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 care, faith, fear, God, Holy Spirit, hope, Jesus, love, peace, scripture, strength, sufficient, trust

I Need You

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.

Posted in authors, children, death, deed, faith, friend, friends, God, husband, mother, peace, Prayer, scripture, sinful woman, strength, woman, Women in My Life

Bathed In Prayer

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.

Posted in accept, challenges, change, comfort, courage, daughter, differences, Family, God, health, peace, people, Prayer, rest, scripture, son, strength, wisdom, worry

Let Go, Let God

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.

Serenity Prayer

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

 

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 authentic, choice, courage, differences, Emotional, faith, Family, friend, friends, grandparent, happy, job, joy, laugh, life, live, old, peace, sister, strength, woman, Women in My Life

A Bench Mark Weekend

This past weekend was a reunion with three of my high school classmates.  We recalled those days many years ago, and laughed all weekend.  Endless fun, without any men, children, work, alcohol, or drugs.   High on life.  I have had the need to connect to my childhood outside of my family of origin.  So much is a fog, just glimpses of faces and scenarios.  The past class reunions are minus familiar friendly faces. We had about 500 graduates in our class.  So I sought three classmates I am connected to on Facebook, where we seem to share the same interests and connect with our comments on each other’s posts.   I remember well all three.  One friend is an authentic pal from elementary school, another is quite the comedian then and now, and the other illuminates peace to anyone in her surroundings.

We reserved the entire country inn in a small town.  The host and hostess accommodated us well with a bonfire, plenty of bedding options, and a delicious breakfast.  We grabbed lunch first at a unique BBQ diner with a resident pig sleeping in a stall.  After lunch we stopped at a local antique store.  The antiques were as old as us.  We visited Big Spring, a natural spring in the Ozarks of Missouri.  I came across a metal disc right on the cliff ledge near the spring flowing from the Current River.  It said “U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark”.  According to Wikipedia, “the USGS (United States Geological Survey) was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of  Congress on March 3, 1879. It was charged with the ‘classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain’. This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican-American War in 1848.”  This bench mark has some kind of significance, probably either a elevation or earthquake marker.  My curiosity will have me research until I know the facts.

Benchmark at Big Spring

I felt like this was a bench mark weekend for me.  I had never done this, invited old childhood friends to gather for an overnight.  We all did not hangout together as a gang in high school, but knew each other.  None of us belonged to cliques.  I felt a bond would form as we came together now.  I have gone on women’s retreats, but this was a different kind of retreat.  This weekend rendezvous confirmed we had so much in common.  Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.  Childhoods and schools in St. Charles County, Missouri.  Troubled love relationships.  Divorce.  Made better choices with age and wisdom.  Faith.  Caretaking.  Deceased parents.  Mourning.  Parenthood.  Grand-mothering.  Jobs.  Thrift.  Hobbies.  Strength.  A confident beauty that a 59-year old woman possesses despite it all.  The differences were fewer.  We share a sisterhood.  The “plump sisters (PS)” vow to meet up again in about 3 or 4 months for another destination, maybe another bench mark weekend.

“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.”
~ Robin Benway, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June

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.

Posted in God, grace, husband, job, lesson, meditation, mend, peace, Prayer, quote, strife

Peace Or Strife

Ever notice when our President is first sworn in, he may be mildly gray.  By the time his duties are handed over to the next President, he has a full head of gray hairs.  Example: Barack Obama.  For me those wispy gray hairs seem to be coming in each day.  I know the natural aging process causes me to lose stands of hair and my new hair lacks pigment and regenerates gray.  But there are some of those days the grays seem to grow by the minute!  That may be the difference between peace and strife in my life.  Stress multiples hair loss and grays.  Example:  I decided I was going to work a part-time 20-hour a week job on top of my full-time job to put that extra income into my savings since I had not had a salary increase in 6 years but want to retire in 2 years.  Local government work is definitely service to the public, as it does not always serve self well!  Humbling as it is, I could not keep up those new job duties and hours.  My brain was mush working 2 office jobs by that first Friday evening.  I wanted to sleep as soon as I was home every night.  No life in that, or should I say “quality of life” in that!   I was striving.  Lost my peace.  My husband saw by the 2nd evening at my 2nd job I was struggling physically and mentally.  He simply said, “if it is not going to work, it is not going to work.”  No lecture or ultimatum.  Relief.  Grace given, and received.  Lesson learned.  I put in my notice to this new office, and back to square one.

I am praying and seeking God’s plan.  I want to retire from my employee benefits job with the local government at age 60.  Planned to work part-time some place(s) while pursuing my master’s degree in writing.  Tuition is 1/2 price at age 60 at the university of my choice.  I want to teach college students the gift of writing.   My dreams are noble and good, achievable.  Are they God’s plan?  Maybe my timing is off?  Maybe putting off retirement another 2 years to make up for lost income with the salary freeze?  Maybe thinking outside of the box?  Henry Ford made this statement, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Peace is returning with prayer, meditating, gardening,  my husband’s love, and even the midst of chaos this last week at that 2nd job.  God’s provisions are endless.  God continues to mend me with His pure gold.  He has aggrandized me through Jesus Christ!

 

Posted in battle, depression, faith, Family, God, light, love, man, pain, peace, people, Physical, purpose, quote, Rachel, sacred, Spiritual, thankful, Warrior, woman

I Know This Man … I Know This Woman

I was a guest panelist for the St. Louis American Heart Association’s Workplace Wellness Solutions Forum this week.  What a wonderful experience to share the budget strategies I have incorporated in the wellness program at my workplace with other human resources and wellness professionals.  Our keynote speaker, Aaron Hunnel brought his message of perspective, positivity, passion, and purpose.  This humble young man has accomplished much in his young years. An American veteran who served two tours overseas, overcame addiction, has literally climbed several huge mountains, ran an Ironman Marathon with a disabled young woman as his partner, author of the book Upwards, and a successful business owner.  His keynote message “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” moved many to tears.  I sobbed.  His authentic message reached home in my heart.

You see I know this woman who has a beautiful soul. She seeks the good in everyone she meets. She loves unceasingly, full of “thank yous”, and affectionate hugs. “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see,” Kirk Weisler is quoted, and this is what this woman lives.  And the courage she possesses is like no other I know.  This woman has not one but multiple disabling medical conditions. This woman is Rachel, my oldest daughter.  I am so proud of the character she has and is.  An “all abilities” woman.  The battles she has fought and continues to fight are extreme pain with advanced degenerative disc disease and arachnoiditis.  Depression, self-pity, “why me”s, “why now”, purposelessness, faithlessness, hopelessness Rachel has fought against too.  And this woman warrior has won!  Her faith in God has saved her time and time again, and will continue to sustain her.  Rachel gives love to family, friends, and strangers because she knows she was created for such as this.  Love is sacred, love shared, no holding back.