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
Just one word. The right word. The ebb and flow of one right word with its syllables, pronunciation, and perfect timing. It drops into a pool of water, and ripples through wave after wave until it returns to you, refreshing and uplifting. Like that of karma, the spiritual principle of cause and effect. Holy scriptures tell us, “Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
I had an interview today for a half-time position desired with the local library. I am semi-retired. The income from this job I seek will assist with my daughter’s medical needs, treatments not covered by insurance. So, plenty of pressure. After answering their questions, the best I could, the managers asked if I had any questions for them. I hope my three questions were appropriate. An old proverb says, “Whoever speaks a word at an opportune time is like apples of gold on beds of silver.” I am feeling insecure about one question I asked the managers of the local library, whether it was appropriate during this interview. I asked about security at the library. Maybe the timing was not appropriate? I suppose because of my past experiences, this is a concern of mine. A person never quite gets over assault, extra vigilant anywhere she goes, even at the local library. Apparently, somebody else has been concerned about security at the library because I learned they have a security officer stationed there in the afternoons and evenings to deter possible crime.
The ebb and flow of one wrong word is like a boomerang cutting everything it touches. It abruptly comes back to you, can cut you like a knife. Hopefully this is not the case for my question asked at the interview, maybe not the best time and it may have costed my job offer. But wrong words spoken in gossip are a boomerang, cuts the heart and life of the people who hear the gossip, shredding the relationships of the victim as well as the gossipers. It destroys families, friends, and communities. Do not let your words haunt you, hang you, behead you. Choose words wisely. If an apology is necessary, make it right while you have today as there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Let the droplet of a kind word permeate into the souls of those hear it, and the refreshment of that word will return to you wave after wave after wave. The ebb and flow of one right word.
You were taught to cast aside the old self of your former way of life that had been corrupted by its captivating desires. You are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self created in God’s image, in the way of uprightness and holiness that belong to the truth.
~ Ephesians 4:22 – 24 ~
Summer had lingered in the plush plants for many a days as it has been unseasonably warm. But now it is finally yielding to Autumn. The hummingbirds have not visited the feeder in well over a week. The sparrows and finches are feeding more often. The blooms yield to berries. I feel the weather is finally changing with the brisk air after the colder rains. Bare feet get covered with my weathered leather moccasins rather than strappy sandals. My denim poncho is needed this evening, so I clothed myself to keep warm. Just as I clothed myself for protection from the cold, so I clothe myself with God’s image as the above scripture tells me.
God’s Words are promises to me, and to you as well. Post-retirement from my full-time career has given me more time to think. I have had days to reflect on where I have been, where I am now, and where I want to go. The mind can go places like self-doubt and questioning God’s purposes. God is faithful with His Word and I am confronted with this scripture Ephesians 4:22 – 24, to renew in the spirit of my mind and dress myself in God’s image which is the Truth. Anything else is a lie. God’s word mentions these words “clothe yourselves” several times. This will be the focus of my subject bible study this autumn season going into winter.
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.”
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.
Kristina Jacobsen, a cultural anthropologist and singer-songwriter recently wrote in a Blue Zones article about her experience in Italy and living among the Italians during the novel corona virus pandemic. “Antonio Pani plays with the word ‘corona,’ which also means ‘crown’ and symbolizes power. He addresses the novel corona virus, singing in the southern version of the Sardinian language, Campidanese: ‘Even if you walk around with a crown, you will never be our king’.” Pani’s sentiments are shared among all mankind around this world today.
But there was a crown worn by a Jewish man, Jesus. His story is to be told hundreds of years before His birth and resurrection, and these hundreds of years afterwards. This Holy Week leads us to the promises from the prophets of old. Who is this King of Glory? The Holy Bible in the Old and New Testaments makes references to crowns and the color purple which signify royalty. Kings, queens, and prophets wore purple. The books of Esther, who is crowned queen by King Xerxes and Daniel, the prophet who is given this same honor signified by wearing a purple robe. A crown of thorns and a purple robe were used mockingly by the Roman soldiers to decorate Jesus Christ as the King of the Jews while the crowd shouted “Crucify! Crucify!” Jesus suffered everything and died on the cross He was nailed to. That crown of thorns would be replaced three days later with a crown of glory. You see, death could not hold Jesus back from God’s glory. Jesus conquered death. This Son of Man is also the Son of God. The King of the Jews is our King. Believe. Let this Easter be the season to believe, old promises made anew, a shining light in the darkness, broken hearts mended, a new life. Like the purple phlox, violets, hyacinths, and tulips open up for us, open the gates of your heart and let Him in!
This song “The King of Glory” was written by Catholic priest, Willard F. Jabusch. This well-known song is based on an Israeli folk tune that he learned while studying in Israel. Let us celebrate!
The King of glorycomes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
Who is the King of glory; What shall we call him?
He is Immanuel, the promised of ages.
The King of glorycomes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
In all of Galilee, in city or village, He goes among his people, curing their illness.
I awoke this bitter cold morning to a hush. Not much stirring inside or outside. Missouri broke record cold temps overnight, a whole 10 degrees this November 12. Little stirring in the neighborhood as school was called off and commuters leaving late for work. An early season snow storm set the whole area in an icy mess late yesterday. Typically I would be in the shower by now, focused on my 9-hour day ahead at the office. But I was attending the funeral of a colleague who suddenly passed 5 days ago. I prayed for a blessed day despite needing to say “goodbye” to this friend later this morn.
I was blessed with the song birds coming to the feeder this morning. Chirping and feasting. Shadows of the birds, feeder, and perches lingered in the window panes. The contrast of light and dark resembled life and death. Guess which one wins? “He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Isaiah 25:8 & 1 Corinthians 15:37. The warmth of the guest bedroom lured me to a nap after the funeral this sunny afternoon. I awoke knowing my life and my death is in His hands like my friend, his wife, and his son.
This past weekend was a reunion with three of my high school classmates. We recalled those days many years ago, and laughed all weekend. Endless fun, without any men, children, work, alcohol, or drugs. High on life. I have had the need to connect to my childhood outside of my family of origin. So much is a fog, just glimpses of faces and scenarios. The past class reunions are minus familiar friendly faces. We had about 500 graduates in our class. So I sought three classmates I am connected to on Facebook, where we seem to share the same interests and connect with our comments on each other’s posts. I remember well all three. One friend is an authentic pal from elementary school, another is quite the comedian then and now, and the other illuminates peace to anyone in her surroundings.
We reserved the entire country inn in a small town. The host and hostess accommodated us well with a bonfire, plenty of bedding options, and a delicious breakfast. We grabbed lunch first at a unique BBQ diner with a resident pig sleeping in a stall. After lunch we stopped at a local antique store. The antiques were as old as us. We visited Big Spring, a natural spring in the Ozarks of Missouri. I came across a metal disc right on the cliff ledge near the spring flowing from the Current River. It said “U.S. Geological Survey Bench Mark”. According to Wikipedia, “the USGS (United States Geological Survey) was created, by a last-minute amendment, to an act of Congress on March 3, 1879. It was charged with the ‘classification of the public lands, and examination of the geological structure, mineral resources, and products of the national domain’. This task was driven by the need to inventory the vast lands added to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the Mexican-American War in 1848.” This bench mark has some kind of significance, probably either a elevation or earthquake marker. My curiosity will have me research until I know the facts.
I felt like this was a bench mark weekend for me. I had never done this, invited old childhood friends to gather for an overnight. We all did not hangout together as a gang in high school, but knew each other. None of us belonged to cliques. I felt a bond would form as we came together now. I have gone on women’s retreats, but this was a different kind of retreat. This weekend rendezvous confirmed we had so much in common. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Childhoods and schools in St. Charles County, Missouri. Troubled love relationships. Divorce. Made better choices with age and wisdom. Faith. Caretaking. Deceased parents. Mourning. Parenthood. Grand-mothering. Jobs. Thrift. Hobbies. Strength. A confident beauty that a 59-year old woman possesses despite it all. The differences were fewer. We share a sisterhood. The “plump sisters (PS)” vow to meet up again in about 3 or 4 months for another destination, maybe another bench mark weekend.
“Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.”
~ Robin Benway, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June
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?