Summer’s Long Rest

The season of summer is coming to a close.  Autumn is chasing away the heat, and bringing a fresh current of breeze that flows through the trees and makes them whisper a song of gratitude.

The glow of summer will fade, the rapidly growing green grass, the fruitful green trees and the gardens; they will all wither.

“For the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

I thought I would share a few verses from the Bible that I stumbled upon during my morning study.

” I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
         And in His word I do hope.
  My soul waits for the Lord
         More than those who watch for the morning— 
         Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.”

Psalm 130:5-6

My Bible study leader was talking about waiting on the Lord to bring the right mate for you, instead of dating a million guys and watching as each one of them take a piece of your broken heart away.  She explained that we wait on the Lord for simple things to.  Once, while she was at the beach, she got up before sunrise and went out-of-doors to wait for the sun.  Slowly and gradually rays of light broke the darkness and a golden glow filled the clouds.  But she had to wait for quite a while.  Well in Psalms, I believe David is saying that we must wait for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning and he will do what he has promised in his Word.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness or fear; be content with suck things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“So may we boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear.

What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

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Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith: 2 Friends

I believe friends are important for many reasons, especially if they are true friends that will stick by you no matter what.  There aren’t many out there.  And only those who search will find.  A few weeks ago, I was AMAZINGLY blessed and was able to get tickets to a concert.  It wasn’t just any concert….It was the 2 Friends Tour.  The tour that 2 longtime friends (who both love music) got together after quite a “few” years and sang some of the songs that were popular in the 80’s.  Songs that built their friendship.  These 2 friends are Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.    Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith just happen to be my 2 favorite music artists of all time.  I know it might sound awful to the people who are crazy about today’s christian music, but to be frank, I don’t really get into it as much as others do, including my brother.  I prefer to go back a couple of decades to the christian music that started it all:  D.C. talk, Petra, Russ Taff, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart, etc.  So thanks to my iPod, I can listen to as much old christian music as I like.  I don’t turn the radio on much, but don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the christian music of today.  I am just saying that the 80’s is more my style.  I still enjoy listening to Toby Mac of course and Chris Tomlin, etc.

The concert began with a few songs written by the 2 friends:  Stay for a while, Love Will Find a Way…  It was awesome!!  Amy singing, her voice just as good of course, if not better than the 80’s, and Michael at the keyboard, just like the old days.  His musical career started off, you know, as Amy’s shy piano player.   But then Amy, being the good friend that she is, put him in the spotlight at Night of Joy in Disney World (according to my mom and dad).  He sang You Need a Savior which is one of my absolute favorites!

 When Michael left the stage, Amy Grant did her portion of the concert, going way back and singing all of the songs I love.  I knew them word for word. lol.

Photo taken from amygrant.com

The evening of the concert was quite toasty: a typical summer evening I suppose.  I thought Amy’s personality was great.  She was so laid back.  At the beginning of a song she had asked the audience to stand of up and dance.  At the end of the song the audience was sitting and fanning themselves.  Her comment was simply:  “Okay, I asked you to stand up on that one song and everybody is just sittin there fanning themselves.  I’m just gettin the lay of the land.  We’re dying out here aren’t we?  Dying.  Okay, me too.  But, um we’re just gonna carry on.  So, feel free to do whatever you want to do.   I don’t care if you take your shoes off.  It does not matter to me if you lie down on the pavement.  Whatever can just get you through the night.”  I had to laugh.  Although I felt kind of bad too, no one was acting very excited.  I was excited though.  The music was great as I had expected.

Well, half of the concert had passed and there was a slight pause, an intermission.  My mom, being the wonderfully spontaneous person that she is, found us closer seats for the second half.  As darkness began to fill the sky, Michael took the stage.  He began with a piano piece:  The Giving.  It is one of my favorite songs on Freedom, his instrumental album. Of course there were no violins, or an orchestra, but I kind of liked it better that way to tell you the truth.  And Michael told us to imagine the orchestra.  He even did motions like he was pretending to play the violin.  He is so funny.  He tells great stories the whole concert!  At one point he told the cutest story about a little girl stalking him at a mall.  :D  Once he decided to introduce himself to her, she replies, “My grandmother is your biggest fan.”

His second song was one of my all time favorites!  It is called Secret Ambition.  His voice sounded EXACTLY like the recording.  I felt like I was listening to the cd, it was THAT good.  Rocketown followed, which is also another song that I like very much.

Soon Amy was back on the stage to do an acoustic set with Michael on the piano.  They sang songs like Angels, and Thy Word.  The lights were awesome.  I enjoyed the concert SO much!  Michael finished his half with worship.  It was amazing!  His worship is the best ever!  My family and I are considering going to one of his worship concerts.

After the standing ovation, Michael and Amy finished the concert with the appropriate song, Friends. 

I will continue listening to the music of these 2 friends forever!

Here is a mix of some of the songs from the 2 Friends tour!

Would you like to listen to a few of my favorite songs?

AMY GRANT

MICHAEL W. SMITH

The songs below were at a concert in Atlanta in 1985

If you would like to listen to more: Please visit my Music Page and more videos will be uploaded soon!

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Peach Picking Day

The day was brimming with typical summer pleasures: a bright blue sky with cotton ball clouds, fields of green, and peach ice cream.  The short orchard trees were adorned with perfectly round, golden and crimson balls of fruit.  Taking the large pail provided, we set out under the sunny smile of the sun to pick juicy peaches.

The day was what you could call a perfect sunny afternoon.

Each of us spilled with eagerness to pick the perfect peach.  Barely ripe, slightly firm, yet glowing with rich colors.  The heavier the peach the more juice your slice will hold.

Hidden beneath the shaded branches, unseen beauties slept silently and undisturbed, waiting to be found by the explorer willing enough to climb under the low arms.

I couldn’t help but take many pictures of the humble little treasures and their vivid colors.

The red bucket rapidly began to fill with peaches until the pile grew to the top.  Many little hands helped as well :D

The sweet scent of summer peaches made everyone barely able to resist taking a bite, but soon the towering bucket was in the trunk and we were driving back to the front of the orchard.  We had picked enough fruit to last for quite a while, all throughout the remaining days of summer at the least.

It was a wonderful day and my first day spent peach picking.  I still remember driving off into the sunset licking the melting peach icecream cone in my hand.

I hope you and your families have spent some of your summer days enjoying life in the great outdoors.

To view the rest of my peach pictures please visit: My Photography Page.  Thank you for reading!  Wish I could send you some peach pie! lol.

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The Next Train

Today I am posting the second story in the Summer Stories collection.  This next story takes place during the Great Depression. You will find yourself in a small Hooverville camp living in a cardboard box with a young girl named Penny.

I composed this story a few years ago for my middle school writing and literature class. I thought I would share it with you. Although I revised it slightly, the story is mostly in its original form.

The Next Train

I awoke to the sound of a train far off. As I lay on the cold ground I could feel the screeching wheels shaking the ground with a slight pulse. I pressed my ear to the ground, and could tell how far away the train was by the intenseness of the vibration. Perhaps my daddy would be on the train this time. Although I yearned for him to return, I knew that today was just like any other day. He had promised to return home as soon as he found a job. It had been six months now, and I had received no word from him. Sometimes I was able to imagine him here, home with me. I could just feel his strong arms around me and the warmth of his breath kissing my neck. I could hear his deep voice whispering softly in my ear. When daddy made a promise, he didn’t easily break it. Knowing this truth made hope linger in my heart a little longer.

A gust of wind snuck into my little “pretend house”; my living quarters made of cardboard. I shivered. The newspaper that served as my blanket was mucky. I could hear Mrs. Saunders, my temporary mamma, calling my name.

“Penny! It’s time to start fixin’ breakfast! I’ve got some leftover bacon from yesterday mornin’!” I arose, and crawled out of the cardboard box. Wrapping a thing coverlet tightly around my gangly body, I glanced around. Angry clouds floated through a gray sky above my head. The smell of smoke emerged from the piles of steaming sticks serving as our fire. Families gathered around the blazing pots to cook breakfast. By now the train was getting closer. I impatiently started hoping, no, knowing that my daddy had to be on that train! But still, deep inside, I accepted the sheer fact, that I couldn’t let myself become disappointed.

After breakfast I scrubbed the rusty saucers in a small creek. The flowing water greedily snatched up the bits of leftover food and carried them away down the long snake. Only moments after breakfast, some boys had gone off to see if there were any of our men on the train. I told myself not to worry even though by now all of the people in this Hooverville figured my daddy was dead.  They hadn’t known that I had heard them whispering around the campfire every night.

“That man goes off and leaves his only child with no one to care for her. God forbid he must be dead by now; even if he isn’t I bet there is no hope for him returning home.”

Then another man would gripe, “That man always did get himself in trouble. He’s probably out there somewhere in the world, not even thinking about his homely daughter.” I always would sob after hearing this, although I would tell myself it wasn’t true.  My daddy had gone lookin’ for a job, and it was best for both of us. At least that is what he had told me.  Plus, if it hadn’t been for the whole depression situation, my daddy wouldn’t have lost his job, and we sure wouldn’t be living in this Shantytown right now! Just a few years past, I had been just like any other girl. I studied hard in school, had many friends, and lived in a grand house towered by a giant oak tree.  Every afternoon, I would sit beneath its strong limbs, stretching out into the world.  When my daddy lost his job, we did everything to earn money so we could keep the house.  But it didn’t take long for the bank to push use out and leave us with nowhere to go. I then knew that we had lost everything; our home, our garden, our friends, our church, and even our dog. But in my saddest times, my daddy would lovingly remind me, that we hadn’t lost absolutely everything.  After all we still had each other, and that was the most important thing we could hold. But now, as I sat by the rippling creek, I realized that I had lost even that most important thing in my life.

After stacking the dishes, I returned to the large camp that was crowded with little shacks made of cardboard and metal. Part of me didn’t even want to hear the news the boys had brought back from the station. Mrs. Saunders called me over to a small group of men. I reluctantly shuffled over to her with my shoulders drooping and my face to the ground. My worn boots kicked a pebble with every step. I approached the group with a sigh. Mrs. Saunders grabbed my arm forcefully.

“Well, if it isn’t your ole’ man after all!” she cried. I could hear my heart beating within me. Tears started to fill my eyes when I spotted my daddy in the crowd. His tattered clothes were torn and dirty.  His face painted with sadness. When he saw me, he cried out for joy, and we both ran to each other.

“I’m so sorry I was gone for so long, I…I… didn’t exactly find a…” I didn’t let my daddy finish his words.

“It’s okay daddy. I am just so glad you’re home! I knew you would return, because you never break your promises!” After an hour or so, I led him over to our shack and told him to lie down and rest fo  the afternoon. Skipping about, I finished my remaining chores. My daddy hadn’t found a job after all.  We would be livin’ in this Shantytown for quite awhile now. I didn’t care though; I only hoped my daddy would never have to leave me for so long again.

That night after the typical meal of black beans and mushy stew, I lay beside my daddy. Through a small peephole in the roof of our “little house” I could see the stars, bright and beautiful. I was so happy at that moment that all of my troubles and fears seemed to disappear. My daddy was home to stay!  Even though my life wasn’t perfect, I was so very glad to be alive!

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Summer of Stories

Summer is arriving, bringing warmth and heat, blooming flower, thriving green trees, lush grass and time to enjoy life.  The business of school and studying have come to an end.  The young now have times to rest and enjoy the fun blessings that summer brings.  Others dread the heat and the blazing sun as it scorches the earth for several months of the year.

As summer awakes, I often find myself unoccupied and left with nothing to do.  It is a strange feeling to do nothing, after working hard sometimes non-stop on my studies and day-to-day life.  Most of the time I find myself trying to fill empty hours, but the cup of life continues to empty.  I have decided to spend some of my newly found free-time writing.  I need to do more writing anyway.  I will try, with the best of my ability, to post a story every week.  They might be funny stories or stories concentrating on the moments that are most serious.   The stories might contain periods of history or I might imagine up a fantasy.  Whatever my short stories say, I hope you and your family will enjoy reading them every week.  And I hope your life will bring happy times ahead and you will enjoy a summer of stories.

I would once again like to thank my readers and the many people who are so loyal to read, enjoy, and comment.  I hope you love reading as much as I love writing.

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Thoughts Regarding Sincerity

“To be sincere is to be in reality what one appears to be not feigned; not assumed; genuine, real, and true. How much value we all place upon sincerity! What a low estimate we place upon the friendship of a person who proves not to be sincere, who, when to her advantage, snubs and ignores us.  How we despise the actions of one who is lavish with expressions of love and kindness to our face, but who backbites us in our absence. We care nothing for her friendship, and her very expressions of affection are obnoxious. Don’t you expect and demand sincerity of your friends?

“To be sincere is to be honest; honest with self and honest with others. Honesty costs something. To be truly honest is not always the easiest path. It is an easy matter to deceive ourselves, and to make ourselves believe we are doing right, when down in our hearts we know we are doing wrong.  A popular man might give to a good cause and make himself believe he is doing right, when deep in his heart he knows he gives only to gain praise of the people. A girl might make herself think she is studying because she is bent over a book, when she knows her thoughts are all upon the party to which she is going. There are indeed many ways for us to deceive ourselves. Many a man had built a church or endowed a hospital or school, or performed some other good act, to smother the feelings of regret and the fretting of a wounded conscience. To be honest with self means to look things over with an unfeigned heart, and to do right because it is right. When we do good that we might appear right in spite of deception in the heart, we deceive ourselves. When we least expect it, our true selves will be revealed.

“It is just as necessary to be honest with others. Beth buttoned her coat carefully before she left her room, thinking her mother would notice what she had done and approve; for she had often been cautioned against going out in the cold with her coat unbuttoned. But that morning, Beth had put on a tight sweater that her mother did not wish her to wear to school, and that was her real reason for carefully buttoning her coat. She was both disobedient and dishonest.

“To be sincere is to be hearty; that is, to enter into all you do with all your might. She who is sincere will give the best of herself to whatever work she undertakes. Even the humblest tasks become noble if they are performed heartily. The sincere girl always makes a satisfactory worker wherever she is employed. She does her work with a reasonable degree of speed and with great care. Whether she works in an office, in the schoolroom, in the factory, or in the kitchen whether her work brings her good pay or whether she is a busy homemaker, if she is sincere and willing she will be a success. Her eye is not on the clock to see if her times is about up, but her whole attention is upon what she is doing.

“Sincere people are hearty in their friendships. Did you ever put your hand into the hand of a friend and have her grasp it heartily and look you in the face with a friendly smile? Didn’t it do you a great deal of good? It does others just as much good if you greet them sincerely and enthusiastically. To be sincere is to be genuine and straightforward, no putting on. The girl who is sincere means every word she says when she is expressing love and friendship. I need not fear the she is only trying to make an impression on me, or that she is getting my confidence only to ridicule me later. She is no turncoat and no traitor. It seems to me a girl can have no greater fault than faking friendship and affection she does not feel. Those who are sincere are real.  They are real friends, real students, real sisters, and real Christians.

“To be sincere is to be frank. Frankness is speaking right out from the heart what you think and feel. But there is a very unpleasant trait that sometimes passes as frankness. That is a disposition to say cutting things. There are many things that are better left unsaid. Even though circumstances have given ample room for severe criticism, it is better to keep the bitter word unsaid, and to speak kindly. Frankness does not mean that we tell people what we think of them and their actions on all occasions. True frankness shows in clear, honest eyes and in a gaze or purity and truth, which brings confidence to all who see it. It will be seen in the eyes when the lips are silent.

“Beautiful girlhood can hold no more attractive nor lovable trait than sincerity. When a girl can look with honest eyes and perfect sincerity into life, and can meet the temptations that are sure to come with a heart sincerely set to do God’s will, that girl will succeed. Her life will be a blessing to many. Old and young will be encouraged and strengthened by her presence and friendship.” Taken from Beautiful Girlhood, by Karen Andreola

When friends pretend to be friends and people pretend to like you, it can be a painful situation. Almost nothing saddens me more than when I perceive a fake friend. It hurts me deep inside to know that most in this world are not showing their true selves. They vow friendship, but will not act it out. I challenge you: work hard to show your sincerity in every way you can. Don’t make friends you don’t have any intention of keeping. When someone thinks they have made a friend who really cares about them, their heart leaps for joy! But imagine how that same person would feel when that same “loving” friend ignores them most of the time and really never pays much attention to their interests or feelings. If you are not quite sure how to be sincere, remember to always check your motives.  What are your motives for doing the things you do? Do you volunteer to really help and lend a hand, or do you just want to look good to everyone around you? Stay true to Godly motives and you will be sincere. Along the path of life, I sometimes come across a true or real person. It refreshes me when I can know that whatever they say or do is what they are really feeling inside. I believe that honesty is the backbone of friendship. You can never truly be a friend with someone whom you do not trust. No matter how hard you try to be that person’s friend, the feelings or uneasiness and caution will always be deep inside your heart. There are not many sincere people in today’s life. If you are sincere, than you will truly be a rare gem to all that are around you.

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