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 . . .

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 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 blessings, body, community, creative, flower, garden, gardener, God, health, nourish, quote, rain, rest, scripture, strength, water

Well-Watered Garden

Rain (and snow) are part of a cyclical watering process.  This is what we count on to water our gardens and the earth.  Sometimes those rains are far and few in between.  And other times, we think the infamous ark may come in handy.  I spend many minutes that turn into hours attending to plants for pleasure and stress-release.  The soil, greens, and flowers’ colors nourish my soul.  From these rains nature’s waterfalls and garden fountains flow life-giving water.  The birds, squirrels, and deer gather to drink.

I, like the garden, need a drink from the rains to nourish my body and soul.  Daily.  The droughts last too long.  And the floods overwhelm.  Author Dan Buettner writes about the COVID crises, “like most hardships, it will materialize as a blessing in the rearview mirror.”  I can say this is the case for me.  Staying home, working remotely has given me time for my thoughts and soul to collect raindrops; get plenty of sleep, eat healthier, walk daily sometimes two times a day, and to reach out to others in creative ways.  “The Lord will always lead you. He will meet the needs of your soul in the dry times and give strength to your body. You will be like a garden that has enough water, like a well of water that never dries up.” ~ Isaiah 58:11 (New Life Version).  The hymn Rain Down …

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

Faithful and true is the Word of our God
All of God’s works are so worthy of trust
God’s mercy falls on the just and the right
Full of God’s love is the earth

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

We who revere and find hope in our God
Live in the kindness and joy of God’s wing
God will protect us from darkness and death
God will not leave us to starve

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

God of creation, we long for Your truth
You are the water of life that we thirst
Grant that Your love and peace touch our hearts
All of our hope lies in You.

Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love on your people
Rain down
Rain down
Rain down your love, God of life

 

Posted in answer, art, body, bones, challenges, choice, comfort, creative, depression, empty, fabric, feelings, flower, God, health, life, mind, Physical, survival, warm, Warrior, woman, words, write

The Fabrics Of Our Lives

What kind of fabric clothes you?  Is it rich with color?  A neutral tone?  Plush with softness or textured?  Paisley print, plaid, floral print, solid pastel, or solitary bold?  Does the fabric have a fresh, clean smell of spring, or of warmth like winter wool?  Sometimes the fabrics of our lives pick up the stench of offensive stuff, like the burnt smell of overcooked popcorn or a dog rolling on a dead animal.  BTW:  why do dogs do that?  Life brings rotten circumstances that cause us to stop in our tracks and ask “why me?”.  Your emotions and anger seem out-of-control.  Or life leaves us depressed enough not to know what to ask or say.  Just a lump of dry meat stuck in your throat that won’t go down or you cannot throw it up.

I say pick up a pen, pencil, paint brush, chalk, glue stick, or vase.  And get at least one word written on a journal page.  Or that one paint color of choice brushed on the canvas.  Or that one embellishment glued on your choice of media for a collage.  Or that solitary flower added to the vessel of choice.  You do not have to have the whole story together, just one word.  You do not have to have a landscape or portrait finished.  That collage comes together bit by bit as you find another medium to add for expression of your feelings.  The flower vase may be a simply perfect vignette for the eyes with just that one flower you put in it.  Create from your gut.  I suppose they call this art therapy.  I call it survival with color.  Allow the mind to be freed and body feel it down to the bone as you empty yourself.  You may not know all the answers, but your feelings come out in a healthy way and adds color and texture to the fabrics of your life.  Art is another God-given tool as a woman warrior.

Posted in body, capture, change, courage, day, differences, faith, God, grace, heart, hope, husband, life, light, meditation, night, old, pain, Prayer, rest, scripture, silence, solitude, spirit, strength, understand, vision, walk

Clearer Vision

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.”

Posted in authentic, body, book, change, choice, discernment, faith, flower, God, grace, health, life, love, meditation, Mental, mind, old, people, Physical, scripture, trust, well

A Beautiful Mind

Emotions and the mind do funny things sometimes.  Emotions can see-saw like the playground equipment, up-down, up-down.  Sometimes the mind plays its own games.  Truths and lies come into the mind, and I remind myself what is the truth.  And people play games, too.  But to know the difference requires discernment.  I ask God for that discernment and wisdom.  And my trust, my anchor, my foundation is in Him and His Word.

 

I am reading the book The Daniel Plan, and the chapter on “Focus” resonates so profoundly.  Taking care of the body and the mind is essential to going older gracefully.  A healthy body and sound mind equals good mental health.   Fill your mind with good seeds.  Then let your practice of those good thoughts bring harmony to yourself and those God has placed in your life.  Bloom where you are planted.

Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Posted in body, darkness, day, house, job, life, meditation, mind, Prayer, rest, spirit, Spiritual

Rest From My Weariness

I am a planner by nature and vocation. Letting things go for a whole day is not easy. I think the Lord designed the Sabbath for a reason.  I am not faithful to take that day of rest each week. And it catches up sooner or later.  I have a quiet time each day where I meditate, pray, and just sit in the quiet.  But a whole day of this refreshes my body and mind.  My spirit needed it, too.

At my little cottage house I created my boudoir, designed with a comfortable chaise and vintage forget-me-nots such as comfy pillows, a lace-paneled screen, brimmed hats, scarves, hosiery, aprons, gloves, a pearl-beaded clutch, and special evening attire.  It is tucked in one corner of my husband and I’s large bedroom.   I turned on the mood lights picking green to illuminate my boudoir matching the plush green outside the window this summer season. It invited me for an afternoon nap, a day of rest from my weariness. The dark memories of days from over 20 years ago fainted away.  “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” ~ Psalms 116:7.  The pitter-patter of the rain on the window panes serenaded me to sleep.

A week’s vacation is finally coming next week.  And a retreat may be in order for this autumn.  But also a sabbatical.  Traditionally, this is a 1-year recess for every 7 years worked.  I cannot see this happening until I retire from full-time employment.  So maybe a whole month off next summer, before I move into another chapter of my life’s work?

Posted in angels, answer, body, challenges, daughter, faith, Family, friend, God, health, hope, live, pain, Physical, Prayer, sorrow, strength

Like Gold

I have been making “liquid gold” for many years.  Nowadays they call it “bone broth”.  According to online resources “bone broth” was used in ancient Chinese medicine to improve connective tissues, kidney function, and immunity.  I simply roast a whole chicken, turkey breast, or a bone-in beef or pork roast in the slow-cooker on low heat for 10 – 12 hours. Adding a fermented liquid such as wine, beer, kombucha, or vinegar in water helps bring out the bone marrow and collagen from the bones into the simmering liquid in the slow-cooker.  Liquid gold. Good for my physical health. That liquid gold is the base for delicious soups and sauces.

My oldest daughter, Rachel received another type of liquid gold this week.  After many years of prayers, tears, and seeking answers from the conventional medical field.  Her name came up finally after a couple of years on the wait list for a California clinic that uses alternative medical treatments for her disabling conditions.  Rachel is challenged with degenerative disc disease and adhesive arachnoiditis.  She lives in pain constantly.  This past year, Rachel has had physicians tell her “there is nothing I can do for you”.  Faith and hope has been her strength .  Those moments when she lost hope she had friends and family still believing.  Faith has sustained her.  Our God sustains Rachel.  An out-of-state trip orchestrated by God Himself unfolded before our eyes, giving hearts melted, funds gathered, plane tickets ordered, and an appointed physician who prays for each of her patients. Today the neighborhood church bells ring at this noon hour, an angelic sound reminds me of our God’s faithfulness.  Angels continue to watch over my Rachel.

 

Posted in authors, body, book, friend, God, grace, hope, hospitality, house, husband, life, meditation, Prayer, salt, scripture, warm, words

Salty

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. himalayan-pink-salt