favorites, how can it be that so many are so unfortunate?  Some say we create our own problems and misery - to an extent, I believe it.  Others say, we make our own luck, yet others say there is no such thing as luck.  These are more things I do not understand - we all have our own personal experiences and beliefs. 

The one truth I am sure of is that the Lord didn't put us on this earth to be hurtful to one another, to ignore those in need, whether a friend, family or complete stranger.  I often look back at missed opportunities when 'I was too busy, or it wasn't a convenient time' - it saddens my heart that I have these memories, these missed chances to show God's Love - and I know it saddens Him as well. 

My job is not to analyze why and wherefore - my job, in my opinion, is to recognize and be proactive - not ignore a situation because it doesn't fit my schedule.  It takes more than words to mend a broken heart, to lighten someone's load, to share a grief or loss - it is the direct and personal touch of a hand or comfort of a shoulder, or perhaps just the presence of a fellow human being, listening and walking with you side by side, saying "I am here to help - take my hand lean on me."

Be encouraged and be blessed,






Thursday, June 2, 2011

Passing it Forward




The reality of my need to write was recognized many years ago.  Most times when the spoken word fails me, the written word will take over.  I have stacks of journals and folders filled with 'writings' and have often wondered why I've kept them all these years.  There is a reason I now realize - they are to be most useful in writing my memoir.  The problem will be to make the time and have the patience to go through them all.  I know, though, once I start, it will be done in one sitting so there must be no distractions and no place I have to go for at least 24 hours.

I am reminded of something I just read in Natalie Goldberg's, Writing Down the Bones - "When I reread my notebooks it never fails to remind me that I have a life, that I felt and thought and saw. It is very reaffirming, because sometimes writing seems useless and a waste of time.  Suddenly you are sitting in your chair fascinated by your own mundane life...........we awaken ourselves to the life we are living."  I guess that's my feeling also.  Yay - I have something in common with NG, an awesome writer and teacher!  So, who am I trying to impress?  I am not in her league, her circle of literary friends - I do not have an agent or have the phone number of a New York publishing house - but one thing I do have - I have an  extraordinary group of people in 'my circle' who support me, listen to my whining and so important, are always encouraging of my sometimes lame efforts at being a writer.  {Those last words are from 'my inner censor' who just has to speak out at times - I've given him a little space here, if for no other reason than to acknowledge I know he's there and I recognize him for who he his - and then I move on secure in the knowledge of who I am and that what I write may not be important or interesting to everyone, but it's not meant to be.  One person may be encouraged or lifted up, and if it is just that one, it may make a world of difference in their life.

I have so much I want to share with others - if I can touch them, those whom I will never meet personally, by connecting through the written word, perhaps my story will help to write theirs.  It's by our life experiences that we learn our own truths and values.  One important truth I have learned is that we are created uniquely with our own special gifts and talents to bestow in whatever way that might be of help or service to our fellow man. Now that I know this truth, I feel compelled to "pass it forward" and to believe at the end of the day it will made a difference.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you - I welcome you to share yours with me. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Is anyone listening to me?


You may find this post is a bit different from the norm -  it's about some of my 'backyard buddies' - they are so cool. 
One morning last week while having coffee on the screened porch, one of the cows in the pasture that adjoins my backyard, was making some really weird mooing sounds. Of course, they do that fairly often, but perhaps the sound was such a contrast to the still of the early morning that it seemed different. 
I don't claim to know that much about cows, but he just kept on and on and I assumed this was his way of trying to communicate.  I say 'trying' because from where I was sitting, it was obvious no one was paying attention.  There were at least 40 or 50 cows in the pasture, each one doing his thing - slowing shifting from one spot to another as they grazed, seemingly oblivious to anything else around them.
As I observed and listened, I began to think how forlorn, but deliberate the sound was, as if to say, "I am here and what I'm feeling is important."

I'm sure you may be thinking, That poor woman - is it time for someone to contact her family  for an intervention, or at least, some counseling?

True, since moving here four years ago, I have gotten attached and have spent a good deal of time studying and analyzing my four-legged bovine neighbors.  This particular morning, though, was somehow different - maybe the woeful sound, or maybe my perception of what I was hearing.   

Thoughts came to mind of times I had 'tried' to reach out - but as with my pasture friend, I felt I was reaching into a void, a world of "I'm too busy, I don't understand, I have my own problems, just get over yourself!" Of course, this wasn't true at all, but in my lonely little place of unworthiness and all things negative, this was my belief.  Even God didn't care! How bad is that?  And so, for a long period of time, I detached myself from this cold, uncaring world and the One who created it.   

For so long, I would view these times as a 'blank' - an almost non-existent life in the black hole of nothingness had no purpose, no reason for being - nothing mattered and nothing was accomplished - a waste of time, waiting, for what I'm not sure - maybe for it to mercifully be over. Nothing could have been further from the truth.  God was present during those dark days - He knew eventually His Light would penetrate that darkness and His Truth would be revealed - in His Time - after my lesson was learned.

We are all taught in ways that we, as individuals, can comprehend and learn.  My friends in the pasture are a daily reminder of God's Presence in all things.  The fence between us may set a physical boundary, but I know I am free to go beyond, to go over the distant mountain to see what's on the other side - I am connected to all things and to all God's creatures.  They are here for a purpose, just as we all are. 

I don't worry about the cows like I used to when a storm was approaching, or when they had no where to lay except on the cold blanket of snow.  They survive - they were made to survive the elements. Who am I, questioning God? Instead I now see these amazing creatures as examples, as having purpose, as part of the whole.  I do, however, watch and listen more intently - " I hear you, I tell them, I am listening......" 

Friday, May 20, 2011

A PERFECT PEACE


Life changes, we change, priorities are revisited – time is more valuable the less we have. 
In recent weeks, for some reason unknown to me, I am becoming more aware of this, even in the most insignificant things – such as:  this evening while having dinner on my porch as I normally do in nice weather, something just came over me – a feeling of well-being, peace and the absolute sense of ‘this is my life and I am experiencing an extraordinary moment.’ 
Everything seemed to come together just as if it were planned – my favorite time of day when the sky is transitioning into dusk – a cool breeze moving the earlier rain clouds off to the east – the delicate scent of my new ‘Serenity’ candle – a fresh cup of coffee – my backyard birds chirping and flitting about preparing to settle down for the night – and to top it all off, my grandson sends a message that he and his fiancĂ©e, who is expecting their first child, a girl whose name will be McKenzie, were married this afternoon.
There are special moments in life when words are inadequate, when we are filled to overflowing, when we have an overwhelming desire to laugh and cry at the same time.   I had a strong sense that God paid me a visit on my porch this evening – and for no other reason, I think,  than to let me know He cares and wanted to share a special moment with me.  I truly believe this – now. 
Not too many years past, instead of feeling the Presence of God, I would be having a serious ‘pity party’ – poor me, alone again – feeling so detached, mentally and physically, from everything and everyone.  Those who have suffered from depression know these symptoms, those who have not, get on your knees and thank God!
I could have had the same dinner, same surroundings, same phone call, but would have viewed it all in a totally negative light, never recognizing that this was a gift, something that may only happen once in a lifetime.  I wonder, How many other special moments were there and I was unaware of them?
It amazes me that the Lord has loved me enough to keep believing in me, knowing that so often I am slow to learn, selfish and stubborn.  After all, He knows us better than we know ourselves – He knew us before the beginning, while we were yet unborn.
This is but one example of how my life has changed.  All God’s Blessings are good, but I think sometimes special ones are reserved for days like today.
Bobbie

Monday, May 16, 2011

MY STORY

TI realized many years ago that I have the need to write. Most times, when the spoken word fails me, the written word takes over.  Stacks of journals and folders hold an accounting of much of my life over the past twenty years.  Since taking an online 'Write your Life Story' course, my motivation to begin 'my story' has been given a shot in the arm.  This has been a project that has been left on the back burner for too long now.  If not now, when? I ask myself - and the reply was, It's time. 
Time to get out that box of endless writings and sort through, although I know before I begin that at least one day must be set aside in order to read them all - maybe two days.  Pulling this and that from the bits and pieces is going to be a daunting and emotional task, to say the least.  But I am committed.  My primary reason for documenting my story, other than for my children and grandchildren, is the desire to reach out to those who need encouragement and support, to know they're not alone.  Perhaps my story will help others to write theirs.
It is by life experiences that we learn our own truths and values and one important truth I have learned is that we are each created with our own special gifts to bestow in whatever way might be of help or service to our fellow man.  The Lord has been nudging me in the direction of writing for quite a while now and I intend to follow His lead, taking the leap of faith that will turn my dream into reality, and to believe at the end of the day I made a difference.
"If it's going to be, it's up to me."  Dr. Robert Schuller
Posted by Bobbie Edwards at 2:47 PM
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