Be Still and Know

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Life is unpredictable. One day the sun warms my neck, the next day I awake to rain beating against the window. Joys appear, intermingled with unexpected sorrow that stings to the bone. No day is like the one before or the one that will come after. The noise of this world is constant–trains rumbling, cars honking, text messages arriving musically or with a series of fast beeps. Microwaves sound the alarm when the hot chocolate is warm. Doorbells announce another sales pitch. Emails pour in, each with a familiar bell.  Close your eyes. What do hear this very minute?

I hear the living room blinds tapping against the window frame, blowing with a breeze that is lifting the branches of the front-yard maple. I hear the gentle hum of a fan inside my widescreen Mac, cooling this tool that allows me to make art and sell it halfway around the world.  At my feet lies my sleeping dog, Buddy. I hear him gently snoring, legs twitching in a run-dog-run dream.

But somewhere out there before the break of Day and return of Night is quiet. A stillness so sweet, it’s palpable.

“Be still and know that I am God,” says my favorite Psalms (46:10).

It’s a stillness that ushers in peace. Calms the storm. Settles any stress that may be niggling at the back of my mind, taking frog-leaps from day to day. Be still and know

Nothing else quiets a day like realizing my littleness, my dependence, and my total awe of God’s provision, down to the very last detail. When I pause to remember, my ears are blocked to the daily cacophony. (And yes, that is one of my favorite words. Cacophony. I like the way it rolls off my tongue.)

I don’t crave a noisy crowd or music piped into headphones hours a day. Not crazy about the idea of a fancy cruise or shoulder-to-shoulder concert, either.

What I do need is that occasional peace and quiet, and a knowing that in the stillness, I will find Him waiting.

My favorite piece of advice from the Bible...Click image for print info

My favorite piece of advice from the Bible…Click image for print info

Gone But Not Forgotten

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Have you ever thought back on the people who have left permanent imprints in your memory–people who have taught you something without knowing they were teaching, or encouraged you during a tough season?

Strangers cross our path daily, as we cross theirs. Some make eye contact; others hurry on in their rush. Some smile; others look away–missed opportunities to share a moment in time. This week I’ve been remembering folks from my childhood who nudged me along – teachers like Mrs. Crandall who taught first grade and made learning fun; grownups at my childhood church who made a special effort to greet me each Sunday morning; and neighbors like the Kolouseks who welcomed our big family into the house next door and grew flowers so huge, they hung over the fence. Then there was Hassie Belle, a sweet old Southern lady who taught me that money doesn’t matter, but what’s inside a person.  And Laura, who loved our children as if they were her own grandchildren, and wrote newsy letters to us long after we moved to the West coast. Even after she could no longer write them herself, she would dictate letters to us from her bed in a nursing home.

I’ve had friends both young and old, and each have left their unique mark on my life. Many of them are now gone, but certainly not forgotten. I hear their voices echoed in some of the phrases I find myself using.  I remember their encouragement and their stories–oh, the stories from people like Margaret, who grew up in a sod house in North Dakota with 11 siblings and made her way West during the terrible duststorms of the 30s.

Today’s image is “Gone But Not Forgotten”. I photographed a pile of dried zinnias. Dried flowers smell so good–just like the sweet memories of those who have crossed my path and given so freely of themselves.

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Click image for print info

Have a Seat

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In one of my earliest memories, I am rocking my dolly in the corner of our kitchen. Mama is hurrying around preparing dinner, and I hear her Mixmaster (today’s version would be called a Kitchenaid) whirring the lumps out of mashed potatoes. My chair had a permanent spot in that kitchen, and by the time supper was ready, my daddy had come home from work, scooped me up into his arms, and set me in my booster chair at the table.

What is it with chairs, anyway? I remember an overstuffed armchair with upholstery that resembled big fronds of fern, and a large wooden rocking chair my kindergarten teacher brought to class to sit in when she read stories to us.  My visits to my town’s public library, where my best friend’s mom was the head librarian, often involved a quick spin in her revolving chair.

Then there were the matching recliners my parents ordered for themselves when they built a home and moved from the country into town. Side-by-side chairs where they cuddled fussy grandbabies, read the day’s news, and watched The Carol Burnett Show, 6 o’clock news, documentaries, and sports–always sports. When the recliners wore out, they tossed a blanket over them until the time came when they decided enough was enough. In came a replacement pair.

My favorite chair is now a creaky rocking chair that once belonged to my great-great grandmother.  It earned those creaks through years of rocking babies–first my great-grandmother, then my grandmother, my mother, and my children during visits to their house. When Mama reached her 80s, she surprised me by passing the rocker on to me. I rocked all four of my grandbabies in that creaky old chair. When my mother-in-law suggested that I could find an upholster who would “restore” it, I explained that I actually like it the way it is. Why would I want to replace the faded upholstery or remove those marks on the arms where tired mamas rocked their little ones? I love the marks–they’re like a wordless journal to me.

The chair in this image was one I spotted at a public garden recently. Adirondacks sat all around the ten acres, painted such pretty colors. I watched one person after another sink into those wooden chairs for a brief rest before continuing on their tour of the beautiful flowers.

Do you have a favorite chair? I’d love to hear about it!

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