Hope 1

Straight Hope

Hope, #1

Hello and Happy February!

Here it is, the first of February! It’s still a brand, new year! Whether January was a jackrabbit or a snail, it was only 1/12 of the year. Previously, when I made resolutions, by this time most of them had gone by the wayside. How about you? Are you continuing in your resolutions? Are you still focusing on your theme for the year?

It’s good we all want to resolve to make changes at the beginning of the year. It shows we are hopeful that things can be different. Hope is a good thing. Not the wishful- thinking kind of hope but the determined-to-believe and expect-it kind of hope. Hope is an active verb. Otherwise, it’s just a wish, an impossible dream with no substance.

Did you choose a word or phrase for this year? I received some responses to that question. They include: rest, trust and follow, healthy, optimistic, prosperous and evolving. Good stuff!

I’m finding that focusing on one word is different and do-able! For 2018, my word is HOPE. Without even looking for a sub-word (is that a thing?) for Wintertime, WAIT presented itself and I think it’s very appropriate.

This 2018 Winter season, I’m Hopefully Waiting.

Winter is a season of quiet waiting, it’s being snuggled down in rest while we await springtime and warmth. I’m hopeful that the rest-time of winter is indeed growing good stuff within, unseen. Like the flowers that seem to be gone; or the trees that seem to be dead, my Hope is that I am experiencing re-generation, gaining strength and developing clearer vision as I wait in expectation of good things to come.

I’m not rushing into anything. I’m just trying to get better acquainted with HOPE. I’ve found that I’m better off when I learn some basics about a subject and then let it develop into understanding. Allow it to engage my mind, and feed my body, soul and/or spirit.

So, for “basics”, I like what Bible.org has to say about HOPE:

“What is hope? Is it a wishy- washy maybe or a kind of unsure optimism? The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”

“In Scripture, according to the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” and according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation.”

“Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both.”

Hope is hard, moment-by-moment work- at least it is for me. But when I “lose hope”, it’s really simply misplaced. There’s a song that says, “Hope is frail but it’s hard to kill”*. I might have shoved her into a dark corner when I gave way to the fears that plot against me. But Hope is nearby. Hope is there even if I’ve scared her under the bed when I gave in to weary desperation that sometimes nips at my heels. She is always there.

I can coax Hope out again with gratitude. I can nurture her and help her get healthy again by paying attention to her, trusting God and believing. Hope needs to be watered and tended with care. Like that houseplant sitting in the corner all shriveled up, Hope might appear dead but, given sun, water and a little fertilizer, she will green up and grow again.

Hope can be shared with someone who has misplaced theirs. She must be offered gently, though, and with honesty. Hope isn’t a pat-answer or a glib-response. She’s not a pat on the head, either. No. Hope must be given quietly, with compassion that says, “I understand”. She must be given with a deep but gentle hug that embraces not only the person but also their sorrow. Hope is best shared with few words.

Hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). She may not come the way you want or look quite like you expect, but she will come. And when she does, it’s our choice whether we embrace her as she is or reject her. If we reject rather than nurture Hope, it’s we who have sent her away. We have not lost Hope, we have turned away from her, choosing instead the fears and disappointments. But even rejected, Hope is still there. She is forgiving and will gladly be embraced when we realize how much we need her. In the darkest, longest, stormiest night, the dawn will come. And even if the dawn is cloudy, it still gives us light. If fear or pain briefly gets the upper hand, we must turn as quickly as possible back to Hope.

A “thank you” will ignite the smoldering ember of Hope. A “thank you” through gritted teeth is ok too, if we turn toward Hope, no matter how rocky or insincere it feels at the moment. Hope can take whatever small thing you give her and cause it to grow until the thankfulness is sincere and the Hope has filled us to overflowing.

Good grief! All that sounds sorta sappy and “La-dee-dah”.! No matter what it sounds like, though, it’s true. I just need to temper it with some hard reality… next time.

Let’s just marinade in this for now. I hope you will seek out Hope and engage her. Or maybe she’s already your close friend. Let me know in the comments … what’s your relationship with Hope? Of course, we all have her but how closely acquainted with her are you? I’m developing this relationship. I need to know her better. She’s a close friend of Jesus and that’s a good reason to want to know her well!

I’ll continue these thoughts next time, in two weeks. Meanwhile, I’d truly love to hear your thoughts about Hope… or your New Year’s resolutions/words. Or whatever is on your mind!

Thanks for reading. Stay warm! I hope you find a way to enjoy winter! Please subscribe if you haven’t already. Thank you!

God bless you with extra doses of HOPE- whatever your situation!

*When You Believe, Celtic Woman

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The Quiet of Winter

nighttime snow scene

I’m always sad to see the Christmas lights come down, it feels so bare and empty, but I do not want to push spring. I feel a need to allow the bareness. I don’t want to see bulbs being forced into blooming in these months of quiet contemplation. I know that plants need this winter rest. And my heart seems to feel the same desire for rest, for quietude and empty space, to embrace whitespace.

We’ve just finished a year and we ended it with happy celebration. At Christmas, we cap off the current year with bright lights and beautiful decorations and as many presents as we can! We celebrate our Savior’s birth and we are thankful to Him for all His gifts of grace and beauty and mercy. We are glad to have made it through another year. And at the same time, we are happy to have a new one, so we can try again. The old year may have been good to us, but we know there are still better things to come. The old year may have been challenging, sad or just plain hard. We are ready to move into a new place, with hope in our heart that the new one will indeed be better.

A good year creates confident HOPE for the new one.

A hard year gives us the hope-through-gritted-teeth kind of HOPE. It may be a small hope, but it’s there, hope for better things to come.

Our hearts, need time to process the old to be able to move forward. Unprocessed difficulty leads to baggage in the form of fear or perhaps a wrong belief (such as “I’ll never…”, “I’m not good enough to…”, “no one cares…”). Personally, the last thing I need is more problems, especially the kind I create for myself.

When we allow ourselves to marinade in the quiet emptiness of winter, we are processing the events that affected us, and let any hardness soften. Just as plants are re-grouping and gaining energy in their rest, we need that time as well. I’m trying to let January be a total, down-time. Having “the cold from hell” helped me rest. Well, truthfully, it MADE me rest. I didn’t want to rest and for a few days my mind did not rest. I fought and fussed and felt like I’d somehow failed because those germs got the upper hand. There was a conference at church that weekend and I wanted to participate! Why couldn’t I shake that cold and go to church?? Finally, I gave in and just rested. No. I didn’t not stop doing everything I could physically to combat the cold, but I made my mind be quiet. I did not spend that time thinking about what goals need to be set or what changes I want to see for the coming year. Having a snow event also made me slow down. Just as I was feeling better, the snow brought everything to a sliding halt. But, miraculously, I allowed myself to become fascinated with the process of tiny flakes of snow creating a huge blanket that covered everything and, no matter how ugly, it all became beautiful and soft.

February will see me setting some plans for change, but it will be mixed liberally with large portions of quiet and rest. I need rest to soften the edges of my soul. And like snow, it takes a lot of time to put together enough quiet to affect a change. I want to hear God’s voice, especially when I’m seeking direction for plans and changes. But God doesn’t shout very often. He doesn’t yell at you when you’re dashing down the road. For me to hear God’s voice generally requires silence on my part. Sure, I hear whispers as I hurry; I can hear small directions, little encouragements. But, like those small individual snowflakes require many working together to create a blanket of peace, for me to hear fully I must take the time to be still.

All the “crush your goals” and “force your bulbs” people wear me out. I’m not ready to rush into hyper-organization mode. I’m not lazy. I like a good project as much as the next person. And plans? Oh please! I love plans! I just do not want to start running before I’m prepared. You cannot run a marathon before you’ve conquered a mile. You can’t (shouldn’t) run a mile before you’ve stretched. I don’t want to dash off in the wrong direction and waste time.

Rest is not time wasted. Rest is preparation. Remember those plants in the ground?

Our human body and soul needs rest.

My body and soul needs the quiet rest of winter, to be ready to bloom in the spring.

 

How about you? Have you made resolutions? Do you have plans for change this year?

How do you feel about this silent winter season? Do you embrace it or fight it tooth and nail?

And one last question that might seem unrelated…. Have you chosen a “word for the year”? It could be a phrase or scripture, but it’s your central theme for the New Year.

I hope you’ll comment below and share your thoughts.

I hope you will subscribe. I publish every first and third Thursday of the month. There’s a “Subscribe” button at the top of the right-hand column. Please, feel free to share this blog.

Thank you so much for being part of the journey through whatever Pathways or Portals lie ahead!

May this winter season bring you peace as you listen for God’s voice. May you find comfort in the quiet as your soul regroups and prepares for new growth. God bless you!

Happy 2018!

Happy New Year, ya’all!! May 2018 be a year of breakthrough for each of us!

There’s something exciting about a brand, new year- fresh and clean and bright with hope.

Of course, every day, every hour, every minute is fresh with hope and new Mercies. Someone once described those Mercies as being “excited to greet us”, excited to help us out each day. They show up whether we’re aware of them or not. They are ready to help even when we’re too messed up to notice. God’s Mercies are ready and willing do all the heavy lifting, ready to carry the burdens.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NKJV), “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, “therefore I hope in Him!””

For all my good intentions, goals set and resolutions made (not that I make them anymore), it’s God who accomplishes change. I will fail: sometimes in small ways and sometimes really big. But God is willing to give me new starts all the time, any time.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who has called you; it is He who shall perform it.”

I get so frustrated with myself…. Doing the same dumb things over and over. At least that’s what it feels like. Those new Mercies every morning get put to the test. They really earn their keep- when I ask for their help. I must ask. Otherwise, they are like an unopened present- it’s nice and it’s pretty but it does me no good if I don’t open it and use it!

God doesn’t wave a finger and say “Oops, nope. This time you’ve gone tooo far.” He is always, all ways, ready and desiring to embrace me, soothe my brokenness and help me do the things He put in my heart. Each failure is just a bump in the road. Each moment is a chance to change course, and use that bright, new Mercy at my disposal. I can choose, moment by moment, to follow God into His plan, with His help. I can put aside the goof-up and move boldly into His arms. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV), “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

“let new life happen to you”, says Nayyirah Waheed. God is always wanting to give new life. He will happily make His plans for us work out.  All I have to do is turn to Him, moment by moment, use that Mercy He provides!

Jeremiah 29:11-13, says God knows the plans He has for us- they’re good plans for prosperity and hope and a good future.

So. Here I am, starting the new year by preaching to myself. I do that a lot (I should really pay closer attention). I want to make changes but the only way they’ll stick is if I do it with God’s help and do it small…. small steps, small changes that add up to big ones over time.               2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

What are your “changes” for this year? Do you make resolutions? Set goals? How does the new year inspire you! Please share in the comments below. I hope you’ll subscribe (above, on the right) so we can journey through 2018 together! And please feel free to share this with your friends.

Thanks so much for reading.

Happy New Year and God bless you good!

Beginning Again

 

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Hi Ya’all!

I’ll keep it short today, especially since today IS short! I know we’re all running around checking off those last-minute items from our Christmas lists. Or maybe, like me, you’re late to the party and still shopping, still making those lists. Either way- today- short is good.

Breezing through my Instagram feed the other day, I saw a meme from Patsy Clairmont, that said in essence, “Begin Again: Add Joy”. It was just what I needed at that moment. It’s what I need all the time!

My sister and I saw a sign in a gift shop that said: “It’s never too late to start the day over!”, so I understand the theory of beginning again. It’s become something of a theme with us. We’ve been known to “start the day over” after dinner! It’s a handy tool to have, the “start-the-day-over” button in my brain. It’s like a reset button.

It is a mindset, really. I don’t know about you, but I can get bogged down in a project and next thing I know, my mood begins to decline (doesn’t that sound better than saying “have a melt-down”?) and the lovely project transforms into a monster that is not going to bless anybody.

Last week, I spent every moment I could eek out working on a project, only to scrap it at the last minute. I wasted precious time at a time of year when time is hard to come by. I was so disappointed in myself. The harder I tried, the worse it became. I was mad at myself. I didn’t hear from God evidently. There was nothing accomplished, nothing complete. I don’t know if starting over would have saved the project but I’m sure adding joy would have made a big difference.

Starting over is one thing. It’s very helpful. But adding JOY to the start-over is like a super-charge to your thought processes. The Bible says the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is: feet spread wide, arms outstretched above your head, happy. It’s also a deep abiding peace that permeates your whole being. If I need to begin again, I need joy and that will give me strength too!

JOY can be found by taking a few moments to thank God for what is going well. It’s noticing the beauty in creation. It’s stepping back, taking a deep breath and turning your thoughts away from the problem and toward the Source of all Help. Do I need a short walk? Nap? Water? How about coffee? Maybe a good stretch and some upbeat music will help me re-focus. Joy is there;  all i have to do is find it!

So… I am practicing beginning again- and again- and again! It’s better than getting muddled in the middle of something that’s not working. Starting over AND adding joy is like hitting the jack-pot. It’s truly a fresh start.

Starting over and focusing on JOY is my Christmas miracle- at least for today- because I’m at peace (yikes!) even though there is still SO much to do. In spite of all the doing, it’s really about the JOY of the Lord’s birth and His great, joyful love for us!

Disclaimer: I know. There are plenty of times to keep going. Hang in there. Stick it out. The trick is knowing whether to start over or keep going. With all the busy-ness of Christmas, I think it’s good to start over- with JOY added because… really? When we joyfully start over, we are re-setting our mind.

Merry Christmas Blessings! Enjoy. Just do it… in-JOY!

I’m looking forward to seeing you next year! 2018! Let’s make it a great year together.

Please leave a comment and follow Pathways and Portals. There’s a button in the upper right sidebar. I’d love for you to join me in traveling the pathways of life and exploring new portals. God bless you!

Slow Down

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“Pick one thing today and do it well, then exhale.”

Thus ends the devotion* I was reading. In “exhale”, she is saying to stop and enjoy the work you’ve done. Did you do laundry? Stop and enjoy the smell of clean clothes. Notice the symmetry of folded towels in the linen closet. Did you paint a picture? Write a chapter- or a thank you note? Take a deep breath. Smile and think about the encouragement your work will bring to someone.

It’s true. Everyone seems to be writing and talking about slowing down. But somehow, it’s appropriate for everyone to say something about it. It needs saying- frequently!

I know I need to remind myself often. It especially applies to the “good” stuff, the things that are good to do and hardest to say “no” to. It applies to all the great blogs and posts I feel like I’m missing. I want to stay up to date, stay inspired and encouraged, after all! But even the best blog by the greatest inspirational writer can turn into One. More. Thing. To. Do.

Dare I say it? Advent, as beautiful and important as it is, can add too much stress. Advent is certainly worth slowing down for, taking notice of, and preparing our hearts to celebrate. But, my friend, if it’s just adding stress, don’t do it. How does it sound to read, “…the angel said, ‘I bring you tidings of great joy…’”, in a hard, sarcastic voice? EW! Allow this time of year be about finding Jesus wherever you are, rather than being bound by a schedule.

November galloped past and we hung on for dear life, dashing into Thanksgiving (forgetting Veteran’s Day completely). We barely stopped to enjoy what is supposed to be quiet, grateful reflection with family. Did you catch the Black Friday deals? Have you decorated the tree and put the lights on the house! Let’s be sure to write Christmas cards and go to concerts and bake cookies and roast a goose and don’t forget to shop ‘til you drop! There’s the kids’ teachers to buy for, the boss’s party to dress for and grandma’s house to go to. Sing in the choir. Give to the poor. Support the cause. And don’t forget to plan New Year’s Eve. And – LOOK! In January they’re starting a Bible study! Better put it on the calendar. Oh! Did we make Valentine’s dinner reservations? How about summer camp sign up?

Phew! Just writing all this leaves me breathless. Our society seems bent on bullying us into doing the next 5 things before we even get to the real NEXT thing.

STOP!

I don’t know about you, but I need to make RIGHT NOW the important thing. Then, the next thing, when it’s time to do it, can be important. I need to CHOOSE what to devote time and effort to and then enjoy it, savor it, rest in it. It really IS okay to “rest on your laurels”- for a few moments.

I need time in the day- preferably in the morning- to be quiet. I need to connect with God, to find peace and direction. I need to connect with myself, and the “to-do” list, to find out what really needs doing. (Like it or not, if there’s no underwear, I MUST do laundry!).

Guess what? We all need time to be quiet, silent. We are created with a built-in requirement for rest. Our bodies must have quiet rest to function well.

I’m resisting the efforts of our run-away, do-it-all culture. Sure, I’d like to “do -it-all”, there’s value in the things I mentioned earlier.

But consider:

#1- what is God saying to me? and

#2- what can I reasonably do and do well?

I need to keep a sharp focus on what’s important to my heart and my family. We are all different, so what’s important to me probably isn’t to you! Don’t throw out something that speaks to your heart just because your friends don’t do it. If you’ve determined to do a project, do it with gusto. Do it with your whole heart.  Turn off the negative talk in your head.

Rather than dash and crash headlong to the next event (even if it’s your Bible study) enjoy, notice, even relish unloading the dishwasher, the job at hand. Be “mindful” and “intentional” (those oh-so-popular buzz words).

There will always be voices yelling at us to do, do, do… and make it snappy!

Let’s tame those bullies, shut them down entirely. Let’s hear from our heart, hear what God has put there. Let’s do one thing well and allow that one accomplishment to nourish us and fill our heart, enabling us to do the next thing with a full heart.

Exhale. Rest. Relish. Breathe.

 

*Day 333. “A Different Way of Looking at Success”, by Denise J. Hughes. Page 335     A Moment to Breathe, published by (In)Courage.

 

Do you relate to feeling overwhelmed, even by the “good stuff”?

I’d love it if you share and tell us how you tame the bullies.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks so much!

 

I’d be honored if you subscribe to Pathways and Portals! There’s a button in the upper right.

Share this with a friend who might need encouragement to slow down.

My plan is to publish on the first and third Thursday of each month. Be on the lookout for another edition December 21st!

THANKS for reading! God bless you!

We Don’t Have to Agree to Have a Good Relationship

With Th2016-11-21 21.21.40anksgiving coming up and all the talk of having to spend time with a fractious family, I realize, yet again, just how blessed I am to have a super great sister.

Although my sister and I are often opposites, we decided long ago that we would “get along”, because family is important, no matter what. We all have a family- blood, friend, adopted, alienated, nutty. What we have to decide is: how important is this family in my life?

How do my sister and I match up?

Politically- very different. Left versus right. Conservative versus liberal. Once in a blue moon we probably agree but since we agreed not to talk about it, it just doesn’t usually come up! You really can have hour-long conversations and never once mention politics!

Different life-style. Hers gives me a glimpse of another way. She has been single for many years but is now in a new relationship. It’s good to remember what it’s like to be newly in love. Since I am 50 years into marriage, it causes me to think about love in a new way.

She enriches me. Do I enrich her? I hope so.

We both love God- in our own way.

We share many questions… and answers…. And some family mysteries that we’ll probably never figure out. We are interested in family dynamics. Although she is more interested than me (yes, I admitted it, Sis), it makes me think about things I’d probably not notice otherwise. That’s a good thing.

We both love cats.

We both read a lot- maybe born of wanting to escape an unstable, volatile father. Although I was into mysteries for many years, I’ve gravitated to more non-fiction, and that is what’s on her bedside table.

She likes movies. I can’t tell you the last movie I saw. (Oops! Not true. I saw “Hidden Figures” and loved it.) Of course, I like a good movie, but for her, it’s a “thing”!

Apple fritters- definitely a point of agreement!!

Lactose-free versus “there’s no such thing as too much cheese”.

As kids, she had black hair with soft curls. I was blonde with straight hair.

She is smart… with advanced degrees to prove it. Me? I don’t know. But she remembers me teaching her to read. I am 5 years older, started school when she was born! If I taught her to read, I must be ok, right. *wink* *smile*

She’s an international Leadership Coach. She’s good. She’s kind. She will help you! But there are times she says I coach her (I’ve learned all her best techniques!). We “coach” each other!

One more thing: My sister is a wonderful cook and puts a lot of effort into turning out some scrumptious meals. Me? I’m happy to get something on the table. Of course, I love beautiful food- especially if someone else cooks it, or if it’s easy to make! (I do make good gravy, thank you very much.)

So, you see, we have things we share as well as some areas where we disagree. It’s the things we share that are important. Listening to each other’s opinion and beliefs encourages us to think deeper, consider differently, read more widely. We don’t have to agree in order to like each other. We don’t have to be the same. We may not be “opposite” so much as “different”. Think how boring it would be if we were exactly alike. We love each other because we’re sisters, we like each other because it’s more important than being “Burger King” (having it your way!).

If I get a little annoyed about something, I let it go, allowing her her thoughts. (I will, however, challenge her if I feel she’s in danger. But even that is more of a nudge. I cannot save her from my perceived dangers.) I’m sure I don’t annoy her… hohoho. But she allows me the same grace, letting me be me (and gently challenging when she’s worried about me).

Not all relatives are as kind as Linda. Some only want to be with you if you totally agree with them, are in lock-step with them. They don’t seem interested in relationship or family or shared history. And that is so sad. If you want relationship without abandoning your own morals, they make it very hard. But it’s possible. Ask yourself… is it more important to have relationship or to be “Burger King” (like a petulant two-year-old stomping her foot and yelling because she can’t have it her way)?  You get to decide what’s important to you.

Perhaps we, as a nation, need to gather together and ask the same question. We have a shared history. We are related by the blood of all the soldiers who died to keep us safe. Is it really more important to have it exactly our way than to work together for a higher cause?  There are usually ways to come together if we listen, consider and compromise. To do what’s right rather than … well… be “Burger King”.

We might not be able to do anything about the entire country. But maybe we can bring some peace to our family. Do you have anyone you’re not too excited about seeing next Thursday? Is there someone in the family gathering that just rubs you the wrong way? If you plan ahead and decide how to be proactively kind, maybe you can make a difference. What will you do?

I will miss being with my sister next week. We’ll be with our kids and grand-kids and that will be lots of fun- not stressful! I don’t even have to do much cooking. My sis will be with her sweetie’s family.

My prayer is that you have a good Thanksgiving, that you bring a little more peace to a volatile situation and that your peacemaking will bring even more peace to the upcoming Christmas gatherings!

I hope you’ll share how you deal with family situations. I’d really like to know.

I also hope you will follow my blog. There’s a button on this page now- yay!! It’s right up there on the right…

Thanks for reading!

God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!

(PS- I like Burger King fine. I like to “have it my way”! I am not saying anything derogatory about BK.)

November Thursday

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“It was November- the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad songs of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.” L. M. Montgomery

I’m not Anne of Green Gables, but I relate to this passage so much. Even though I can feel the fogs blowing out of my soul, at the same time, I feel them moving in. I love November, but it’s become a little tricky. I love the beauty of Autumn’s final gasp. I love, like Anne, the sun- both rising and setting- glorious. I like seeing tree bones, bare and sturdy, bracing for the hard times of winter. The trees throw off their fruit and leafy finery then hunker down in austerity for a season of deep rest… like the bear hibernating or the bird flying to warmer climates. I too feel a shedding. Maybe it’s the oppressive heat of summer. Maybe I’m shedding expectations, even in the face of glorious birthdays and Christmas expectations.

As a child, I was melancholy- not morose or depressed- just quiet, thoughtful, always spinning a tale inside my head. I remember happily spending hours swinging in the backyard, under a huge maple tree. Often, I would sing at the top of my lungs- loud and bold- believing no one could hear me. (How I would love to call Mama and ask if she heard me singing.) I would climb that big old maple, sit on a limb and make up stories while watching the birds. I’d even sing and climb when it was cold outside. I was told by a teacher that I was lazy because sometimes I sat alone at recess and watched the clouds. I still watch clouds. I don’t think I was lazy so much as regrouping. Introverts need alone time, ya know. I think being born in November has been part of forming that melancholy.

November has Thanksgiving (a favorite holiday), one son and a grandson were also born in November. I have 11 grandchildren but only 2 are boys… those boys are extra special. Not that the girls aren’t wonderful, mind you! ALL my grands are grandly wonderful!!

November is usually thought of as an ending, a winding down. But it can be both a beginning and an ending. An end of warm days and growing crops, the end of the year. A beginning of celebrations and then a season of stillness when the earth and, hopefully, our souls, regroup and restore.

I was born on a Thursday. Thursday’s child, according to the nursery rhyme, “has far to go”. I’ve always taken that negatively. There’s another way of viewing “far to go”. It could mean you have so many talents and abilities that you will “go far”. A slightly different turn of wording that produces an entirely different meaning. Rather than “far to go” (hardships and obstacles to overcome), “going far” becomes a long successful life with no limits. According to www.famlii.com, the latter is the traditional meaning for Thursday’s child- she has no limits. Interesting that I always viewed Thursday’s child in the more negative connotation yet traditionally it was meant very positively.

But now is the time! I’ve “gone far” in life, in age, and finally I feel like I’m beginning to find a deeper purpose to my life.

Interesting. November is the next-to-end month of the year. Thursday is the next-to-end day of the work week. Thursday is “yay! Almost the end of the week!”. But Thursday is also, “phew! I still have one more day to complete my work!”. My birthday is the 29th, the next-to-end day of the month.  I’ve had purposes throughout life but I’ve always had a nagging inside that I had something more to give. I don’t know what all that means, but I decided I’m taking it to mean NOW is my time. This may be the November of my life but I’m going to make the best of it!

Let’s not forget it’s getting dark so early… that isn’t fun. Another strike against my November-love.

And finally, November and Thursday have become tricky for me because my sweet Mama died in November- on a Thursday. On a bright and glorious day- crisp and clear as a bell with heavenly blue skies. The last brightly colored leaves were still hanging on the trees, making a vibrant, sparkling splash against the sky. It was my most “favorite-ist” kind of day. Yet it breaks my heart to remember it. She wasn’t supposed to die. She was supposed to recover from surgery, to get better, to feel better, to live longer. She was 86 but surely she had more years with us. My mother was a very special person- beautiful inside and out. That makes November very tricky, ‘cause, that was an awful time…in November.

Good and hard. Happy and sad. November and Thursday. Life is that way, a mixture of bright skies and brooding seas. Hunkering down or leaving town. Thankfulness and melancholy. Gains and losses. Sun and fog.

It’s the first Thursday of November, tricky, but still my favorite month of the year. This is a good day to publish my rambling.

God bless your November and God bless your Thursdays! And even in the fog or dark, keep looking for those blessings.

What do you think about November? How does it make you feel? Please share YOUR thoughts.

I’d love it if you Follow Pathways and Portals. To subscribe, click the “Follow” button (it’s kind of tiny) at the top of the sidebar on the right. Thank you! (I will not sell your info, I promise. And this is not automated yet… all “manual”!)

 

Finally, Fall!

September is a portal along the pathway to the end of the year. Yes, I know it’s nearly over now, but it’s still a beginning, a new season!  It feels like I’m dusting off the heat and lethargy of summer- even while knowing it’s still going to be plenty warm, maybe through October. We do live in the South, after all. But summer is officially OVER!

Just when you think you can’t possibly take one more moment of heat and humidity, God sends refreshment. Sometimes, often really, it’s an almost imperceptible, subtle shift. There’s still heat and humidity and discomfort, but that tiny shift, just the knowing of a coming change, is enough to break the heaviness and give you hope.

Do you like Fall? I love Fall! I like the cool weather and wearing sweaters. I love the gorgeous, bright Fall leaves contrasted against an intense blue sky. I love pumpkins and squash. Did I mention cooler weather? Oh yes! I like being able to take walks outside and feel refreshed, rather than wrung-out! I really like the State Fair (exhibits and clogging- I do not do rides and games!!)! And, please, don’t forget the pumpkin spice everything! I DO love pumpkin spice!

There are so many Fall family birthdays,  sometimes we get actually get tired of our favorite “birthday cake” (chocolate cherry)! Crazy, huh? We love to celebrate the birthday-person! A birthday is an individual’s very own holiday!  Even our anniversary is officially in the Fall. (Disclaimer: we love to celebrate ALL the family birthdays- summer, winter, and spring time, too!)

Fall, to me, is Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for Thanksgiving!! It’s such fun to gather with the whole family, eat lots of yummy food and celebrate all our blessings.

There are things I don’t like about Fall, however. My mother passed away on a bright November day and my mother-in-law the following September. I don’t like that. There is never a good time for huge loss.

If you don’t enjoy fall I can understand.

The days are shorter. I have to admit, getting up on those dark, chilly mornings isn’t my favorite thing. The bathroom floor is cold and the water takes so long to heat up.

It’s time to put away the sandals and squeeze your toes into socks and closed shoes (on the other hand, you don’t have to fret about the old pedicure!!)

It’s time to put away your favorite summer purse. Now that, I admit, is truly sad for me. I love my summer bag! It’s bright and open and so easy to use! Now it’s time to replace it with something more Autumnal. Maybe I should find a cool-weather purse I love as much!

Yes, it’s a dying time, a winding down, and that is sad. Flowers are looking sad or are just plain dead. It’s often just plain dreary…a time of hunkering down.

Oh. Wait. Maybe I don’t like Fall. After all these years of thinking I love Fall, can it be I really don’t have a good reason to like it? No. I still love Fall. It’s still my favorite. I like winter, I like spring, I like the idea of summer… but I love Fall! I’m always happy to see it come!

Tell me your preference! Tell me why you do/don’t like Fall!

And enjoy whatever part of this new season you can… whatever you can find that makes you feel good!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

God bless and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

It’s Been Way Too Long

After many, many  months, I’ve gotten brave enough to post again.

I was so proud of myself for starting a blog- I’d wanted to for over a year! Then I got cold feet and decided I didn’t have anything to post after all.

Now (warts, wrinkles, inspiration, dumps- whatever), I’m going to go for it.

I’ve joined COMPEL, the online writer’s group. I’m listening to their sessions, working my way through all kinds of really good info. I know I need to spruce this blog up and pay attention to what I’m writing here but if I don’t “just do it”, (right now!) I’m kind of afraid I’ll lose this nice burst of bravery.

The Lord is teaching me, drawing me, pushing me. I’m pretty sure He’s rolling His eyes at me and shaking His head; He’s laughing and smiling, probably He’s even crying for me, crying with me. I’m trying so hard to change and be “good” (Yes. Grace is abundant but you have to unwrap a gift to enjoy it. So often I forget.). But I want to write to share the beauty that He is dropping into my soul during the times when I get still enough to hear His voice. I think He’s trying to teach me that He still loves me in the midst of failure. I think He’s trying to teach me that I am changing (I am letting Him change me) and that His beauty is always available even in the midst of messes.

So, in fear and trepidation, in hope that I’m changing even when I fail miserably- yet again, I’m going to share. I’m going to (try to) be bold. It’s not because I’m an expert (unless maybe I’m an expert at “failing-yet-again”), but because I hope to help at least one person, to somehow help lighten someone’s load a little. I hope to connect with others who are on the same journey. Besides, writing helps me put things in perspective.

I’m asking God how I can walk through the valley of (you name it!) and still see the beauty and truth and love and hope and encouragement of God. My “journal” has mostly been spiral notebooks filled with rants and rages, interspersed with a scripture or an encouraging quote, only to be followed by more rants and rages. But thanks be to God, I’m starting to see a bit more “good” and a bit less “bad”.  Can it be change for the better?

I’m on a journey, a pathway, toward God. Sometimes I get turned around or follow a rabbit trail. Sometimes I need a portal- a port in the storm of battling against the messes of past and present. I need a shelter for a season, a safe place as I walk (trudge?) toward the Ultimate Safe Place where the Safest Person in all the universe resides. Which is weird because somewhere in my heart I know He resides inside me…

May the blessings of God track us down and overtake us, may we be aware of those blessings!

YIKES!

After saying over and over again that I want to start a blog… I DID IT!

Having just started following a Blog, obviously written in WordPress, the prompts to confirm that I really wanted to follow it began to get irritating and then? There was a prompt asking if I want to start a blog! So I followed it and here I am!

I’m feeling almost breathless, like I’ve actually DONE something! I don’t know where this will lead, but I named this Pathways and Portals, so I think I’m expecting to GO somewhere with this.

I want to share encouragement, to share questions, to share the love of God.

As much as I love the feel of pen on paper, as much as I love paper itself, I’m going to work on sharing my thoughts online too. I have no idea if anyone is interested in following me but we’ll see what happens…

There seems to be the theme here… throw caution to the wind and… see what happens!

There’s a lot to learn and I’ll have to take the time to find out what I can do here.

So, here I am world! LOL! Let’s go somewhere together!