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 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 art, battle, believe, blessings, challenges, community, crown, death, die, differences, faith, Family, friend, friends, God, health, heart, hope, Jesus, job, life, mother, neighbor, pain, scripture, together, trust, veteran

Broken Pieces

In 1944 and 1945 during the World War II, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick A. McDonald walked where the places of worship once stood. Shards of stained glass scattered the streets. He sent selected pieces to his home in Seattle while the war was coming to an end. He did know the intent other than to preserve what he witnessed while serving as a chaplain. Years later he and a colleague commissioned artist to use the shards of glass for what would become masterpieces of art. The exhibit is owned by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. “The exhibition is a metaphor for what division breeds — and for what happens when people set aside differences and try to build something out of the broken pieces,” quoting Indra Neelameggham, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

Life has no guarantees, no refunds. Conflict, poor health, toxic relationships, lost jobs. Or worse yet; war, a painful death, domestic abuse, and becoming homeless. These real struggles plague our lives either for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Like the sharpness of broken glass pieces, sometimes life feels like your heart is cut out while the pumping blood spews.

For a few weeks the church next door shared this message on their marquee sign, “Broken things become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” Do you believe that message? If not, it is a walk of faith for those broken things to become blessed things. Faith in our God, not in our own abilities or those of others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5.

Posted in angels, battle, community, differences, Family, God, heart, hope, husband, light, peace, Prayer, quote, scripture, world

Peace

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.

Posted in differences, fall, Family, father, grandfather, love, melancholy, mother, quote, together

Melancholy

The melancholy mood I have been in these past days can be for several reasons.  Autumn is bittersweet.  “Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” writes Emily Bronte.  I should be counting my blessings with every leaf I see fall.  The cooler breeze and vibrant colored leaves are so pleasant, but at the same time a reminder that winter is close behind.  The autumn season has held the celebrations of multiple birthdays.  My mother’s 80th this year, cause for a party she is still with us.  But I lost my father and grandfather both during the month of October.  “I Still Miss Someone” a song sung by Johnny Cash and Bill Monroe written by Carl Perkins speaks what I feel today, this overcast autumn day.  Missing Dad and Grandpa.  Missing the love I saw in Mom and Dad.  Despite their differences, they stayed together.

At my door the leaves are falling
A cold wild wind has come
Sweethearts walk by together

And I still miss someone …

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 book, empty, Family, flower, friend, God, heart, house, husband, peace, people, quote, silence, solitude, well, world

Niche, Nook, Cranny, And Heart

heart-shaped-clipart 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.

Posted in children, Family, friend, God, husband, Jesus, life, loneliness, love, people, poverty, Prayer, redeemer, world

Kin

Mr. & Mrs. Dean Anthony GallThere 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.