Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A New Home for Daddy & A New Home for Me

I know I'll look back on this season as one of the most stressful I've ever had the privilege to live through.

Yes, a privilege.

Because I've encountered my Savior's startling grace at each faltering step and every jagged breath of the exhausting, tear-strewn path.  

On one sunny Friday I moved, lock, stock, and barrel, from New York to Massachusetts.  And the very next day, before I could even unpack a handful of boxes, my Dad moved on to his heavenly forever home, called oh-so-very-suddenly by his Maker.

After 40 years apart, I thought we were going to do life together for one final season.

God had other plans.

Moving on to live in a new location is a joyful gift, one waiting to be unwrapped and experienced with the greatest anticipation, an open door into the vast unknown with all its great big possibilities and inviting open-ended opportunities just waiting to be explored, savored, treasured.

When all is said and done, I guess we each got to move on to the exact location our hearts were yearning for.

It makes me smile that we both walk on the shores of crystal seas these days.  Even if those golden spaces are universes apart.

God's Word tells me that there's no tears by your heavenly crystal sea, Daddy.  But the tears are flowing freely on this side of heaven.

It's ok.  Because there's one thing we're sharing right about now.

The Holy Spirit of God is closer than the next breath we breathe.  And I would have it no other way.

* telling my story at Kelly's  .   Holley's  .  Lyli's

Friday, July 24, 2015

Got About 9 Minutes This Weekend?

When all is said and done, if you asked me what my all-time top 5 songs were, OCEANS would be right in there.  

No question!

That its poignant lyrics have been paired with these glorious images {the waves, the lighthouses, the sunsets!} is such delight to this ocean lover.  In recent months, my soul's been reminded continually of the beautiful grace of an intimate love relationship with Christ that's dependent and trusting, no matter what's going on around me.

You too?

I'd love to sit together and spend a bit of time with you right about now.  Wouldn't that be so cool?  But since that's not quite possible, I'm sharing this beauty of a video, praying even as we speak that it will be an effective springboard to a beneficial, sacred quiet time for each one who gathers here.  

So ... go ahead and claim the solitude your weary soul's been craving.  Grab your Bible, find a comfy chair, and pour a glass of something cool to refresh your body.  Savor the awesome sights and claim the powerful words of OCEANS as your very own prayer.  Breathe deeply and let your soul be nourished as you reflect on Matthew 14:22-33. 

This is time well spent, being drawn to our Savior.  Worshiping Him, leaning hard into His loving embrace, soaking up the holy truths of His Word.  And then instead of rushing off to the next thing, choosing to sit still and quiet so we won't miss that very personal word He longs to whisper to each of His beloved children.

I don't know where you are right about now, but be sure He's going to keep calling you and me out on that water, that great unknown where feet may fail.  For He's always inviting us to something deeper, isn't He.

May our faith be made stronger in the presence of our Savior ...

Be sure to click on the little widget thingy on the bottom right of the video.  Full screen {and full volume!} is always best, isn't it?

And if this little offering has impacted you, please feel free to share this post with your friends.  The links are below.

Visiting Katie  *  Holley  *  Lyli  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Consolation Wears Many Faces

'Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God's love
that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best we can.

Spiritual consolation encourages and facilitates a deep sense of gratitude
 for God's faithfulness, mercy, and companionship in our life.  

In consolation, we feel more alive and connected to others.'
St. Ignatius Loyola

Consolation wears many faces ... and maybe this sacred gift of grace is never more powerful than when we are in the midst of a fierce and raw grief.  This holy invitation beckons gently even as we weep repeatedly, uncontrollably with a depth that we've never confronted before.

Who knew that there were so many hot and stormy tears locked somewhere deep within the human soul?

Like when you had no choice but to say good-bye to your father at 11 at night in a sterile emergency room cubicle when he had already taken his leave and headed to his long-awaited heavenly home.  

And again six days later right before the casket was closed for good and locked up tight.  

And a few hours later at the graveside after the 23rd Psalm was prayed by family members young and old, and you and your sister passed out roses and kisses to each family member so that they were able to take away something sweet amidst the grievous yet grand memorial celebration.

I've always hated good-byes.  And never more than now.

Tears cascade, they well up from someplace unfathomable at the oddest moments sprinkled throughout the day and night, don't they.  A sight, a sound, a scent, a memory pushes all reason aside and you weep hard.

And then you continue to do the next thing ... depleted, drained, yet strangely relieved in some odd kind of way.

Yet through grief's rocky, unsteady path, the Christ-honoring consolation of our faith is a solid surety, intertwined with a steady flow of gratitude for the sacred faithfulness, mercy, and companionship of our God.


And then there is the steady consolation that comes from partaking in the rhythms of life.  

The photo shoot at day's end reminds us that our shared faith in Christ and our enduring commitment to each other are powerful cords that bind us close.  Even if we do make each other crazy from time to time.

The joyful exuberance of children's laughter and love and play.

Of prayer with hearts united and hands held, kicking off the celebration of the upcoming arrival of my sister's first grandchild this fall.

Or letting the movement of water do its healing work.

There's embracing the grace to sit absolutely still because there's no energy to do anything more and to try would be a waste of what little energy remains.

And then there are the tall glasses of icy water that chase away the humidity that hangs like a shroud.

Hands busy at the household tasks of tidying up and wading through endless loads of laundry.

Beginning to contemplate the random piles and stacks of boxes that litter the house from end to end.

The flowers.  Oh ... the flowers.  Glorious.  Fragrant.  'Pastel shades of Monet,' the florist coined them.  We are relishing their fragrant whispers, their soft textures.  

And these words here, a most calming, therapeutic penning of this post.


And then there is the tender consolation that has come from you, my friends.

I sift through and re-read again the sweetest avalanche of emails and texts and comments and cradle each one with deepest appreciation.  I walk to the end of the driveway and open the rusty green mailbox, smiling because you've somehow found our new address and have taken the time to send cards that speak His precious peace and bountiful hope.

I thank God for those who traveled hours to stand with me at the memorial service.  To come toting my huge, cumbersome asparagus ferns and old tin watering cans that we couldn't jam into the truck when we left New York.  And you, sweet friends, who braved the flat tire you had to deal with on the Mass Pike, but forged ahead to be with me anyway.  Your calm presence strengthened me at the end of a very difficult day and your great big hugs soothed my spirit.

And to those who showed their love by delivering all kinds of yummy food to my mom's. Your gifts of chicken in all its many forms, the mounds of fresh fruit and the lasagna and the desserts?  They kept us fed and nourished.  Without you, we'd still be staring into the wide open fridge, trying to figure out what to eat.


Even in our sorrows, the lovely blessings of consolation are scattered around us, right and left.  We only need open hearts to experience God's healing grace in all its fullness.  We lean hard into Him right about now.  And He lovingly scoops us up and carries us through grief's valley ...

Monday, July 13, 2015

In Memory of John Halliday Blackie

It is with greatest sorrow that I share the news that the day after we moved here to Cape Cod, my beloved Dad died suddenly, quickly, peacefully.

We are crushed.  Tim and I were so looking forward to this season of doing life with him and my mom.  But even in the midst of the shock and the whirlwind of decisions and phone calls and planning is that ever-present peace that passes understanding.  

God knows.  He loves us so.  He cares.  He cradles us close.  He bears our grief, he carries our sorrows.

I share with you a tribute I wrote to Dad two years ago.  And the obituary and memorial service arrangements are below.

Please, my friends, pray for our family.

      *      *      *


June 2013 ...

I hold you close and stretch my arm way out, camera in hand.  We're still making memories whenever we can.  And I want to capture this celebration before we dive into great huge bowls of chocolate ice cream on the most gorgeous Cape Cod day ever.  Before we laugh the sunny afternoon away as we fill the newly painted window boxes with multi-hued petunias and patch the driveway and cut the rhubarb.  Before we sit and watch the birds explore the bird house and someone who shall remain nameless tracks driveway tar onto the light aqua carpeting.  Before the evening falls and the breeze cools and we watch TV at ear-piercing levels and talk politics and books and you share ancient photos and vividly-detailed stories from Scotland in the century past.

We all know you never expected to hit this milestone.  Ah ... but God had other plans, and here you are, moving around on your own two feet and in your right mind.  Wisdom still comes from your heart and your vast life experience.  You still break into hearty song on a moment's notice ... and I realize in the writing of this that my sister and I do the same.  For the nuts didn't fall far from the tree, did they ...

You still prize hard work and an eye to detail, even though you might be moving just a tad slower.  Your eyes are quick to fill at the most sensitive of moments.  You make us laugh ... and yes, we both continue to make each other crazy from time to time.

And when you confidently pound on heaven's doors in perfect King James English, I know our Redeemer listens.  You have shown us how to be faithful to Him and to each other.  

Please know I value your wise counsel more than ever.  And I know I'm not the only one.  So please rejoice in this season because your legacy is living on, even as we speak.  Through your children.  Children's children.  And children's children's children.

How good is God!

I love you, Daddy ~



1928 - 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Moving On

The cozy much-loved, much-lived-in home is morphing back into a house.

Pure and simple.

Remember the video?

Well, just about everything is packed up and most closets are empty or just about.  The stacks of boxes grow by the day.  And what's laying around is only perched there out of sheer necessity.

On the second day the house was on the market, our one and only house hunter appeared.  And within a week, that looker became the buyer we'd all been praying for.

So, the U-Haul will get backed up to the garage on Thursday afternoon and will be loaded up by some of those faithful friends who've done life with us for decades.  I'm hoping 4 grandchildren and their dad will make an appearance to keep things light and merry.  And then early on Friday, Tim and I will walk out the door one final time.

And I'm fairly sure that I'll cry buckets as I pull the car out of the driveway and head north toward the Taconic Parkway, away from this beautiful Mid-Hudson Valley that's been our home forever.

So it's time to do what all steady bloggers do from time to time and that's take a purposeful break from being an online presence.  A sabbatical so to speak, to focus all our energy on what's urgent, what matters most, what's staring right at us.

You might see me here and there, but my footprint will be light, my voice a whisper.

I'll be back when things settle into a new normal.

Oh ... I've just gotta tell you that I've been creating a brand new online home that I'm kinda excited about.  I hope you'll love it, too!  Don't worry ... you'll be the FIRST to know when it's up and running.

Meanwhile, here's a peek at our new place, a smaller haven surrounded by woods in a little town nestled between the ever-changing bay on one side and the ocean deep on the other.

A huge thanks for journeying through this transition with me.  God has used all your encouraging words and kind prayers to carry me through, week by week.  And the beauty of this online world we live in means that I'll continue to walk with you ... and you with me.

I'll see you later.  By His grace, we can count on it!



Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Compelling Invitation



Rest in God's love.

The only work you are required now to do is to
 give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.
~ Madame Guyon ~
{1648 - 1717}

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
~  Psalm 62:5  ~

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