Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Intimate Connection With God by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Yesterday I was able to go outside and garden.  That is one of my passions.  When we moved into our house, fourteen years ago, we inherited a yard of desolation, nothing but  boulders, clay, and weeds.  Rescuing the yard has been a slow, tortoise-like experience.  If you hurry, or try to garden during drought, you merely break the handles on your tools.  It’s been discouraging, to say the least, but thankfully we’ve learned.

At 65, and in poor health, every plant that takes root and flourishes, fills me with the most glorious gratitude that I have a God who cares so much for me.  Jesus said, “See the lilies of the field; they neither sow nor reap; yet not even Solomon, in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.”  So, to me it is obvious that gardening is, after prayer, the most intimate connection I have with God.

I think of Jesus words, when I see a seedling, that I have planted, take root, grow, and bloom.  I know that I only did the easy part.  I place the seed into the ground, water it and God does the rest.  It is difficult to choose my favorite plants, since I love them all, but if I must choose, then I choose my seedling trees.  Eleven years ago, we had two beautiful birch trees, near the house.  They were breathtaking, until they died from the bronze birch borer.  Then, the dogwood, by the road, gave up the ghost.  The only thing left was an overstressed red maple, that we hope to save even this summer.

I began my garden’s rebirth by planting seedling trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  Quite miraculously they grew and flourished.  I was stunned.  I felt as though those little trees were shouting “Jaye!  I love you!!”  Silly, huh?  Yet, that experience helped me to see what God wants of all of us.  Perhaps with each plant, with each tree, with each bloom (oh, yes, I must have lots of blooms) God is throwing His arms around me, and He is saying, “Jaye, I love you.”

Gardening in my yard has taught me much.  I’ve learned that there are things I can plant that will live, and there are things that will die.  Tea roses, for instance, will be consumed overnight by silent bugs.  Our roses are Knockout roses. Our trees are disease resistant, just in case I’m not the great gardener that I would like to be.  In our front yard we have two Prairie Fire Crabapples (very disease resistant and a blood red).  Our three Bradford Pears have healthy leathery leaves that turn a deep burgundy in fall.  We also have a host of lilies, junipers, and other tough plants that just take my breath away.  In our back yard it is much the same.  We’re working on water features, and we don’t expect to ever be finished, as long as we live.

Gardening is hard for me.  I have balance issues, and it is always painful, but I do joyfully drag myself around.  My husband and children are such a blessing, planting trees and shrubs and giving me all the credit.  Everything they do is so obviously for my pleasure, whether it is planting seeds or trees or rose bushes.  It warms my heart, and when I think about it, tears spring to my eyes.

There is much to learn in a garden.  Miracles happen.  A lowly seed bursts forth, from the earth.  Gentle rain, or sometimes hauling hoses, gives them life, bringing blossoms of every shade and hue.  So, why did God bless me?  Really, I don’t know.  He will bless   whom He wishes.  In the Bible, God gives us clues.  He wants us to seek Him with all our hearts.  He wants a relationship, where our first thought is of Him. And He wants to bless us.  Now, my own personal clue.  God listens with all His heart, to all the longings of our hearts.

My house, for instance, is a mirror image of a house that I longed for, when I was fifteen years old.  My family is another miracle for me.  Love.  Hope.  Forgiveness.  Happiness.  How loving is the God we serve.  We have had tough times, especially when we were in the Navy.  Poverty was always knocking at our door, but in tough times or abundance, God is still with us, whether we acknowledge Him or not.  He is worth the sacrifice, and He does care about our needs.  I must say, that without God, we would not have survived the lean times.  I do love Him.  God is my constant companion; my hero; my sweet provider, and He listens and answers my prayers.

Daily Prayer  by Jaye Lewis

I love to watch the drifting clouds,
In the glorious sky, above me.
I love to hold You, in my heart,
And feel how much You love me.

I love to see the breaking day,
With colors rich and true.
I love to hold You in my heart,
And spend the day with You.

I love to see the little birds
That gobble all the seed.
I love to hold You in my heart,
As You see to every need.

I love to, breathlessly, await,
Your answer to my prayer.
I love to hold you in my heart,
And know that You are 'there.'

I love to feel Your sweet caress,
Upon my aching heart.
I love to hold You in my life,
And know we'll never part.

I love to share, with You, my thoughts,
On every, blessed day.
I love to hold You, in my heart,
As You brush my tears away.

And, last of all, I love to share
The way we laugh, together,
Knowing that the day will dawn,
When we will share forever!

© Jaye Lewis, January 29, 2001

With Love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Richest Thanksgiving by Jaye Lewis

It was November, 1976. I had just moved back to Jacksonville Florida, with my three young daughters after many years away. We were struggling, and I wondered what kind of a Thanksgiving I was going to be able to make for my children. 

We were living in a small trailer, and I was looking for a job while trying to convince my girls, and myself, that this was all an adventure.

My youngest child, Helen, was barely three years old, but from the beginning of her first lisped words, Helen seemed to have a sense of decency and wisdom way beyond her years. The children were all excited about Thanksgiving. The anticipated feast was all the girls talked about.

Two days before Thanksgiving, there was a flash fire in a nearby home, and a young family lost everything. The entire community became involved in the rescue of the couple and their young daughter. Shelter was donated by a church, and it seemed that everyone was involved in the collection of food, household items, bedding and clothes. I was thankful that even I was able to spare a few things.

Brigades of busy people willingly donated their time, as well as money. I was certain the tragedy was especially hard for the family this close to Thanksgiving, and I was grateful that someone was available to come to our house and pick up our donated items. Helen was very thoughtful for one so young, and I made myself a little crazy imagining what she must be thinking about the fire.

Finally, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, two lovely women came to our house to collect our donations. How I wished I had more to give, I said, as I helped carry the donations out. They reassured me that the family would be well provided for. The girls and I stood outside chatting, as the ladies climbed back into their station wagon.

All of a sudden Helen shrieked, “ WAIT!! Don’t anybody move!” She streaked into the trailer door, crying aloud, “WE FORGOT SOMETHINGGGG!!!” I looked apologetically at the ladies, but before I could follow her, Helen was back outside, holding onto her favorite teddy bear, the bear that I had made for her birthday, just two months before. Helen held out the bear, her green eyes searching my face.

“Mommy,” Helen implored, “the little girl doesn’t have any toys. She needs this bear! I have to give it to her.” My heart quaked. I thought about the few toys Helen had and how many hours I had spent sewing that little bear. Now she wanted to give it away.

We stood in stunned silence, the ladies staring at me. I struggled with my feelings. All the love I’d put into that bear. All the things we needed and didn’t have. Surely Helen could find another toy. Then I stooped down to face Helen, who was still holding out the bear, worry lines creasing her little forehead. I searched her little heart shaped face, my fingers brushing aside her red-gold hair. My eyes filled as I realized that my heart would never be as big as the heart pounding in that little chest.

My voice broke, as I said, “Of course, Helen, you’re right. We forgot the toy. How thoughtful of you to remember.” Helen, grinning, handed over the beautiful bear.

When the ladies drove away, I took my little girl and held her close. For she had made our Thanksgiving, the richest Thanksgiving of all.


With love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Encouraging Words on Veterans' Day: A Prayer for Peace by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

On this eve of Veterans' Day, 2011, I was just thinking.  The child of another mother's heart is fighting over in a strange land, for people who hate us, and everything they think we stand for.  At the Thanksgiving meal in 2001, a boy or a girl, eight or nine years old, was starry eyed thinking of future Christmas joys, although we were a country in mourning.  They were children, after all, and children are God's messengers of hope for a better tomorrow.

Today, many of those same children are languishing in military hospitals, or lying in well kept cemeteries, and all their mother's hopes are dashed.  Others are still fighting overseas, while mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sweethearts, sons and daughters wait, praying that they will come home from their fifth tour, safe and sound.  And then they pray that they will be home for good.

As a Veteran, my heart swells with pride, but as a mother, I weep.  I shed tears as I did when my children were at death's door.  I pray, as I prayed for them, as I prayed for my husband when he was out to sea.  I weep for the mothers.  I weep for all those who will not see another Thanksgiving.  I weep for those who will be at the Thanksgiving table, only to return to duty and fight another day.  I weep, and I pray that these awful wars will end, and each mother's child will come home safe and sound.

God help us!  What are we doing over there?!  If that thought doesn't make you shudder, because you have not walked the floor in agony, waiting for that next phone call to let you know that your son or daughter is alive and well, then take a look.  We live in a precarious world.  None of us are truly safe, except by the grace of God.

So, now I ask you, no matter your situation, no matter where your children are, stop now, and pray for their safety.  Pray for them, for yourself, and for the mothers who are waiting for this world at war to be at peace.  Pray for peace and safety, this night and tomorrow, and may God bring us all a lasting peace, for only He can.

Between Here and Forever  by Jaye Lewis

Somewhere between here and forever
Is a place called “hello” and “good-bye.”
My hope dwells somewhere between them
As I brush the tears from my eye.

“Hello, what a pleasure to meet you.”
“Good-bye, I will miss you, my friend.”
My heart breaks with every occurrence.
It always feels like the end.

I am certain, however, that life goes on,
From friendship to friendship, it’s true;
But I carry the memories in my heart
Of all of my moments with you.

You were there from the very beginning.
You were there when I needed you most.
You stayed by my side, just so faithful,
Never leaving your sacred post.

We have been through so much together.
You would never have left my side;
Except that God had to call you away,
My heartbreak has nowhere to hide.

I’m certain I’ll love you forever,
And no one can take your place.
I can never forget all the joy we shared,
And that look on your laughing face.

The distance between “hello" and "good-by,”
Was only a heartbeat or two,
And nothing on earth will make me forget
The love in my heart, for you.

I sat coldly when they told me.
I wanted to keep you, and then,
I remembered your peerless devotion,
So I had to release you from pain.

Good-bye my friend and companion.
I will treasure the moments we’ve shared,
And I’ll know that my last decision
Was the proof that I truly cared.

I’ll see you somewhere in forever,
And I’ll bring a present or two,
Just as I did for you here on earth,
To show my love for you.

© Jaye Lewis, 2005

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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