Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vermont? Yes. Vermont

Before Jerry and I married 29 years ago, I mapped out a trip to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It was a trip I was excited to go on!

But then I met Jerry, and I planned a wedding -- not go on a trip to Vermont. I've never lost the desire to visit Vermont. We did make it to Maine in '89, but a trip to Vermont never materialized.

                                                  Still blooming . . .

Sometime this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do before I died. Visiting Vermont was one of my desires.

I was scheduled to take a few nights away this fall. Jerry went away in June and we agreed I'd go away in the fall. With Mom living with us, and the pups and Sam to care for, it was easier to take separate time away.

                                                Still blooming . . .

During the summer I thought about Lancaster, Hershey and Ohio of possible places to visit. I enjoy those areas greatly. That is until two weeks ago when the three of us were returning home from lunch in Emmitsburg.

"Go to Vermont," was spoken in my head. "Go to Vermont?" I thought. Where did that come from? I hadn't been thinking about Vermont at all. But the rest of the afternoon I pondered the possibility and that evening, when I told Jerry, he said ok.

Ever since then I've been planning the trip. I'll be visiting the southern part of Vermont coming in at Bennington. I'm splurging and staying in a B&B for the two nights I'll be in Vermont. The B&B is the home of Norman Rockwell, and it's just above the red covered bridge and white church that is so famously photographed.

I'm driving. Alone. I'll have my Booth Brother's CD, as well as Steve Green and John Starnes, and a few others to keep me company on the 9 to 10 hour drive.

                                                Still blooming . . .

Mom and Sam will get a vacation too, staying with friends for the week. Jerry will care for the pups and eat ribs from the Amish market. He's still not completely well from the pain in his back, so we're hoping he'll be feeling much better by the time I leave.

Another dream comes true this year of my 65th birthday. Two puppies in February; a new car and gaining health insurance in March, and a new camera this month (before I ever knew I'd be visiting the  beautiful place of my dreams).

       These two were giving me the eye as they watch over the little one sleeping on Wilson's Farm.

There won't be a new blog post next week because I'll be driving the back roads of Vermont, admiring mountains, lakes, covered bridges and wild life. Route 100 is one of the most scenic routes in America, says Reader's Digest.

Say a prayer for me as God brings me to mind. I've driven long distances before -- 35 to 40 years ago. But as my friend, Jackie, recently wrote to me: "I'm absolutely thrilled about your upcoming trip . . . and proud of you for pursuing a dream and having the courage to step out on your own and follow your heart."

                                                   Still blooming . . .

Psalm 37:4 says: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Thank you, Father!"

                                           Abby and Jo wishing they were outside the gate!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Very Big Word!

                 A quiet evening in the back yard. Only geese would have made it better.

"The days are hard, and your spirit is low, but there is a hope in your soul that never diminishes, and has the power to lift your spirit and comfort your heart. I know you have this incredible hope inside of you."

Those words are one of the thoughts God gave me to encourage others in my note writing. Hope. That four letter word that will inspire, comfort, cheer, strengthen and encourage. And all those who know Christ as Lord and Savior have it.

One of it's definitions is to believe or trust. But when times are hard, it's easy to overlook the power hope can bring to our life.

                                        September in the garden. Still a delight to look at!

In Charles Spurgeon's February 25th devotion in "Look Unto Me." he wrote these words as he commented on the Scripture verse "My hope comes from Him." Psalm 62:5: "What a privilege for a believer to be able to say these words . . . if he looks to God to supply his needs . . . he may continually make withdrawals from the riches of God's loving-kindness."

A believer's hope is powerful and permanent. I like the hymn, "My Faith Looks Up to Thee." The third verse says: "While life's dark maze I tread, And griefs around me spread, Be Thou my guide; Bid darkness turn to day, Wipe sorrow's tears away, Nor let me ever stray From Thee aside."  Ray Palmer, 1808-1887

                                                                     "Hi Dad."

Friends, I know you have this incredible hope inside you. Turn to it always for it never diminishes. If you can't claim these words, I urge you to turn to the one who provides this hope, Jesus.

I write these words because I know they are true. I know they refresh, encourage and comfort, and direct your thoughts to the One who never fails us. Draw up your hope! It never wavers. It never fails.

"Hope the balm and life blood of the soul." John Armstrong, 1709-1779

"The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith." John Calvin, 1509-1564

                                                                       "Mom, help!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A "Free" Weekend!

   You can see the young buck on the left side. Two doe were behind it.  I like the fawn with the stone wall.

We had a "free" weekend this past weekend. A weekend without mother. Hope that doesn't sound unfeeling or selfish. I think the three of us get along ok since she came to live with us two years ago. I'm sure all of us have times that aren't great, but so far it's working out.

I use to have "free" days when I worked. When it snowed and the office was closed, it would be a "free" day. I could do whatever I wanted too, and sometimes that was just sitting by the window watching the snow fall. Drinking hot chocolate, of course.

               I snapped this group a few weeks ago. It's one of my favorite spots to see deer.

We had a few plans for the\is "free" weekend, but Jerry woke up not feeling well Saturday morning. He'd been having trouble with his back all week, and his stomach wasn't well either. So it quickly became a stay at home weekend. His stomach now seems to be fine, but he's being very careful with his back and what he does.

Friday I went to Best Buy and bought a new camera. The one I've had for four years needed repair. I had sent it to the manufacturer once before for a different problem, and just decided at four years old I'd like a new one. I bought a Nikon. My first one.

I've been through them all: Brownie,  Polaroid, Instamatic, Olympus, Minolta, and Canon. All of them served me well. Now the Nikon. Lest I sound rich, it's a little point and shoot, and it was on sale.

 I had a difficult time focusing in on these deer and only had two snaps turn out, and not great. Haven't had that much trouble focusing on similar snaps with my previous camera.

I went out Saturday morning with my new camera for a fawn shoot. Jerry was home letting the pups take care of him. Things weren't going well. I had a number of opportunities to take pictures, but the camera wasn't focusing, the pictures were fuzzy and the weight of the camera didn't feel good. I later decided the body was too light for the longer zoom lens.

I worked with it the rest of Saturday and into Sunday, and I did get some nice pictures. But the fit just wasn't right for me. So Monday I went back to Best Buy and upgraded to another Canon PowerShot. I'm thrilled. It doubled and more my zoom capabilities, and I'm very familiar with how to work it. The snap below is the last one I took with the Nikon.

 I was out back Sunday evening still working with the camera, and saw this buck wanting to come to the  back gate to eat. There's a lane between the short grass and the bushes on the other side. He decided he'd come again another time, turning and walking off.

Labor Day weekend marked the end of my fawn shoot for this season. I've been out most Saturday mornings in July and August from 6 to 8. I've gotten a fair number of good snaps to enjoy. Especially the fawn nursing! I'll have to wait until next year for this fun and refreshing time to return once again.

 I did get this refreshing snap Saturday morning. Wish they all could have turned out like this one!

Mom returned Monday evening and brought us back to the routine of life. But I know one day I'll get another "free" weekend! Maybe next time Jerry won't be in pain!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The End Always Comes

            On my Saturday morning fawn hunt, I found these two early in the morning enjoying
             rest under this large shrub. They let me snap pictures for 10 minutes as they got up
                                                            and strolled around.

The end always comes . . . end of summer specifically. I know, summer officially ends on September 22nd, but in our hearts summer ends Labor Day weekend. After all, that's when all the programs start and schools begin their new year.

The end of summer is before us and those lazy days of  sitting under a tree day dreaming are dwindling. This summer was like a cool breeze blowing by us, refreshing the soul. Extreme heat? No. Humid days? No. Scorching sun? No. Thankful heart? YES!

I like Martin Luther's comparing of the gospel when talking about summer: "The gospel is like a fresh, mild, and cool air in the extreme heat of summer; a solace and comfort in the anguish of the conscience." We certainly achieved that this summer!

God is in control of all the seasons. I've seen about 260 seasons in my life. I can always count on each season to arrive and display their beauty. "There is no season such delight can bring As summer, autumn, winter and the spring." Williams Brownen   Every season displays its own beauty.

Verse two in the hymn "Sing to the Lord of Harvest" says:

                                  "By Him the rolling seasons In fruitful order move;
                                  O Sing to the Lord of harvest; A song of happy love."

      This little one wasn't bothered by me at all. I like the way the fence rails have framed the fawn.

The end also comes to each day. We live the routine of each day, doing those things planned out, and then let the day go when our heads hit the pillow. I like the second verse of the hymn "Day by Day."

"Every day the Lord Himself is near me With a special mercy for each hour,
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure - Is a charge that on Himself He laid,
As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure, This the pledge to me He made."

                      This group of doe and fawn were just slowly walking around eating.
    The closest fawn kept walking closer to me. It must have been wondering, "Who is that kook."

I like Ralph Waldo Emerson's description of a day: "Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays."

And then there's the end of life. When will mine end? Am I doing all I can each day, each season? What am I called to do? Am I doing it? Am I ready for my life to end? An interesting quote I share from Fyodor Mikhaylovich  Dostoyevski (1821-1881):

"Believe to the end, even if all men go astray and you are left the only one faithful; bring your offering even then and praise God in your loneliness."

     I finished my normal Saturday morning route and turned around, as I always go back the same way I came. I found another fawn by itself resting in a yard. I'd say, that was a banner photo shoot!

Yes, the end comes to many things. But our assurance is true: "I know that my Redeemer lives." Job 19:25

"The foundation of Job's comfort lay in that one little word my -- 'my Redeemer' -- and in the fact that the Redeemer truly lives. Oh, to take hold of the living Christ! We must have a claim to Him before we can enjoy Him . . . A living Redeemer who is truly mine is 'inexpressible and glorious joy."   Charles Spurgeon

"He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them."  Hebrew 7:25

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for another season, another day, until that day I'm called away and the end finally comes to take me to a glorious beginning!

                                  Over and over and over again: "My bone. No, my bone. No, my bone."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joy for Today

Our sunflowers finally opened!

After writing my Out of the Ho-hums! post on August 6th, I picked up one of my favorite books: "Lightposts for Living" by Thomas Kinkade. In Chapter One titled "The Color of Joy: The Art of Choosing a Joyful Life" he writes about choosing joy. The book focuses on a simple life.

I've strived to make my life as simple as I can. I find it fits me best and I'm much happier than filling my life with doing, going and things. I ran across this quote in the chapter that always makes me smile:

"And now you have joy?" "I do indeed." "And how did you get it?" "I chose it, admitted it into my life, then I celebrated its arrival in my heart. I made my celebration so loud and boisterous, I prohibited all gloom from attending the celebration."  Calvin Miller

                                 What a great snap my friend, Kathy, took of this fawn.

Of course, our joy comes from God, the giver of all things. "The people went . . . to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God's words and understood them."  Nehemiah 8:12

Charles Spurgeon wrote these words regarding Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord:" "This verse must seem very strange to those who know nothing of living a godly life, but to sincere believers it is simply the reinforcement of a recognized truth. It describes the life of a believer as one of 'delight' in God, and as believers we are proof of the great fact that true faith overflows with happiness and joy."

Thomas Kinkade suggests you can make joyful choices as you go through life.

"How do you make joyful choices? On the simplest level, you condition yourself for joy by doing little things you love on a regular basis . . . Anything that builds a simple sense of pleasure or optimism can be effective in building up the base coat of happiness deep in your heart," said Thomas Kinkade.

So I started thinking about things I do that are joyful to me. Of course, being in God's Word each day tops the list. Since joy comes from God, only He can open the door of your soul to find joy.

                                                                       Run little one!

"Joy is the great note all through the Bible."  Oswald Chambers

Photography helps me be joyful. The beauty of nature, the fun of seeing His creation, the assurance He's in control as new calves are born and the poppies open on schedule--I see this assurance and want to share it. Finding that unexpected scene and getting a snap of it is fun and satisfying! And creating matted prints and note cards to show off God's creation is another thing that brings me joy.

                         Abby and Jo patiently waiting by my chair while I work on the computer.

Baking treats to give away is a simple thing I do that brings me joy. My Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake is well known, and I love to give it away! A simple joy that makes my heart smile.

"If we are involved in doing what we were put on earth to do, a joyful heart is almost guaranteed--even in the midst of deepest difficulties."  Thomas Kinkade

How true. Even when I'm discouraged or disappointed or sad, God still gives me words to write to encourage the hearts of others. And using the gift God gave me to encourage hearts on those note cards is a deep felt joy of service.

When Jerry cut down one of our larger shrubs, he left a big trunk standing. He asked me what I thought about putting the log bird house on the top. I added the lattice fence to the mix, and I do believe we have the entrance to a new garden! (I haven't told him yet.)

Making dates with friends for breakfast, lunch or dinner brings me joy. My friends cheer my heart and help me through daily living. Being with them and sharing about life is a simple pleasure I don't take lightly.

                                   I visited my friend, Diana's, garden and enjoyed the beauty!

What brings you joy? Do you receive joy doing the things God has gifted you to do? Are you an artist who finds joy in drawing? Do you write in a journal and find joy sharing your thoughts with God? Do you instruct others in living for Christ? Are you a listener who finds joy in encouraging others?

Find those simple things that bring joy to your heart and don't forget to do them. You could change a life for Christ!

I know that Thomas Kinkade met with a tragic death and made poor choices, but like David, I believe he had a heart for God. I only hope he made peace with Him before the end.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Celebrating 91 and more . . .

Chesapeake Beach? Yes, that's where my mother wanted to go for her 91st birthday celebration. Memories abound.

Mom has been going to Chesapeake Beach since she was a young girl. My grandfather's employer would have a picnic there every summer for his employees and their families. There was a merry-go-round, slot machines and fun.

When I was two, we lived on the Navy base there. My father worked at the Naval Research Laboratory. Mom would take my sister and I to the beach every weekday morning. I don't remember much, but I think that's where I ate soap in the bathtub.

In later years, Mom, her mother and her sisters would go to the beach every Mother's Day. It was an important celebration for them. It's been many years since Mom has been there.

Chesapeake Beach has certainly changed in 60 years. Mom hoped to see where we lived those many years ago, but the base housing was no longer there.

Lovely color was found, and we could see an osprey feeding it's young, but it was way too far away for a good snap. We had a beautiful day and delightful temperatures. Mom was thrilled.

                                                              and more . . .

We recently watched the new movie, "God's Not Dead." It may seem like it in this country, but read me loud and clear: God is NOT dead. He's very much alive, and has been for all eternity past and eternity to come!

The movie is powerful. We've seen Kevin Sorbo in several movies, and enjoy his acting. The young man who played the main student was good too. I believe the story to be accurate as how our country and world is today.

You have a choice to make. That's the point. You either believe and live for God or you don't. The choice isn't to be taken lightly. Your soul depends on your decision.

I always remember a story I read a long time ago. "Two men were talking about life and belief in Christ. One man believed and the other man didn't. The man who didn't believe asked: 'What if you're not right. There is no God. No hell. No heaven.' The second man said: 'If I'm not right, I've lived a good life, one of truth and abundant life, filled with faith.' Then he said: 'What if I'm right. There is a God. Jesus is the Savior of the world and you must accept him for eternal life. If you don't, your soul will be without God for all eternity.' The first man had no reply."

Don't take this decision lightly. It's the most important decision you'll ever make.

Thank you, brothers and sisters who've chosen Christ, who stand firm for Him and don't back down because it would be easier. You encourage my heart. God is alive!

We took care of our neighbor's chickens last week, and when we'd walk back to our yard we'd always receive a happy greeting by Abby and Jo!