Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knitting and Obeying

I haven't written anything in over 2 years.  It seemed like a simple thing...write about my life.  Reminisce (did I spell that right?) or even project a bit out into the future.  But, somehow, things got in the way and I forgot all about my lofty ideas...until I stumbled across another blogger the other day and it all came rushing back again.

I don't like this about myself.  I start something with a gusto...only to find unfinished knitting or crochet projects in a closet...a half-finished writing course gathering dust on a shelf, a drawer full of interesting stamps waiting to be put into albums, a small notebook with the songs assigned for the next piano lesson that I quit 5 years ago...and a blog waiting to be written in.

Good intentions.  We all have them.  Have you ever read the story of Saul in I Samuel 15:1-34?  Saul had been given specific instructions to carry out a very difficult task.  In the end, he only partially finished it...but, the excuses were quite revealing as to his true character.  The prophet, Samuel, says something quite profound in verse 22. "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

The list of excuses were as follows: 1) I may not have done everything right, but I did go "on the mission".  2) Everyone else is doing it. 3) I did what I did FOR God. 4) I was afraid of other people.
The bottom line of what I'm learning is this...whether I'm knitting a scrarf, putting stamps in an album, or even writing a blog...shouldn't I be about the task of "finishing something?"

How will I be able to accomplish big things in life if I can't finish the small things?  And so, I'm back to blogging.  Digging out the other unfinished projects will have to wait for another day!  :-)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Great Wall of China

        You wanted another great adventure, didn’t you?  Well, here I am on the Great Wall of China.  Never, ever in a million years did I think that I would have an opportunity like this—to travel to the other side of the world and see such amazing things.
        So, I guess I’d better begin at the beginning…right?  It will all make sense.  My youngest daughter dates a guy who is Taiwanese, but raised here in America.  They were planning a trip to China and Taiwan for almost a year—his mom was going, too.  About a month before we traveled, my daughter called and asked if I would like to go, too.
        Travis and I talked it over and it all came together amazingly quickly.  We left for Beijing, China on May 4th and just recently returned to the US on the 27th of May.
        So, I thought that I would put together a series of letters to share with you some of the amazing things that we saw!  I had always, always wanted to go to the Great Wall—just never believed that I would.
        Here is the internet description of the wall:
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall.  Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.

Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that all the walls measure 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi).  This is made up of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 mi) sections of actual wall, 359.7 km (223.5 mi) of trenches and 2,232.5 km (1,387.2 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.

        Family members showed up at the Beijing airport to pick us up and tote us off to the Mayan Hotel.  This residence was built to look just like a Mayan temple (Mexico).  It really seemed a bit odd and out-of-place to be staying in something that was not Chinese.  But hey—it was really comfortable and well-taken care of.
        We left about 9 am the following day to travel by van up to the wall.  It was quite a ways outside of the city.  We drove through small villages and saw the more rural existence of the Chinese populace.  (It reminded me a lot of Bolivia where we lived for 10 years)  Of course, the roofs of the buildings were all of typical Asian design rather than adobe bricks.
        Arriving at the entrance to the wall—there was a huge parking lot carved out of the side of the mountain.  It was filled with big tour buses and all kinds of other vehicles.  Off to one side, were a series of small tent-like structures where every kind of touristy souvenir could be found.  Since we had arrived early, the vendors weren’t very aggressive.  Just sitting around with their bowls of rice and morning drinks.
        We actually rode on cable cars to get up to the wall.  It was a long, long way up the side of the mountain and we would have been absolutely exhausted from climbing up there.  We were very tired even walking back down on a very well-built trail.
        I was absolutely fascinated to think that each brick, all the mortar, etc. had to be hauled up that hill without the use of modern machinery.  And to see it stretching across the ridges of the mountains for miles and miles was astounding!
        Every so often, we would walk through a small guard house like the one below. 
Inside the guard house, they had built the most ingenious thing.  This square hole was put into the roof so that the air would flow through the sides and then be pulled up through the roof.  This caused natural air conditioning to take place.  It was pretty hot outside, but nice and cool inside.  J
        Of course, the wall really serves no purpose in modern days—other than for tourists.  And, in reading about it in a book that I found at a foreign bookstore, it didn’t always keep “the bad guys” out or in either.  But, it did serve a greater purpose for maintaining a very obvious border between two countries!  Nowadays, the wall is all inside of China—just snaking its way across the country.
        I was thinking about all the work—the tremendous time and effort that was poured into building this.  All the people that did so have long been forgotten.  No one alive remembers any of them—a few kings and officials here and there from the history books, but not the masses of people that were needed to construct something so vast!
        Man is always trying to build something to be remembered by.  We have such a desire to have a life that means more than just to live and die.  But, we spend so much wasted time trying to find meaning outside of God.  I’ll share more with you about the temples that we visited, etc.  But, let me leave this thought with you.  God—Creator God—God of the Universe is living and breathing!  He really is alive…He is great and sovereign and awesome.  And He cares about each one of us so, so much!  The Great Wall means nothing to Him!  He loves people! 
        We all stood around in awe and amazement with what ancient peoples had accomplished, but that is NOTHING in comparison to what the purposes of God are for us!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The bird feeder

Oh my gosh! Birds are the most amazing creatures!

My aunt and cousins gave me money to buy something to remember my dad by--when he passed away several years ago. So, I bought a bird feeder!

It's hanging up outside our dining room window and has provided hours of amazement! We've experimented with different kinds of food and have settled on safflower seeds and suet (for the woodpeckers).

Squirrels detest safflower seed, so that's been a positive choice. But the suet?! You would think that we put out nectar from the gods!

The woodpeckers come in ones and twos, the nut hatches come sailing in to land upside down and peck away, but the starlings come barreling in--screeching, pecking the suet and any other bird that gets close, hogging the entire feeder until they all swirl away. They are like a tribe of completely unruly and bratty children! Not a single refinement among the lot of them!

The sparrows and chickadees nervously land, pluck up one seed and fly up to the higher branches to break open the outer covering and get at the little piece of seed inside.

We see a sprinkling of tit mouse, wrens, doves, and cardinals...all colors, all sizes, some ground feeders, some shy, mostly just hungry!

Reminds me of people! :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Choose!

As I look back over 2010 and into 2011, I am amazed at all the things that have happened! Death, new life, traveling, mundane-everyday stuff, great books read, emotional and spiritual growth...on and on!

So, what does this coming year hold? Probably more of the same! And, is there a point to all of this? Does what I think, or do, or say really matter in the larger scheme of things? I think so! I might not be famous or well-known or any of those things, but my life has significance in God!

I'm learning that He delights in me...dotes on me...is crazy about me. I was in his heart and mind before the universe was made. He had already planned out my existence. These thoughts are too high and mighty for me to really take in and comprehend. I seem to see more of my failures and faults than I see worth....but God doesn't look at me that way!

And so, what I decide to do or not do, even today, means more than I can possibly understand. What I say to others, how I respond to each person that passes in and out of my life, how I treat Rusty, how much time I spend on the computer or not, what I think about...all of it has meaning. God wants my whole heart! All of it.

I'm learning about "servant hood." What does that look like? How can I actually serve others--even those closest to me with an attitude of gentleness and graciousness? Once again, I see my failures and faults, but God does not look at me through those "tinted glasses" of a finite being. He sees me through a vast heart of love and mercy that I cannot comprehend!

So, today...I choose to place my life, my hands and feet, my mouth, my whole being into His most capable hands! I give myself to the workings of the Holy Spirit and I wait to see what kind of great adventure lies before me.

It might just be vacuuming, dusting, ironing, cooking--or it might be something high and grand! Whatever it is...I will keep in mind how much God loves me and what I'm worth to Him!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is for Peri!

No excuse! I won't do it to you! I'll just write!

I started taking an on-line (sort-of) writing course through the Institute of Children's Literature. I love it, but I can't set aside the time that I need to--to write! What's wrong with this picture?

I have all kinds of things bottled up inside that I want to say. I want to tell stories, share experiences, and possibly be of encouragement to some little kid or young person.

If I can make my bed and keep the kitchen fairly clean, surely I can sit down at my computer and write. You would think.

So, my Christmas shopping is done. I have about 5 gifts left to wrap. I sent off two huge boxes of books to my daughter who arrives at my son's home in Delaware tomorrow with her 2 kids in tow (from Dubai), etc, etc. So, why can't I make time to write for my class, like I'm supposed to?

Any suggestions?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Clown Baby

We raced blindly down the gravel road on our bikes. All we knew was that Clown Baby was right behind us and if he caught up to us, we would be in big trouble.

Clown Baby was a young bull calf that my dad was raising for the summer. Even though we loved reaching through the bars of his pen to feed him carrots and feel his black, sandpaper tongue-- we knew better than to actually get inside!

Clown Baby’s little nubby horns were pushing up through the hair on his head. He loved to push against our hands and we could see the glitter in his eyes when he did it. Dad warned us again and again that Clown Baby would hurt us if we ventured too close.

To this day, I have no idea how he got out, but he was not only mean, he was smart! One minute, we were circling the yard on our bikes, the next minute—here he came. A black and white streak headed right towards us.

We took off down the driveway as fast as we could peddle. Up the hill was a big left-over pile of dirt from building the road. We raced towards it—jumped off our bikes and scrambled to the top as quickly as we could. In terror we watched Clown Baby lunging towards us!

Dad roared up the driveway in his old Willy’s Jeep. He jumped out, yelling, “Clown Baby!” The sound of his voice must have distracted that calf, because he swung around and put his head down—charging right for my dad!

A quickly swung rope brought Clown Baby to a halt and dad tossed that calf right over the side of the pickup and jumped right in after him—tying him up snug!

We were all crying and blubbering as we staggered down that dirt pile into dad’s open arms! I didn’t know it then, but that night after we went to bed, I heard him tell my mom, “Man, was I scared! When I saw the hole in the fence where that little sucker crawled through—I knew he’d head right for the kids!”

I rolled over and went to sleep. Boy, did I love my dad!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Camping in Circumstances

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote! I used to journal almost every day and thought that I might get back into the habit if I had access to a computer. However, I find that I haven't gotten back into the habit like I thought I would.

I have something I want to "talk about". It may or may not be of interest to those of you who may stumble across this blog. But, it's meant a great deal to me lately!

Numbers 9: 17-23 in the Bible reads as follows: "When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out; and when the Cloud descended the people camped. the People of Israel marched at God's command and they camped at his command. As long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, they camped. Even when the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for many days, they honored God's command and wouldn't march. They stayed in camp, obedient to God's command, as long as the Cloud was over The Dwelling, but the moment God issued orders they marched. If the Cloud stayed only from sunset to daybreak and then lifted at daybreak, they marched. Night or day, it made no difference--when the Cloud lifted, they marched. It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when The Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God's command and they marched at God's command. They lived obediently by God's orders as delivered by Moses."

OK...that was a bit long-winded, so here's my what has been going through my mind on this one. First of all, this part of the Bible was written in Hebrew. When things are repeated--it's because they were important. We use punctuation to emphasize importance nowadays...but back when this was written, to repeat something again and yet again, showed great importance.

Then....I began to think about the circumstances that Travis and I are in. Taking care of my mother-in-law, etc. It appears that "The Cloud" has camped right here! (The Cloud represented God's Presence to the Children of Israel.) It appears that we need to learn to camp in these circumstances and not be whining or discontented with what God has brought into our lives! Just learn to be obedient in what He's asked us to do.

Has it been easy to always answer kindly? Or to show patience when I've been awakened again for the 3rd or 4th time during the night? I must admit that I've failed in these areas...however, I'm learning to settle my heart--to reach beyond myself where I put my hand in God's Hands and ask for His help! He's got way more love and patience then I ever dreamed of and has promised to pour out His help if we need it. We just have to ask!

I'm asking all the time! Until next time!