Posted in age, anger, authors, God, heart, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus, joy, kind, life, love, patient, peace, purpose, quote, refuge, scripture, silence, solitude, Spiritual

In Every Age

Winter allows for life to slow down a bit. And the artic blast kept me inside for over 2 weeks, a complete halt. No trips to the grocery store or even the mailbox off the front porch due to my severe allergy to the cold. I had many minutes and even hours in reflection. I had plenty of time to think about where I have been, where I am at in this season of my life and what direction God is leading me. I am entering the winter season in my life, the time to slow down a bit. During my quiet time yesterday I read, “who you become is infinitely more important than what you do or have.” Spiritual author Matthew Kelly reminds me of the purpose I ought to have each day. I do not always have that purpose on the top of my daily list of to-do’s. But who I become is the highest purpose in the total scheme of my life.

The holy scriptures tell us in Galatians “to live by the Spirit … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It is never too late to become who I was meant to be. God is so patient. He is already that what He wants each of us to be; loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, and gentle. And I think about the self-control God must have, holding back from blasting me off the face of the earth for all the stupid, selfish, and sinful things I have done. It is the grace of God, the gift of Jesus and the Cross He bared that allows me to not be under God’s wrath. God actually loves me. He loves you. All those fruits of the Spirit God has asked me to produce He has given to me already, if I abide in Him. They are in every day’s lesson(s). God is my refuge, my hiding place this day, morning, and every minute of my life. In Him I can become all I was intended to be. In every age, and these winter days of my life.

Long before the mountains came to be And the land and sea and stars of the night, Through the endless seasons of all time, You have always been, You will always be. In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our refuge. In ev’ry age, O God, you have been our hope. Destiny is cast, and at your silent word We return to dust and scatter to the wind. A thousand years are like a single moment gone, As the light that fades At the end of day. Teach us to make use of the time we have. Teach us to be patient even as we wait. Teach us to embrace our ev’ry joy and pain. To sleep peacefully, And to rise up strong. You have been our refuge You have been our hope.” This song In Every Age is by Janet Sullivan Whitaker. It most amply speaks to my heart.

Posted in anger, battle, body, brother, change, children, choice, courage, creative, death, differences, divorce, Family, fight, God, husband, job, man, mend, neighbor, peace, people, quote, rain, redeemer, sacred, scripture, secure, sister, strife, trust, water, wisdom, woman, words

A Boundary Needed and A Barrier Taken Down

I recently used the word “boundary” in the family text chain to address the political hot topic taking place that crossed the guidelines of what we all previously agreed on, at least that is what I thought.  In my husband’s family they are very polarized in their political views.  You are either Republican or Democrat, no in between.  I beg your pardon, but I am not a party voter; I am an issues voter.  We all agreed to not discuss politics on this text chain as it always produces heated conversation and disrespectful words. On January 6, the day the protest turned to a deadly riot at the nation’s capital building, a few of the Democrats hollered with their disrespectful words at the Republicans on this family chat.  It was sad to make it such a personal matter. With an attempt to stop the bickering, I simply wrote a text “I thought we agreed not to go here.”  More disrespect proceeded. After a rapid-fire chain of more angry texts, I finally ended the heated words with “Family, the word is called ‘boundaries’ and you crossed them.” You could hear crickets after that, or least on this text chain.  Who knows what words were said in their homes and on their other emotional outlets such as Facebook and Twitter? My brother said the same of the Peace & Justice committee at church.  The Democrats and Republicans sparred during their recent virtual committee meeting to the point that the pastor had to stop it with, “Is this not what this group is against? Peace, brothers and sisters, peace!”

Boundaries abide in our lives in various forms.  And they are here to stay.  It is how God designed His people and His earth.  Look at nature and the natural boundaries of a river.  The riverbank keeps the river water flowing inside its natural boundary walls. During the spring thaw with the snow melts and rainstorms, flooding can occur.  Man-made are the houses and buildings built in the flood zones.  There is a sign standing in a farmer’s field going north on the Mississippi River road, Highway 79 that says “They call it a floodplain ‘cause it is plain to see it floods here! Remember the flood of ’93?”  Still, more construction continues in the floodplains.

To some people, the word “boundary” conveys restrictions and rules that bind.  While others make it their life’s mission to cross boundaries as a statement “you can’t tell me what to do!”  Look at how many lawless criminals we have in our justice systems or need to be.  The pervert who violates the boundaries by touching a child relative or neighbor inappropriately or the boss who stands over his female assistant gawking and intimidates her by invading her space with his words and leering.  The taxpayer who cheats on their tax filing crossed a boundary. I believe in finding and taking advantage of loopholes but be honest, so we all benefit from the taxes you paid.

Another portion of people think “oh, I’ll do this just this one time, I won’t get caught”.  But then it becomes a pattern and eventually a habit they are sucked into.  One too many youths and adults have tried cocaine just once, only to crave more of it.  Others dabble with an illicit relationship.  “Once a cheat, always a cheat” is what society will say about the unfaithful spouse.  Can you trust him again?  Other folks do not mean to a cross a boundary but do so out of ignorance or immaturity.  Ever hear of the saying “being at the wrong place at the wrong time” or “being with the wrong person at the wrong time”?  Immaturity may result in a job termination, injury, death, court hearing, jail time, ruined reputation, divorce, or a damaged relationship.   Unless you choose to learn from your mistake, a pattern of mistrust in oneself or in relationships may result.

For those who will say “rules are meant to be broken,” there is a degree of truth to that statement.  For those who say this, I can say “yes”, sometimes.  When a rule infringes on the rights of another based on a discrimination or prejudice, we need to evaluate and make the circumstance a fair game for all.  When a boss micromanages or a workplace with too many rules stifling creativity or worse mistreats an employee or a segment of employees, the employee(s) can speak up for change. Granted we are not always heard, so then there is an opportunity to leave and move on to a better work environment.  Same holds true in our personal relationships.

What does the word “boundary” mean?  And where did the word originate from?  The Oxford dictionary has two definitions.

  1. A line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.
  2. A limit of a subject or sphere of activity.

The origin of the word “boundary” is from the English from the early 1600’s.  This word is a variant of the word “bounder” meaning an outlaw, dishonorable or unscrupulous man.  Maybe more so of “limitary”, setting limits; subject to restrictions.  Its usage in our language increased gradually over the years with a surge between 1960 to 2010.  Maybe something to do with our women’s liberation movement, experimental drugs, free love, and civil rights era?  We had to have a word to describe those braless days, LSD trips, long-haired hippies, religious cults, nudist colonies, and violent protests. Currently, the usage of “boundary” is on a downhill.  I wonder what word in our language replaced “boundary” because boundaries are still needed in 2021? 

For some folks, when the word “boundary” is used, it provides a sense of security and a knowing of what to expect.  Consider the sacred scriptures of several religions: The Old and New Testaments for Christians, the Torah for Jews, the Catechism for Catholics, the Tripitaka for Buddhist, and the Koran for the Muslims. These are filled with wisdom and laws to abide by.  For an example a proverb (23:10 & 11) in the Old Testament says, “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for strong is their Redeemer who will take up their case against you.” Ancient boundaries protect our children.  This is a positive aspect of a boundary.  But some barriers need to come down.

The promise I hold onto from the New Testament is, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” ~Ephesians 2:14.

Posted in answer, book, care, comfort, fear, feelings, give, glory, God, heart, hospitality, Jesus, king, light, love, Prayer, quote, Rejoice, scripture, silence, sorrow, worry

The Silence First

I prepare myself this Advent season, Christ’s coming. I quiet my soul this morning. Reading in my daily inspirational book which I neglected a couple of days this past week, “All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone,” written by 17th- century philosopher Blaise Pascal. I don’t want to be miserable. Do you? “Silence is God’s first language,” the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross wrote.

“Adventus” is the Latin word that the more modern word “advent” comes from, which means “arrival”. When someone arrives at your house or the office, you usually straighten things up and prepare some details like a meal or documents for your guest to partake or take with them. So we try to be accommodating, showing hospitality to our guests. The Latin meaning for hospitality is “host”. Most essentially, it refers to the relationship between the host and guest.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” ~ Revelation 3:20 

What can I, the host give Jesus, my guest this Advent season? My heart. Jesus just simply wants my heart. And yours. He wants to take residence in my heart and yours. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Open your heart to Jesus, our Messiah, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory. Welcome Him. Silence first. Pray to Him, tell Him your heart. Your sins, worries, fears, tears, sorrows, praises, joys, and dreams. “Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7. He is listening, He cares, He comforts, and He answers with His love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Posted in blessings, body, community, creative, flower, garden, gardener, God, health, nourish, quote, rain, rest, scripture, strength, water

Well-Watered Garden

Rain (and snow) are part of a cyclical watering process.  This is what we count on to water our gardens and the earth.  Sometimes those rains are far and few in between.  And other times, we think the infamous ark may come in handy.  I spend many minutes that turn into hours attending to plants for pleasure and stress-release.  The soil, greens, and flowers’ colors nourish my soul.  From these rains nature’s waterfalls and garden fountains flow life-giving water.  The birds, squirrels, and deer gather to drink.

I, like the garden, need a drink from the rains to nourish my body and soul.  Daily.  The droughts last too long.  And the floods overwhelm.  Author Dan Buettner writes about the COVID crises, “like most hardships, it will materialize as a blessing in the rearview mirror.”  I can say this is the case for me.  Staying home, working remotely has given me time for my thoughts and soul to collect raindrops; get plenty of sleep, eat healthier, walk daily sometimes two times a day, and to reach out to others in creative ways.  “The Lord will always lead you. He will meet the needs of your soul in the dry times and give strength to your body. You will be like a garden that has enough water, like a well of water that never dries up.” ~ Isaiah 58:11 (New Life Version).  The hymn Rain Down …

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

Faithful and true is the Word of our God
All of God’s works are so worthy of trust
God’s mercy falls on the just and the right
Full of God’s love is the earth

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

We who revere and find hope in our God
Live in the kindness and joy of God’s wing
God will protect us from darkness and death
God will not leave us to starve

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

God of creation, we long for Your truth
You are the water of life that we thirst
Grant that Your love and peace touch our hearts
All of our hope lies in You.

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

 

Posted in angels, battle, community, differences, Family, God, heart, hope, husband, light, peace, Prayer, quote, scripture, world

Peace

The state that this world and our nation is in is unsettling to say the least.  I cannot remember a time in my lifetime where I felt and seen such unrest, differences, disrespect, and disharmony within families, organizations, communities, governments, and countries.  Is it because I have lived 59 years now, or is it really that bad in comparison to other eras?  In our American history, think of the upheaval that the Civil War caused hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.  Our travels to Missouri historical sites and in the South remind my husband and I how far we have come from those years in the 1800’s.  Or have we?

There is that song lyric that goes “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me” that keeps playing over and over again in my heart.  I find myself humming the words in my mind and out loud these past few days.  Mother Teresa explains, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  Holy Scriptures tell us,If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” ~ Romans 12:18.  Am I at peace with the world God has placed around me, and myself?  Are you at peace with your world, and yourself?   Honestly, I am still working on this and in hopes and prayers for a brighter year in 2020.

Posted in differences, fall, Family, father, grandfather, love, melancholy, mother, quote, together

Melancholy

The melancholy mood I have been in these past days can be for several reasons.  Autumn is bittersweet.  “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” writes Emily Bronte.  I should be counting my blessings with every leaf I see fall.  The cooler breeze and vibrant colored leaves are so pleasant, but at the same time a reminder that winter is close behind.  The autumn season has held the celebrations of multiple birthdays.  My mother’s 80th this year, cause for a party she is still with us.  But I lost my father and grandfather both during the month of October.  “I Still Miss Someone” a song sung by Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe written by Carl Perkins speaks what I feel today, this overcast autumn day.  Missing Dad and Grandpa.  Missing the love I saw in Mom and Dad.  Despite their differences, they stayed together.

At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together

And I still miss someone …

Posted in authors, book, community, demons, Emotional, fight, health, hope, lesson, life, meditation, Mental, mind, Physical, quote, Spiritual, walk, write

Writing a Book

As an employee wellness coordinator for a large-sized government entity, I keep myself versed on health and wellness topics and periodically take certification courses.  Depression and mental health are major issues in the United States.  A person can know this by listening to the news or viewing social media at any given moment these days.  More and more training in the health and wellness fields are focusing on the “7 dimensions of wellness” that make a person “whole”.  If any of these are lacking, it affects the other dimensions of a person, and the community around.

7 Dimensions of Wellness

These past few weeks God is urging me to write, more than I have written before with my journals, blogs, letters, and poems.  I am writing a book about wholeness, the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental healing for a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder which affects the social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental dimensions of her life.  It is based on the true story of a Christian woman and her struggles after a traumatic event.  Subsequent therapy reveals more than this sexual assault trauma, but the dysfunction she is living in her marriage.  It is a story of hope despite the reality of trauma, and the fight against shame and demons associated with  sexual assault.  Life’s lessons are learned in every situation and circumstance, if we listen.

I have applied for a writing fellowship at a writers colony in Arkansas, and hope to hear good news by November.  If awarded I will be granted 2-weeks stay at this writers lovely retreat center.  My calendar will allow for this next spring, if I am awarded.   If not granted the fellowship, well I may take 2 weeks off and hide out in my husband and I’s cottage to focus on this work with greater depth.  Projects with my employer have shifted with earlier deadlines, so spring will be a lovely time to write, take walks, meditate, and write again.  “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Ernest Hemingway is quoted.  For me it will be my pen and journal, and pecking away on the keyboard of my laptop.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Posted in book, connection, Family, gift, hospitality, love, neighbor, people, purpose, quote, scripture, woman, words

Connecting with Purpose

With our electronics, anyone could go days without speaking face-to-face with another person.  Parents receive a text message from their teenager about the next football tailgate with that adolescent one room away from the parent under the same roof at that place called “home”.  I have been at dinner gatherings where the i-phone is set next to the plate like it is part of the place setting.  And I have been guilty of such!  How about delivering verbal words to your co-worker in person by walking to their office down the hall instead of an email message?  The internet, emails, texts, tweets, and online posts can keep us informed, and there is a time and season for it.  But what about connecting with an oxygen-breathing, heart-feeling human in person?  A connection can happen with a little conscious effort.

Connections can come through family, neighborhoods, work, school, food events, sports, hobbies, art, music, support or social groups.  Colors speak.  Color choices in clothing and home design can display meaning.  I recently read The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell, and she used a self-appointed, self-painted turquoise picnic table planted in her front yard to connect with her neighbors. This Christian woman wanted to share her life with others in a safe venue such as her front yard.  The turquoise table caught the neighbors’ attention.  This idea of hospitality spread to many more neighborhoods and communities, world-wide.  It is a reminiscence of the front porch of yesteryear.

 

The Jenny Joseph poem, Warning, inspired the Red Hat Society founder, Sue Ellen Cooper to give a friend a red hat for her 50th birthday.  The first lines of the poem, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me,” tell us each to grow older in a playful manner on our own terms.  Purple and red are not just for senior women with the Red Hat Society.  Why not make a statement and most likely a connection with the next visitor at your purple front door?  What about a fresh-baked pie left with the next-door neighbor or a water bowl left out near the sidewalk to quench the thirst of those dogs the joggers/walkers bring out on a hot summer day?

However you decide to connect, connect with the purpose to love …

“Love is large and incredibly patient.  Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.  It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.  Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.  Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.  Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.  Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.  Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.  Love never stops loving … Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 (Passion translation).

Posted in book, challenges, comfort, courage, crazy, God, purpose, quote, resilience, thankful, Warrior, woman

Escape

cs lewis cup of tea quoteHow do you escape from this sometimes crazy world?  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,”  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us.  Being thankful is one way to escape from overwhelming thoughts and situations.  You say, “that is a challenge right now”.  I know.  I experienced one of those days today.  But more importantly, woman warrior, what recharges you with more resilience, courage, and purpose?   Is it being nestled under a comfy quilt with a book or the Bible in one hand and a cup of steamy tea in the other?  Is it a brief foray with an art medium or craft you are developing?  Writing or making music?  Is it an afternoon out with a friend, or date night with the hubby?  Or maybe a whole weekend away or at a retreat?  Whatever it is, just get there.  Make it a priority, plan it, and the escape from this crazy life will come.  Go ahead, do it, and giving thanks all the way through … I knew you could.

Posted in book, empty, Family, flower, friend, God, heart, house, husband, peace, people, quote, silence, solitude, well, world

Niche, Nook, Cranny, And Heart

heart-shaped-clipart Since my husband and I bought our quaint 4-room cottage in a historic small city in Missouri, many of my days have been filled with decorating thoughts. Color, pattern, texture, and space. Every niche, nook, and cranny of this less than 800 square-foot space. I am perpetually frugal, a bit of a “minimalist” is the word these days. Despite Dr. Seuss’ advice,“Fill your house with stacks of books in all the crannies and all the nooks,” I am being selective on where to create that niche, nook, and cranny and how to fill it. Although “the love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books,”(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) provides plenty of opportunity for my brain and time to distress from this too real world. Designer, Xorin Balbes offers a different use for nooks. “Creating nooks for conversation and shared activities can do wonders to bring people together. Create more intimacy at home, and you will become more intimate in the world.” Quaint times with and for others is good use of the cottage. We have the cottage listed with Airbnb for festival weekends only, and open our new space for family & friends, too.
Just the same I need time for myself. I allow every cranny of my heart emptied to be filled once again with God’s beautiful foliage. Like these cranny rocks in Cannon Beach, Oregon with a abundance of green moss and colorful blooms. And rest, a time to sleep, and just do nothing. Quiet…hearing my own breathe and the bird tweeting outside the window. “Each morning I gather strength from every nook of my soul softly inhale the aroma of nature,” Monica Bhasin says. Warmer weather sends me to the outdoors with green surroundings, but the winter season I can have that same peace and calm in the comforts of one of the living room perches, the arm chair in the guest bedroom, or even with a 10-minute break from the telephone, computer, and projects in my workplace office. The niche to wholeness no matter my environment is my heart yielded to our awesome God and His plans. All is well with my soul.