Tuesday, March 28, 2017

One Ringing Bell Spring Home Vignettes and the Stories Behind Them

Spring started for me after Christmas; I need to plunge right ahead to lighter and brighter. Just a reminder of my caveat back at Christmas and how I have to be very creative about decorating with limited budget.

So, my first vignette started back in January. I hung a painting I did over this garage sale find chest. I painted this scene of a Victorian home in middle Georgia, the grounds of which remind me of my beloved grandmother’s house, now demolished. The painting hangs directly in my line of sight when I wake up in the morning―a good way to start the day.

I bought a new pillow from T.J. Maxx and put it on this chair I recovered myself, so don’t look too closely. I am aware that I never got around to recovering that little patch on the arms. What is it the Nester says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” Then, I roamed the house looking for things that would work with the artwork including this weird lamp I found a couple of years ago. Don't ask me why I love it, maybe because of the sculptural quality.

In the living room, where I have my prayer time on this sofa many mornings, I made a little nest of shredded Aspen wood. I’ve had the glass eggs for a while, but I thought they looked pretty with the Aspen wood. The handmade pottery vase was a birthday present last year from my kids. The laughing rabbit and his friend came to me as gifts from the women I worked with during those ten years I spent as a fashion buyer.

I heard a designer on television once say, “We’ll fill the shelves with cute books.” I did look for books that went with this color palette, but they are all books we love for the words inside, not their covers alone. Finally, the painting  I did is an illustration of a line in Sidney Lanier’s Marshes of Glynn poem but of a location where our family has spent many wonderful days on a coastal Georgia island. The title of the painting, “On the firm packed sand, Free.”

This French Country cupboard is my favorite piece of furniture in the house―made by my dad. I found a picture in a magazine and asked him if he would make it. I love it so much and having my dad’s handiwork in the house makes me feel he is still with me in some way. This piece has had many lives. It’s been traditional flow blue and transfer ware in the past, but now I have my collection of American pottery on it, all scavenged from garage and estate sales.


The big bird plates were a gift from a friend and play into a lifelong love I have for all things bird. However, I have probably reached my maximum capacity to display such things. I even pulled a few bird-ish items from this vignette thinking them too much. The wax rabbit sits in my mother’s bread bowl. A talented artist made the little church of reclaimed wood pulled from our church during a remodel.

Finally, I haven't decided exactly what my Easter table will be, but I know I'll use this cross as a centerpiece.

Thanks for coming along on my brief vignette tour. This time of year is all about new life and new starts. Friends, I'm praying each of you are finding those possibilities in your own lives.

One of my favorite verses reads, " . . . just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4). I am so thankful for new beginnings.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Coming at you fast

The end is actually in sight on a new book project, but still lots of work ahead. I'm trying to stay focused, so, that's why I'm reaching into the archives today. I love this picture of our dog Charlie, who sadly is no longer with us, but the photo brings back great memories and a wonderful lesson he left me.

Our poodle Charlie has a problem whenever we go to the beach. With Charlie being so small, and the wind currents strong, he appears as if he’s going to lift into the air like the “Flying Nun.”

Now’s there’s a dated reference for you.

As you can see, his little ears stand at right angles to his body the whole time we’re there. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to affect his enjoyment though.

I've often known how he feels. I’ve been in the middle of some strong winds myself during which I could hardly catch my breath before another problem presented itself.

Jesus offered wisdom for times like this. “If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock” (Matthew 6: 25 The Message).

Sometimes life comes at you so fast, you hardly have time to process. You don’t want to lift off your foundation when rains, rivers, and tornados come, which often appear as health issues, family problems, or financial struggles.

The thing I know about Charlie is that when he’s at the beach, someone’s always holding him, and that makes him feel safe.

And if we allow God to plant His words of truth deep within us, We’ll be secure through any storm.

So, if you see me, and my ears are flapping, don’t worry.

The winds may howl, but God’s got me.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When you need a chicken

I dashed down to the cafeteria to grab a bite during Jerry’s recent stay at the hospital.

Eating alone in a hospital cafeteria is one of my all time least favorite things to do.

I would have loved to sit on the patio but it was too cold that day, so I chose a table next to the windows. I'm munching on one of my fries when I catch movement on the patio in my peripheral vision. I turned and saw this―the last thing I thought I might encounter at the hospital that day.

In all her feathery glory, she walked over to me. I laughed out loud. I stood to take pictures then looked around to see who else might be watching. A hospital employee noticed my amazement and said, “Oh, she’s often out there seeing what she can find”.

I guess the crumbs from a hospital hoagie are preferable to the chicken feed she had at home. Where home was, though, I had no idea in the middle of this in town setting.

Years ago, during one of many hospital stays, my mother received a terminal diagnosis. During that time, I found myself in the cafeteria alone again, because Jerry was caring for our children so I could be with my mother. In the middle of that crowded place, I felt like the last person on earth in my grief. But after I took a seat and was just about to take a bite of my cold salad, I heard someone call my name.

I looked up to see my next-door neighbor, Joyce, sitting near me. Joyce was something of a celebrity at our house. She fed a dog biscuit every morning over the fence to our back yard labs, Freckles and Sunshine, as well as our poodle Charlie, who had been my mother’s dog before she could no longer care for him. Charlie could be upstairs but still know when Joyce opened her back door and  would race down the stairs like a wild dog to get to her.

Well, when I saw Joyce, the tears started to flow. She wasn’t there to visit. She didn’t even know about my mother, but was meeting a few friends to eat. However, it felt as if God sent her on my account that day. What a comfort to see her.

God knows what we need when we need it. I guess like most folks, I tend to get a little uptight when someone I love is undergoing medical procedures. I needed something to break the tension when Jerry was in the hospital, so God sent a chicken to make me laugh.

I needed to cry after my mother’s diagnosis, and God sent my dear neighbor Joyce, a loving familiar face to let me know I was not alone.

I tell you, God has these divine appointments down.

We often quote Philippians 4:19-20 regarding monetary supply, but these verses go so much further. In the Message, it reads like this, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.

Oh, yes, He does indeed take care of everything we need.

Sometimes, He can even use a chicken to do it.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lean on Me

We maneuvered up to the curb in front of the physical therapy center. He with a new knee only a week old, stared at the elevation of the concrete edge a moment.

Sometimes a single step can seem mountainous.

“I think I could do it if I had someone to lean on,” he said.

Over the years, he’d battled cancer, had a heart attack, and multiple knee surgeries, but I never heard him say this before. He’s an “I can do it myself” kind of guy.

He could probably dead lift me, no problem. Strong for a man of any age.

Though he outweighed me by sixty pounds, I didn’t hesitate. “Lean on me,” I said.

I had leaned on him plenty of times. After breast cancer surgery, when trying to emerge from a Phenergan and morphine fog, I had to walk, and it seemed impossible even to stand. I leaned on him.

So now he put his arm on my shoulder, lifted the good knee up to the curb, and followed with the bruised one, raising himself to the sidewalk.
He wasn’t heavy at all.

In another cultural reference that’s sure to date me, a few lyrics drifted to mind from Bill Wither’s song, “Lean on Me,” and I hummed the tune under my breath as we navigated through the door of the center.

I once witnessed a friend who was recovering from having suffered over forty broken bones in a car accident try to get out of bed one afternoon. She stared at the floor a long, long time.

Sometimes that single step takes all the courage we can muster, but we can climb all kinds of mountains if we have someone to lean on.

As Bill wrote, there will absolutely come a time when each of us, without exception, will need that shoulder. That is true in the natural realm and in the spiritual realm.

Deuteronomy 33:27 reads, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

This morning, after I had already written this post, I came across these words in Streams in the Desert, “God is constantly trying to teach us our dependence, and to hold us absolutely in His hand and hanging upon His care. This was the place where Jesus Himself stood and where He wants us to stand, not with self-constituted strength, but with a hand ever leaning upon His, and a trust that dare not take one step alone. It teaches us trust.”

We will face situations for which a human shoulder just will not do. So good to know that God is eternally steadfast.

D.L. Moody once said, “When a man has no strength, if he leans on God, he becomes powerful.” I love that in our weakness, we may lean into his strength and find grace for every situation.

It’s my privilege to have my guy lean on me. But more than this, we are both leaning hard on God.
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