Friday, October 23, 2009

One Year Ago Today

Congratulations to those of you reading today! This is the anniversary date of my first blog entry. :) Yes, I do realize that compared to most things in life, this is not exactly a monumental occasion, but for me it marks the end of a crazy year that has actually been documented when I need proof it really happened. A year ago I was introducing the idea of us moving to Baltimore and today I have been living here 7 months. Having previously lived in the same area for 47 years and being a first born who wants to know how everything is going to turn out ahead of time, I'm actually kind of impressed I'm typing this in an apartment in a city in the north.

I think I would normally be in a more reflective mood today, but my birthday 3 days ago served that purpose. Instead, I find myself looking ahead to what God has for me and my family. While I never would presume to limit God to human expressions, I think He probably smiles sometimes knowing that we're exactly where we're supposed to be for now. I discovered Ezekiel 40:4 the other day and while the verse is in the middle of a vision that's being described, I still found the words very fitting.

"...see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you."

Life is a story and it's continually being written by the Author of life. That perspective is comforting sometimes and at times it's exasperating. I've always loved stories and words and figuring out how to best express something that matters to me. When someone else has done it well, I figure there's no reason to try and improve it. So we'll let Sam close out today's entry with an excerpt from J.R.R. Tolkein's The Two Towers.

"We shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?"

What sort of tale, indeed?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Colors of Fall

It is a beautiful day in Baltimore today. If I thought about it too much, I could be sad that I won't get to enjoy the North Georgia mountains this fall. But God's beauty is everywhere; it might just look different than what we're used to. With that thought in mind, I grabbed my camera and headed out on a walk to purposely look for fall along the streets of the city.

These pictures are from our parking lot and the area by the harbor.

From here, I walked toward a nearby wharf area and took these shots.

I headed back toward our apartment and passed the nearby park where I took these pictures.

I began the final turn toward home and got these final ones.

I might not have a tree covered yard out my window or a front step to place a carved pumpkin this year, but expressions of God's grandeur and glory are all around me. I was given exactly what I needed today, but I would have missed it if I hadn't taken the time to look.

Before I close this entry out, I have one more thing to share with you. If you read regularly, then you already know this news. If you don't, then you might not know that Michael, our youngest, got engaged right before our trip to GA a couple of weeks ago. We are so excited and we absolutely love Bekah. Tiffany went to Boston last weekend for a visit with friends and co-workers and got a chance to take some engagement pictures of them. She sent me a few I can share with you.

Great job on the pictures, Tiffany! :) And congratulations, Michael and Bekah!

Monday, October 19, 2009

This Is A New Year

Being a first born, I am often introspective, usually to a fault. I have found that special occasions or calendar reminders are a big trigger for me and while school may start, the leaves change colors, spring flowers bloom, or Santa's arrival is anticipated, I can usually be found looking inward and assessing life's greater meaning.

Now that you know this, it won't surprise you to hear that my upcoming birthday in an hour or so does the same thing. The only time I really struggled with a particular age was during my 29th year as I anticipated the big 3-0. But once that passed, I haven't really minded birthdays. I figure that if I didn't have them, I wouldn't be here anymore, so that's usually a good deterrent to the birthday blues.

Like many before, I will be working on my birthday, but not near as hard as some years past. I've been part of huge rivalry football games, a homecoming parade, a milestone celebration with 2000 inquisitive high school students wondering what was going on, and quiet days that went mostly unnoticed. But I've always been aware of God's thoughts toward me because of Psalm 139. I won't share it all here, but there are a few verses that are my favorite.

"O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me...and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Where can I go from Thy Spirit? For Thous didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; my frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."

Most of us have had times when we've wondered if God was there in our life; either when we were conceived, when a parent left, when as a child we were unprotected or unloved, or when life fell so hard around us we couldn't imagine ever picking up the pieces and moving forward. Yet God has never moved and He is still redeeming and restoring and making whole those who've been broken. I know because I am one of them.

So as this day is waning and tomorrow is standing at the edge of what will soon be today, I just want to thank God for my day of birth. But more importantly, I want to thank Him for my day of rebirth; when the scales were removed and I saw Jesus lifted high as He drew me to Himself. I don't know much and I understand even less, but this I know: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
~2 Corinthians 5:21.

With family and friends far away, this won't be a party year. But I thought I'd leave you with a picture of when I celebrated my 6th birthday with my friend Pam, who lived next door and was only 2 days older than me. I'm on the left with the tiara. I don't really know why I have that on because those were actually dance costumes and the feather in her hair was what went with the costume. Maybe that was God giving me an early clue just what He thought of me and would proceed to take my lifetime to teach me - that all girls are princesses because their Daddy says so!

This is a new year, this is a new day to rise
Shine, lift up your eyes
This is a new year, this is a new day to rise
Shine and point the way to God's great life

Where hope can hold my hand of sorrow
We can walk into tomorrow
This is a new year, this is a new day to rise
Shine, lift up your eyes

This is a new year, this is a new day to rise
Shine and point the way to God's great life

"New Year", Charlie Hall, The Bright Sadness Album

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall Colors

Happy Saturday to you! I am back in Baltimore after a ridiculously busy weeklong visit in GA. I left on a gorgeous fall day and returned on a cold and rainy day that felt more like winter. My only consolation is that it's like that in most of the east and there's been no snow.

October is traditionally thought of as the perfect fall month so I thought I'd share a couple of pictures with you from my trip that show some of the colors of the season.

These were taken in a Cracker Barrel parking lot as I drove south last week. It was also the last day I've seen the sun shining. I am really not OK with that and am hoping the forecast holds and it reappears at the first of the week.

The next pictures show lots of orange and a little red in a familiar setting if you live in the south.

Yep, Hamp and I went with Michael and Bekah to the UGA/UT football game in Knoxville and watched the Dawgs play a horrible game of football. It was still fun to be surrounded by over a hundred thousand fans cheering crazily for their team - it just didn't happen to be the one we wanted to win. The main reason we went was so Michael could introduce Bekah to Georgia football. I'm not sure she will ever be as enthusiastic as Michael is, but she was a great sport and enjoyed the atmosphere.

If you look carefully, you might see the engagement ring on her left hand that Michael gave her on Thursday night before they left on Friday for GA. He wanted to bring her as his fiancee' so she wouldn't have to worry about feeling like she was there on approval and it made the trip a lot of fun. We're so excited for them and we love Bekah for Michael. I'll be keeping you posted as wedding plans take shape, but we do know it will be sometime in the spring.

On Sunday night, we went to Passion City Church and it was a great service. Monday saw us visiting Hamp's parents in Newnan before he flew back to Baltimore for work. We introduced Bekah to Sprayberry's Barbecue and all enjoyed the yummy food.

I scheduled a couple of doctor visits, had dinner with friends, and spent lots of time in the car running errands since I knew where everything was. I realized how much more the south is spread out and we were all tired of being in the car by the time the visit was over. Michael and Bekah flew out on Thursday and I began the drive back to Baltimore, taking two days instead of one.

Now you're caught up and I'm working on getting that way here at home. I brought back our family pictures as I'm trying to continue sorting and getting rid of stuff. I'll leave you with my high school senior picture I found and scanned so I could use it on Facebook where I've reconnected with a lot of my classmates because of our reunion this summer. Our class song was "We May Never Pass This Way Again" and as I look at this picture, I think that was very prophetic!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I know I said I had a lot to share with you and pictures too, but you're still going to have to wait a little longer. But you actually will now get a bonus for checking back so soon.

I have some exciting news to share with you, but Tiffany beat me to the punch by writing about it on her blog earlier today. But possibly even more exciting than the actual family news is the miracle of God's faithfulness and redemption that is still available to us if we just ask and is evidenced by what Tiffany shared today. Rather than try to recreate it, I'm putting the link to her blog here so you can read it directly from her.

There's really nothing else to say except, "Thank you, God, for the miracle of redemption and for becoming sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Jesus."

Visiting in GA

Good Sunday morning to you! This is just a teaser to let you know that I'm in GA for several days and as with all visits back here, it's been very busy. I don't have time to post any pictures or really catch you up right now on what's been going one. I'll just leave it at that you'll want to check back soon because there's LOTS to share! (Isn't that what good authors are supposed to do? Hook 'em in so they'll come back??)

I'm so excited - we get to go to Passion City Church tonight and Louie's talking about grace. There's a reason the word "amazing" is usually in front of it! Have a great day!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crazy Weekend!

For those of you who have visited and walked the streets of Fells Point with us, I wanted to show you what this past weekend looked like. The annual Fells Point Festival is held the first weekend of October every year and it reminded me of traditional fall festivals I've experienced, the 1991 Braves parade, and a concert all combined into one event. Thankfully, our apartment complex is at the far end of the street so we missed most of the chaos.

A lot of the people attending just came in their boats and parked them along the various docks throughout the area. This is by "our" bench.

When you left our building and turned right, the street was blocked off and this is what you saw.

This is the little park at the corner of our street and where a stage was set up for bands to play throughout the weekend. The side street was lined with porta-potties to add to the decor of the neighborhood. :)

Here is the side street that goes in front of the french bakery many of you have enjoyed visiting.

This is the same intersection looking back toward our apartment building.

The line to the water taxi stayed this long all day.

Not that I ever forget, but this was a somewhat humorous reminder that we don't live in the south anymore.

When I think of fall festivals, I picture wandering among the trees of someone's property checking out the handmade items, sitting on bales of hay to eat barbecue, and choosing a pumpkin to take home and carve. These were the only hay bales to be seen the entire day.

And this was the only pumpkin.

Instead of corn husk creations, there were heated and flattened liquor bottles that could be used for decorating.

And crab cakes instead of hamburgers.

Lest you think the entire experience was completely depressing, I leave you with the reminder that while life might not look like you thought it would sometimes, God never fails to come through with a smile just when you need it most.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quiet Week

As the title indicates, it has been a quiet week for us. Monday began long before the sun came up as we had to get Michael and Bekah to the airport for a 6:30 flight back to Boston. We had a good visit with them but I have no pictures to show from it. Even though they were here primarily for Michael to lead worship on Sunday morning, we watched the Georgia Bulldogs on television Saturday as they pulled out a last minute victory and then went to the Baltimore Ravens game Sunday after church where they beat the Cleveland Browns soundly.

September was a busy month, so when I wasn't working this week, Kit and I both took advantage of the newly arranged furniture to relax some and enjoy the beautiful fall weather with the windows open.

This is the view I have when lying on the love seat facing the window. Thanks Debbie and Janet for the great idea!

I had an interesting thing happen on Monday afternoon when I went to the bank for work. It's always an experience to go because it's located in the heart of downtown Baltimore. First I have to find a parking space and once I do, I have to walk to the bank. The distance varies from week to week depending on where I end up finding a place to park. As you can imagine, it has been a stressful ordeal for this suburbanite and often a pointed reminder of how different life is for me now.

On this particular day, I had left the bank and was waiting on the corner for the light to change so I could cross the street. As I stood there, what drew my attention was the clear blue sky overhead, the warm sun on my face, and the realization that it was a perfect fall afternoon. The cars were still rushing by, people of all walks of life were still surrounding me, and dirty streets were still under my feet. But it was the beauty of God's creation that caught my attention first. That's when I knew He's been at work in my heart and slowly giving me His eyes to see the city of Baltimore. The words of Charlie Hall's song, "Scenes" ran through my mind and never seemed more fitting:

Chill and cold and flakes of snow
Ice and sleet, and frost and cold
Each storm cloud and thunderbolt
Lifts my mind to You

Every work and every power
Every second of every hour
Fall of dew in sweet rain showers
Lifts my mind to You

The summer wind, fire and heat
Autumn leaves and blooms of spring
Ocean waves and mountain streams
Lifts my mind to you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

As I lay me down to sleep
As I walk on city streets
As I laugh with friends and feast
It lifts my mind to you

As my children play and run
In the news with wars and guns
In the church where songs are sung
It lifts my mind to you

Deep inside the beggar's eyes
As for sweet love I fight
On the radio at night
It lifts my mind to you

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

Painting pictures of your love
You lift my mind up
Reminding me of you
My heart comes alive

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you

My Father's eyes - that's something I've been thinking about a lot this week. I want to see my surroundings and the people in them as He does, but I realized that I don't remember often enough that when His eyes fall on me, He likes what He sees there too. Most of the time, I let others or my own thoughts determine whether how I'm seen is acceptable or not. Can I really see the world as He does if I don't believe that I'm just as cherished? I'm thinking probably not.

A quiet week? Yes...but not without much to think about, especially as the weather turned windy and gray as the week progressed. If I'm not careful, I will wish away the coming months mourning the fact that I don't live in the south for now. Michael challenged me to embrace what's here and make the best of it and so on Wednesday I bought my first rain boots as an adult. I'll let you decide if putting them on to walk along wet city streets will help bring a smile to my face.

I see you in every scene
I bet you are thinking about me
I have such a short memory
So you keep reminding me of you