Saturday, August 27, 2011

Times and Seasons

 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...Ecclesiastes 3:1
Times and seasons frame our days, months, and years.  September marks the beginning of a new year in many ways: new school year, summer's last hurrah, and autumn in the air. 

As the end of August approaches, September brings additional assignments and opportunities my way.  After reviewing my to do and stop doing lists, I realize the time devoted to blogging on this page will not be part of this season.  I will not write posts for a season (undetermined in length).

I am grateful for each follower, reader, and commenter at this Doorway to Hope.  Your words added to the topics, perspectives, and discussions on the posts.  You enriched my journey.

Wishing you well in this time and in this season.

In joy,


Monday, August 22, 2011

Transformed by Love, Light and Life

I awakened as slivers of dawn's light exchanged places with blankets of darkness.  I began thinking thanks to God for love, light, life - for loved ones in the hospital, for healing, for help... Love, light, and life flooded my heart.  In the presence of Light, I am changed.

What a contrast from a few weeks earlier when early morning thoughts included to do lists and strategies for problems.  I remembered to give thanks once I fully awakened. 

Ah, how much more preferable to spill out gratitude first and early.  Whether day or night - gratitude gives way to love, light, and life.

Spending time recuperating opens opportunities for transforming perceptions - an unexpected gift during these quiet August days and nights.

How exquisite your love, O God!...You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. Psalm 36:7,9 (The Message)
Along with Ann's Gratitude Community, I am counting gifts from Love, Light, and Life.

#1066 - #1070
soaking rain for parched ground
vase filled with peachy pink Gerbera daisies
almonds and raisins for snacking
multiple pillows
cool nights

#1071 - #1075
practical help from family
- trips up and down stairs
- laundry washed, dried, and folded
- meal preparation
- prayers

#1076 - #1080
freshly made popcorn
conversation time
dreaming dreams
hearing hopes
celebrating 32 years of loving commitment

#1081 - #1085
taking small steps
celebrating new life
sitting with bereaved friends
supporting weary hands
giving thanks early

In joy,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Walking by Faith? Begin with Small Steps

Recently, I received a new shoe - just one.  The nurse who applied it to my right foot after surgery advised me that I had to wear it all the time - yes 24/7. 

Hospital discharge instructions permitted me to walk on the heel of my new shoe.

One stark problem emerged: the sharp pain from placing weight even just on the heel sent me reeling backwards onto my bed!

Well, I find it amusing that an Aha! occurred in my inert position on the bed:
We learn to walk by taking small steps

I progressed from one stage of recovery to another by taking baby steps - literally!  Strengthening my physical walk parallels strengthening my spiritual walk.

We often refer to the Christian life as walking by faith.

Small steps to walking by faith include:
  • celebrating incremental progress, e.g., finding a grace gift in the middle of a messy moment or tough days
  • practicing faithfulness in disciplines of worship, prayer, Scripture reading, service, and simplicity
  • growing in love - the vehicle through which faith works: receiving the love of God enables us to love

    For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 ESV
Small steps pave the way for growth in this walk of faith...I share these words today from a heart that knows the value of taking small steps in this faith walk.

Please pray with me to remember this truth as I hesitantly take small steps in my physical recovery...

Hoping fully,

Take a moment to join the Faith Barista Jam and serve your cup of small acts of faith.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Framing praises

From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!  Psalm 113:3

Sun rises, sun sets;
Day in and day out
creation praises the name of the LORD;
Question is: will I praise or simply doubt?

Sun rises, sun sets;
Framing the praises we bring;
Before the rising and setting sun
I sing to the Savior, Redeemer, the King.

Sun rises, sun sets;
Whether the day smoothly flows or hits a dead end,
circumstances don't have to  hold sway;
Praise to the Lord transcends each pathway bend.

Sun rises, sun sets;
This new month reminds me to live
fully with increased praise for the Name above all.
The solar movement frames that praise I give.

In joy,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Little Joys

Throughout the past week, I intentionally sought awareness of little joys - those moments that make me smile and bubble forth thanks.  I noticed that the more aware I became of little joys, the sooner I identified them - and the lighter my mood became!

Today,  I join Ann's multitude of friends writing gratitude lists

I am grateful for little joyssuch as:

#1056 - 1065

three young adults embarking on holy adventures
three young teen boys declaring their manhood moments

tasty banana pudding
delicious marinated cucumbers (picked fresh from the garden)

assignments completed
planning for weeks ahead

grace and forgiveness for grouchy mood
decision to seek joy

cheerful phone message about mission completed
swimming goal met

Hope you find little joys this week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life-enhancing impressions

I grind my teeth at night.  Who  knew?

A recent morning in the dentist chair was revealing - in many ways.

My dentist discovered that I grind my teeth when the effects of grinding left a mark on two teeth.  The teeth broke.

So, I found myself in the chair making an impression, so that a night guard can help minimize the effects of teeth grinding.

During this year of transformation - becoming, I am being transformed by the impressions I make and that are made in me. 

Words are transforming; I am using them; they are finding me - bringing healing and hope
 Worry weighs us down; a cheerful word picks us up. Proverbs 12:25 (The Message)
This week begins with gratitude for impressions - gifts - that lighten the spirit, soul and body.

#1038 - #1055

dental insurance
knowledgable dentist and hygienist

celebrating new parents
connecting with friends
dancing with a 21 month old girl

shared meal
movie night with friends
healing prayers

bringing order to deskspace
praying through challenges
receiving assistance

new neighbors
cooler temps
peaceful heart

hearing truth
extending grace
sitting still - knowing God a bit more

Impressions transforming...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What happens when faith leads the way

While pregnant with our second child, a request from the doctor led to blood tests for my husband and me in order to rule out a genetic disorder.  We already had a child and had undergone genetic testing in a large medical center, so I was unconcerned. 

When the test results came back trait positive for both of us, I sat stunned listening to the doctor list the chances (25%) that our child would be born with a genetic disorder. 

Throughout the remaining  five months of pregnancy, I memorized and meditated on scriptures I had written on index cards.  We prayed for health and wholeness. I had faith to believe for a healthy baby.

Ten days after our child arrived, the pediatrician called to tell me that the precious infant resting in my arms did have the genetic disorder. 

How could this be?!  I thought that my faith would prevent such a diagnosis.  My heart hurt with thoughts of what could be.  My child - now an adult - taught me, by example, how to live by faith.

What I learned over the years is that:
  • my faith enabled me to have peace with God - through fun times and tough times
  • faith gave me access to grace - the grace I stand in daily
  • I could rejoice in hope of the glory of God - no matter the circumstance
This faith-leading lifestyle unfolded step by step - not all at once.  When I faltered in faith, grace allowed me to stand again.  Faith enabled me to hope.  

Therefore, since we have  been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 
I continue to grow in faith - rejoicing in hope.

Join me at the Faith Barista's Jam and share a story of faith.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Remember when...?

I enjoy hearing stories from parents and grandparents about their children (and grandchildren).  I often think back to years long gone when my two young adults were babies.  What lingers vividly in my memory are not sleepless nights and colic-y cries, but the curious looks and Gumby-like facial contortions; the doubled-over laughter and top of the lungs singing.

At the end of several hours of intense numbers crunching, a friend came to my desk to show a picture on her smart phone.  Two weeks old Sophia lay swaddled in a blanket nestled in a baby carrier.  That one picture changed my countenance. I felt gratitude bubbling from my heart and head - spilling over from my mouth.

How amazing to watch newborn babies acclimate to their new environments oblivious to all but required needs - sleeping, eating, and eliminating.

Their power to evoke Creator praise astounds me.  So with this in mind, I join thanks-givers at Ann's blog and write thanks to the One who gives and gives and gives. 

You've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God. 1 Peter 2:2-3 The Message
#1028 - 1037

Sophia's hand to the brow at 2 weeks old

Milan leaning into her daddy's hands as he massages her scalp

Big brother, Jaden, gently kissing baby's forehead

Sydney dancing for the summer

Sienna prancing proudly in her ruffled dress

CJ's careful study of faces before him

Marguerite's four grands - who are grand indeed

Tales from Abby's curious and loving three grandsons and single granddaughter

Littlest one born so soon - living daily

Drinking deeply of God's pure kindness

Remember when...?

In joy,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Unstuck and Digging Anew

During the last two weeks of May this year, I took advantage of a family trip to schedule whitespace time for me (as defined by the Faith Barista).  I felt depleted and parched. The moments of spiritual rest - unhurried time with the Lord- restored my weary soul.

While in  the UK, I heard a sermon titled Wells Old and New that focused on the story of Isaac unstopping old and digging new wells.  As I thought about wells, I recognized that I am in a new season of life (age-wise) and I must dig new wells - new habits, renewed focus, expanded trust with corresponding actions in the presence of the Lord began the process.

As I sat with these thoughts, the words of Isaiah 12 played over and over again on my internal iPod. Within those words resided well unstopping and digging instructions for me in this season:
  1. Praise God - every day - throughout the day
  2. Trust and do not be afraid
  3. Recognize the Lord as my strength and my song
  4. Joyfully draw water from the wells of salvation - He is my salvation!
  5. Give thanks to the Lord
  6. Call out to the Lord
  7. Tell people what the Lord has done
  8. Proclaim His exalted name out loud
  9. Sing for joy
Since returning to my daily routines, I am more  aware of my wells that are unstopped and new wells being dug - this is a daily process.  Throughout the day I draw water from the well...and out of me living water flows...


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Please Sir, may I have some more?

One of my favorite books from childhood, Oliver Twist, implanted hope in my heart at an early age.  Oliver's sincere and open heart remained, even as he experienced tough
times and harsh treatment.  Oliver's caretaker sold him into evil hands all because he asked for more food.

As a child, I lived a timid existence - afraid to speak up and ask questions. As I grew to understand who I am in  all  aspects of my being: physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, I noticed that hope can exist in my heart even when life circumstances turn my insides upside down!

Years ago, I learned from Habakkuk to ask the Lord questions.  He moved from asking two questions (a bit of complaining included) and waiting for the Lord's response.  Life did not magically get better for Habakkuk (it didn't for Oliver either).

However, hearing God's response brought a prayer to Habakkuk's lips and a resolve to rejoice in the Lord no matter what was happening around him.

Recently, when life circumstances turned my insides upside down; when my understanding of situations left me perplexed, I remembered to ask for what I needed.

Please, Lord, may I have some more peace, wisdom, strength?

I sat back and waited and experienced joy while waiting.  Amazing that Grace, isn't He?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One Picture - Many Takes

While strolling from room to room in the National Gallery (London), I entered an exhibit titled: Take One PictureThe painting, Tobias and the Angel, provided a cross-curricular focus for primary grade students to creatively develop works of art using the story from the painting.

The exhibit awakened  my senses as I moved around the room:  my eyes moved from one object to another.  I touched textile creations.  I heard music inspired by the painting.  I saw elegantly crafted fish and squares of colors that mimicked the colors and patterns in the painting.

A large metal sculpture made from scraps testified of the blending of science and art as interpreted and fashioned by students.

While slowly moving from one piece to another, my memories of the American Studies course from my junior year in high school flooded my mind.  The course spanned the period from 1700 - 1950.  The cross curricular plan made the course alive for me.  We studied the history, literature, art and music of each time period simultaneously throughout the school year.  The course was challenging in many ways.  It was also one of the most interesting and life-changing method of learning I had ever known. 

I still enjoy learning a topic across various disciplines. 

What is your favorite way to learn?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remembering Fathers

As Father's Day approaches, my thoughts linger on memories of my father.  My father would have 'turned' 95 years old on June 6.  He died in 1993.  While my father did not live with my mother and their five children, he was present in my life and taught me life lessons.  I learned to be a responsible worker from him.  I learned to accept the way in which he demonstrated love - giving money or goods.  When I was 17 years old, I asked my father to please choose a gift for me and not give me money.  He bought me a camel colored winter coat  with puffed sleeves and scroll work stitched on the collar.  I treasured that coat and kept it for many years.  Taking the coat to a second-hand shop felt like giving away a precious jewel.

Today, my friend Barbara and her siblings traveled across states to visit their father.  His memory fails him at crucial times and he may need to move out of his home.  I think of this family and pray for father and children to hear each other - to take action that meets their needs as a family.

Tonight, I remember John.  John - a dear friend with the spiritual heart of the Father - died in November 2010 when his physical heart rested.  He taught me that in order to have the Father's heart, I needed to receive the Father's love - just as the prodigal son did. 

John visited The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and spent hours viewing Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son.  He said at various points during  his time at the museum, he saw himself as the prodigal son, the elder brother, and the father.  John served as a spiritual father to so many.  I miss him here.

I am grateful for the example of fathering I see in my husband.  Experiencing his intentional, willing to grow, patient and gracious approach to our children healed wounds in my heart.  I am grateful to know and deeply love him.

Henri Nouwen, in Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming eloquently writes about being a son and being a compassionate father.
Thus for my sake, Jesus becomes the younger son as well as the elder son in order to show me how to become the Father.  Through him I can become a true son again and, as a true son, I finally can grow to be compassionate as our heavenly Father is. p. 127
I am so grateful to Father God for showing me what He requires of me, providing life through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to live out that requirement to:
"do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God." (Micah 6:8). 

My transformation continues...

Stop by the Faith Barista Jam today and share your thoughts on fathers.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Being Still - Knowing God - Giving Thanks

I recently traveled to England with seven family members.  The time away restored my soul.  The combination of a slower pace and attuned ear resulted in a depth of stillness that I do not experience often enough.  Trust and thankfulness flowed from this stillness.
Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10
The end of May echoed the beginning: counting gifts given freely by the Exalted One.

Numbering the gifts and giving thanks day by day for:

#961 - #1027

May 21
scrubbing floors; gathering clothes to give away; packing for two in one suitcase; grace for flight challenges; safe drive to the airport; yielding to rest

May 22
luggage glitch - clarity reached; pleasant car ride; beautiful accomodations for eight; strolling city streets; sitting in the park with Mom; history framed on walls

May 23
safe arrival of three; glimpse of the Queen; walking on ancient floors; religious freedom; eying London; reading her story; long-distance greetings

May 24
sights and sounds of Piccadilly Circus; tea and biscuits with new friend; hearing the voice of the Prince; family walk; children jumping rope; public transportation

May 25
verdant Kent countryside; Canterbury; napping in the people-mover; lovely dining hall; walking through disappointment; dreamy bed linens

May 26
Merton tour; rain-facilitated rest; multi-colored hues in courtyard garden; cooking with Sis; witnessing legacy; reading Digging to America

May 27
flying pigs; lunch with colleagues; climbing narrow stairs to the rooftop; late night van ride; grace for flexibility; reading 1611 King James Bible under glass

May 28
moments to connect; solemn and special graduation ceremony; her beautiful, bountiful hair; doorways and hope; pub dinner to celebrate

May 29
worshipping with believers in a foreign land; garden walk; packing for home; contemplating wells - old and new; resolve to write; agreeing in prayer; ginger cookies

May 30
raindrops and farewells; giving way; 31 years of team work; wise, adventurous husband; airport shopping; conversation in flight

May 31
slow pace; grocery shopping; sharing life stories; cooking dinner at home; listening to Mama; parking lot chat

Consider joining the Gratitude Community in counting gifts and giving thanks!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Question: Quit or Not Quit?

"Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort." Fred Rogers

Quit ~ defined as stop, leave, discontinue

I had been pondering a decision: quit two of the three volunteer activities in which I am involved.  I journaled, prayed, quietly considered the matter.  Then one day, I decided: I will do it!  I will quit {stop, leave, discontinue} the two activities...

...until my overthinking, hard to let go, unsure mind relented.  

I couldn't quit?!!

So, when the notice arrived regarding a mandatory evening meeting for the two activities on the same evening I had committed to joining friends at a worship event, I was torn.

What to do now?

I asked the Lord and heard least not until 90 minutes  prior to the simultaneous start of both the meeting and the event.

I picked up the phone to resign the volunteer roles.  As soon as I uttered the words: "I am discontinuing my volunteer duties," peace rolled in like a red carpet - and I walked on to the event with friends.

Why did it take so long to decide? 

Several thoughts came to  mind as I processed this situation:
  • the activities I volunteered for were worthy and suited my gifts and talents
  • since I completed training for these two roles, I felt obligated to give back
  • my hesitance in quitting, in part, reflected my tendency to elevate the routine and known over the unusual (or different) and unknown
For over a week, as I read Cassandra's blog posts about the retreat she recently completed, I longed for such a time. 

Problem: I had no room for a retreat. 

Well, now that I have discontinued some activities, I can give myself over to welcoming a new season.

I am beginning this new season with a whitespace break and a writing retreat.  While I cannot stop all activities, I arranged for a period of time where I am slipping out of some routines in order to embrace a new flow of creativity.

I will take a break from this blog for the remainder of May.

Looking forward to new discoveries. 

Sharing today's post on the Thursday Jam with Faith Barista

In Joy,


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Walking the Path of Peace

On Saturday, I walked in the rain...for over an hour.  The rain began as a sputtering, hesitant, mist.  Slowly, clouds hovering low opened their pores and released big, drops of rain.  I kept going - halfway between here and there. 

When everyday life happenings find me between here and there - as it did last week - I am learning to pause for a moment.  In that pause, that Selah, I have an opportunity to re-orient my steps on the path of peace.

Sometimes, I right my steps with ease.  Other times, I stumble, eventually turning in the direction for me.  In both cases, I need help, i.e., "God-revealing light" to help me on my way.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.  Luke 1:78-79 The Message
Growth in gratitude helps me spot that Sunrise that breaks in on me.  I need a grateful heart - gratitude continues to transform me.  Giving thanks for:

#941 - #960
Sonshine even when rain falls
robin singing in the rain
gentle jogging in the rain
visible mercy drops
planting while drops fall

joyful sibling moment
once young, now adults
wise words, kind words
laughter seeping from stories
sharing food, sharing fun

upside-down world
finding life emerge from death
seeing through new lenses
Mama's peach cobbler
food for the body and soul

generations celebrating
Gift of Life acknowledged
prayers like conversations
rainbow arches
cool spring breeze

Walking still...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why hope helps

I spent a long day working on priorities, listening to complaints, and writing crucial words.
Ordinarily, such a day would leave me feeling wiped out and out of sorts - like a forest stripped bare.

But, this morning before leaving the warm, comfortable bed, I remembered to hope, to call upon the Lord in my distress.  I read:
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.  From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you...As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.  Psalm 71:5-6,14
Today, hope was a ladder I climbed - one rung at a time.  When I could not think creatively and did not see a way to resolve issues, I uttered words of hope and praise for the Sovereign One. 

Hope helps.

When was the last time holding onto hope helped you?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Transformed by Thanks-living

Viewing life through the lens of gratitude:
reshapes images in my mind;
reframes situations;
revives my soul;
rekindles relationship with my First Love;
reminds me that growing is a life-long process.

I spent several days away and met - interacted with precious gifts.

Humming, writing, speaking thanks today for His good gifts:

#921   playful Abby
#922   strong-necked Wills
#923   insistent Lotto
#924   busy butterfly
#925   sleepy LauraLee

#926   graceful bonsai
#927   fragrant honeysuckle
#928   rock garden
#929   family walk
#930   "deer chaser" bamboo and rock

#931   graduation celebration
#932   relaxing visit with family away from home
#933   linking relationships across families
#934   sharing meals, sharing family
#935   perseverance and grace to reach the goal
#936   a room with a view
#937   eyes to see gifts more clearly
#938   heart that beats with the rhythm of love
#939   cool breeze on hot, sunny day
#940   water - cool, clean water

 Each day as I grow in gratitude, I am changed by grace. 

What is transforming your life?


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What to do when words are few

I have lived busy moments, but over the past two weeks moments became days and days became weeks.   In the midst of the busy-ness I continue to count gifts from the Giver of all good gifts.  Gratitude is a lifebuoy - providing buoyancy in this sea of life.

Thankful today for:

#901 -920

roasted fennel and carrots
surprise lunch date with Rach
preparing birthday dinner for hubby
stiff peaks of freshly whipped cream
crimson strawberries on sea of cream

lavender and white azaleas
window framed butterflies
shoes with bows an blooming flowers
slow Saturday stroll
walking and laughing

new morning mercies
homemade brownies
present focused thinking
hope for the future
walkway escorted by colorful impatiens

chatting with curious students
conversation with Julie about writing with authenticity
awakening to a bright sunny morning
stilling dizzy moments
learning to lean on Jesus

Wishing you joy moments and peace-filled days,