Grandpas are to Love

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced the gift of joy as I watch my father’s hands. They move effortlessly, beautifully, skimming over the ivory and onyx keys of his piano or an organ, or his keyboard. I listen to his soul-moving music, wondering how much longer I’ll hear it since he received the disheartening news.

He’s eighty-four, slender, and a little stooped now, yet he appears strong and healthy for his age.

My mind slips back to yesterday–except for a couple of God-given sunbeams–not a very happy day, yesterday.

So I’ll focus on the sunbeams.

It’s early afternoon. Dad and I sit together waiting to see the doctor, a specialist in hand surgery.

We’ll schedule needed surgery when we see him. Not a highlight of either of our lives.

Dad’s hands are healthy except for his right thumb. Cancer has staked its claim.

Today his hands are whole. In a week they won’t be whole any longer.

Several children are in the reception area as we wait to see the doctor.

Dad and I have big mushy hearts for children and the elderly.

Wherever I take my father, he attracts both. When I’m alone with him, our spirits mirror one another.  I have precious glimpses of his love for life and his joying in it.

He always gives others joy.

Especially children.

A tiny, chubby, cherub of a baby girl, maybe eighteen months old or so, walks all around, exploring the waiting room. She’s adorable with her light brown little face, big dancing brown eyes, and constant smile. She begins peeking at Dad, who watches her, sending her his own big smile.

I think she’s fascinated with his snow white beard.

It isn’t long before she pauses in front of him, gazes up at him.

She looks over at me, not quite seeming to know what he is or what to make of him.

I nod, and smile back at her sweet, inquisitive expression.

“That’s a Grandpa,” I tell her, “Grandpa’s are to love.”

She turns back to look at him, to study him for a few long seconds, then without a hesitant step, she toddles straight over to him.

Her little arms encircle his legs, and she lays her head-full of chocolate-colored curls right down on his knees in the dearest, gentlest hug I think I’ve ever seen.

Then, she raises her head to look up at him, and sends him another beautiful smile before she toddles off to her family.

Tears brim in my dad’s eyes.

Mine too.

What dear, precious, pure love! A hug for Dad—through her sweet little arms—from God’s own heart.

The stinging dread of what my father will have to go through—what he will miss—softens a little for me. I’m not sure what Dad thinks, but I’m praying.

On the way out, Dad stops to pass his good cheer to an elderly woman in a wheelchair. He pats her arm and gifts her with his words of encouragement.

I watch age-etched lines ease away with her smile.

The doctor is confident that he’ll go through this surgery just fine.

I am too.

God is with us, will strengthen and help us, and will uphold us.

We’re called to love–to love our heavenly Father with all our hearts, and others as ourselves.

With His help we can! ☺

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus answered the scribe, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Have you seen and experienced love personified recently?

Mini Epilogue

We had a lot to be thankful for. Dad did come through his surgery well, and he never stopped playing the piano. He’s with his beloved Lord Jesus now, after having lived four more years. I still miss him very much. Besides that precious baby girl, I think he was the best hugger ever.

Hug someone today!

Love,

 Sally  

Listen!

“Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32

Years ago I used to  love the times of solitude while riding my chestnut mare, Cindy, through the nearby desert. They were wonderful times to enjoy silence and sunshine, to relax and think.

Most times, the rides were uneventful. But there was one day as I slowed Cindy’s spirited gallop to descend the sandy slope of a dune, that she suddenly stopped.

She stood perfectly still, her ears poised to catch every sound. No amount of coaxing encouraged her to move.

I was impatient with Cindy’s apparent stubbornness.

I didn’t hear the sound she was hearing.

I didn’t sense the rock-hardness of her tensed muscles beneath me.

Leaning forward, I was ready to scold her. But the sight before me took my breath instead. I finally understood.

There before us, coiled and ready to strike, was the reason Cindy was not moving. I finally heard the distinctive, dry warning sounds of a desert rattlesnake.

My ears were opened and my senses set on fire with understanding. Prayers of thankfulness flooded my heart.

I felt God’s protective presence that day as we remained quiet and the danger left its undulating pattern across the sandy dune and out of sight.

I was reminded then as I am today of how vitally important it is to be aware of how God chooses to speak to us.

He speaks to us in countless ways, but sometimes to hear His warnings or guidance we must be still and listen, and we’re wise to listen with patience.

The choices we make, our well-being, and occasionally our safety can depend upon how well we listen.

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’” Luke 9:35 NIV

I am a whisper in time. Down through the corridor of the ages my whisper echoes with feathery sweeps into the age to come.  An excerpt from my journal.

Has there been a time when you’ve listened and avoided danger?

Love,

Sally

Ray the Shape Shifter

I’m young. Crazy in love with horses, especially my Cindy.

This early Saturday morning shimmers in sunshine and light mist as I walk to the stable. I slow and savor the scent of apple blossoms filling the air from the orchard I stride by.

I love this walk and love having the barn so close to where I live in Richland, Washington.

Ray, owner/manager of The Barn, the local riding stable, slouches against the edge of the huge double wooden doors.

He waves and shoots me a grin, a piece of straw between his teeth, grungy straw hat shielding his sun-burnished face, a not-so-white, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots. Ray’s soft-spoken, generous and everyone’s friend.

Ray’s taught me most everything I know about horses. He let me and a few other teens work mucking stalls, soaping saddles, lassoing horses for paying customers, and more at The Barn.  I’d work for an hour to earn an hour’s ride until I got my own horse. I’m boarding Cindy there now.

A breeze kicks up a dust-devil between Ray and me as I lessen the distance between us.

I’m wearing my crisp new straw hat. I’ve joined the town’s riding group, The Richland Ramblers. My hat’s part of the Rambler “uniform” I’ll wear when I ride Cindy in the Richland Day parade and rodeo this summer.

Ray wears straw well . . . in his hats and between his teeth.

He cocks his head at me and says “I see ya got you a new hat.”

I nod and proudly touch the brim, as I walk into the warm, dusty barn.

Ray arches an eyebrow and shakes his head. “Gotta shape it. Want me to show you?

Shape it? My crumpled pride and I hold my breath as Ray, the hat-shaping cowboy, lifts my new hat from my head and saunters out to the corral . . . toward the water trough.

I follow, close on his heels, trusting, hoping, praying. that he’s not going to somehow totally destroy my brand new hat.

And what in the world does the trough and my hat have to do with . . .

A lot.

I swallow hard as Ray nudges two horses aside, leans over the trough and plunges, no, drowns, my new hat beneath the water. Makes me think he’s done this before a time or two.

And then I watch Ray skillfully roll, push, pull, smooth and angle the now-soft, pliable straw hat. The crown is magically reshaped, the brim, artfully rolled to just the right degree. He works it over until he’s happy with it and hands it to me . . .

now shaped into a hat fit for a Rambler.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV),

I’m like my old straw hat. I was stiff and new and unbending once.

When I opened the door and said yes to Jesus, I didn’t want to be conformed to this world anymore. I wanted God to shape me, mold me, and transform me in every way—mind, heart, body, and spirit—that I might be acceptable to Him.

God does that.

He takes us, raw and unfinished, as we are, and shows us His Way. He loves us through every roll, push, pull, and smoothing we experience, anointing us with His presence moment by moment.

Have you asked the Lord to help you do some reshaping?  Has it been easy? difficult? a challenge?

Love,

Sally

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ongoing Event: June 26 through July 7, 2015. An interview What Floats Sally Chambers’ Boat? And a Book Giveaway  Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: July 15  An interview with the main character in The Stonekeepers, Lexi Christensen along with a book giveaway. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Upcoming Event: Sunday afternoon, August 16, 2015, book signing. More information coming soon

Visit my Amazon Author Page at https://www.amazon.com/author/sallychambers

Novel – The Stonekeepers

 

Blue Edges

Lexi—Alexia Evengeline Christensen, grew up loving to race waves, beach walk, and sand dance on the tan sandy shores that ring her Nantucket Island home. No, that’s not an error in the spelling of her middle name, Evengeline. ☺ It’s deliberate and full of meaning, a meaning she’ll learn about along with you as you read her story.

Lexi, gutsy, impulsive, loyal, impatient, and more, the main character in my newly released novel, The Stonekeepers, stepped out of my imagination and lives within the freshly printed pages of her story . . . between the edges of of a book cover.

Edges . . .

Early morning, in the sandy, sunny regions of my memories, I walk the length of a long stretch of quiet beach.

The sea air held within the breeze that ruffles my hair is pungent with the scent of salt and seaweed.

In shades of beige and tan, squishy, damp sand moves beneath my feet as I walk the water’s edge.

Never-ending waves toss and reach to warm their white froth on the hot sand., the cacophony of their constant hiss and splash push away my cares and stress . . .

and I let them go.

Time slows as I stop my sandy walk and turn to face the sky and sea, their edges a contrast of ice blue calm and blue-silver shimmer on the horizon.

Sunlight glistens on undulating, wind-roughened water that looks as if its been feathered with a dusting of snow.And I wonder at how God keeps this great sea within the edges He firmly set so long ago.

 “When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world” says Wisdom in Proverbs 8:28b-31a

We, too, are cradled within edges. We live and dance through a life full of choices, from a beginning toward an end that fades in the Light of the presence of the Christ—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—the supreme, life-changing choice.

A small rogue of a wave races toward me, daring me to run from it.

And I do. Backward. But not quickly enough.

I’m soaked from my knees down and give up in laughter, playing with the sea, racing with the receding water, losing to its speed. I pause, watching it dissolve into anonymity.

So unlike our Heavenly Father. He never changes, and promises never to leave or forsake us.

Edges, boundaries and limits have their place, and I’m thankful for them all as I walk in the riskier places of this earthly journey. But I’m just as thankful for the freedom I have in God. I stretch and grow and learn and experience, testing edges, limits, and boundaries, knowing He has set them.

I am not the sea.

I am me.

A child of God and free . . .

in Him.

He alone holds our edges and they are eternal.

Only God is the Alpha and the Omega of all creation. Who knows what more beauty and loveliness and wonder He may allow us to discover.

♥  Go. Race a wave. Run just a little farther, love a little deeper, try a little harder, walk a little taller, and ask where He is working. Then join Him.

Love along side Him.

Love,

Sally

I’ve wandered through thoughts and words here. Ramble along with me in your comments.

Remembering Ridge

Mid-October is spectacular in Western North Carolina this year. The hardwoods are coloring up, especially the maples, vivid and bright with their fluttery robes of red and gold leaves. Jerry and I love the cooler temperatures, but we have to return to Florida next week.

We’re on the way home from one of our meandering scenic drives when I decide to buy another Loafers Glory T-shirt at the General Store in Loafers Glory.

According to my Loafers Glory friend and native resident, this store’s been here since 1955. It was built on the same spot as the original General Store that was washed away in 1905 or ’06 by a flood that she said her daddy called a May fresh.

It’s like going back in time—a charmer of a place that you could spend hours in. The rusted springs on the screen door screech as I step over the worn wood threshold and into the store. Late afternoon sunshine floods through the big plate glass windows. The scents, a mix of candy, tobacco, and new fabric, waft around me. I gaze at small tubs full of buttons, displays of thread, and an endless array of sewing needs. I see racks of tourist temptations—including T-shirts—and smile. I was once one of those tempted travelers. Now I spend a lot of time here in NC, no longer a tourist, but neither am I a full-time resident.

Fred and Iris Garland are. This was once their store, and Iris has told me some of her stories. Love those stories and these two wonderful Loafers Glory residents.

A little boy peeks at me from around a bin of cloth remnants. Seconds later he saunters out from behind the bin.

“Hi!” says he, then announces in the most wonderful North Carolina drawl ever “I’m gonna be five next April!”

He punches the air, wiggling five fingers.

Let’s see now . . . that’s six months away.

He’s cute, a little cocky, and has my total attention as I study him.

He reels me in . . . with his head full of curly, carrot-red hair and a batch of brown freckles across his nose.

“What’s yore name?”

“I’m Sally.”

He’s not shy, guileless maybe. And suddenly, I just love this little guy.

He looks a lot like this but without the straw hat–which I’m sure he has stowed behind the counter.

“Ah’m Ridge.” He draws his name out, nearly makes it into two syllables.

Really? A little boy named Ridge? Unusual. But maybe not up here where mountain ridges are everywhere. And I figure he has to be saying Reg, short for Reginald.

“Ridge?” I repeat it carefully, frame it as a question.

And he grins up at me and nods, like, ‘good for you, you got it!’ his curls bobbing like twisty little springs . . . and  changes the subject.

I get goose bumps, totally enthralled and stuck on his name.

But I listen as he tells me he fell on the sidewalk a few minutes ago and scraped up the heel of his left hand. He holds it up.

“It’s bleedin’ a little and stings like a road burn, but it ain’t nuthin’.”

He shrugs. He’s brave, and I pray that his hand stops stinging soon. He barely takes a breath before he needs to tell me more. You know, ‘portant stuff.’

“We got chewin’ gum in this store.” He looks up at me like I should be very surprised.

I bite the inside of my cheek to keep the smile from reaching my ears!

“Okay, where is this chewing gum?”

Ridge proceeds to show me. He grabs my hand, and instead of the aisle where candy and chewing gum might be, he leads me around to where they sell material from large bolts. Reaching in deep behind two of the heavy, colorful bolts, he pulls out a package of bubble gum that’s in the shape of paper money.

He hauls a “bill” out of the package, bites off a big hunk and hands the rest to me so I can take a bite too. I take the offered piece and break a chunk off. I’m positive he has a good-sized private stash buried behind those bolts of cloth.

It’s good, pretty tasty gum as gum goes!

But also good is that the hero of my novel has just been given the awesome name, Ridge, in honor of my new friend, who waves and blows me kisses as I leave his grandparents’ store.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. Psalm 22:22

 ♥

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Remembering to pray before, during, and after writing sessions, to pray over everything including character names, isn’t always easy. And I’m in awe and thankful when I see the amazing ways God answers my sometimes fleeting, needy prayers.

Do you take the admonition to pray about everything to heart too? What’s been your experience?

 He’s closer to you than breath, loves you, and cares for you.

Love,

Sally

Amazon’s Author Page for The Stonekeepers

Crossroads

It’s early. I hop out of bed feeling great after of a good night’s rest. A whole fresh new day is ready to walk into.

All is well,

until . . .

What mess?

I walk into the kitchen and find the mess . . . again. How many times . . .?

And no, the pup didn’t do it.

How quick and easy the glowery dark cloud descends with its storm of anger and frustration. So much for the higher functions of my cerebral cortex. They nosedive into a worse mess than the small, irritating one in the kitchen.

I should go back to bed! I need a do-over.

I don’t get angry often and when I do, it’s a quiet, internalized “mad.” I’m not the confronting, haranguing type. Maybe I should be.

I go outside. In my PJs. Pace the concrete sidewalk. Complain a while, then pull in breaths of the cool morning air and pray.

It helps, but when I go inside and settle into a devotional time, the Lord opens His Word. I pray and open my Bible at random (but in this Hand-in-hand walk we’re on, there’s no such thing as “random”). It falls open to Jonah, chapter four, verse four.

My eyes land on this “Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah’s answer was to go make himself a shelter, sit in its shade, and watch to see what would happen to the city. My answer is to ask, Why shouldn’t I be? But He makes me think.

To shorten Jonah’s story, the great city of Nineveh had devolved into a wickedness that the Lord could no longer tolerate. As His prophet, Jonah was to go and warn that city to repent, or be thrown down. And Jonah didn’t want to obey—he ran.

Jonah ended up having a whale of an adventure, literally, and doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. But when the people of Nineveh ended up being sorry and humbled themselves, God saw and relented. Jonah was not happy and wanted the city punished . . . which was why he was angry. Plus, he was probably tired, a little chewed up from being in a whale belly and all. Not to mention being worn out since it took him three days to walk through the huge city with the warnings. This time Jonah sat under a shady plant that the Lord provided.

So, I’m a little like Jonah sitting under the shade-giving plant that dies, only I pace the sidewalk and grumble, a lot.

There are many more comparisons and angles in Jonah’s story. We all have different levels of how we express anger and how we deal with it.

I’m reminded of my relationship not only with God, but to God.

In Genesis 1:26a it’s written “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made . . . in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Yes, things anger me—but like Him, I can be slow to anger, allow for compassion, give myself time to think, and try not to “sweat the small stuff” as my brother likes to say.

God created Jonah with the capacity for compassion for the plant that shaded Jonah. God created us with the same capacity.

The Lord had compassion for Nineveh. He knows every detail of my “mess,” and I can use some compassion and love and understanding. With the Lord’s help, I can talk with the mess-perpetrator again. Maybe things will change . . . or maybe I’ll just get better about not sweating the small stuff.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19 NKJV

How do you handle your anger?

Love,

Sally

Amazon Author Page for The Stonekeepers

 

The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

Love,

Sally