Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Dreaming From My Back Door

Backyard June

                                                                        

COLOR MAKES ME HAPPY

Give me a box of brand new crayons, let me open and tilt the box just enough to allow them to slide partially out, exposing all the
variety of shades.  I will be happily entertained in my mind for quite some time.   For me, the visual experience of color is such a
pleasant sensation that I’m sure is part of the reason I became a preschool/early elementary teacher.  It didn’t seem to matter what subject I was teaching, I always found a way to interject vibrant color into the lesson plans and the ancillary materials.  Color makes
me happy.

Back  yard in DecemberSimilarly, the absence of color makes me sad.  When the environment is monochromatic, I feel my energy draining away, and I become listless, lacking in motivation, and have difficulty with just ordinary daily tasks.  In small doses, monochromatic environments are relaxing….but then there is that point when
relaxing become depressing.

I remember a cross-country road trip I took with my sister and aunt.  We drove from Kentucky to California and back in about 18 days.  There were so many first-time visuals for me that I was in awe…almost visual overload at the astounding beauty.
Even the deserts we crossed, at first were amazing….and then they went on and on and on and on with lack of color.  It was that time of the year when there was no green to be seen.  I remember my sister lamenting, “I just need to see green”.

EVERYTHING IS JUST SO WHITE

That’s where I am with this winter season.  It’s been unusual for us here in Kentucky this year.  It’s been so white, andBack yard in February for such a very long time.  So far the news is reporting  we’ve had 36 inches this season.  We aren’t used to this, and I am feeling the need to see color – soon!

Initially the snow fell like confectioner sugar ; gentle and soft like a draped blanket.  After a few days, the sun melted a little of the fresh snow and small tufts of grass poked through just enough to create small brown areas.  From a distance I imagined a box of powdered cocoa being lightly sprinkled across the powdered sugar.  Soon this visual gave way to greyish, dingy laundry, needing a little bleach to bring back the white.  As the weeks have gone by with additional snow, then ice, then salt, then melting and refreezing, my world has taken on the appearance of monochromatic mounds and boulders of sooty frozen chunks of lava.

I’m trying hard to keep my spirits up, but I along with others who are of the persuasion of a box of crayons being a pleasant thing, am ready for the bursting forth of rich vibrant colors on God’s green earth.  Won’t it be a lovely thing when we spot that first green daffodil shoot pushing up through the sod? And then a tiny purple Crocus?  And then…well, color!

COMPARING FLORIDA WINTERS TO KENTUCKY

I remember feeling this way last January.  We had just returned to Kentucky after having lived in Florida for several years.  I stood at
my back door looking out on what seemed a wasteland, devoid of anything remotely inviting.  I felt sad.  I missed color. I began to
dream and plan what I wanted the yard to look like in the spring.

Back yard under summer rennovationToday I have already visited the back door several times and am again envisioning a new dream.  I just can’t wait for the warmer weather to get her to implement my plans.  But first, I need to decide what plants I will put back there, and perhaps order some seeds from a catalog and get them started indoors.  I need to get ready.  There’s a lot
of planning to do if I want to be ready when the snow melts away. Let’s see, I could probably visit some thrift stores and find some quirky little items to tuck into my
flower garden, and maybe an old window, or door to do something a little different in that back corner.  I remember once painting an old bicycle solid white and decorating
it with flowers….maybe I’ll do that again.  Wonder where I can find a cheap, or even a free discarded bike?  Hmmm, I’m feeling better already.  Maybe I should visit
Pinterest for a few new ideas.  I wonder if my daughter has any old flower catalogs I could browse.

I see the beauty of the snow.  God speaks to me as I walk along snow-covered paths in the quietness of the woods. I thrill when a Cardinal perches on a stark branch against the backdrop of a snow-draped evergreen tree…and still, I yearn for the vibrancy of spring.
I long for the “time of the singing of birds.” I’m so thankful that God promises the continual flow of one season, to the next, and the
next, and that we can rest in His promise that spring will return, “In its time.”

Has this long winter got you down? Are you making plans for Spring?  I’d love to hear what you are doing to get past the blahs.

A Piece of Driftwood

My Testimony - an original oil painting by Ritchie D. Hale

My Testimony – an original oil painting by Ritchie D. Hale

A  Piece of Driftwood
Hidden, discarded, tossed about, on the far-stretching, blinding sands,
A scene of desolation; not made by human hands.
Beyond the distant edge of sea, the green-blue waters still,
Beyond the heavens sun-lit rays, the tempestuous clouds to burst at will. 

Those restless waters closer by with troubled, white-capped surf,
Rolling endlessly to reach the shore of glistening, sandy, turf. 
A towering pine between the surf and I, – driftwood at its base,
Broken, bleached, and scarred by time – scars that nature can’t erase.

I viewed this gnarled starkness, seeing what God might see,
And knew that what I’d been before, no longer would I be. 
My life had been a raging surf, obtaining changing goals,
Joining each new larger wave, with constant, crashing, thrashing rolls.

My life was once a tempestuous cloud, with darkness and despair,
Which overflowed with ugliness, a life in reckless disrepair.
Most of all my life was like the driftwood by the sea,
Broken, gnarled, and scarred by sin, all hope gone out of me. 

But then I saw the sun-lit rays, and lifted up my face
And knew that God who made the world, could all my sin erase,
The raging surf and tempestuous clouds, and driftwood by the sea,
Had preached a mighty lesson on the plan of God for me, 

I knew that as I left those shores I had a brand new start.
And all that God had taught me there, had really changed my heart.

Written by Ritchie D. Hale 1972©

Hale’s on Adventure

Our Campsite at Williston Crossings RV Resort

           Three years ago, God put it on our heart that we were to move into a camper as “full-timers”.  We didn’t know much about this particular lifestyle, but we were excited to discern Gods leadership in this direction.  And so, our journey began. We purchased a 26 foot Dutchman Travel Trailer with a super slide.  Having grown up camping in tents and a 6’X  9’ pop-up 1960 Nimrod camper, we thought we were moving into a “mansion”. 

          Our first year was an adventure.  We laughed about the night we flooded the camper because we had closed the gray water tank accidentally.  We laughed when the night temperature dropped to 25 degrees and we ran out of propane. We laughed at ourselves as the seasoned full-timers discovered some of our “new to the life-style” mistakes.  It was all an adventure, and God kept our sense of humor sharpened.

            During our second year we felt seasoned in the ways of the camping experience, and began to enjoy the status of “belonging”.  God opened many ministry opportunities as we made friends among the other campers

Williston Crossings Front Gate

who came and went here at Williston Crossings.  We were among the very few who stayed year-round, and so we became “fixtures.”  This meant we were available when a family came to stay while their new-born infant was being treated at a local hospital.  We were able to assist a family when their home burned and they stayed at the campground during repairs.  God allowed us to meet, pray with, and encourage many couples who came for 6 months at a time while one of them underwent cancer treatments at local hospitals.  There were those friends who came to our park having been married many years, but left after the death of a beloved spouse.  God allowed us to be instruments of His peace during those difficult times. 

            Year three began with anticipation of new things ahead.  My husband retired from full-time pastoral ministry, we both were teaching at a Christian school down the road, and we began to travel more often, visiting in churches all over the state of Florida.  We sensed that change was in the air…and our camping adventure was beginning to conclude.  Restlessness began nettling our hearts that perhaps it was time to move into more conventional housing during the up-coming school year.  We began to refer to our camper as “the box” and knew that our full-time status was soon to conclude.  Still, we worked on our flower gardens, landscaping, and little place in the woods. There were yet things we needed to understand about our full-timer experience.  And so, we continued until we had completed our third year. 
            Today is our last day here in our camper.  With confidence, we know that God will use this experience in our future ministries.  But for now, we will be leaving the beautiful Williston Crossings RV Resort to live temporarily in a small apartment in Dunnellon, Florida.  We are referring to this apartment as “our big camper.”  We can only guess what God wants to do in our lives in this new place we will call home.
            When the Bible instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not to [our] own understanding, in all [our] ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct [our] paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6), we can depend on Him to do just that. So stay tuned on the new adventures of Hales in Ministry in Dunnellon, Florida.

The Anchor Holds

        Sometimes when I read about the disciples in the boat in the midst of the storm… I have to wonder what they REALLY felt like. Were they sick at their stomachs?  Did they really think that their lives were going to end?  Was the threat of being devoured by creatures under the waves a biggie?  They said they were afraid unto death.  Is that the same phrase we use today to convey that we’re “scared to death’?  How was it when Jesus stepped into the boat and the storm stopped?  When Jesus calmed the seas? When He said “Peace be still” and the storm stopped.  Have you ever been in a storm that caused that panic in your heart?
             I grew up in Miami, Florida, and was regularly out on a small boat far out at sea, fishing.  On several occasions the sky would grow dark, the rain would pelt down on us, and the waves would rise.  Oft’ times the waves would be so high that our little vessel would seem to be but a toy in a bathtub but the captain was unruffled.  He consoled our frightened hearts that this was not truly a storm, just rough seas.  We always made land, and there was not really any threat.  On other occasions I would go down to the beach to watch the surf as the warnings of hurricanes began to crackle on the weather stations.  There was really no danger at that point…the storm was still many hours from land fall…but the waves, the sky, the rain, the darkness…oh, I would not have wanted to be upon those seas in a little boat. 
            On September 22, 1995, when my mother was struck and killed by an oncoming car, I myself became the little boat out upon the raging sea.  I was battered and tossed around like I was a tub-toy being played with by a toddler.  There were no actual waves, and no visible storms.  But the storm was real! The waves were the most violent this boat had ever experienced.  I was tossed about and yanked against the chain that held the anchor until my boat was almost torn apart.  But God made the boat, He was the Anchor, and the Anchor held. 
           I don’t know what type of storm you may be experiencing today, but my prayer for you is that you, too, may find in Christ a solid Rock, a secure Anchor, and a safe Harbor.

Making Tracks

            Recently at Crescent Beach, Florida, I noticed this set of tracks and was contemplating the crisscrossing of each new and different pattern.  The pattern was ever-changing.  Some tracks became more prominent and made longer lasting imprints.  Some were first bold, and then receded into the background.  Each pattern brought something new and different – but all a part of the whole that shaped and enriched the depth and texture. 
             How like life experiences with the many people God has brought and continues to bring into my life.  I am wealthy beyond measure as God brings names and faces to my memory.  “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel” (Philippians 1:3).  Thanks for investing in the “texture” of my life.

July 25 Stand Firm

            In October 1991 I was working as a temp in an office downtown, Louisville.  My life was hectic and I began to let my personal spiritual growth stagnate.  This was a good experience for me to be in a place of employment outside my norm of church work.  When I was involved in my daily church ministry activities, surrounded by Christians, exclusively surrounded by those who knew and loved the Lord I loved, I discovered that though my personal growth was stagnate, I could maintain spiritual nourishment from the environment of other believers.  However, when placed in the secular environment where the majority of the people I was dealing with did not have a relationship with Christ, my mind became a battlefield in maintaining my spiritual equilibrium. 
                I was reminded of this recently when standing in the surf at Crescent Beach,Florida.  I stood perfectly still, my feet firmly planted in about three inches of water.  Each little wave that rolled gently around my feet displaced just a little sand – not evenly redistributed, but randomly.  Had I not repositioned my feet, I would have lost my balance and gone down into the water.
                I believe this is what Paul was teaching us in Ephesians 6 when he admonishes us to put on all the armor of God. “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
                  In 1834 when Edward Mote pinned the words of “My Hope is Built,” he had no idea how, when William Bradbury set it to music in 1863, it would become a hymn of such consequence as to comfort, and call Christians through history, to stand firm.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

          Next time I sing this hymn at church, I believe I will see the words more vividly, and sing the song from experience and adoration.  On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Lord, help me to daily set aside a time just for you.  Help me to reposition my feet each day as I learn more about who You are, and for what You are doing in  my life.

July 21 A Piece of Driftwood

A PIECE OF DRIFTWOOD

As seen at Marco Island, Florida 1972

Hidden, discarded, tossed about, on the far-stretching, blinding sands,
A scene of desolation; not made by human hands.
Beyond the distant edge of sea, the green-blue waters still,
Beyond the heavens sun-lit rays, the tempestuous clouds to burst at will.

Those restless waters closer by with troubled, white-capped surf,
Rolling endlessly to reach the shore of glistening, sandy, turf.

A towering pine between the surf and I, – driftwood at its base,
Broken, bleached, and scarred by time – scars that nature can’t erase.
I viewed this gnarled starkness, seeing what God might see,
And knew that what I’d been before, no longer would I be.

My life had been a raging surf, obtaining changing goals,
Joining each new larger wave, with constant, crashing, thrashing rolls.
My life was once a tempestuous cloud, with darkness and despair,
Which overflowed with ugliness, a life in reckless disrepair.
Most of all my life was like the driftwood by the sea,
Broken, gnarled, and scarred by sin, all hope gone out of me.

But then I saw the sun-lit rays, and lifted up my face
And knew that God who made the world, could all my sin erase,
The raging surf and tempestuous clouds, and driftwood by the sea,
Had preached a mighty lesson on the plan of God for me,
I knew that as I left those shores I had a brand new start.
And all that God had taught me there, had really changed my heart.

%d bloggers like this: