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.
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
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.
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.
Looking back, how I have changed with each year that passed. Not just with the added wrinkles, grays, pounds, aches, and pains in the natural aging process, but in each encounter with my God, His people, and creation. Our loving God uses every situation and person in our lives to shape us. At times I have been in solitude, absent of friendships due to illness, death, and the unkindness of others. There have been good and not so good people throughout my life. Even in the most difficult and dark times, God was present. He gave and continues to give me guidance on how to live life more Christ-like despite others. I trust Him. There is no secret from Him. God knows the secrets of my heart and the sins of my life. I draw on the grace of Jesus Christ with my imperfections as I pour out my heart to Him. To all women, I encourage you to do the same. And join a women’s group. Not just any group but one where you are accepted as a prized rose, and encouraged to grow. “Other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown,” the Bible tells us. Have open discussions, share holy scriptures and prayers, encourage fearlessness in fearful circumstances, and genuine friendships are planted in the garden. Avoid weedy worthless gossip, emotional games, and comparisons. No pretensions, be fully yourself. This season I have been surrounded by fearless women, and seeds are being planted in good soil. I am thankful.
Sad, hurt, fear, worry. Sometimes the world seems to surround you with gloom and doom that you can barely breathe. Take in a bloom or two on your walk today. Pleasing fragrance. Eye candy. Snip one to add to the bud vase on your windowsill. You don’t have your own flower garden? Buy a potted daisy or mum for the kitchen. Subtle power over the stench and ugliness of this world, even on a rainy, dark day where one bad thing after another happens. Present day. Be authentic. No airs. No plots. Be true. To yourself. Be you, the person God made you before the world taints. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Emerson. Bloom today.
A few months ago I began this blog dedicated to the warrior woman God has called each of us to be. This necessity to write about this topic came after my daughter, Elisabeth was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer, stage 1. Within each of us is a fighter, some more pronounced than others. So I am not speaking of a roughneck girl looking for a fight. (Though I believe either one of my daughters, daughters-in-law and their mothers could hold their own if confronted in a physical battle.) With this blog I am speaking about the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fight we as woman encounter on a daily basis. And for some that fight is minute by minute of every day. My Elisabeth had such the fight the past 5 months. She told her story on her social media page, not whining and complaining, but injecting faith and the power God gives to fight against fear and the Enemy. The Enemy, cancer lost! After 5 months of chemotherapy and a bi-lateral mastectomy Elisabeth received the pathology report announcing “CANCER-FREE!” The victory is hers!
In my eyes, and many others’ eyes, Elisabeth is Wonder Woman. She endured chemo treatments every 3 weeks, the nausea and zapped energy level that followed for days. Hair and breasts loss. The mind and emotions battled the lies of the Enemy, refused defeat every step of the way. It takes a village to raise a child. And my daughter had a village praying for her, literally hundreds of family, friends, and church groups surrounded her with love and support, and beseeched Our God. And the countless miracles that followed … her husband’s unwavering support … God’s grace extended from her employer, to work when able… strained relationships focused on one thing, Elisabeth’s healing rather than their differences … a clinic of dedicated medical staff … most expenses covered through the healthcare reform mandate … non-insurance covered special bandages left in the mail box during recovery … gift baskets delivered … and most of all the village’s thousands of prayers said on her behalf.
How thankful I am that my Elisabeth has been healed, and continues in the grace of God! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for loving my girl! To God be the glory!
Time, energy, money, and prayer spent on yourself is not a waste. We women spend so much of our resources and reserves on others. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete,” quoting Jack Kornfield. Our granite strength can crack underneath if we neglect yourselves. With our Rock foundation, our lives are built with love, accented with care, and yet at times splats of doubt, insecurity, and fear appear on our walls.
We each are a treasure to behold and admire. “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware”, 2 Timothy 2:20. The vessel holds nourishing water until a leak forms. “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus.“ Philippians 3:12. Seal that leak with your Maker’s salve of mercy, forgiveness, grace, trust, hope, faith, and love. And your cup will overflow again …