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?
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.
My husband and I chose to sleep in this Sunday. The world and local news and the encouragement for social distancing kept us at home. Our spring-like weather turned to winter-like this weekend. We watched the gold finches fuss amongst each other for a perch to feed at the feeder. The purple and house finches do the same on the other feeder. Such the nature of animals, and people alike. The world’s concern (and ours, too), this corona virus has been much to think about and digest. Some planning has taken place in our communities, proactive rather than reactive. And there are those who are in a reactive frenzy to protect self, not thinking of the others around them. The empty shelves at the stores are the evidence with the hoarding of toilet paper and sanitizer. Remember while protecting yourself, think of your neighbor, too. Those especially who are elderly and the many who have comprised immune systems due to chronic health conditions. I have several family members in those categories.
We took my oldest granddaughter to the bus station for her first big trip by herself to Florida. This is a trip that has been planned for months. Hannah decided as a legal adult to still take this trip. Instead of fear and worry, I have prayed for her safe travels and health. My three classmates, the plumposity sisters (PS) and I have postponed our girls’ weekend here at the cottage. Sad, but totally understanding of their feelings. I busied myself with cap decorating to match our tie-dye shirts for the newly scheduled June weekend. I gathered more journal ideas for future projects. Love the birds. They teach us so much. Sing their birdie songs despite their circumstances. Most importantly I spent some quiet time in meditation and prayer. Such a vulnerable state we all are in. Yet this is a season that will pass as all seasons do. Life is still good. Keep smiling, and choose wisely.
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.
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.
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.
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.