Tag Archives: simple things

This IS the Day (whether I feel like it or not).

This morning I awoke to an old song:

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Breakfast! This is what my man can do with leftovers!

This is the the day the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad!
This is the the day the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad!
This is the the day the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad!
Jesus is King! Come now and sing! Rejoice and be glad!
I took the admonition as straight from the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who’ve I’ve asked to help me rejoice in my God in all circumstances. Not for their sake, but for HIS!
But ya’ll already know that I’m flawed (which only means, because of Jesus, that I’m still Free to Live As Worthy!) So even though I awoke to such a happy song (based on Psalm 118:24), I wanted to burrow down beneath the covers. I may have asked my hubby to hold me for a bit. And okay, I might have felt the well of tears as I faced the day’s tasks, challenges, and questions.
I got out of bed and spent a few moments with King David in Psalm 69. Maybe it wasn’t the best passage to choose. It’s entitled “A Cry of Distress.” But good old David still hung in there in his distress. In verse 3 he says, “I’m weary, exhausted with weeping. My throat is dry, my voice is gone, my eyes are swollen with sorrow,” Then he says something I underlined with my pretty pink pen. “and I’m waiting for you, God, to come through for me” (TPT).
David whines a while longer (with good reason. I am NOT judging here. I am in no place to judge), and then he says in verse 13, “But I keep calling out to you, Yahweh! I know you will bend down to listen to me, for now is the season of favor.” Out came my pen. “Because of your faithful love for me, your answer to my prayer will be my sure salvation.”
Then in verses 16-17 David said some stuff that made me write, “yes, Lord,” with that pink ink of mine. Wrote those words three times.
“Oh, Lord God, answer my prayers! I need to see your tender kindness and your grace,”
Yes, Lord.
“Your compassion, and your constant love.”
Yes, Lord.
“Just let me see your face, and turn your heart toward me.”
Yes, Lord.
And then I think awhile about how God is faithful. About how Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross drew us near to God. How we are always one with Him. He is always with us whether we feel Him or not. How his kindness, grace, compassion, and love is always ours. How His face and heart is ALREADY turned toward His New Covenant children.
And I’m grateful, but I whisper, “But I really like it when I feel You, Lord. When I hear You. When I sense Your tangible presence.”
I scan the next verses full of David’s angst. Then comes verses 31-34, and out comes the pink pen again. “For I know, Yahweh, that my praises mean more to you than all my gifts and sacrifices.”
Oh, God! Help me praise. Let me rejoice in my God!
“All who seek you will see God do this for them, and they’ll overflow with gladness. Let this revive your hearts, all you lovers of God! For Yahweh does listen to the poor and needy and will not abandon his prisoner of love. Let all the universe praise Him! The high heavens and everyone on earth, praise him!”
And then I know I will come here. To write to You. I place my Bible near my computer instead of next to my recliner.
I will declare that THIS is the day our God has made!
I will will rejoice and be glad in it!
I will praise God for He is worthy of praise!
How about you?
Come now and sing! Jesus is King! Rejoice and be glad!
~ Paula Moldenhauer (www.paulamoldenhauer.com)
PS Just for fun I looked up the old gospel tune on YouTube. I was surprised with the first one I found brought tears to my eyes even as my toes began to tap. I listened to it the whole way through, nine minutes of a powerful admonition to rejoice. Maybe you’ll enjoy it too:
If your taste tends toward a different direction, there is also a lovely choral arrangement of Psalm 118:24. Some theme, totally different approach. Soothing!
Here’s the way I remember the old chorus:
He has made me glad.
He has made me glad.

I will rejoice for He has made me glad!

Until Next Time,

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PS this post appeared on my author/speaker page on Friday. The thoughts are actually a compilation of a few days . . . but all mine–and David’s. lol

Does God Shop?

If you don’t believe God likes to shop, I’m here to challenge your perceptions.

Or maybe He just likes me to shop.

See last Wednesday was my birthday. I finish a tall cup of nice, hot tea and good conversation with a friend at Starbucks and had a little space between our time together and my next appointment.

Leaning back on the comfy chair I let the joy of unscheduled time wash over me. “What should we do next, God, for my birthday?”

I swear He said, “Let’s see what they have at Hobby Lobby.”

Bet you’ll believe me when you hear the rest of the story.

This whole new family room thing is a bigger deal than most of you know. I’ve prayed for at least ten years to be able to redecorate. I am going to be brave and admit to the world at large that the carpet down there is at least 30 years old and held together with duct tape. So when God brought the resources to give that space a face-lift, well, it’s an answer to years of prayer. (When we’re finally done I’ll take pictures. Promise!)

So back to my story. My birthday. Hobby Lobby. I was drawn to the pictures. Not the little ones. The big ones. And in that department I drooled, then stopped dead in my tracks.

In front of me was a photo on canvas. Not only did the picture invite me to saunter down to the ocean and dangle my feet in the water, the heart of its message communicated exactly what I want my new family room to say.

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Breathe.

Be at peace.

Relax. Be refreshed.

I stared.

It was also the perfect colors to connect that new pewter lamp with the “sand” sofa and the calming blues, greens, and grays of the new paint.

I flipped that sucker over and moaned. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money. “I’d pay half that,” I thought.

With a wistful sigh I continued my wanderings around the store. I resisted the temptation to look at the bracelet charms. I browsed the fabric, a past-time made enjoyable thanks to a grandmother who sewed me dresses when I was a child.

Then I saw it. A sign advertising 50% off canvas prints!

I rushed back to the picture section to inquire. Evidently, the sale was over, but one of the signs advertising it had been overlooked when they were taken down. Store policy said they had to honor the discount! I was told to check out with a particular cashier to receive that amazing price.

I grabbed the perfect candles (also 50% off) to continue with my sand and sea theme and headed to the check out counter.

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The cashier’s name was Joy.

Could it be more perfect?

“Do you want to hear a joyful story?” I asked.

“Of course!” She said.

I poured it all out. How the canvas was the culmination of years of prayer and a brand new look in my family room.

Her wide smile matched my own. “The Lord wanted you to have that picture!” she said.

Yes. Yes he did.

I don’t really know what He thinks about shopping, but I do know we have a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. He knows our hearts. He cares about the little things.

Happy here in Colorado,

Paula another test (401x192) (2)

 

Refreshment

20140722_093918-1The breeze brushes my face, wispy fingers cooling my questions.

It’s funny what conquers the ragged places. You think it will take something big–like getting the answers you want–but sometimes it’s the simplest relief.

Like this light wind whisking away the heat as we sit beneath the shade trees of our backyard .

It doesn’t answer the questions I asked last night. It doesn’t change the circumstances of frustration.

But it is LOVE.

And isn’t this life full of Him when I open my heart to see?

Conviction hits with that statement. It’s not always about my ability to open my heart. Last night’s questions weren’t coming from this happy, open place.

The breeze, this quiet moment away from the sweltering heat of my home and the suffocating heat of my heart is a gift. I didn’t earn it by being some goody-goody person living open and happy.

I have cultivated the notice of such by an intentional decision to say thank you. I did ask God last night for help when I felt the doldrums coming on. But I didn’t make the breeze. I didn’t force my heart open.

I think only God can open the heart. My will can ask Him to. My logic knows it is good for me. But the heart? That’s something different all together.

The heart is where HE lives. And He is hope. Joy. Peace. Love. All the things I long for. He opens this place to the Good.

When I cried out in the sweaty night, hot and tired, unable to sleep, He granted my body rest and awoke me to this day. This moment.

I’ve no doubt that His Spirit tempted me outside. It started with notice of wilting basil leaves, so thirsty.20140723_124649 Then the act of running up and down the stairs, back porch to plant watering jug in hand, awakened me to the possibilities.

Sam’s hot and tired, too. Maybe even more than I with all of his aching surgery hip and sitting in front of TV and gaming station, being tied to crutches, mostly trapped inside.

So we breakfasted in the breeze. Talked of everything and nothing. How this summer was his favorite summer of baseball ever. He thanked me for his childhood, precious son that he is, as we stared at the swing set which sits mostly still these days. I guess kids reminisce, too. Even as I silently mourned the decaying tree house, the lack of shrieking, giggling little ones, he celebrates the good, sees the big yard and the tire swing and dangling climbing rope and remembers. Happy. (And yes, I hear the lesson in that.)

Now we sit side-by-side, lap-tops perched on the patio table that speaks love, too (It once belonged to Bernice, and I know she would rejoice in seeing us here). We let the fresh air clear our head, cool our bodies, lift our spirits.

A pure, white butterfly flits by. Lands on the rose bush.

Bird song wafts on the breeze.

We believe again in season, in ups and downs, and how the downs don’t last forever. His crutches will soon be abandoned. The stuff that weighed on my emotions last night will pass. We remember that even in those downs there is relief. We discover gifts. Embrace love.

I am happy, too. Son beside me. Cool breeze refreshing.

Hope you’re finding joy in the simple pleasures, too, my friends.

Until next time,

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Big Celebrations and Simple Pleasures

20140611_145401We wore our Hawaiian attire just ’cause we could. For a joke in a way. A celebration of the memories of 25 years of marriage.

We matched. We rejoiced in the fact our clothes from that trip 16 years ago fit. That life together had held many special moments.

We got a lot of stares. Of comments. A group of teens on their break stood smoking outside a restaurant and snickered.

I smiled and waved. “Hey! We have a good reason!” I bantered. “It’s our 25th wedding anniversary, and we’re wearing a memory.”

They cheered for us then.

I never knew what a conversation starter bright, out-of-date, Hawaiian attire could be.

Honestly, I was a little embarrassed by all the attention, but I’m glad we did it. It was like a shout to the world that marriage can be fun. Can last. That you can still play together after 25 years.20140611_230050

At Trader Joe’s the comments on our floral glory drew attention to our special day. They gave us flowers. We bought dark chocolate and wine, which we shared later that night.

It was a different kind of anniversary celebration for us. We weren’t able to get away for an overnight. We didn’t escape to traipse around in the mountains like we often do on special occasions.

We ran around town.

We shopped.

We ate out.

It wasn’t really very Jerry and Paula-ish. We’re not big shoppers.

But it was glorious.

I bought Jerry really good new shoes. He bought me silver jewelry. Yes, his gift was more romantic, but I swear those are the best tennis shoes my man has ever worn!

It was a joy to buy each other gifts. There were years we couldn’t.

20140611_193408After the hoopla we returned home to dress for dinner. I wasn’t quite up to making a matching spectacle at the nice Italian place we’d chosen. Besides, when I shopped for a dress to wear to Bernice’s memorial service I couldn’t believe how many dresses actually fit, and I bought a special one and saved it for this special day, hoping Jerry would like it. Would think I looked yummy in it and show it. ;o)

He did.

I’m still stunned I can find clothes I like so easily after all those years of hating everything, struggling to find something that fit, much less looked okay.

How foreign to like buying clothes again after my weight loss journey.

Weird.

And wonderful.

20140611_205508But back to our special day.

The beautiful dining experience that evening included live music and elegant food paired with a lovely wine.

Being the writer I am I people-watched in between those moments of staring deeply into my lover’s eyes. ;o)

Some people didn’t seem that happy. It was like it wasn’t special to  them to eat that good food, to stare at each other across the table, to enjoy a beautiful atmosphere and glass of good wine.

To them it was just another Friday night.

“If it ever gets to the point  that we do this all the time, and we suddenly realize it’s no longer special, let’s just stop,” I said.

Jerry agreed.

Life is too precious to blaze past beautiful moments.

I don’t ever want to take gifts for granted.

I hope I won’t.

Our normal is a meal at home, and these days there are less and less faces around that table, but every one who is there is precious and every meal we share a joy.

And oh the glory when those kids all come home and crowd around the table! Every time someone thanks me for the meal, every time we’re together like that I feel the gift of such a commonplace thing and think it extraordinary, even though it happens at some level pretty much weekly.

So maybe there’s hope that a special meal like the one on our anniversary night won’t lose the magic either, even if it becomes a new normal when the kids skitter away to build their own nests.

If it does, I hope I’ll quit going to nice restaurants.

Life is full of gifts.

Some are very simple. Like the aroma of freshly popped popcorn.

Some are extravagant, like four dresses in one day.

But all are there for the taking–a little notice, a little unwrapping, a little celebrating.

Until Next Time,

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Adaptation Not Compromise

IMAG2531Sometimes my feet know where I’m going before I’ve consciously processed my decision. This morning they headed for the brilliant red bush about a mile up the street.

Growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma meant incredible autumn foliage with a variety of colors. I’ll never forget the joy of early morning walks across Northeastern State University’s campus when the air was crisp, the leaves crackled beneath my feet, and vibrant color still clung to strong branches.

I love yellow. Honest. It’s almost my favorite color, somewhere below pink. But when I first moved to Colorado I was disappointed in autumn because I felt the season shouldn’t be ONLY yellow. IMAG2576

But my neighborhood has continued to mature over the years, bringing new color with it, and as I’m farther from my roots I suppose I’m more easily pleased. Maybe, just maybe, I’m also giving it a more fair shake this autumn, choosing to meander in the cool fall days by foot instead of whizzing past nature while looking out of a car window.

As I walked this morning I found myself conflicted. Now that I’m satisfied with my new weight I’m not sure what my walks are about. Health? Maintenance? Emotional and spiritual nurture? Joy?

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This time last year I spent hours in bed, recovering from some wonky sensations in my head after back-to-back car accidents. For a time I stepped away from most of my responsibilities, my only goal to get well. Part of my journey back to health was developing a new habit of long, meandering walks. I strolled, prayed, and didn’t care how long it took me. I was finding life again. As I healed, I began picking up the balls. I learned to fit in a shorter walk/jog to stick with my weight loss/get healthy goals when the demands of schedule increased.

But after my encounter today with the red bush and the orange leaves and the yellow canopies, my feet wouldn’t listen to my mind rattling off the to-do list. My soul engaged my gait, longing for more of this day than checking off boxes. It cried out for beauty, for quiet, for spiritual refreshment. I circled the elementary school, praying a bit for the children there, then slipped into my favorite coffee shop, not for a beverage, but for the restroom. My mind had finally caught up with the agenda my heart and feet set, and I knew the conveniences of home were still a long way off.

Another little nature trail some distance from me cried out to be explored. I wandered the path, missing the twitter of the birds that usually serenaded me on this stretch. I suppose the wind was too strong, and they chose to hunker down wait it out rather than to brave it and allow their song to be lost, carried away on the stiff breeze.IMAG2559

I tried to cut home after the trail but found myself at a cluster of three churches I prayed often for last winter, so my meanderings included prayers of blessings for them, which turned into song at my favorite of the three. I guess I don’t mind if the notes dance upon the breeze, for He hears at all times.

I still don’t have it all figured out–this juggling act of protecting the strides I’ve made in physical and emotional health, this love of the sunshine longing to wander–all while adding new balls, more commitments, more responsibility into my daily routine. Even now my schedule mocks me, telling me there was no way to conquer it.

But I must cling to what I learned in the dark of last year. That caring for myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually isn’t a waste of time; it is a necessity. If I don’t take care of myself, I’ll find myself unable to take care of my responsibilities.

IMAG2586-1I returned home today thinking the solitary rose framed by yellow leaves sprinkled upon the grass around it was a statement of summer shouting a last hurrah before giving way to autumn.

As the seasons of my life change I am forced to stretch, to adapt, to re-think. But in the midst of the struggle I don’t have to compromise on the hard-earned truths of my journey. Oh, I can’t control outside forces, like car accidents, that steal from me. But I can create margin. I can choose health. I can embrace the beauty of little moments.

How about you? Are you protecting yourself from the tyranny of the urgent?

Tweet it:

Life’s seasons change. We adapt, but we don’t compromise.

Singin’ in the Rain

*Warning – Playful post. I am not minimizing the trouble so many in our community face with floods and devastation. We’re praying for you!

We’re high and dry at my house–except when we choose not to be.

IMAG2351 Yesterday I decided sometimes you just have to embrace the rain.

Since I got my new shoes last week, I’ve been crazy busy. Though my feet improve daily, it’s been difficult to find time to do as much walking as I want. Yesterday my body craved activity, but it was drizzling, as it had been all day.

“I’m headed to the library.” Sam’s declaration beckoned, and I begged to join. He waited patiently as I tied my bright tennies. As he grabbed rain protection, I slipped out the front door coatless.

“You’re not wearing a jacket?” Not to be outdone by his rockin’ momma, he shrugged out of his. “No way am I wearing a coat if you’re not.”

I grinned at him, and off we went. IMAG2350 You guessed it. The rain then began in earnest. By the time we reached the library my clothes stuck to my skin, and water droplets ran down my nose and hung a moment before dripping off.

But my heart was oh so happy.

Sam checked out, “The Empire Strikes back,” and showed me how to put a book on hold that my business partner asked me to read. (Yes, business partner, but that’s a story for next week.) Afterwards we pushed through the library doors to the Great Drizzle, and I pleaded. “Take the long way home?”

Chuckle. Another eye roll. And we were off. He had his longboard. Sometimes I ran to keep up, which only made him go faster. For a while he let me grab his hand and run, pulling him along behind me, but at fifteen he is way too cool to let that go on for long.

Oh the sheer joy of it! If you’ve never been overweight, I don’t think you can understand what it’s like to go from lumbering to actually playing, running, laughing again. Enjoying your kid and being a kid yourself.

And at my age!

Soon it was time to cut through the park for home, but I kept walking the other sidewalk. He shook his head.

“Oh come on. It’s just the long, long way home, not the long, long, long way.”

And we continued. Somewhere in here I started singing phrases from songs about rain. Eventually we made a game of it. I’d sing a phrase, and he’d guess whether it was from a real song, or if I made it up. He became quite impressed with my ability to rhyme little ditties right there on the spot. The score was 5-5 as we rounded our yard. Then I think he cheated because somehow he sneaked ahead.

Soon we stood at the front door calling for an old towel so we didn’t make a puddle on the floor. A nice hot shower later, I was snuggy in my jammies. IMAG2352

The next morning Sam decided to enjoy the continuing rain his own way. I guess it needs to be a little wet to truly engage with one’s marine biology text.

With only one left home this year, I worried about homeschooling. About Sam being lonely. About ME being lonely. But this man-child of mine has delighted me by a willingness to share pieces of his day. And though we are alike in our love of family gatherings and need for people, we’re discovering how to enjoy our moments of being two instead of 4 or 6 or 7.

I hope you find a way to enjoy those you love today–even if it means singing in the rain.

Singing in the rain.