Simple Joys of Summertime Walks…

     One of my favorite summertime activities is taking walks. I enjoy the quiet contemplation of walking alone. I also enjoy taking a walk with a friend. But, mostly, I love taking walks with my husband. Today’s post includes photos from walks Ron and I have taken this summer along with some inspirational thoughts about walking.

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The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk. -Mark Twain

     We, like most American couples, have very busy schedules. Even though Ron and I are intentional about taking time to talk, some of our most meaningful conversations occur when we’re walking. Here, we’re taking a Saturday morning hike on Tubbs Hill.

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An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. -Henry David Thoreau

    I loved the way these daisies showed off their beauty amongst the greenery, rocks and an old wooden fence. I asked Ron to take their picture during our early-morning walk in an older Coeur d’Alene neighborhood.

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Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1

     Sometimes we walk with purpose to pick up local produce at the Farmer’s Market. Last Saturday, while I waited in a long line at Kilarney’s Organic Produce stand, Ron, with camera all ready, wandered around, asking vendors if he could snap pictures of their products like these gorgeous bouquets of flowers.

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6

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Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

     There’s a special beauty in sunsets! On one of our recent evening walks along the lake, we watched in awe as the sky changed. With the progression of the setting sun, colors intensified, resulting in these beautiful, rusty tones.

     With each passing birthday, I evaluate the progression of the steps of my life journey carefully. Each year, God becomes increasingly important, and I desire my steps will align more closely with the words of truth I discover in Scripture.

     Faith is walking a road of listening, learning and living.

     The simplicity and amazing beauty of nature remind me over and over that God will never leave me, even when life disappointments or darkness overshadows my day.

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Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

-Soren Kierkegaard

     A friend of mine was excited about the potential lying ahead in the next phase of her life journey. Then, she saw her physician for a routine check-up. The AC-1 test she’d been given revealed she was teetering on the brink of full-blown diabetes.

     So, my friend started walking.

     At first, her body ached, and she was winded after a couple blocks, but each day she walked a bit further. Her stamina increased. Her body grew stronger. Excess pounds dropped off. My friend ‘walked out’ these words of Kierkegaard. Every day she walked herself into a state of well-being and walked away from illness.

     The highway of life is not always as straight as this road in the Palouse countryside. Peaks and valleys, twists and turns are part of the journey. But, I’m convinced an unseen, but real, Divine presence walks alongside and that adventures lie ahead.

But, we must keep walking!

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

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Simple Summer Joys…

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

Henri Nouwen

     The last batch of summer guests are      on their way home.

     Two of our out-of-state grandkids have already begun school.

     Our daughter and son-in-law, both teachers, are setting up their classrooms, trying to squeeze out the last bit of summer, cramming in as many family activities as possible before back-to-school responsibilities hit head-on.

     Our youngest granddaughter expressed concern today about her upcoming pre-kindergarten testing. “How is it possible she’s reached school age, and just why is a bright little five-year-old worried about a test?” Grandma wonders.

     Our youngest grandson doesn’t realize yet that it will be off to baby day care for him in a few days.

     Summer, that joyful season of nice long, warm days, fun in the sun and carloads of visiting family, is reaching its conclusion. Even though autumn is my favorite season of the year, I always feel a twinge of sadness when summertime is about to end.

     There was nothing particularly noteworthy about our summer. We didn’t take a special vacation. We didn’t make any major purchases—always a temptation when you live within walking distance of an amazing lake filled with beautiful boats, and you watch caravans of RV’s stream along our North Idaho highways.

     No, summer 2016 was one filled with the joy of ordinary moments. A Brene’ Brown quote I read today reminded me of truth that’s not always easy for me to remember: when I diminish the “ordinary” because I’m spending my energy planning for a someday, unknown “extraordinary,” I rob myself of joy.

Joy comes to us in the ordinary moments.

We risk missing out on joy when

we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.

Brene’ Brown

     I hope that today, and perhaps in the next couple blog posts, you won’t mind if I take a little time to reminisce and share some joyful summer memories.

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Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music…

Psalm 98:4 (NIV)

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I can only imagine the stories this dilapidated former grain elevator located on the Palouse farmlands might tell.

 

weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

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     One of my favorite summertime joys is going to the farmer’s market for a week’s supply of fresh produce. I loved the brilliant colors of summer displayed in this basket of peppers. Coeur d’Alene has a wonderful Farmer’s Market!

 

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     One recent Friday afternoon, I packed a picnic dinner, and Ron and I set out for Palouse Falls, an obscure display of nature’s magnificence! Located in the ‘middle of nowhere,’ the visitor must be intentional about seeing this wonder.

For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Psalm 92:4 (NKJV)

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A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (KJV)

     These two merry hearts are very good medicine for Grandma’s and Grandpa’s spirits and bones!

My prayer for you in these waning days of summer is that you will be blessed with simple summer joys!

Sue Reeve

 

Difficult Grace Transformed…

Sue’s Note: Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts about grace. The January 8th post was entitled, “Difficult Grace…” Today’s post includes excerpts from that entry as well as a section called, “The Rest of this Story.”

     The medical report my family doctor gave me sent chills up my spine.

     The research I set about to do on reputable Internet medical sites added to the foreboding.

     The specialist I saw was very nice, very professional but also very straight about potential possibilities.

     I tossed and turned through several sleep-deprived nights.

     And, then…

      I determined I was going to dig in my heels of faith and trust God—no matter what the outcome of my medical condition might be.

     I resolved to discuss the situation with no one but my husband—and, of course, God. I talked to God A LOT about it.

               I poured out my fears.

                    I requested God give what I felt certain would be the best outcome.

                         I asked for strength to accept any outcome.

                              I searched the Bible for verses to bolster my faith.

                                   I reminded God—as if God needs reminding—about what seemed to be biblical promises.

     After almost three months of extensive—and expensive—testing, I re-visited the specialist.

     The medical report he gave me resulted in a huge sigh of relief. There seemed to be nothing to worry about—at least for the present. “We’ll monitor the situation yearly,” the doc instructed with cautious optimism.

     The doctor’s office was only a 10 minute drive from home. I was thanking God for His good grace when my ears perked up by something a radio minister was saying on the Christian station to which the car’s radio was tuned. I don’t know what program was on nor do I know who was speaking—I didn’t normally listen to that station—but the words I heard landed with tremendous impact.

     “Sometimes God’s best grace is difficult grace,” the speaker said.

     Difficult grace! Is that what I’d experienced for nearly three months? Yes, those months through which I’d traveled were difficult—really difficult! Yet, along the way, my chilled spine developed into stronger spiritual backbone. Instead of scrambling for pity from others—my typical go-to behavior—I was empowered to stand firm with only the support of my husband and my God. After an intense immersion in prayer and Scripture, I emerged a more faith-filled woman.

     During that difficult time, I experienced:

           Grace that distilled dread into determination.

                Grace that taught me I can trust truly a truly trustworthy God.

                     Grace that fueled fear into faith.

                          Grace that subdued scary thoughts and sleepless nights.

      To be perfectly honest, I prefer the kind of grace that paves a pleasant path. Yet, when I look back at this experience, I realize I learned valuable lessons.

  • No matter how difficult, I will receive strength needed to keep moving forward.
  • An unseen, but real, guide goes before me.
  • Peace is possible even when problems seem impossible.
  • Difficult grace is designed to build my faith.
  • Even during life’s most difficult moments, grace will find me!

The Rest of this Story…

      This past week I had my third yearly visit with the specialist. He came into the office where I was waiting, shaking his head slowly. “I’ve never seen this before!” The doctor explained the diagnostic test done three weeks ago was within normal range. He said this was the first time he’d ever seen anyone with my condition who had a normal test range.

      One additional test was done in the office. That too was normal. We joked about me being a “boring” patient. I told the doctor, where my relationship with him was concerned, I like being “boring.” He agreed boring was good. Then he cautioned me not to forget about him completely, adding, “But, I don’t think we need to see each other for two more years!”

      So, what was my response to this good report supposed to be?

      Smugness that I’d finally figured out how to get God to answer my prayers and grace to work in my favor?

          Yikes! I hope not!

      Guilt because of all the precious people out there who ask and ask God to answer their prayers, and an answer doesn’t come?

          No, guilt isn’t necessary. It’s okay for me to rejoice in this good gift from my Heavenly Father.

      Entitlement to instruct others in the “right” way to exercise their faith?

           “Please, Lord! Help me to NEVER do that!”

      I believe the answer to my question can be found in these words spoken by Jesus:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

     And, so, I conclude: my response to divinely imparted grace is to love God more and more and to allow that love to be translated increasingly into greater love for others.

     Whether you’re in a season of happiness or a season of difficulty, my prayer for you is that you’ll be able to see the gracious imprint of God’s grace in whatever this day brings…

Sue Reeve