Posted in book, faith, Family, God, Holy Spirit, Prayer, quiet, quote, scripture, silence, stillness, words

Be Quiet, Be Still

Get out of your own way. Just sit down a bit. No radio or TV or computer or phone. Pick up that devotional book and read what words are found for today. “Noise is the mouthpiece of the world. Silence is the mouthpiece of God,” author Matthew Kelly shares in his book Amazing Possibilities. The Holy Spirit prompts me to turn off the morning news, put down my i-phone, and to sit in silence. What do I hear while waiting in silence? The songbirds at the feeders, a firetruck zooming down the street, and then the church bells. I sit awhile longer; I can hear and feel my own heart. I start to unload the needs of my family, and miracles requested as I pray to our God. These are big orders, but with God all things are possible. And then those precious thoughts and intimate words only the Divine can share. With faith I embrace His words.

"Be still and know that I am God." 
Psalm 46:10
Posted in book, children, editor, Emotional, faith, fight, heart, life, mother, Prayer, quote, silence, soul, vulnerable, warm, Warrior, woman, words, write, writer

Wordsmithery

It all started with words scribbled in a journal 40 years ago as a young mother, excited and overwhelmed at the same time with my new role as a parent of a little one. I have kept a journal since. It is not a locked diary like as a pre-teen, as my words are an open book. I keep no secrets. I write my heart and eventually some words come out in blog form, poetry, and short stories. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Flapper Press to request an interview for an article in their newsletter. Included in the interview were three poems I wrote about various topics that have stirred my emotions regarding the basic human need for warmth in the winter, a woman’s vulnerability, and Ukraine’s fight for democracy. I submitted these to the Flapper Press editor, Annie prior to the interview request. Read Annie’s write-up for more details.

Flapper Press

I return to pen and paper or the other form of word processing, a laptop computer as the need arises. Which is just about daily. Wordsmithery has become a way of being for me. Playing “Word With Friends” or Scrabble, daily use of the online dictionary, and reading are all a part of my obsession with words. As a child my mother would tell me to pick up a book and read. No one has to encourage me with that anymore. Now I am a wordsmith by necessity. “I am a poet and didn’t even know it”. I believe that is an old saying that has rung true to me as an adult. This quiet soul has words welling up to share. Many words. With prayer and faith let them be His words.

“So give me Words to speak, don’t let my Spirit sleep.”

Aaron Shust
Posted in anxious, blessings, care, community, cousin, depression, die, Emotional, empty, failure, faith, Family, feelings, God, house, hurt, job, joy, love, Mental, mercy, neighbor, pain, people, Physical, Prayer, water, weep

Lavish Love

Some days I feel people just don’t even give a damn. Other days it hurts to see those you love in pain, physical or emotional anguish. I holler out, “God, where is Your mercy, Your justice.” Then other days when the flood waters rise, it is hard to see God in it. We prayed for rain after 100+ degree temps and no rain for days this scorching summer. We got it alright in one stormy night of 8 -12 inches of rain. Destruction surrounds us and the local news captures the next devastating story of the flash floods. One person dead. 10 puppies from a stray rescue facility drown. Basements and houses fill with water. Businesses close. No flood insurance for most. Is this the Noah’s ark story being told again, I wonder? I attended the funeral service for my uncle this week. A man wrongly accused the latter days of his life. My cousin cried. Many of us shed our own tears, crying for mercy.

The pastor who shared at my uncle’s eulogy reminded us of the beautiful Japanese art form that is made from broken fragments. Nothing is wasted, everything made beautiful it its time. Ravishing lavish love, this is what I want. Flooding in. It’s what we all want. People will fail, just living this life will disappoint, but God does not. His love is perfect. Let Him fill that emptiness you feel with His perfect love. The anxiety about your present-day situation will subside. Feeling overwhelmed is real . . . Stop now. Pray. Count your blessings. Your cup will overflow with His love. Families, neighbors, and the community have come and will come together to help those in need. People and pets are rescued. Officials and first responders care and continue to share the burden. Jesus is carrying you. He cares.

“May mercy, peace, and love be lavished on you!” ~ Jude 1:2

Posted in body, brother, church, death, father, grace, grandfather, grief, heaven, Jesus, life, love, mother, peace, Physical, Prayer, season, soul, Spiritual

I Still Love You

In darkness, in grief, in despair, or even just in the midst of seasons that never seem to end, we need to make space for pause.

~ Ann Voskamp

I still love you even though you left so abruptly. I had even wished it was one of your April’s fool’s jokes. I wondered that whole day on your favorite holiday if you would send a message or telephone to say, “April’s fools! It’s all a joke, I am not really dead.” But not so. You are dead, or least to this world. You have passed onto a much happier, freer life now. How is Heaven, my brother?

I still love you even though we lived so different lives. You a bachelor, no family to attend to and I with 6 adult children and 8 grandchildren. We still shared a love for our beloved mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and our northern friends. We lived in the same childhood home & family tree farm, made childhood vacation memories. We shared a love of the great outdoors, you especially with your hunting and fishing; I with my gardening. It meant the world to me when you came to Dean and I’s greenhouse and brought Grandpa to see our new adventure.

I still love you even though you left without saying those words to me. You left angry at me and our other siblings. You wanted no accountability, live life mortgage-free and a life full of cigarettes, alcohol, women, and gambling. You were writing checks your body could not cash in on anymore. We all can be a prodigal son at times, get off-course to what really matters. I know I have in my life. I had just hoped you would have come around while living on this earth. But I think you are now with those you loved the most, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Paula, your soulmate Eileen, and the Lord. The heavenly reunion was a joyful one, I am sure.

I still love you as you have taught me how to laugh and be unconventional. I think you will continue to teach me lessons. I know you were not a churchgoer, but a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite how many knelt knees and fervent prayers are said, it is by His grace that we are saved and set free. I have my quiet time almost every morning, but this week I am attending Mass every morning, too. Not sure how long God has called me to this, but I feel a peace each morning while praying with others and for others. I did this for various seasons while working in human resources, attended noon Mass at the church a block from my office during some troublesome times and for troubled employees.

“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” ~Norman Maclean

The movie A River Runs Through It reminds me of you. You are the Brad Pitt character, Paul. I saw this movie a couple of days before I learned of the news of your passing, and I told Dean “Paul reminds me of Steve.” The closing words of Norman Maclean’s story, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and ran over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.” To me that river is the blood of Jesus, running through us, the rocks are us, and some of those rocks just have a little bit more sprinkling of raindrops, the blood of Jesus. God rest your soul. I love you, brother Steve.

Posted in cross, death, Family, forgiveness, God, holy, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Lent, Prayer, quote, Spiritual, works

Deny Self

Ash Wednesday begins the Lent season. This season is to examine where our present life is at, confess wrongdoing, deny self, and look to God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit for guidance and follow the calling. What does it mean to deny self? One way is to deny my own needs so another’s needs are met. A healthy marriage requires this regularly. Or deny my urge to lash out on someone who has wronged me or someone I love, but instead pray for them. Another way to deny self is to make a dinner for someone in need rather than spend the afternoon leisure shopping. The Holy Scripture in Matthew 16:24 tells us “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.”

Hand in hand to denying self is the admittance where we have done wrong. We can do this daily, not just on Sundays or holy days, but rather during our regular quiet times, or throughout the day as the Holy Spirit leads. In many Christian faiths there is a prayer called the Confiteor, which we confess during our regular services. This is a good place to start if one needs guidance on how to pray for forgiveness.

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault …”

Following Jesus is not an easy task. Sometimes it is multiple uneasy tasks. “How many times do I forgive my brother?” you may ask. “Seventy times seven” Jesus tells us. “Pray for your enemies.” Jesus also says. “The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His,” Christian author and minister George Macdonald is quoted. Have you suffered unto death like Jesus Christ? I am preaching to me as well as to whoever needs to be reminded like myself.

Let this Lent season be a time of reflection, forgiveness, denial of self, prayer, true worship, and good works unto our Lord.

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 children, cry, Elisabeth, Emotional, Family, fear, flower, God, grandchild, health, love, mother, Physical, Prayer, Rachel, Spiritual, strength, thankful, trust, Women in My Life

Dear Mom

Mom, I miss you. I needed you this week. I needed your listening ear. I got scared, too scared to trust for little while. I let the world bother me to the point I was doubting who I was. I am still your daughter. Even if you are not here with me, reminders like the female cardinal bird at the feeder last evening that seemed to peer through the window pane at me. This is my first Mother’s Day in my 60 years without you, Mom. If you were here you would be telling me “God gave you the strength and brains to get through this tough patch in life.” You’d also say, “count your blessings, be thankful.” You were always so strong. Well, maybe not always, but most times. Tougher than me for sure. I remember tears from your eyes just a few times. But mostly you plugged through things, complained when you had enough of Dad or one or all of us kids. Social injustices fired you up. No angel, a tough cookie that was very independent in most aspects, and gave that same tough love to me and those around you.

I sought God this week. He answered my cry, and sent other people in my path to pray for me. Mother Mary, other heavenly saints, and probably you and Dad, too prayed for me. My cries turned to gratitude. I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful for my children. I am thankful for my whole family, Dean’s, too. I am thankful for my jobs, and my retirement around the corner. I am thankful for the physicians caring for me and our girls, Rachel and Elisabeth. I am thankful there are medicines to keep our health. Rachel found a new doctor, a better one. She made it to California with her family, and are on the way back now. Praying for the traveling angels to guide them along the way. Those grandbabies got to put their toes in the ocean for the first time while in Malibu! I am thankful for where God has me right now. He has much more for me to do but also to rest and relax more. “Flex your gratitude muscle to fight off fear,” author Ann Voskamp encourages me. And it works. Stronger to fight off doubts and let God’s love win. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven! We left flowers for you!

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 . . .