Posted in brother, choice, church, community, creative, day, differences, diversity, faith, Family, feelings, God, hate, Holy Spirit, Jesus, love, neighbor, partial, quote, respect, scripture, sister, spirit, works

This Bird, This Feather, This Love

Have you heard the saying “birds of a feather flock together“? It is the idea that families or people of kindred spirit stay together in one way or another. Other explanations are “People having similar tastes often get together and feel comfortable in each other’s company. It also means that similar people enjoy life together and often gather to exchange ideas” found on https://literarydevices.net/birds-of-a-feather-flock-together/. Here is a poem by Harley White that defines the phrase more …

Birds Of A Feather

Opposites may hold attraction
But lack lasting satisfaction.
Frequently push comes to shove.
In comes hate and out goes love.

Animals in fights and fleeings
Still are mostly social beings.
In a pinch, at end of tether,
Birds of a feather flock together.

Multitudes of furry creatures
Seem alike in lots of features.
Yet that’s not their point of view,
And they vie to prove this true.

Mockingbirds may sing like parrots.
Horses, rabbits crunch on carrots.
Many species act as one
To lark and run in the sun.
But in times of stormy weather,
Birds of a feather flock together.

A family does not necessarily display the birds of a feather concept. Some rarely interact with each other, and when they do it is a competing race, insults slapping the face of a brother or sister, backstabbing, or continuing dysfunctional roles from childhood. This can be blood relatives or in the church family. This attitude filters into work groups, community organizations, and neighborhoods displaying indifference and hatred. Whatever happen to plain respect for another human being who is made in the likeness of God just like you or me? So don’t give me “my family is better than theirs” or “if only they’d be more like me, I’d accept them then.” God made each of us unique and with diversity. Look at our fingerprints. Not one exactly the same. We each are our own person. How creative is our God! God is not partial to one person over another, He loves us with a divine equality. Romans 2:11 says “For there is no partiality with God.” At the end of the day, God still calls each of us to love one another despite our differences and ill feelings. Jesus tells us “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. In the 1960’s Fr. Peter Scholtes wrote the lyrics to this song based on John 13:35…

They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Love one another is a real challenge some days, but remember we love because He loved us first. “Flock together” today.

Posted in cross, death, Family, forgiveness, God, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Lent, Prayer, quote, Spiritual, works

Deny Self

Ash Wednesday begins the Lent season. This season is to examine where our present life is at, confess wrongdoing, deny self, and look to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit for guidance and follow the calling. What does it mean to deny self? One way is to deny my own needs so another’s needs are met. A healthy marriage requires this regularly. Or deny my urge to lash out on someone who has wronged me or someone I love, but instead pray for them. Another way to deny self is to make a dinner for someone in need rather than spend the afternoon leisure shopping. The Holy Scripture in Matthew 16:24 tells us “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.”

Hand in hand to denying self is the admittance where we have done wrong. We can do this daily, not just on Sundays or holy days, but rather during our regular quiet times, or throughout the day as the Holy Spirit leads. In many Christian faiths there is a prayer called the Confiteor, which we confess during our regular services. This is a good place to start if one needs guidance on how to pray for forgiveness.

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault …”

Following Jesus is not an easy task. Sometimes it is multiple uneasy tasks. “How many times do I forgive my brother?” you may ask. “Seventy times seven” Jesus tells us. “Pray for your enemies.” Jesus also says. “The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His,” Christian author and minister George Macdonald is quoted. Have you suffered unto death like Jesus Christ? I am preaching to me as well as to whoever needs to be reminded like myself.

Let this Lent season be a time of reflection, forgiveness, denial of self, prayer, true worship, and good works unto our Lord.

Posted in care, change, choice, compassion, faith, gift, give, God, grace, heart, hope, Jesus, love, people, quote, redeemer, scripture, season, sinful woman

Love Will Turn You Around

Love, what a powerful emotion and force. A gift. The Holy Scriptures mention “love” 541 times. The Bible tells us there are 4 loves. These are storge (empathy bond), philia (friend bond), eros (romantic love), and agape (unconditional God love). The season for love is now more than ever. This world needs love. Not any love, but a perfect love. God’s love. It is unwavering. His love does not fail us. People may fail us, but He does not. God’s love mends our hearts.

“Love will turn you around, turn you around.” Kenny Rogers’ song keeps playing in my head. I think the lyrics have a different meaning than what I am thinking. The words bring me to thoughts on what changed my direction years ago, what redirects my course, day after day after day. It is what kept me from a reckless lifestyle. It is the love and grace of our God and His Son, Jesus that saved me. His love is full of grace especially when you and I waver or fall short.

In the first letter to the Corinthians this is what Holy Scriptures tell us about love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8) That is Who and What my Saviour has been for me, and what He asks of me. He loves you in the same manner. Romans 2:11 tells us “For God treats everyone the same.”

“There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

Posted in book, creative, explore, friend, God, grace, health, house, husband, job, life, love, mind, quote, rest, season, sick, words, write, writer

One Word for 2022

The first full week in the New Year had me at my primary care and eye doctors for annual check-up appointments, after-the-holidays bargain shopping, two meals out to catch up with friends and family after the holidays and finishing the manuscript of my first poetry chapbook. The second full week, well, did I tell you that COVID continues to be rampant? Apparently so much so that my husband and I finally acquired the virus after it has been around the world a few times the past 2 years. We are thankful that our symptoms thus far have been very minor, like a bad head cold. Naps, more naps, and plenty of hot herbal teas have been our regiments. And of course, quarantining.

Staying home in isolation is not too difficult for me. I am retired from full-time work and have no cooking classes to teach until February. My husband works remotely most days of the week and has been strictly home this past week working quietly between his naps. Our first snow of the year fell this weekend, definitely another excuse to stay indoors. Enjoy watching the birds feed from the window. Reading, writing, and homemade soup making have been my occupations this past 2 weeks. As I go in and out of sleepiness, words ebb and flow like a river stream. Perfect timing to finish my second poetry manuscript, the newest edition of the first but photos are included. Both manuscripts are now submitted to two different publishers.

While words flit in and out of my mind, one word “explore” has stuck with me, and I adopted for my 2022. My New Year’s goal is to explore. So instead of singling on one action in one aspect of life such as losing 20 pounds or exercising 5x times a week, I have an action word to cover the many dimensions of my life. I will explore God’s grace in my life, I will explore new authors and books to read, explore new writing and teaching opportunities, explore healthier recipes, explore antique bargains, explore new plants to grow for garden art projects, and explore new ways to show God’s love to my family and friends. Filmmaker Joss Whedon has said “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it. Sauté it, whatever. Make.” Create. Make. “Just do it” as Nike coins their brand. So, what is your word for this new year? This 2022 is your year, and mine!

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it. Sauté it, whatever. Make.”
~ Joss Whedon
Posted in anxious, care, God, heart, listen, Martha, Prayer, quote, renew, rest, scripture, serve, silence, solitude, spirit, woman, worry

What Captures My Heart

These retirement days are far from lack of tasks and attention-getting chores. What reels in my attention, keeps my focus, takes my time? What captures my heart? Maybe what I spend time on is where my heart is. The Holy Scripture says it like this …

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:21

At times social media and electronics can take too much of my time. Answering emails, deleting emails, Goggle searches, text messages around the clock, catching up on the news online and local television station, word processing recipes for the next culinary class, Words With Friends challenges, etc. Then there are household distractions, a bathroom needing freshening, dishes to get in the dishwasher, laundry to wash, mail to open or pitch in the trash, and bills to pay. There is a place for each of these chores, but I have higher priorities to attend to.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; renew my life according to Your Word.” ~ Psalms 119:37

Then there is quiet time. What a treasure just sitting, listening to my breathe, closing my eyes to meditate, counting my blessings, praying to my God for my loved ones, and reading His Word. Refreshment for my soul. After all these years, I still find myself busying myself too much to sit down for this quintessential quiet time. “Just do it, Anna, sit down” I tell myself. Like the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus is quoted in saying,

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10: 41 & 42

“Martha served … the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” ~ John 12:2 & 3

Martha is referenced in the gospel of John as well. “Martha served” dinner just before Mary anointed Jesus’ feet. A servant’s heart, Martha had, and I still have today. I need to stop long enough to smell the fragrance of the perfume. Let my “house be filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” And that is the heart of the matter right there.

Posted in change, God, life, listen, live, Mental, mind, old, Physical, purpose, quote, rain, renew, scripture, season, spirit, Spiritual, truth, warm, well, words

Cast Aside The Old Self

You were taught to cast aside the old self of your former way of life that had been corrupted by its captivating desires. You are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self created in God’s image, in the way of uprightness and holiness that belong to the truth.

~ Ephesians 4:22 – 24 ~

Summer had lingered in the plush plants for many a days as it has been unseasonably warm. But now it is finally yielding to Autumn. The hummingbirds have not visited the feeder in well over a week. The sparrows and finches are feeding more often. The blooms yield to berries. I feel the weather is finally changing with the brisk air after the colder rains. Bare feet get covered with my weathered leather moccasins rather than strappy sandals. My denim poncho is needed this evening, so I clothed myself to keep warm. Just as I clothed myself for protection from the cold, so I clothe myself with God’s image as the above scripture tells me.

God’s Words are promises to me, and to you as well. Post-retirement from my full-time career has given me more time to think. I have had days to reflect on where I have been, where I am now, and where I want to go. The mind can go places like self-doubt and questioning God’s purposes. God is faithful with His Word and I am confronted with this scripture Ephesians 4:22 – 24, to renew in the spirit of my mind and dress myself in God’s image which is the Truth. Anything else is a lie. God’s word mentions these words “clothe yourselves” several times. This will be the focus of my subject bible study this autumn season going into winter.

Posted in answer, anxious, believe, children, choice, day, empty, failure, faith, Family, give, God, grace, heart, house, life, love, mother, people, Prayer, quote, rain, resources, rest, saints, scripture, Spiritual, understand, water, worry

Take, Lord, Receive

It has been a summer touched by St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Ignatius. Their lives still live in God’s people today including in me. A stray puppy became a part of my husband and I’s life one week in August before finding the perfect family to adopt him. After several weeks of packing, donating, moving, repairing, scrubbing, and just plain hard work, we finally put my mother’s villa on the market with the St. Joseph statue buried in the yard. Several willing buyers offered contracts more than what we asked for within 24 hours of being on the market. The closing is in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dean and I have some major household upgrades. We replaced a furnace well over 20 years old, a roof maybe as old, and gutters failing their job even when removing leaves and debris on several occasions this spring and summer. We have had plenty of rain even over the summer. One wall was showing some leakage during a storm prior to the roof and gutters being replaced, so some plaster work will be next. St. Joseph intercedes while God oversees the details.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”St. Ignatius of Loyola

I awoke one day singing from my heart the spiritual song, Take, Lord, Receive. I sang all day long, beginning with my shower and while I worked around the house that day. This song is based on the quote above from St. Ignatius, co-founder of the Jesuit teachings and Spiritual Exercises. I knew I was singing this for someone else besides me. A phone call from one of the kids revealed who. But the words welled up in my heart for myself, too. A yielding I need right now. A yielding of my own heart matters. Worry about things I cannot control, anxiety about the future of those I love, and my lack of understanding for some of God’s people placed in my life. Take, Lord, receive. My liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All I have and call my own … To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Please Lord, give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.”

Posted in change, day, faith, Family, God, grandchild, health, life, Prayer, quote, rest, trust, write, writer

Soar Above And Through

This summer brought change, several of them. I retired from my full-time job right into culinary day camps to teach, a week of writing camp for myself, multiple family gatherings, grandkids and grand dogs staying over, moving furniture and home goods, and prepping my mother’s villa for the real estate market. Life isn’t rosy even in retirement. I have had some adjustments to my new job demands. My per diem job requires a devotion and creativity to lesson plans, and with timeliness. Making more time for writing is still a challenge. That week away in June to write and recipe development was so nice. Hard to capture those moments in my home, but discipling myself to keep to pen and paper most days. The house still needs repairs, loved ones’ bodies and souls need healing, and more of Jesus in our lives. Good news, my PVCs have subsided. The meds and part-time rather than full-time employment have been key as well as prayers.

Where is life going? It is a question I ask often. I am a planner, but I must rest in God’s plans, not my own. Faith. Trust. In God, not myself or others. While I have launched into this new season, I spent part of July in quiet, just not doing anything some days. In these contemplative hours, I considered where I have been, and then where life is going for my loved ones and I. I cannot dwell here very long as I begin to think things too much, try to figure out God. I simply need to pray, trust that He is caring for me and my loved ones in every minute of our days. “What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul,” Corrie Ten Boom has said. Soul, fly and sail through this busy month of August, soar above and through all the unknown and unanswered details with God’s guidance. Father God be with me.

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.