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.”
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.
The mother of pearl stone fell out of my class ring about 3 months ago. I noticed a hollow cavity in the ring after a shower one morning. My assumption is it popped out while taking a shower or while I gardened. My sweet husband knew how significant that ring was. I worked hard at age 40 to finally complete my BA degree, and graduated with summa cum laude honors. Dean looked up the information, and this ring maker guaranteed their work for my lifetime. We packed it up and it was sent back to me within a month as promised. Beautifully restored and cleaned. Mother of pearl symbolizes restored trust and selfless love. And this is what my BA degree did for me, restored my trust in people, love, and the reward for hard work. The mother of pearl stone reminds me of my children, and the selfless love of a mother. My daughters have done a much better job at this than I. Being a grandmother has been much easier for me, and still an opportunity for a positive influence.
This week I was reminded at the Fearless Women’s gathering how God is in control. Whenever we feel like we need to fix someone or a situation, remind self “they are My children”. God loves our children and others more than we ever could. He knows best! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~ Ephesians 2:10. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” ~ Philippians 3:12. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37.
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.
I am not an affectionate person but with my husband only. There are many deep-seeded reasons for that. I have opened my heart to be warm and kind to the people put on my path of life. Many years ago I read a book Open Heart, Open Home by Christian author, Karen Mains. It provoked me to develop my gift of hospitality. This gift is not about impressions but acceptance and warmth to all. Not just in my home, but in my heart and wherever I am. Hospitality is not just for my friends and family, but for all people and creatures that cross my path. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,” the book of Hebrews (13:2) tells us.
The mineral, salt symbolizes hospitality according to this bible study website https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/salt/. “As one of the most essential articles of diet, salt symbolized hospitality; as an antiseptic, durability, fidelity and purity.” Salt’s ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it an allegorical symbol in many religions. “Called a ‘divine substance’ by Homer, salt is an essential part of the human body, was one of the first international commodities and was often used as currency throughout the developing world,” citing PW Reviews 2001 November. We need salt to regulate the water in our bodies, both necessary for survival. Did you know that 60% of your body is water? “All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came, ” John F. Kennedy is quoted.
As a Christian, “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another,” Mark’s gospel (9:50) encourages me. Do not take it for granted. By God’s grace I keep myself salty by prayer, meditation, listening, and reading. My hopes are my oral and written words shared season your heart with life and God’s love.
There are so many people in this world, but it is a small world at times. Based on the 1920’s concept “Six Degrees Of Separation”, we each are six or less connections away from one another in this game called life. This concept is used with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media. Based on genetic studies, for most of us if you go back 10 generations, you probably share a grandmother with your neighbor. What makes someone kin to you? Birth? Blood? Spirit? Relationship? Bonding? Association? Adoption? “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,” according to William Shakespeare.
This word “kin” reminds me about the biblical story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Boaz became a “kinsman redeemer” when he married Ruth after her husband (Naomi’s son) passed away. A “kinsman redeemer” is the relative who restores or preserves the full community rights of disadvantaged family members. Boaz was not the likely choice, an older man. But Ruth listened to what Naomi told her about Boaz, a good man. Ruth was a blessing to Boaz. Ruth and Boaz would give birth to Obed, who was King David’s grandfather. And King David is a descendent of our Lord Jesus, Who is the ultimate “kinsman redeemer”. With my Savior Jesus, God’s covenant relationship with Israel was completed with the redemption of humanity in Jesus Christ.
Like Boaz was for Ruth, my husband, Dean is for me. Although 3 months younger than I, he is related to a friend, my former supervisor who introduced us. Funny thing as we learned after we met, we were very close to meeting each other in our younger college years right after high school as we attended the same university and knew mutual people. My friend, now sister-in-law told me Dean was a good man, and that he is. And I love him dearly, so very thankful for Dean and the completeness and joy he brings in my life. We have a great relationship, not perfect but work things through. There are differences in how we were raised, and how we raised our children. We differ in opinions on some social and society issues, but come back to our foundation, Christ. Dean redeemed me from emptiness, loneliness, and small living as a divorcee and an older single parent. A late-bloomer, I sought out a new career in my 40’s after raising my two daughters and while my son was still in school. After a rough first marriage I gave up on the thought of marriage for a long time. Then I began to pray for a good forthright Christian man for a couple of years before I met Dean. Perfect timing, jobs, friendships, open hearts, like-minded on important matters, and love that were aligned by God. So happy I ended up with Dean. From what Dean tells me, he feels the same towards me. He calls me his rock, solid foundation. And his queen, not pretentious, his “all natural girl”. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same” ~ Emily Bronte.
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!