Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A "Paper Missionary" Writer

What a treat! My hibiscus bushes are blooming again. I've enjoyed looking at these beauties for over a week now. What a gift for the end of summer!

I'm not a big fan of nearly all the shows one can watch on TV, or go to the movies to see. A good book captures most of my free time instead of a television show.

Soon after I gave my life to Christ in November of 1978, the first Christian romance novel was published in 1979. Many of you are now familiar with Janette Oke and her book series, Love Comes Softly. That one book began an avalanche of Christian writers telling stories girls love to read.

I confess, I do enjoy a good romance novel. But when I gave my life to Christ that 14th day of November, I wanted novels with morality, faith, courage, perseverance and many other qualities that would speak to me about living a Christ-filled life.

When Hallmark came out with a movie from the first Love Comes Softly book in 2003, I was excited. And I wasn't disappointed.

More recently Hallmark came out with a movie and series by Oke's When Calls The Heart series in 2013, I was delighted with the first season. The second season wasn't quite as good. I haven't seen the third season because I go to bed early. It will be out soon on DVD.

I don't like everything Hallmark does. The Cedar Cove series and Chesapeake Shores, now playing, are becoming like Peyton Place, for those of us that remember. I'm hoping When Calls The Heart doesn't disappoint in the third season.

I watched an interview with Janette Oke and the producers of the Love Comes Softly and When Calls The Heart series. In her first book it was so refreshing to read about a man who is honest, genuine, a good person and a godly man. We don't see that in TV shows and movies of our culture. This man exists! Our young people need to see a man of virtue to learn and understand what it means to be a man of God.

They also discussed the difference between a book and the movie that portrays it. The writers said they could never match up to the original experience of the reader and their imagination. A movie must be a new experience, fresh and exciting on it's own, yet keeping the underlying faith and integrity as the story is presented. I found that interesting.

I read the biography of Janette Oke, written by her daughter, many years ago. As a writer I'm always interested in another writer's life. I've pulled the book out from storage and, I'm enjoying reading about her once again.

"She tried to picture each one of her little books as a little 'paper missionary.' It had the potential, through the spirit's working, to reach a heart crying out for truth and answers somewhere, and she prayed often as she wrote that this would be so," wrote her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan.

It is delightful to listen to folks share when you know their hearts are faithful to provide good decent shows to watch.

You remember Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie. Series that the entire family could enjoy together. They are classics!

So this post I give credit to Janette Oke who provided interesting and clean books for a baby Christian to read to help her on her road to maturity. We all need role models, and I seek strong, wise women and men to help me along the way. Because what you put before your eyes and hear with your ears surely stays there. And I want it to be good!

By the way, if you've never watched Hallmark's Signed, Sealed, Delivered series, grab a Yoohoo (remember them) and settle down for another series of delightful  characters and good entertainment! Oliver, Shane, Rita
and Norman will provide laughter and smiles as they work to deliver dead mail in the Dead Letter office.

So I ask you, just what are you looking at? What you put before your eyes and in your ears will definitely stay there. I want it to be good!

My next post will be in two weeks: Wednesday, October 5th. Next week I'll be driving down the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia singing John Denver's "Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.  West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Just a Little Humor

I'm dog sitting this week with two of my favorite friends, Delaney and Aspen! Both have a sweet temper. Aspen is happy, loving, happy, and Delaney is gentle, slow, peaceful. And they both love me!

"It takes both the rain and the sunshine to make a rainbow." unknown

Martin Luther, a German monk and prominent theologian, began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century in Europe. His desire for people to feel closer to God led him to translate the Bible into the language of the people. I found the following story interesting which Billy Graham shares in his devotion book Unto the Hills.

"There is a story about Martin Luther going through a period of depression and discouragement. For days his long face graced the family table and dampened the family's home life. One day his wife came to the breakfast table all dressed in black, as if she were going to a funeral service. When Martin asked her who had died, she replied, 'Martin, the way you've been behaving lately, I thought God had died, so I came prepared to attend His funeral.'" Unto the Hills, Billy Graham

Although I like the humor I know living with depression can be very hard. I've had my share, and continue to take medicine to help both depression and headaches which have lived with me most of my adult life.

                                               I'm looking forward to the beauty of fall.

Depression happens to most people at some time or other, as the story shows with Martin Luther. Both great and small can be afflicted through their life.

Please know I'm not saying you can talk someone out of depression which Martin's wife was hoping to do. Christians can be depressed as well as any other person. There can be a chemical imbalance that can only be helped through medicine.

That being said, I liked the story. It is hard living with someone who suffers from depression. Just ask Jerry. He's had a lot of practice.

"Fits of depression come over most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy. There may be here and there men of iron . . . but surely the rust frets even these." Charles Swindoll

I've learned you just keep moving on . . . doing something good for someone else . . . meeting a friend for lunch. Do things that you enjoy doing. Volunteer. Help someone. And most important, call on God.

"Only eyes washed by tears can see clearly." Louis L. Mann

         Abby and Jo are still happy little girls! Devoted to their master. Ninety pounds of love!

Last Monday, September 12th, was National Chocolate Milkshake Day, and I didn't participate. I love chocolate milkshakes. Grew up on them when Daddy made them in our kitchen and continued the tradition through most of my adult life. Unfortunately, I don't take too well to milkshakes anymore. Now that's really depressing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why Does It Take So Long?

Last Saturday was my last "fawn spotting" for the season. What a wonderful time I've had this summer. I'm so glad I started doing this my first summer of retirement.

Well, this is certainly an embarrassing post! Sometimes I just have to shake my head at myself and wonder where my brain is.

Why does it take so long to get some things right? You know what I mean. You're doing something a certain way and all of a sudden something changes and you realize you can do it better. "Why didn't I think of that a month a go? A year ago? Many years ago?"

I always shake my head that I didn't think to do whatever it was a different way. And it's happened again. This time it took me five years to get it right. Humble pie.

                                                           Are you sharing, Mom?

Since my retirement five years ago, I've had a difficult time with when to have my devotions. I just couldn't seem to get it right. I now had all day! I tried morning, afternoon and evening, but I haven't felt peaceful about anything I've tried.

Abby and Jo to the rescue. My two little girls (well, at 90 lbs. each I guess they're not little) had a time change in their routine. Ever since my cancer treatments and knee surgeries, their feeding times have been off because of us adjusting our schedule to work for us. My friend urged me to try adjusting their time.

About six weeks ago, I started getting up at 5 in the morning to feed them. (I like to think I'm a farmer and getting up for my cows.) That's when it happened. That "oh yes" moment of remembrance.

Most of my 30+ years as a Christian, the early morning hour before getting ready for work was my devotion time. It was the best time for me to fulfill this delight each day. And I was inspired and encouraged all day! Duh, Carol, why couldn't I remember that!

I had just turned off the car in the cemetery hoping to see the doe and three fawn again, when I saw this doe and fawn in the field. Light was low, but I managed to get a fairly clear snap.

So about four weeks ago I started having my devotions at 5 a.m. And what a wonderful time I've been having. I guess since I retired I felt I could sleep a little later in the mornings. And so I tried everything else but that.

Why do things happen like that? I guess it's just part of living.

I'm just glad God never gives up on us! He patiently waits while we try everything but the right thing. I know He's smiling that I finally got it right!

I like this Jewish Proverb: "Any man who understands his own foolishness is already a little wise."

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Are You Listening

"A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after awhile he knows something."
                                                                                                                      Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)

Listening to frogs. Have you done it lately? I sure haven't. But I have heard the cicada loud and clear when I walk in the backyard in the evening.

I enjoyed reading the following account as a reminder to listen to nature, yes, even frogs and cicada:

"At a wayside shack just off a highway where we stopped to inquire directions, recalls Carrie Jacobs Bond (who wrote those beautiful words, The End of a Perfect Day), a wist-ful-looking woman, drawn into conversation said, 'We don't have any music, we haven't a radio, and we don't get to town. I wish I was you-all.'  . . .  Behind the shack there was a little pond where, in the shade of overhanging willows, some ducks drifted lazily. 'Have you any frogs in your pond?' I inquired, and she said indifferently, 'Yes, and they croak every night!'

"In my hillside garden the frogs have choral which I would not exchange for any other. When twilight comes the big basso tunes up, directs and leads, and soon the woodland music of a score of lusty throats take up the symphony, deep and tuneful, in a manner peculiar to frogs. To me this is one of the night's loveliest sounds. Often we silence the radio, which we enjoy in its way, to get the quivering chorus of the little brown and green choristers of the pool. There is no other music like it. At dawning the twittering and calling of the birds awakens the sleeper. During the day the gladsome note of feathered songsters is heard over the garden.

"This poor 'deaf' woman had her ears tuned to the horizon, and never knew that she was missing the wonderful harmonies of nature. Just as so often we fix our eyes on the 'apples on the other side of the wall.'"
                                                                                 Streams In The Desert 2, Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
                                                                                                August 22 devotion, from an old clipping

Listening. Most of us are very aware of the scripture verse which says God gave man one tongue but two ears that we may hear twice as much as we speak. And it is, indeed, a good thing to remember. I know, in younger years, I didn't bend my ears to hear the sounds of nature. Thankfully, I've grown into loving to hear the tunes that nature sings to me.

The sound of the wind rustling the leaves and branches . . . the rooster that I love to hear wake up the morning . . . the quiet sound of snow falling outside the door . . . the chirp of baby birds inside the house. Jerry loves a thunderstorm as it rumbles across the sky. . . the stillness of darkness as it covers the land. The snort of a deer warning the others, the crashing of waves at the ocean and the babbling of a brook.

"Incline your ear . . . hear, and your soul shall live . . ." (Isaiah 55:3)

It had been a while since I read Carrie Jacobs-Bond poem so I pulled it up to enjoy, once again, her words.

The End of a Perfect Day (1910)
Music and lyrics by Carrie Jacobs-Bond

"When you come to the end of a perfect day, And you sit alone with your thought,
While the chimes ring out with a carol gay For the joy that the day has brought,
Do you think what the end of a perfect day Can mean to a tired heart,
When the sun goes down with a flaming ray, And the dear friends have to part? 
Well, this is the end of a perfect day, Near the end of a journey, too;
But it leaves a thought that is big and strong, With a wish that is kind and true.
Mem'ry has painted this perfect day With colors that never fade,
And we find, at the end of a perfect day, The soul of a friend we've made. "

We can always be thankful because our God hears us . . . "but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. (Psalm 66:18-20) There is so much we can listen too that will inspire and encourage our hearts. Open your ears to the sounds of nature and you'll enjoy a brilliant symphony!

"One of the best ways to demonstrate God's love is to listen to people."  Bruce Larsen

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Is it a Waste

On my morning "fawn spotting" last Saturday, I enjoyed seeing the sunrise. These trees in the fog with the soft pink coming in behind them, was worth a snap from my camera.

One of my Facebook friends posted this message last week:

"A day of exercise results in two wasted days of life. The day of exercise is a waste (if you hate exercise) and the extra day of life it gives you is a waste because you spend it lying in bed in a nursing home. Two wasted days. I'd rather enjoy the one day I have right now. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Of course, consider my current physical condition and come to your own conclusions."

I have to say I like it. Now, I know exercise is good for you physically, mentally and emotionally. I've certainly done a lot of it in my years. I even bought a recumbent exercise bike after my second knee surgery. I'd never heard of one before, but it's good for therapy and senior adults. Well, I do belong to that club.

I know it will also be good for my heart, so I try and get on it twice a day.

But I'm not a young chick anymore. I'm not trying to impress the work place or friends with a perfect body (is there one?). You get a little bit slower as you age, and it takes longer to do everything! So I'm not inclined to exercise a lot.

Yes, I know my body is a temples of the Holy Spirit . . . and I need to honor my body. (1st Corinthians 6:19-20) And I do the best I can to keep me going well in all directions. But, I have no interest in living as long as I possibly can into my 80s and 90s. With the decline of the United States in all ways, I have a much better place to go, and I'm looking forward to that day of meeting my Lord.

I'm not ungrateful for my life. God has blessed me immensely with His love and care, and I certainly have experienced His grace and mercy all my days so far. But no day here can ever be as wonderful as eternity in heaven.

I guess you can say the same about me that my friend ended his post with: "Of course, consider my current physical condition and come to your own conclusions."

 Last week when the temps were in the 90s I thought about fall and the ribbon. I spent a little time making some bows as I wait for the joy of fall!

Right now I'm reading "The Best of Stillmeadow" by Gladys Taber. I learned about her through Susan Branch's website. Published in 1937, Taber writes about country life on her farm in Connecticutt. She also wrote for Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle, and was published in Good Housekeeping, Red Book and other similar magazines. She has about 50 books to her credit. I've read this one before, but wanted to visit a simpler time again. Similar in a way to "Isle of Dreams" below. (1899-1980)

And if you haven't read Susan Branch's three books: "The Fairy Tale Girl," "Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams" and "A Fine Romance" you may want to give them a try. The first is about her life and how she got started drawing, going back to a time that I relate to. Brought back a lot of childhood and early adult memories. Isle of Dreams is about her three month escape to Martha's Vineyard (and staying the rest of her life so far) knowing no one and arriving with no reservations. A fascinating read! A Fine Romance is about her two month journey to England, written like a diary, and reads as if we're sitting right there with her enjoying the trip. If you've never been to England this opens the door to life there. Good reads.

I will miss the young of the birds as we get ready for fall. I love to hear the chirping of the little ones!

Well, it's time for me to ride my bike! Look out knees!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Coming to the End

The end of summer is upon us. There's only two Saturdays left in August and my "fawn spotting" mornings will be finished until next year.

It's been a fun time this year, snapping my favorite subjects. And I never failed to see fawn on my outings.

Last week when the temperatures were high, I stayed inside and created a new Shutterfly book titled: Fawn, The Fun of a Snap and have many of my pictures nicely arranged for me to enjoy. If you'd like to see my book, copy and paste the link below and it will take you right to my new book.

                     Above and below are lovely scenes I've seen while driving around this summer.

I found the following words interesting, giving me cause to consider them: "Depending on a person's build, there's a distance of about ten inches between our brain and our hearts. That distance might as well be ten thousand miles sometimes." 100 Favorite Bible Verses, Lisa Guest, Isaiah 40:11

It's one of those things you just don't think about, but quite true. The brain and heart are definitely not always in line with each other. I've always liked to this verse in the Bible: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  Proverbs 4:23

Billy Graham thought it this way: "Please take my heart and mold it for your service, shape it into the servant heart you want it to be."

If your heart is in the right place, hopefully your brain will follow it's lead. Intellect and knowledge has nothing over the reasoning of a heart.

In the last week three friends have found out they have serious health concerns. Two have been told the dreaded word cancer, and one waits to find out. In an instant a life is changed.

When I write a note to someone I often say, "You never know when your life will be changed by an illness, but you always know that God is with you." Focusing on the assurance that God already knows and is with you will help you make decisions and bring your thoughts in tune with His.

"The sick room can become a 'spiritual gymnasium' where one's soul is exercised and developed. Sickness is one of the 'all things' which work together for good to those who love God . . . If my heart has been attuned to my God through faith in Christ, then its overflow will be joyous optimism and good cheer." Billy Graham, Unto the Hills

And the "all things" comes from Roman 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I also share these words when I write: "You have the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in God during this time of illness. He will fill you with peace and comfort, and guide you in any decisions that have to be made."

If you do not know Christ, the above words will surely be foreign to you. But those of us whose life is in God's Hand, understand He's the only one who can work all things to your good.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Antoine De Saint-Exupery (1900-1944)

"You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns." Mark Twain (1835-1910)

My little Mary Jane Magnolia is in bloom again. It's the first year I've seen it bloom twice. The blooms in spring were beautiful. Looks like I'm getting double the show!

I will miss my "fawn spotting" for another year. Seeing and watching fawn are a delight to my eye, but this time also affords me the opportunity to spend two to three hours in early morning with my God. Alone, quiet with nature. What a blessing to my heart.

"But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more." Psalm 71:14