ADMIRE (Out of Sight)

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On March 2, 2014, two years ago yesterday, I broke my hip. I was away from home helping my daughter with her new baby at the time. I took a careless step on the stair, tripped, fell, and landed full force on the cement floor at just the right angle to do the damage. Two years ago today I had surgery to fix that hip.

Happily by now I’m well again and hardly feel any different than I did before the break. But on every anniversary since it’s happened I can’t help but remember that fateful day.

Recovery took so much longer than the accident! When we got home, two thirds through March, I walked with a walker, and then a cane. I used a device to help me put on my socks. For weeks I showered in my husband’s walk-in instead of my own tub shower because I couldn’t climb over the side.

For a long time walking was a limping business. I couldn’t think or will myself into a smooth gait, no matter how hard I tried. The simple walking action I had always done with no thought was revealed as complex. I began to ADMIRE the ability to walk smoothly and effortlessly, but even more admire the Creator of this ability.

ADMIRE, Julieanne Harmatz‘s one-little-word is the word we’re discussing today. It means to regard with wonder, pleasure, or approval. Some of its synonyms are wonder at, treasure, value, worship, think highly of, take pleasure in.

If you think of it, everything around us is fodder for admiration. The fact that I can think thoughts and coordinate brain and hand to make them visible; that I can eat yummy food and it gets changed into hair, skin, and blood; that we live on a planet that’s located in vast space at just the right distance from a star, our sun, with the exact conditions needed to sustain life… all these things and more are cause to wonder at, value, admire.

But my admiration doesn’t stand alone. It has an object—God, the Creator who designed, created and sustains these myriad of systems. Psalm 104 is an admirer’s poem, full of praise for the natural world. It might be called the admiration of worship. Here are its opening lines:

Psalm 104

Bless the Lord O my soul!
O Lord my God,
You are very great:
You are clothed with honor and majesty
Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain… (read the rest…)

Back down to earth, during my convalescence I wrote some impressions of that time. Here I am, still limping along…

P1010399

My best friends during recovery – cane, picker, back-washer, shoe-horn, sock thingy, Kindle reader, and walker. (Photo © 2014 by V. Nesdoly)

Out of Sight

I never gave the walk-cycle a thought
considered all the moving parts
heel, foot, knee, hip
pretibial, calf, quadriceps, hamstring
bone, muscle, sinew
needed to move in sync like an orchestra
to form the ballet of a step
until I broke one part.

Now I’ve added another part—a cane
have begun doing scales, arpeggios, four-note chords
exercising thighs and knees
to help my body relearn
a smooth, unlimping gait.
The ability to walk
always before
out of sight
but now never
out of mind.

© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly

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This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday, hosted by Holly Mueller at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Faith (Rough Ride)

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Faith is hard to define and, I think, becomes evident not by what we say but how we live. Our life demonstrates what we really believe in.

I see that Justin (who has chosen FAITH as his one-little-word for 2016) has added the modifier “blind” to it. For me, faith is rarely completely “blind” in that buried somewhere in my history is an experience or conviction that what I put my trust in is trustworthy. And yet another way to look at it is that faith is always blind to a degree. That’s what makes it faith.

I have found that my spiritual faith in a God who is all good and all powerful is tested when bad things happen to me and those I love. A TV speaker I enjoy (Dr. Charles Price) talked about this very thing last Sunday. He pointed out that in  the story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Jesus delayed coming to their home until Lazarus, his friend, had died. How uncaring—how bad—that looked. Yet this apparently callus response worked all kinds of good in the lives of Mary, Martha, and the onlookers. God was in the temporarily bad situation working something good.

As Dr. Price put it, “There are the physical visible events that we see, and there are the spiritual events that we do not see, that are running parallel. We live in the first of these two but need eyes for the second, the realities that we cannot see that God is working out. There was more going on in this story than the health and life of Lazarus.” (Read the story in John 11:1-44; listen to Dr. Price’s talk: “I Am the Resurrection of the Life”.)

And, I would submit, there is also more going on in our lives than just the physical realities we experience each day. I believe that God is in all of them and works out all of these things for our eventual good.

This is the bottom line of my faith, expressed in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

However, in my human state, and from my earthly vantage point, I still feel stretched when circumstances aren’t going well. My faith is challenged. At such times I often discover that what I say I trust in I don’t really, at least not to the extent that I thought I did. Otherwise, why would I be so anxious?

Image: Skeeze / pixabay.com

Image: Skeeze / pixabay.com

Rough Ride

“You have covered yourself with a cloud
That prayer should not pass through” – Lamentations 3:44.

My need is the rodeo’s
pitching bull.
With one hand I clutch
the saddle horn of Your word
while the other is raised
in pleading.

My faith is the 747
on automatic pilot
buffeted by circumstances
whiplashed and tossed
by the turbulence.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

Join us each week at Spiritual Journey Thursday

This post is linked to Spiritual Journey Thursday hosted each week by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning.

How to look for a church

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Next to the beginning of the new calendar year, the beginning of September is the time we make the most changes in our lives. The kids start a new school year. All kinds of activities from kids’ soccer to adult classes get underway. If we’ve moved, we’ll be exploring a new neighborhood. If we’ve decided to start attending church or go to a different one, chances are good we’ll make that change in September too.

For those of us who have ever church shopped, we know how crucial those first visits to a church are. When we’re new, we notice things that long time attendees have surely become nose-blind to—from the cliquish clots of people in the foyer to the way the building actually smells.

What I was most sensitive to when I was visiting a new church with the thought of maybe making it our church home was, do these people seem friendly? Would we fit in? And, do I sense God in this place?

In September it’s probably a good idea for those of us who are church old-timers to be on the lookout for new people. Let’s notice them. Let’s greet them with warm smiles and welcome handshakes. Maybe we could even invite them for lunch, remembering how we would have appreciated that when we were new.

Elora Presbyterian Church

Elora Presbyterian Church – Elora Ontario (Photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

My poem is a bit of advice to those newbies:

HOW TO LOOK FOR A CHURCH

Pretend you’re visiting
a family of distant relatives.

Of course you don’t expect
to get an invitation for lunch
and all your social needs met
by a bunch of third cousins.
And it doesn’t matter
that the stairs smell of mildew
and water stains the ceiling
or that amongst themselves
they’re way too happy and loud
and hug a lot.

What may catch you by surprise
even make you want to return
is how the Father you share
meets you there
puts His gentle but persistent hand
under your chin
to raise your face
and meet His eyes.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly

spiritual-journey-framedThis post is linked to “Spiritual Journey Thursday” hosted by Holly Mueller at her blog Reading, Teaching, Learning where this week’s theme is “church.” Drop by and follow the links to what others have to say about “church.”

Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (review)

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Into the FreeInto the Free by Julie Cantrell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Millie Reynolds is nine when we first meet her watching her troubled world from the boughs of Sweetie, the gum tree that gives her comfort and escape. The place is Iti Taloa Mississippi, the year 1936. Author Julie Cantrell takes us through Millie’s growing-up years to the age of seventeen in this debut novel, Into the Free.

It’s a complex, coming-of-age story that explores heavy issues like spousal abuse, a kid’s relationship with dysfunctional parents, how someone who appears good on the outside may be anything but, first love, what is love, forgiveness, is there a God, if there is, what is He like and how do we relate to Him?

Cantrell writes the story from Millie’s point of view, first person, present tense, which gives it a feeling of immediacy and lets us see deep into this interesting, bright but conflicted girl. The writing is lyrical and gorgeous but still believably in character as filtered through the eyes of an observant, teen:

“Shame is the only thing I know that can be silent and loud, all at the same time” – p. 110 (Kindle edition).

“Diana sits next to me and tells me the story of Prometheus and Zeus. I pretend she is Mama. Her voice is like a long sip of sweet tea” – p. 204.

We see the other characters—her mom, dad, Sloth, grandparents, River, Bump—through her eyes. But she’s a pretty reliable narrator, more believable than the crowd who cheers her bull-riding father, or the women who gossip about her troubled mother. Of course all the people close to her are presented to us as mixed good-and-bad too, as one would expect from a kid reflecting on her parents, grandparents and the boys she falls for.

The setting is very 1930’s ‘40s southern USA, showing the attitudes and standards of the time, especially evident in the role of women, clothes (Millie experiences the freedom of her first pair of slacks when she is sixteen), and attitudes toward those of different races and ethnicity like the Gypsies and the Choctaw Indians.

All in all, it’s a dark, raw story but also hopeful as it explores some of a family’s and society’s secrets but leaves us with the aftertaste of survival, redemption, and hard-won faith.

Want more? Check out the author’s website for a wealth of extras—a Reader’s Guide (with spoilers; don’t read if you want the book to be a surprise), play lists of songs that inspired and are mentioned in the story, an article on domestic violence, recipes for food Millie would have loved, and more.

Cantrell’s second novel, When Mountains Move, will continue the story of Millie. It is scheduled to release in September of 2013 (David C. Cook publisher).

View the book trailer for Into the Free HERE.

(This book is part of my own Kindle collection.)

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