Sunny Pathway

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Some time ago I diddled with ideas that began as skewed definitions. They're usually incomplete because they highlight only one aspect of a word. Eventually I often added additional definitions to highlight still another aspect. While rummaging through stuff yesterday, I discovered an old notebook. Perhaps some of you will find them interesting.

Paradox: defies logic; describes reality

Art: creating infinity within predetermined boundaries

Art: using that which isn’t literally true to reveal that which is true

The second definition of art is familiar to anyone who's studied either the visual arts or literature. It's fodder for a post in itself.

The first definition of art came to me when glancing at a pen and ink drawing of a flower in the most unexpected place. My attention was suddenly arrested. Confined by the size of her paper, her subject matter, and the limits of her medium, the artist created a world that took my breath away. Prior to that day I freely said I didn't understand visual art. Although my understanding is still woefully inadequate, I think I understand the driving force that pushes the artist to create. This is surely fodder for a post in itself, too, but I've said almost all I have to say on the subject. Besides, thinking about it is almost painful, almost visceral because it grabs me inside.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Yesterday morning I received a call from a friend who winters in Arizona. She’d read my last post for this blog and was concerned about my physical health. I'm so sorry. I didn’t mean to scare anyone.

And yet, the problem had potential to affect all aspects of life. Stepping outside of God’s plan—being out of His will—is not healthy.

The details are boring. I wrote them out and realized they’re of no interest to anyone but me. I deleted them. Suffice it to say, I’m not going to have a website, at least at this time and perhaps never.

I made the final decision yesterday but decided to sleep on it. By the time we went to bed, I was sure, and I slept well. Already, I’m wondering if a website might not have been the dead end.

I've told our children and others than I didn’t need to write, it was just something I could do. I’ve realized this past year that perhaps I do need the release writing offers. Ken gets tired of it at times, but he’s also recognized its value—so he encourages and supports it. He’s a good man.

And me? Personally, I’m back to square one. In a real sense, the direction of my blogging has been changing every since I began, and I sense more changes are ahead. I appreciate every reader, and Sunny Pathway seems to have picked up a few. Some days I wonder why, but it’s interesting and enjoyable for me. And I feel God is somehow part of the equation.

At this point, I have three blogs. The most recent venture is Thoughts for Inspiration. Each posting was originally published as a weekly column for the Daily News of Wahpeton, ND and Breckenridge, MN. Although I wrote them quite a few years ago, at that time I felt they would be published elsewhere some day. But life goes on, that chapter was done, and I forgot them

One day I realized—can’t remember now what triggered the idea—they could be published on the web. So, after receiving permission from the Daily News, I began editing, adapting, and publishing on January 1. They’re short, very short, not really devotionals but thoughts.

I won a few awards for my writing in those days, but only an Honorable Mention for Thoughts. A friend told me that was because they didn’t fit a category. They’re not newsworthy as news is measured by the world, and there’s nothing to generate personal interest. They merely focus on God’s Word, the most rewarding topic possible. That's why I like them so much. I began posting them on January 1 of this year on Monday through Saturday.

Getting up every morning to get them out was a major hurdle at first. I didn’t tell many about my new venture because I wasn’t sure I could keep it up. I figured they could be posted ahead but couldn't come up with the procedure. Totally by accident I did it one morning—but was confused about how it happened. After I enlisted Ken’s analytic skills and followed his suggestions, I learned to do it. Well, most of the time.

That somehow changes everything—so I decided to tell the world. To check out Thoughts for yourself, you can click on the appropriate box in the sidebar or click here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trust in the Lord

Our son Ted took this picture on a blustery winter day in late December of 2007. He was home for his first Christmas in this part of the world in almost 20 years. The reproduction here is to small to see that the sign reads Dead End.

Ouch. But I was impressed because the picture captures something I feel at times. Our corner of the world can seem like the end of the world. But isn’t that true of any corner? Every place has its limitations.

And this is home. Both Ken and I grew up fairly close to area. We returned after living elsewhere during the early years of our marriage.

Not all dead ends are related to geography. The past couple of weeks I’ve again been facing a dead end of sorts. At least, I’ve come to the end of a road which may or may not have a hidden path out.

Rather than labor over the details, let me say that when I read about Israel’s exodus from Egypt today, I had more sympathy than I’ve had in the past. You know the story:

—after the Israelites witnessed the plagues against the Egyptians
—after they followed Moses detailed instructions for the Passover
—after they received farewell “presents” of gold and precious materials

—they followed Moses out of the land of bondage into a trap seemingly arranged by God. Caught between a trained army and a body of water they couldn’t cross, they would have traded slavery for life. God had other plans. (Exodus 14)

No person is actively pursuing me or plotting my demise. I can’t identify any enemy other than Satan, the eternal enemy of my soul. But if God had plans for the Israelites, perhaps He has other plans for me.

Yes, He does. I know He does because I’ve confronted difficult circumstances before and I’ve learned He’s always at work. I just don’t know what His plans are. And I don’t know how to prepare.

All God asks is that I wait for His revelation. All I want is to know what to do. But if He gave me a task, I might resent it because it wouldn’t be what I’d planned.

There you have it. His plan. My plan. Sometimes they come together. Sometimes they don’t. And I won’t know where God will take me or what He’ll offer for several weeks.

On a blustery winter day I’ve come to a dead end. Once again, I have to return to my trusty life’s theme verse: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Prov. 3:5-6 KJV)

God knows how to make the struggle new and the verse fresh.

Lord, I need you. Help me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Night Out at Home

Ken and I watched Enchanted April, an English movie airing on TCM last Monday eve. I’d heard it was about women’s relationships, so I wasn’t sure he’d like it. But he joined me, and when it was over he said,Well, that was nice. I felt blessed.

I’ve been thinking about the movie off and on ever since. The symbolism was interesting—the disappointed-Madonna image, blood from the pricked finger, the walking stick that sprouted when planted. I want to see the movie again so I can get a better handle on the nuances.

The simple story portrays four women who suffer intolerable lives in London. To get away, they agree to join the others and rent a castle in Italy during the month of April. Each experiences a transformation during their stay.

Mrs. Fisher, an older widow, wanted to be left alone with memories of an illustrious past. In the end she abandoned her past to enjoy new friends.

Caroline felt overwhelmed by the need to project physical beauty. She connected to a man with limited physical eyesight who saw into people’s hearts.

Rose endured a husband who had abandoned her emotionally. She barely hoped when following Lottie's suggestion, and an ironic circumstance brought her husband to her.

And Lottie? In London she couldn’t break into her husband’s obsessive need for status and position—an obsession so deep he didn’t notice her as a person. In her desperation she talked out of turn—said things one shouldn’t say to another—intruded into other people’s lives—epitomized the silly woman.

But through all of that desperation, Lottie believed. She believed enough to push for something that went against common practice, even against proper behavior. She believed enough to think her friends and her husband could be changed. Her silly, intrusive words generated life, even in her husband. He came to meet her and wondered why he hadn't seen her beauty before.

And Ken and I bought into it—because it seemed believable. Perhaps because we believe people can be transformed.

I’m inclined to interpret the story as a metaphor for God at work in people's lives through one individual who chooses to believe. I just don't want to limit the wonder of transformation to a month in a beautiful setting.

Lottie chose faith. Her foolish words entered the others through the power of faith. In the end, they produced golden fruit.

Yeah, I know I’m pushing the metaphor. But the movie spoke to me. I do plan to see it again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rejoicing over Yellow and Other Things

Rain drops against the window panes woke me up this morning. I pulled up our blind to a gray sky and gray snow. The pristine white of winter lost. Only dirt remains in hardened drifts as the moisture content melts and washes away.

I love rainy days during three seasons of the year—but not during winter when the ground is frozen and rain turns to ice. Ken looked out the window in horror to see a widow across the street literally slide down her gently-sloping driveway as she took trash to the street for collection. Being the hearty soul she is, she maintained her balance and made her way back to the garage by tramping through a blotchy snow bank.

On such a day as this, creativity is in order. And I’m at something of an impasse. I don’t know what to do about a possible website—can’t look to it as a source of solace for sure. So I opened this blog. Just to look.

I love the yellow. Just yesterday a decorator on TV referred to cheesy yellow. But I can’t help myself—next to red, yellow is my favorite. It’s also my neutral color, my perfect backdrop for reds, blues, greens, and even purples.

I wanted a softer shade, but attempts to manipulate the code either added a greenish cast or resulted in a bright, overpowering hue. Today, however, I want cheerful, and this shade of yellow is cheerful. Furthermore, I’m enjoying the physical appearance of the blog because I brought the elements together—the picture, the background, the red headings, the text colors.

I’ve received comments on the new design. One mentioned the picture, and being she did, I’m going to tell you about it. Primarily because it illustrates something about creativity.

It happened in Ethiopia when Ken and I met our son and his family there. Ethiopian flowers were abundant—on the streets, in courtyards, everywhere. They bloom all year in the ideal climate, and are a major export. Only Holland sells more in the European market.

A friend of our daughter-in-law Marta drove us to many sites while we were there, including beautiful hotels with breathtaking gardens. And I took pictures. The masthead photo for this blog was supposed to be a picture of a huge bank of white roses stretching across a parking lot. The presence of a path was incidental.

So I didn’t catch what I wanted—the flowers look less than spectacular. However, through the art of cropping I focused on a sunny path that's beautifully emphasized by flowers along its edges.

Isn’t that the way with our creative efforts? So often we have an idea, it doesn’t work, and something else emerges.

There’s a great deal of hope in that idea. Think about it next time you’re stuck at home on a gray day and decide to prepare a special treat or dinner—but you’re missing a key ingredient. You make do, experiment, and create a new and unforeseen taste-treat to grace your family’s palate.

Or when you want to wear something different—but your closet contains only the same old same old. I’ve created a few interesting ensembles that way—and even worn them in public. But I’ve also created exciting combinations that I’ve worn again and again—like the purple jacket over a yellow turtleneck, accented by red wood beads. Such fun.

There was a time when I downplayed my joy in creating. It somehow seemed self-centered. Now I think creativity taps into God—and that He experiences great pleasure when we draw from Him.

Years ago I learned a song that didn’t make sense to me at the time. It portrayed God rejoicing over His people. I thought it was Scripture so I searched Stong’s Concordance, to no avail. But I found two other interesting verses. In one, a psalmist extols the wonders of nature, God’s provision for His creation, the whole works. Then he says, May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works . . . . (Ps. 104:32 ESV)

The context of the other verse is the return of God’s people to Israel—and by extension, the return of God’s people to a life focused on Him. It reads, I [God] will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in the land. (Jer. 32:41 NLT)

Imagine. That’s God speaking through the prophets. He rejoices over His creation, including flowers in Ethiopia, rain and melting snow in North Dakota, and oh-so-much more. And He rejoices in doing good for His people.

When I started writing this morning, I simply knew I enjoyed yellow—one of the colors God created. With that as a starting point, as one thought led to another, God brought me into enjoying not only one color but His entire creation.

And then? Well, He reminded me that He finds joy in doing good for me. I don't know what that means or how it will work out, but it's an overwhelming thought. One that causes me to join Him in songs of joy. We have an awesome, personal God. Oh, He’s good. Very, very good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Website?

We’ve all heard about the worst of times and the best of times. This has been one of those weeks. Only, I haven’t found the best of times yet. Ideally, I’d like to write about a victory—show God at work. But that isn't always true of the day-to-day nitty-gritty. This time, the victory still waits in the wings. I hope.

I’ve mentioned several times that I have a major project. I've been planning and creating a web site. I’ve enjoyed the blogs and plan to keep two—a personal blog and a devotional blog. But I began blogging primarily to write about spiritual armor—felt God was impressing me to do that. The material amounts to information—and I've realized blogs don’t lend themselves well to providing information. They do best with current ideas and reactions. (If interested, you can check out some of my writing on spiritual armor by perusing Red, Red Berries . Click and then scroll down.)

Let me digress a bit. Spiritual armor is a tough subject. There’s not a lot of material available—most references simply state we should put it on. I’ve been nervous approaching something so weighty, and my writing feels stilted at times. Although it’s the very subject I felt God wanted me to write about, it requires courage to begin every time I post.

A friend said, “Maybe this is just for you.” Maybe it is. But I’m not motivated to learn for myself. If I can’t share, why bother? That must be a personal defect, but it’s my reality.

(I eventually found an excellent book by William Gurnall of the seventeeth century—published by Moody—but that’s a digression within a digression, so I’ll resist writing about it.)

Back to the website. I ran into a major glitch after spending major money on material that would supposedly help me create a site on my own. I took this approach because, with my own creation I could make changes without paying the designer. After all, I want a site that could grow and incorporate changes.

Of course, now I’m wondering what I was thinking of. I came to the end of myself sometime Thursday eve, and since then I’ve realized God still understands and loves me. Not only that, Ken still understands and loves me. I can’t justify a colossal mistake because I needed to know I am loved, but it’s been nice.

Today I began thinking this could become a foundation for something else in the future. I’ve learned a great deal, even though a website might not emerge from the ashes. Then I remembered I’m nearly 70.

The dilemma is what to do now. Continue with the blogs? I know I have to finish what I started on spiritual armor. That will take three months at least. Then, if I’m serious about putting together a more viable presentation, I should rewrite. Where will it find a home?

I Thessalonians 5:16-19 reads, Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Notice it doesn't say give thanks for but give thanks in. I don't think God is telling me thank him for glitches, but in the middle of the circumstance I'm to rejoice, pray, and give thanks anyway. I've been able to give thanks, and I've even been thankful that I'm able to be thankful. Interesting, isn't it. Haven't quite come to the rejoicing stage yet.

I’ve thought about approaching a young gal who designs and services websites, but don’t want to ask her for information. I might not follow through—and then be charged for a consultation. I’ve thought about trying once again to create my own site. But even Ken is stumped and, truthfully, I suspect a scam. I won’t go into why—too depressing.

Couldn’t face it yesterday or today. I've decided I won't think about it tomorrow. Monday? Maybe. Maybe a victory still waits in the wings.

On another note altogether, Ken was able to get into the layout of this blog and enlarge the title (just under the picture) tonight while I was writing the above. Perhaps that was the best of days this week. I'm pleased with the new design, even though it's also been time-consuming.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Shortly after realizing I wasn’t responsible for everyone at all times—and that I didn’t have to carry everyone’s burdens (see Saturday’s post)—I attended a conference. Among other features, there was a workshop on mentoring that I didn’t attend—I was afraid I’d come out feeling responsible again. But a friend did attend and she encouraged me to purchase an audio tape of the session. From the tape I learned helpful concepts.

According to the gal leading the workshop, mentoring relationships grow out of natural relationships. She didn’t think of mentors as individuals carrying burdens. Nor was a mentor someone in a position of authority over the person receiving help. In fact, mentors aren’t necessarily long-term—although they might be.

If you know someone who can teach or lead in an area of need, you can think of them as a mentor and glean what you can. For example, if the person has a flare for cooking, you might pick up cooking skills. Or perhaps someone can advise you on decorating. Or, on looking up Biblical references. Or on the value of prayer. Or on how to discipline children.

I can live with that concept of mentoring. It’s interesting that this entire scenario should come to mind at this time—an example of God’s provision, I think.

There’s a young gal in my life who recently referred to me as her mentor. I panicked because I'd forgotten the teaching from the workshop—I was afraid of being overwhelmed by burdens, and I was afraid mentoring would put me in a position of authority, would destroy a friendship. Furthermore, she has major health issues that I’d like to fix-but can’t.

Remembering this teaching puts things in perspective. I can’t be responsible for my friend. I can only encourage her, primarily in a specific area. Beyond that, I can pray and offer emotional support—if I don’t allow myself to become overwhelmed by her burdens. And I can forget about being an authority over her. What a relief.

(There’s another element called intercessory prayer that does include carrying burdens, but never over the long term and never as an authority figure. It’s a huge subject, something to cover another time.)

I believe both being a mentor and receiving input from mentors are essential for going forward. It’s something I need to learn anew as I’m re-entering into relationships again. Have I mentioned recently that God never stops dealing with His children, not even as they grow older? I’m excited. I think it's another new step.