Charmed?

I recently left a small pile of jewelry on the bathroom counter for my husband to fix for me. I went through a week or so where every time I wore a piece of jewelry I lost a piece of the bracelet or necklace. They, of course, are my favorites and literally get a lot of wear and tear.

My husband said he would reattach all the pieces for me and jokingly quipped “You are just leaving a little charm everywhere you go!”

I love that. I sure hope so. It made me think of one of my favorite Scriptures:

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. ~ II Corinthians 2:14 NLT

Do I leave a little charm everywhere I go?

Do I leave behind the sweet scent of knowing Jesus?

We could equate our aroma with our reputation or our influence.

The blossom cannot tell what becomes of its fragrance as it drifts away, just as no person can tell what becomes of their influence as they continue through life.

We don’t always have control over who picks up our scent, we do however have control over what our aroma smells like.

May we be charming, sweet smelling, pollinators of grace!

 

 

 

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A Quiet Joy

I love to put laundry on the line! I mean to say that I receive great satisfaction from this task. No, really! I cannot express to you the joy and sense of accomplishment it brings me to have outsmarted both the dryer and the weather all at once. Plus, I find that if I stop just for a moment that joy turns to gratitude for the blessing of the days marked by those outfits on the line. The memories of what the dirty now clean clothes represent is an added bonus to the list checking off of a household chore well done.

I associate joy with gratitude.

Joanna Gaines says that “Gratitude makes what we have enough.”

I often recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Simply list at least three things at the end of each day for which you are grateful.

The Queen of Gratitude Journals, Ann Voskamp*, who wrote a list of 1,000 things for which she is grateful has this to say about the connection between joy and thankfulness:

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”

Confession number two for this entry…I watch Netflix! Yup. I recently found a show from the United Kingdom entitled Grand Designs. In Season 11, Episode 4 “Tiverton” a young Afghanistan Veteran and his bride build a new home to accommodate his injuries. During the final moments of the show, when the home is completed the host asks “Have you celebrated? Opened a bottle?” The wife begins to explain how at the end of the day they sit together and look out over the garden (yard) and are grateful…Her husband interjects with this statement “It is that quiet joy…a much quieter celebration.”

Thankfulness for the life and home they have built together has created A Quiet Joy!

What are three things you are grateful for at the end of this day?

Have you had a chance to look over your yard or your laundry pile and be blessed?

 

* Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, p. 33

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Rising Again…I Bless Your Name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless Your name
You are my All in All

These lyrics written by Dennis Jernigan* captured my heart this Sunday morning during worship.

Truly what do I have to offer Christ but my sin and shame? Yet, I can rise again, and again in praise because I know He will receive me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

He will come near to me when I invite him.
Who would dare to come to me uninvited?” says the Lord.
“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” ~ Jeremiah 30:21-22 NCV

Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. ~ Hebrews 4:16 NCV

I need it! God’s Grace.

Rising again with confidence. Not confidence in anything I can do, because I can continue to make the same mistakes. This is my super power. But, I can have confidence in who God is. Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) He will receive me, forgive me, strengthen me and uphold me.

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ ~ Philippians 1:6 NKJV

Lord, I rise again and call you blessed.

#pollinatinggrace

*Dennis Jernigan © 1991 Shepherd’s Heart Music, Inc.

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Winter is Dead

sunflower

Early in the morning on a day in March, I stood at my sliding glass door watching my husband and son head to the garage and above them I saw a sunrise to marvel at. As I reveled in the beauty of this early morning the opening line in my prayer book began to run through my thoughts.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

I turned coffee cup in hand and made my way to the living room and “my spot” for devotions. From my seat, I glanced out the window and all I saw was darkness. Odd, I had just witnessed the most breathtaking sunrise. You see from the sliding glass door I was looking east, but from my favorite spot on the couch I was looking west.

It occurred to me in that moment that the sun was still rising I was just looking the wrong way! How often am I looking at the end of the night when the sun is already rising behind me?

This revelation is so symbolic of the last few months of my life. Somewhere near the holidays and the end of last year, I came crashing to a halt. I found that I had been busy, purposeful, accomplishing mighty and many things but all of this was a sort of self-medication to sooth hidden hurt, grief, resentment, and bitterness I had not realized was building inside.

With a sudden halt to activity, I was able to rest and face the darkness. But, as spring approached and my forced sabbatical began to ease up I still felt overwhelmed by these emotions, this winter in my soul. My prayers were full of thanksgiving for the  healing and forgiveness and yet I still seemed stuck there staring at the night while the sun was beginning to rise. Then I experienced the sunrise I spoke of earlier and suddenly I saw the light!

My ability to finish fully recovering seemed hinged on this window facing east.

She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” -A.A. Milne

It is finished seemed to echo softly all around me. I was challenged to choose which direction I want to look. Do I want to see the sun rise and the spring come or do I want to stubbornly look hard into the darkness and at what has died and gone?

I want to choose life, to seek my Lord’s face, to believe that all things are possible, that restoration is always God’s will!

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. ~Psalm 123:1-2 NLT

Lord, let my eyes be ever on your face, awaiting even the slightest signal.

“Turn your face stubbornly to the light, and keep it there.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Many flowers such as sunflowers, poppies, marigolds, and daisies are heliotropic. This means that the face of these flowers will turn slowly throughout the day so that it constantly faces the sun.

LORD, LET IT BE SO!

I heard the following song lyrics performed the day after I saw that amazing sunrise.

Brighten My Soul with Sunshine by Joyce Eilers 

…Brighten up my soul

You’ve got to brighten up my soul

If I’m to carry the heavy load.

You’ve got to brighten my soul with sunshine

 

…I’m in trouble and I need you Lord

The Devils calling and he’s pulling hard

And I don’t know If I can make it through,

Unless you brighten my soul with sunshine

 

…Oh don’t you hear me calling Lord, Lord

I’m hanging hard on to the good word

And I don’t know If I can make it through,

Unless you brighten my soul with sunshine

The Son’s light is always available to warm and brighten my soul. It is up to me to turn my face toward Him.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will  have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12 ESV

 

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Dwelling Under Twinkle Lights

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Twinkle lights always make me think of home.

They are comforting. They bring warmth and joy. Twinkle lights remind me of Grandma Edwina. This dear sweet woman went to be with Jesus in July of this year and at her service every grandchild shared how we all felt we were her favorite! She loved like that…big, inclusive, welcoming. The oldest grandson said that being with Grandma “was like coming home”. I remember thinking “Yes, Exactly.” I am actually a step-granddaughter-in-law, but I always felt like I was her favorite when I was with her and I did always feel like I was coming home in her presence. Grandma also had a decorative tree in a pot in her living room with twinkle lights on it all year long. Twinkle lights make me think of home!

As I sit this year underneath the lights of my Christmas tree I feel cozy and as at peace as I can be anywhere in my current state of “Oh My Goodness Are We There Yet?”

But this is exactly the point! Christ came to dwell with man. To be at home in our hearts. God has always wanted to be in the midst of His people.

“Then the Tabernacle, carried by the Levites, will set out from the middle of the camp…” ~ Numbers 2:17 NIV

The tabernacle or the tent of meeting, as in meeting place with God was to be set up in the middle of the camp. This great nation of Israelites who had been rescued from slavery and was now wandering the desert was instructed to place the tabernacle at the center of their daily lives.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~ Matthew 1:23 NIV

Then we have the very essence of Christmas…Christ coming to literally, in the flesh, dwell with us.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? ~ I Corinthians 3:16 NIV

He came not just to dwell with us but in us! “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple?” Christ comes to us at Christmas that He might dwell with us for all time!

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV

Lord, let us not forget that you are our dwelling place. May we abide in the shelter of Your Presence and feel at home underneath Your Shadow.

 

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Traditions & Sacrifice

a Turner Christmas

a Turner Christmas

I have struggled this year with the Traditions of Christmas.

That sentence makes me want to laugh and weep and say DUH! As if anyone who knows me or reads my words hasn’t figured that out. I have not wanted to embrace this season for 2 reasons. First, I am diligently accomplishing a set of goals and the prepping and purchasing for Christmas is cutting heavily into my creative energy and time. Second, I have felt very frustrated with the commercialism of an American Christmas when so many of my global neighbors are without homes, food, water, education, freedom…

How do I balance these opposites? Where do I find the peace and hope of Christmas in all the mayhem? I am daily clinging to my Savior the one who loves me beyond explanation even as I pray for strength in my first world problems. He cares about me and my petty little world and He cares about those who have much greater needs than I.

I remember the sacrifice He made to come and live among us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ~ John 3:16-17 NKJV

Sacrifice is how I am trading my feeling of obligation for joy!

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words. ~ Unknown

We decorated our living spaces to reflect the Christmas Season this last weekend (right after I was done grieving my Cherry Tree friend). During our afternoon my son found jazzy Christmas music on youtube because he knows his mama’s favorite Big Band Christmas CD gave up the ghost last year. My daughter gets out the coffee filters and begins to cut them to go on the sliding glass door next to the greeting cards we will receive. Like a well-oiled machine, things begin to appear in their traditional places. And I hear it, the song I have sung to them they now sing to me. Finally, Christmas has come to the Turner house. This is hope, this is family, this is a little piece of peace amongst the stressful demands of tradition.

I want to teach my children to add sacrifice to the traditions of gift giving as well.  Part of my great struggle this season besides my own selfish want of accomplishing my agenda is that I want to do right by my world and not just amass things no one really needs. So I have some suggestions:

Do you know that you can give that person on your list that already has everything a gift of an actual nativity scene through World Vision? It is true. You can donate money to purchase animals and clean water for others around the world and give your Uncle, Grandmother, or friend the honor of having that be in their name.

Maybe you need a gift you can wrap? How about something made by a woman who is now, because of her trade, able to keep her children, keep them fed, give them an education or keep them from being sold into slavery? Shop from my friend Lynsey’s site at Trades of Hope.

Above all remember that every Christmas tradition should be based in Christ’s Sacrifice! A sacrifice He made not so that we could celebrate traditions but so that we might dwell with Him.

What grieves your heart this season?

Who has sung a song to you that you might remember your joy?

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Under the Cherry Tree

Under the Cherry Tree

Under the Cherry Tree

This special Saturday post comes to you in  honor of friend I have lost today.  The beautiful ornamental cherry tree you see to the left of the lilac and above the roses has been my friend these last nine years. Today is her last day! Can you grieve a tree? Apparently! Tears so many tears. I cried the day I heard about her demise. I panicked and ran to the window the day I heard a chainsaw…RELIEF it was the walnut coming down, she was spared a little longer.

But today our time together is over. She never was mine anyway. I have borrowed her beauty and shelter from the neighbors all these nine years. I understand why she had to go and I support the progress across the fence. I just couldn’t let her go without saying goodbye.

Not only I have enjoyed her beauty in all seasons but she has overseen the growing up of my children.

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May Day 2009…3rd Grade Prince

There she is again in the upper left-hand corner overlooking two other precious beings that God is letting me borrow. These children I cannot keep here in my yard for all time either.

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May Day 2014…Drum Major OHS Marching Band

Look how time marches (pun intended) on under this cherry tree. The little boy who now is almost grown.

So many memories under her branches:

  • Easter Sunday pictures year after year.
  • Bocce Ball
  • Backyard Science Club
  • A new puppy.
  • Sitting at the picnic table writing out the original notes to the book I am about to publish. (let it be so)
  • Sitting at this same picnic table under gorgeous blossoms that turn to pink snow in the wind singing silly songs with my extended family.
  • Birthday parties
  • Back to School and Prom Photos
  • A sweet little friend’s baby dedication photos
  • Potlucks and BBQ’s
  • New Year’s Fireworks

This list of memories under her branches could go on and on. I thank you, friend, for your beauty and shelter and I cherish our time together!

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