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 addiction, care, change, choice, depression, doom, follow, forgiveness, God, grace, hurt, insecurity, Jesus, life, man, pain, repent, sin, sinful woman, strength, truth, woman

A Fleeting Moment

Many of us live for a fleeting moment and pleasure. I know I have been guilty of such. We get so wrapped up into this earthly life, some days it is just surviving and other days on top of the world. Distractions like the idle chasing of butterflies, that bowl of ice cream x 3, another sugary coffee drink, the I-phone or computer screen. Momentary pleasures of a smoke or two, alcoholic drink of choice, the betting game until you win, another frivolous purchase, or floating high on a mind-altering drug without a care in the world, all these possible addictions mask the cold hard truths of life, pain, and depression. Like the painting Ship of Fools by Carl Dobsky, our doom may be just a few feet away.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading was about the woman caught in adultery and how Jesus extended grace to her but warned her “sin no more”. The priest opened the homily with “we all have been caught with the hand in the cookie jar.” Either by stealing, gossiping, gazing at internet porn, cheating on your taxes, telling untruths, slacking on the job, etc. The priest brought up an interesting question, what about the man, why was not he brought before judgement like the woman? The priest suggested that the adulterous man ran faster than the accusers. Any case he will still stand before God’s judgement. God looks for a repented heart, that is where you make a round-about change in direction from the wrongdoing.

The grace of God covers our sins when we confess them to Him. Addictions make it difficult to truly repent, but it is possible by calling on Him for strength. It is a day-by-day battle, for some minute-by-minute journey. Insecurities and unmet needs can lead us the wrong direction. Justifications can set in. I remember the day many years ago I had to choose what direction I was to take, to continue hanging around bad company, or take a different path with the mocking and ridicule to follow. I am so happy Jesus led me His Way. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life …” (John 14:6) Jesus tells each of us.

Posted in care, change, choice, compassion, faith, gift, give, God, grace, heart, hope, Jesus, love, people, quote, redeemer, scripture, season, sinful woman

Love Will Turn You Around

Love, what a powerful emotion and force. A gift. The Holy Scriptures mention “love” 541 times. The Bible tells us there are 4 loves. These are storge (empathy bond), philia (friend bond), eros (romantic love), and agape (unconditional God love). The season for love is now more than ever. This world needs love. Not any love, but a perfect love. God’s love. It is unwavering. His love does not fail us. People may fail us, but He does not. God’s love mends our hearts.

“Love will turn you around, turn you around.” Kenny Rogers’ song keeps playing in my head. I think the lyrics have a different meaning than what I am thinking. The words bring me to thoughts on what changed my direction years ago, what redirects my course, day after day after day. It is what kept me from a reckless lifestyle. It is the love and grace of our God and His Son, Jesus that saved me. His love is full of grace especially when you and I waver or fall short.

In the first letter to the Corinthians this is what Holy Scriptures tell us about love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8) That is Who and What my Saviour has been for me, and what He asks of me. He loves you in the same manner. Romans 2:11 tells us “For God treats everyone the same.”

“There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

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
Posted in anxious, care, God, heart, listen, Martha, Prayer, quote, renew, rest, scripture, serve, silence, solitude, spirit, woman, worry

What Captures My Heart

These retirement days are far from lack of tasks and attention-getting chores. What reels in my attention, keeps my focus, takes my time? What captures my heart? Maybe what I spend time on is where my heart is. The Holy Scripture says it like this …

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matthew 6:21

At times social media and electronics can take too much of my time. Answering emails, deleting emails, Goggle searches, text messages around the clock, catching up on the news online and local television station, word processing recipes for the next culinary class, Words With Friends challenges, etc. Then there are household distractions, a bathroom needing freshening, dishes to get in the dishwasher, laundry to wash, mail to open or pitch in the trash, and bills to pay. There is a place for each of these chores, but I have higher priorities to attend to.

“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; renew my life according to Your Word.” ~ Psalms 119:37

Then there is quiet time. What a treasure just sitting, listening to my breathe, closing my eyes to meditate, counting my blessings, praying to my God for my loved ones, and reading His Word. Refreshment for my soul. After all these years, I still find myself busying myself too much to sit down for this quintessential quiet time. “Just do it, Anna, sit down” I tell myself. Like the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus is quoted in saying,

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~ Luke 10: 41 & 42

“Martha served … the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” ~ John 12:2 & 3

Martha is referenced in the gospel of John as well. “Martha served” dinner just before Mary anointed Jesus’ feet. A servant’s heart, Martha had, and I still have today. I need to stop long enough to smell the fragrance of the perfume. Let my “house be filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” And that is the heart of the matter right there.

Posted in answer, anxious, believe, children, choice, day, empty, failure, faith, Family, give, God, grace, heart, house, life, love, mother, people, Prayer, quote, rain, resources, rest, saints, scripture, Spiritual, understand, water, worry

Take, Lord, Receive

It has been a summer touched by St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Ignatius. Their lives still live in God’s people today including in me. A stray puppy became a part of my husband and I’s life one week in August before finding the perfect family to adopt him. After several weeks of packing, donating, moving, repairing, scrubbing, and just plain hard work, we finally put my mother’s villa on the market with the St. Joseph statue buried in the yard. Several willing buyers offered contracts more than what we asked for within 24 hours of being on the market. The closing is in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dean and I have some major household upgrades. We replaced a furnace well over 20 years old, a roof maybe as old, and gutters failing their job even when removing leaves and debris on several occasions this spring and summer. We have had plenty of rain even over the summer. One wall was showing some leakage during a storm prior to the roof and gutters being replaced, so some plaster work will be next. St. Joseph intercedes while God oversees the details.

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”St. Ignatius of Loyola

I awoke one day singing from my heart the spiritual song, Take, Lord, Receive. I sang all day long, beginning with my shower and while I worked around the house that day. This song is based on the quote above from St. Ignatius, co-founder of the Jesuit teachings and Spiritual Exercises. I knew I was singing this for someone else besides me. A phone call from one of the kids revealed who. But the words welled up in my heart for myself, too. A yielding I need right now. A yielding of my own heart matters. Worry about things I cannot control, anxiety about the future of those I love, and my lack of understanding for some of God’s people placed in my life. Take, Lord, receive. My liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All I have and call my own … To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Please Lord, give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.”

Posted in change, day, faith, Family, God, grandchild, health, life, Prayer, quote, rest, trust, write, writer

Soar Above And Through

This summer brought change, several of them. I retired from my full-time job right into culinary day camps to teach, a week of writing camp for myself, multiple family gatherings, grandkids and grand dogs staying over, moving furniture and home goods, and prepping my mother’s villa for the real estate market. Life isn’t rosy even in retirement. I have had some adjustments to my new job demands. My per diem job requires a devotion and creativity to lesson plans, and with timeliness. Making more time for writing is still a challenge. That week away in June to write and recipe development was so nice. Hard to capture those moments in my home, but discipling myself to keep to pen and paper most days. The house still needs repairs, loved ones’ bodies and souls need healing, and more of Jesus in our lives. Good news, my PVCs have subsided. The meds and part-time rather than full-time employment have been key as well as prayers.

Where is life going? It is a question I ask often. I am a planner, but I must rest in God’s plans, not my own. Faith. Trust. In God, not myself or others. While I have launched into this new season, I spent part of July in quiet, just not doing anything some days. In these contemplative hours, I considered where I have been, and then where life is going for my loved ones and I. I cannot dwell here very long as I begin to think things too much, try to figure out God. I simply need to pray, trust that He is caring for me and my loved ones in every minute of our days. “What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul,” Corrie Ten Boom has said. Soul, fly and sail through this busy month of August, soar above and through all the unknown and unanswered details with God’s guidance. Father God be with me.

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 Ann Voskamp, anxious, authors, body, comfort, compassion, cross, cry, Emotional, fear, God, health, heart, Holy Spirit, insecurity, Jesus, love, mind, pain, passion, people, Physical, Prayer, restore, sad, scripture, secure, spirit, Spiritual, trust, woman, worry

Inside My Aching Heart

An ear infection lead me to the urgent care before we left for vacation. My blood pressure was alarmingly high. The urgent care sent a report to my primary care, and she messaged me while on our 2-week vacation to take my blood pressure the next few days, and send her the readings. Still high and some chest discomfort soon after our multi-state road trip, I was in the doctor’s office when I got back to reality. Referred to a cardiologist and more testing, we discovered I have an arrthymtic heart condition. I have premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) that cause echo beats. This Friday I meet with my doctor to discuss what I need to do to take care of my physical heart besides take a beta blocker and lose weight. Questions flood my brain … How did I acquire this condition? When will I feel myself again? Can I return to speed walking as that helps in my weight loss efforts? How long has this arrhythmia been going on? I know I have not felt myself in a long while. I am tired much of the time. Not sleeping well most nights. I have become anxious with my relationships and social settings. I thought that was because of the COVID social distancing for too many days. This learnt introvert does not trust people easily. Trauma does powerful things to one’s mind, body, and soul. I cannot take anxiety meds, as they upset my digestive system so bad, and that causes more anxiety as I worry if I will find a bathroom in time when I go out. I am an insecure woman right now who doesn’t feel or even know if I am loved by those I have been close to over the years. I feel out of rhythm and vulnerable. The ironic thing is my physical heart is going through the same, out of sync and aching. Which came first, my aching physical heart, my stifled emotional heart, or my parched spiritual heart?

I suppose it doesn’t matter which was first. God wants to restore all three. Where do I start? My foundations, the Word of God and prayer. I recall Holy Scriptures that says I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” King David’s prayer wells inside me into a song … “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in me. Cast me not away from thy presence, take not thy Holy Spirit from me, and restore onto me the joy of thy salvation, and renew a right spirit in me.” Psalm 51: 10 -12. I cannot hide from this truth nor the truth inside myself. The truth is I feel unsteady, insecure and timid right now in life. I do not know how long I will feel this way. With God’s help I will come out of this. I need to get my spiritual heart right first.

Author Ann Voskamp so eloquently writes . . .These days feel like a flood of heartache . . . And there’s not one moment God doesn’t feel that with us. “His heart was filled with pain” (Genesis 6:6). God has a heart . . . and it hurts. It hurts with what hurts us. His heart hurts not just with a few drops of ache, not just with a slow drip of sadness—the whole expanse of His heart fills, swells, weighs dark with this storm of pain. God, who hung the stars—He has taken a thread of His heart and tied it to yours. And He didn’t need to, but God tied His heart to yours — so when you feel pain, He fills with pain. Time only continues on in this impossibly suffering world because God Himself is willing to keep suffering the impossible with us. We read the headlines and wonder, lay in our own beds way too late at night & soundlessly cry: If there’s a God who really cares, He’d look at this world and His heart would break. And God looks to the Cross, and says, “My heart did. ”On that Cross, they speared His side and pierced straight into His heart, filled with pain, and it was the water and blood of His broken heart that gushed right out, a flood of love. Grace—it, too, has floods of its own. . . . The way heaven comes down so we can rise. In a world of grief beyond magnitude, what will change us and the world, is the attitude of Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” In a world that doesn’t feel fair — His cruciform love and outstretched arms embrace us — so what we feel is Him. No one knows more than Jesus that this world isn’t fair — and no one loves us to death like Jesus, until everything is fair for forever. In a world of loss — the deeply suffering are deeply touched by the suffering of Christ. We do not weep alone. No matter what happens in this busted-up world in the days ahead, in your own beautiful world: Pray. He listens & He holds. “When you call on Me, when you come & pray to Me, I’ll listen…I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady” Jeremiah 29:12, Isaiah 41:10MSG #TheBrokenWay#WeepingTogether

The physical and emotional heart healings will come . . .