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.

Be of Good Courage

The hallway of the nursing home settles into a soft hum of lessening noise with residents getting ready for bed.

A child of God, a woman, sits in her wheelchair, bound up in sadness and loneliness, her countenance etched with fear and tears. Head bowed, chin-to-chest, slender fingers white as she grasps the arms of her chair.

She rarely leaves her dim, quiet room and feels secure only within their enclosing walls. But Light shines through another, an old man with a snowy-white beard. He rolls his wheelchair down the hall and pauses at the open doorway of the woman’s room.

He doesn’t notice as a nurse motions for the aide with her not to interfere. But the two stand and watch as he slowly maneuvers through the doorway and stops alongside the woman, facing her.

For a moment, he simply sits quietly. Then he touches her arm.

His gentle hand stays in place as his still-sweet tenor voice permeates the silence and births music. A song swells from the depths of his heart and fills the room, chases out shadows, melts away loneliness.

Darkness lifts and vanishes before the Light.

Loneliness and isolation had covered a soul with the wide, black brush-stroked paint of fear.

Unpretentious love casts the radiance of His Light to bring moments of comfort—and a tenuous smile.

Two children of age, transformed by time’s passage, one drawn to the other through the heart’s essence of compassion.

Uninhibited, innocent love and mercy pour from a heart where Jesus lives.

♥♥
The nurses where my father stayed for a while shared the woman’s fears and described to me how they’d watched and what they’d seen as Dad visited her room.

In spite of his own suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, he found a way to comfort her through the one gift he could give—a song.

♥♥

A tender song, a heartfelt prayer, a soft touch to a fearful or suffering child of God—if you give those small gifts, how do you know you aren’t bringing the Light of Christ into the world of another?
Watch for what God is doing. Heed the tiny urges to “go” and “do” that you sense in your spirit.

So, go there and do that, and don’t look back. Be encouraged in the knowledge that you’ve entered a dimension where God’s listening children work with Him Hand-in-hand.

Dad loved roses.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“And David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.'” 1 Chronicles 28:20

Love,

Sally

Embraceable You

Little brothers~

I’m a hugger. Like my dad, I love people.

When I hug someone, once in a while there’s a little confusion as to where each of us will place our arms.

Sometimes it gets funny. But no matter what, there’s always a smile going on as we settle into a brief, warm hug that whispers of caring.

Did you know that there’s apparently a science to the action of hugging? I’d heard of it but hadn’t paid much attention to it until I decided to write this post.

Go here to find the fun wikiHow hug website. It shows you—with accompanying drawings—just how to hug everyone . . . properly!

It made me smile and even laugh out loud at some of the cute demos, though it still didn’t show me if there’s a preferred way to put my arms around someone. ☺

Sisters~

Now if you want to get all scientific . . . when you hug, there’s a release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that makes us feel good, and then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol that’s reduced, which is a good thing. No in-depth study here, but I’m sure there are probably more good things that happen, like endorphins . . . maybe more.

But when He made us, God knew we just needed love (plus, the oxytocin and cortisol were His ideas in the first place!).

Don’t ever stop embracing one another. It’s so important to show love and that’s just one small way to say “I love you” or “I think you’re a really wonderful person” or “I truly appreciate our friendship” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m so happy to see you.” I may feel all the love, care and compassion in the world, but unless I tell you or show you, you might never know that I feel that way.

You can blow all the air kisses you want to, but love or just sweet friendship shown in a hug is incomparable.

Here’s some of what the Word has to say about embracing others,
like your Relatives:

Family~

“Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son,
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house.
So he told Laban all these things” (Genesis 29:13).

Brothers: “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck
and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Fathers and sons: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.
Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them” (Genesis 48:10).

Spouse: “His left hand is under my head, and
his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:6). Disciples/Friends: “After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to
himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia” (Acts 20:1).

Bye, Grandpa.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Hugs are small and free and warm and loving and one way to obey that commandment.

How do you feel about hugs?

LoveSally

Simplicity

Sometimes it’s the little things. So simple, so subtle—and we miss them.

Jesus holds me safe and close as I speak through Him, directly to my God, my Creator, asking and believing.

The Son of God, Jesus, said these things about what would begin to happen on the day he was resurrected and left to go to his Father—

“In that day you will ask Me nothing.

Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Until now you have asked nothing in My name.

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you;

for the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:23-24, 26-28 NKJV).

So my heart remembers when I pray . . .
. . . that my prayer is to my Heavenly Father, God.
I speak to Him, believing, asking for whatever my needs are,
and asking in the name of Jesus,
knowing God will give me what I need.

And my joy is full.

A note written by the photographer about this wonderful photo that I found under the category of Joy.

Tim Shields calls his photo: Praise God

He writes: “This is the world famous sand dunes of Death Valley. And this is my 12-year-old daughter jumping with all the joy of life that she has within her. It was 6:45 AM and we had just watched the sun rise over the sand dunes. It was a magical moment to appreciate God’s creation together.”

Praying for your joy to be as effervescent as Tim’s daughter’s was that beautiful morning.

Stuck

Unless the Lord builds the house . . .

Such trouble I’m having this week, finding a subject to write about.
A little stressed because of a very busy last week and the time crunch, but trusting, praying, asking for something to write.

I reach for the Bible to search for what God might show me.

The pages fall open to 1Chronicles 22:18-19, and my eyes and imagination are caught up with the words:

“Is not the LORD your God with you?
And has He not given you rest on every side?
Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God.
Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God . . .”

So what are we building, Lord?
A sanctuary, a sacred or holy place. A place of refuge.

We’re building a small sacred place, a place of refuge. A place to spend a few moments together in wonder over the Lord and His universe, His creation, His people, and much more. Setting the scenes every week through photos and word-stories to share God’s love with you. And hope you feel free to share your heart too.

I think of those who have generously written articles for me to post here on the blog.

Thoughts of the artisan/craftsman, Bezalel, light up my mind, and some of his story in Scripture.

“Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.” Exodus 36:2

And my mindset changes with a grin of realization that the Lord has just provided all I needed to share with you—

Whether you are a writer, a mom, a business owner, a caretaker, no matter what God has called you to do, if He has stirred your heart to do that work, He has put wisdom into you to accomplish it.

As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Through Him, just as when Moses called Bezalel to make the tabernacle beautiful, we can do what we were called to do.

We’ve climbed a little mountain and looked up and found a crevice of sanctuary. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” Dr. Suess

So if you find yourself stuck for a solution, consult the Master problem-solver and his Manual! ☺

The Lord has joy and laughter—and mountain climbing—ready for you!

Have you been stuck lately?

 

 

A First Christmas

I’m honored to have author, writer, speaker, and consultant, Sharon Brani as my guest. She relates the story of a day remembered, a day just prior to her trip to Russia which began an Unforgettable Christmas Journey.

Here’s Sharon in her own words . . .

It seems like yesterday since I first hung this decoration on my Christmas tree, but it’s been twenty-one years.

I remember the day so vividly.

My mom and I were busy shopping that day, buying cute little outfits for a six month old baby girl who waited in Russia to be adopted.

I had been notified three days earlier to buy my plane ticket to fly to Russia on December 19th.

My feet seemed to walk on air as we pushed the shopping cart around the store.

There was so much still to be done.

Buying gifts to take with me to Russia.

Diapers, bottles, blankets, and clothing for my soon-to-be adopted little baby girl.

Packing, paperwork.

Mom and I chuckled together as we loaded the cart with boxes and boxes of cigarettes (my brother insisted they’d come in handy as peace offerings), perfumes, and various other items.

As I walked around the baby department, my thoughts wandered back to the small photo I had been given of precious baby girl with big, brown, serious eyes.

Lord, she needs to smile.
She needs to know she is loved.
She needs to know about You.

Suddenly my eyes were drawn to a pink baby blanket on display.

I reached out and felt how incredibly soft it was and held it up for my mom to see.

We knew immediately that this was the blanket I would take with me to bring my little girl home.

And along with the blanket, I purchased a small Christmas ornament, Baby’s First Christmas.

I’ll never forget my excitement as we shopped that day.

The pink blanket was packed in my suitcase awaiting the special day,

and the ornament was hung on my tree in hope—

that one day soon, my baby girl would celebrate her first Christmas—at home.

Meet my friend and guest, the author of this beautiful story, Sharon Brani, and daughter, Noelle.

Sharon is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia, a Board Certified Coach, an educator, published freelance writer, and speaker whose life is committed to helping people discover the way life is meant to be. She’s written over 300 articles, stories, and devotionals for a variety of inspirational publications, and has contributed stories to the Chicken Soup series.

Sharon is the mother of two amazing daughters whom she adopted from Russia. As a nurturer she is well equipped to coach parents at every stage of the adoption process.

Here is a link to Sharon’s website, Discover Life, her blog, Shining Moments, and a link to her brand new book,

The Unforgettable Christmas Journey. Sharon Brani's Book The Unforgettable Christmas Journey

Congratulations, Sharon, and thank you, it is a joy to have you share part of your wondrous Christmas Journey with us.

And here’s one more photo of Sharon and (check out that beautiful smile!) Noelle.

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7).

We’re all on this path of life together. Our prayer is that the Lord will blanket you with the beauty of His peace and fill you with His joy this Christmas season.

Where do you hope your journey will take you this in this new year to come? Please share your comments with us.

Love and Merry Christmas!

Sally and Sharon

Timeless

December. Another year is fast sliding by us to take its place in the lived-in past of eternity.

God says the plans He has for us are carefully shaped to prosper us, give us hope and a future. I’m praying and looking and trusting Him for ideas, things to trigger memories, subjects to write about in 2015.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

As I browse through an online photo gallery, the above photo jumps out. I can’t get past it, so I stop, fascinated. Usually, I don’t care for rooms as busy as this one. But as my eyes roam over the rich and varied woods, a well-used leather loveseat, golden lighting that seems to spread mysteriously throughout the room from a single floor lamp, and dozens of books, I want to be there. After all, there are books. ☺

So maybe that’s what pulls me in. Or is it that I can almost smell the pungent scent of old paper, ink, and a little of the dust and mustiness from leather book covers? There are thick, heavy tomes, tall, slender books, textbooks, some old, some new, maybe a series of fiction or a set of encyclopedias. I’m guessing. I can’t really see the titles.

Something begins to bother me, but I can’t put my finger on what.

Where is this place? I look for a painting of an English fox hunting scene, but the two lovable dogs work just as well, and the room doesn’t really feel English anyway. A tea set sits ready, as if someone is about to enjoy a cup of hot tea with friends. I’m curious about why there’s one big empty square in the bookcase. Did the stack of books on the table come from there?

I want to curl up in the far corner of the couch and hear the leather creak beneath me. I want to tuck my feet up under me with a book in my lap and hold a cup of sugar-sweetened tea with cream between my palms. I want to revel in ambiance of the room, all the details of it.

But the sense of something not quite right persists.

I push it out of my mind and press in closer to study the photo, loving the shades of red everywhere, the dash of green in the blotter on the writing desk, the walls a soft, pastel blue or maybe green, I can’t quite tell. There are figurines, a globe, statuary and another lamp. Is this a library in someone’s mansion?

My imagination is no longer content to sit and gaze, I want to stop time and walk through this room, to examine everything in it. It speaks of someone’s life, the one who put this room together, its creator.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

I finally see what has been niggling at me. A couple of little white rectangles that don’t fit in, dangle from two lamps. Tags. I’d been drawn into an illusion and I have to smile. I dig deeper and learn that the photograph is of a shop in Madrid, not of a private library in someone’s mansion. Still, I’d like to go there! Of course, I’ve seen plenty of displays of furniture in stores and shops arranged as if in homes, but not quite like this one in a photo where sales tags are nearly invisible.

Clever photographer to capture a scene that captures me as well? Or clever shopkeeper to create such an atmosphere for sales? Maybe both?

Your turn to lean in. You can click on the photo to get a better view (and ‘back’ to return to the blog). Look carefully, and you’ll see there are tags on many items, even on a dog’s ear in the painting.

I’d love it if you’d leave your ideas and thoughts about this little illusion!

Things are not always what they seem. “‘Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV).

There are two things, maybe more, that come to mind as I write this blog.

First, If you’re waiting for something in your life, don’t give up. It may seem as if the Lord will never bring your heart’s desire to pass, but wait. Things are not always what they seem. We don’t have eyes to see or hearts to perceive everything that goes into how God answers our prayers. Our job is having faith, believing in Him, not in the request, not in ourselves, not in anything else but Him.

And then, there is the tempter, Satan, who roams this fallen world. In any guise he needs to use, he creates the illusion of something you must have or must do. He assures you that it’s all good until you are ensnared, trapped in sin so deep there seems no way out. But there is nothing too deep or impossible for God. God is greater than any sin. You are loved whether you feel lovable or not. There is hope. And that hope lies in God’s greatest gift to us, His only Son, Jesus. Believe in Him.     ♥     But I’m not here to preach, though I do want to point to the Way out of our troubles, trials, and temptations. So when things are in shades of black all around you, breathe His name. Jesus. That’s the beginning. Find a Bible and begin reading in the back half, in the Book of John. Listen. Watch. God will lead you to someone to talk to. and with.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

Love,

Sally