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

A Choice To Grow

Posted in accept, challenges, change, comfort, courage, daughter, differences, Family, God, health, peace, people, Prayer, rest, scripture, son, strength, wisdom, worry

Let Go, Let God

Remember the serenity prayer …

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

In other words … let go, let God.  Easier said than done.  And why is that?  I will speak for myself.  There are times, even some days I am not present moment with God.  I think too much.  I think I can take this one more thing on, figure it out on my own.  God gives us a brain and wants us to use it.  It is also Him who gives us the wisdom on how to use it.  But sometimes I overstep God.  “Here let me do this so it gets done”, like God is not fast enough to answer my prayers or He wants me to do everything but pray.  Or “I know what is best”, like I am placing myself better than God!  Or  how about this one, “doesn’t God hear me?”  God is Omnipresent.  He hears and knows everything even before I verbally speak the words or know what the need is.

Serenity Prayer

I am writing these words to myself today.  A reminder of what I know already, but need to know today as The Truth For Today.  There are so many needs within the family as well as the people God has surrounded me with.  “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”.  Serenity means “the state of calm, peaceful, untroubled, and tranquil”.  I cannot change the health conditions of my daughters, my sons, my siblings, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues.  I am praying for Your comfort and Your healing touch to each of these people on my heart today.  There are many, God.  My heart is heavy today.  Lift this heaviness as I give each of them to You. “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 

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 battle, change, failure, faith, fall, God, Jesus, life, strength, victory, words

And I Believe

Be At Rest
“You Say” is written and sung by Lauren Daigle and co-written by Paul Mabury, and Jason Ingram.  This song comes out of my desk radio in my office every weekday.  Some days I stop and think about the lyrics.  Today I was overcome by tears.  How far God has brought me from a place where I forgot who I was.  And The Father is faithful to remind me every day, and most days I hear His words.  The Grace of our Lord Jesus is endless.
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)
Posted in authors, book, challenges, change, day, easy going, Family, father, house, lesson, life, mother, people, quote, understand, walk, words

History Lessons

Life evolves, perpetually moving.  Hopefully, forward.  But maybe we would rather live in the past, the good ole’ days?  I dream of the whimsy of unhurried days.  Summer afternoon napping in a hammock under a willow tree.  Leisurely walking the shoreline combing the white sand for a treasured seashell or starfish left behind by the ocean blue waves.  Sunday autumn walks spotting the brightest red leaved tree.  Hot tea and freshly baked scones for a winter snack gathered with my youngsters.  Life is not so easy-going while working full-time hours as a human resources professional.  Commuting, family obligations and responsibilities, bills, and then keeping house for our two homes.  I am sure it is not easy as a carpenter in the summer heat.  Or the 1000 sandwiches prepared for another hungry crowd.  Or the school teacher putting together lesson plans and then teaching them to the 100 & 1 needs of the students you are responsible for.  The disabled or elderly making doctor appointments and their thinning budgets.

Do we really have it all with our careers, 2000 + square-foot homes, high-ticket sports events and concerts, organic foodie plates at $50 per, high-tech computer programs, phone apps, texting, social media posts, networking breakfasts, and so on & so on?  Recent weekends while antiquing for my husband and I’s newly acquired get-away house has prompted history lessons. We ask each other why this piece of furniture or household tool was used back in 1940 or another era.  Think back on those less hurried days, many items make sense.  I better understand my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.  Their tight-fist around the piggy bank,  renovated solid wood tables and reupholstered chairs, no big screen TVs but large radios for the living quarters’ entertainment and news, dishes galore because they did not “go out” to eat, and a plethora of tools to fix that broken whatever.  Maybe life was unhurried because it could not be with the lengthy meal preparations and length of time to repair or build?  Maybe life wasn’t so easy back then.  Maybe it just seems that way, because life is not easy now?  Pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote, “Sometimes I wonder if telephones and motor cars are altogether blessings … When my neighbor gets into her car, it is almost sure to run for twelve to fifteen miles before she can stop it, and that takes it way down the road past me.”  Mrs. Wilder recognized how modernization changed her social connections.  I know it affects mine.

I read non-fiction books and articles to find out who I am or who I want to be (or not be).  Marie Kondo encourages us in her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, “the space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past”.  Such an easy concept, live the now and look to the future rather than the past.  But I would have to challenge those words and their meaning.  I agree with the concept of this book, de-cluttering and making your home or office space functional, becoming a better person.  But the past is why we are who are now, and this will carry to the future.  I rather filter the past, keep the nuggets of wisdom of the past generations, use for guidance.   Learn from and not repeat their mistakes, but I will surely make my own.  That antique end table or butter dish reminds me of past generations’ input into my life, directly or indirectly.  Their legacy, history makes me and you who we are now and what we will become in the days to come.  I ask you to think on someone in your past or from your history lessons.  What is one sentence this person would say to you right now that can effect your today and tomorrow in a positive manner?