And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8
It's not quite 7:00 when I stop at the top of the bridge long enough to capture the sun rising over the misty river.
It's not the first time I've done that - foot on the brake, grab the camera and shoot. Five seconds, tops.
My friend insists that there are signs forbidding it - stopping on the bridge, but I've yet to see one. Fishing and swimming? Clearly prohibited, but not one word about stopping, and so far, I've escaped the bridge tender's attention.
* * *
I crossed the bridge and headed west for a full day of appointments in the city. I'm still recovering. A normal day of activity for most people can feel like a marathon for me. There were moments in the day when I wasn't sure I could take one more step.
By my last stop of the day in the late afternoon, when the radiology tech called me out of the waiting room for a thyroid ultrasound and dexa scan, I'd already had x-rays of my knees, seen an orthopedic surgeon and his excellent nurse practitioner Lizzie (who gives the best knee injections and is overall awesome), spent the rest of the morning at church working on the soon-to-be-released church blog, and shopped for clothes and birthday gifts. I was grateful to lie down on the exam table, get off my feet and close my eyes during the tests.
With appointments with my rheumatologist, another knee injection from Lizzie, and the removal of a cyst at the plastic surgeon's office on the calender, next week's schedule appears equally daunting - and, technically, I'll be a whole year older.
I won't tell you how old I was when I woke up this morning, but let you figure it out. Born smack dab in the middle of the last century, on May 18, 1950 and having lived through the turn of the century makes it easy - 50 + the year it is. The older I get, the harder it is to remember or care how old I am and the more I appreciate easy math problems.
God has been good to me these 50 + 13 years, and I know He always will be. Ann Voskamp's God is Always Good and You are Always Loved is written on my blackboard this week as a reminder, and the book Robbi and I have been working on - No Matter What It's a Good Day When - is in the hands of a publisher.
I woke up to fresh coffee and a lovely gift from Louis. A beautiful bouquet of white and dark pink peonies from Emily is on the counter and my daughter-in-love Kristin is cooking dinner for me tonight. The day has just begun and it's already very good.
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Come later this summer, the delicate pale pink blooms of the beautyberry will develop into tight clusters of glossy, iridescent purple berries that give this native beauty its name.
Beautyberry grows wild in the moist thickets along Pollywog Creek - often entangled in grapevines and hidden by rusty lyonia and the heart-shaped leaves of potato vines - except for this one we transplanted to the backyard along the chain-link fence where it doesn't compete for space and nutrients, and we can more fully appreciate its colorful beauty long after spring and the azaleas have stopped blooming.
Delightfully cool mornings have drawn me and my work out to the backyard swing this week - where I can not only enjoy the beautyberry, but the cardinal family that still visits the feeders and a fox squirrel who's been sneaking in to raid those same feeders.
One morning I was comfortable on the swing - with my laptop, basket of cameras, and a fresh cup of coffee - and focused on an assignment when a long black snake slithered right past my feet and raced into the azaleas. I nearly had a heart attack.
Darn snakes - they've been ruining our day from the very beginning.
It was suggested that I put my feet up on the swing, but there was no room, so I concluded I'd just have to remain on alert - and there's a lesson in that, I'm sure.
Snakes. Lions. They're pretty much all the same.Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.I Peter 5.8
Every day I have a choice – to choose despair or delight, grumbling or gratitude, pugnaciousness or peace – despite my circumstances.
I'm at Bible Dude this morning...won't you come on over and tell me what you think?
I'd like to know - when has affliction been grace for you?
I'd like to know - when has affliction been grace for you?
I'm greeted by a delightfully cool morning breeze and a chorus of chirps as I slide open the doors to the back porch.
A small grey squirrel munches on feed that's spilled out of the bird feeder and onto the ground, and an adult male cardinal and his brood of fledglings have arrived for breakfast.
As far as I can tell, there are 4 little ones - two on the branches of the scrub oak that shades the dog pen, one on the chain-link fence, and another one in the sweetgum tree over the feeders.
I've always been captivated by the beautiful crimson plumage of the male cardinal and the attention he gives to his mistress - how he tenderly feeds, watches over, chases after, and calls out to his less attractive bride. I've told my grandsons that it's a glimpse of how God expects a man to provide and care for the woman he marries - just like their daddy does for their mommy - and how God wants them to one day love and care for the woman they will one day marry. It's a bit over their little heads, but maybe if I keep telling them, they'll remember when it counts.
This morning, the female cardinal is nowhere to be found and the male gives the fruit of their breeding and nesting his full attention.
Despite their ability to leave the nest, it's obvious the fledglings expect their father to feed them. He calls out to them with sharp, staccato tweets as he carries seed from the feeder to the fence, back to the feeder, to one of the trees, and back to the feeder again and again and again - while the fledglings open their beaks and beg with constant chirps and ruffled feathers until he feeds them.
When Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom of God, he often used what they already knew in nature - storms and fig trees, wheat and fish, and sparrows and flowers.
And He teaches me that way, too.
So when I watch the male cardinal's faithful attention to his feathered bride and brood of fledglings, I'm reminded of what I already know - that the LORD loves, feeds, watches, chases after, calls to and cares for me.