The Morning Stars Sang Together

At Creation, “the morning stars sang together.” (Job 38:7) I’ve heard that there’s music in the far away universe. Music has been called a universal language because understanding and appreciating music crosses language and cultural barriers.

I discovered long ago how much music relieves stress and sadness. I understand why David’s music brought at least temporary relief to King Saul’s troubled soul. This morning I finally made my way to the piano and played “hymns and spiritual songs.” And I felt better. Many possessions are waiting to find their places in our new home, many boxes are ready to be unpacked, but I needed to play the piano.

Playing a CD of soft, instrumental music as I write helps me to focus. My preference is classical music and traditional hymns of faith. I also love to listen to the sweet bird song outdoors.

I’m not a great public performer. I fill the position of church pianist right now, and I play the recorder or the autoharp and sing sometimes. Like the morning stars at creation, I praise God with music, although I’m sure they sounded much better. As Moses and the Israelites escaped the Egyptian army by God’s intervention, they sang (Exodus 15), “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted.” (v.1) “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (v.2)

“This is my Father’s world,/ And to my listening ears/ All nature sings, and round me rings/ The music of the spheres.” (“This Is My Father’s World” Babcock/Sheppard)

Enjoy music today.

 

 

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It’s Almost Here!

Moving day.

I don’t look forward to moving. It’s not so much the living in a new place and meeting new people as it is the process; sorting and packing, making address changes, finding new doctors, setting up with a new Internet company, unpacking. You get the picture.

I think everyone should move to an new town at least once in a lifetime, even if it’s temporary. Every place I’ve lived I’ve made new friends and learned more about life. But if I had a choice, I’d like to put down roots in one place and stay there.

In a few days we’ll change our residence, again. We’re downsizing, so we’ve had two garage sales, given away several boxes of “stuff” left at the curb, and found relatives and friends who can use what we have. The Salvation Army will benefit from some of our giveaways. And then there are the throwaways: the accumulated treasures and junk we have accumulated over the years which we can’t justify keeping any longer. And we still have too much.

Just a suggestion for those of you who have lived in one house for a number of years–do a yearly clean-out.

I am thankful for the Lord’s provision for us as we enter a new phase of our lives. To the Philippian believers Paul wrote, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We have experienced His provision throughout our lives, although not always as we expected or wanted. We have a home, friends, and family.

However, I’m looking forward to the day when I move without sorting and packing. It will be my final move into eternity. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2,3 NKJV

I’m also looking forward to November 20, 2018, the release date for my Christian Romance novel Meadow Song.

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The County Fair

Recently our local newspaper has featured stories about county fairs in our area.

For many, the focus of fairs is the Midway: the rides, games, and food. I liked the Ferris wheel. But my family did not have money to spend on the Midway, so I avoided it, and still do, for the most part.

I attended and exhibited at our county fair for eight years through 4-H. It was the highlight of the summer and of the 4-H year for me. During the year I kept project records as I learned about what interested me. These had to be submitted to the county 4-H office at the end of the project year.

 

These are not pictures of my animals. I do have a few pictures of my own in my scrapbooks, somewhere….

A photo of kids in the show ring with their animals triggered memories for me. I exhibited market lambs for a few years, and graduated to Jersey calves and heifers. I also entered sewing projects, garden flowers and vegetables, and a few other 4-H projects. I didn’t always win a prize, but I learned valuable lessons about doing my best, competition, and being a friend. I am not a farmer, but I learned the value of farmers and farming. I learned respect for animals, and I still use the sewing, cooking, and gardening skills I obtained back then. A few times I qualified to exhibit at the New York State Fair. And I have fond memories of friends.

Our county fair back then was mostly about farming and agriculture and life skills.  

Do you have county fair memories?

I want to thank Pixabay for the photos.

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A Walk in Montrose

Montrose, Pennsylvania, located in the Endless Mountains, is the county seat of Susquehanna County. My husband and I have visited Montrose for more than twenty years as we attend the writers conference at Montrose Bible Conference.

 

I love the persona of Montrose: a small town atmosphere where the residents will greet you as you pass by their homes.

There are so many charming and beautiful houses in Montrose, in different states of repair. Some of them were built as summer ”cottages” for wealthy families from Philadelphia in the nineteenth century. Real estate is expensive, and large houses difficult to maintain. I like to imagine how these houses looked years ago. Some of them have been renovated

  I think I’d enjoy a stay at the Rosemont Inn, a B&B.

We were pleased to see the progress made on this lovely mansion. I imagined it as a B&B. It might be fun to live there, but not to clean it regularly. It’s for sale, in case you’re interested.

This yellow house won a national award for it’s renovations. Isn’t is beautiful? Believe me, it didn’t look like this in 1997.

If you take a walk in Montrose, be sure to wear walking shoes and take a walking stick. You will be walking up hill and down.

 

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Icon of Childhood

Superheroes are big business today. Most children have their favorite– Spiderman, Superman, Batman, etc. Superheroes are pretend. They have powers that go beyond what a normal person can do. Traditionally the superhero used his ability to help mankind.

Smokey the Bear–who remembers the iconic symbol of conservation wearing his Park Ranger uniform and carrying a spade? He’d point at you from the TV screen or poster and say, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” And the chorus of Smokey’s song remains with me today.

“Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear, howlin’ and a growlin’ and a sniff in the air; He can find a fire before it starts to flame, that’s why they call him Smokey, that is how he got his name.”

The real Smokey Bear was rescued as an orphan cub from a New Mexico forest fire in 1950. He lived in the National Zoo in Washington, DC until his death in 1976

 

This was my Smokey Bear.

As you can see, he was hugged and cuddled many times through out my childhood. I don’t know if I named him Smokey, or if he already had that name when he came to me.

I have a Smokey the Bear scarf. I thought I had lost it long ago. However, I found it in a box while cleaning out the other day. I suppose this really dates me.

To me, Smokey is a hero. He taught so many of us the value of trees and forests. So much is lost when a forest burns down, not only animals and their habitats, but also homes and people’s lives.

The symbol of Smokey the Bear  reminds me that our Creator God gave humans, us, the responsibility of stewardship over creation, to oversee its care and continuity.

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply : fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 NKJV

Smokey didn’t have magical powers, but he had an important message. The Person with the greatest message, with powers beyond superhero, is Jesus Christ. He created the world, keeps it running, and provides forgiveness for our sins and eternal life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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American Heritage

When I have the opportunity to visit different parts of the USA, I am amazed at the beauty and diversity of the geography.  I have traveled from New York to South Carolina and Texas by car. I’ve also been to Missouri and Colorado. I’ve also seen a few states by air. I must admit I haven’t traveled extensively.

I often think of a song I learned as a member of junior chorus in elementary school, “America, Our Heritage.” Do any of you know it? Like “America the Beautiful” it evokes scenes of the blessings God has given us.

I’m sad because of the great division among Americans today. We know that freedom isn’t free. We have to work for it and to protect it. History shows that blood, sweat, and tears went into the founding of the United States. In times of national disaster, we have pulled together. Our men and women have assisted other countries in defending freedom and helping in times of need.

We’re not perfect, but God has blessed us in so many ways. On this July 4, 2018, may we humble ourselves before God and strive to find equitable solutions to the challenges facing us.

Happy 242nd birthday, USA.

 

 

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Big Sister

This picture reminds me of my oldest sister. Fourteen years my senior, she married and started her family while I was still a little girl.

Nancy loved animals and nature, and I suppose it’s fitting that the apple trees were in full and beautiful bloom when she passed away in May, 2013, just before Mothers’ Day.

She treated me well, buying little gifts to cheer me when I lay ill in bed, and buying Toni home perms (some of you might remember them) so I could have beautiful curls in my very straight hair. They lasted a couple of days. I had sleepovers in her home sometimes, where I loved reading her books (Heidi and Arabian Nights come to mind), listen to her records (I loved the Strauss waltzes), and I played with my nephew and two nieces. Many memories.

She enjoyed her cows, horses, and chickens. She cultivated gardens of flowers and vegetables. She coaxed chick-a-dees to eat bird seed from her hand.

I would be negligent not to mention that she played the piano.

Today, June 28, is the anniversary of her birthday. She is missing from our family circle when we get together, but I look forward to seeing her in eternity.

Happy birthday, Nancy.

 

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Fireflies

Lightning bugs, aka fireflies. On warm summer nights I would join my siblings in the yard to catch lightning bugs. Not an easy task, since the tiny creatures moved around between blinks of light.

I would put my lightning bugs in a jar, with a little grass to keep them happy. Of course, making holes in the jar cover was a necessity so they could breath. I would set my jar next to my bed and fall asleep watching them blink on and off. One of childhood’s delights.

The next morning, no lightning bugs. I was convinced then that they escaped through the holes in the cover. I realize now that my sister probably released the poor things while I slept.

The last time I tried to catch lightning bugs, I couldn’t keep up with them.

The following scene I wrote is reminiscent of my experience.

“Remember when we used to catch fireflies when we were kids? We would see who could catch the most,” Jesse said.

 Katie said, “Do you have any jars, Haleigh?”

She tapped her cheek with her finger. “I think I saw some canning jars in the basement,” she said. “I’ll check. Just a minute.”

 “Need help?” Willie called out to her as she disappeared inside.

 “Nope!” she called back.

 For the next half hour, six young adults chased fireflies.

 “I don’t remember its being so hard,” panted Jesse, after running all over the yard.

 “I think it’s in the way you flick your wrist,” Jeremy suggested.

 “Right,” said Katie.

“I got it!” yelled Haleigh and Willie together, reaching for the same firefly. Both came up empty-handed.

“Who won?” someone asked after another fifteen minutes. They counted.

 “I won. I got twelve,” said Katie. “I guess I haven’t lost my touch.

Lightning bugs are fascinating creatures. By day they look like, well,  insects–six legs, wings, black body, orange head. Only at night do we see their light show.

The blinking light is part of their mating ritual, but it’s still wonderful to see. Did you ever wonder how they made their light and could turn it on and off?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Our amazing Creator created the firefly’s body to mix exactly the right chemicals in the right proportions at the right time to make light that blinks on and off. The hymn says it well. “This is my Father’s world…His hands the wonders wrought.” (Babcock)

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Change

                                        

(An excerpt from “Escape Code” by Beth Westcott)

Awaking  to the patter of rain against her window, twelve-year-old Summer Bradford groaned and pulled her blanket over her head. She waited for sleep to return. Instead, her eyes popped wide open. She kicked off her blanket with a huff and sat on the side of her bed.

She stretched and yawned as she gazed around her room. Her clothes lay in a messy display, hanging from a large suitcase and a couple of plastic totes. Boxes made twin towers against one wall. Her shoes lay in a heap by the closet door. She didn’t care. She had hoped to wake up and find herself back in sunny California with her friends, her old home, and everything familiar.

Someone knocked at her door.

“What?’

“Hey, Summer. Mom wants to know if you’re up yet. It’s after eight,” said her twin brother, Ryan. “Dad has to leave for the office soon.”

She stood. “Yeah, I’m up.” She sorted through some piles to find her clothes for the day.

“Okay, I’ll tell her.” Ryan’s footsteps faded.

How could Ryan be so cheerful? Rainy, dull, boring all described her life. They didn’t even have an internet hook-up yet, so she couldn’t contact her friends. God didn’t hear her when she had begged Him to let them stay. She had prayed until the day Mom and Dad sold the house in California, and they headed for Freedom, New York, in their packed van, pulling a U-Haul trailer.

Life means change. I can hardly imagine all the changes my mother has seen in her lifetime. She’s 103.

I try to remember what life was like back when we had a black and white television, we played 78 vinyl records on our record player, the speed limit was  50 mph on the highway, postage stamps were two cents, and milk was delivered to our doorstep in glass bottles. We communicated by letter, or maybe telephone, or we stopped in for a visit.

I don’t envy parents bringing up children today. Life has become so much more complex, with instant everything. Truth has become garbled and twisted. Pain and brokenness are common. It’s harder to keep families together.

Change is inevitable. We are born, we grow up, we choose a job or career. We get married, have children, watch them grow up, become grandparents. And around us the world is changing, sometimes for good, but too often for bad.

Leaving one home to move to another is not my favorite change. The sorting, packing, moving, and unpacking can become tiresome. Like Summer, I miss my old home and my old friends.  Our next move is into retirement, coming soon.

When I first began to write for publication, I knew almost nothing about it. I loved to read, and I loved a good story. Through the years, my writing has changed as I have “learned the craft.” There’s always something to learn. Instead of a typewriter and a paper manuscript with an SASE, we now produce a manuscript on a computer and send it in electronically.

As with so much in life, the demands to become a successful, published writer have changed. I’m still learning. And I’m grateful for the writers, publishers, and agents who have helped and encouraged me on my journey.

God alone is unchanging (Malachi 3:6). He is always faithful. For that I am thankful.

 

 

 

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Our Flag

The Continental Congress passed a resolution on June 14, 1777:

     “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

Our flag has a simple and distinctive design. At first the colors did not have special meaning. It is thought that the colors were copied from the Union Jack, Great Britain’s flag. That seems reasonable, since so many of the patriots were born and lived under Britain’s rule.

In my research I learned that the color meanings came from the Great Seal, adopted on June 20, 1782: white, meaning purity and innocence; red, meaning hardiness and valour;  blue, meaning vigilance and justice.

I also learned that the star symbolizes the heavens, the stripe symbolizes the rays of light from the sun. The thirteen stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, and each star represents a state in our country.

Tears come to my eyes when I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem. God has given me the privilege of living in a great country, a country with a representative government and the rule of law.  A country that is governed by a Constitution that guarantees our freedom and rights. When I pledge to the flag, I’m promising to fulfill my responsibilities as a citizen.

The United States of America is not a perfect nation, just as its citizens are not perfect as individuals. Laws are broken, rights are taken away. Today we are divided in so many ways. Yet we are still one. It is my prayer that we can learn to work together again to promote what is right and just and good.

 

 

 

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