5 Things 2015 Wanted Me To Know

100_4469.21. NOD TO THE NOT (it’s ok to pause)

It’s ok NOT to choose a word for the year.  I had chosen a word in previous years but at the beginning of 2015 it just wasn’t a priority.  I survived the year without a special focus word.

Taking a blogging break is ok.  I trusted that my loyal readers, those that are my community, would not forget about me and would be waiting to encourage me when I came back.  They didn’t, and they were.

2. THE WORDS WILL COME, GIVE THEM TIME (After all, you are a writer)

I rediscovered the joy of using a pencil on paper.  Nothing can compare to that sweet, scratchy sound.  I need to practice this art more often.

Even though the writing was meager in 2015 and not writing scared me a little, I learned to trust that, in God’s time, the words would flow again. Because I have to write.

I want my writing to make people feel as if they have come home.

Hope*ologie was great, but Hope*writers is even better. I need a writer(ly) community that says what I do matters.

3. PRACTICE CONSISTENCY AND OBEDIENCE (how hard can it be)

I’m not a morning person, and there is no shame in that.  Not being a morning person may sometimes mean that I do better with my quiet time in the evening rather than the morning.  One thing I’m learning about quiet time is that consistency is key.  Regular time in the word is beneficial no matter what time of day you engage.

Sacrificing for Lent is not the point.  Sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

100_4427.2

4. EMBRACE  THERAPY, ACCEPTANCE, AND RESTORATION  (God is your buckler)

Binge watching 7th Heaven preached to me in lots of ways; it was my therapy for a large chunk of time during the first half of 2015.  One of my favorite posts in 2015 was What I Learned From Watching 7th Heaven.

Y’all, I fell in love with Southwestern Virginia.  We spent some lovely days visiting a friend and explored the back roads near her hometown.  It was restorative and gave me much Joy In My Father’s World. And, lots of pictures.

Back in 2013, I realized that I need to make peace with My mom having Alzheimer’s, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2015 that I was able to accept that it is what it is, and only God has all the answers.  Instead of wasting time grieving over what we’ve lost, I’m starting to embrace the path we are on and I’m beginning to realize that you can never truly lose someone, you just adjust to a new normal.

More than ever in 2015 the truth in Psalm 18:2 sustained me:

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I  also relied on Psalm 91 and knowing that he covers me with his feathers; He is my buckler which according to Merriam-Webster means “one that shields and protects.”  I have discovered that I love the word buckler.

I also found strength from the support of my husband. He takes care of me and loves me well. I love doing life with him.

quote

5. ENJOY A SEASON OF STRENGTH AND QUIET (embrace the real you)

I’ve always loved Autumn, but this year I realized that the way I describe Autumn also describes me.  Makes perfect sense.

I see Fall as both a little bit spicy and practical.  It is no-nonsense, but serendipitous all at the same time.  It is a warm hug as well as a brusque nod in passing. It is a steadfast heart that loves without condition, but won’t be trampled.  It is chaotic and fragile, but stands strong in the storm.  It is a little rough around the edges, as well as gloriously beautiful in spirit.  Like me.

2015 taught me that by God’s grace I am stronger than I think.

October loves me – she sent me several postcards this year during the 31 Days Writing Challenge

November is a melancholy month when the skies are gray and somber, and the first real chill is in the air.  Lights come on earlier, and we settle in for quieter evenings. I’m ok with that. Because I’m a little bit melancholy.

Advent is a time of waiting for “Emmanuel, God with us“, or as my mother says, “I’m so happy, God is in the house.”  A welcome note of praise to celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child…

and then, we slipped quietly from one year into the next.

Growing in grace,

Teresa

Linking up with Emily for What I Learned in 2015

Advertisements

Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2

Last year I decided to give up some things for Lent.  I even came up with a graphic to post on my refrigerator based on a suggestion from an online post I had read.  This was my formula: water instead of cola, gratitude instead of complaining, prayer instead of worry, 1 x 6 = encourage, which meant I should encourage at least one person each week of Lent.

lenten.goals

They were worthy goals. However. . . .

You already know what the however means, don’t you?  Of course, I didn’t last through Lent.  When a friend suggested that I could probably take weekends off, I gave myself permission to have a cola on weekends which led to a cola at other times.  I am still struggling to give cola up completely.  I still struggle with the whole gratitude thing, but I think I’m getting better.  Worry? Me? The answer to that is for another reflection.  I don’t know if I was encouraging to anyone during that time or not.  I hope so, but I didn’t keep track.

I failed to succeed because I failed to prepare my heart for the true purpose of Lent, which is “to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”  I got on the bandwagon on a whim; so, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. As with most things in life, there was a lesson to be gleaned from my failure.

I learned that sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control; it is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty.  Obedience sometimes requires sacrificing and changing plans.  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

100_2797

If I need to stretch and grow in my walk with the Lord (and I do), Lent is a good place to start because it puts the focus on Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.  He was obedient to the will of the Father because He knew it would be our salvation.

During this Lenten season, whether you have a list of things you are sacrificing or not, I hope you will “turn your eyes upon Jesus [and] look full in His wonderful face, and [allow] the things of earth [to] grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  My prayer is that you will surrender your life to Him in total submission during Lent and beyond.

Looking to Grace,

Teresa

This Lenton reflection was originally shared with my congregation at First Baptist in Morehead, KY as part of their Lenten Season Reflections on Sunday March 22, 2015.

100_2801

Hello 2014

“Look to the Lord and His strength; Seek His face always.”  Psalm 105:4

100_2701

So, it’s February already.  And you may be thinking I’m a little late on greeting the New Year.  Not at all.

I have come to the conclusion that for me the new year begins in February.  I did glance it’s way on a couple of post early in January.  I even chose a word for the year. Begin.  Yes, I get the irony.

But, I wasn’t ready.  It may have been partly due to the worst case of sinusitis I’ve ever had, followed by a horrible bout with gout (see how I rhymed. it just happened).

However, I think the truth is that it takes me that long to decompress and wind up the old year.  That whole stretch from Thanksgiving to New Years is not especially kind to me.  No matter how much I try to stay calm, for some reason the holidays stress me every time.

If I could just go away for about six weeks at the end of every year to my favorite place in the mountains, I’m sure I’d be ready to say hello on January 1.  That, of course, is not usually an option because it is family time and family is important.

So, I take January to regroup.  This year I had some brain swirls, but I didn’t feel like engaging in deep thought on a regular basis, so I just left them swirling.  Oh, I did make some lists of goals and projects and even daily schedules.  Things I was shuffling around in an attempt to come up with a plan for the year.

I even had an epiphany of sorts that sometimes in order to begin you have to stop. If you think about it long enough it does make sense.  Sometimes in order to gain perspective and direction you have to stop and take it all in.

Stopping to reassess goes along with the theme of reviewing the old and regrouping for the new. Right?  It goes along with setting goals and moving forward. Right? So, that’s what I did.  I stopped for awhile.

Today, I decided I was finally ready to greet the New Year.  Ready to begin. Please don’t ask me what that means.  It may take all year to figure that out.  But, you have to start somewhere.

My somewhere is simply to say, Hello 2014.

Beginning in Grace,

Teresa

PS.   I am ready for spring and swinging on my front porch. Winter is so last year.

100_1879

Grace Came Down In A Barn

I wrote the title after the The Barn event and before Thanksgiving, knowing I wanted to write about the experience, but also knowing that I wasn’t quite ready yet.  Thoughts were marinating in the recesses of my mind, traveling on a journey filled with so many emotions.  I wanted to absorb, think, process.  Then write.  Honestly, I’m still not sure I can put into words exactly what I’m trying to say. If you were there, then you know.

100_2162cropped.2

If you were there, you understand how words can’t really describe what happened. You understand that much of what was said could only come from grace.  His grace bestowed upon us.  His grace allowing Emily’s heart to speak to us. His grace opening our hearts to the poetry of our art. Thank you Emily, for helping me to see that I am a poem created by God to be used in his image. I don’t know what that means yet, for this stage of my journey, but I know it matters.

It matters that I was there.  It matters that I was in the presence of people that God chose ahead of time to put in my path.  God does not work in coincidence.  He goes ahead of us on the journey preparing the way. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) He knew in 2008, that I would be in the barn in 2013 and he knew it would matter.

In 2008 I stumbled across the Proverbs 31 devotional blog on Crosswalk.com, Encouragement for Today, purely by an accidental click of the mouse.  This lead to reading them on other occasions, which introduced me to The Nester, Myquillyn Smith, when she guest posted, which in turn introduced me to Chatting At The Sky and Emily Freeman. And then, in 2013 I discovered Emily’s book a million little ways and  I came to The Barn.

Where I met Emily Freeman, Myquillyn Smith and Renee Swope (from Proverbs 31) and a few other wonderful people.  When I entered the door of the barn, grace was extended by a hug from Emily and a gracious welcome. Hearing her speak was a delightful experience.  After the event, meeting Myquillyn, accompanied by a hug, was a blessing.   She and Emily have both inspired me so many times through their blogs and I found them both to be sincere and real. During the event, I was seated at the same table as Renee, who has also inspired me with her writing .  It was during a conversation with Renee that she said something that stuck with me.  She was sharing a situation in which God told her “don’t resist or resent”.  I knew God intended for me to hear those words. He knew in 2008 where I would be in 2013 and what my situation would be.  He knew I would need to hear those words.  It never ceases to amaze me how God puts people in our path at just the right moment.

Resisting and Resenting had both been paramount in my life for the past 12-18 months.  I had not really admitted that to myself, but just those simple words from Renee opened my eyes.  My husband and I moved home in June of 2012 to be closer to my parents who needed help due to health issues – mainly my mother.  Her illness has been very difficult and heartbreaking.  I have resented that she and we have had to go through this.  I don’t ‘understand why.  I can’t figure out how it fits into the future we thought we were going to have.

The barn reminded me that I don’t have to figure it out. I know that God’s grace is enough. God also knew in 2008 that I would need to read Emily’s book and hear her speak about how “God is the artist and he has made us.  We are his poem and we will make art.”  Whatever our circumstances, if we submit to his will, I know that he will allow us to make art. It may not look like the art I thought we were supposed to make, but if it is his art working through us, it will be even more beautiful than I imagined.

How do I know this? GRACE CAME DOWN IN A BARN.

100_2166.crop.grace.

Making art in Grace,

Teresa

Favorite Season – 31:24

anne.october.quote

Fall. Y’all.  I’m an Autumn girl for sure.

These are Just a few of my favorite things of fall:

1.  Cooler temperatures

2.  The splash of fall color

cropped.redtree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yellow.tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Hot Apple Cider

4.  The smell of Cinnamon

5.  A pot of soup simmering on the stove

6.  White Pumpkins

pumpkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  My October

8.  Curling up all cozy with a favorite book

9.  Bringing out the quilts

Beth's Quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.  The satisfying crunch of leaves under foot

11. Shades of Indigo

What about you.  What is your favorite season and why?  What are your fall favorites?

Falling into Grace,

Teresa (Sadie Grace)

 

 

Certain Age

[Disclaimer:  I was sitting in the car at the grocery waiting on the hubs to grab a few items and something sparked me to think about the phrase “Woman of a certain age”  I was writing some thoughts in my head. By the time I got home, ate lunch and sat down at the computer I had forgotten exactly what it was that I wanted to say, but I still wanted to say something about the certain age.  Also, there are a lot of parenthetical (aside) comments.  That is how I sometimes talk. And write, apparently. There is also some slang, and a picture of my hair.  You have been warned. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.  I’d be curious what you have to say about the topic.]

Image

When you are of a certain age, and I am of a certain age give or take a few….wait, what is a certain age anyway?  Is it forty, fifty, sixty, thirty?  Who decides?  Or, do we decide for ourselves when it happens for us?  I have been using that phrase for a couple of years now and I can tell you that I am not talking about sixty or forty.  And, does thirty really count anymore.  I mean if fifty-ish (discreet cough) is the new thirty, then what does that make thirty? prepubescent?  There is not, of course, in my opinion, a right answer to this question.  However, if you want more discourse on the matter, this article from way back in 1995 may prove interesting.  Just a note before you read it.  I am not French (although when I traced my Paternal tree back it did lead to France) in the sense of how they would use this phrase and I’m not a spinster.  But, I believe I may be of a certain age (isn’t everybody, really, when you think about it).  A certain age may have crept up another decade by now and maybe I should save the phrase until I’m sixty. But I digress, again.

Once I turned fifty I felt that I was of a certain age.  When I turned forty I embraced it and was a little thrilled.  It was an age that seemed to be taken seriously, but still felt energetic and it seemed that I had time to conquer the world if I wanted to. I even gave myself birthday gifts during my forties – such as the right to say “no” or the gift of experiencing joy – you get the picture.  Those life affirmations that legitimized my adulthood while still celebrating my youthfulness.

Right before I turned fifty, I was still being given the “What? No! You’re not fifty” comment and that was wonderful. (When I was forty-two I was told I looked twenty-eight and when I celebrated turning forty-six, I was told I looked thirty-two – by two different people ) Anywhoo,I looked younger than my age, And so I thought, well fifty probably is the new thirty, so I have time. Then I got pneumonia about six weeks later.  And it wiped me out.  It almost literally took me out.  The road back was long and uphill with twists and turns.  My hair started falling out and even though my first thought was one of gratitude for being alive, my second thought was how old I felt and looked.  Due to the shape of my hair and my lungs, coloring my hair was not an option for about a year.  In fact the year prior I had decided to quit coloring my hair because it was shading in quite nicely and I still looked young for my age.  I have never been high maintenance on purpose so this was an easy decision.  Until it wasn’t.  I’m sorry, I’m starting to sound a little vain and whiny here.  Please, forgive me.

After the pneumonia and the first year of attempting to get back on track, I decided that I needed to color my hair.  I found a great gal who walked me through it and I have not looked back.  I do spend a few minutes every eight weeks or so wondering if it is worth the moola, but I get over it, because: I’m not brave enough to do it myself, I want it done right and I’m worth it. I also don’t want my husband to feel like he is married to a much older woman. Even so, I am already thinking about how soon I can quit coloring and get by with it.  I think there does come an age when color is no longer necessary as it doesn’t really say younger.  I’ll keep you posted on this thought.

Quite frankly, I still feel really tired much of the time and I seem to have more aches and pains than I did PP (pre-pneumonia – everything in my life now is either pre – or post the pneumonia – hopefully, I’ll get over that soon).  But, I can tell that I’m getting back on track and I try not to think of the momentum I may have lost.  I even looked in the mirror ( it was in shadowed light, but whatever) the other night and thought “I don’t look too bad for fifty-two.” I am finally starting to feel not so old and like there may be several good years left by the Grace of God.   I am slowly but surely realizing that life does not end at fifty and I am embracing the possibility that fifty may in fact be the new thirty, or at least forty-two (I used to think thirty-five was the perfect age to stay, now I think it would probably be forty-two).

Image

My hair cut and color is better than it was at thirty (regardless of what the picture would lead you to believe) and for the most part, my attitude is much better.  I am less angry and more forgiving.  When I look in the mirror and see the fine lines (yes, they are still fine, except for that one thinking crease on my forehead – non smoker, non sun worshiper) I embrace them a little bit because they mean I have experienced life and built character.  And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll wait a few more years before I decide I’m of a certain age.

Aging Gracefully (on non whiny days),

Teresa (Sadie Grace)

More about the name soon.

What I Learned While June Sped By

What I’ve learned in June.  A reflective list of realizations, some new, some rediscovered.  Join the party hosted by Emily over at Chatting at the Sky and see what others are sharing about June lessons.

1.  I like cool spring days better than hot, humid summer days and we were blessed with several of those early in the month.

2.  Hydrangeas need lots, lots, lots of water.  They wilt at the first sign of too much heat.  But they are beautiful and worth the extra maintenance.  I hope the one I planted this month survives.  And I hope it retains the beautiful blue color.  There is much I don’t know about Hydrangeas yet.

800px-Hydrangea_macrophylla_-_Hortensia_hydrangea

Source Raul654

3. Speaking of high maintenance, my brother would rather I call him once with a list of all things going on, instead of calling him randomly.  Then he can get back to me.  Whatever!  Today’s list for him (a list within a list if you will): I love you. How is your foot? Have you seen Dad’s new building yet? Aunt C is in the hospital. Aunt K is in the nursing home. B is going back to Texas for a week and then she’ll be back here for a while. Come see us sometime. Tell T and the kids we love them. If you need me I’m only a phone call away! Come to church with us sometime. So, when I called him, he actually answered. Turns out I’m supposed to mail the list every Friday.  I just might do that.   I know he loves me and I think he was just joking about the list.  Bottom line – he doesn’t like to talk on the phone.  I don’t either, but I do like to keep in touch with my brother once in a while. So, I call him sometimes.  He’ll get over it.  If I didn’t call he’d think I didn’t love him anymore.  And, a list is very efficient, the call lasted less than five minutes.

4.  I did not learn this in June (I’ve always known), but was once again reminded that I love my sister and I love having her home from Texas, she fills in some gaps that are missing when she is not here.  I think I’ll lasso her, tie her up and keep her here.  Can you tell I’ve been catching up with McLeod’s daughters on Netflix?  Sisters are a gift to be treasured.

5.  They killed Claire McLeod off on McLeod’s daughters.  I know this is old news to most people who remember this show. I just discovered this last night and I’m still in shock. She was the pivotal character.  I hope I did not spoil this for anyone, I realize I may not be the only one ten years behind.  (it was just as depressing as Matthew dying on Downton Abbey – oops, hopefully you already knew that).

6.  I should remember that if you attend church business meetings, you will be elected to be the clerk or something like that.

7.  I’m discovering that as much as I love people, I really need a lot of quiet time to reflect and regroup.

8.  I like the idea of owning a first edition book over the idea of selling it for big bucks.  That is a true book lover.  I also have too many books, but I did not learn this in June.

9.  I read lots of blogs in June rather than doing a lot of writing on my blog.  I came to some conclusions that I’m formulating into a post.  I’ll share my thoughts once they are in line.

10. I’ve been seeing that depression is a topic that we need to speak out about.  I have some thoughts brewing about this too that I want to write about on my blog.

11. I’m so over all this equality stuff.   I will not share my thoughts on my blog. There are already too many voices out there espousing opinions.  OK, I will say one thing:  God knows the truth of everything and he knows his designs and plans.  I need to trust him and follow his lead.  OK, two things: words have meanings and those meanings should not be changed.  It is what it is. That is all I will say.  You have to choose your own opinion about all this stuff.  Hopefully you will do that prayerfully.

12. Prayer, even in the little everyday things is vitally important.  It builds our faith. Praying daily helps prepare us for the bigger issues.  It makes us more grounded when they come. And come they will.

13.  After 29 years I love my husband more than ever.  We celebrated our marriage this month – not a new thing I learned, but a good reminder of where we’ve been on the journey to where we’re going.

So, what have you learned or re-learned in June?  You can link-up here to share , or if you want to read what others have learned, just pop on over and read some of the other blogs.

Learning in Grace, Sadie