“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” ~ Psalm 19:1
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” ~ Psalm 19:1
We all had to take a break whether we wanted to or not – at home.
Because of the pandemic and the resulting edicts to “shelter in place,” all of us, in one way or another, were forced to take a break.
Oh, I know, those who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs because they were deemed essential workers still worked hard and we’re so thankful for them. And scads of others, who were able, worked from home.
But a vast majority of us took a break – albeit a longer one than we thought it would be – from the daily routine and normal life.
Since both Papa and I are basically retired, we didn’t have to worry about jobs. We were busy though caring for our oldest granddaughter during that time.
But for the most part, we seized the opportunity to step away from the normal busyness of life and enjoy our time at home. And we didn’t squander that time at all.
“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” ~Harper Reed
So what did we do? In between playing with our granddaughter, helping her with her preschool homework, and providing new things to discover and learn, we enjoyed some simple aspects of life. And I took quite a few photographs to prove it.
I’m sharing some of those photos from our “break” with you today. Despite the trying time that it’s been, we managed to find joy. And doesn’t that make every day worthwhile?
So how have you managed staying home during this time?
“Find what brings you joy and go there.” ~Jan Phillips
Words to live by:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
Or from another version:
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” ~ Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)
It has occupied the same space on our office desk for over 20 years now.
Twenty years of knowing about its existence. Twenty years of noticing and using it just about every single day. Twenty years of acknowledging its presence but not realizing its importance.
Until just the other day.
Over 20 years ago, our family of five was unsettled. We had just moved from one side of our country to another – from the Pacific Northwest to our home state of Pennsylvania. Our household goods were in storage, we hadn’t found a home to call our own yet, my mother was in the throes of cancer treatments so we were temporarily living with my parents, and Papa diligently was searching for employment.
In the middle of it all, Papa’s mother, my dear mother-in-law, developed more life-threatening health issues and moved from her assisted living facility into a nursing home. Because she lived several hundred miles away from us, my husband’s uncle, a beloved brother of his mother’s who lived near her, cleared out her belongings and stored them for her in his garage.
Shortly afterwards, my mother-in-law passed away. After her memorial service, we sorted through the items, determining what could be given away and what items her sons wanted to take.
Papa’s mother had already downsized significantly from her apartment, where she moved following my father-in-law’s death, and again purged her belongings when she secured a room in the assisted living facility. So we accomplished the task of going through what was left in an afternoon.
Items we kept and brought home with us were not of great value, simply sentimental. One of those was a glass, rectangular-shaped paperweight with a sepia-toned picture pasted on the back of mothers, children, and a couple of cherubs.
It was a little odd but as long as Papa could remember, that paperweight sat on his mother’s secretary desk. Obviously old, we opted to keep it along with another circular glass paperweight sporting our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC.
So for the last 20+ years, both have occupied different spots on our home office desk where our desktop computer is located. Both Papa and I have shuffled hundreds of pieces of papers around this desk. We’ve written notes and stuck them under that rectangular paperweight with the odd picture umpteen thousand times in the last 20 years.
But just the other day, something happened that stunned me and then caused me to additionally ponder. As usual when a visual presents itself to me, my mind searches for some kind of meaning from it.
The morning sun streamed through our office windows that day when I opened the blinds. As I often do in the early mornings, I imbibed in a cup of hot tea while logging onto the desktop computer, checking email, perusing social media, reading my fellow bloggers’ words, and attempting to conjure up my own blog posts for the week.
After so many dreary, overcast days, I welcomed the sunlight pouring in but its intensity almost blinded me while sitting at the desk. I didn’t want to close the blinds because well…sunshine makes me happy. So I shifted my chair over a tad in order to shield my eyes from the bright sunlight and that’s when I noticed it.
A brilliant ray of sunshine shone through that odd, old, glass paperweight. And as it did so, I noticed something I had never before seen – there was some kind of etching on the short end of the rectangular glass.
What??? I’d never seen that before! I picked up the paperweight and when I held it just so, I could see the etching included three upper case initials. Puzzled, I began to wonder whose initials they were because they did not match either my mother-in-law or my father-in-law’s names.
I called to my husband and asked him to come take a look. He too had no idea whose initials they could possibly be. All along we thought the paperweight had belonged to his mother or perhaps his dad, but what explained the different initials?
Turning the paperweight over in the sunlight, I then noticed more etching in the glass on the other short end of the rectangle shape. There a date was etched – 1900 – plain as day or plain as could be seen when direct light hit it.
1900? So this paperweight had to be at least 120 years old. Wow. Again the wheels started spinning in my mind. 1900 – my father-in-law was then two years old (yes, you read that correctly; he was born in 1898).
My father-in-law was the oldest child in his family so he was, in 1900, the only child. The photo in the glass paperweight depicted mothers with children….mothers….and that’s when the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain!
The initials! I hurriedly looked up information on Papa’s family. There it was – the initials matched Papa’s grandmother’s name. My father-in-law’s mother. The grandma my husband never knew because she died when he was very young. Perhaps this paperweight was given to her on Mother’s Day in 1900.
We owned a sentimental piece of family history and didn’t even know it until now. A bit of a revelation!
And then my mind took a detour. That paperweight sat in the dark, so to speak, for over 20 years before its real ownership was revealed to us, until just the right angle of light presented it for my eyes to see.
That reminded me of God’s Word where much is written about light. Until I became a believer in Christ, I once was in darkness but as I came to know my personal Savior, I was brought out of that darkness into light, “His marvelous light” as 1 Peter 2:9 tells me.
I recalled that Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in” as written in John 8:12 of The Message.
He also proclaimed in John 9:39, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”
And then Jesus revealed Truth when he exclaimed, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.” (John 12:44-46 The Message)
Pondering those words also reminded me that truth is revealed in light. We go about in the dark, perhaps being fed lies after lies and believing them, and then bam! The light exposes the truth! The truth comes to light. What’s hidden in darkness and subterfuge becomes known and displayed in the light.
What was concealed is now revealed. What was covered is laid bare. What was hidden is now shown. I’ve always cautioned my own children that what you do in secret will be revealed in the light of day. That is truth.
It took sunlight reflecting through a 120-year-old glass paperweight to allow my eyes to see and my mind to be reminded of truth. A little revelation thanks to God and thanks to my husband’s grandmother.
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 6:22-23 of The Message
I grew up enjoying cars and car rides. My father traveled daily by car around his multi-county territory for his job as a newspaper circulation supervisor. No company cars provided, he used our family vehicle which tallied a lot of miles on our car in a year. So Dad almost always traded our car in for a sparkling new one every two years.
It was always exhilarating when Dad arrived home from work one day driving a brand new car up our driveway. Immediately, we would hop in for a ride in the new one and I so vividly remember that “new car smell.”
Dad liked cars and he even kept a list of all the cars he ever owned which we found shortly after he passed away at the age of 90. That list was fairly long!
Papa and I certainly don’t adhere to the two-year trade-in routine that my father did during his working career. Instead, we hang on to our vehicles as long as possible – even 10-12 years. But no other purchases quite beat the excitement of obtaining a new car or a new to you car for me.
The car I enjoyed owning the most was a new 1981 Audi 5000 that hubby and I purchased when he was still a military officer. Boy, that car was fun to drive! Now, I’m just happy with our all-wheel drive Subaru Foresters that easily transport us up a wind-blown, drifted shut, snowy driveway every winter.
Yesterday I posted about a classic car show, our brother-in-law, Papa, and I attended in Arizona when we were visiting there.
It was a fun blast from the past and just in case you enjoy a walk down memory lane like I do, I’m posting some more photos I took there.
And last but not least, one of my personal favorites – traveling with God’s Holy Word in the front seat.
“People who, like me, grew up in the 1950s and 1960s after World War II, grew up with cars.” ~ Martin Winterkorn (former Volkswagen AG Chairman)
If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.
(Lyrics to Get Your Kicks on Route 66 by Bobby Troup)
The second time proved to be just as relaxing and entertaining as the first.
When Papa and I journeyed to Arizona for the first time two years ago, we flew into Las Vegas, Nevada where our southwestern family members picked us up and drove us south to their home.
The rest of our time spent sightseeing we traveled by car (road trips are the best in my book!) and one day we enjoyed a scenic drive on old Route 66 to Oatman.
Just a couple of months ago on our second trip to Arizona, we flew into Phoenix, secured a rental car, and explored parts of the state on road trips. Yesterday, I posted about our leisurely and pleasant drive on old Route 66 again, only this time from Williams to Kingman.
Today I’m sharing some of my photos of the stops we made and sights we viewed along the way when we were getting our kicks on Route 66.
“The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.” ~ Aaron Lauritsen
It was all the rage a while ago – decluttering your home, adapting to a minimalist kind of lifestyle. In other words, rid your home and your life of items you no longer use or in the words of the queen of tidying up, Marie Kondo, get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”
Well, of course when we accumulate too much stuff, we need to evaluate, sort, donate, or pitch some of those items. But totally clearing your home of items that you haven’t used for awhile? That just doesn’t click with me.
Maybe it’s because my parents grew up in the Depression era and so they utilized items that others would pitch into the garbage bin. They also saved things because you just “might need them someday.” And well…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
I’ve been known to save things because I can see where they might be useful later. I do scrutinize something to ascertain if it can be reused or repurposed. And I do think twice about letting go of some things because if I do, I just might need them later.
And you know what? Just last weekend, I was glad I do so. Here’s my case in point.
Like so many across of our country, we’ve been sheltering in place in our home due to the covid-19 business for the last…oh, I don’t know because I’ve lost track of time…several weeks that seem like “forever” in the words of my five-year-old grandchild.
Since Papa and I are in the “vulnerable” group (over 60), we literally have been staying home, getting groceries delivered to our front door step, and generally making do with the situation. But finally, our state governor has placed our particular county in the next phase — we’re no longer in the red – of his reopening plan.
We can venture out into public once again and some businesses may reopen but we must don a face mask. This is a bit of a problem for someone like me who is a trifle claustrophobic. But along with everyone else in the world, I viewed videos with instructions on how to make masks – sewn and non-sewn.
Disposable masks are a hot commodity and could only be found online for a chunk of change. So I opted for the non-sewn ones and tried to “make” masks from bandanas, (which for some reason we have many) and hair ties. They didn’t work so great as we constantly ended up touching them to make sure they stayed on our faces. That defeated the purpose and honestly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe in them.
Scrap that idea. Finally, I bit the bullet and decided to sew our own, especially since we have a child in our midst who is too small to wear adult-sized face masks.
Now, I confess I am not much of a seamstress. I wouldn’t claim to be one although I do know how to sew. I learned some from my mother, some in Home Economics classes in junior high, and even more from sewing classes given many years ago by my oldest sister, who is a seamstress extraordinaire. (She even fashioned her daughters’ wedding gowns.)
I own an old, simple sewing machine and can do basic sewing but my skills aren’t the greatest, although I did sew a number of Halloween costumes for my children when they were small.
But here’s the thing. My portable sewing machine is stored away in a box, sometimes for years. My sewing chest full of thread and needles only comes out of the laundry room cupboard when I need to sew a button or make a simple repair on an article of clothing.
So I dragged out my neglected sewing machine and set it up on the kitchen table, rooted in the laundry room cupboard for some material remnants from a few things I fashioned many years ago, found the right colors of thread and – surprise! – a package of thin elastic and white shoestrings that were never opened in my sewing chest.
It took me a good part of the day, but I managed to sew three cloth masks – one for Papa, one for Nana, and one for Little One. I used the left-over material for the outside of the masks, some 100% cotton cloth for the linings, matching colored thread I already had, elastic for ear loops for the adult masks, and shoestrings for Little One’s mask which will be tied on instead of bending her ears down.
All of it didn’t cost me one cent! And all those items, including my sewing machine, have been stashed away in my cabinet for years, unused. Had I purged that cupboard of its contents because I wasn’t using those items, I wouldn’t have possessed the materials I needed for this “rainy day.”
And you know what, THAT sparked joy for me.
“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” ~ Aesop
And so it continues. Our lives have become uncertain and it seems like our normal highways have become clustered with rocks of burdens and mountains of obstacles.
Here in my home state, our area is still under lock-down from the covid-19 pandemic.
When it comes to actual covid-19 cases, our county has had a low number of cases. But folks are suffering, not so much from the virus but from the effects caused by this massive shutdown – loss of jobs, financial difficulties, small businesses going under, folks with medical issues other than the virus who can’t be treated by their doctors, chiropractors, and dentists.
We had hoped for a little light at the end of the tunnel, but that didn’t happen. And we don’t know where this road is taking us eventually.
Discouragement, disappointment, despair have descended on so many during this isolating time of sheltering in place. And along with those negative emotions, anger has also sunk its nasty teeth into us.
So on this Words for Wednesday, I want to offer some hope and encouragement. But they will not come from my own words, but from the Word of God.
A blessing to you straight from God and recorded in the Old Testament for us all to read: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” ~ Numbers 6:24-26 (New King James Version)
This blessing is for you, your family, your children and their children. This blessing is given to all those who read and hear those words.
These beautiful words of blessing were put to music written by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Steven Furtick, and Chris Brown in March and the song was simply entitled, “The Blessing.”
In time for Easter, it was recorded by musicians and singers from various churches in our nearby city as a blessing over the city during this pandemic crisis. A YouTube video of that virtual choir blessed me tremendously when I viewed it.
My prayer is for these words to be sung over you no matter where you live, no matter where you may be currently sheltering in place, no matter what circumstances have befallen you.
Click here to listen to a blessing from God.
Regardless of our current trials and hardships, please know that God sees us, He hears our cries for help, and most of all, He cares for each one of us.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~ Romans 8:38-39
Perhaps this time of hardship will draw you close to Him, to seek Him, to come to know Him and His saving grace.
Be blessed, dear readers. Be safe. Be well. Be encouraged and let hope and peace fill your hearts.
“What seems to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde
They speak to me without words. I find them awe-inspiring, magnificent, and more beautiful than any painted canvas could possibly be.
I’m talking about sunsets. When I catch a glimpse of a gorgeous, multi-colored spectacle called a sunset, I always pause, cast aside whatever I was doing, and just stand still and watch as day departs in the west. Often, the splendor I view in a sunset renders me speechless.
I’ve captured a number of stunning sunsets with my DSLR camera right off our backyard deck. I’ve also caught some on film back in the day as the sun slowly descended into the Pacific Ocean horizon.
Sunsets have always mesmerized me. They show me that yet another glorious day of life has passed and it’s now time for rest with the hope that tomorrow there will be a sunrise. Another opportunity to live life with purpose and meaning.
As I gaze into sunsets, sometimes so brilliant they hurt my eyes, I feel close to their Maker. My God. Creator of the Universe yet Savior of my soul. For me, a sunset is one aspect of nature that represents God’s glory.
Right now the world seems so uncertain, so dark and troubling. My mama’s heart is concerned and to be perfectly honest, anxious because our nurse daughter has contracted covid-19. Yet each day, God provides, He helps, He comforts. He gives me peace and I know He’s doing the very same for her.
Last month as Papa and I visited the Grand Canyon, we endured weather conditions that weren’t perfect for our sightseeing, yet at day’s end, God provided a most spectacular finish. A blazing sunset over the canyon.
It gave my soul peace that day and it continues to do so every time I see that photo.
I especially welcome the peace that only God can grant to me now, as I wait for our nurse daughter to recover from the virus that has caused so much turmoil in this earthly world, and the peace He provides as I wait for that day when I can freely pull her into my arms and hug my grown-up child.
“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self.” ~ John Piper
Whoever said “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” was right on the money.
Our first day on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park back in the early part of March began as a huge disappointment and I wrote about that in yesterday’s post. If you missed it, click here.
That amazing wonder of nature was socked in under thick pea soup-like fog. Fog so dense we couldn’t see one tiny bit of the canyon. This huge, mile-deep, 277 mile-long wonder of the world was out there covered in fog and we absolutely couldn’t get one glimpse of it.
Disappointing? Very. Discouraging. For certain.
In addition to foggy conditions, the day was dreary, rainy, damp, and chilly, so we discussed what we should do. We took some time to eat a late lunch in the Market Plaza area of the park at the Yavapai Cafeteria, sitting well away from other folks there. We opted for a window view but all we could see was rain hitting the windows.
Since the weather was definitely not improving, we decided not to try any hikes but instead continue on in our rental car, hoping for some break in the rain. Driving down Desert View Drive, a scenic road which leads from Grand Canyon Village to one end of the national park, we planned to stop at several overlook points along the way.
At each overlook, we hopped out of our car, hoping to catch a glimpse of what we came to see. And at each point, we were dismayed by more misty weather and fog. A few hardy souls were doing the same and as we reached the lookout, it was almost like you could hear a collective sigh and an inward groan.
After greeting us hello, one gentleman shook his head and exclaimed, “My wife and I came all the way from San Antonio to see this and we can’t see anything!” I gave him a sympathy nod but decided not to one-up him with “Well, we came all the way from Pennsylvania!” I surmised it wouldn’t make either one of us feel any better about the situation.
After the third or fourth still foggy stop, Papa walked in one direction and I ambled along in another. My path crossed with a long-haired woman about my age dressed in a bright red sweater. We nodded and said hello to one another and then she spoke, “Not much to see here I guess.”
“No,” I replied, “and unfortunately, it’s been that way all day for us.”
She asked which direction we came from and I answered. Then she advised me to not give up but keep on going. She had come from the other direction and for one brief moment, she said the fog lifted and the sun shone so that she could see the colors of the gargantuan gorge, but then it descended once again.
But she looked me in the eye and stated, “I know you are going to get a break. You (said with emphasis) will see the canyon today. The sun will come out just for you (again said with emphasis).”
A little bit startled by her announcement, I think I just mumbled, “I hope you’re right.” Was she clairvoyant or something? Why did she declare what she said with such conviction? We said goodbye and Papa and I climbed back in our rental car.
And you know what happened? When we stopped at the next spot, a number of folks were congregated. The fog was edging its way up out of the canyon!
Papa and I ran to the edge to see and for me to grab some photos. A gentleman asked me to take photos of his wife and him with his cell phone posed in front of what we could see of the canyon. In turn, he graciously took a picture for us.
Driving on, we got an even more pleasant surprise at the next overlook. The fog completely dissipated and the sun showed its warming, illuminating rays. What a display!
We stayed for quite some time and I just kept snapping photos with my DSLR camera until we noticed we were practically the only people still there. We just didn’t want to leave that glorious sight.
A father and son duo joined us and again we exchanged cameras to take photos of one another. As the four of us stood in absolute silence just gazing at the beautiful and amazing sight before us, the older man spoke with a sense of awe and wonder.
“How can anyone see this and believe there is no God?” he wondered out loud. I said, “I so agree.”
It was a moment I will remember for a lifetime because it reminded me of the awesome power of our Creator God and also of His perfect timing.
Just when we start to feel discouraged and are tempted to throw in the towel and give up, God delivers exactly what we need exactly when we need it.
“What do you do when disappointment comes? When it weighs on you like a rock, you can either let it press you down until you become discouraged, even devastated, or you can use it as a stepping-stone to better things.” ~ Joyce Meyer