Tag Archives: God

Dog Days of Summer

 “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” ~John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894
IMG_0881These are strange and breathless days, the dog days…” ― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
It’s August.  Hot, humid, sticky August.  It’s the “dog-days-of-summer” and everyone is just trying to stay cool.  Lemonade and iced tea flow through the kitchen like a river over shiny, cold stones of ice.  Even the occasional rain shower is cause for celebration.  The heat of summer begs us to pause in the shade and be still.
As I sat on the porch this morning and looked out at the flowers struggling in the heat I was reminded of a scripture in the book of James.  It says, “The sun rises with its blazing heat and burns the plant; its flower falls off, and its beauty is destroyed.” (James 1:11)    Sounds fairly hopeless, doesn’t it?  But a little later James talks about tests and temptations and gives a message of hope… “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a temptation, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.”  (James 1:12)
As I sat there in the morning summer heat pondering James’ words I heard a swift strong breeze rustling the leaves of the trees as it approached.  It’s coolness blew through me and went on its way.  That is when I found my own hope for the day.  That “pneuma” or Holy Spirit is what keeps me refreshed when the going gets tough and I find myself in some sort of heated challenge or trial.  When I am open to the wind of the Holy Spirit I am refreshed and renewed.
IMG_0666
So just for today, grab your tall glass of lemonade and a friend.  Find some shady spot to strengthen one another in faithful living.  Remind someone today of God’s promise of love and the Holy Spirit’s refreshing gift.

If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com

lp.aspx - Version 7


Silly Fences

“Some of us may just, in one-on-one conversations with our family, with our friends, over the back fence with our neighbors, talk about the reality of our lives and realize that we’re not alone.” –Patricia Ireland
IMG_0697SILLY FENCES
If we could only see the irrationality of a fence
We would soon come to know what complete nonsense
It is to think that we could hold close inside
Behind a gate those things we wish to hide.
Or that sharp pickets fail to defend
Against relationships we do not wish to mend.
So break the lock, open wide the gate
Reach out, reach in for those that wait.
– by Trish Hernandez (2014)

 

Fences…everyone builds them.  Some put up a fence to keep things out and some to keep things in.  We needed one to keep our small dogs safe and to give them a little space of their own.  It was one of the first things completed after we moved in to GraceStone Sanctuary.
Putting up a fence isn’t easy work…all that measuring and post hole digging; then setting the posts, attaching rails, and finally nailing up the pickets one by one.  It is tedious hard labor.  And no matter what the purpose of the fence, someone always comes along and leaves the gate open so that very thing that you were trying to keep in or out gets through anyway.
It makes me think about our own internal fences we create as an attempt at protecting ourselves.  We go to great lengths to put up borders between us – huge privacy fences surround our hearts so no one can see our wounds.  Long clanging metal chain link provides a strong barrier against further hurts and vulnerability.  Even sharp pickets painted bright white send a pointed message of “keep away”.  Out here in the Shenandoah Valley long rail fences run alongside highways.  They mark territory.  “This is mine”, they say.  “Keep Out!”
Fences do often serve a purpose.  But what if we took a look at our inside barricades that keep us apart from one another?  What would happen if we once-and-for-all opened the latch on the gate of our heart and gave – fully, vulnerably, without fear?  I believe that it could be a beginning of honest conversations about the real things we have in common.  We may just discover we are not alone.

IMG_0025

If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com

lp.aspx - Version 7

 


The Seeds of a Sanctuary

sanctuary%20(2)When I was a little girl my momma planned a perfect surprise birthday party for my sixth birthday.  It was the first party… and the last one… she ever gave me.  That was not because she was mean nor uncaring, but because she realized all too late just how terrifying the whole ordeal was for me.  I was a shy child.  This may be difficult for some of you who know me now to believe.  But I was. It didn’t matter what size or age they were. All people seemed to me to be the monsters, ogres, and evil queens come to life from fairy tales.  People came with expectations that I didn’t understand and rules that I didn’t want to obey.  People.  I didn’t like them and I believed they didn’t like me.  So that day, at party time, when I opened the door to a room full of ghouls shouting at me I turned and ran.  I don’t remember exactly how far or how long I ran, but I do remember after all that running finding myself tucked safely away in the extra quilts at the back of my closet, far away from the sights and the sounds of my surprise birthday party guests.  Long before that day I had created this little place of sanctuary in my closet.  I loved the colors and feel of the soft quilts and blankets momma had stored in there. Under them, I had tucked a paper from Sunday School. Printed on it was a picture of Jesus carrying a little lamb.  He was standing on the words I LOVE YOU.  Behind The Shepherd were dark mountains, but he stood there loving that little lamb, surrounded by rays of light.  That picture made me feel safe.  Other things had become part of this safe place, too. I had gathered a small rock that fit in the palm of my hand that felt strong and cool and also a handmade paper fan that I used to stir the air of the musty dark space.  And on that day with the party celebration raging outside my window I felt safe with Jesus in my closet.  I did not know then that I had created a sacred space, only that I felt loved and safe and I could breathe.  I also did not know that this little space would be a seed of what my husband and I have now joined hands with God to create as our home, as GraceStone Sanctuary.

IMG_0585

As an adult I have a very different attitude toward people.  Simply put, when I am able to see beyond the wounds and scars of someone’s life  and see the beauty God perfectly created in that person, I love through Christ’s eyes.  His view has no fear, no running away, no hiding.  Instead His eyes beckon us to come into the safe surrounding of His love and care.  My hope for GraceStone Sanctuary is that it will be a sacred and safe place for all people to come in, to be loved, to be renewed, and to celebrate.  That birthday long ago taught me something important.  That is – sometimes we all feel burdened, weary, and afraid.  And sometimes we just need to find a safe soft place to rest with The Shepherd, holding firm to The Rock, being renewed and revived by the cool breeze of the Holy Spirit.  And then we can once again go out into the world carrying with us a spirit of joy and celebration.
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930...a long history of celebration!
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930…a long history of celebration!
This is when it was known as Greystone Lodge.

 


Hang On Little Tomato!

Day 155  June 4  2014

NEW BEGINNINGS

In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end. -Fernando Sabino

Hang On to the Vine!

Hang On to the Vine!

Just want to say how nice it feels to be finally home!  The last few months have been quite a roller coaster of ups and downs.  I have been grateful for the many uplifting and encouraging songs but one, in particular, got us through lots of doubtful, confusing, and even painful days.  “Hang On Little Tomato” is a song about just listening to His advice and hanging in there when “change is hard and not so nice”.

Now we have our very own little tomatoes  growing on the back porch and their yellow blossoms continue to give me hope and encouragement as we move forward to create a sanctuary of peace in our new home!

“Hang On Little Tomato” -by Pink Martini
The sun has left and forgotten me
It’s dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I’m gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion
Somebody told me, I don’t know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you’re feelin’ all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it’s dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love
Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you’ll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something’s coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead
And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you
(“Pink Martini is a musical group that was formed in 1994 by pianist Thomas Lauderdale in Portland, Oregon. Describing itself as a “little orchestra,” its music crosses genres such as classical, latin, jazz and classic pop.”  Wikipedia   My life was culturally and joyfully enriched seeing them in concert at Wolftrap last summer with my good friend.  Thanks for introducing me, Kathryn!)

You can find some Pink Martini music, including Hang On Little Tomato HERE


The Feeling of Home

Day 154 June 3 2014
NEW BEGINNINGS

“Home isn’t a place, its a feeling” ―Cecelia Ahern

The Entry Hallway

The Entry Hallway

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou

“What is home? My favorite definition is “a safe place,” a place where one is free from attack, a place where one experiences secure relationships and affirmation. It’s a place where people share and understand each other. Its relationships are nurturing. The people in it do not need to be perfect; instead, they need to be honest, loving, supportive, recognizing a common humanity that makes all of us vulnerable.”―Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart

Then they all went home. -John 7:53b  The Message

 

 


God’s First Temples

Day 153 June 2, 2014
New Beginnings

The groves were God’s first temples. -William Cullen Bryant

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

Baby Anjou Pear Ripening

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life…When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult… Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. …Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. …Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”  ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. -Welsh Proverb

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Wisdom of the Sands

 


Into The Future With Hope

Day 152    June 1 2014
New Beginnings

“In a spirit of hope and new beginnings, we linked arms like a couple of kids. Pushing aside sad thoughts, we strode off into our future.”  ―A.B. Shepherd

Home Sweet Home at last

Home Sweet Home
at last

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”  ― L. Frank Baum

What a journey the last few months have been.  My “Five Year Plan” to prepare for moving into a smaller house somewhere in the country after my husband’s retirement suddenly became God’s “Eight Week Plan” to move into a new, but familiar, community 100 miles away!  So after a whirlwind of preparing and selling our old home in Northern Virginia, and buying and moving into our “new” home (though it’s almost 100 years old) across the state Max and I finally have re-entered the atmosphere of technology once again.  

Max spent the day unpacking and matching up equipment with cords and plugs and devices, until he finally emerged with a grin and  announced “You have internet”!  After his hard work I find myself surprised at my own reaction to his annunciation.  In one way I felt sheer joy at the thought of being connected to the cyber community once again.  I can blog and “google” and “Facebook” and shop Amazon again!  Hooray!  And yet the moment was bittersweet as I realized deep in my soul the sanctity of the time I have spent away from my daily rituals connected with the computer.  The past few weeks of not connecting electronically have pushed me into other ways of connecting with people face to face.  Relationships have been deepened.  Adventures have been taken into places I ordinarily would not go.  Being “unhooked” from the virtual cyberspace has allowed for deeper, authentic, “soul” conversations with others, myself, and God.  I am grateful for this time.

So now, still getting settled in and making this house a home, I’m back to putting some thoughts “out there” to you.  We are heading into the future with hope and anticipation!

“Home is the nicest word there is.”― Laura Ingalls Wilder

 


Peace, Perfect Peace

Day 123 May 3, 2014
PEACE

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you… -Isaiah 55:12

Image

“Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?; The voice of Jesus whispers peace within.” -Edward H. Bickersteth

“Dear God, Please send to me the spirit of Your peace. Then send, dear Lord, the spirit of peace from me to all the world. Amen.”  -Marianne Williamson

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27


The Light of Peace

Day 122 May 2, 2014
PEACE

“Find the peace, and then light will find you!”  ― Mehmet Murat ildan

IMG_2231

“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.”   ― C.S. Lewis 

Seek peace and pursue it. -Psalm 34:14”

“In this world, whenever there is light, there are also shadows.”   ― Masashi Kishimoto

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.


Blessed Spirit of Peace

Day 121 May 1, 2014
PEACE

“The dove and the very blessed spirit of peace.” -Shakespeare

peace-feathers

“ The dove of peace flies to palace as to humble house, to young as to old, to rich and poor.” ―John Yoshio Naka

“True peace required the presence of justice, not just the absence of conflict.” ― N.K. Jemisin

Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.