Friday, January 29, 2010

I'm In Love

After going to Georgia to do research; I'm in love. Not with Georgia - although it was lovely. Not with the fried food and butter - although I suffered through with some of those tasty treats. It wasn't even with the history...well okay I fell in love with that too, but this is different.

I fell in love with the live oaks.

Named "live" because they are very nearly continuously green, the live oak is the Georgia state tree, and with good reason. Many of these trees have been around long before Georgia was a state, normally living hundreds of years. They are huge trees growing as much as 85 ft. tall and spreading out to make an entire yard-full of shade. Their massive trunks and thick branches are perfect for youthful adventures and romantic swings.They are the hardest of North American woods and was once used in naval ships - including the USS Constitution.

I've seen photos of these trees before, but nothing can do them justice like spending some time walking under them. They gave me a feeling of security--of being protected and hidden in the Father's arms.
I envisioned generations of picnics beneath them, barefooted children skittering up the low branches, couples sharing secret kisses, and perhaps a proposal or two under the Spanish moss draped branches. I found myself wishing these trees could talk and tell me all they'd seen.

Now back home, I find my thoughts going back to those grand Southern belles and fervently wishing someone could develop a breed of live oak that could grow in snowy Montana. Until then...alas...I shall love from afar and fondly remember my walks in those lush groves.

P.S. Wish Judy Miller Happy Birthday today! She's 29! Sort of.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Some friends of mine

I'm in Georgia on a research trip, but I had to share with you some friends of mine.

We have 3 cats and all are very different and have decidedly different personalities. Jim, my husband, calls them our Rocky Mountain Feline Response Team. He says this is absolutely accurate because we live in the Rocky Mountains - they are felines and they respond to everything that goes on.

This week they have been on drills. Because of the extremely low temperatures and more time spent indoors - the cats have been a little on the crazed side of life. Jim said they were running Operation Arctic Cat.

The black cat is Safari - we think she might be demon possessed as she always has a bad cattitude. I can walk into the room and say "Meow" and she'll respond so I feel like we have a good communication thing going on. Otherwise she doesn't really talk to anyone except to yawl.

The buff tabby is Cal - short for California. No, we didn't name him. He was a "pre-owned" pet rescue cat. He was so laid back and easy-going that the people at the animal shelter said he was like an old Californian hippy. Cal is in charge of the Rocky Mountain Feline Response Team. He's a wise sage of a cat to be sure.

Last but not least is Simon. Now Simon is really our Grandcat - he belonged to our daughter but when she moved to Boston she couldn't have him. So Simon is living with us until his Meowmy can take him again. Simon is a big baby. He's a lovey dovey and I think he thinks I'm Jen, but can't quite figure out why I'm older and fatter. :D

My mother, who never allowed us to have cats in the house when I was a child, has bonded quite nicely to the cats. She even has a personalize tag on her car that says, "Grameow" and officially calls herself their Grandmother.

So there you have the entire team. They asked for us to get them a bunny for Christmas, but we told them no. They promised they would "take care of it" but I didn't like the way Safari grinned when she said it.

I miss them when I'm on the road.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stepping Outside

No, I wasn't referencing enjoying the frozen outdoors, rather I was thinking of stepping outside of your comfort zone.

I remember so many times when I was younger that I missed opportunities because I was either afraid or embarrassed to step outside of my comfort zone. There were so many things I wanted to try and didn't for whatever the reason.

I once told a friend that I loved to wear hats, but never do because it's not really the style these days. I also don't have a lot of hats, but I said to her, "I hope that I don't pass from this earth without having worn hats." Sounds silly, I know. And yes, occasionally I do get to wear a nice hat, however, it really struck me that there are other things that I would like to do and hesitate.
Then there are those thing that I feel called to do and balk at--because they make me uncomfortable.

Recently one of those things came to light. God has been after me for some time to step up and take over our ladies ministry at church. I love the women in my church, but just couldn't imagine how I would ever have the time. I love serving God, but couldn't figure out how it would work. But I felt God wanted my obedience and very cautiously I gave it. What a blessing. God did as He always does. He provided. I have a wonderful team of ladies who already knew the ropes and what was needed. God has multiplied the time like He did the loaves and fishes, and we had the most marvelous Ugly Sweater party at my house last Tuesday night. Sometimes trust comes hard.

So now I'm thinking of other things that take me outside of my comfort zone. My mom recently came running into my office and announced she was going across the street to ask the neighbor if he'd give her a snowmobile ride. He was out riding in his yard (around the ice rink) and she had never been on a snowmobile. So at 70, she braved up - or cowgirled up as we say here - and got her first snowmobile ride. I, of course, had to take photos. I'm proud of her for giving it a go. Now she's talking about cross-country sking and that makes me a little nervous, but oh well. Sometimes you just have to do these things.

So if you feel called to something--if God's been whispering in your ear--I want to encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and give it a shot. I'm not sorry I did.


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Eyes Have It

I had an encounter today that I'll not soon forget. My mother invited my husband and I out to breakfast and while we were sitting there I noticed the woman across the aisle from me. She sat alone eating breakfast. I didn't think much of it at the time, but a few minutes later she came clearly into focus.

My husband was putting ketchup on his eggs, and I noticed that there wasn't much in the bottle. Trying to be considerate of him--especially since he's in a sling after rotator cuff surgery--I thought to get him another fuller bottle of ketchup. I got up and went to a table where no one was sitting and took the ketchup bottle back to ours. When I did, I noticed that the woman sitting by herself was crying.

God so clearly told me, "Go to her."

So I went. I walked over and said, "Are you all right?" She began to cry even more, but as she did she scooted over. It was like an unspoken request, "Sit with me." So I did. I put my arm around her and asked her what was wrong. She poured out her heart and told me about her rough morning--about some family problems--about a disguntled co-worker. She mentioned that she'd called her son to come get her because she didn't have her car there.

My husband is such a tender hearted man and saw what was happening so he too came over to the table. We asked the woman if she was a believer in Jesus. She said she was so we asked if we could pray with her. She was very happy to have us pray and so we did. As we prayed for her, I still had my arm around her. I could feel her relax as God's peace washed over her. It was the best moment of my day. I had the priviledge to share God--to encourage a sister--to be used of Jesus.

Later, I thought of Brandon Heath's song GIVE ME YOUR EYES
You can watch his video here

But I wanted to share the chorus here with you now:
"Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity"

What a scary proposition. To see as God sees. It's not something we should ask lightly. It's a fierce request. A frightening, fearful thing. Imagine all the pain and suffering. I saw one woman crying, but God see millions.

Matthew 6:22 & 23 says, "The eye is the lamp of the body.
If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

My prayer for this year - terrifying as it is - is that God will open my eyes--that I will shine His light--that I will see what He wants me to see and respond. I pray the same thing for you.


Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

Happy New Year! The old passes away and a new day comes.

This time of year is always seen as a time for reflection. In days long gone by folks would traditionally show up at the White House to shake hands with the President of the United States.
It was actually a tradition that was begun with George Washington prior to the White House's existence and ended with Herbert Hoover in 1932.

New Year's is a time for family traditions and fun. In our family we usually stay up and ring in the new year. We often have friends over to play games and eat food that should probably not be a part of our diet.

At midnight we yell and bang pans, sometimes honk the car horn and act silly. We kiss our sweetheart and then either go back to the games or go to bed for a long winter's nap.

Some folks believe that if your first visitor of the new year is a handsome, dark-haired stranger, you'll have good luck all year. I don't really believe in "luck", but handsome, dark-haired strangers are always welcome. The Dutch believe that because the new year brings the days full circle from the previous year, donuts are good luck to eat. I like how they think. The Dutch love bacon on everything and donuts. Who could ask for anything more? But, if you don't like donuts - then black-eyed peas were considered good luck, as was rice or even cabbage.

No matter what you eat or don't eat, I pray you will have a blessed 2010. There is so much we have to be thankful for. Despite the conflicts and problems endured in this world - and my December was a doozie - we here in America are a very blessed people. Happy 2010, and may God guide your steps throughout the year.

P.S. Rainy is out of the hospital and doing well.
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