The Power of God’s Country

God’s Country: “A place conceived of as especially favored by God; a place away from a city.” Merriam-Webster

Last weekend, my husband and I flew to Virginia to see our youngest at school. She was thrilled to have us there and kept us really busy with her friends and touring around the university. It was all precious, precious time together, but there was something extra special about driving (and stopping) along the Blueridge Parkway.

We have traveled through Virginia for years, heading south every spring break with the kids. Back then, we drove which was exhausting, but we saw some beautiful scenery along the way. I fell in love with Virginia. I can appreciate northern Virginia for its proximity to D.C. and many historical sites. We have visited people and toured Leesburg, Arlington, etc., and enjoyed the shopping and eating. All of my travels there offered wonderful sights, but mid to lower Virginia is just stunningly beautiful.

Maybe it’s because I live in a part of NYS where we don’t have mountains so I’m always captivated by them on vacation. Maybe it’s because I live on five acres with a long driveway and I am a girl who likes open space.

I work in the city and take a deep breath when I hit that part of the thruway that finally parts wide. My town is lovely yet there was something much grander, peaceful and right about standing at the center of miles of valleys and mountains.

My job is stressful. I received a promotion a few months ago which was awesome but my hours went up, along with my stress. I do yoga and try my best to compartmentalize work from home but it’s challenging. Above and beyond is usually a way of life. Sustaining that level of giving and producing at work and then home is depleting. An hour of exercise a couple times a week does not restore me as it may have back in my 20’s.

The breathtaking mountainside along the Blueridge Parkway brought my shoulders back down where they belong. I walked in sneakers instead of heels. I breathed deeper than I do on a yoga mat. My eyes were off data and employee issues, soaking in what I name God’s Country.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” Jane Austen

Those mountains reminded me that I’m missing time with God. We talk every day but my world shifted when I took on another job. I don’t spend enough time in the wide-open space of His Word. Peace like I experienced at the mountainside is elusive during many work days.

Make no mistake that He speaks in offices, at the watercooler, and has made His presence known during colleague conversations. But I thirst for more. I count this as a good thing. I never want to be comfortable too far away from Him, living lukewarm.

Late Sunday I had to come down from the Virginia mountains, just like Moses when he descended from Mt. Sinai. I reentered work on Monday, having to immediately address poor management behavior, just as Moses was confronted with poor behavior by the Israelites. The corporate culture at my company is unlike anything anyone has ever experienced, leading to high turnover. But God uses me for good in my particular role. I believe that He put me where I am to be a light in a crazy place as well as teach me a few lessons of my own.

He is at work and accomplishes His purposes even when we’re not in bible study. He is always with us but there is something powerful about standing in the literal “mist” and “midst” of His spectacular creation. Being engulfed in endless autumn color, feeling cool wind against my face that also refreshed my mind – and the complete silence in nature – equaled renewal.

There is a reason for all seasons in nature and in our lives. This specific season in my work life is challenging, but the chaos likely helps me appreciate God’s Country profoundly more.

“Old” Hands Gave LIFE

See the source imageLittle children rub their grandparents hands with love. Teenagers sometimes make rude comments about “old people skin”. Such a comment was recently spoken by a random stranger to her friends about an elderly person next to her. The young girl was probably fortunate that it was in speedy-passing without us continuing to share space or she may have received a friendly one-minute dissertation about what goes into giving LIFE to others.

Of course God gives us LIFE. But those elderly hands clutching a shopping cart? The elderly hands shaking as they reach for the cold medicine alongside you at the market? They ensured many people experienced a good life on this earth.

“Old” hands aren’t old…they are alive with LIFE.

We must gently sensitize our increasingly desensitized youth about what their elders did with those aging hands they are quick to grimace at.

Those aging hands we see?

They lovingly caressed, nurtured and tended to babies; those babies grew to healthy adults by those hands;

Those hands cleaned toilets and dishes and floors…again and again and again to keep an orderly, neat home that others enjoyed;

They painted and wallpapered to make kids’ bedrooms fun, happy places;

They selected good food from markets, drove it home, washed it, chopped it, cooked it, stored it…feeding their families and bringing meals to others;

Those hands wiped away tears from their children’s cheeks…and from their own – shed for their children;

Those hands made birthday celebrations happen, brought sparkle and wonder to their family’s Christmases and took countless photographs marking the events to give their loved ones memories to fill their hearts in years to come;

Those hands tightly squeezed together… folded in prayer…leaned on a weary forehead…emphasizing their family’s endless needs before a Holy God;

Those aging hands are covered in service, servanthood, beauty, and LIFE that was given to countless people.

Years earlier, those aged hands were young, excited, newlywed hands.

And, they were once upon a time perfect little baby hands…

Let us respect the hands that gave their youth blessing others…

Click on images for source(s)

Grateful for the Few Remaining Drive-Ins!

It’s remained an annual tradition with my family of five. With 22 yr. old twins and a 20 yr. old (along with 10 others we invited this summer), we again drove over an hour to our favorite drive-in for a night of family fun. It’s something that we all look forward to and it never gets old.

Over the years, we have brought the kids friends, our friends, and whoever happened to be around our house during the summers.  Coolers packed, popcorn popped and boxes of candy fill our vehicles!

It’s quite a drive, but the views on the way are beautiful farm lands.

Back in the 1950’s, there were around 4,000 drive-ins around the country. Today, only 330 remain open.

Although you can see I took a photo of the lot full of car stand speakers, the majority of drive-ins now use FM radio to broadcast sound. We use the radio but still enjoy hearing the speakers too!

We were early enough this year that I could photograph the screen and parking lot while still empty, but the place fills up quickly. The crowded lots give me hope that this cool summer activity will remain around for a few more years.

Interested in drive-in fun facts and history? Check out this site that I used for the few facts presented in this post: https://www.driveinmovie.com/history-of-drive-ins

Summer Gifts

My gratitude today….I’m so thankful that God gives us summer joys after really, really long winters.

Fresh, local market produce…straight from the farm, no preservatives. No sitting on a truck. No ripening in a greenhouse…summer gifts.
Summer rain…Sweet watermelon…“…give thanks to the Lord for He is good…”