Monday, March 14, 2011

The Clay

Again this blog's about a song.  One I never expected to sing again, but maybe some things have to be relearned.  I guess age doesn't always mean wisdom and dumb mistakes still get made and grace and mercy are still our need for the circumstances that follow some decisions.
Ah, but the song reminds us of the most important thing in life no matter how difficult the circumstances, how hard the decision, how long the clean up takes....God never throws away the clay.

Empty and broken I came to Him
A vessel unworthy, so scarred within
But He did not despair, He started over again
And I bless the day, He didn't throw the clay away.

Over and over He molds me and makes me
Into His likeness, He fashions the clay
A vessel of honor, I am today,
all because Jesus didn't throw the clay away.

He is the Potter, I am the clay
Molded in His image, He wants me to stay
But when I stumble, when I fall, and my vessel breaks
He just picks up the pieces
He Never throws the clay away!

Over and over He molds me and makes me
into His likeness, He fashions the clay
A vessel of honor, I am today,
All becasue Jesus didn't throw the clay away. 

Sometimes it's easier to sing the song than to believe the words but that part of our mind, or the knowledge of our heart gained from the experience of His love, mercy, &  faithfulness, supercedes our failures and holds on to the words and waits for tomorrow.  He's so much more, so much bigger, than our failures.
  Sometimes our stumbling is from lack of vision of the future, other times it's just a dumb thing. It my have been from a mistake made.  Maybe something didn't turn out as we'd planned because our plan was flawed, but what ever the reason the vessel still broke.  In the natural, we'd pick up the pieces of the pottery, know we couldn't put it back togeather without the cracks being a distraction to those who see it, and toss the pieces into our trash bin and look for another piece of pottery to replace it.  Not our Father.  He picks up those broken pieces, patiently and lovingly refashions the vessel and says, "this is good, I love it."
Maybe you've never had to be remolded, that's good, but if the day comes and you are the vessel that broke or you come across another for whatever the cause, realize the Master reworked the clay of many vessels and has the skill, the patience, the eye to know what piece goes where and the right stuff to hold it all togeather.  Whether it's a wayward teenager, a young man wanting to find his own way, a old lady who made poor decisions, an old man beaten by his circumstances, or one who had no fault of their own,  He never throws the clay away. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

A song in the Night.

From the time I was a toddler to sixty years later music has filled my world. 

 As  a kid we'd stand around my Grandma's piano and sing for an afternoon, Grandpa with his big bass voice, all the rest of us with alto voices!  We transposed the key every song was written in to get in down in the cellar where at least one alto could sing the lead, the rest of us found harmonies somewhere between the bass and the lead.
From childhood well into my teens gathering around a piano was what family and friends did just for Sunday afternoon fun.  Then I married, had sons, moved away, got busy and those times around the piano came less frequently.  The songs changed to mostly lullabies as I rocked first one of my sons, and later a grandchild, to sleep.

Now I sing to babies and toddlers while I weigh them, take their temperature, or collect a blood sample from a little finger or toe.  I hum while I drive, I hum while I walk, without knowing it I hum while I'm sitting with my family.  I don't even realize it.  But after awhile some one will say, "You're humming", and sure enough, I am.  For that I am grateful because, you see, there was a period of time when there was no song.

  My life had changed, and after 24 years the thing I loved the most was gone, dreams and plans were changed and shattered by another's choice.  I did not think I'd ever laugh again.  During that time I received a letter from an Aunt and Uncle who had just returned from the mission field in Africa.  Aunt "Ree" told me as she prayed for me God spoke to her spirit and told her He would give me a song.  He kept His word. I would lay my head on my pillow and the words of a song or chorus I'd long forgotten would float through my mind like the memory of a treasured friend.  I'd wake to get a drink of water in the night and the words of another song would instantly fill my mind.   Words that reminded me of the love of a Father who knew the beginning from the end.  A Father who had the final word to what the future would hold for me.
For weeks, even months, the songs were always there in my mind.  They hadn't made it to my mouth yet, just drifting through my heart and the dark places I walked.
Then I had a dream, a really bad dream.  It came every night for days on end.  It completely buried any song.  It kept me awake at night, it loomed in the shadows all day long.  One morning as I drove to work I began to weep and to cry out to the Father who was more real than the air I breathed.  I remember saying, " Lord, You Said there would be a song and there isn't.  It's gone, I can't sense Your presence, I can't hear the song that lifted You above the pain. You Said there would be a song."  I sat in my car outside my office and told my loving Father I needed to know He was still there.
As I opened our office for patients, the doctor called to say he'd be late.  Our first patient was a little girl, 2 years old that day, the most articulate little kid I'd ever seen.  I sat with her on the floor as she played with my stethoscope listening to the "heart beats" of all the stuffed animals, her Mom, even the blocks.  I'd ask her what she heard and she'd say, "I hear beep, beep.", "I hear thump, thump". After listening to all the animals she put the stethoscope to my chest and her eyes opened wide, a smile spread across her face and she stood absolutely still. Just listening.  Finally her Mom said, "Sarah, what do you hear?"  She lifted her eyes to her Mom's face and said, "Mommy, I hear singing and it is beautiful".  In that instant, God Almighty in His graciousness stepped into the midst of a storm, used a tiny little girl, a vocabulary beyond her years, to show me He always kept His word, and planted a song so deep that whether I heard it or not I would never be able to doubt again that He gave a song in the night. Today I smile when my Grandbaby says "Gramma, you're humming".

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Making the best of winter

I am not a fan of winter;  give me sunshine, and kids playing in the ocean, gardens and mowing the lawn.

So though I may want summer back, I'm reminded God ordained the seasons, colored each one with a beauty all it's own and if I were the only person on earth to see His handiwork, He would still have done it just for me.  So I remember that, climb into my LLBean snowsneakers and down-filled jacket and head out to see what I can find.

I'm reminded I can't always see around the curve in my paths, but walk where others have already been before me.  As winter in New England is a time when many of our beautiful, big , old trees shed their leaves, look dead to the naked eye, they aren't.  They are simply resting, standing firm against the winds and storms, waiting for the day when they are again home to birds, bearing fruit for the squirrels that jump and play in their branches.
I looked out over a pretty scene yesterday and was reminded of a very long personal winter that I went through years ago.  I stood alone by a pond and sang the chorus, "as the deer pants for the water....", in the dead of winter, every tree was as barren as my heart was.  I turned to leave that spot and on the side of my path was a bush absolutely covered in tiny white blossoms.  It was not in bloom when I walked into the woods, I'm positive.  I stopped amazed at what I was seeing, reached out to touch the blossoms to be sure they were real.  I began to whisper, "thank you Father", and in my spirit I heard these words:
After the winter, God has ordained the springtime
winter will end, springtime will come once again.
seeds sown in winter, lying dormant, will now
blossom and new life begins.
Flowers of faith,
Leaves of new hope,
Fruit that remains,
Out of the winter, into the sun of the spring.
Winter is over, Springtime has come once again.

For now I'll walk through the snow, listen to it's crunch under my feet, feel the crispness of the air, and listen for the sounds of the birds.  I'll remember I got through that season of winter years ago, and know I'm loved by the One who created the landscape that I love to photograph. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


A friend is doing a photography project this week, the theme.... circles.  The first circle I thought of was the sign that in universal pictures tell you to stop, don't enter, off limits.  There has been a time or two (okay more than two)  when I've seen that sign, not with my physical eyes but with the eyes of my spirit.  Ummm, been there, done that?  Ah, the times when I've ignored the circle with the slash through it....paid a price for those times.  But now, I'm older and hopefully wiser, Lord help me to see that stop, don't go there from the front side, not the back.

There's a circle of friendship, sometime so continuous that you can't remember when it started and know as long as you have breath it will remain.  What a treasure to have a friend like that.  There have been times in my life when that circle broke apart but as I look back with a fond memory I know that special friend was there for a season, a specific season with a special purpose.  I've been that friend, I've had that friend.  Without knowing it, the season was accomplished and one of us relocated and moved away.  But years later I remember those friends and I'm grateful for the things they spoke into my heart.

Families are special circles, laughter, arguments that don't last, encouragement, always knowing you belong.  For me, family has been an inheritance of love from as early as I can remember. They've been a place of safety. As that circle grew from grandparents who were always faithful to each other, to God, and to their children, the waves have grown larger like those that expand when a stone is dropped into a pond.  Now they include the beautiful women my sons have brought to our family.  Lovely women, smart and honest, women who make my sons even better men just by the presence in their lives.  May those special women always know they're loved and appreciated and feel safe in my home and in my company, as I did as a little girl growing up.   From those unions the wave expanded, the circle growing yet larger, with the birth of each grandchild.  Your own children are special, but ahhh, grandbabies just put you over the top.  I brag about how beautiful they are, how smart and clever, but words can not express the depth of my love for these little girls and boy who fill a spot in my heart that nothing else could.  It's unlikely I'll have a fortune to pass down to them, but to them I will pass on the inheritance of love. No matter where they go, no matter what they do, no matter what comes their way, my mission is to pray for them and their future spouses, years before there is one, and for them to know how wonderful they are.  I want them to be able to look back, whether it's a good day or a not so good day, and know one thing, "Gramma loved me".  I tell them often, I hope I always show it in the things I do and the words I say. 

The assignment my friend has worked on was for tangible circles to arrange and photograph that would perhaps even hang on someone's wall or in a gallery one day. The pictures she took are beautiful and artistic, worthy of a lovely frame.  My circles are intangible, framed in the depth of my heart and every recess of my mind.  I'm glad for the assignment that triggered me to think of the circles in my life.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Moments in Time

The days of your lives are layered with moments in time.  Some we recognize immediately as awesome, special moments.  Some have a Whow effect that bring us to our knees in gratitude, or for a plea for wisdom and grace.  There are those moments that can only be seen in retrospect after they have passed.  Times of praise, times of knowing we just have to hold on until there's a change and the storm passes by.
I am a gramma, delighted in the gift of my grandbabies;  I'm a Mom who has loved being mom to three little boys who have now grown into good men, loving husbands, great dads.  It's been my priviledge to watch them grow.  Now I'm the lady behind a camera.  My family puts up with my camera, my friends laugh, but I'm seeing a bigger picture through a small lens.
The many moments of my life, with all the ups and downs that make up our lives, have left me blessed, grateful, humbled at times, sometimes wounded but always healed.  I've been touched by grace sufficient for my day, I've learned what matters and what doesn't, and I've had a song in my heart and peace in my mind.  Those are the moments in time that come together as a whole and make me who I am today. 
Now, where did I put my camera?