hellomarylou

Inklings from within


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Ancient of Days

“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.”
Daniel 7:9

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This past week was a flurry of activity as we helped prepare for my brother and his fiancé’s wedding. V was an organized bride with a clear vision of what she wanted so it was a fun event to be a part of.

20121025-184415.jpgThe barn where the reception was held was so beautiful. Honestly, if they would let me, I would move in and make it my house.

20121025-184434.jpg The day dawned, dreary and wet, but the skies cleared beautifully just in time for their outdoor ceremony. And they got married. They said I do. I will. For as long as we both shall live.

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There’s my family. All 457,694,793,474 of us.
The reception went off beautifully. A celebration with good food, an excellent and witty toast by my little brother, songs, tears, love, blessings. We were and are, so happy for the newlyweds.
Towards the end of the reception, a light rain had grown to a heavy downpour and could be heard pounding on the roof above us. The wind had picked up as well and I said to David, “I think we should go over and close those doors.” The barn had these giant doors that were propped open throughout the evening. I had started to make my way towards the doors when David said, “Honey, no. Just stay here. Don’t worry about the doors.”
Looking back, the timeline blurs, but suddenly the wind really started blowing and one of the barn doors swung shut and then open again with a loud BANG! There were a few seconds of silence and then a lady’s frightened scream. And then bedlam. It sounded like a freight train was bearing down on us. People were running all over the place trying to determine the safest place to hide away. I was close to the bridal table when a window in the ceiling caved to the pressure and glass came flying through the air. I remember dropping my phone and thinking, “Who cares?” (there’s no app for the end of the world) I was getting underneath the bridal table when I heard my dear husband yelling my name. Vigorously.
If you look at the photos above of the barn, you will see these ladders/posts that run from the floor to the ceiling. He was standing next to one of those and calling me over to join him. I put one foot in front of the other, like a slow motion escape from the rabid dogs in my childhood nightmares. I reached his side, we fell to our knees, hugging the sturdy posts. At some point I became aware of the fact that I was hugging a stranger who was also clinging to the post. The stranger and I were both praying. “Dear Jesus, calm the storm. Dear Jesus, be with us. Protect us. Dear Jesus. Jesus.” The wind whipped and howled and the roof rattled and then, as suddenly as it had come, it was over.
People got off their knees, reunited with their lost spouses and children. Hugged each other. “Are you okay? Where were you? Who was with you?” I unwrapped my arms from around the stranger and as she turned to look at me I said, “Nice to meet you.” She smiled. “It seems like we were both thinking the same thing.”

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“Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”
Isaiah 40:24

20121025-195132.jpg We spent lots of time going over the details of the storm. Over and over. Each one’s different perspective. Rejoicing over and over that we were all safe.

20121025-195441.jpg The next day we drove around the neighborhood around my mom’s house and surveyed the damage. It was an incredible sight to see, to try to wrap your mind around the power it must have taken to cause that much destruction. I know that what Lancaster County suffered was nothing compared to the storms that other areas have suffered in the past. Nevertheless, it was certainly the strongest storm many of us have ever experienced.

20121025-195922.jpg Saturday evening we were having a ladies’ night out at a bistro in Honeybrook when we got the news that a young mother had passed away mysteriously in her sleep. She was a sister to one of my brother’s groomsmen and someone with whom I occasionally hung out before getting married. Ruth. Thirty one years old. My age. Mother of three. I can’t imagine what her family must be going through. What can ever prepare you for losing a sister? A daughter? A wife?

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“A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of The Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.”
Isaiah 40:6-7

20121025-201310.jpg I walk around as if I hold the keys to life and death, as if I can count on my next breath. My next day, or week or year. But in truth, each and every moment I am being held up by the mercies of God. Each moment of life, a gift from the Father. And that can bring fear to my human heart. A few weeks ago I answered a question in my Q&A book. Where do you think your road is going? And the answer had come to me so clearly. Towards redemption. And Ruth is just a little further down that road than the rest of us. There is a reason to fear God. He is powerful and just and holy. And there is a reason to trust God. He is faithful and true and not willing that any should perish. If you have claimed the blood of his Son Jesus as a sacrifice for your sin, repented, and turned from your sin, then you are his.

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“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one.
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
and have the keys of death and hades.”
Revelation 1:17-18


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What is your ideal summer day? Where would you go, what would you do or eat, and who would you be with?

I’ve taken a few days off from these questions and for good reason. The day I was supposed to answer the above question, I was, in fact, enjoying an ideal summer day. The annual Miller family reunion was this past weekend and I so enjoyed it. I had skipped a couple of years so it was really good to be back and connect with the people with whom I share a mysterious bond. Because it is mysterious to me…why should a few shared genes or blood cells or something, (I’m unqualified to discuss our biological similarities) knit our souls together? I know that those biological similarities don’t always knit souls together. At least not in love. And so I am most grateful for the love, imperfect as it is, that has knit my mom’s family together.

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 In the kitchen (for family who cares, in the back its Emmanuel, Roy, Barbara, and Robert;
front is Ivan and Mom)

My mom’s brother’s stories are my favorite part of the reunions. There is an inner “uh-huh”, a kind of confirmation, a recognition of myself and my siblings, that I experience when their tales are being told. When they told the story of Grandpa scaring his sons by pretending to be a mountain lion, I laughed. When Robert simultaneously laughed and cried while talking about Roy’s recent stroke, I wiped away tears. And then laughed because Roy said he’s no longer sleeping on his belly because he’s afraid of heights.

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Love this picture (Eddie, Mom, Ivan)

I caught up with dear cousins, laughed at their kids jokes, squeezed my nieces and nephews, and ended each day with my siblings. The food on these ideal days? Oh goodness. Table after table, a buffet of so much deliciousness.

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Dreamer (Andy)

One story that struck me in particular, was about my uncle Andy, pictured above. I think Eddie told it, and as I remember it, the boys were in the barn doing their chores when Andy suddenly went running past Eddie, through the barn door, and outside. A few minutes later he came back in and said, “Ih hop un gaeluh airplane tsenah! Swa gael!” (forgive me, that may not be very sound PA dutch) Translation: “I saw a yellow airplane! It was yellow!” Reportedly, Andy, as a young boy was fixated on airplanes and aviation. I think they teased him about it plenty, at least they do now, but he would not be swayed.

In the afternoon of our second day together, people were suddenly moving out from under the pavilion and looking expectantly at the sky. “What’s going on?” I wondered. Someone said, “Andy’s doing a flyover!”

And suddenly I was transported. Blown away. A young Amish boy who dared to dream, and whose dreams were not squashed. He loved airplanes and there he was flying over our heads, dipping his wings to say hello. Uncle Andy is my hero for more than one reason, but on July 15 2012, he became an inspiration. To me. The humming sound of the airplane overhead, and the warmth of love and hope inside- it was the perfect summer day.


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Bella Sobrina

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Last weekend found my baby sister and I at my eldest sister’s house in Ohio. We were there to celebrate my niece’s bat mitzvah. Christy is 15 years old and she is a treasure. {May I just state for the record, it is unbelievably fun to have teenage nieces.} We had a great time helping her and her family prepare for the festivities. We made pumpkin lanterns, and hung lights, and pushed furniture around, tore up old sheet music, and made food. It was a jolly good time.
Friday night it was just a small, intimate gathering for family and close friends. We shared our blessings with Christy, and heaped affirmation and love upon her. It was a beautiful time, full of love and lots of fun memories shared about her life so far. She’s a feisty one. Small but mighty. As a toddler, she once took a boy thrice her size to the floor, sat on him, and firmly reprimanded him for bullying her friend. He’s still thrice her size I believe, and only a few weeks ago (allegedly) she affirmed her unwavering courage when she tossed her glass of water in his face. He was bullying her this time. Allegedly. 🙂
Besides her courage, she is well noted for her contagious enthusiasm for life. She is passionate about truth. She is a woman of influence. I have no doubt that more than a few lives will be changed by the influence of her presence on this earth. She is witty. She is hilarious. Like her older sister Cherie said, she is so unique that everyone wants to be like her, but they can’t, because there’s only one Christy. 🙂
Saturday night’s festivity was held at their church where we had created a somewhat “homey” atmosphere in their balcony. Here there were lots more people, her grandpa, friends from church, and friends from afar. Her mom and dad and two oldest siblings shared their blessings with her that night. It was touching to say the least. What a beautiful thing, to see a young woman affirmed, told that she was loved, beautiful, and accepted. She was encouraged, blessed, and honored. There’s a girl who I doubt will go looking for a boy to give her an identity. She has one, loud and clear. She’s a daughter of the King, and a valued treasure in her family. She’s a talented musician. A classical actress. A sought after singer. A photographer extraordinaire. A giggling partner in crime. A lover of coffee and a domestic diva.
What if we all did a little bit of that each day? Affirming each other, expressing someone else’s value, their beloved-ness, instead of their unloveliness. Would people’s lives change little by little? Would it change the way someone looked at themselves? No great ceremony, just a day by day appreciation of someone’s value. Ahhh…I’m inspired.
I love you Christy, more than you’ll ever know.

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Rain

Living away from the East coastline does not, apparently, save us from experiencing hurricane weather, at least not the wet, rainy part of it. It has been raining for a few days now. Or does it just seem that long?
I spent most of the afternoon over at mom’s, chatting with her and my sisters about our upcoming vacation in South Carolina, (yep, that’s where we’re going), and tinkering around on craft projects.

My sister and I both made a set of refrigerator magnets. They’re so easy and fun.

I tried my hand at a few of these rolled-twisted flowers and then put them on a wire headband we stole from our youngest sister. After we tore off the feathers that were on it. 🙂
I’ve been seeing so many ladies/clients at work wearing some sort of cute, feminine accessory-and I think it’s so great that MOST of the time when I compliment them on it and ask them where they got it, they say they made it. I love that.

There may have been some pinning going on too. Oh goodness. Pinterest. It’s a great source of inspiration. If I try half the things I’ve pinned, I shall be very proud indeed. If you have a Pinterest account, let me know. I’d love to check out your boards. 🙂

I made sure I got home in time to watch the Republican candidates debate at 8 o’clock. Turns out it was the Romney-Perry debate. Most of the time and questions were directed towards those two, and then the analysts afterwards declared that Romney and Perry are the clear front runners and that various other candidates seem to just have f a d e d. It’s disingenuous to say the least. Yech. I am equally fascinated-concerned-disgusted by the whole political and media circus. I won’t tell you which of the candidates would get my vote but I can tell you that it wouldn’t be Romney or Perry or Santorum or Bachman or Gingerich or Cain or Huntsman.

I’m just a few days away from a week vacation…….there are no major plans besides hanging out with the ladies in my family for a week. {happy sigh}

– Marylou


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Toes in Cowpies

Is there a bigger letdown than a cancelled vacation? I know, it’s such a first-world problem, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Next Saturday morning I was going to be in a car with my mom and sisters on our way to the Outer Banks. It was going to be our first ever ladies only vacation. Sisters, mom, nieces. But Sister Irene, she’s a doozy, and in her fury has pretty much doomed our vacation. And in my grand optimistic wisdom, I declined the travel insurance when booking our house. Yes.

“Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair…” (I was really looking forward to singing that song at the beach.)

It is what it is. And what it is, is a reminder that we can make plans, but God allows our every breath. Every move. It’s humbling, and gratitude inspiring. He has saved me day after day, for 10,950 days. (give or take a few) For some reason, He has not consumed me, with fire or cancer or hurricanes or famine or war. I did not place myself on this earth. I did not self-help my way into being. I did not send in an application requesting placement on this planet. Life is a gift from God to me, completely un-merited and unattainable on my own. Without that gift I would never even know the pleasure of sinking my toes into the sands by the ocean; I wouldn’t have sisters and family that I love to be with. So thank you God. For life.

As far as the vacation goes, we do have a couple of options. We’re considering a mountainside vacation, at my aunt’s vacation-farmette in West Virginia. I don’t have pictures of the farm, but I know there will be a few of these there:

And some of these:

Cows and concord grapes. The ambience would be different – our toes will luxuriate in cow pies instead of sand, but I’m sure we’d still have an unforgettable time.
We’re also considering going to my sister’s house in South Carolina. Poor lady, it wouldn’t be much of a vacation for her to have us all pile in her house, 🙂 but we’re still undecided.
Labor day weekend is this weekend! What are your plans? We have a few possibilities……..I’ll be doing some organizing here at home, maybe a DIY project, (coasters!) a wedding Saturday evening, maybe a visit to the Fonthill Museum, and hopefully a few campfires thrown in there.
Have a blessed weekend!


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Giving Thanks

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s there any treasure that can be compared to truth? This Thanksgiving I’ve thought of it again and again-I have so much to be grateful for. I have a stock pile of  ammunition for one of those days when I need to count my blessings.  But nothing compares to knowing and believing the truth. Since this November’s election, I’ve turned a deaf ear to politicians and their promises to supply jobs, restore America, or whatever else the current buzz-worthy jargon is. (Staying informed is important, but sorting fact from fiction is a time-consuming endeavor. Not to mention the cranial explosions and the rapid onset Parkinson’s that seems to occur when watching/hearing/reading too much news.)  But there is a place I can turn to and expect to get the truth every time.

The number one thing I’m grateful for is this: I serve the one, true God. He reveals Himself in the people around me, in the beauty of earth, in my own heart, and in His Word. While modern modes of communication continue to evolve at a rapid pace, I boast in the simplicity of a long letter from my Creator, the Organizer of the universe.

Second best?  The family that is my husband and I. He completes me. And then there’s his family. David’s brother and wife and their 4 month old twins traveled all the way from Texas to spend Thanksgiving week with us. To say that we fell in love with the babies is an understatement. Abigail and Victoria won us over so completely. Every moment was spent in silly baby talk, making faces, anything to get them to smile. And when they did it felt like we’d just won a prize of epic proportions. 🙂 We were reduced to tears in the parking lot after we’d told them goodbye. I’m UBER grateful for my second family…they’re gracious and giving and warm and so loving to us!

Not to mention, my family.  This past week was packed full of running back and forth from David’s family to mine and it was so worth it. Most of our time with my family didn’t happen until Saturday and Sunday but we packed it full of fun. I experienced Black Friday shopping for the first and last time. We went out at midnight on Thursday and were out until 6am. It had its moments, but it wasn’t worth standing in line in the dark behind Target. 🙂 We played games, watched movies, drank coffee, ate leftovers, ran around playing dodgeball and 23Escadoo with the kiddos in the basement, conversed, and painted a giant mural on the bathroom wall.

On Sunday afternoon Tom, Cameron, and Caleb brought some horses over. It was pretty cold outside but our hearts were warm.

 

It is good practice for my will power to say no to this face.

 

I love this picture. It illustrates perfectly just how many scenes/conversations can be going on in our family at once. Captured in the foreground is Jeffrey, just after he descended from a decidedly aggressive horse named Trigger. Please click on the photo above to enjoy Jeff’s aging process at a greater advantage. 🙂

So that does it….I’m grateful for God and family. There’s plenty more, but I will revel in those two for a long, long time.