Archive | July, 2011

Porch Swing

26 Jul

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus,
his Son, purifies us from all sin.
I John 1:7

There is a tradition in my life that takes me back to very early childhood.   It has remained a constant throughout the years and has grown most dear to me. 

My Mammy and Pappy had a swing on their front porch.  What fun my brother and I had as we stood up and walked backwards against the swing, pushing it up against the wall of the house, then jumping on for the fun ride forward, often times, bumping the wall behind us as the swing swayed back and forth.  Very soon after, an adult would always open the screen door and tell us to stop swinging so hard. When visiting my grandparents alone, Mammy and I would often go out together and enjoy the afternoon summers, waiting for the mailman, and sometimes even the ice cream truck.  I also remember especially admiring the lilies of the valley that grew beside the porch.  My Mammaw Wells also had a porch swing.  Most Sunday afternoons when our family would drive down to the country and visit, if she wasn’t out in her garden picking fresh veggies, we would sometimes find her sitting out on the front porch swing breaking beans. 

I’m not sure how I old was when our own family got a porch swing.  It certainly was after the years of neighborhood tournaments of Life, Monopoly, and Concentration, which seemed to almost always take place on our front porch.  Also, it was after the years of using the front porch as my own personal roller skating rink.  I remember well sitting on the swing to read, to write, and to think.  Later in my teen years, it was a nice place to sit and talk on the phone to my friends … and to even share the swing with a special friend.  As I married and began to have my own children, Mom’s front porch swing was a relaxing place to sit and watch the kids play in the front yard when we were all together on a Sunday afternoon.  It was also a favorite place for my mom and I to sit with Mammy when they came to Mom and Dad’s for a visit.  This time, though, with no pesky little ones bumping the swing up against the house!

Several years later, we built a house in Pennsylvania and I was so excited to put my very own swing on my front porch. I especially enjoyed the evenings as I sat overlooking a cow pasture, a pond, and the infamous Star Barn just across the street from our home.  When we later sold our home, packed up our kiddos, and headed to New Mexico, the cheaply-built, store bought swing stayed behind on that porch. 

God blessed our lives in a variety of wonderful ways while we lived in Albuquerque.  One of those ways was in the many dear friends we made while in ministry at Nazarene Indian Bible College.  Work and Witness teams faithfully came to work on the campus, along with dedicated and committed volunteers that came every year for weeks and even months at a time to work by our sides at NIBC.  One such couple was our precious friends, Mike and Norma Johnson.  Having retired and desiring to be obedient to God’s leadership, they arrived every December and were our Christmas elves.  One year, they brought an extra special gift for me … a porch swing, made special for me, by Mike himself.  What a treat! 

Jayla, Destanee & Scottie

It was immediately hung with joy on my back porch, overlooking the yard and a nice glance of the ditchbank road where Scottie and I walked each morning.   It also offered a gorgeous view of the brilliant sparkling night sky of the southwest and the moon that I often felt like I could literally reach out and touch.  I enjoyed the surprise visit of a beautiful horse that wandered into my yard one morning while sitting on my swing having my devotions.  Summer of 2005 found me often sitting with two precious little girls on my back porch swing, watching the silly antics of the rufous hummingbirds that would dart back and forth, hovering at eye-level to see for themselves the beautiful girls behind the giggles. Teens would fill the house and spill out onto the back porch and onto the swing, grilling hamburgers, laughing, and having fun.  The swing always seemed to be a favorite place to gather, relax, visit, enjoy life, and spend time with Jesus.

After weathering the hot dry summers of New Mexico, my porch swing was packed away into a big yellow truck and moved to the extreme humidity of southern Indiana.  There it  became the supporting framework for mud-dauber’s nests and was also drilled a couple times by carpenter bees.  After realizing that I wasn’t the only one enjoying the swing, a can of hornet/bee spray kept me company as I sat on my front porch swing, overlooking the thick woods of Higher Ground Conference andRetreatCenter.  Birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer were my visiting friends this time…with an occasional co-worker or neighbor who would stop by for a chat. 

Papaw & Cole

Just this past September, the swing was packed away again in another big truck and moved to the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania.  Since then, it has been greatly enjoyed by Papaw, Mimi, and their precious little Cole.  By now, however, the swing’s wood has darkened with age, weather, and use.  When we recently received a phone call from the swing’s creator, informing us of an upcoming visit, I got all excited to clean up my special friend.  In the midst of the extreme heat and humidity we have endured for the past 3 weeks, the swing received a good scrubbing and a chemical bath, removing embedded Albuquerque dirt, weathered elements, and no doubt some sticky little boy fingerprints from roasted marshmallows.  A nice coat of wood sealer covered the fresh clean surface, offering a brand new look to my old faithful friend. 

Norma, me, and Mike

This past weekend, Mike and Norma treated us with a couple days of sweet fellowship.  I was so excited to once again sit on the swing between the two of them, eternally grateful for their friendship, their prayers for me and my family, and for my swing.  I wanted them to know that no matter the circumstances of life that have come my way, my porch swing has been faithful and supported me through them all.  The wood on the swing will eventually deteriorate and the wood screws will no longer hold tight, but I confidently believe in my heart that Jesus will have another beautiful swing waiting for me on the back porch of my mansion … overlooking the rolling and majestic hills of Glory.  Won’t you plan on stopping by for a visit on my porch swing and a chat that could quite easily last for a thousand years? 

Until next time,
Debbie

 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. 
Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face,
so that our joy may be complete. 
2 John 1:12

*  For my friends who subscribe to Morsels of Mercy and automatically get a copy sent to your email, check out the blog on my website to see additional photos of my family         https://morselsofmercy.wordpress.com

**  Blog photo of flowers taken in our backyard ~ July 8, 2011

 

 

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Camping

8 Jul

The LORD will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame. 
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11

We used to camp a lot when our kids were growing up.  Honestly, it was the only way we could afford a vacation that provided swimming, hiking trails, and playground equipment that did not include staying with relatives or friends.  Through the years we had a variety of shapes and sizes of campers which depended on our income level and the amount of people in our family.  When we were first married, we worked some special deal while buying a used Fiesta from some friends, and they threw in their very old and very tattered fold-down camper.  We took great pride in fixing up this box on wheels.  We scrubbed, we repaired, we painted, replaced, and took along a big tarp to cover the skylight and to keep out the mosquitoes.  It wasn’t much, but it was enough to allow us to travel to Niagara Falls on our first wedding anniversary.  Now, 30 years later, we can look back on those days and smile with fond memories. 

Camping at Rehoboth Beach

As the kids came along and we needed to have more amenities to make life more comfortable for all, we bought a Viking pop-up, complete with ice box, sink, stove, lights, and a furnace!  We felt like we had moved right up into a Holiday Inn!  We still made sure we were within walking distance to the bathhouse, but we had most of the other luxuries of home!  A few years later as Kim and Ryan were getting bigger and Dad’s job provided us with the extra income, we bought a 22’ Prowler travel trailer.  Wow!  We now had a couch, an overhead fold-down bunk, a kitchen with stove, counter top, sink, refrigerator and table, a closet, and a bathroom with toilet, sink and tub/shower!  Nice!!  We felt like we went from a Holiday Inn to a Residence Inn!!  

Those were fun times, full of memories that will last a lifetime!  Hot, humid days were survivable because we spent nearly the entire day at the beach or in the pool.  Fans were set up against the screen ‘windows’ at night to pull in the not necessarily cool night air, but the less hot air of the evening.   A quick passing thunderstorm was always welcomed as we often sat near the screened windows in order to feel the cool mist from the rain outside.  The distinct smell of charcoal burning and the aroma of bacon frying tweaks a camping memory every time!  Sigh …

Well, this past weekend was a gentle reminder of those days as the air conditioner in our home went out Saturday evening.  Not quite sure why the house wasn’t staying cool as we went to bed, we opened windows and doors, setting up fans to pull in the less hot air of the evening.  By the light of the following morning, Tim diagnosed the problem as a simple fix, but it was Sunday and a holiday weekend.  A family cook-out was on the schedule for our day, so we loaded up food, swim gear, the grandson and his parents, and headed up to Harrisburg.  The hot, humid day was survivable because we spent a big part of the day in the pool.  After eating, swimming, and visiting with siblings, nephews and nieces, babies and children, aunts and uncles, we headed back home to our non-air conditioned home.  The pre-plan to build a bon-fire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows was quickly vetoed, so we ordered a yummy white pizza from our favorite local pizza shop and had it delivered.  We sat out on our screened-in back porch with the ceiling fan on high, listening to the constant chirp of our backyard birds while we welcomed a quick passing thunderstorm that blew in a refreshing mist that lowered the temperature several degrees!  With fans strategically set up throughout the house (including one on the grandson while he napped) to pull in the cooler evening air, I believe we actually began to enjoy the ambiance of the moment.  As the “noisy pretty lights” were beginning to show in the sky, we all piled in our van and drove a short distance to gain a better view of the local fireworks.  Years ago we would find the right spot to sit with the kids to watch the sky light up,  and then head back to the camper.  We did the same again this year. 

Now, we always had the alternative to pack up and spend the time in Baltimore at Kim and Troy’s home, where the air conditioner is always on high.  The suggestion was often mentioned, but I think there was something unusual and alluring about staying here and ‘roughing’ it.  The birds were louder, as were the motorcycles and loud trucks, the smell of the bacon frying was more inviting, the breezes were felt and greatly appreciated, the taste of the ice cream was more refreshing, and the laughter in the little boy’s swimming pool was more fun because our perspective was a bit different.  It felt like we were camping, but we were certainly staying in the Renaissance of the Marriotts this time … minus A/C. 

Once our daughter and her family said their good-byes and headed back to the real world of air conditioning and home, I actually had one more day of vacation.  Computer problems at my place of employment kept me from going to work on Tuesday.  Allowing myself the luxury of sleeping in a few hours, I slowly woke to the bright beams of sunshine that flooded through both of my opened bedroom windows onto my bed, along with the cooler morning air which was being pulled in by the fan.  As I pulled the covers back and crawled out of bed, my heart was full of anticipation of the new day ahead and the hope of seeing the A/C repairman soon.  Later as I clicked the thermostat over to COOL and shut all of the windows and turned off all of the fans, there was a big part of me that was grateful for the excuse I had had to sit out on the porch more than usual, to enjoy the cool mist of the rainstorm, and to wake up with my blinds and my windows opened wide to the bright sunshine. 

Won’t you join me in accepting the unexpected and less comfortable moments while we embrace the improvised, unusual, and rare?  Sometimes it takes times like those to see the ray of sunshine that otherwise would’ve been hidden and never enjoyed.

Until next time,
Debbie

Blog photo of flowers taken in our backyard ~ July 8, 2011