CHALLENGING PATHS

Rossistones

As often happens when I’m away from home, I awaken early.

4:05 a.m. to be exact.

Rossi Place

 

I finally get out of bed around 5:00 and brew a pot of coffee.

Still in my nightclothes, I make my way onto the deck of our neighbors’ house on Lake Hamilton.

 

RossiSwing2

 

 

As the sky lightens, I notice a swing on the landing halfway down to the water. I go down the stairs but see that the seat is still drenched in dew, so I stand and sip my coffee, taking in the landscape.

 

RossiRRT

To the right, steps fashioned from railroad ties curve downward. Worn and mossy surfaces betray their age, and there’s no handrail.

Not for the faint of heart.

 

 

RossiNewPathOn the left, a newer stairway, constructed from decking and concrete, gives way to flat stone steps. It looks stable. And there’s a sturdy wire handhold.

I opt for the newer, more secure path and head to the dock and over to the seating area at the bottom of the old railroad-tie steps.

 

 

RossiMistWisps of fog hover over the lake. Somewhere across the way, a bird welcomes the new day with song. I wish one of those little clouds would drift close enough for me to reach out and touch its dream-spun softness.

I lift my head and breathe in the peace I always feel near a body of water. No wonder working people retreat here for weekends.

IMG_5769As I return up the rock stairs, I notice ferns and moss softening their hard faces.

 

Later, I find myself pondering the two paths. Although the older route would have appealed to a younger me, I’m acutely aware that at this stage of life, I would need a walking stick to maneuver down those ancient steps. Two scriptures come to mind.

Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
. Psalm 23:4

I find myself praying for the wisdom and courage to choose the right path even when it appears rugged. I recall past experiences when the way felt rocky and hard, but every time I held onto to God real tight, He delivered me safely to my destination.

 

RossiRRWay

What about you?

Are ever tempted to take the easy way out?

Whatever path you find yourself on today, whatever you are facing, I wish you peace and the revelation that when Jesus calls us to follow Him, we can trust Him to keep us.

 

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God.

And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.

Isaiah 41:13

 

 

BLUEBIRD HILL

Debbiesbluebird2a
Photo courtesy of Debbie Hoofman

My lucky friends post Facebook pictures of bluebirds nesting near their houses making me long to see the beautiful creatures in my yard. Pushing down envy, I lament that we don’t have the right conditions to attract bluebirds. Poor me and all that.

Then my friend, Cliff, who knows more about bluebirds than I ever will suggests a place near the bottom of our yard.

Cliff&Debbie
Cliff & Debbie live on Hoofman Farm out from Greenbrier. They love all kinds of critters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I texted him a picture. You mean here?

“Yes, by the azaleas.”

Flowerbed

But wait a minute, I ask. “Isn’t it too late? Aren’t they already nesting?”

“Yes, but you might get a pair for their second nesting,” he encourages.

My heart sings.

Debbie'sbluebirdcouple2
This feathered couple lives on the Hoofman Farm in Enola.

Humming, I set to work seeking an abode designed especially for bluebirds, and I order one online that night. But when I find it won’t arrive for almost a month, I cancel the order and do what I should have done in the first place.

The next day, I go out and buy one at Birds Unlimited, which makes me feel good on two counts. I’ve helped someone in my city while enjoying the immediate satisfaction of holding it in my hands.

 

Ship
Terry built this ship for Pirates of Penzance

I bring that bluebird house home and begin my campaign for Terry to install it — right away. But he’s a busy guy, building sets at Wildwood for Praeclara and doing his favorite thing–singing in the UALR choir. Not to mention getting a rent house ready to list.

So I remind myself — Give the Guy a Break.

There’s time for him to install that house when it fits into his schedule. After all, we’re in that waiting period.

Once again, I realize how impatient I get when I want something beause

I catch myself nagging

Just a little

Bluebirdhouseviewuntil he buys a 4 x 4 post and brings out the posthole digger.

I give him instructions where to put it at the west end of our lower flowerbed.

But my man of vision suggests the opposite side where we will have a better chance of getting glimpses of blue as the birds come and go.

As usual, he’s right. I give the nod and he plants that baby firmly in the ground.

Having done all we can do, now we are waiting with hopeful hearts.

Birdhouse
Can you think of anything cuter than a bluebird fledgling? Me neither.

Then I resolve that if some other feathered friend takes up residence, I’ll be grateful—because they are all God’s creatures.

Still, I’m murmuring little prayers for flashes of blue at the its door.

You knew I’d find a lesson in this experience.

But aren’t there always lessons if we look for them?

  • It’s okay to share your dreams.
  • Two heads are better than one.
  • It’s wise to accept advice.
  • Waiting is hard.
  • We learn patience by waiting.
  • Prayer usually calms me.

Please tell me if you can think of others.

I’m always in need of a lesson.

A wise man will hear and increase in learning,

And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

Proverbs 1:5

 

REFLECTIONS ON HOLY WEEK

As we enter Holy Week, I’ve been thinking about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll follow along.

Saturday, a devotional I use invited me to read Matthew 26:14-27:66. Then on Palm Sunday, the congregation followed a little donkey across the church grounds to the front doors as a minister led us in a dramatic reading of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

PalmSundayCollage

We were given palm fronds to wave like the crowd that called out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Once inside the sanctuary, the dramatic reading continued using the text from the same scripture I read on Saturday. Chosen for this season in the life of the church, the long passage lays out events from the Last Supper to Jesus’s burial.

What transpired that week rocked the world, especially Jesus’ disciples and other followers. As I read and then listened to the account of his arrest, trial, and crucifixion, I tried to put myself in their places. How confusing and frightening it must have been. Even though Jesus attempted to prepare his followers beforehand, they couldn’t begin to understand until after His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Birds: Five Points to Ponder

Thought Provoking Question

Saturday’s devotional asked me to identify the “threshold” moments I saw in the account. (One definition of threshold is a place or point of entering or beginning, doorway, entrance, portal.)

I thought more about what had been ripped away from Jesus’ followers than a new beginning. The actions of Judas and Peter are so well known, they were the easiest to identify.

How could Judas betray Jesus for money?

And blustery Peter — all talk.

Then there were the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed, the Jewish officials bent on killing Him, members of the mob, mocking soldiers, Pilate, the thieves crucified with Him, the Centurion, casual passersby, Joseph of Arimathea, and the women who watched from a distance.

All had a role in what we’ve come to call the The Passion of Jesus.


Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. Matt. 27:55-56 NIV


MAKING IT PERSONAL

How easy it is to judge poor Peter through hind sight, until I ask myself how often I have run away and hidden. The truth is, I doubt if I could have summoned the courage to follow and watch the proceedings in the face of such danger.

I don’t think I’m alone.

The reading stirred questions about the Church in 2017.

I HAVE TO ASK

Sea Art

Does maintaining the status quo ever justify packing the court in favor of our position?

Does our need for acceptance prevent us from thinking for ourselves?

Are we tempted to use our power to humiliate someone with a differing opinion?

Do we avoid accepting responsibility by pawning if off on others and washing our hands of unfair consequences?

Are we brave enough to honor someone who falls out of favor and is “crucified” by public opinion?

Are we strong enough to be as faithful as the powerless women who kept watch during the worst day of their lives?

Are we humble enough when we’re guilty of wrongdoing, to admit it and seek forgiveness. Or do we make excuses because we’re too proud to admit our misdeeds?

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Don'sCrossEach time I

fail to stand up for the truth of the Gospel

seek to work out my own plan

vote with the crowd

look out for myself first

I deny and betray Him.

GOOD NEWS

But the Good News is, even when I’m at my worst, Jesus understands my frailty. And thankfully, His resurrection didn’t depend on undependable followers.

I look forward to Sunday when we’ll celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. But until then, I invite you to remember with me what He suffered on our behalf.

Through the power of His cross, he still invites us to step across the most important threshold of our lives — the one that leads into eternity with Him. All we must do is acknowledge our need for a Savior and accept His sacrifice.

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Faith is a mystery that each of us has to explore. But this I know from experience, when we honestly seek Him, He will come. Whatever happens, I want to be found faithful like those women who kept watch — especially when I don’t understand.

flower-crossI hope you will consider Jesus, the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.

If you’ve met Him, I am certain you will be honoring Him come Easter morn.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled with God by the death of his Son, much more, now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Romans 5:10 JUB