Messages are uttered in so many ways. Bold statements blurted out from the too familiar, boisterous co-worker, stranger on the street, billboard, or TV commercial. The grandchild that pops a question of “aha” magnitude. The Sunday sermon from the pastor or the simple architecture of a chapel set in the woods. The faithful spouse who knows your every fault, but loves you all heart and soul anyway. The quiet utterance of a sunset or springtime walk into fresh sprouts of greens and purples in the woods. The songbird singing his lovely tune to the world. Oh, the shout of that big Texas moon on a spring night! The stone structure or tree still standing despite time and weather. Messages are all around us everyday. Are you listening?
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.
Do you wonder where God is in all the fear and destruction that one virus has brought to this world, and why? I cannot answer the question “why”. But I can look around and count God’s blessings in every moment of my day and night. God is among us. The rocky wall is covered with moss overflowing. This green velvet foliage is not bound by a rock’s edge. This reminds me of our Father who gives in overflowing measure. The egg carton is filled with farm fresh eggs, and more to come. My empty egg cartons supply an urban chicken farmer with much needed containers, who supplies me and a few more families with a dozen fresh farm eggs this spring morning. Give, and you shall receive. The sky is on fire flaming its gold and amber into pink and purple haze. This can only be God’s handiwork, His masterpiece. Commune with Him. This is an opportunity worth taking. Believe me. “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him, and He will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring.” ~ Hosea 6:3.
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.”
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?
In everything you do, stir in love. In your cooking, baking, cleaning, fixing, budgeting, planning, giving, working, playing, resting, & relating … stir in love. Every day love unceasingly!
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?
Sad, hurt, fear, worry. Sometimes the world seems to surround you with gloom and doom that you can barely breathe. Take in a bloom or two on your walk today. Pleasing fragrance. Eye candy. Snip one to add to the bud vase on your windowsill. You don’t have your own flower garden? Buy a potted daisy or mum for the kitchen. Subtle power over the stench and ugliness of this world, even on a rainy, dark day where one bad thing after another happens. Present day. Be authentic. No airs. No plots. Be true. To yourself. Be you, the person God made you before the world taints. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Emerson. Bloom today.
A few months ago I began this blog dedicated to the warrior woman God has called each of us to be. This necessity to write about this topic came after my daughter, Elisabeth was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer, stage 1. Within each of us is a fighter, some more pronounced than others. So I am not speaking of a roughneck girl looking for a fight. (Though I believe either one of my daughters, daughters-in-law and their mothers could hold their own if confronted in a physical battle.) With this blog I am speaking about the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fight we as woman encounter on a daily basis. And for some that fight is minute by minute of every day. My Elisabeth had such the fight the past 5 months. She told her story on her social media page, not whining and complaining, but injecting faith and the power God gives to fight against fear and the Enemy. The Enemy, cancer lost! After 5 months of chemotherapy and a bi-lateral mastectomy Elisabeth received the pathology report announcing “CANCER-FREE!” The victory is hers!
In my eyes, and many others’ eyes, Elisabeth is Wonder Woman. She endured chemo treatments every 3 weeks, the nausea and zapped energy level that followed for days. Hair and breasts loss. The mind and emotions battled the lies of the Enemy, refused defeat every step of the way. It takes a village to raise a child. And my daughter had a village praying for her, literally hundreds of family, friends, and church groups surrounded her with love and support, and beseeched Our God. And the countless miracles that followed … her husband’s unwavering support … God’s grace extended from her employer, to work when able… strained relationships focused on one thing, Elisabeth’s healing rather than their differences … a clinic of dedicated medical staff … most expenses covered through the healthcare reform mandate … non-insurance covered special bandages left in the mail box during recovery … gift baskets delivered … and most of all the village’s thousands of prayers said on her behalf.
How thankful I am that my Elisabeth has been healed, and continues in the grace of God! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for loving my girl! To God be the glory!