When you beat yourself up over your past remember He delights to make all things new and give you good gifts like home, family and summer…

Are you ever hard on yourself?

Sometimes in moments weak I’ll remember my poorest choices, shameful sins and messy mistakes. And it can get ugly until I remember something better.

God has forgiven me and I must do no less. And He forgets.

And you and I must remember to forget those things we’ve done that keep us up at night or make us cringe and cry.

Because remembering won’t change the past. It will only bring down today and that hurts tomorrow. And God, He’s always making things new.

So we change the station inside our heads playing those old, critical tapes and keep pressing forward until we hear the music of grace transforming the moments of now into life far, far better than anything from our past.

Even when we feel like we deserve nothing but the dungeon, God delights to give us good gifts. Is always giving us good gifts. Sometimes we just have to open our eyes, hands and hearts and receive.

And the goodness of God leads us to repentance and all things become new.

 

This came home to me recently thinking of my children. How much I love them unconditionally. How they need do nothing — good, bad or indifferent — to make me want to gift them with good things.

And God is such a better parent than you and me could ever be!

He goes above and beyond. Lavishing us with love in ways that take our breath away and stay with us for all the rest of our days.

And sometimes God even ties it all up in a pretty bow as He ends one chapter to gift us with the next.

We had a whirlwind summer. We sold the house ourselves and closed on the cash deal in seven minutes flat one warm Friday morning in August exactly a month ago today.

Grace.

After more than two decades of living in the old house. And raising my sons there. And my heart growing up  right along with them.

God who gifted me and my family with that house so long ago saw fit to bring back my young men and one young wife and a son’s dear girlfriend — all who had been living out West for years.

And this summer it was us and a houseful of grown kids and three sweet grand-kitties.

And the season of fire flies and fireworks and sand between our toes and suns setting late seemed to melt like chocolate in the summer sun.

Space was sparse with boxes lining the walls. Young people moving in for a season and us older folks getting ready to move out,.

We played musical chairs in the refrigerator as we vied for a place for our food.

And the floor stood in for beds now gifted to a single mom and her children.

And my Michael and I agree over and over that we would do it all over again in a heart beat for it was all a gift.

Us together under one roof — hearts belonging to each other — saying so long and closing a lengthy chapter of all the good and bad and in-between that happened in that old house.  Bringing us close before we all would part, some of us going far.

Grace.

Living, laughing and loving together just like the words on our living room wall said. Often around a table laden with hearty home cooking.

And decades worth of photos. Snapshots of doing life as a family.

And lots of love.

And just when I thought I could catch my breath for a moment I would remember there was another drawer of files to sort through before the shredding appointment the next week.

More photos to go through for keeping and giving and even shredding some!

There was furniture for sale to list on Craigslist and Facebook. And pick up appointments to arrange. And meeting some of the nicest people and them sharing their stories sweet and sad.

Phone calls to the attorney, the bank and the town.

And making arrangements for my mom to come up for lunch to say goodbye to the home where she and my dad often visited a tired, lonely single mom bringing bags of groceries, extra pairs of hands to help and hearts full of love.

And in the midst of it all our third anniversary! On the river we love, under a full bright sun, sailing away from stress for a day, leaving behind a thousand things to do in the process of selling a home and moving.

Grace.

And then there was the sofa.

The one that matches the loveseat and fit great in our home but when we moved it into our new place proved too bulky for our cozy little loft.

It was the day before our closing. The house needed to be empty. With no time left to try and sell or give away the sofa my Michael and my son Ben took it to Good Will.

But they were told there was no room for it in their store.

Time was running out and the decision was made to junk it. And we felt awful contributing a fine piece of furniture to landfill. But we had no choice, or so it seemed.

So I’m at home sweeping all the empty rooms and the sun is streaming full and my eyes brimming liquid.

Then a knock at the front door. A woman who bought a dresser at my garage sale a year ago had seen my SOLD sign and was stopping by looking for furniture for a family that had lost everything.

A quick call stopped my husband and son just as they were ready to unload the sofa onto the junk pile. The woman met them and they followed her to what turned out to be her ex-husband and his new wife’s place where gratitude and surprise swirled.

Grace.

And redemption for all and all of it covered in love.

God’s good gifts abounding for us all.

And Him never late. And us deserving even when we don’t feel that we are deserving.

Because He is our forever Father holding His kids tight. And always giving.

So whatever you are walking through right now — even if it’s hard — or whatever you might be remembering, open your hands and heart and receive.

Grace…

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When you need to let go…or when life runs full with love, forgiveness and all the colors mingling

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These are the moments of our life.

So let’s not waste a single one.

Because they pass as quickly as summer.

Breathe deep.

Think deeper.

And choose wisely.

Know God.

And know that He loves you and me like crazy. No. Matter. What!

Hold tight to all that is dear but know when it’s time to let go.

Say farewell.

Then move forward.

With a tear and a smile.

So much grace.

And gratitude abundant.

For life is a gift in all the thousands of moments, one after the other after the other.

Unwrap each one fully present for they slip away like sand between our fingers.

Vanishing like vapor.

So let’s hold them in our hearts rejoicing more than regretting.

Forgiving all.

And foregoing the grudge so we can be free.

Free to live.

Slowly.

With intention. Like we mean it. Realizing the value of the gift.

Feeling deeply all our feelings yet controlled by none.

Resting.

Letting our hearts be His.

Still, soft and wide open.

Receiving.

So we can give more.

Taking life moment by precious moment as it is not as we would have it.

All glory to God.

Savoring sunrises and sunsets passing in a heart beat.

And life flowing and overflowing like a waterfall tumbling over the edge, spraying rainbows as it crashes below.

Or like a watercolor where broad brush strokes of a thousand tiny dots of color mingle and meld.

Each one touching the other.

Deeply.

And together creating beauty to inspire.

Bleeding into each other.

One.

Blood covering all in Light diffusing softly over mountains misty in the distance.

Rising to meet the sun…

 

The house is sold. Summer is unofficially over. The baton was passed yesterday in a significant shift within our close-knit church family. And after a summer together under one roof my sons {and daughter-in-love} have moved into their next chapters, one flying far away before dawn today, relocating to the West Coast.

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All is as it should be even if my heart feels faint.

And what about your heart this morning? Do you feel a tug?

Because letting go can do that to us. It tugs and it tears. And God, He uses it to tether us more closely to Himself.

So are you reaching out to your Lord in your season of letting go?

Yet through all the changes we are under cover.

Banner over us is flapping in a summer breeze, love held high by the One who never changes.

Not in morning sun or evening shadows.

And though my woman’s heart is wistful today, and my Michael holds me long and slow,  and I am tired, physically drained and spent from a season full to overflowing with wonderful, wearying changes — —

I look up and open my hands and my heart. You, too?

Holding on to Him while letting go in love.

Only to receive…

~sheila

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In which grace rains down…

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You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it.
Isaiah 45:8


Rain pouring down hard wakes us easy and slow this morning. Air is cool and damp. Everything looks gray.

When it subsides I head out to pull weeds taking advantage of soil watered which makes it easy. I walk the weed pile to the edge of the wood that borders our home. Make the trip a few times.

Blue jays noisy remind me of summer mornings playing on the porch with the Talmadge kids, city street where we grew up noisy, too. And of how much I don’t like the sound of jays jeering.

But something feels different this morning and even the jays don’t bother me much.

My toes get wet from the grass and it feels like I am walking through a gift.

Because it is a gift.

…like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.
2 Samuel 23:4

His gift of this earth in our backyard calls to me softly, easy to miss lest I am mindful. He nudges me to open my eyes and see the colors, hear the sounds of morning, feel the Father’s gentle hand upon my heart. Using the senses He gave me He draws me to Himself out here in this wonder-filled creation on half an acre.

Loving me in and through and with all this glory.

And then like a whispered thought from long ago a latent gift emerges that I have seen a thousand times before yet never really seeing.

Years ago, as a struggling single mom raising three boys on a nursery school teacher salary and child support, I longed to plant a row of wildflowers along the wood line. But I never got around to it, never could afford such a luxury.

And then I forgot about that desire of my heart until this morning with mercies new and Him never forgetting anything that pertains to me and you except our sins.

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Where I once dreamed of black eyed Susans, daisies, baby’s breath and maybe purple lupine or white yarrow, I see a profusion of tiny, gold-centered blossoms edging the green of the trees and drawing to themselves bees and beetles and ants and me.

Wild black raspberry bushes in bloom.

And our yard bursting with buds and the promise of succulent, sweet fruit. We’ve savored these berries warm from the vine during summers past, but for some reason in this particular moment I become aware for the first time of the wild flowers that precede them.

My heart fills with fresh grace all new like the dawn.

I thank Him for blossoms and berries and toes wet from rain.

And for Him.

Him so big who spoke the universe into existence. Me so small and scooped into His arms which always hold me tight.

And Him taking the time in love to plant a garden gift for me to find today to satisfy my craving for pretty petals. His love and grace and all the gifts of all the days all full of opportunity sweep me away when I open my heart, softening and stilling so I may receive.

And Him always giving. And giving more. Exceedingly, abundantly. Fruit in addition to flowers. Desires satisfied as well as needs met.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20

My heart floods with extravagant grace.

He sees, He hears, He knows. Everything. And He provides, swallowing the longings of my soul.

And no matter that I can’t see the sun today or feel its warm rays upon my skin all cool, it’s there giving life.

Life rising and setting every 24 hours. Life priceless and not to be wasted like so many grains of sand slipping swiftly through the hourglass.

My heart flows with grateful grace overflowing.

It’s a beautiful morning…

~sheila

Linking with Kelli

To the throne room of heaven…

2 PRAISE

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by
your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Psalm 92:1-4

 

There are days when we wake with a praise song in our hearts.

So let’s sing all day to Him for He is a good God who supplies our needs, who disciplines us in love and who is faithful – day and night.

Sometimes though, we just don’t feel like praising because too much is going on in our life that isn’t as good as it could be or perhaps as good as we want it to be.

This is when we choose with our will to praise and thank God anyway.

When we first start speaking words of gratitude or writing down what we are thankful for we may think we’re being phony since we aren’t feeling the joy.

And this is where we must take our eyes off of our emotions.

Deep inside our hearts the joy of the Lord is alive and it gives us strength as we trust and obey Father.

Before too long if we keep at it, telling Him that our heart isn’t fully engaged but we want it to be, our feelings will change.

From dark to light and from light to love all the way up till our praises and our thanksgiving reach the throne room of heaven as a sweet smelling aroma to our Lord.

He will smile and so will we…

~sheila
All our longings end in love

In which solitude and silence speaks loud and clear…Letting go and what time in New England taught us

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Sometimes you just need to run away for a day.

So we do, shifting burdens heavy to His shoulders strong and celebrate newness of life resurrected at a destination brand new to both of us.

This after passion flaring in all but good ways, and emotions plummeting from unexpected and disappointing news, and a few tears mixing with lots of prayers and we feel a change of scenery is called for.

Him calling us.

VT HOUSE

Hand in hand we walk along the Mile Around Wood — a path formed in the 1860s without cutting down a single tree in the forested hills behind the home of wealthy attorney Trenor Park as an antidote to the near nervous breakdown he was suffering.

And we can relate somewhat.

Through the testings we continue trusting God when we don’t understand the turn of events and draw closer to Him and each other as a result. And thank Him for the continual refinement individually and as a married couple and how far we have come with farther yet to go. Process never ending until the end that is our best beginning begins.

And who knows what we will be learning then.

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Treading lightly into the stillness of the wood we hear occasional cawing and cardinals whistling and spy a hawk closer than at any time before. Bird of prey perched above a meadow like a watcher on the wall. Alert.

Offering up a prayer of gratitude for the love of God and for our better and worse love shared and singing praises to His name right there in the middle of all those blessed trees and rocks and sunshine warming.

Leaning into my Michael silence hedges us deep and he draws me close for our first kiss in Vermont {state #17 in our quest to kiss across America!} and we feel His holy kiss upon the tops of our heads, Father hugging His children close to His heart.

And He whispers Let go.

Laying down hopes and dreams and preconceived plans so that He might birth exactly what He will as we rest from any striving, surrendering more.

Stillness sharing lessons loud and clear.

And the only way to the High Places and deeper union with Christ “is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of His as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us. Every acceptance of His will becomes an altar of sacrifice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to His will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which He desires to bring every child of His while they are still living on earth.”
~Hannah  Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places

And to the High Places we continue to go knowing that God’s great plan in all these things centers on Love and us learning how.

“The first and most important one is this,” Jesus replied—‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength’. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. No other commandment is greater than these.”
Mark 12:30

VT CHURCH

Rest of the day is filled with rest, laughter, lots of love, and memories making — New England steeples and red bridges covered and monuments to battles won {and us and you with many more to fight on earth} and moose absolutely everywhere and leaving the woods to visit the resting site of the poet who wrote of the lovely, dark and deep.

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FLOWER

Fullness of the moments in these miles away from home bring us closer to Him, each other and Home.

And the stillness healing…

~sheila
All our longings end in love