That Which We Will Not Give Up

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Friday, Sept. 4: What are you passionate about?

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This one is not as easy as it sounds.  I tend to rule with my emotions, so on any given day I could be passionate about any given thing, depending on my mood.  Hence, the need to filter through all those emotions to land on my true passions.  As I have gotten older, things have shifted and I’ve been learning to curb the emotional tide that can overpower reason from time to time. I truly believe that our passions our woven together with God’s purpose for our lives, and as such, require careful curating.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Maybe the real passion comes from those things that emerge as the non-negotiables.  Sometimes, we waste our energies and passions on causes that aren’t ours to bear.  It’s rather like the overuse of the word love (guilty here, too!).  We use love to describe everything from the latest trendy socks, to food, to our job and the people we’d do anything for.  Sometimes in all that love, it’s hard to know what love really is.  It’s more than a word to describe a feeling.  It’s an action that springs up from our very depths and will not be squashed.

For example, I love Pizza, but I could survive without it.  I love my husband and I don’t even want to think about surviving without him.  Obviously, the word love here is used to mean more than one kind of love.  I think it’s the same with passion.  Some things on our passionate list may have more priority than others and listing them together may seem shallow.  But, as long as we understand the difference, then I think everything I”m passionate about from the mundane to the world changing can make peace with being on the same list.  From that list, I can then narrow my focus to those that are non-negotiable. Those that I will hold onto for dear life. Those that most define my God-given purpose.

Some of my current passions, in no particular order, are: Alzheimer’s, my husband, my family, chocolate, Italian food, Writing, decorating and organizing my home, napping, watching Blue Bloods, the current political and moral climate, enjoying a girls day out, taking drives, snapping pictures of everything, day dreaming and my faith in God and the gift of salvation.

I must add here, that I think the things we are passionate about don’t necessarily mean that we love all of them.  Sometimes, our passionate focus on something can stem from our desire to fight back against that which we we truly hate.  I also think that some passions are for a season and some are for life.

A prime example of this is the fact that my mother has Alzheimer’s.  I’m very passionate about Alzheimer’s during this season of life.  Not because I love the disease ( I truly hate all that it represents), but because I love my mother. I’m passionate about protecting her and helping her, not because I want to make decisions for her, but because she needs me to and I love her, so I want what is best for her.

Alzheimer’s was not on my passion radar until it knocked on my door. Whether or  not it continues to be a passion hinges on a lot of variables, one of which could mean that I too may one day stare this ugly disease in the face.  I passionately hope and trust not, but it is not mine to decide.

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Another current passion that made my list is Blue Bloods.  It’s just a TV show people.  No big deal.  Really, could I be any more shallow.  Is it a true, fight to the death, passion? No, of course not.  But, during this season of life it represents a lot of things to me: time spent with my husband, a chance to unwind from the real world, a glimpse into a family dynamic that speaks of love, service, trust and passion.  All the things I think are important for family to cling to in times of distress.

Especially in times of distress.  Those are the times we most clearly need to be passionate.  Much of life requires us to fight for our needs to be met, to fight for what we believe in, to fight for what feeds our soul. It is during these times that we need to know what we will not give up.  

I can give up Blue Bloods, I can even (hope I don’t have to) give up chocolate, or a lot of other passions, but there are a few that I will fight for such as my faith, my husband, my family my friends, and the need to be creative.

Writing is a gift from God and I know it is woven into the very fiber of my being.  Even in those times when the well seems to be dry, or I am frozen to publish anything  I still know that writing is a part of me.  I still know that my survival hinges on being able to express my thoughts in words; being able to paint you a picture with my words.  That is why I keep writing, even the mundane, so that I don’t lose touch with the passion of laying down words, because I don’t want to miss the day when the purpose in the passion shines through in the most brilliant of ways and my soul sighs in blissful contentment. 

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Finding purpose and passion in grace,

Teresa

Restore. Repeat.

I just found out about this writing challenge when I read my friend Barbara’s blog earlier today.  I clicked over to Bailey Jean’s blog and browsed through the daily topics.  They looked like great motivators for sharing on a fairly daily basis, so I thought I would join in.

For the past three years I have participated in the Write 31 Day’s challenge that the Nester hosted.  I have not decided yet if I will commit to it this year so, joining in the Blog-tember challenge will be a warm-up and we’ll see how it goes.

What I like about the Blog-tember challenge is that she gives you specific things to write about each day and they are things that I know a little bit about because they are all based on who I am and what I’m about.  Also, because it is not a specific series, if I skip a day here and there it will be ok.

Blog link-ups are also a great way to meet new people and build community because for me that has become the best thing about this blogging world.

Yesterday’s prompt (Sept. 1) was to tell you about me.  Since my about me page is pretty thorough and since I”m a day late I will let you go there to read the story of Who Am I?.

SEPTEMBER 2 – Describe your ideal day. Where would you go and what would you do?

It’s a day I know well; one that is entrenched deep in my soul; one that restores; one I’m ready for again.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV

It is somewhere in the vicinity of morning, there may still be a nine on the clock.  Ok, it’s ten. ish.  I’ve just opened my eyes and realize that I feel so rested and that there are no achy joints.  Today is going to be a great day.

I throw on something comfortable that I probably wouldn’t wear in public and head out to the rocker on the cabin porch.  I breath deeply of the crisp October air relishing in the perfect blue sky.  The fire red leaves pop against the background of sky and the sun filters through the leaves assuring me that today is going to be wonderful.

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I wrap a soft throw around my shoulders and settle into the comfy rocker, hot chocolate in hand, to spend some quiet time.  I listen to the birds chatting with one another.  A leaf floats downward, resting gently on the forest floor, a contrast to the roar of the waterfall in the distance.

*The creek is never silent; always playing in the background reassuring me that all is as it should be. The cool water rushes over the stones staying the course day in and day out. I read a testimony once of a gentleman who immersed himself in the waters of Roaring Creek because he felt the need to have another baptism to mark his rejoicing in all that God had provided.

After a while, I realize that the roaring of the creek has taken a back seat to the roaring in my belly.  Time for a hearty breakfast that will take me to dinner.  My husband is the breakfast whisperer.  He always does the big breakfast – usually bacon or sausage with eggs and toast or sometimes biscuits. I take mine with milk or juice.  I love the smell of coffee, but haven’t acquired the taste quite yet.

Once the breakfast dishes are draining, it is back out to the rocker  with notebook and pen, senses heightened, ready to explore new thoughts.  I may  just soak in the beauty and jot a few thoughts, or I may write feverishly trying to get it all down before the next thought pushes through.  Either way, *October belongs to me, or maybe I belong to October.  October captures my heart every time.

After October has soaked into my bones, I will mosey back into the cabin for some daydreaming, perhaps a little shut eye, stretched out on the sofa without a care in the world.  Later in the day we will drive over to Boone or Blowing Rock and check out one or two of the shops or perhaps we’ll just drive around exploring a mountain lane.

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The drive  will be more about the beauty of the color than the destination.There will be random stops to take pictures of beautiful trees that are drenched in October’s best.  Eventually, we’ll find a yummy place for dinner.  Preferably Italian.  The last time there was a wonderful little Italian place in Banner Elk; hoping it’s still there.

After our tummy’s have said no more, we’ll head back to the cabin, settle in for a long, quiet evening of reading that may or may not involve chocolate at some point.

When the eyes are flickering shut more than awake, we’ll head to bed after opening the window a crack, and sleep blissfully to the cadence of Roaring Creek in the background.  It will be a sleep full of blessings and sweet dreams. Knowing that tomorrow we get to hit repeat.

Restoring in Grace,

Teresa

*Links to little poems I wrote about October and Roaring Creek.  This post was inspired by our many visits to Fairhaven in Roan Mt. Tennessee.  A place we discovered several years ago and one that always helps restore and settle us from the cares of life.  

The road less taken

The Lord IS

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.      Psalm 18:2

The Lord just is.  I need him to be. He is my source of joy.  In all things.

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He travels with me down unknown paths.  He restores.  He is the joy bringer. He just is.

Trusting in Grace,

Teresa

Joy In My Fathers World

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Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.  Psalm 96: 11-12

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This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

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This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

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This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forgetThat though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

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This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.I ope’ my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

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We recently had the privilege of driving around the back roads of Southern Virginia with a dear friend we met in Florida years ago.  She is originally from Virginia and we spent a few days in her neck of the woods.  She took us around the surrounding area, down lanes and across creeks and up wooded roads.  We saw barns, cattle, fence posts, cemeteries, abandoned houses and mountains rising majestically in the near distance.  It was a gloriously clear, blue sky day.  We stopped for lots of pictures.

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I shared a few pictures with you earlier in the week, but wanted to share some more.  In thinking of the beauty captured in the photos, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs based on words written by Maltbie Davenport BabcockThis Is My Father’s World . You can go here to listen to a video production of this song by Fountainview Academy in British Columbia, Canada. 100_4358 100_4361It is so easy to become focused on the negative and all the ills of this world, but truly, this is our Father’s world and beauty abounds if we just open our eyes.  He has promised to be faithful to us even to the end of the age.  Instead of focusing on the evil and all that is wrong in the world, I want to focus on God and how he makes all things right in his time.  I want to see the good, the beautiful.  I want to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12)100_4405As Christians, I believe we have to accept that there is evil, we have to abhor it and shun it.  We need to pray for good to win. We don’t need to live in denial, but, we don’t need to wallow in the gutter of despair as if we have lost all hope either. We need to see with eyes that see Jesus,  hearts that love others, arms that reach out to help, feet that walk alongside.  We must delight in the beauty in our Father’s world.100_4428 100_4432“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  That gives me great comfort and hope. Let us open our eyes and see.100_4427.2 100_4370

Seeing in grace,

Teresa

Joy!

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Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

Yesterday I was holding on to hope and trying my best to be joyful about my colonoscopy.  I determined to practice thanksgiving with every drop of that gutter swill I had to drink.

I was doing my best to put it all in God’s hands and trust that all would be well.  So, I chose to trust in the face of my fear.  Praying about it, clinging to a scripture and writing about it helped.  It enabled me to focus on the big picture instead of worrying about a minor glitch in the road.

If you have ever had any kind of invasive procedure, then I’m sure you well know, that a certain amount of anxiety goes with.  I’m learning that it is not always about getting rid of the anxiety, but harnessing it and allowing God to be in control.  Even if you want to freak out and run the other way choosing to let God handle the situation builds your faith in him.  And, he is faithful.

I’m happy to report that I managed to drink all the nastiness in that jug (minus a few drops here and there).  I managed to keep my spirits up by practicing thanksgiving for the little things such as the pink ladies blooming in my yard, or how wonderful White grape juice tastes.  I reminded myself with every drop that I could do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

I’m further happy to report with joy that even though they found a polyp, it was non-cancerous.  It is being biopsied to find out exactly what kind of polyp it is as that will determine if I go back in three years, or five. Apparently, some polyps are pre-cancerous and some are not.  Not, would get me five years, so that is my hope.

Even with that looming large in five (or three), I still am joyful because basically I received a clean bill of health and the meds didn’t seem to make me goofy and I know that God was with me.  After some initial nervousness and high blood pressure I calmed down and all was well.

Further, it was with great joy that I came home and ate my food with gladness, and drank my wine (ginger ale) with a joyful heart.  Thankful that God found favor with me and answered my prayers.  He is always faithful.

He is always faithful in good times and bad.  Even if my outcome today had been different, I would still rejoice in the goodness of a loving God.  He is always working on our behalf in all situations and if we ask he enables us to find joy in all things.

How are you finding joy today?  Whether it be choosing joy in the midst of a trial, or finding joy in such an everyday occurrence as a cheeseburger and ginger ale just know that the giver of our joy is always with us and he will always lead us right.

I would be remiss if I did not thank all of you that were faithful to pray for me. That too is part of our joy.  Praying for and encouraging one another.  God Bless!

Joy in grace,

Teresa

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The pictures included with today’s post and yesterday’s were taken in Virginia back in June when we took a little trip.  Such beautiful countryside where we were.  I have more pictures I’ll try to post soon.  My favorite way to travel is on the back roads looking for bits of beauty. Isn’t Mrs. Cow lovely, with her babe?

Joy?

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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.   –Romans 12:12

This was one of the verses included in my devotions this morning.  I had to chuckle a little as I read that verse, in light of what I’ll be going through this afternoon.

In a little while I’ll be sipping a lovely “cocktail” in preparation for a routine procedure in the morning.  I have not looked forward to this at all.  I remember well the nastiness of the drink and how I couldn’t finish it the last time.  I also don’t like it when I’m not in control of a situation, so these things usually make me more nervous and fearful than your average person.

So, I’ve done a lot of praying for peace and protection and for good results.  The normal types of prayers.  I also have prayed in hopes that somehow the taste could be blocked.  Seriously.  Not to gross you out, but I almost gag at the memory of five years ago when I last drank from this gutter drink.

I sat with my mother for a while last evening and while we sat quietly in her living-room I spent some time in prayer and was reminded of God’s faithfulness to bring us peace and I knew he’d be with me through this ordeal. And he will.

You can imagine my chuckle this morning when I read that verse in light of my prayers and upcoming procedure.  So, I am doing my best to be joyful in the hope that I won’t taste or even have to drink all of it.  I am trying really hard to be patient with my current ‘affliction” (I think that word is very appropriate for the insult of having to drink the dreaded concoction) and I think faithful in prayer applies here as I’ve done my share of asking for strength to get through this.

I know this verse is to remind us of our hope of heaven and that our suffering or afflictions are nothing in light of that hope.  I also realize that what I will be experiencing this afternoon and tomorrow morning is nothing in light of Christ’s suffering, or even the suffering of one who is facing life threatening illness. I don’t take these things lightly.  But reading this verse this morning, reminded me that Jesus loves us and he cares about us.  He understands our fears and he will be with us in all things, even the minor things that can make us apprehensive.  He also sends us the right scripture at the right time to drive home the point.

Whatever you are facing today I hope that you take hope, practice patience and pray faithfully.

Hoping in Grace,

Teresa

Standing In Grace

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access through faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NIV

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May we find God’s peace today for all our needs.  The world may be swirling around us in all directions, but he is still our hope and his grace is sufficient for all that we need. He stands ready to pour all his love into our hearts.

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Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your Grace.  We rely on you today to meet our needs and to sustain us.  You are our hope of glory.

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Standing in Grace,

Teresa