Friday, August 31, 2007

the thing about funerals

They are not for the one who has passed away....they are for those of us who are left behind. They are a time of family and friends coming together to lift each other up in the time of great sorrow.

As we have celebrated Vera's life these last few days, we have witnessed a mighty outpouring of love and generosity. We have laughed and we have cried and we have remembered the good times that we were given to share our lives with her. She was strong, loving, and giving and she was a blessing to all of us.

The essense of David's message at her graveside today was that God never intended for us to have to experience the horror of death. He created us to live forever with Him in paradise.

Because of sin....we have to experience death, but for believers death is only the passageway into eternal life. The power of sin, Satan, and death was conquered by Jesus Christ our Savior on the cross 2000 years ago.

Vera is with Jesus now....We praise Him that He has raised her into life eternal. We thank Him that she will never suffer again.

Lord, give us joy in our sorrow and thanksgiving in our praise.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a sad farewell

Bubba's mom and our nana passed away late yesterday afternoon. She went peacefully in her sleep. We are thankful that her long ordeal is over, but we will miss her very much. She was 90 years old this past May.

The visitation will be tomorrow from 5:00 until 8:00 pm at Massey Funeral Home in Garden City. The funeral will be graveside at Hillcrest on Friday at 10:30.

Thank you dear one for a life well lived.
We loved you and look forward to seeing you again soon.

"Absent from the body, present with the Lord." To God be the Glory!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

joy is a choice

"Joy is not a feeling,
It is a choice.
It is not based on circumstances:
It is based on an attitude.
It is free,
but it is not cheap.
It is the byproduct of a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
It requires
courage, and
I have the above quote by Tim Hansel posted on my fridge.

I have encountered many people in recent months who are experiencing various kinds of really tough circumstances.

There is a definate "lack of joy" in their lives.

Paul tells us to "rejoice always" in all circumstances.

If we are waiting around to "feel" joyful it will never happen. Joy comes from beleiveing by faith what the Bible says about us and this life we are called to live and then building our lives around that truth.

When we start to see what's going on in our lives from His perspective, everything begins to make sense. We begin to have this "joy" when we let go of our expectations of how we think life should be and let Him put his plans for our good to work in our lives.

It takes work in His word daily to build up the faith that God has given to us. It is not easy, but it is so worth the time invested!

from "things I'm learning" by cathy cleland

Monday, August 27, 2007

that first burst of flavor

I had stopped by the open-air market on the road to the beach yesterday to buy some silver queen corn when I spotted them......the first scuppernongs of the season. I scooped up a basket full and laid down my four dollars without batting an eye. I didn't even wait to get home and wash them. I had that first amazing burst of flavor right in the car.

I cannot describe that taste. Because it only comes for a limited time each year it is even more highly anticipated. It didn't disappoint! Now for the next month I will very nearly make myself sick, but Oh what an illness!!!! Thank you Lord for all of Your many vairied and wonderful taste sensations that make life so enjoyable.

Our trip to Chicago had to be delayed. I don't know if I can go much longer without seeing Lucy again.

Bubba left at 4:00 am yesterday morning to head back to DC to assess the situation there. We are hopeful that there will be another contract job for him. This is in God's hands and we want what He wants for us. As I said before, we are excited to see where He leads us in this matter.

I had a little birthday party at the condo for my mom today. She turns 82 on Thursday of this week. I made shrimp salad and had cake and ice cream. She enjoyed it so much and wanted to know when the next party was going to be.

Yesterday I visited Aunt Dottie in her new place. She seemed to be settling in and accepting it a little better.

Beverly, Sandy, and I met for lunch on Saturday and went to visit our moms. We really enjoyed catching up and being together for the first time in a long while. It's always good to get back together with people you have known practically your whole life. I am grateful for all of the friends that have keep up with me over the years.......another blessing in my life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

any ideas?

I have had it for almost two years. It was purchased during the time that we were in Washington for Bubba's surgery. It is a six foot long mirror trimmed with brown wood. It is to hang over the sofa in the condo. It resides in my dad's garage in a big box. I haven't been able to get it hung. If anyone has any suggestions on how I can get this done and does it I will treat for lunch or maybe even dinner. Just let me know.

My bouganvillia has returned to life. For about six weeks it had no care at all. No water on those scorching hot days while we were not in Savannah. At some point it decided to live again and now it is covered with new green leaves. I have decided that it must be a weed.....nothing else would survive like that.

We have been planning for a long while to go to Chicago for the Labor Day holiday. Our plan was to leave on Thursday, the 30th, spend time in Chicago, and then go on to Washington to access the situation there. Because of Nana's condition, we are seeking God's wisdom on whether to go or not go. At this time we just don't know what to do.

God's grace is diffenently sufficient for these times. When you want what He wants for you, you are never disappointed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

the red stain

It happened on the way back to DC when the bottle of grenadine syrup spilled on the carpet in the front of the Honda........a huge red stain visible for all to see. Jeff commented at Hilton Head that it looked like we had killed a hog in the front seat. Amanda and I had the van packed to the hilt with babies, food items, and various and sundry.

Today we took the van to be "detailed".........not just washed, but finely hand washed in every crook and crevice. It looks great except that the huge stain is still there, quite large and quite red. I keep lamenting over this......why, of all the things in that van did it have to be the red syrup that spilled?

Aunt Dottie is all moved in and she is not happy. She doesn't like the food and she doesn't like having to eat with other people because of her shaking.

We weren't expecting this reaction after Tara, but we are not surprised. Change is hard and she has had a lot of changes lately. We gave her a pep talk this morning and encouraged her to give it a few days to see if she doesn't grow to like it better.

To end my blog today I want to share some verses from II Peter that I mentioned yesterday in my "i forgot" blog. I love the eloquence of the language Peter uses and the revelance that it has to us today.

II Peter 1
12. Therefore I shall always be ready to remind you of these things (the beautiful passage before vs. 12) even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.
13. and I consider it right as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,
15. and I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.

II Peter 3
1. This is now beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
2. that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

We forget.....we need to be reminded!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

i forgot

Yesterday I had an appointment with my allergist at 1:00 pm. He has helped me so much and I was looking forward to a good check-up and not to have to come back for a while.

As I was looking for a magazine to make the waiting time pass faster, my earring fell out and bounced on the chair. Being one of my most prized possessions in the world, I thanked God immediately that it fell out where I could find it. I had forgotten to put the back on and it had hung precariously in my ear lobe all morning.

About that time the nurse called me....."Mrs. Cleland, you are exactly one month to the minute early for your appointment." I had written it on my calendar wrong.

I understand why Peter wrote so many times in II Peter that we need to be constantly reminded of the things concerning our faith. We read and are amazed by the truth that we learn and then we forget it and go on living as "those who have no hope."

That's why we have to be consistently in God's word because we are so forgetful. God knew enough about our frailty to inspire Peter to write that we need to be "constantly reminded."

The shadow of death hangs over us right now. We watch as Nana tenaciously hangs on to her life. She is a very strong woman who has been incredibly healthy all of her life. She is at peace....God is so good.....Praise His holy name and the name of Jesus Christ His Son.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"i can see clearly now"

Yesterday was the first day in over three weeks that there was not a haze hanging over the beach. The skies were bright blue and the water the same. Hilton Head and and Daufuski Islands could be seen crystal clear.

Bubba and I spent the whole day at the condo enjoying all of the activity on the beach and in the water in front of us. We each took two naps, one in the morning and one right after lunch. The week before had been hard and hectic and the rest was a blessing to us both.

I think many times we forget to follow the instructions of the Lord to take a day of rest.

The guest book that I bought when we got the first condo is full. I need to buy another one. One of our greatest blessings is looking back over the book and reading the comments of all of our friends and family who have shared our space and our joy over the last few years.

It brings great pleasure to us for you all to stay and have a short respite from the hectic world that we live in. We love it and it makes us happy to know that all of you love it too.

The undeserved gifts that our God has given to us are too numerous to mention. The fact that we can share them with you is the best part of it all!

as always, cathy

Saturday, August 18, 2007

a hot august evening

Life is interesting to say the least.
For the most part it is mundane........
and then a big one comes and knocks you for a loop.
All of a sudden you don't have a clue about what you're going to do with the rest of your life.

It is kind of fun and stressful at the same time.
We are still waiting for God to show us His pathway.
I love being in this with Bubba.
This afternoon we layed in the bed at the condo and had a hoot of a time discussing different options.......and then we got up and starting boiling peanuts!
If everything else fails we can always set up a roadside peanut stand.

There have been no more live racoon sightings. Bubba spotted a dead one on the side of the Tybee Road yesterday blown up to the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. We hope it wasn't the dad of the family we saw earlier in the week.

Last evening we went to Longhorn with Frankie and Sally and Lindsey and Bryan. It was good fellowship. Lindsey has started graduate school in speech pathology and Bryan is working. He seems to be doing better. They now have four cats, Sammy and the baby kitten Kenny have come to join Lil' KiKi and Bob. The report is that Lil' KiKi is now enormous.

There has been no visible change in Nana, Aunt Dottie is counting the days to get to her new place, and moma came alive today after sleeping for three straight. Dad and I are doing well and all is quiet for now.

I leave tonight with another quote from MLJones:

"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

bubba, i'm hungry

He was at Nana's house doing some work....I had been at the nursing home and the dermatologist's office all afternoon.

I called and told him to meet me in the driveway because I was hungry. He usually knows what that means.....immediate action needed. Sure enough he was outside when I drove up. I suggested that we go to the Olive Garden which is right around the corner and he usually loves that so I wasn't worried.

He had to mail some letters at the post office which meant doubling back and he wanted to eat at Cracker Barrel out on 204 and 95. I didn't say anything even when the traffic was bumper to bumper all the way out there.

At one point I did say that I had not ever been this hungry my entire life to which he responded that I needed to eat more lunch. I had eaten at 11:15 so that I would be ready to feed moma.
Once we ate my whole outlook on life changed. I was "satisfied."

I thought about that episode this morning as I went to God's word.

Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thrist after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Do we go after God's word with the same intensity that we crave food when we are hungry? Do we need it that much? Can we not live without it?

I do not boast as I write this....I just share what I am learning. The underlying theme of my blog is being in God's word consistently each day and letting Him fill us with His wisdom and comfort and joy.

By the way....I'm hungry again. I think I will get a bagel with creme cheese and some "bird" coffee before I go to the nursing home this morning! (I made a sandwich and left it at home.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"not to inquire why or whither"

Here is a quote from Thornton Wilder that I came across during some of my readings this weekend:

"My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither,
but just enjoy your ice cream while it is on your plate."

This is a man who thinks like I do!

I didn't see the raccoons this morning, but the cat-raccoon has been ever present in the dunes. Bub threw him a huge slab of beef on Sunday night and he went off with it like he had just won the lottery. He was throwing it up in the air and catching it in his mouth. He will stare at our condo forever now.

This could have been a preview of what Bubba will do if he ever wins the lottery.

This cat has a cat face and a raccoon body. If anybody has any thoughts or ideas on this phenominum please comment. We are afraid to let our minds wander too far on this.

My lovely sister Teri reminds me quite often of my poor spelling. Again I apologize, but I only have thirty minutes to use the computer and I just don't have time to worry about things like that.

I do appreciate her reminding me as well that I once taught school. Does that mean I should be A+ perfect in every subject? The fact remains that she is small and smart and I am pleasingly plump and average. Also, I am thirteen years older than she and I learned how to read and spell with "Dick and Jane."

Probably the reason for all of the above is that I eat ice cream and she doesn't.......

A lovely day to all.....I'm off to fight my dragons. caoc

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

the little family

Bubba spotted them first. There were six raccoons in a row returning from their long night of being nocturnal. They were in a straight row, one behind the other walking along the varied pathways they had previously forged in the dunes. Some of them were babies.

It was seven oclock in the morning. Bubba and I were sitting on the deck enjoying our coffee and watching the shrimp boats go out for the day. We were counting our many blessings when this incredible little family walked by. What a wonderful gift from God.

I knew that this day would require courage and fortitude on my part as I faced my dad yet again. I was awake very early and in prayer and my word for the strength it would require.

It didn't go never does.

The raccoons were a little gift....a way of God reminding me of His love for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

making a home for her

Bubba and I came over to check our e-mail at Beachside. We are sitting in an oceanfront condo that doesn't belong to us (ours was rented). Thankfulness abounds that we have had a good rental season.

While Bubba watches "Spider Man" I thought I would jot off a quick blog.

We are very pleased with Aunt Dottie's new "digs." Bubba has sweated and worked hard for two days to get her new place set up and to bring order back to Ole Mill.

She has her own bed and three lazy boy type chairs all in a row. Her TV is on a swivel table that she can see from her bed and her chair. She has a cute little kitchen (no stove) and a desk and built in bookshelves.

Estelle and I will add the little touches that make it homey this and dollies and her favorite things. We hope to have her moved in by next weekend.

Aunt Dottie had a smile back on her face yesterday. I think she can see a light at the end of her tunnel.

Nana is the same. She will respond to a call of her name by turning her head a little and briefly opening her eyes, but she does not speak. She seems to be at peace and that is what is important.

Moma is doing a little better. Please pray for me as I try to deal with my dad.

David will be home from Romania on Wednesday. All is going well as far as we know.

Bubba still doesn't have a job. We don't have a clue about tomorrow.

We are so excited to see what God is going to do in our lives......He is good all the time!!!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

never enough time

They go by so quickly.....these days that we can sit lazily by the shore and do absolutely nothing. If we did this all of the time we would start to take it for granted rather than think about it with thankfulness.

Vacations from the daily grind are a privilege granted for hard work and diligence to our tasks. It gives us something to look forward to all year.

Yesterday I found a starfish on the beach. The evidence of God's creativity in its design and intricacy were very evident. I sent it back to the warm waters after studying it for a while. I thought it deserved to live.

I love to be in the warm waters of the ocean. They soothe as nothing else can. As I go out I sometimes think of the sharks and ask God to keep them at bay. God created them as different from the starfish, but part of His design and plan. They too are sleek and fast.

The sea birds are so entertaining. Their flying formations....doing exactly what the leader does. The ones that twirl and squawk and put on a show for their audience......each so delicate yet able to soar in the heights.

Genesis 1
vs.20 Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens."

vs.21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind, and God saw that it was good.

From my reading in "Authentic Christianity" by Martin Lloyd Jones:

"I am convinced that the trouble with the world today is that it does not believe in God. And so much of our evangelism goes wrong because it starts with the Lord Jesus Christ. But you must start with God the Father, God the Creator, One whose glory fills the heavens, the One who is over all."

This was my problem....all of my life I had been taught to begin with Jesus......"ask Jesus into your heart and he will save you from your sins," but I didn't know God. When I started seeking God He taught me why I so despartely needed Jesus.

Thank you God for your gift of faith that enabled me to believe in the work of your precious Son Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

the eyes of Him with whom we have to do

I wake up most every morning to look out upon the ocean. I am not boasting, it is where God has placed us. Living by the sea is a gift from God that we accept with humbleness and thankfulness.

The ocean is always changing. Sometimes it is calm and peaceful, sometimes choppy and menacing. Sometimes it looks as blue as my grandbabie's eyes and sometimes it looks almost black. Sometimes the waves come rolling in as large as barrels, and sometimes there is barely a ripple.

The God that we love and worship is not like the sea. He never changes. He is always the same.

Malachi 3:6 "For I, the Lord, do not change."

The weather, some people say, controls the ocean. That is true, but Who controls the weather? It is God......our sovereign Lord who is worthy to be praised. Love this verse:

Jonah 1:4 "And the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea......"

My heart changes. God doesn't control it completely I am sorry to say. As long as I remain on the earth I will have a desire to sin. But the more I study God's word the more I see and hate my sin, the more I want to turn from its wretchedness.

This, my friends, is a description of the power of God's word on a person's heart:

"For the word of God is:
sharper than any two-edged sword
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit
of both joints and marrow
able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

And there is no creature hidden from His sight
but all things are open and laid bare
to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do

By reading His Word He is able to cut right through to my heart and lay it bare.

I will now go swim in the ever-changing ocean and praise my never-changing God.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

our ride to harbor town

We left about 7:30.....after dinner and a little rest. Lisa and I had planned while on the beach today that we would ride to Harbor Town on our bikes this evening.

Here we on my pink bike and her on a blue beauty with a little white basket.
We were off at a good clip and kept together pretty well. We made it in record time without any mishaps.

We recounted in years past the accidents that we had walked away from by the grace of God. One time Jeff went head first over his handlebars and landed flat on his feet. I wish we had kept a record of all the miles we have logged on these paths here at Hilton head.

Harbor Town never changes. The same man was singing the same songs that he sang 30 years ago as a young man. He has gray hair now, but his voice is the same. We stood and listened for a minute and then moved on.

We made it back to the house just before and sound.

I like Hilton Head! It just feels like home.

notes on summer

Every morning it gets later and later......the time that I awake. This is the surest sign my body is relaxing. All of the problems are still raging, but somehow here where we are there is nothing you can do but relax.

The heat wave that has overtaken the country is hovering over us as well. I have already gotten more sun than I wanted even under the umbrella and with heavy sunscreen.
The sun is behind a veil of haze, but that doesn't stop it's intensity.

The "dog days of summer" have arrived. Those sultry, heavy days telling us that the end of the oppressive heat is near.....when we first begin to long for a crisp cool day. "The dogs" will sleep happily under the shade of the porch for a little longer but soon they will be able to run and play again.

Andrea, the tropical depression that paid a lasting visit here in June, has created a deep gully down the middle of the beach that fills up with water at high tide. It is a good place to float around and cool off when the sun's warmth overtakes you.

As I sit and watch the ocean I am awed by God's power. That massive body of water that could flood the earth stops right where the God of the universe tells it to stop and we sit in front of it and believe His promise.

Proverbs 8:29 "When He set for the sea its boundary, so that the water should not transgress His command."

Do we think about God's power enough? Are we awed by Him? Can just looking at the ocean bring on waves of praise?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

living by faith

The Bible says that the testing of your faith produces endurance. It goes on to say for us to let endurance have its perfect result that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

These are spiritual promises for the trials of life. Of course physically and materially we won't be "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." But spiritually we will be given amazing provision for our every need. Notice that it says that we must "let" endurance have its perfect work.

Bubba's contract job in Washington ended unexpectely two weeks ago. That's the way those jobs go. Here today....gone tomorrow. With the world you never know what is coming next, but with God you know that whatever He brings your way will be for your good.

We don't know what we will do......we don't have a clue. We have floated in the ocean and walked on the beach sharing ideas and possiblities. Some have been exciting and some downright depressing. It's good that we have this time to relax and plan.

Maybe God wants us back in Savannah right now to be better able to care for the needs of our families......maybe he will get another job in DC or somewhere else....humanly we don't have a clue. But we do know that God knows and that's what brings comfort to us. Praise God for the promises of the Bible. I read this today:

James 4: 13-14
"Come now, you who say, ' Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

How wonderful are the promises of the living God as revealed in His Word.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

just another day in paradise

It has started. Our vacation at Hilton Head. I have already spent some time in the ocean and when I do that I start to relax. It must be the buoyant salt water and the gentle waves that soothe my soul.

Everything is just the same here at the house on Hilton Head. I think that this is the fourth year we have been coming. It is such a comfortable beach house.....just right for two families to do whatever they want to do. It is quiet and peaceful which is just what I like.

I have already had to go back to Savannah. Bubba misunderstood and put my most valuable piece of luggage in the storage house. So I got up early yesterday morning and drove back to retrieve all of the things I needed for our trip. It seems like lately we just haven't been able to pull it all together. We are going in too many directions all of the time.

For the last two nights Robbie has grilled out our supper for us. Everyone is always good and hungry after spending time on the beach. The blessings of good food, family, and
fellowship abound!

One of the best things about being at the beach are the naps. After being on the beach and swimming in the ocean for a while each day the priviledge to sleep in the afternoon is wonderful.

I read these verses among others this morning during my quiet time....most everyone was still sleeping. God's gift of wisdom is much to be desired!

James 3:17 "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

pictures in the clouds

It was 9:00 am when I drove out of the parking garage in Crystal City. It was 6:00 pm when I crossed the Talmadge bridge. I only made three to eat, one to get gas, and one rest area....not to rest. The traffic was moderately heavy, but not bad.

I listened to two sermons and lots of music. Into the last hour I found myself singing "free falling" at the top of my lungs likeTom Cruise in Top Gun. It's scary what you do after driving for nine hours.

Ever since I was a child I have loved to look at the clouds and see the pictures they form. I did that a lot yesterday. I saw a rat with a long tail, a polar bear on his back holding up his cub, and a vintage air-plane among other things. It's a good way to pass the time.

The only thing better would have been to be laying in sweet green grass looking up. I wonder if there is a soul mate out there who does this very thing?

My mother and Nana are very, very weak. TodayI was stunned to see my mom. Their passing could come at anytime. I can't even write about this right now...and Aunt Dottie is so sad and forlorn. UsuallyI can cheer her up but not today.

Teri is here until next Wednesday. At least we can be together and talk as only sisters can.
We did a lot of deep belly laughing last night as we caught up on the funny stories of our life.
We talked about how God gives us humor to relieve our stress.

God gives us everything we need when we need it. I praise Him for that.