Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#880-#901


880. Frank sticking his nose in the door so I won't shut him out.

881. Egg money! Our first sales.

882. Lone crane gleaning in the misty pasture.

883. Doing life in community.

884. A restful year to restore.

885. A burden to pray for a friend...only to find out later that there was a specific need right then.

886. Wind to dry laundry.

887. Farm dresses...a bit shapeless, but oh, so comfy!

888. Frank's intense focus as he watches the chicks in their cage.



889.  King of the coop.



890. Songbird reaching out in friendship to other girls.

891.  The beautiful example of parents who realize that the safest place for their child is in the hands of God.  Such trust.

892. Another confirmation that intimacy with God is worth any cost.

893. Countdown to the County Fair!  A year's worth of work about to pay off.





894. Successful fundraiser!  On the road to FDA approval for the LHON study!

895. Foggy farm morning--beautiful.






896. Peaceful surroundings outside me to help calm a storm inside me.





897. My red "Poppy" cardinal friend stopping by to bring beauty and encouragement for the day.

898.  Deepening friendships with people who share my interests and passions.

899. Calves butting heads and playing.

900. Shed door fixed!

901. Michelle, who shares her talent with photography to provide stunning Senior pictures for my Songbird.







Monday, February 27, 2012

The Blind Leading the Blind


Fifteen.

It's an age when new horizons begin to open up.

At the age when most parents are watching with trepidation as their teenager gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time, my friend had to tell her son he was going blind.

He might never drive a car.

As you can imagine, it was devastating for her as she watched so many things that were precious to her son be taken away.

In the book of John there is an account of Jesus and his disciples walking along the road, when they came upon a blind man.  The disciples asked what was a natural question at the time, "Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?"

Why do we always see difficult circumstances as punishments or judgement from God?


Jesus answered them, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this has happened so that the works of God may be displayed in him."


Sometimes we do bring difficulty on ourselves.

Other times we are chosen to be the one to experience a trial so that the works of God can be displayed in us.  

I really believe that is what's going on right now.  

"I think the biggest blessing of all, is that I lost my sight."


What?


Garrett actually said this to a crowd of two hundred.


The event was a fundraiser for research into the cure for his rare genetic condition, Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.  When he rose to speak, I think many were expecting an account of how difficult this condition has made his life, a listing of all of the good things the condition has taken from him, and a plea to give money to find the cure.

Instead, what we heard was a young man with greater sight

and greater wisdom

than most adults in the room,
                   
a young man rejoicing over the blindness that has allowed him to really see God clearly.



This blindness was no accident, no freak of nature.  

No accident that the young man afflicted has parents who have pointed him to Jesus throughout his life.

No accident that it happened to a student who is ridiculously smart, so the blindness is just a minor academic hurdle.

No accident that the gene that has mutated in Garrett is the exact gene being used in ground-breaking research just four hours from where he lives.

No accident that it affected the Haywoods, a family so outgoing, so relational, so servant hearted, and so plugged-in to the community that their plight brought wide-reaching awareness of the condition that will benefit all others with the condition.

No accident that God chose a family who had always been faithful to give glory to His Name.

He knew they could be trusted, that His works would be displayed in them.  

He knew it even when they didn't.

As I listened to Garrett list off the blessings God has given him through his blindness, I became painfully aware of my own blindness.

Last year as I grieved and prayed with Kendra over Garrett's diagnosis, I also thanked God for sparing my son.  I was so thankful that my son could see perfectly.  

So, who is the real blind one?  Me.

My prayers need to change--to follow the model of Greg and Kendra--that God would take my son and use him however He saw fit to display His works.

Would I really want my son to have a life free of trial and discomfort

        if it meant that he would miss learning to see as Garrett sees?

Oh, no.



If you want to learn more about Garrett's condition

If you want to help with the cure (be sure to note LHON in the comment section.)







Friday, February 24, 2012

#865-#879


865. Gratitude lessons

866. The constant goodness of my God.

867. Longtime friends who are my family when mine is far away.

868. Car rides with my almost-man, enjoying his happiness.

869. First pink of the morning sun.


870. Watching fruit ripen beautifully in the life of a young man who is seeing so much as he loses his sight.

871. Cheerful, enthusiastic "classroom" discussion.

872. 28 years of being "Fred" to ZoeAnne.

873. Long awaited rain...and a good one, too!



874. Purple rain boots and yellow slicker to keep me dry.



875. Registrations coming in.

876. Asking, seeking, knocking--He always opens, always welcomes me.

877. Game night and a sleepover with Granny.

878. Memorial cookbook as a tribute to my beautiful Aunt Elaine.



879. Thanksgiving always precedes a miracle--anticipation of what the miracle will be.


Am I asking?




 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  Romans 8:26

I have to rely on the Spirit himself quite a bit.

I desire to be a prayer warrior, but I'm not yet.  

I know what it looks like, because I know those who are true champions of prayer.  

Some have been given a gift for prayer. 

My friend Gidget unknowingly preaches a sermon straight from God's Word as she intercedes for others...

Yvette's prayers could be praise songs or poetry and she doesn't even realize it.

Others have diligently practiced the discipline of prayer

Sweet Jeri diligently prays each day for the people in her prayer journal until there is a check mark or carefully described answer written next to the request. If ever I have a request that I want to be SURE will be lifted up to God, I ask Jeri.

They are my prayer heros.  

I have been convinced more and more that a major reason we in the Western church see so little movement of God is because we have asked so little of Him.  

In James God tells us we don't have because we don't ask...and when we do ask it tends to be with wrong motives.

The result is that although He is ALL POWERFUL, we are powerless.

So, I am striving--praying--to make my first response to be prayer.

God is so faithful when we ask in His will.


This past week I had my first panic attack in a long time.  Typically my response to the rapid pulse, the short breath, the trapped feeling is total self focus and an irresistible "flight" reaction.  

I call it my "Forrest Gump" feeling.  

I want to go out the front door and start running and not stop until I feel calm.  Because my responsibilities and prematurely aging knees prevent that form of relief, my mind and physiology begin a frenzied dance together until all problems are completely out of proportion and I feel like a wild animal trapped in a cage.

Beware of approach. (There's a reason they call it "flight or fight.")

The symptoms started the same old way

too many expectations

trying to please people who had decidedly different needs--that had to be met at the exact same time

no one is happy 

I'm not enough

the panic starts; I want to run.



Then the reminder: This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength."

I don't run.  


I don't spiral into a crazed animal.


I pray.


And He answers.  Not the instant calm I wanted, but the steady reminder to pray every time the adrenaline surged. 


He sent me calm people to surround me who mercifully did not notice that I was not calm.  


He gave me the affirming words of friends who didn't even realize I needed encouragement.


I had, because I asked.  


This morning the Spirit laid a friend very heavily on my heart.  I have prayed for her regularly, but not daily.

It had been a few days.  Today, I felt the need to pray for her, but didn't know why.  

Because I don't talk to her often, I sent her a text to let her know God was thinking of her and that I had prayed for her.  Immediately she responded to say thank you: As it turned out, her husband had an appointment today that was causing him to PANIC.  

Well.


I certainly know how to pray for that!

I am floored by the realization--again--that I depend on the Holy Spirit for EVERYTHING.  I can't even pray without Him.

At the same time I am THRILLED with the knowledge that when I depend on Him, I can do ANYTHING.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#849-#864


849. Two gorgeous blue jays hopping outside my window.  (Wish I could get a picture!)

850. An unexpected visit and a new friend out of an old acquaintance.

851. Our daily bread and a little bit more.

852. Delicious chicken parmesan made by my Songbird.

853. Columbian food shared with friends.

854. Unintentional but desperately appreciated affirmation--perfectly timed after a panic-filled day.

855. Nala, our faithful mousetrap.


856. Tears to wash out toxic emotions.

857. He acts in power and authority; He speaks in a whisper. 1Kings 19:12

858.  The smell of manure: very stinky but associated with so many fond memories.

859. Another gorgeous farm morning.




860. Steers and cranes at dinner time.


861. Happy Girl's delight as she sees the perfect shot--and captures it on a cheap phone camera.

862. My soft but strong Cowboy who refuses to give in to bitterness or discouragement and understands how to fight with spiritual weaponry.



863. Salted caramel cupcakes made by Sage, from my parents.

864. The opportunity to help provide by doing something meaningful that I enjoy.

Friday, February 17, 2012

#836-#848



836. A sister reaching out for encouragement and support. (Why is this so hard for us?)

837. Monopoly with my guys.



838. Walking with friends through trials and seeing them cling to Christ.



839. A reminder to speak less and listen more.

840. A Cowboy who gets what it means to love as Christ loved the church---no matter how often I fail, he just keeps loving.

841. A secret nest with two brown eggs.



840. Head full of ideas for next year.  (Eeek.  But I need to finish this one first!)

842.   Blue jays in the trees.




843. Struggling along with students as they learn new skills and exercise atrophied mental muscles.

844. Students (or parents) who want to come back.

845. Montana running full-speed through the yard, celebrating the morning's freedom and companionship. (Another lesson learned from my dog....)




846. "Patch" the chick who jumped too high and now has a permanent duct tape jacket.




847. Dinner out back.

848. Palms down to release, palms up to receive...always open, never clenched.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#821-#835




821. LOVE!

822. Clean sheets.


823. The distance between East and West.

824. Beatitudes.

825. Three-year-old handing out candy to the family like he's Santa Claus.

826. Caleb's giggles as Unka Mike gives him a bath.





827. Warm sweaters on cold mornings.

828. Truth that convicts and demands action.


829. An even dozen eggs.

830. A short-time visit with a long-time friend.  A chance to begin healing a wound I inflicted years ago.

831. Bright red cardinal singing to me from the scrub oak.

832.  A man who is a loving husband and an excellent father.

833. Every morning a fresh start.

834. Words of encouragement all around me when I'm feeling weary.

835.  First clear morning in days.  Sun pouring over the pasture.


For Better or Worse

"I will never regret making a commitment to love this woman....After fifty years, she still stirs me."---Norman Reed, of his wife Sharon.


On April 8, 1961 my parents took vows that both have honored for half a century.



I'm so grateful for their legacy.

It was not always an easy fifty years.


During those fifty years, they have walked through every bit of those vows.  They loved each other

better and worse 


richer and poorer


in sickness and in health


The beautiful message of their life together is not that their commitment allowed them to endure all those things.

No, the beauty of my father's words, "I made a commitment to LOVE this woman," is that he knew to what he was committing.

Not to merely endure,
         not to simply hang in there,
                 
                      but to LOVE
                                 regardless of the circumstances.

even when it was hard


even when things happened that would have torn a less committed couple apart.

My parents were not content to just persevere; they strove to LOVE.

Because of that commitment, fifty years later they still stir one another.

(Let me tell you, that was no geriatric kiss they shared after my father's speech.)


That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it's done.






Saturday, February 11, 2012

#810-#820

810.  Bean soup with cheese.

811. My big ugly brown sweater--made by my mom, for my dad almost half a century ago.

812.  Fresh cane syrup on homemade bread.





813. Seventy + sandhills in the swamp at dusk.


814.  Happy Girl out working her steer in a blue plaid workshirt, hot pink leggings and muck boots.




815. All three kids, working and laughing together.



816.  Access to the throne of the Almighty to receive grace and release my burdens.

817. Baby chicks.



818. Clive at the fence waiting for breakfast.

819.  Crazy afternoon--steers on the loose, and dog chasing chickens.

820.  Sinus medicine.

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