Friday, April 30, 2010

If you've been wondering where I am...

It's awful, I know. I've been absent for a long time, without so much as popping in to say I'm alive.

Well, for part of that time I wasn't sure I was alive, and then when I was sure I didn't want everyone to know it, and then when I wanted them to know it I had no time to tell them.

Make sense?

Two words ought to make everything clear: Heather's wedding.

Oh, it was lovely. The preceding week was hectic, but Friday's rehearsal and the wedding on Saturday were absolutely fantastic. It wasn't craziness that made me feel like hiding in a hole, that's for sure.

I actually had fun on Friday and Saturday - 'specially Friday. So many people that we care about where there, and we were all working toward and common goal, and everyone was so helpful, and there was so much could it not be fun?

On Saturday, things were a little different. I still had fun, but it was a more subdued feeling, for I was also struggling with tears. My sister was leaving.

The ceremony itself was peaceful, graceful, full of beauty; it was all the things you could desire. I felt peaceful standing up there, and I was grateful, because I know it came from God.

I don't have time to tell you all about the details - I hope I can do that at a later date. This has been a long week for me, full of lots of emotions....and a lot of work. We are preparing to help Heather and Eugene move into their new house when they return from their honeymoon on Saturday. That being said, I must run. I hope to post more later. For now, a peek at the dresses I kept talking and talking about on here: (I hope I didn't bore you to tears with my continual references to "wedding sewing!")

I hope to post more wedding photos soon, and tell you all about it. For now, thanks to each of you who were praying for us on that day! I love how a blog is different from a journal in that respect; you are real, caring, people, and I know that many of you are praying for me. I love that. God bless each of you. (See - I pray for you too.:)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thoughts Inspired by Sunday's Sermon

I scribbled the following post on a piece of paper during this past quiet Sunday afternoon, intending to share these thoughts with you, my dear sisters in Christ. I meant to post this Monday, but things have been busy, so here I am at last. :)

Do you know what causes cataracts?

According to my understanding, it's the sun that makes all the trouble. Over the course of daily living, the sun's rays cause cataracts to build up on our precious lenses, through which we see the world. I've been told that wearing sunglasses with UV protection can slow this process, since it's the UV rays in the sunlight that are harmful. Folks show spend a great deal of time out in direct sunlight, without proper protection, are at a much higher risk of developing cataracts, I would think.

What a horrible thing it would be to be told you are going blind. I shiver at the thought. God knows how dear I hold my sight - such a precious gift from Him it is.

But the sun is not a very big star, in the whole spectrum of things. Many other stars would outshine our sun if they were side by side. It is easy to forget that those tiny sparkling gems that are hidden during the day are, many of them, far brighter than the sun which cloaks them. Yet the sun, with its very closeness, can - and would - blind each one of us if we looked at it long enough. The brightness which fascinates us would be our destruction, plunging us into darkness.

I wonder how many of us are developing spiritual cataracts. We know this world is not our home, and we know eternity awaits us, yet this world distracts us, with all its brightness and glamor. We know it doesn't compare to what will be, but because this world is so close, so here, we stare at it. We embrace it. We love it. Those closeness of it outshines what we've been told about our distant home, and it almost seems as if there is nothing but here and now. Why not live for the moment?

We do all this hardly realizing that we seal our own doom. We can never see the stars, so long as we stare at the sun and, if we stare long enough, we shall not see the stars even when we look away. We shall see nothing. Not even the brightness and glamor that first drew our eyes off eternity.

But I doubt many of us are in that state. I would think that most of us are blissfully unaware of the UV rays that stream into are eyes every day. We haven't noticed that foggy brown haze around our peripheral vision, or the lack of sharp images when the night grows dark. It all happens so gradually.

UV. In science terms, it means ultra-violet light. But in a spiritual application, perhaps it could stand for "Useless Vanity," though calling vanity useless is rather redundant. It does serve to make a point, though, for that's what spiritual UV rays are; useless vanity. That are those things which serve no purpose beyond here and now. The obsession with things that satisfy the five senses and nothing else. The things that stimulate the old man, and call up nothing in the new except a sense of uneasiness.

Let's be gone with these rays. Let's put on our spiritual sunglasses and take our eyes off the world, though we can't help being in it. Let's busy ourselves with getting to know the Master, for we're going to spend eternity with Him.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Laughter is good medicine

Dad gave three of his daughters (that includes me) a good laugh yesterday evening by the following conversation:

Lezley (or was it Tiffany?): "Daddy, tell us about when you were little."

Dad: "Hmm."

(I wasn't looking at them, but I "heard" a familiar twinkle in his eyes.)

Dad: "Well, I was born very early in my life."

(Giggles from the girls. Great laughter from me.)

Dad: "And I spent most of my childhood as a youth."

(Chuckles all around.)

Dad: "I was born very close to my mother, because I cared about her."

(More chuckles.)

Dad: "And I was very bright. That's why she called me 'son.'"

(Peals of laughter from everyone.)

The End.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'll plant tomatoes, but I refuse to war with ants.

It all started out so pleasant. I was sitting on our back porch, potting the flower and herb seedlings I've grown. The cool dirt, the smell of spring, and the sight of bright green baby plants were all relaxing and invigorating at the same time. One by one, the row of potted balsam rose plants grew, and I looked proudly at the line.

Dad asked me to re-pot some of the tomato plants when I'd finished with my flowers and sweet basil. I was happy to help, hopeful that we will soon find good homes for each of the tall Italian trees. With over 2 thousand plants at our home, we are eager to get rid of some, much as we like them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term "re-pot," it means to take plants growing in small containers out of their current containers and put them in bigger ones, so their roots have more space to grow.

I finished my flowers soon after that, and I moved across the porch to where the Italian Tree tray sat waiting for me. I pulled the container of potting soil after me, and settled down in a camp chair to do my work. The tray of plants sat in a plastic holder, and I removed the tray to where I could reach it easier. I put each finished plant in the empty plastic holder. I had potted three plants when it happened.

I noticed that several tiny ants were crawling over my box of potting soil. They seemed to be coming from the tomatoes. I wondered why they where there, but didn't give it further thought until I set my third tomato plant down in the tray.

The tray was moving. I looked closer and saw that it wasn't the black tray that was moving; it was the surface of the tray that was moving.



I saw that almost all of them were carrying eggs, and I immediately knew an ant colony had been disturbed. A moment later I realized that they had built their home between the tomato tray and the plastic holder.

"Daaaaaddy!" I shrieked, but he was out of hearing. I'm not afraid of an ant, but I do have a problem with 6 thousand ants.

I shivered, moved the three pots out of the tray, and stood up to shake the ants out of the tray, hitting it against the deck railing. Ants went flying.

Whoops. I backed into one of my pots. Dirt spilled onto the porch boards, and the proud tomato plant flopped sideways. I tossed the tray aside, and moved to pick up the pot. Whoops. There went my other two plants. More dirt spilled on the porch floor.

I was standing where the tray had been sitting. I looked down, and couldn't help myself; I began to stomp madly everywhere. They were so tiny....I didn't know if I was actually squishing them or not.

I guess not; they crawled up my feet. I was only wearing flip flops, and I could feel their tiny legs on me. I slapped at the tiny creatures madly, but as fast as I got rid of them, more climbed on.

I must have been a sight; stomping, slapping, dancing, and stopping every now and then for a squeal of disgust.

When the torrent finally slowed to a trickle, I took a deep breath, double-check my seat for critters, and sat down to do some more potting. I reached for the tray of plants and picked up a pot. I squeezed the bottom of one of the cells, to loosen the plant inside.

A handful of eggs and ants fell into my palm.

I shrieked, brushed them off in a hurry, and ran inside the house. I love tomato plants, but don't ask me to fight World War III with ants.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In which I talk to myself

Oakley Avenue was beautiful this afternoon.

I was driving home from an outing, and my mind was filled with random thoughts. Some of them were lovely, some were just plain crazy, but I thought you might care to "listen in," and perhaps share some of your own random thoughts of today.

1st thought: "Do you know how stupid it feels to shut your own hair in the car door?" (Just for the record, I don't like using the word "stupid" to describe things in general conversation, but since I'm recording my thoughts I've got to be honest about what I thought!) I shall refrain from sharing the story that sparked this particular thought.

2nd thought: This was more of a deep breath than a thought. It was a was poetry inhaled. Oakley Avenue is lined with trees that are loaded with blossoms in April. I don't know what kind of trees they are, but they remind me of cherry trees.

Piles of petals lay heaped in the ditches, in various shades of soft pink. I wanted to scoop up handfuls and squeeze them, sure that a pale pink juice would come forth, of strongest, sweetest scent, and a pale, wild, but joyous flavor....tasting the way liquid light must taste. When the breeze tumbled across the roads and parking lots every few moments, I wanted to jump from the moving van, abandon all sense, and wade in the scurrying sea of pink. Every parking lot was a rippling sea of baby-pink confetti. Waves of pink formed and disappeared too fast to be seen, yet I knew I had seen them. Showers of petals filled the air, like a heavy snow storm. Some things are so beautiful they hurt.

3rd thought: "It's amazing that my little size-9 foot can make this bulky van move!" Every thought about that before? One human foot. One huge machine. The machine ought to win. But it doesn't. I boss it around with my single foot. I propel it forward with a foot. ....And, even more astounding, I can stop this incredibly-fast-moving thing with one foot!

4th thought: "Do you know how hard it is to sneeze while keeping your eyes on the road?" You can't.

5th thought: "I can't wait to get home and write a blog post about petals, sneezes, feet, and hair. They're going to think I'm crazy."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Flea Market

This Saturday was the first weekend this year that The King's Strings was able to go out to our local flea market and do evangelizing.

For those of you who are newer readers, and hence didn't catch all my references to our flea market ministry last summer, I'll explain briefly:

(Here we are last summer.)

The bluegrass gospel group that three of my siblings and I are a part of, The King's Strings, has a desire to use our music to reach folks with the gospel. In past years, my own family has gone out to the local flea markets a few times on our own, or with a member from our church, to set up our church's tent and pass out tracts. That something our church has been doing for a long time, whenever someone volunteers to go out there.

When we first joined our church, a few older men had been doing the flea market ministry but, to be honest, it was a lot for them to spend an entire morning out there in the heat and everything, so they slowly were coming to the point where they weren't able to do it very often. My sister Heather and I thought "Hey, we're young and full of energy, and this needs to be done, so let's do it!" ...and our family unofficially became "the Flea Market People."

It was either the first or second time we set up at the market that our brother Curtis brought his guitar along. He played whatever hymns came to mind and even though, at that time, he was just beginning to "get good" on the guitar, lots of people stopped to listen and take our tracts. As Curtis played, we older girls manned the tent table, and Dad and our younger siblings stood out in the walkway to catch those who didn't get close enough to the table for us to reach them. We found out that little people are really good at getting anyone - even a gruff-looking person - to take a tract from their small hands. :)

Last year, as the warm weather came back and it was flea market time again, we realized that we now had a new weapon to use; we had a music group that year! Not all 10 members of our group could make it out there every Saturday, of course, but most Saturdays there were at least 4 of us out there, from 6:00 to 12:00.

We were thrilled to see the way music opens doors. Folks stood around our table for many minutes at a time. They clapped at the end of each song, and some sang along. They almost forced us to have a "donation bowl," and hence unknowingly supplied the funds to buy more tracts. They stopped to talk, and talk, and talk.

I have many good memories of last year at the flea market. Getting there in the dark at 6:00, or a little after....shivering in the cold, blowing on numb fingers....getting sunburned later in the day as the heat rolled in and bounced off the gravel paths...long conversations as we sat around while waiting for the crowd to pick up...talks with brothers and sister in the Lord whom we met at the market, and who were so excited to see young people out doing soul winning.

You see, that year the Market Ministry officially was given over to us young people, and we were the ones who loaded up the car, got up at 5:something in the morning, drove over to the market, set up the tent and table, and did the playing and passing out of tracts. Sometimes Mom or Dad, or our Pastor or another member from church, would join us later in the day, but sometimes we did it alone. And we loved it either way. I think we encouraged others, just by being young and being out there.

...Breaking strings...eating whoopee pies, given us by the lady who set up her tent next to us...talks with people who need the Lord...strolling around the market and giving tracts to the other people set up to sell things...

...and watching people fall in love.

I mentioned that there was always at least 4 of us out there. That would be me, my brother Curtis, my sister Heather...and our newest The King's String member; the banjo-playing Eugene.

It was his mother who set up next to us and fed us with whoopee pies when we got hungry, by the way. :) And his sister would sometimes join in and play with us on her guitar. But it was Eugene who worked under our tent, playing and playing and playing....and talking. He has a heart to proclaim the gospel, but it wasn't long before we starting wondering if he had a heart for something - I mean someone - else, as well.

Before the summer was out, Heather and Eugene were courting.

Ah yes, I said I'd give you a brief background on our flea market ministry, didn't I? Oh well. You know me; "brief" is completely relative. You must bear with me. I am in a writing mood.

Anyway....last year was a time of forming a lot of bonds with each other as we spent long hours out at the market. Often we were joined by 3-5 other members of the group, and we all got to know each other much better, and create lots of good memories.

This year, we were so excited to get back. Last Saturday is probably the only time we will get over there between now and the wedding, but in May we plan to be back in the routine again.

I noticed a difference this year. On Saturday, we played a little less, and talked a little more. We passed out a lot more tracts and had longer conversations about the gospel. The members who before were quite willing to be out there, but yet shy about doing anything more than playing their instrument, are now learning to put the instrument down every so often and go talk to people. There is an undercurrent of something different in the whole group. I'm excited to see what God will do with us this year.

On Saturday we had a long interaction time with a former Muslim who now rejects any religion at all. He was very hard and bitter and arrogant, but prayer can work miracles. Please pray for him if you think of it. I may never see him again, but he is on my heart.

I would also like to challenge you; what are you doing to proclaim the gospel of Christ? Every person has their own "niche," their own method that suits them best. We use music because it's a tool God's given us. I also like to use writing because that's another tool God's given to me. He may have given you other tools, but I promise you that if you're His He's given you something. Every saved person has been commanded to share the gospel. It's not an option. But don't think of it as a command, really; think of it as the only way to live. He's forgiven you! And those around you are condemned to hell. How can you NOT want to tell them how to be forgiven?

Wow. I'm challenging myself. Blogging is so convicting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From Public

I think I'm writing the very first blog post I ever wrote in a public place...

...All because another "first" happened recently; my computer caught a virus.

So I'm writing this at my favorite library. :)

Do you know what's rather clever? These library computers have little clocks at the top of the screen, letting you know how much time has elapsed since you got on. Every person is limited to 29 minutes and 59 seconds of computer time at once. Once your time has run out, you have to get in the back of the waiting line again...if there is a line. I'm assuming this thing will automatically kick me off when 0:13:03 more minutes have run out.

So, since I'm limited on time, I'll just say that it's been rather nice to have less computer time the last couple of days. I will admit that there's a lot of computer work that's piling up...that happens when you have a web-based business...but I have been doing a lot of work in the garden, at my sewing machine, in the kitchen, and elsewhere since my computer caught that virus. I also have more time to read - it's nice. I actually read a G.A. Henty book last night, for the first time in ages! (I was reminded that computers aren't the only things that can keep a person up reeeeeeally late. :)

I have lots to talk about when I get more computer access again. I would love to show you pictures of the 3+ outfits I've made this week! And I must talk about the new ideas rolling around in my head. But for now, I'll just wish y'all a splendid day. :)