Monthly Archives: April 2015

When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

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I love to drive the back roads of southeastern Kentucky where I live.  Every season is different. Driving along in a hurry, it is very easy to see only an ordinary piece of pavement leading from Point A to Point B.  But with a different purpose in mind than just arriving somewhere at a particular time, the ordinary road becomes and extraordinary pathway of beauty.  Wildflowers are blooming in profusion, pushing their glorious blossoms through dead leaves, sticks, and twigs that covered them through the winter.  Every inch of soil beside of the road was bursting with new life stretching up in search of sunshine.

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Wildflowers and Wild Horses

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I went for a drive yesterday in another part of the county where I live.  It was a glorious day for a drive.  I had no idea what awaited except a drive with friends and an adventure into the world beyond my front door.

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All along our driving path, the woodlands were bursting with spring wildflowers.  We decided to head across one mountain to Begley Wildlife Management area and were rewarded for our efforts when we located a herd of wild horses.

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We took hundreds of photos, had a picnic on top of the mountain, watched the horses, and watched the sun slide down the sky.  It was a great evening, enjoying the beauty of God’s handiwork and the glories of the wilderness.  None of it would have happened if we had not been willing to leave our chores, jobs, and daily demands behind for a few hours and take the first step beyond the door of our ordinary day.

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Embracing a Specific Call and Stepping Through that Door

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Some doors are so familiar to us that we grow comfortable coming in and out of that specific portal.  We are so used to doing the same things over and over that we perform our usual tasks with ease.  But what happens when we feel a “call” on our life to do and be something more?

I spent 30 years in a public school system as a middle school teacher.  That ended two years ago.  So, who am I now?  I’ve written a weekly newspaper column for around 20 years, so has that become who I am now?  I’ve taken tens of thousands of photographs in my lifetime, but does that make me a photographer?  I’ve had books published and had work featured in books and magazines, so does that make me a writer?  I sang in church for decades.  Does that make me a singer?

WHAT IS MY CALL?  WHO AM I SUPPOSED TO BE?

Mothers, daughter, sister, friend, grandmother, mother-in-law, teacher, photographer, writer, singer, traveler – WOULD THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP?

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The truth is that we are all many more things than we realize.  If we examine a diamond closely, there are many facets to the cut stone.  Each cut reveals a different spectrum of light, yet every cut and every color belongs to the same stone.  Such are we.

There are many sides to each of us.  We function in a variety of capacities at home, at work, at church, and in the community.  We take on the role that is needed in the moment.

I have felt the call to write since I was a child, but I have never felt comfortable with calling myself a writer.  Maybe that’s because I don’t feel like I am good enough at it or successful enough to deserve to think of myself as a writer.  I’ve never had a book published by a major company.  Maybe that’s what it would take.  It’s almost as if I openly claim that God has a calling on my life to be a writer, then I will have to measure up to someone else’s standard of success and will fail miserably.

Also, I realized this morning that part of me has been fearful of embracing this call of “Writer” because it would mean that I have to stop being something else that I enjoy doing.  How ridiculous!  IF God is calling me into this new place of Christian Novel writing, surely He will go with me on the journey, open the doors before me, give me the words and the Holy Spirit inspiration to cause my work to be acceptable in HIS sight.  I’m not sure why I thought it meant I’d have to give up something in order to answer a deeper call about writing.

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Usually, I find out that there are many others struggling with the same ideas and notions that trip me up.  Everything in life is not black and white. Like the leaves of a fern, the individual segments all fit together perfectly on the stem to create a frond.  Each part of our life fits into the next to reveal the beauty of God’s purpose and calling as our own story unfurls.

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A Wild Profusion of Blossoms – April 21, 2015

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Welcome Wildflowers!  The Highlands of Kentucky are rich with natural geographic beauty, but in the spring, the profusion of wild blossoms popping up unattended and unseen is truly a delight.  It seems this year especially that everything has chosen to bloom all at once.

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I took my camera and drove across the mountain yesterday to Pine Mountain Settlement School.  I was chasing sunshine and dodging storm clouds, but the trip was definitely worth it.  The variety of wildflowers and flowering trees that were out amazed me.

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Our ordinary worlds are filled with unexpected beauty.  We only need to take the time and make the effort to look for it.

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Hail, Hail, Lion of Judah! – April 5, 2015

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FotoSketcher - lion_head_picture_168830[1] Lyrics from People Get Ready by Misty Edwards

He’s not a baby in a manger any more.

He’s not a broken man on the cross.

He didn’t stay in the grave

He’s not staying in heaven forever!

HE IS ALIVE!

People get ready!  Jesus is coming!

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The Door that Made All the Difference – April 3, 2015

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Photo from public domain free photos from the internet

Today is known as Good Friday, the day the Son of God laid down His life for mankind.  What a horrific day in human history when those who wanted to be politically correct before their constituents viciously crucified an innocent man.  If the story ended there, it would be heartbreaking, but at an end.

When Christ’s beaten and tortured body was taken to the tomb, prepared in death shrouds and sealed behind a stone, those who followed him had to have been utterly dismayed, confused, and frightened.  They could not see what was beyond that closed door.  Good Friday and the days the two days after had to be among the longest in their lives, reliving the horrors, wondering what they might have done differently, recalling the miracles of Jesus and wondering why (if He was the Son of God) that God had not intervened.  The new political system they hoped for was gone.  Their teacher, rabbi, friend, was sealed off from them to rot in a tomb as far as they knew, never to be seen again.  They must have been terrified that the same fate awaited them.

Christ is the only spiritual leader, the only One who professed Himself as the Son of God, to return from the dead.  Truly, only the ONE and only Son of God could have conquered death and the grave.  He opened the door between two worlds when He arose from the dead.  He conquered death.  He returned to the ones who had loved him and followed Him and showed Himself freely that all might know He lived.

The door Christ opened through His death and resurrection was the door that proved He was indeed the Son of God, who gave His life to conquer sin and the grave.  It was the door that showed there is life after death.  It was the door that proved sin and death have no power over those who trust in Him.  It was the door that proved what He had taught was true and that he was far more than a wise teacher.

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He Is Risen

24 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying[c] by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

The Road to Emmaus

13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles[d] from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”[e]

18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

The Disciples’ Eyes Opened

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.[f] 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.[g] 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.

The Scriptures Opened

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[h] from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem[i] until you are endued with power from on high.”

The Ascension

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Sewing Seeds for the Future April 1, 2015

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Photos from Pine Mountain Settlement School – Pine Mountain, Kentucky USA

It is very easy to look at spring’s beautiful blossoms popping up and take for granted that they were there last year, are coming up again this year, and will be there next year.  Some are from seeds, some from bulbs, all carefully planned and arranged.  While we appreciate the loveliness, we may not think any deeper about how they got there.

At some point in time every flower garden, every manicured lawn, every contained patch of blossoms was planned and planted by someone.  While nature’s profusion of springtime beauties grows wild and amazing, reseeding the land and returning every year without human hands, flower gardens are not so.

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Someone had to have a preference for certain flowers to take time to plant them in a flower garden.  They may have liked the color, the length of staying power of each flower, or the season in which the flower blooms.  It takes thought, working in the dirt, tending the plants, and pulling weeds to make a flower garden a picture of beauty.  Often, the person who took such great care with their plants passes away and someone else picks up where they left off, perhaps adding other specimens from time to time. 

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Photos from Biltmore House and Gardens – North Carolina, USA

As we go through life, we are planting seeds of good or evil along our way.  Some we can tend and get to see the blossoms for ourselves.  Others will bloom when we aren’t looking.  And still others will be tended by hands we know nothing about.

The spring delights I have seen in the last few days reminded me of the parable Jesus spoke of about the sower of seeds.

Matthew 13 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Parable of the Sower

13 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Let us sow our seeds of faith, love, and goodness as we have opportunity to do so, knowing that not all will survive, but in confidence that there will be seeds the spring up gloriously, grow, and bear fruit long after we know about it.

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Doors – Keep Things Out or Let Things In – April 1, 2015

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Begley Wildlife management area - 1 - judy 117Photo from Pine Mountain Settlement School – Pine Mountain, KY

The design of a door says a lot about it’s purpose.  Some doors are dark and thick, designed specifically to separate the outside world from the inside world.  I love the image of this door which was clearly meant to keep the elements out, but at the same time was designed to let the light flow in.  The room would be so much darker and less joyful if the door had not been made of glass.

In our lives, it is a rare thing to be able to see what lies on this side of the door and have a glimpse of what lies beyond the door at the same time.  If only all our doors were made of glass…

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Revisiting Places We Love – March 31, 2015

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IMG_5970  Special places are worth revisiting.

Pine Mountain Settlement School celebrated its Centennial birthday a couple of years ago.  I’ve been going there for almost thirty years with students, and taking visiting family to see a bit of paradise.  There is so much amazing history at the school that a person could spend years reviewing information in the archives.  Environmental education programs are top notch.  The landscape is beautiful and the buildings amazing.

I love this place in every season.  Spring and fall are my favorites.  The March blooms (Easter flowers, or daffodils as some call them) are already lined up in proud profusion, nodding their yellow heads in the spring breeze. Larkspur is beginning to bloom and tulip leaves are pushing their way up through the soil.  In another week or two, there will be so many domestic and wildflowers on campus that a new delight awaits in every direction.

I never get tired of walking across the fields, up the gravel roads, or looking out across campus from the chapel door.  William Creech’s vision for his community and his desire to education his children and build a strong and wholesome learning opportunity on his side of the mountain set all of this in motion over one hundred years ago.

It is a place I will never tire of revisiting.

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There’s Only One Way to See Beyond the Door – April 1, 2015

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IMG_6069 One step at a time…

What does the future hold?  Will there be joy?  Sorrow?  Dreams coming true?  We all want to know.  We hope it will be overflowing with blessings and good things, yet life experiences with disappointments sometimes causes us to falter and even fear what lies ahead.

One of my friends, Christie Smith, said she borrowed this phrase but didn’t know it’s origin.  “Do not let the fear of the moment rob you of the memory of a lifetime.”

There is only one way to the future and that is one step at a time.  Let us open the door to the future with confidence that the good will far outweigh the bad and embrace the path before us, one step at a time.

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