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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Surprised by Alfie...

It's funny how your mind works, isn't  it? You can have yourself going in a certain direction,getting on with your agenda for the day, and what seems like "out of the blue" something pops in your head, and wham-o--you're changing course.
That happened to me a while ago. I was just getting into the day's activities and a  song from way, way back entered my mind and I couldn't let go of it...For you old-timers, maybe you remember a song from the 60's or maybe 70's called Alfie. It was the title song  of a movie starring Michael Caine as Alfie. It was big the summer that I was working as a waitress at a hotel on the coast of Maine. I didn't understand much back then about how deep those lyrics could embed themselves in the recesses of my brain. But, they wriggled their way out of the crevasse this morning! The first line of the song just popped into my head and I had to follow it along (the thought that is) to see where it was taking me. . .
What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?

I've been juggling that very thing myself the past month or so, wondering what is it all about? You spend a good part of the beginning of your adult life working on figuring out who you'll spend it with, what your job will be (career, motherhood, or both), what you believe about life, and walking, running, sometimes crawling through it. Along the way, you make and lose friends, you move to other locations, your family changes because new little ones enter and consume you, and your heart learns to embrace, to fill up, to empty out, to get scarred, and to break, only to start the cycle all over again. And somewhere along the way you learn and begin to know that with Help, you and your heart have grown strong. To see and experience the Truth  that when we are weak, then we are strong...and to walk that very hard and arduous path. . . one step at a time.

The next lines of the song are this:

Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?



Ah-h. the Golden Rule. One of the first things I ever remember from my childhood days of Sunday School. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Instilled into my being from a very young age, and, though I've often failed, I have tried to live up to that command uttered by the Lord. What my Sunday School teachers failed to teach me back then was that I couldn't live up to that command! It was impossible in my own strength. It took years of living and many hard and hurtful experiences to come to that understanding. I am weak. But with Him, I am strong. When I've felt the sting of hurtful words, or the ache of a soul I love going through the pain of life's realities, I hurt, too....badly. I need something to soothe the pain, too. Where do I find it? It took a long time to find the answer to the hurts that life inflicts. However, it's not a what thats the answer, it's a Who. The balm is found in the everlasting Palm of the Healer, Who through His love and His strength pours it out on the wounded heart. Not just so we can no longer feel the pain, but so that we can be healed from it, to see its purpose, that we can remember how it felt to have it and to be healed from it, and now to move on in our lives so that we can show compassion for that one who now sorely needs that same touch from the healing balm. 
The song concludes:


As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.



In my opinion, the songwriter missed one important beat in his conclusion. That heart that you let lead the way...needs to  be a changed heart. A heart that has submitted to , belongs to, and is lovingly held by,  the Master Healer. The Love you find "Alfie" is only true and lasting when it's now become His. 
Well. That was an unexpected reminder to myself today. Isn't it interesting where your mind will take you when you least expect it? 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hope

Everyday I am a little bit more astounded at the realm of technology in our world. A week or so ago, I dug out an old book that had become my friend many years ago when I was going through rocky waters of my life. I pulled it off the shelves, blew the dust off its pages and skimmed through it, wondering why its title had popped up in my mind  practically 30 years later. As I perused its pages, I knew...I had been Directed to it again to help me make sense of a situation that's arisen in the lives of people I love. I thought back to the one who'd written it, whom I had personally met "coincidentally" at a time when I needed to hear that hope still existed. God knew I needed to hear that truth once again working in the lives of ordinary people and so my mind reached back to that lady who spoke so passionately of the Hope that was in her. I wondered if she was still around all these years later...was she still living in that place of hope that she spoke so eloquently about? I did what anyone would have done these days when looking for an answer to a question...I Googled her. And there she was! Popping up, clear as day. Scanning down the page, an inch below I saw a YouTube link with her name...and of course, I had to click it. I was instantly transmitted back, 30 years, to 1980 once again. The year I lost my marriage when my husband walked out leaving me with 2 little children and my mother was killed in a terrible accident... To that night when I sat in the audience and listened to her share her life. Through the magic of YouTube, I sat in the audience again and, although older in body, she's a bit past 60 now, she was the same in spirit... I saw her still speaking, still hoping, still believing, still spreading her story and I rejoiced because she had stayed true to her self and true to her God, Who is also my God. And I found myself full of joy, that I, too, also had stayed true to Him. I watched five 10 minute video segments drinking in her words,  her talk to women today about finding the Source of True Hope. It was such a sweet expression of God's intimate love and care for me...to allow me to, through the instant click of the mouse, to hear someone coming out of my past that had had such a significant impact on my life all those years ago. To be able to once again hear her voice tell of her life's journey, of what had transpired with her and, more significantly, in her,  over the past 30 years, to see the path that He had led her on...It was awesome to me. And near the end of her talk, she said something so rich that it made me stop the tape, back up, grab a pad and pencil and listen to it over and over again as I madly scribbled it down. It goes something like this:
"Through it all I have found that the deepest call of the Gospel 
is to go out (into life)  with the life that we've been given, 
transformed--as well as we have been able to surrender to that transforming Love,
and then, to give back in service to one another ...
(because God knows, this world needs it!)...
so...What do I do with the years left in this life? 
It's the same answer that I found years ago 
when I was so much younger and so broken...
I go deeper...
and deeper still.
And find....LOVE.
Cells of Love that exceed hatred, 
and Hearts of Love that speak louder than hate.
And as we embrace that Love, we begin to lift the world--
in the same way that the dear people in my prayer (group) lifted me...
all those years ago....
They lifted me..."---Paula D'Arcy

Thank you, Paula D'Arcy for following the path, the life that you've been given. It gives me hope to continue on, to trust, to lean, to follow step by step and day by day the path that I've been given, too.

I've found another kindred spirit in Holley Gerth. Here are some thoughts as she contemplated Hope from her inspiring blog, Heart to heart with Holley:


"A Different Kind of Hope says, It’s okay to not be okay....




A different kind of hope... holds on to Who not why.  
And He holds us right back...




Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, 


character; and character, hope. 



Romans 5:3-4


When I first read this verse I thought it had a typo.



Wasn't hope supposed to be first on the list?


After all, that's how the world often portrays it—as a fluffy feeling that lets us float through hard times.


But it turns out that's not the way it works in the Kingdom.
Suffering produces perseverance...
We all know what that's like—those are the days when we simply get up and put one foot in front of the other by faith when feelings are nowhere to be found.
Perseverance, character...
If we do that enough days in a row, it changes who we are because of all we learn about who He is in the middle of our circumstances. 
And character, hope...
When who we are is transformed, hope comes to stay. Because we know in the core of our being that we can face anything with God.
Getting to a different kind of hope is a journey.
It doesn't happen all at once. It's the culmination of our hearts taking a thousand little steps of faith. And along the way choosing to say, "Yes, God, I will stick with you no matter what."
Real hope meets us where we expect it least and need it most.
So if life seems hard right now and you wonder how much longer you can go on,take heart...
Hope is already on the way.



A different kind of hope understands this handy little truth: sometimes you've just got to laugh because life ain't no peach pie after all.  (Sometimes you just have to take time for a pity party. Do it, and then... stop it!)

Do not compare your pain with others. The worst pain you will ever feel is your own. That does not mean you are selfishthat means you are human."



Each heart knows its own bitterness. Proverbs 14:10



Give yourself Permission....





Permission to be honest about what's not so great in your life right now. Not permission to wallow, mind you—but permission to acknowledge, throw the Pity Party and then get on with the real party of life.


 A different kind of hope shares rather than compares





Dr. Gary Oliver had lost a wife and son in the last few years as well as faced cancer. If anyone has the right to say, "My pain is bigger than your pain" it's him. His point was that when it comes to pain—it's far better to share than compare.








Turns out it works a whole lot better for us and everyone else to just say, "Yep, had a stinky day/week/decade." Then we can get on with healing and helping rather then denying ourselves right into exhaustion.








Hope is a flame that's lit inside us and no amount of darkness can overcome it. 








I imagine each of you also have a dream inside your heart that has flickered.








Yes, we know that feeling...the moment when light almost slips into darkness. But then, a divine spark comes and it is our choice to fan it into flame or let it fade.








A different kind of hope keeps shining no matter what.








Think about one of His names...Light of the World...











The candles within our hearts don't bear our own light—they bear His.








He came long ago to a manger in Bethlehem. But He also comes again here, now, when our hearts need Him most.








It is not new light that burns within us, brightening the path. 
No, the only true Light is the One illuminating all of eternity.



This is WHO we joyfully celebrate.








Jesus, Light of the World.








Yes, shine in us again." --Holley Gerth











    "My Hope".....sung by Hillsong.











Friday, June 25, 2010

New Discovery!

Thought for the day:
"Can one understand joy without understanding sorrow? Do they separate, even inside of me?Can I understand life, and not accept its Author?.....Where does the wind begin?....."
Paula D'Arcy
                                                                                


"The wind breathes where it wishes. The wind blows where it blows.....The eye of Your storm sees from the wild height. Your air augments the world, tearing away dead wood, testing, toughening all trees, spreading all seeds, thawing a winter wasteland, sifting the sand, carving the rock, the water, in the end moving the mountain. ...Your wind breathes where it wishes, moves where it wills, sometimes severs my safe moorings. Sovereign gusts--buffet my wings with your blowing, loosen me, lift me to go wherever You're going."...--Luci Shaw








Sweet friends, kind friends, friends that care and always want the best for you. I'm constantly reminded of the many blessings I've received because of the friendships that are a part of my life. The "techno-world" has brought new ones to me and reminded me of old ones that I now can catch up with and peek into their world once again. Even my love of crafting has brought friendships to me and it reminds me that we all love to be connected to one another. There is a sense of belonging, of sharing our lives, to imagine someone else might be interested in what we have done, or said, or thought. . .I'm thankful today for my friends.


Switching gears time.....

I was doing my morning browsing on my Facebook page today and over to the side my eyes were drawn to the cutest little quilted daisy logo and I just had to check it out! It led me to a FB page full of fellow quilters and a new online quilt shop that's trying to get off the ground. I believe in helping small businesses around our country and especially sister quilters! So look for the quilted daisy link (to the left) for Daisy Cottage Quilting here on the blog and  visit Sharon's little shop and better yet, purchase some pretty fabric from her for your next project! She also writes a blog called Red Geranium Cottage...now you know, there's got to be some "kindred spirit" stuff going on...considering all the red geraniums at my Quaint 'n Cozy Cottage! Ha! Ha!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Friendship Jam

"...it is neither the coming or the going that is of consequence---what is of consequence is the beauty that one gathers in this interlude called life." -Winston O. Abbott, Come Walk Among the Stars


A dear friend came by today just to see me and drop off a lovely jar of raspberry jam that she had made from the raspberries she had picked on her farm. Is there anything lovelier or more delicious than that? Whether I am speaking of the gesture or the jam, let that be your choice, dear reader. For the senses are awakened with the luscious smell of the berries, the gorgeous ruby red color of them and the tantalizing thought of how wonderful it will taste spread thick on a warm, buttery biscuit straight from the oven--all that is fine and good...but the gesture of my sweet friend, who in the midst of her busy errand-loaded day, took the time to stop by, just to check on me to see how I'm riding the rocky seas of my present life, wields a far greater degree of wakefulness within my heart. There is really nothing I can think of that trumps a true life faithful friend.