When the storm rolls in …

Sometimes there are no words.

When the cancer has grown.

When your mother has flown to be with Jesus. Or your brother. Or sister or friend or coworker.

When all the news seems to be a steady replay of death, controversy, suffering and pain.

When the money is not enough.

It won’t buy health, it won’t buy time, it won’t replace the years lost.

When you feel so defeated and wonder why even the good you try to do for others seems to go nowhere.

A song on the radio plays and you find yourself in tears.

Having bottled up your pain, the cup finally tips and you let it gush.

It would not be good for your friends or family to know you cried, you think.

Because why not, society only admires strength and this is not that.

A voice comes over the radio.

A paper thin female voice, wispy and soft and comforting.

“Give it all to Jesus,” she says.

She talks about prayer and how God loves you and how your life will never be the same when you let Him in.

Nine years old, eight years old, six years old, you remember the baptismal waters .. A crowd of Christians and Sunday morning dresses …

Spearmint chewing gum your Grandmother handed you from a thirty year old purse that smelled like old roses and held one Kleenex and a lipstick ..

The preacher and the cross and the music.

Maybe the question isn’t “Have you let Him in?” but “Have you let Him back in?”

Not wanting to be vulnerable, you go on a number of months, even years, and admire the people you see and how they smile as they share their faith and wonder why isn’t it like that for me?

The God of the fancy is the God of the every day person, not a pick and choose God that some would paint Him to be.

The Godhead with muscles. The Ancient of Days Who Gets It.

The One you can talk to about anything without fearing society’s pilfering opinions or judgment of man.

The tears, the fears, the concerns overwhelm you and suddenly it becomes clear.

This God thing is a relationship thing and not a religion thing and is something quite tangible.

God is Bigger than the cross around our necks.

He is Bigger than the altar at our church.

He is Vast and Omnipotent, Unchangeable, Ever Present and yet loving enough to pull up a chair in our hearts and have coffee with us as we dish on the day and all its cares.

Selah.

Lord, come sit with me in the quiet of this time. Walk through the corridors of my soul. Fill me with Your love and healing. Hold me close and give my bones strength for another day. Let me be a blessing, Lord.

Sparkle just because

As long as I can remember, the light and shine of glitter, sequins, and foil star stickers has given me hope.

For me, it goes to that “Let there be light” that God said in the beginning of time.

Tonight, am keeping this short as I want to see the opening Olympic ceremonies.

What makes your heart light?

Share that with someone.

Maybe if we all let our “sparkle” sparkle it will brighten someone’s day.

Dream a little dream

Or not.

Dream a big dream.

Dream something exquisite, creative, kind, beautiful.

Once in a while, I sort of evaluate the status of my goals in life.

Where am I and where do I want to be?

Back in journalism days, I recall meeting city planners with all their maps of this and that, where new businesses would locate, the future home of thus and so and so forth.

So when I think about a dream, it seems to me a plan is in order, because it also seems that a dream without a plan is fruitless.

Like shopping without a list and purpose could get expensive, I think of the many dreams I could put on paper and how they must be written down or they may not happen.

Here are a few of my dreams:

To stay open for God to use me as He sees fit in His church.

To spoil my parents because that is what they deserve.

To make blankets and art for my children and grandchildren. To make sure they know I love them always.

To take many trips with my bestie.

To finish writing my fiction book, if for nothing else, to entertain my grandchildren.

To write a non-fiction sequel to my first book. And maybe someday get a YouTube channel going. Will see.

To get a selfie near a sunflower field with sunflowers taller than me.

To visit a winery and do grape stomping with my feet.

To really learn to play the piano well, as well as get another guitar and learn to play it well and write songs. There is a smaller guitar at a local music shop that I have had my eye on for a very long while. I feel like it will be mine one day for sure. (Save and plan lol.)

To write something of substance that would bring peace to the world.

And more dreams than I can write here.

Steady moves reach the goal

Sporting a migraine is a great way to end the day, and suddenly I remember another Facebook post that someone else wrote .. “focus on your blessings and not on your complaints.”

Had the day off today as I work this weekend, and since the bestie was free, we checked out a few thrift shops, had lunch, went to the grocery and then swimming, where she went after a wasp nest full force with a bottle of spray. I was in awe of her bravery lol.

Presently, outside, the crickets are happy, or at least that is what I imagine as they chirp their evening pre-storm chorus.

You know what they say, in Florida, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.

So, goals.

I find every time I have a day off, I have a pile of things I would like to do, because sure it is great to relax but also to keep up with life .. because that is what you do.

Or I do.

Or I try, that is.

The matter of the day was cleaning my room.

Imagine what a creative writer’s room looks like, or abode, or cave or whatever and you realize just how daunting a task that really is.

But this year, since reading Gretchen Ruben and her words on being Happier At Home, and taking in a few happy cleaning-organizing shows, I feel as if I really need to get my room organized to be happy.

Large exclamation point.

!

Seriously, though, it is not like it is trashy, as I empty the small waste basket every day, and dirty clothes go in the laundry hamper (which at present moment, the wicker hamper is being shredded by the newest housecat, Peebs, just for fun), and junk mail gets tossed and so forth.

But as I look around, I see piles of books, craft projects, art projects, sentimental and historical family gifts and momentos, thirty or so baskets (I collect them and as such, they multiply, and I am paring them back, slowly, painfully), bags of makeup (yes I am high maintenance but I try to maintain myself ha ha), shoes of various kinds, a few paintings here and there and more bottles of perfume than I would like to admit.

As you can see by the photo above, an ordinary cell phone snap shot of one of my baby blankets I am creating, this photo is one I shot .. am trying to get to the point where even if I take a still shot for my blog, at least it is mine and not from the free media library that comes with my subscription. And probably a more appropriate photo for this blog would be the pic of my messy room. Will have to tidy it more to get that shot I am sure.

My room. The mess. Yes. This afternoon dove into it and went through all my closet clothing and pulled out garments I don’t like any more, that are outdated or don’t fit, or are not useful. I was surprised to see that I actually have things to wear! Amazing! Like opening Christmas presents indeed.

Pulled out all broken or flimsy hangers and replaced them with the good ones.

Cleaned off one part of my dresser and hoisted my mother’s Japanese jewelry box (it has no jewelry in it) to the top novelty shelf.) It does not really fit my decor down low, but up high it almost looks like a mystery.

Weird.

Now having new room in my closet to hang more clothes, moved the clothes I hanged on both doors to the inside of the closet, and now I can see my long, hand painted tin sign with the motivational saying “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” It hangs on the door and is perfectly artsy there.

I believe that with my tan walls, I will eventually move back to a black accent decor (I have a few different comforter sets that I switch out occasionally, also weird, but I guess I take after my Mama, who does the same thing.)

Slowly I am moving toward a more almost minimalist room. I say almost, because I am not sure I will be for example, that person who lives with nothing on their walls.

Admittedly, even with the little I have done, I feel I can breathe again.

Recently, I visited my oldest daughter’s home in Virginia, and what she and her beloved have done with their home is gorgeous. Fresh paint, no clutter, organized rooms, touches of light decorating .. I thought to myself, that is what I want.

Light and clean, airy, simple, creative and beautiful.

Maybe tomorrow I will uncover another few inches of my dresser.

Or maybe I will organize my makeup.

We’ll see.

I feel accomplished, and happy.

The God connection

The Sunshine State did not disappoint today.

After church and a quick run to the grocery for a few lunch items for next week, came home and jumped in the pool for a while.

Swirling the water around with my toes and doggy paddling, I’m not a real picturesque swimmer, but I make do. Most of all, I just floated and paddled, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the scent of freshly mowed grass.

As I looked up at a few white billowy clouds, I thought of their beauty and thought also, hey this is really cool.

Floating weightless, and observing the clouds do the same, it occurred to me that most people have some kind of God connection, and whether they acknowledge it or not, it is still there, I believe.

I have never been one to get into deep religious arguments or skirmishes about the status of things.

Quietly go and do, hopefully live in such a way that I am a blessing.

Grandma always said don’t talk religion nor politics, and that is safe.

Yet I admire when folks are real with me because proverbial smokescreens of relation seem so shallow at times.

So when I write about God, or a muse, or something I have pondered, it is my way of sharing a part of me that blooms because of seeds others have planted.

Girl, get to the point.

Our pastor shared something today that I found very thought provoking. It went along the lines of “Are you showing up” for God?

And I thought you know, I have always felt the need for God, for His Presence in my life. I have always, even as a child, thought how on earth am I going to be good enough to get into heaven?

This might have something to do with me spending years of my childhood grounded, lol, for either sassing my parents, or foraging my own way instead of following instructions (for the last time, button your coat, turn the faucet so it does not drip, do not bring home C’s on your report card, as we already know you are a minimum B).

I laugh now when I look back, really, because as an adult I am such a rule follower.

So salvation to me has presented many challenges, as I thought to myself you have to be more than perfect to get to heaven.

Youth group changed all that for me, as our youth leaders glowed with the love of Jesus and were not hypocritical. They knew they would never win any of us by beating us over the head with a Bible, but by living it out before us, Christ in jeans.

Jeans. Opposite of a conservative Baptist church I attended in my early childhood years, the Southern Baptists reached into my heart and home and slowly, showed me their faith in action. My parents were impressed with the preacher who owned one suit and used to be a rock musician. Amazing Grace was really something when that man played the piano.

One half of my family was Baptist. The other side of my family were Church of Christ (non-musical.) And of course, that was one of the grounding occasions of my teen years, having an interesting discussion with one of my grandmothers over church history and music, and how music is so a part of worship.

After attending a number of Baptist churches, I came to the non-denomination Christian fellowships (i.e. the Alexander Campbell movement, not the only Christians, but Christians only.)

I raised my kids in those churches, and returned to the Baptist denomination after my first marriage ended.

Eventually, I came to the Assemblies of God, drawn by the open worship concept, and the warm and inviting church, who helped me through some of the worst parts of my adult life.

I also attended jeans and Jesus churches, which reminded me of my youth group.

In my second marriage, I went to a charismatic church and also joined a Jewish synagogue (by marriage, it was obvious I could not sing in Hebrew, though I did try!)

By the end of that decade, my marriage ended. So I was like wow, in church circles, this does not look good. But sometimes it is not meant to be and you have to move on.

I found I also began a heavy spiritual search. Who are you anyway? Every church I visited had a little pamphlet, a small handheld cross, a religious coin, a pen or a church coffee cup. I enjoyed the fellowship of many churches before I finally landed at my current church, Episcopal (Anglican.)

There are several of us who attend who came from different denominations. Some confirmed, some did not.

A Jewish friend of mine, who is a dear friend, to whom I still owe an Indiana pot roast, said once to me, how did you go from Baptist to Charismatic/Pentecostal to Episcopal/Catholic, so I thought I would share.

The God connection.

I feel like we all have a place for God in our hearts that only He can fill. Every nation on earth has some aspect of religion or relationship, worship or tradition.

I still feel drawn to Him because I have seen Him in others, and in nature – the works of His hand – in day to day things like sunrises and a child’s laugh, and the light of a candle on a stormy day.

Have a splendid evening, all. I was thinking of doing my spiritual writing on Sunday, then creative and life encouragement the other days.

Molly, my cat, sends her regards.

Prayers for all, for a safe and beautiful week.

Trusting God in the hard times

The young lady wept on her bed, and said it had been two years since she fell sick .. two years of doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with her. Unexplained rashes, malaise, fevers, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, neuropathy and more.

Where is God in the hard times?

And what does it mean to trust Him?

Weary of one sermon after another from others with good intent, a young man strikes out on his own God journey to the center of His soul.

Across the country, an elderly woman looks out the window and wonders why it seems as if favor rests with the young, and her family never calls.

A couple gets the news that their teen will not be coming home, another life claimed by an auto crash.

Dear God, where are You, the human heart cries.

“I don’t need your blind faith,” another says.

But the sun comes up, and the sun goes down, another day is done.

Trust.

Foraging for a small cart of groceries, we search for the coffee, bread, or perhaps even toiletries we have come to trust.

Why do we trust the brand? It is the familiar, a product used again and again.

So perhaps familiarity and trust go hand in hand?

A small child asks his mother, “Mommy, how do we know God is real?” Mama looks down at the child and surveys the small trailer lot, located on a pile of sand, across from a railroad track, a major highway and airport, their abode, where they rent the capsule for their daily activities. The wind blows some nearby palm trees, and suddenly she says, “You see that wind? You cannot see the wind itself, but you know it is there by the way it moves the trees. You feel it on your face, yet you cannot grasp it with your hand. That is what God is like.”

Trust.

Perhaps the greatest testimony one can share is how God showed up in the midst of their trials.

The phone call from a friend, an unexpected blessing, a small bird delivering a song for this moment of time.

God is as close as His spoken Name. As close as the heart that seeks Him.

Psalm 91 (NIV) “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

Remember

I wish I had listened more carefully to the names of the fallen comrades who gave their lives protecting the United States of America when Granddad and Dad shared old war stories.

But their names could have been anyone, at any time, at any place.

An empty chair left behind, a book unfolded with the intention to finish it, a project left in the closet to tend another day. Old photos tucked into a cedar chest, the memories of souls who left far too soon.

My heart is always sad on days of remembrance.

Memorial Day was honored in our home growing up.

But the men and women who served with the men and women who gave it all have stories to tell of the time when ..

May their memories live on and may we be inspired to be better people because of their sacrifice.

Have a blessed Memorial Day, everyone.

The blessing of Friendship

Good friends are like a stunning teapot collection.

Each brings their own personality and view to your world, each leaves a blessed pattern upon your heart.

At the beginning of last week, I had one of those blah days. I know blah is not really a word. But it is a word in my vocabulary.

As I ponder on the last couple of weeks, it occurs to me that completely on their own, a few people reached out to me .. and all said hello.

Hello is a great place to start in the world of friends. You hear me share much about my bestie and our projects and adventures.

She and I both reflect on how many wonderful friends we collectively have .. precious souls.

Two friends sent me greeting cards, a few texted, a couple sent messages.

Even one of my Indiana cousins reached out with one of her beautiful hand made cards.

Love it, I did!

(I know suddenly that sounded like something Baby Yoda would say, but there you go.)

Lol.

And there is another note of interest. Well to me, anyway.

I have always loved cards. I love paper. I love words. I love books.

And that is no surprise.

In my younger years, as I was raising my firstborn in Tennessee, miles away from Florida, away from the familiar, I wrote a lot of letters and received a number of cards.

A large bulletin board hung in the hallway of my old house served as a gathering place for all of them.

And as new ones arrived, over the course of a year, I rotated them between the board and a small box that held the rest of them.

Ok. So I have started three sentences with the word And.

My old copy editor would be on my case to get rid of And immediately.

The sun is setting on another busy day, and as I listen to the evening traffic buzz and rumble by, I find myself very grateful for this existence.

That of knowing some special folk, who do their thing encouraging others.

And.

Perhaps I can repay the favor at some point.

The hum of nature

My neighbor’s chickens are scratching around in the farm yard next door and I must say they are delightful to watch (and yes chicken is great to eat, but these lay eggs and there is that lol.)

A few hours spent sitting in my garden, enjoying the wind chimes, and sipping coffee is time well spent.

Today, a family of cardinals swooped in to check out our bird feeders, while a bright yellow butterfly bounced through the air above them all, as if to say hello.

A fat squirrel appeared and then scurried up a tree.

Suddenly, a very slow wasp flew under the gazebo, toting another wasp beneath him, and I must say I have never seen that before.

He carried his weight and that of the wasp underneath.

(Ok forgive me if I missed that in biology. Will look it up for sure.)

So what’s the word for the day?

Peace.

Enjoying this quite beautiful day, I sit and wonder how much nature sense most of us have lost in this busy world.

All of the plant and animal kingdom do things by instinct.

It’s a God thing, I think.

Once our summer rains begin, mosquito spray will find its own home in a nearby flower pot while we all slap our arms and curse the “no see ems” otherwise labeled by the locals as “saber tooth gnats.”

Lest we, like the wasp, shall be carried away.

Figuratively.

Time in nature unravels our senses that have been knotted by constant automation.

I keep hearing a few footsteps in the farm grass behind us, and I believe it is the overweight, ancient farm cat that occupies their land and this plot.

And there is a chorus of a few cicadas, typical of Florida spring.

What is peace to you and how do you get it? For faith believers, that comes from God, an assurance that somehow, all will work together for good for those who love the Lord.

A friend and I recently discussed a few major world Christian religions, or beliefs, and came to the conclusion that the uniting factor of all of them, besides the Messiah, is prayer.

Have to tell you that as I sit here and take in all the beauty of this garden, I ponder this: Does nature pray?

Or does it hum?

Maybe the birds, the bees, the butterflies, critters, the grass and the trees, the flowers and even the weather elements all have it right.

A ceremonious celebration of this very day.

Peace be with you tonight, or today, when you read this.

The real reason writers write

Those who love words understand it well .. the real reason writers write.

An epiphany rose up in my creative flow this evening.

In the midst of listening to a motivational talk .. somewhat and not necessarily listening with intention, it made sense to me. The reason why I blog.

It is easy to talk oneself out of a goal, make a list of failures and shortcomings, and yes it is hard to reach the summit, but there is energy exerted in either case.

Positive versus negative energy.

I thought of my personal writing goals .. those that are outside my professional career.

And realized that many of my blogs .. although others have said they have helped them in some way, were written to myself.

A fellow blogger once said “that’s because blogs, by nature, are me-centric.”

So there is that.

Dear Me. Literally.

My goal is to create content, and continue to write my books, and hopefully along the way make a few friends and bless those who could use a lift.

Writers write. And readers read. And writers read. And readers write.

After questioning the future of my blog, what I would like to see, etc. I realize it is good to just put one foot in front of the other with this matter.

I guess it is ok, after all, if it is really talking to myself. But maybe, somehow, an adventure or creative burst, a poem or song, or observance, or muse, or story, or nugget of wonder encountered on life’s path, can be shared for the benefit of others.