October 7, 2017

Learning to Fly - Finding Hope Again

It has been a really difficult week. Our nation mourns together again for lost innocence. Friends and loved ones joined together for a night of fun, which turned into a bloodbath and terror. How can we cope with the myriad feelings of loss, great sadness, anger, frustration, uncertainty and fear?

Many are choosing to focus on the good side of humanity that emerged amid the carnage. Heroic efforts by so many to save the wounded; people risking their own lives for strangers. As these stories emerged, little drops of hope filled the chasm of pain we felt.

There is still good in the world.

I am forced to have CNN on in my office. For someone who rarely even watches the local news, this has been an adjustment. Every horrific act of mankind against mankind is emblazoned in large banners across the screen, whether I want to see it or not.


Over the last year that I've worked there, I cannot count how many times I have been brought to despair by this constant barrage of bad news as I try to do my job. My sensitive spirit becomes crushed with despair, and I mourn the loss of the peace we strive so hard to find.


Then, in steps the indomitable human spirit. We try to work through our grief, and we get on with the busyness of living. Gradually our intense sadness is replaced by an aching feeling of loss. Life really does go on, and we are committed to living again, trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy.

I fear we will become desensitized.

We have to move forward, so we do. We have to begin to fade the memories of the horror and devastation, or we will keep living in fear and desperation. We must find a way to keep living in hope. We need an anchor for our soul.

We pray for those affected, and we pray for a better world. We hold our loved ones close, and leave our petty grievances aside, at least for a few days. We strive for some normalcy, keeping our routines. And gradually, we begin to feel less anxious and more in control.

But where do we find hope?

I think that may be different for everyone. And I think the healing process is different for everyone, too.

We will never understand the mind of someone bent on the destruction of human life. We can never make sense of a senseless tragedy such as this.

But we can find rest. Rest from our fears and constant worry. A safe refuge to share all of our anger and frustration, our sadness and our fear.

We can turn to the One who can restore us, who will bring us out of the darkness into the light again.

We can trust in God to be Sovereign over all the earth. We can lean on God and not on our own understanding. Knowing God in our lives really can ease the pain of the trials of this life. We have somewhere to turn when the world makes no sense. We can find comfort and refuge, and peace.

Pour out your heart to God. Let go of all that you are carrying inside. And the peace that passes understanding will find your spirit, and give you the strength to carry on.

I pray for you, my friend, and I pray for our world. This is a fallen world we live in. It is up to us to find the Light, and to follow it.      









August 14, 2016

The Only Constant in Life is Change

The only constant in life is change.

Though this may sound contradictory, it is the absolute truth.

Seasons change with the natural rhythm of the universe. Children grow and for us older individuals (ahem), our bodies can begin to decline.

Life on this earth is in constant change.

Those of us living in a climate where the seasons change somewhat drastically experience this daily. Last week temperatures were in the mid 90’s here in Wisconsin. In five short months we could be experiencing sub zero temps.

From tank tops and shorts to wearing layer upon layer of insulating clothing. -- if that’s not change, I don’t know what is!

Life is full of changes, on a physical and personal level, too. Families change their dynamic over time, and we are in the midst of a whirlwind of change here in our household.

In less than a month we will be celebrating our first family wedding as one of our sons joins his life with his bride in the eyes of God and man. Our family is growing! Such a joyous, happy time as we gather together to share in their hopes and dreams for their future.



In the midst of all this wedding planning, our youngest son heads off to college, with all of his hopes for the future pinned on several years of hard work as he pursues his studies.

So much change for this mama’s heart!


This summer has been a blessing for me. After spending the last twelve summers landscaping full time, I am trying something new. My oldest son is taking over my business, continuing the excellence of the reputation we’ve created in our work.

As for me, I spend my afternoons in my new office, enjoying the blessed relief of air conditioning! I love the challenges of learning something new and bringing all that I have experienced to a new enterprise.

Change is good when we open our hearts to be ready for it.

Although change is good, it isn’t always easy. How do we navigate these changing waters in our journey of life? What buoy can we hold onto when the waves of change roll all around us?

In all this change, there is one constant. One factor of our existence that does not change, ever. And that is God.

It says in Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 8, that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Interestingly, this verse doesn’t change between the many translations I reviewed.

I remember a conversation with my pastor as we discussed the many changes my life was facing at that time, and he quoted this Scripture to me. With surety I knew this in my heart, and it brought me great comfort. Knowing this truth has become part of the fabric of my faith, the warp and the weft, as I weave the story of my life.

I cling to that Rock in the midst of my storms. But even more so, my thoughts go to this constant in my life as I traverse the ever-changing pathways of my life. Knowing that God is always there, never changing, brings me comfort whenever trials challenge my peace.

I know that I can count on the sun to rise each day, even if it is obscured by clouds. I know that the seasons will change, bringing relief from the heat of summer and changing my green, flowering world to one of bright autumn colors, and then to the drab of winter and the coating of white winter adorns herself with.

And I have learned, without a doubt, that God is the same through all of this change. That no matter where my heart leads me, no matter what my path, God is with me and has gone before me. I draw strength from knowing that I am never alone in anything I must face.

Life is full of change, without and within. Seek the solace that comes from the certainty of knowing God’s constant presence in our lives. In all of the changes we face, it’s comforting to know God’s love for us never changes. Hold on to this solid truth, and hang on for a wild ride.





Blessings, my friends.


April 11, 2016

When You're Hurting and You Feel Alone


There are times when we feel lost and so alone. Moments when we wish we could reach out to a friend, but we can't find the courage to bare our soul. We feel that we are our only companion. Though we wish we could share our hurting heart with someone, we feel we have no one to tell our story to. 
At times like these, we have to stop the self-perpetuating thoughts that drag us down into the depths of self-pity and anguish. Distraction may help us to shift our thoughts. Redirecting the mind is a really good tool when feelings of loneliness or grief overwhelm us. 

Think of something that really absorbs your thoughts, a project that requires you to focus your mind and your energies onto specific details. Here are a few suggestions for when you're feeling consumed by your sadness and you feel all alone:
  • Do something kind for yourself! Take a nice, hot bath or shower. Go for a walk in nature. Taking time to nurture your body is an amazing way to soothe your soul. 
  • Eat. Good food does so much more for our mood than shoving sweets or salty chips into our system, even though that may be what we crave. The task of preparing healthy food is mind-consuming and the smell of sauteing, sizzling food awakens an appetite you thought was gone.
  • Do something kind for someone who is hurting even more than you are. Shifting our focus away from our troubles and to the aid of another is the best way to get outside of our own thoughts.
  • Sing. I know that sounds crazy, because singing is the last thing your heart wants to do. But somehow, even singing through your tears elevates your heart to a new level of understanding in your grief. Try it sometime. You might feel ridiculous at first, and certainly it won't be your best, but you're not performing. You're singing to your soul, giving it the gift of life. 

Most importantly, remember that we are never really alone. Our lifetime companion, the One who made us, is always with us. The God who loves us unconditionally and forever is the God of Love. Reach out your heart to Him, give Him your tears and your loneliness, and you will know that you are not alone. 

God is always with us, and wants to be near to our hearts. I can't describe how it works, but I know that when I reach out to God in my pain, I feel peace wash over me and I am comforted. 

Haven't talked to God in awhile? Now is a really good time to start. Just call upon His name, and tell Him your pain. You will know He is there to hear your hurt and calm you. And you won't have to bear your pain alone. 


Reach out, my friends. There may be sorrow in the night, but there is joy in the morning. Every day is new. A chance to begin again. Life is awakening all around us, and we can awaken to a new relationship with God and with ourselves. I promise it will be worth the effort it takes to get out of bed, and leave the darkness behind you. 


If you would like, you can leave a comment below so that I may pray for you. You may post anonymously, if you wish. God knows who you are. And I would be honored to pray on your behalf.



Casting Crowns has a song for these feelings of loneliness and sadness.When you're trying to hold on but feel like you can't hold on another minute. I've found it to be a great comfort and reminder that we are never truly alone, that God is always with us. He just a thought or prayer away. And He loves us. Unconditionally.


This song resonates in my heart, and I grab onto these promises and hold on for dear life in times when I can't see the forest for the trees. Mark Hall & Casting Crowns... Just Be Held



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January 13, 2016

Barefoot Dreamin' on a Winter's Day



Sitting in the backyard, bare feet in the green grass, we marveled at how in a few short months our world would be covered in white.  It was almost impossible to believe. Well, guess what -- it’s here.




                  The White Stuff.



It took longer to arrive this year, and now it just keeps on coming.

It’s so pretty when it sticks to every branch. And so frustrating when you can’t see curbs or oncoming traffic due to gigantic snow banks.


Ah, Winter in the upper Midwest.

There is a little Alien in a cartoon circulating on Facebook that says, “The air hurts my face! Why do I live where the air hurts my face?”

Indeed.

Snowfalls can be quite beautiful, especially when observed through the windows while sitting beside a toasty, warm fireplace! Although I admit there are times when I bundle up to enjoy a nice winter walk, especially when the snow is falling softly in big, fat, fluffy flakes. My favorite kind of snow.


However, when wind chills hit the double digits (below zero), I question why I live where the air hurts my face.

I left here, once, and I was gone for a very long time. But then I came back.

I’m thinking that the beauty outweighs the cold, or I wouldn’t be here.

That’s what we do, isn’t it?

We keep pressing thru the bitterest of times, looking for the beauty in each day, each life. Knowing that life is such a fragile thing.

Underneath the snow, my plants sleep. Frozen solid, in a few short months, they will begin to fight through the thawing ground, and life will return. 

It’s an amazing cycle to witness, and without the extreme change of seasons, I don’t know that I would retain the awe I now feel at knowing the secret.

Knowing that, beneath the layers of gently falling snow (and the layer of ice from the freezing rain) the frozen ground protects the roots and bulbs of all my plants. And come Spring, I will know their beauty once again.


May it always be so.


Blessings on the season you are in.




October 9, 2015

One for All


“And we, though many, throughout the earth; we are one body in this one Lord."   *


Powerful words on World Communion Sunday. My heart was filled as I sang from the choir’s back row, my arms and my heart opened to the power of a world united in love.




Is it but a dream?

It is my lifelong dream.

Peace.



Love is my mission in the world, though I never really explored that thought before. I seek beauty, and love is beautiful. Now, before you think I’m stuck in 1969, let me explain.


To me, beauty is in God’s Creation. It’s all around us! The birds, the trees, the skies. YOU. You are God’s Creation.


Each being, special in its own gift of life that it brings. All meant to live together, if not in complete harmony, at least in symbiosis.
  
This beautiful World, given to us to live and grow on, and to love one another while we’re here.

It isn’t right that our species focuses on ways to kill and ways to heal at the same time.

We need to focus on spiritual growth, expansion of the mind into new perspectives, and understanding oneself and our purpose here on this earth.

Though we all have different thoughts on what or who our God is, it is safe to say that we are all living, breathing human beings walking this earth together. I see more similarities in that than differences.

Perhaps that is what we need to focus on. Understanding more of how we are alike. This involves compassion, acceptance and tolerance, as we learn to work together for the betterment of humankind.

All for All.

Is it just a dream?

I know it is not. I know there are like-minded people in the world who seek peace and justice over retaliation and restitution.




Learning to live together, in Peace.


Could that be the reason we're here? 







* One Bread, One Body , John B. Foley - United Methodist Hymnal


August 2, 2015

Done Any Casting Lately?

Sunday Scripture

and a

Song


"Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." 
Peter 5:7 NRSV




When your heart is broken. When all hope is gone. Even in our sadness, especially in our sadness, we are not alone. We must remember to cast all of our anxiety on God, and because He cares for us, loves us, so much, we are given His peace in return. I can't explain how it works, I only know that it does. 

Sometimes I feel I must lay my burdens at His feet every day until I can finally release my anxiety. Some times are easier, some harder. But when I remember to seek Him first, the rocky road seems a little less bumpy, and even if I can't see the way, I know the road is before me and I don't walk alone. 

I thank God for always standing by me, even when I failed to call on His name. 

Hopefully, I'll remember to call on Him sooner next time. 

Enjoy Cast Your Cares by Finding Favour....It speaks my heart today

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May 12, 2015

Singing in the Rain!


Did you ever notice that the birds sing even on a rainy morning?

I awoke to a robin singing a sweet spring song outside my window. It’s such a pleasure to be able to leave the windows open again while we sleep.

I knew the weather was predicted to be rainy and possibly stormy, and I had already resolved that we wouldn’t be landscaping today. Spring rains are a sure way to slow down my work. 

And sometimes, that's okay - Especially on a Monday!

What I did not expect was that despite the dreary, wet morning, the birds were still going to sing, as if nothing could deter them from their joy and purpose.

Perhaps we need to be more like the birds.

Too often I let the troubles of life weigh me down. Sometimes it makes it hard for me to see the sunshine. Sometimes I wish it would be a gloomy day to match my mood.

It isn't often that this dark mood dampens my spirits. I have been blessed with a rather sunny disposition (most of the time), and it can drive some people crazy as there are  those who prefer a rather damp temperament.

But most people are drawn to those who seem to exude the joy of life through everything they do. We all know someone like that. These are the people whom you wonder, “How can they be happy all the time?”

I believe it is a choice to be happy. Nobody is happy all the time. Life deals its lot of joy and sadness without thought to where it lands. Much like when I spread fertilizer by hand. 

Sometimes too much here or there, but usually it’s pretty evenly distributed. 

We have to choose joy like the songbirds.

Earlier this spring, when snow and ice still predominated the landscape and the morning temperatures were below zero, I walked outside and heard the birds singing their early springtime songs.  It gave me such hope!

After months of long, frigid nights and not a spot of color in the landscape, these sweet feathered harbingers of joy began to announce that most assuredly spring would come.

And indeed it did! May is busting out all over. Trees are either blooming or sporting a new growth of baby green leaves. Tulips and daffodils dot the landscape with their bright heads stalwartly defying strong winds and storms.

Perhaps we are more like the bulb plants. We hide in the darkness of our winters, but we must have the tenacity to reach for the light.

A bulb grows slowly through the thawing ground, unbeknownst to us. Gradually the leaves and stem emerge, reaching ever skyward as the stalk grows longer and stronger.

Sort of a resurrection, all of this life returning from a frozen world.

We can begin again. We can reach for the Light of the world and we can choose to continue to grow.



And for our own good, we can choose to be happy.

Life isn’t about the things we have. Sure, we like to have nice things and we certainly need clothing and shelter.

But I believe life is more than these things. It is a journey.

Though the road stretches out before us, and for some of us, winds a long way behind, we can only see the part that is right before us.

Think of walking on a path. We can only concentrate on the part that is under our feet. We can’t see where the twists and turns of the future (path) will lead us.

And so, we must not worry about what is ahead.

We must live in the moment, enjoying the gifts of life, slowing down long enough to enjoy the sound of raindrops after months of not hearing them. Savoring the song of the birds as they rejoice in the new life all around them.

Every day holds some joy. Those that choose to live in that joy will find it. Sometimes it takes more effort to come out of our darkness to see the light.


But it is definitely worth the effort to feel the sun on our face once again.




Look for the joys, the little surprises that this new season brings to us. They’re not hard to find when life is being created practically right before our eyes.



I hope the joys of springtime help you find your way out of the darkness. Savor the moments that replenish your spirit.






As you find those moments, you will soon fill your days with more joys than sorrows, and propel yourself into a new way of seeing life on this big, green world.





Happy Springtime, everyone!