Finding Common Ground

August, 2019 – Tampa

“First, we have an incredibly weighty existence which requires that we respect God and our neighbor whether the latter is a Christian or not. It means that we should expect to find common ground with non-Christians as a natural part of human existence.” – Michael Horton

I find myself thinking about my neighbors a lot lately, mainly because I’m still new in the neighborhood. When I meet someone, I try to remember to write down the person’s name when I get home and something to remember them by, like a house number or a dog’s name. I’ve met 14 neighbors on my street so far. I’ve found a little common ground, such as other dog owners, someone who recently lost a family member, and one who likes strawberries. There are differences, too, such as a practicing Buddhist, the young couples, the single mom. But we can all talk about yard work, termites, and good restaurants. I just want the conversations to one day go beyond watering the yard to something more substantial. All in good time; all in God’s time.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  -  Matthew 22:37-39

A Mystery to Love


"There is a mystery to all love. Why does this one man so move me? Why does this small corner of our planet make me feel that I am home?"  -  Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle

April, 2010 / Father and Son

Love for people truly is a mystery. Why did I fall in love with Chuck? How is it I love my children, and grandchildren, more than anyone else’s children? What is this connection to my brothers? How do I explain this love for my parents? Or the special bond I’ve had with a very few dear friends? And the cousins!!

More mysterious than that is God’s love for us. I could make a long list of attributes I love and admire about all the people I mentioned. But, what attributes do I have that would make God love me? The only good in me is what He’s put there.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Hymns of Grace #4: It Is Well With My Soul

“…any God worth believing in is the God not only of the immensities of the galaxies I rejoice in at night when I walk the dogs, but also the God who cares about the sufferings of us human beings and is here, with us, for us, in our pain and in our joy… I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights.” -Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

This song has taken on new meaning for me this year. In peace and in sorrow, He is there. He is here.

It is providential that it was the hymn I read this past Sunday afternoon, still going through Aunt Marie’s hymnal. The story of this hymn was briefly mentioned that morning at church. You can read about it HERE.

Last year, my dear friend, Jeannie, gave me a necklace inscribed with this song title. It has become precious to me. I thank God for people like Horatio Spafford and Jeannie.

hymns of grace #3: in the cross of christ I glory

When the woes of life o’er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy, Never shall the cross forsake me: Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

This song is unfamiliar to me, so when I thought about how to sing it a song popped into my mind from recesses of my musical memories. It can be sung very well to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”.

I like the last verse, “Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified…” It serves to remind us that all the pleasant and all the dreadful that we encounter are all ordained by God for our good.

Lovely Cards #2

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand…” Psalm 31:14-15

“What’s ahead?” has been in my mind for quite a while. I make plans because I have to go on, but I do so knowing those plans may change. My life and my times truly are in God’s Hands. I remember Chuck preaching a sermon using this very verse in Psalms – he knew then and he knew on his deathbed that he was in God’s hands.

Back in June of 2015, I wrote a post entitled When You Do Not Yet See the Way in which I quoted Andrew Murray – “Cultivate the habit of rejoicing in the assurance that the God of divine wisdom is guiding you, even where you do not yet see the way.

I don’t remember what was going on in my life at that time. It was long before the loss of my mother-in-law, my mom and my husband. I think it’s a lesson we learn and forget and have to relearn throughout our lives, that lesson of following in faith when we do not see the way.

The Valley of vision #1: He is my safe harbour.

September 26, 2018 – Oregon

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. I found a seemingly brand new copy among Chuck’s books. It has been an absolute blessing to me. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England.

From today’s reading:

“I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.”

In this year, 2021, I launch my “boat” wholly dependent on my Father. I’ll use my oars and GPS. I’ll prepare for storms, but know that when the storms come, He is my safe harbour.

Texts from the past #8: dogs

Loretta
Ruby

As much as Chuck always said our dogs, first Loretta and then Ruby, were my dogs, I think they were really loyal to both of us.

We got Loretta when we became “empty nesters”. She came with the name Loretta Lynn and was fully trained. Described by her previous owners as an “old soul”, she fit smoothly into our now little family of two.

When our grandson Everett was born, we left her for over 14 hours and she never had an accident. That girl had a bladder of steel! Then Juliette came along and adored her, calling her “The Doretta”. We had her for ten years, until she died suddenly, with only a few hours notice that something was wrong. We went to bed that night with her asleep on our bedroom rug, and we both woke up about 2am. We got up to check on her, sitting on the floor next to her. She breathed two breaths and she was gone.

I didn’t plan to get another dog so soon, but it was sad coming home from work without a sweet dog to greet me. We went to the county shelter looking for a specific dog, but ended up with Ruby, who if you just saw her face you would have thought we’d cloned Loretta. Ruby turned out to be the cuddliest dog I’ve ever been around. And I thank God that I have her still to cuddle with and play with and just be with everyday. She is my constant companion.


May 12, 2017. C: Loretta  may be having a rough time right now. Bad storm in our area. (Loretta was scared of the least storm noise, fireworks, and even banging pots in the kitchen).

April 3, 2018. C: Oh my, we have an Earl sighting (This was our code name for Squirrel)

April 26, 2018. Me: I just saw a baby Pearl. C: Must’ve been tiny. Turl. (Since we now had chipmunks, we began also calling them Pearl)

November 7, 2018. Me: Bringing up the garbage can without Loretta running her little route was hard. C: I’m sure. I think about her when I leave for work and not having to close the study door.  Me: And even though she never said a word it sure is quiet around here this afternoon.  C: Sorry.

We got Ruby right after our 40th “Ruby” anniversary, hence the name.

Dec 27, 2018 (I Sent pic of Ruby) Me: She is so gentle natured. I think she’s already asleep.  C: Maybe she’s relaxed from both the surgery ( being spayed) and the loud shelter. She looks like a sweetie.

Dec. 28, 2018. Me: Somebody pooped outside. C: Did she let you know or did you just take her out? Me: I just took her out. C: That’s still progress. (We were like parents with a newborn).

By and By

“Oft our cherished plans have failed
Disappointments have prevailed
And we’ve wandered in the darkness,
Heavy hearted and alone;
But we’re trusting in the Lord,
And, according to His Word,
We will understand it better by and by.”   -  Charles Tindley


I sang this song in my youth. What did I know then about cherished plans? Or being heavy hearted and alone? By God’s grace, not much.

But, I know now. I know how cherished plans can so quickly fail.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”  – James 4:13-15

And I know I’ll understand it better by and by.

” A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;” – Ecclesiastes 3:4

A not so small year

There is a song that’s been on my playlist for quite a few years: One Small Year by Shawn Colvin. As often happens, I now hear it much differently when I listen to it.

One small year
It's been an eternity
It's taken all of me to get here
In this one small year

The hands of time
They pushed me down the street
They swept me off my feet to this place
And I don't know my fate

Now through the night
I can pretend
The morning will make me whole again
And everyday
I can begin
To wait for the night again


I know this has been but one small year in view of all history and in God’s eyes. But, for me, for so many, it seems in copious ways to have been “an eternity”. It truly has taken all of me to get here. But I could not have done it alone. Yes, humanly speaking, I was alone for so much of it, but I have not truly been alone. God has lifted me up when I could not see through the tears. Friends have checked on me. Family have loved on me. The printed word has renewed me, God’s Word has comforted me.

I don’t know my fate in the sense of what the next year will hold. I know my final fate, my end, in Christ. I have to take that knowledge, that hope, and keep going.

Thanksgivings past and present

November 27,2014
Danny, Sarah, Chuck, Angie

The above pictures were taken as we were preparing to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal in 2014. Just as we were about to sit down to eat, we got the call. Chuck and Danny’s dad was failing fast. They wolfed down some food, packed up and headed for Jacksonville, arriving just 15 minutes after their dad died. My father-in-law.

Now, six years later, I’ve lost three more. My mother-in-law (2017), my mom (2018), my husband (2020). Precious people who sat together for many Thanksgivings. Family who ate, told stories, laughed, loved each other.

Holidays can be hard. We miss the hugs at the front door, the smiles across the table, the hand holding, the traditions. But, we have to press on. No matter how hard a hand we’ve been dealt, there are still blessings.

Yesterday I had Thanksgiving in New Orleans with my daughters, Kat and Leah, and some of their friends. We gathered at Kat’s, and she is always the most gracious hostess.It was different, but it was good. Let me tell you about our little group.

November 26,2020 – NOLA

Tim: a professional chef, Leah’s former roommate, who made the most delicious turkey I think I’ve ever had on Thanksgiving, plus some fabulous sides.

Candace: I hadn’t seen her since July. Having lost her mother to cancer, she was a big help to us when we were struggling with Chuck’s illness.

Justin and Leslie: Kat’s neighbors, California transplants, who made the best assortment of deviled eggs and laughed with us all day.

PJ: a friend of Justin and Leslie, who came in later in the afternoon with his precious Springer spaniel, Buddy.

Ruby and Poka: ever present underfoot, waiting for head pats and crumbs to fall.

We made sure to have some of our traditional family dishes: potato casserole- the recipe came from my brother’s mother-in-law years ago; a pepper cheese ball – Aunt Brenda’s recipe, miraculously made by Leah, the non-cook; Wassail; pickle tray; traditional and puppy chow Chex mixes.

For all those family we could not be with, I say in the words of Paul:

 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Philippians 1:3