Taking Note Of The Ordinary

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Some days the tail really does seem to wag the dog. That is to say a small thing has power over, even drives the greater, larger whole. When I notice this tail wagging condition, I want to reboot and set things right. Get on top of my circumstances. Take control. Take charge. Right a wrong. Because in my world, when I am pushed through by the tyrannical urgent, I miss the ordinary.

Welcome to day four. To read the days of noticing leading up to today, click here. I am joining the nester for her 31 Day Challenge. This is 31 days of noticing.

Taking Note of the Ordinary

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Many days I start with the words of Oswald Chambers. For years I have read “My Utmost For His Highest”. Rarely do I recognize a daily reading that I have already read. Sometimes the familiar rings. But the context in my day is always fresh. And I find myself sitting still, steadying  my gaze on the page,  letting his words drift into the folds of my soul.

Enjoy your weekend friends. Thanks for being here on this journey. Your presence is a fragrant offering. I, a writer, have a bit of difficulty expressing what your comments add to this journey. Let’s say they sing to me during my day. The notes swirl around the busy or the mundane and offer me blessing and encouragement. And when you read here, that alone is an offering. Your presence, it is noticed.

Listen to the words of Oswald Chambers as you prepare your hearts for your journey into noticing this weekend.

We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.

The New Testament notices things which from our standards do not seem to count. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ literally – Blessed are the paupers – an exceedingly commonplace thing! The preaching of to-day is apt to emphasize strength of will, beauty of charachter – the things that are easily noticed.

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I walked into Publix this week and spotted these delightful little pumpkins in a beautiful pile of autumnal glory. I starred. As if I were in a gallery. I studied, as if I were in a library. And I glazed over, into the moment of  intentional choosing.  Which ones would I  joyfully bring home. Small moments light me up. I can hold them for forever. The remembering intensifies the pleasure. These three little pumpkins have taken me into small moments, ordinary, transformed though into artful extraordinary. Where is the God-beauty waiting in your day? What small poetic discovery is waiting for you? Ready, set, go notice.

“We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring. — Oswald Chambers

The Narrowing

dolphin duo show offsWe discuss the newlyweds in Spain. Their picture has just popped up on Instagram. I confess now this is something I could really long for. I might even really want to do this, go there. They are sitting under a shade tree, white linen table spread like a banquet with olives and wine and cheese and the cured meats. And they are smiling relaxed newly married bliss-filled smiles.

We are riding down the salty creek in our little boat when we stop to visit with friends sitting up on the top deck of their house boat. They are breathing in salt and watching the old lady dolphin swim, rising up above the surface now and then, she smiles at them. And they exhale the stress of their long work week in a thriving restaurant business. Owners never seem to sleep. I tell her “I hope you have a wonderful sunset tonight”. And her response is Elizabeth, you know, I really don’t care. Her cup is full with all that is there. There is nothing lacking in her dusk date with her husband.

And they tell us they are celebrating ten years of being in business with a really big trip. They are going to Scotland for three weeks. I exhale, ah Scotland.  And remember my two trips there. Lovely, they were. Good memories I have. And it creeps up again, this hazy desirous emotion and longing. Should I stay or should I go. In my inner parts, into my day dreams. Into my internal wish list.

There is a well-aged and well-tended friendship in my life. I believe I tell her everything. She has the enormous responsibility of listening to me spill it out, beat it to death, and wallow in it. My stuff. I confess, I complain, I confess some more. I doubt. I dream. And I drop off all my innermost parts at her feet. I am safe with her.

And in her wisdom she reminds me that no matter what we do or where we go we always have fun, in the simple. She reminds me of this truth. We have discovered the journey into extracting maximum joy from some of life’s most simple activities. We are four. We are two couples who though we have had our passports stamped a time or two, are happiest now in the execution of a simple plan. One of discovering that life explodes with God beauty in the trips down the African Creek, the one right here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. And life is beautiful when we pack a sandwich, even bologna, or especially bologna, and kayak out to the wooden cross on the shore of the Waterway.

He came up to me yesterday with the heart of a child. Laid out all of the shells he was collecting on the kitchen table. They were all so shiny. There is a scientific term for the shimmer and sheen, the particular sparkle and shine. But the child in him just saw the shiny. And he pulled out a light and shined it on the splendor and everything glistened in this moment of ordinary.

And then he brings me his two special ones. He is not a mid-Fifties adult, he is a child, wide-eyed discoverer of beauty.

These he says, these are my special ones. Please don’t move them. He has found extraordinary beauty in these two found objects. Because they are imperfect. They are perfect. Barnacles and a  combination of shells have been molded together by the sea  to make a hybrid of beauty. And this is all we will ever need.  This sacred simple.For we are learning to go into the land of discovery of the God simple. The natural wonder of the unexplored. Exploring what is under our sandy toes and sun-burned noses.

We cut the motor on our favorite part of the creek and it seems that all we can see is green lush marshgrass, oystershells and sky. There is so much sky. Have I forgotten how large that canopy of unending sky is.  How could I forget the shades of blues so life-giving even on a cloudy day. And water. We are surrounded by water, sky, and wonder. And then the pod of frisky dolphin show up and we are all children. Each one of us in our human pod of four, is a child filled with a spirit of  fresh discovery.

And we are narrowing. And we are traveling. And we are home.

Oswald Chambers writes:

“If you ask for things from life instead of from God, ‘you ask amiss’; that is, you ask out of your desire for self-fulfillment. The more you fulfill yourself the less you will seek God.”…seek, and you will find…” Get to work-narrow your focus and interests to this one thing.”

Our conversation, the one with my friend Harriet,  turns to Him and any desire we have to “go and do”. It is our term for living. Unless He plans the trip, we decide we don’t really want to go after all. Because traveling on the outskirts of His will, is less than each time. And isn’t seeking Him as children the better way. And isn’t seeing His world as children, with the impressionable spirit of a discovering child the most tender way.

Our conversation, the one with my husband, turns to an older couple who are no longer walking out this earthly life. He reminds me of their routine. He says do you remember how they would get into their boat every night and ride out to see the dolphin play in the surf.  And they died not long after that.

I wrap my mind around age and living simply and death and heaven on earth, the glory in the sacred daily wonders.

And realize that there is beauty in the narrowing, in the simplifying.

We are soaking in the wonders of our Sunday, a day that we marked as family day and prayed would be the beginning of the best summer of our lives. This house we are renting to “test drive” this new town, to see if it likes us and  if the feeling is mutual, has a wonderfully small kitchen. We are bumping into each other preparing our summer supper. And my husband yells, Look, Come See This is Classic.  When he calls out wonder and beauty I have learned to listen, to stop and look. He means business when he sees moments of grandeur.

I walk to the glass front door and see the neighbor’s chickens are out running around  her neighbor’s yard. And we laugh at the sight of chickens out of place. And the variety of the brood, there seems to be one of each. The silkies might be my favorite. And we laugh some more and find surprise in the spontaneous wonder of chickens running around the green lush lawn of a neighbor who carefully maintains a beautiful yard. She just happens to be out of town this night.

And who needs wine and cheese in Spain after this. This most perfect day.

Of ordinary. Of extraordinary.

The vision is wide in the narrowing.

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Joining Laura at The Wellspring for her Playdates  and Jen for SDG and Emily and Jennifer

The Rich Soil of Childhood

…think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues ‘without ceasing’; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops.– Oswald Chambers

I step out to the raised garden to check on the tomato plants.

I measure the growth, the progress.

The Patient One planted a beautiful herb and vegetable garden here in raised beds for us, for summer goodness and nutrient rich deliciousness for our home, our plates, our sustenance.

But I can’t see past the tears.

All I see are the big bulging  stalks and stems like veins. And the babies, the green ones.

They are my children. They are my pink babies.

I see the green fuzzy veins pulsing with blood and nutrients.

And wonder on the past nutrients in their soil.

Was it rich in its provision? Was everything they needed to grow and thrive in their soil?
For their growth.

Is all that runs through their fuzzy veins, from the soil where they are planted rich and good?

And I come into the house to pray, for my three and others.

And look for ways to fertilize them with love this day.

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“But It Loves”

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Oh these weekends and their wonderful offerings.  We are doing… gardening, talking, proming (again), mowing, weeding, reading, being, fellowshipping, kayaking and worshipping.

Wishing you Grace and all His most abundant offerings this weekend as you go out in family, in friendships, in community, and in His love.