I need You, my God, my Father, my Jesus, my Guiding Spirit. Hear my heart, oh God! Without You, I drift into downward spiral thoughts. Then anxiety and fear sets in. I lack trust, faith, hope, and love when I live outside of You. Philippians 4:13 tells me “I can do all things which He has called me to do through Him who strengthens and empowers me to fulfill His purpose – I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.” ~Amplified Bible. The key is “self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency”. And Jesus Christ is sufficient. He fulfilled all that our Father required. He gave all. Jesus gave His life for you and me. “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7. Outside of Jesus, you and I have nothing. Period. I turn to Jesus. Turn to Jesus.
About every moment of every day the local, national, and world news capture heart-wrenching stories of tragedy and utter chaos. Although the local news stations have been better about bringing the good news, too. Like how a group of teenagers care for the needs of their elderly or home-bound neighbors during this pandemic with meal deliveries, running errands, minor home repairs, and taking out trash. While helping others, these youth are helping themselves by learning new skills, effective communications, and heart lessons from their altruism acts. These kids didn’t wait for something to change, they made the change. We cannot say how long the pandemic will continue to disrupt our lives. But I cannot stand by and wait to see how long. Life goes on. The new normal is established, for now anyway. What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for?
I have gained 90 minutes a day by not commuting to work every weekday. After about 3 months to adjusting to work from home (and loving most aspects of telecommuting), I decided to make another change. “I don’t have time” is not a valid excuse any longer. I downloaded a walking app, and have been doing interval speed walking for the past 10 weeks 5 mornings a week. It has been so liberating! I am up to 4-1/4 miles in 75 minutes, and my speed is about 17-1/2 minutes per mile. I am out of the house 5 days a week doing something wonderful for my body as well as for my mind and spirit. After 6 weeks my blood pressure and glucose have dropped enough to adjust my meds. There is a new saying I have heard through the online weight management program Naturally Slim. “Mind, meet body.” I play these mental gymnastics, talking to my mind, my body, and my spirit. There is a series of thoughts that goes like this: “This is good for you, get out there”, “God, give me strength, protect me for another day”, “foot, knee, you are going to be okay”, “only 5 more minutes of speed walking before cool down, yes!”, “sweaty wet tank top you are getting washed today”, “God, bless that homeless person”, “the birds sound lovely, thank You”, “God, what a beautiful sunrise You have given this morning!”, “oh, what a cute flower pot” … I think you get the picture. My thoughts turn to prayer, thankfulness, and praise every single day. I turned sixty today! My sassy (my hubby says sexy) sixty self is happy I have not stood by and waited any longer for these walking workouts. We are never too old to learn or do something new. Now is the time.
My heart has been so heavy these past few weeks. Thoughts have run through my head over and over. I could not publicly write about it until today due to finding the words, as well as work and travels. The ramifications of the COVID pandemic are many. Like a spider web, it’s intertwining in every aspect of our lives. It is about protecting self and family. For me it is also about the 4,000 employees I work with as an HR professional. If COVID wasn’t enough, then the international racial riots in response to a bad police officer’s apparent murder of a black man. How do you and I deal with all this negative news and multiple lives affected with such hatred?
I remember years ago while I was in distress over the lost of a child due to a miscarriage, an older Christian woman called me to tell me she would bathed me in prayer. That afternoon I was so tired from blood loss and mourning over the loss of the child I would never know. My husband then was insensitive to my feelings and said, “Well, you will get over it. We didn’t really want another child anyways.” So hurtful to me, but this was how he rationalize the pain of this death. I slept the remaining day and into the night. I was able to fall asleep knowing another woman was praying for me. It was the intentional prayers of another, as well as this person sharing this with me that brought peace to my soul, and eventually rest. From this I learned to pray fervently and unceasingly for others, as well as for myself.
“All strength that we give away comes over us again, experienced and altered. Thus it is in prayer…” author Rainer Maria Rilke writes. Strength is what I receive when I pray. “And what is there, truly done, that is not prayer?” Rilke adds. I take it that the author speaks of works that coincide with or because of faith and prayer. Holy Scriptures tell us in James 2:14-26 New Living Translation (NLT) “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’ You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Today our prayers and the works that match those prayers sustain us. We cannot justify hatred between family members, neighborhoods, co-workers, religions, and races. Pray. Pray for the “peace that surpasses understanding.” Do a good deed towards someone who may be in opposite view as yourself. If a good deed is not possible right now, then continue to pray. “Pray without ceasing” until you can. Bathe yourself and the other person in prayer.
Do you wonder where God is in all the fear and destruction that one virus has brought to this world, and why? I cannot answer the question “why”. But I can look around and count God’s blessings in every moment of my day and night. God is among us. The rocky wall is covered with moss overflowing. This green velvet foliage is not bound by a rock’s edge. This reminds me of our Father who gives in overflowing measure. The egg carton is filled with farm fresh eggs, and more to come. My empty egg cartons supply an urban chicken farmer with much needed containers, who supplies me and a few more families with a dozen fresh farm eggs this spring morning. Give, and you shall receive. The sky is on fire flaming its gold and amber into pink and purple haze. This can only be God’s handiwork, His masterpiece. Commune with Him. This is an opportunity worth taking. Believe me. “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him, and He will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring.” ~ Hosea 6:3.
My husband and I chose to sleep in this Sunday. The world and local news and the encouragement for social distancing kept us at home. Our spring-like weather turned to winter-like this weekend. We watched the gold finches fuss amongst each other for a perch to feed at the feeder. The purple and house finches do the same on the other feeder. Such the nature of animals, and people alike. The world’s concern (and ours, too), this corona virus has been much to think about and digest. Some planning has taken place in our communities, proactive rather than reactive. And there are those who are in a reactive frenzy to protect self, not thinking of the others around them. The empty shelves at the stores are the evidence with the hoarding of toilet paper and sanitizer. Remember while protecting yourself, think of your neighbor, too. Those especially who are elderly and the many who have comprised immune systems due to chronic health conditions. I have several family members in those categories.
We took my oldest granddaughter to the bus station for her first big trip by herself to Florida. This is a trip that has been planned for months. Hannah decided as a legal adult to still take this trip. Instead of fear and worry, I have prayed for her safe travels and health. My three classmates, the plumposity sisters (PS) and I have postponed our girls’ weekend here at the cottage. Sad, but totally understanding of their feelings. I busied myself with cap decorating to match our tie-dye shirts for the newly scheduled June weekend. I gathered more journal ideas for future projects. Love the birds. They teach us so much. Sing their birdie songs despite their circumstances. Most importantly I spent some quiet time in meditation and prayer. Such a vulnerable state we all are in. Yet this is a season that will pass as all seasons do. Life is still good. Keep smiling, and choose wisely.
What kind of fabric clothes you? Is it rich with color? A neutral tone? Plush with softness or textured? Paisley print, plaid, floral print, solid pastel, or solitary bold? Does the fabric have a fresh, clean smell of spring, or of warmth like winter wool? Sometimes the fabrics of our lives pick up the stench of offensive stuff, like the burnt smell of overcooked popcorn or a dog rolling on a dead animal. BTW: why do dogs do that? Life brings rotten circumstances that cause us to stop in our tracks and ask “why me?”. Your emotions and anger seem out-of-control. Or life leaves us depressed enough not to know what to ask or say. Just a lump of dry meat stuck in your throat that won’t go down or you cannot throw it up.
I say pick up a pen, pencil, paint brush, chalk, glue stick, or vase. And get at least one word written on a journal page. Or that one paint color of choice brushed on the canvas. Or that one embellishment glued on your choice of media for a collage. Or that solitary flower added to the vessel of choice. You do not have to have the whole story together, just one word. You do not have to have a landscape or portrait finished. That collage comes together bit by bit as you find another medium to add for expression of your feelings. The flower vase may be a simply perfect vignette for the eyes with just that one flower you put in it. Create from your gut. I suppose they call this art therapy. I call it survival with color. Allow the mind to be freed and body feel it down to the bone as you empty yourself. You may not know all the answers, but your feelings come out in a healthy way and adds color and texture to the fabrics of your life. Art is another God-given tool as a woman warrior.
Dear Valentine, you are surrounded by love. Feel love with your heart and deep into your bones. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” Jesus commands us, referenced in John 13:34. He is the ultimate example. Give love and look for love in every person and circumstances you encounter today and everyday. Why see, hearts are everywhere to remind you and me! The indoor plants, fabrics, jewelry, and the love birds tweeting love songs outside the window. Folklore says Valentine’s Day was picked this time of year because this is the season where love birds find each other. So whether it is a mate you wish to find or just love, the search is not far for love. My week love was in the smile, thank you, and wave from the homeless veteran as I handed him a little goody bag put together by a faithful Eagle scout from church … our 3-year old granddaughter leaping for joy over her Valentine package received in the mail and her daddy kind enough to “go live” with it … a couple of good health reports from loved ones who I have been fervently praying for … a girls’ weekend planned … dark chocolates hand-delivered by my sweetheart … Know that you are loved today and forever. Find those hearts and the love. It’s contagious! Please send me a comment to let me know about them.
Remember the serenity prayer …
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
In other words … let go, let God. Easier said than done. And why is that? I will speak for myself. There are times, even some days I am not present moment with God. I think too much. I think I can take this one more thing on, figure it out on my own. God gives us a brain and wants us to use it. It is also Him who gives us the wisdom on how to use it. But sometimes I overstep God. “Here let me do this so it gets done”, like God is not fast enough to answer my prayers or He wants me to do everything but pray. Or “I know what is best”, like I am placing myself better than God! Or how about this one, “doesn’t God hear me?” God is Omnipresent. He hears and knows everything even before I verbally speak the words or know what the need is.
I am writing these words to myself today. A reminder of what I know already, but need to know today as The Truth For Today. There are so many needs within the family as well as the people God has surrounded me with. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. Serenity means “the state of calm, peaceful, untroubled, and tranquil”. I cannot change the health conditions of my daughters, my sons, my siblings, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues. I am praying for Your comfort and Your healing touch to each of these people on my heart today. There are many, God. My heart is heavy today. Lift this heaviness as I give each of them to You. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
During this week off from the everyday grind, I am present moment many moments of my day, and days plural. My senses are wide-open. I hear my husband’s heart beat in the silence. My vision becomes clearer by the hour in the solitude. What a difference capturing a subdued vacation dedicated to the rejuvenation of the mind, body, soul, and spirit. Old thoughts are changed to clearer vision and direction. Faith in my God and myself restored. Life is punctuated with grace, hope, and love. Courage and strength for the walk ahead. I see the path. One of prayer. Pray the Word of God. Meditate and then pray Psalms 119. Today’s verses 11, 18, & 148 …“I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You … Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law … My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”