Posted in book, faith, Family, God, Holy Spirit, Prayer, quiet, quote, scripture, silence, stillness, words

Be Quiet, Be Still

Get out of your own way. Just sit down a bit. No radio or TV or computer or phone. Pick up that devotional book and read what words are found for today. “Noise is the mouthpiece of the world. Silence is the mouthpiece of God,” author Matthew Kelly shares in his book Amazing Possibilities. The Holy Spirit prompts me to turn off the morning news, put down my i-phone, and to sit in silence. What do I hear while waiting in silence? The songbirds at the feeders, a firetruck zooming down the street, and then the church bells. I sit awhile longer; I can hear and feel my own heart. I start to unload the needs of my family, and miracles requested as I pray to our God. These are big orders, but with God all things are possible. And then those precious thoughts and intimate words only the Divine can share. With faith I embrace His words.

"Be still and know that I am God." 
Psalm 46:10
Posted in book, children, editor, Emotional, faith, fight, heart, life, mother, Prayer, quote, silence, soul, vulnerable, warm, Warrior, woman, words, write, writer

Wordsmithery

It all started with words scribbled in a journal 40 years ago as a young mother, excited and overwhelmed at the same time with my new role as a parent of a little one. I have kept a journal since. It is not a locked diary like as a pre-teen, as my words are an open book. I keep no secrets. I write my heart and eventually some words come out in blog form, poetry, and short stories. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Flapper Press to request an interview for an article in their newsletter. Included in the interview were three poems I wrote about various topics that have stirred my emotions regarding the basic human need for warmth in the winter, a woman’s vulnerability, and Ukraine’s fight for democracy. I submitted these to the Flapper Press editor, Annie prior to the interview request. Read Annie’s write-up for more details.

Flapper Press

I return to pen and paper or the other form of word processing, a laptop computer as the need arises. Which is just about daily. Wordsmithery has become a way of being for me. Playing “Word With Friends” or Scrabble, daily use of the online dictionary, and reading are all a part of my obsession with words. As a child my mother would tell me to pick up a book and read. No one has to encourage me with that anymore. Now I am a wordsmith by necessity. “I am a poet and didn’t even know it”. I believe that is an old saying that has rung true to me as an adult. This quiet soul has words welling up to share. Many words. With prayer and faith let them be His words.

“So give me Words to speak, don’t let my Spirit sleep.”

Aaron Shust
Posted in age, anxious, art, body, change, community, connection, crazy, creative, Family, garden, God, health, heart, Holy Spirit, home, hospitality, house, Jesus, job, life, listen, live, Martha, Mary, nourish, people, quote, renew, resources, rest, scripture, season, sin, soul, stillness, time, walk, words, works, worry, write, writer

A Day In A Life Of This Retired Martha

People ask, “What do you do with your day now that you are retired?” I have always said I will never completely retire. I may not get paid for my labor but will always find a project or two worth working at. I am semi-retired at this time of my life. In June 2021 what I retired from was multi-tasking 5 or 6 days a week. My body and mind had enough, literally my heart and my doctors were telling me to slow down. My employee wellness job with the local government kept me overly busy with 4 or 5 projects at a time, an income not reflecting what I did for over 4,000 employees and 2,500 retirees. Since retirement from full-time work, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill my days with what God deems worth my time, resources, and energy. A person’s value or worth to this world is not based on how much income they bring in. Value is placed on what God says is worthy. I know worth is found through Jesus, who died on the cross for my sins and yours, because of His love for me and you. I believe most people have a “Mary” and a “Martha” side to them. I have been a “Martha” by necessity since 8 years of age and have to allow the “Mary” side to come out more. That is the side where my soul gets refreshed and my writing plays in the script. When I allow myself plenty of time to reflect, the words flow. For me at least one day out of the week, it is a steady stream.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things, when only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41 & 42

My hobbies of gardening, cooking, crafting, reading and writing provide several projects, but not all at the same time. Each day is different than yesterday. Those daily routines of making the bed, laundry, meals, bills, and quiet time, are consistent. I am attempting to make brisk walks or lap-swims a regular part my life again without making it such a regiment, just a natural flow in my day. I started working a wellness-related job, but just 1 or 2 days a week. That’s enough multi-tasking for me. Developing and teaching culinary classes at the local community college is limited to just 2 or 3 classes a month. This summer I took on work with senior citizens in our community through an organization called Papa. Using an app, I sign up as needs arise, assisting with household chores for 1 or 2 local women in my community during the month. Recently I signed up to bring meals to our pastors twice a month. Then one weekend a month Dean and I rent our vintage home through Airbnb, a good reason for a thorough cleaning before and after the rental weekend. This allows tourists a quaint home to stay in for the weekend while visiting our historic town. I know what I like when Dean & I travel and try to make our home just that for others. We recently have made “super host” status. My newest art craze are button journals. I design those and attempt to sell them through a local hand-craft boutique. And there is our big family with all those social events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries in the mix. So that is the day in the life of this retired Martha, never the same each day. I am not retired from life and enjoy living a Mary life more and more each day.

Posted in anxious, blessings, care, community, cousin, depression, die, Emotional, empty, failure, faith, Family, feelings, God, house, hurt, job, joy, love, Mental, mercy, neighbor, pain, people, Physical, Prayer, water, weep

Lavish Love

Some days I feel people just don’t even give a damn. Other days it hurts to see those you love in pain, physical or emotional anguish. I holler out, “God, where is Your mercy, Your justice.” Then other days when the flood waters rise, it is hard to see God in it. We prayed for rain after 100+ degree temps and no rain for days this scorching summer. We got it alright in one stormy night of 8 -12 inches of rain. Destruction surrounds us and the local news captures the next devastating story of the flash floods. One person dead. 10 puppies from a stray rescue facility drown. Basements and houses fill with water. Businesses close. No flood insurance for most. Is this the Noah’s ark story being told again, I wonder? I attended the funeral service for my uncle this week. A man wrongly accused the latter days of his life. My cousin cried. Many of us shed our own tears, crying for mercy.

The pastor who shared at my uncle’s eulogy reminded us of the beautiful Japanese art form that is made from broken fragments. Nothing is wasted, everything made beautiful it its time. Ravishing lavish love, this is what I want. Flooding in. It’s what we all want. People will fail, just living this life will disappoint, but God does not. His love is perfect. Let Him fill that emptiness you feel with His perfect love. The anxiety about your present-day situation will subside. Feeling overwhelmed is real . . . Stop now. Pray. Count your blessings. Your cup will overflow with His love. Families, neighbors, and the community have come and will come together to help those in need. People and pets are rescued. Officials and first responders care and continue to share the burden. Jesus is carrying you. He cares.

“May mercy, peace, and love be lavished on you!” ~ Jude 1:2

Posted in change, connection, courage, daughter, friend, gift, God, job, lesson, life, love, quote, season, time

DeJa’Vu

Life changes so quickly sometimes. Change can be good. Events like moving to another house, accepting a new job, retiring, a death of a loved one or friend, marital status, and welcoming a new baby into the family can dictate who with and how much time and effort is needed to keep up on a relationship. The key is you still need relationships with people who help make you a better person. Some friendships stick through your lifetime, and others are for a season or two. Sometimes life circles around, back to old friends and lifestyles.

Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Deja Vu.”

~ Robert Breault ~

Last week I had dinner with a couple who I went to church with many years ago and worked with the man at the church daycare center when my daughters were in preschool and kindergarten. That was over 30 years ago! We had kept tabs from time to time while still attending sister churches, and then through Facebook. For me FB has been a great avenue to reconnect to old acquaintances and friends. I wanted to see this lovely couple face-to-face and share some time and encouragement. I have always been blessed when I speak to these folks just like our time together 30+ years later.

This week I met up with another friend from my tearoom days. Over 30 years ago I worked with this woman in her tearoom for a season. We always connect well when we speak on the phone or message each other through FB. She and her son have painstakingly renovated a portion of an old building into an event venue. They exposed the beautifully tiled ceiling and wood floors. Elsberry, the small town that the venue is in is just 30 minutes north of metro St. Louis, and the venue priced so reasonable. HeritageOnBroadway has openings for your wedding, shower, reunion, and fundraiser event. Look them up via this link.

This month I gathered courage to take on a very part-time administrative assistant position at a small counseling practice. As all my jobs, this job has purpose, helping people get the talk therapy they need as well as provides for my daughter’s medical needs. Before my careers in employee benefits and culinary instruction, and after my tearoom adventures, I worked as an administrative assistant at various places. Well over thirty years ago at the church and medical/dental offices. DeJa’Vu. I am here again. God, what lessons do I still need to learn here?

“Usually we find later that we did good. Its all about how things will happen if we allow our own inner to steer just like a wrapping for a gift when we realize it’s all been Déjà vu.”

~ Levi Paul Taylor~

Posted in choice, community, daughter, earth, Family, farmer, friends, gossip, heart, holy, hurt, insecurity, job, karma, kind, life, purpose, rain, refresh, scripture, water, words

Ebb and Flow

Just one word. The right word. The ebb and flow of one right word with its syllables, pronunciation, and perfect timing. It drops into a pool of water, and ripples through wave after wave until it returns to you, refreshing and uplifting. Like that of karma, the spiritual principle of cause and effect.  Holy scriptures tell us, “Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

I had an interview today for a half-time position desired with the local library.  I am semi-retired.  The income from this job I seek will assist with my daughter’s medical needs, treatments not covered by insurance. So, plenty of pressure.  After answering their questions, the best I could, the managers asked if I had any questions for them.  I hope my three questions were appropriate.  An old proverb says, “Whoever speaks a word at an opportune time is like apples of gold on beds of silver.”  I am feeling insecure about one question I asked the managers of the local library, whether it was appropriate during this interview.  I asked about security at the library.  Maybe the timing was not appropriate?  I suppose because of my past experiences, this is a concern of mine.  A person never quite gets over assault, extra vigilant anywhere she goes, even at the local library. Apparently, somebody else has been concerned about security at the library because I learned they have a security officer stationed there in the afternoons and evenings to deter possible crime.

The ebb and flow of one wrong word is like a boomerang cutting everything it touches.  It abruptly comes back to you, can cut you like a knife.  Hopefully this is not the case for my question asked at the interview, maybe not the best time and it may have costed my job offer.  But wrong words spoken in gossip are a boomerang, cuts the heart and life of the people who hear the gossip, shredding the relationships of the victim as well as the gossipers.  It destroys families, friends, and communities.  Do not let your words haunt you, hang you, behead you.  Choose words wisely.  If an apology is necessary, make it right while you have today as there are no guarantees for tomorrow.  Let the droplet of a kind word permeate into the souls of those hear it, and the refreshment of that word will return to you wave after wave after wave.  The ebb and flow of one right word.

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 body, brother, church, death, father, grace, grandfather, grief, heaven, Jesus, life, love, mother, peace, Physical, Prayer, season, soul, Spiritual

I Still Love You

In darkness, in grief, in despair, or even just in the midst of seasons that never seem to end, we need to make space for pause.

~ Ann Voskamp

I still love you even though you left so abruptly. I had even wished it was one of your April’s fool’s jokes. I wondered that whole day on your favorite holiday if you would send a message or telephone to say, “April’s fools! It’s all a joke, I am not really dead.” But not so. You are dead, or least to this world. You have passed onto a much happier, freer life now. How is Heaven, my brother?

I still love you even though we lived so different lives. You a bachelor, no family to attend to and I with 6 adult children and 8 grandchildren. We still shared a love for our beloved mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and our northern friends. We lived in the same childhood home & family tree farm, made childhood vacation memories. We shared a love of the great outdoors, you especially with your hunting and fishing; I with my gardening. It meant the world to me when you came to Dean and I’s greenhouse and brought Grandpa to see our new adventure.

I still love you even though you left without saying those words to me. You left angry at me and our other siblings. You wanted no accountability, live life mortgage-free and a life full of cigarettes, alcohol, women, and gambling. You were writing checks your body could not cash in on anymore. We all can be a prodigal son at times, get off-course to what really matters. I know I have in my life. I had just hoped you would have come around while living on this earth. But I think you are now with those you loved the most, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Paula, your soulmate Eileen, and the Lord. The heavenly reunion was a joyful one, I am sure.

I still love you as you have taught me how to laugh and be unconventional. I think you will continue to teach me lessons. I know you were not a churchgoer, but a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite how many knelt knees and fervent prayers are said, it is by His grace that we are saved and set free. I have my quiet time almost every morning, but this week I am attending Mass every morning, too. Not sure how long God has called me to this, but I feel a peace each morning while praying with others and for others. I did this for various seasons while working in human resources, attended noon Mass at the church a block from my office during some troublesome times and for troubled employees.

“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” ~Norman Maclean

The movie A River Runs Through It reminds me of you. You are the Brad Pitt character, Paul. I saw this movie a couple of days before I learned of the news of your passing, and I told Dean “Paul reminds me of Steve.” The closing words of Norman Maclean’s story, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and ran over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.” To me that river is the blood of Jesus, running through us, the rocks are us, and some of those rocks just have a little bit more sprinkling of raindrops, the blood of Jesus. God rest your soul. I love you, brother Steve.

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 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