Posted in authors, blessings, book, change, children, community, Crescent Dragonwagon, daughter, Family, feelings, God, grandchild, granddaughter, happy, house, husband, job, people, silence, solitude, walk, write, writer

New Pace And Space

I have taken on a new opportunity this summer, and not just for this summer. On June 1 I retired from my full-time HR position in order to slow my pace down. I have more time for the activities I love like gardening, cooking, antiquing, and writing. Even with these fun hobbies, I am learning to pace myself so I get enough sleep, exercise, and make healthier food choices and proper time to consume. For additional income I am teaching culinary classes part-time with kids’ 1/2-day camps this summer. Come the fall semester, I will teach culinary classes 2 evenings a week to kids as well as adults.

More time for family is the another reason to slow my pace down. My husband and I already spent a weekend at the lake with his three children, spouses and three grandchildren. Next weekend I will be opening a booth in an antique mall with my daughters and granddaughters. But this week, is time for myself. I signed up for a writing residency at the Writing Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I learned of this place over 15 years ago. This place has been in existence for 20 years. I could almost pinch myself, to check if it is real. I am actually staying at the Dairy Hollow house made famous by author, Crescent Dragonwagon. I am taking a week’s residency in the comfortable culinary suite creating some recipes to share in a book of short stories with a culinary theme. My first book. See what becomes of this week. It has been productive so far.

I take casual walks in this enchanted town of Victorian wrap-around porches, bungalows with inviting archways, crevices filled with wildflowers, groves of trees and moss-covered cliffs laced throughout the town. I do some porch sitting, watching the hummingbirds and song birds feed. While on the front porch yesterday afternoon sipping iced peppermint herbal tea a doe and her fawn meandered between the two residency buildings. Later this afternoon I hear the readings of one of my fellow writers at the Carnegie Library a few short blocks away. I will make it to the farmer’s market and a couple of local shops tomorrow morning before returning to the laptop for my story writing and making a peach-blueberry slump. Visits with the other writing residents have been at dinner time. We sit and dine for an hour at a long table filled with delightful foods prepared by an excellent cook from the Old World. Yes, life is good. I feel God’s blessings.

Posted in children, cry, Elisabeth, Emotional, Family, fear, flower, God, grandchild, health, love, mother, Physical, Prayer, Rachel, Spiritual, strength, thankful, trust, Women in My Life

Dear Mom

Mom, I miss you. I needed you this week. I needed your listening ear. I got scared, too scared to trust for little while. I let the world bother me to the point I was doubting who I was. I am still your daughter. Even if you are not here with me, reminders like the female cardinal bird at the feeder last evening that seemed to peer through the window pane at me. This is my first Mother’s Day in my 60 years without you, Mom. If you were here you would be telling me “God gave you the strength and brains to get through this tough patch in life.” You’d also say, “count your blessings, be thankful.” You were always so strong. Well, maybe not always, but most times. Tougher than me for sure. I remember tears from your eyes just a few times. But mostly you plugged through things, complained when you had enough of Dad or one or all of us kids. Social injustices fired you up. No angel, a tough cookie that was very independent in most aspects, and gave that same tough love to me and those around you.

I sought God this week. He answered my cry, and sent other people in my path to pray for me. Mother Mary, other heavenly saints, and probably you and Dad, too prayed for me. My cries turned to gratitude. I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful for my children. I am thankful for my whole family, Dean’s, too. I am thankful for my jobs, and my retirement around the corner. I am thankful for the physicians caring for me and our girls, Rachel and Elisabeth. I am thankful there are medicines to keep our health. Rachel found a new doctor, a better one. She made it to California with her family, and are on the way back now. Praying for the traveling angels to guide them along the way. Those grandbabies got to put their toes in the ocean for the first time while in Malibu! I am thankful for where God has me right now. He has much more for me to do but also to rest and relax more. “Flex your gratitude muscle to fight off fear,” author Ann Voskamp encourages me. And it works. Stronger to fight off doubts and let God’s love win. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven! We left flowers for you!

Posted in battle, compassion, crown, darkness, death, die, Family, flower, friend, gift, glory, God, holy, husband, Jesus, love, night, pain, passion, scripture, triumph, victory, write

Passion and Compassion

What passion do you have in your life? A passion to write, a passion to travel, a passion to love, or a passion to start or return to a different career, hobby, or relationship? “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren’t immune to other people’s pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who lack patience — which is not the ability to wait, but the ability to suffer,” quoting Vivek Haldar.

My passion to write is so strong that I awake in the middle of the night or the wee hours of a morning with the burning desire to get my thoughts out on paper, either handwriting or typing. This morning is one of those wee hour awakenings. Dean and I’s vacation revealed Jesus in the midst of visits with family and friends and the scenery. Photos along the way captured the crown of thorns, the wooden cross, the blood of Jesus, and the glory of our Risen Lord. Our early springtime travels were in Arkansas and Texas followed by visiting family in Lee’s Summit, MO. On Good Friday we made our drive to Lexington, MO for our 2nd COVID vaccine. Feeling lethargic and achy since Friday I finally succumbed to sleep, awoke to write and back to sleep for a few more hours.

I have a burning desire to share with you the passion, of our Lord Jesus. Because of what Jesus suffered on the Cross, we can have co-passion or compassion. He made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I. He loved us so much, that he suffered death on the Cross. God’s love is experienced through Jesus Christ. “How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should be called children of God … This is how God showed his love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ 1 John 3:1 and 4: 9 & 10. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone why I can say “God loves me” and “God loves you”. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid His life for us,” the Holy Scriptures tell us. Jesus won the battle, even death on the cross could not hold Him back. Jesus is alive today! Accept Jesus’ love into your hearts today! Thank You, Jesus for this gift of love shared with each and every one of us this Easter Day!

Posted in age, answer, connection, day, give, grandchild, heart, husband, lesson, life, listen, love, night, old, refuge, rest, secure, silence, stillness, strength, wisdom, world

Messages

Messages are uttered in so many ways. Bold statements blurted out from the too familiar, boisterous co-worker, stranger on the street, billboard, or TV commercial. The grandchild that pops a question of “aha” magnitude. The Sunday sermon from the pastor or the simple architecture of a chapel set in the woods. The faithful spouse who knows your every fault, but loves you all heart and soul anyway. The quiet utterance of a sunset or springtime walk into fresh sprouts of greens and purples in the woods. The songbird singing his lovely tune to the world. Oh, the shout of that big Texas moon on a spring night! The stone structure or tree still standing despite time and weather. Messages are all around us everyday. Are you listening?

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 challenges, change, death, depression, discernment, embrace, Family, friend, gift, God, happy, health, heart, hope, life, Mental, people, perservance, scripture, sick, sufficient, survival, together, trust, wisdom, world

Embrace The Hope

Ice and snow rang in the new year. If it is not the virus, it is the weather that keeps me close to home. So many dreams and plans put off during the pandemic. And we are not through with the COVID pandemic with millions of people to still be vaccinated. Maybe it was a job change, retirement, wedding, or a dream vacation deferred. Birthday and holiday celebrations with family and friends altered. Or not being able to be with a loved one while they were sick, or worse while they died. Lingering side effects from the virus? I have not had COVID but my heart was sick some days. How about yours? Many times we cannot understand God’s ways, or the ways of this world. The wait, why?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”, the old proverb tell us. There is the other half of that proverb which says “but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12 ESV). Studying closer this verse in Proverbs, here is a commentary from the 1600’s English nonconformist theologian, Matthew Poole: Hope deferred; delays in obtaining that good which a man passionately desireth and hopeth for. The desire; the good desired and expected; acts being oft put for the objects, It is a tree of life; it is most sweet, and satisfactory, and reviving. Comparing Proverbs 13:12 to other scriptures, Proverbs 3:18 the “tree of life” connects wisdom and happiness. The NLT version says, “Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.”

Despite this dreary, wintry start, I still welcome the New Year like the finches outside on the feeders. Each waits a turn at the feeder. I embrace the hope and wisdom of a better year in 2021. What is the good you desire? Dig deep using the gift of wisdom God instilled in you. Discern and know God has made you sufficient for such a time as this. Those deep roots have the tree of life for you. Happiness will be life to you when you hold onto the hope and the wisdom.

Posted in art, battle, believe, blessings, challenges, community, crown, death, die, differences, faith, Family, friend, friends, God, health, heart, hope, Jesus, job, life, mother, neighbor, pain, scripture, together, trust, veteran

Broken Pieces

In 1944 and 1945 during the World War II, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick A. McDonald walked where the places of worship once stood. Shards of stained glass scattered the streets. He sent selected pieces to his home in Seattle while the war was coming to an end. He did know the intent other than to preserve what he witnessed while serving as a chaplain. Years later he and a colleague commissioned artist to use the shards of glass for what would become masterpieces of art. The exhibit is owned by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. “The exhibition is a metaphor for what division breeds — and for what happens when people set aside differences and try to build something out of the broken pieces,” quoting Indra Neelameggham, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

Life has no guarantees, no refunds. Conflict, poor health, toxic relationships, lost jobs. Or worse yet; war, a painful death, domestic abuse, and becoming homeless. These real struggles plague our lives either for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Like the sharpness of broken glass pieces, sometimes life feels like your heart is cut out while the pumping blood spews.

For a few weeks the church next door shared this message on their marquee sign, “Broken things become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” Do you believe that message? If not, it is a walk of faith for those broken things to become blessed things. Faith in our God, not in our own abilities or those of others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5.

Posted in body, change, choice, community, courage, day, deed, differences, feelings, happy, house, husband, job, lesson, life, live, Mental, mind, neighbor, people, Physical, Prayer, purpose, resilience, spirit, Spiritual, strength, thankful, well

What Am I Waiting For?

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.

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 Blog, challenges, change, choice, faith, Family, farmer, father, flower, garden, gardener, God, joy, life, love, resilience, scripture, silence, therapy, write

A Choice To Grow