Summer Biking

black and gray road bike
Photo by Zsolt Palatinus on Pexels.com

We’ve been reminiscing a little about summertime as children. All that free time to enjoy!

Summer meant riding my bicycle. I loved the freedom. Even though my father was strict and persnickety about – well- everything, I was free to roam and free to ride. That little piece of information might seem irrelevant to you but it tells me a lot about that time in history. We were pretty safe. We knew our neighbors and even those who lived blocks away were considered neighbors because they were likely classmates, or at least went to the same school. As long as I was home for lunch and dinner and by dark, I was ok. That is freedom. Can you imagine letting your kids run free for so long, not knowing exactly where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing? Nope. Neither can I.

I remember the Christmas I received my bicycle. It was 24″, a big one. I was probably 8 years old. (Not like kids these days, riding two-wheelers at 5 years old.) My father and I went into the backyard that afternoon to learn to ride it- not wasting any time. I guess I really wanted to ride!

The backyard was deep. Kind of divided in half (or a third/two-thirds). The close to the house part of the yard had a paved sidewalk and ended at the far part of the yard. After instruction, my father would steady me as I peddled along the sidewalk, hoping I wouldn’t fall into the bushes. At the end of the sidewalk, after a few times of running into the far backyard with me, he’d let go. At first, of course, I wobbled and crashed. Falling on the grass, which, even in the cold of winter, really wasn’t too terrible. I got up and we’d walk back to the bottom of the porch steps and try again. Needless to say, after awhile, I could ride on my own without crashing into either the bushes or the cold grass.

That next summer, I rode my bike all around the yard- front, near-back, far-back, even the narrow side yard. I rode my bike on the sidewalk in front of our house. Then down Thomas Street and finally all the way to school.

One hot summer, I was maybe 10 or 11, as I rode my bike past the house of a classmate, he came out and stopped me. Stood in front of me so I couldn’t move on. He was the class “bad-boy”. Even in elementary school, he was tall, dark, handsome and dangerous. (LOL! Those were the days, my friend! An elementary school John Travolta.) His name was (still is, if he’s still on this earth) Dusty Rhodes. I kid you not. He mostly just said HI, but it scared me and it thrilled me that he noticed me. (He must have been bored.) I never told my father because I was afraid he wouldn’t let me ride to school anymore. I didn’t encountered Dusty again that summer, and I think his family moved soon after school started. I wonder what happened to him.

Much as I loved riding my bike, I never rode it to school on a school day. I wonder why not.

Riding my bike opened an entirely different world for me. I had a vivid imagination. I would imagine I was somebody on a mission to save the world. I could be traveling the world and seeing new sights, just by hopping on the bike and peddling off down the street. I could be in a race or on a mission or discovering a Secret Garden (one of my favorite books at that time)… all in my imagination.

I loved riding after a rain, with all the sidewalks washed fresh and clean and shining. And I can still remember thinking how beautiful the world was, coasting downhill, the breeze blowing through my hair. Oops. No helmet. Of course, helmets are a very good idea, but it’s an idea that evidently never crossed anyone’s mind in the 1950’s. Helmets are very important and I highly recommend them, but I would have missed that lovely feeling of wind in my hair. I am thankful I survived the freedoms of those years unscathed.

One little silver lining to this pandemic mess, seems to be that kids are riding their bicycles more. I’ve even seen middle-schoolers riding together- think “ET”. And I love watching the neighborhood kids flying around our cul-de-sac on their bikes. They come in all sizes. We have one little guy, he must be 5 or 6, who is quite the dare-devil. He has a small two-wheeler and his helmet  and he is peddling as fast has his legs will go. Once in a while, his bike will slide out from under him and he crashes but he pops right back up! No time for tears for this little guy! And he’s off, peddling fast again! Earlier in the lock-down, there was a group of girl-bikers who would roam the neighborhood, chasing after butterflies and lizards and invading yards at will. It’s either too hot now, or Mom has reigned them. Haven’t seen them in a month and I wonder what they’re doing for entertainment.

Your turn!

Did you ride a bicycle when you were a child? How did it make you feel? Where you free to roam or restricted? Helmet, no helmet? Do tell!

Summer Sprinklers

boy jumping on water sprinkler
Photo by Johan Bos on Pexels.com

You know there is beauty in the most ordinary of things. There’s beauty to find every day. There’s even beauty in fun! It can be like a treasure hunt to find nuggets of beauty-blessings, even in (especially in) the most dreary times. We simply need to open our eyes and the eyes of our hearts to see it.

A sprinkler on a hot summer day is a thing of beauty.

As a child, did you run through the sprinkler? You might have worn a swimsuit, or you might has just worn your undies. (It was you own backyard, after all.)

Did you have the twirly kind of sprinkler or the sweeping kind? Maybe you had the “chika-chika-chika” style (Rain Bird).

As adults, we have the chika-chika-chika type sprinkler. It’s most efficient, more precise coverage, good soaking, easy to move. (Unless you have an irrigation system. That is the best, but we’re not talking about those. Besides, you’d better not be running through a yard full of irrigation heads! A sure way to incur your Dad’s ire.) As adults, we look differently at sprinklers, we want different qualities than children want. Even as boringly efficient as we adults need to be, there is still beauty and fun to be found. The “song” the Rain Bird (brand name) sings is easily recognized and fun. “chika-chika-chika-chika/ bap-padah, bap-padah, bap-padah/ chika-chika-chika-chika/ bap-pudah, bap-padah, bap-pudah…”. Come on. Admit it. You said each of those words and thought about that distinctive sound, didn’t you?

However, I don’t imagine you had a Rain Bird when you were running through sprinklers. I didn’t. Even though it was invented in 1933, was first used mostly for crops, not for suburban lawns. California citrus grower, Orton Englehartit, developed the first prototype, which is technically called a “horizontal action impact sprinkler”, or impact sprinkler, for short.

The fan type sprinkler is officially known as an oscillating sprinkler. That’s not what my family had until I was older, past the sprinkler-running stage, but it intrigued me. I thought it looked like a big ostrich-plume fan of water waving elegantly back and forth, back and forth, almost stately and serene in it’s detached devotion to putting water on a large square of summer turf. Back and forth. I still think it’s relaxing. Back and forth. Sweeping the air with refreshing droplets, giving life to thirsty blades of grass and flowers in their bordering beds. Running and jumping over the sprinkler mechanism was like breaking through a wall, literally crashing the serene veil of water. Inefficient for watering a lawn, perhaps, but great fun for play. Where else can you gallop your imaginary horse through a wall when attacking the enemy?

The first sprinkler I played in was the twirly kind, a rotary sprinkler. My father and/or grandfather made it from various sized pipes and bearings and probably soldered the home-made perforated caps into place (although it might have been welded). They were both very handy with all sorts of tools and very creative as well. That little sprinkler didn’t put out a lot of water, but it was refreshing and predictable and fun to jump over, trying to avoid getting wet while really wanting to be soaked. In terms of today’s standards, it was a fail. It really didn’t water a large area nor did it put forth a large amount of water. Now that I think about it, all these decades later, I kind of wonder if it was purposely built as a “toy”, a summer diversion. We didn’t have access to a swimming pool and it could be very hot in muggy, Northern Virginia. We went to the ocean for one week each year but it was hot a lot longer than one week. That sprinkler was probably a better choice than allowing me to use the hose, full-bore. I did use the hose, especially when cousins were around. But a hose can actually dig up grass, make mud, when applied directly, and that would not have been a desirable outcome. We lived in a duplex with my grandparents until I was 12. Neither my father nor grandfather was very particular about the lawn, but they did want grass and they were careful to keep it in good condition (for me, my sister and cousins to play in, of course.). As I recall, that little homemade, rotary sprinkler could go ’round fairly fast when the faucet was fully open. And when it wasn’t fully open, it would go very slowly and even made a squeak. So it was like a little squeaky friend who threw water at us, cooling us on a hot summer day.

Not only was the sprinkler fun to play in, it was soothing to watch in it’s plodding regularity. If it were running while you were reading in the hammock, it could easily lull you to sleep for a sweet summer afternoon nap.

Beauty, you ask? Where’s the beauty in a sprinkler? The sun shining on and through drops of water is magical! It sparkles! It produces rainbows! Sparkles and rainbows- they deserve an entire article dedicated only to them! Even as a “hardened” adult, we can enjoy the beauty in those sparkles… God’s glitter… diamonds in the air and on the grass!  And just tell me, who doesn’t like a rainbow? Don’t we all stop, even for a moment, to gaze at the lovely colors hanging in a rainy sky? It’s God’s reminder of hope and promise. And they can be created with a sprinkler, right in your backyard!

As a child, did you ever cool off in a sprinkler? (Or maybe you got into trouble for playing in it.) What kind of sprinkler did you have? Do you see beauty in a sprinkler?

Look for the beauty in plain old everyday stuff this week. Look for the beauty and fun in just watering the grass. See if you see the sparkles and rainbows. Enjoy your week!

 

Summer: the 2020 Reality

Flag

Happy Independence Day, ya’all.

With fireworks and parades cancelled, we won’t be able to count on our traditional Fourth of July celebrations. Summer 2020 seems to be anything except a normal summer. Freedom seems fleeting, American consideration for our brothers and sister is MIA. And somehow, incredibly, the American Flag is an affront. We are at war with each other.

Yeah. We can go to the pool, lake or beach but be sure to distance yourself from the friends you meet up with. And sign up for a time slot at the neighborhood pool. Huh? Sign up to go to the pool?? If the kids still ride bikes or roller skate on the sidewalk, that’s ok. Fishing? Ok too. But stay 6 feet from the next guy.  (I think you’d do that anyway.) Reading in the hammock? Yes, but instead of it being carefree, it now feels a little like a desperate attempt to escape the unknows of everyday life in this strange year.

Where’s the free-spirited feeling? Where’s the lighthearted, relaxed feeling of summers past? It’s gone. Pandemic, riots, murder hornets, Saharan dust and a constant barrage of hate and fear thrown at the country with the evil intent to divide and destroy from within.

Rather than give in to the fear and join the din of hatred, we can set our hearts to capture at least some of the happy summer atmosphere we used to know. We can set our hearts and minds to focus on a more carefree mood. I am NOT saying don’t pay attention to the terrors of Summer 2020. We must mix vigilance with our freedom because if we aren’t watchful, we will find ourselves without any freedom. It is a serious matter. But it’s a balancing act we can perfect. Pay attention, do the homework, pray but also deliberately look for and create ways to bring the old-timey summer relaxation into your life. We need the refreshing! Our families need to have fun. The world around us needs our kindness and compassion and it needs to see it’s ok to have some fun.

Too much constant compassion dulls the senses over time and we become hardened, unable to dredge up the compassion that once fueled us for so long. It’s true, look it up. It’s call Compassion Fatigue. We truly must find a balance. We must pray and meditate and notice beauty and create beauty and take care of ourselves. We must “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Proverbs 34: 14) diligently.  Only when we have peace within ourselves, can we attempt to bring peace to others- you cannot give what you don’t have. Only from a place of peace can we come alongside our hurting brothers and sisters to bear their hurt with them and help them find peace. You can do something to help just by being kind to the folks you meet everyday.

What CAN we do this summer? Walk in the rain, splash in puddles. Blow bubbles (soap bubbles and bubblegum!). Listen to summer themed popular music; play croquet, play badminton. Reconnect with your senses. Look for and create joy. Summer is a mindset so set your mind to summer (and get if off the big troubles for awhile.) Wear your bathing suit just because it’s summer; try a new flavor ice cream, try new food! Notice your natural surroundings in the yard or on the green-way. Learn what birds frequent your area, learn their songs. What bugs hide under the rocks? Hang a sheet outside for a drive-in movie night. Make s’mores in the broiler, camp out for dinner or lunch. Sleep in. Walk the dog longer; use the grill to cook your veggies. Read a novel and add whitespace to your routine (don’t push so hard!). Let the dishes soak and go catch lightening bugs (then let them go, of course). Play Monopoly. Gaze at the sky and find pictures in the clouds. Let the kids be their own “activity director”. Let them be “bored”. Climb a tree. Learn to use a yo-yo. Pick up trash along the green way. Take the back roads. Stop at the farmer’s stand. Leave a note or small gift on someone’s doorstep.

We can learn to hold both joy and sorrow together. Focusing on one doesn’t negate the the other. We can learn to be “both-and”, letting go of “either-or”. And that will bring joy and freedom as well. Changing our perspective changes everything.

Last week’s blog was fun and light-hearted. I loved writing happy memories. This week is the contrast, the way things seem to be this year. And frankly, it wasn’t as much fun (until I got to the “alternatives”.) Because this year is hard. The next couple of weeks, I’m planning to revisit some of the delight found in Summer: the Dream. If you found this blog challenging, I’m sorry. I do hope you ended up somewhat encouraged by reading this far. And be assured, next week will be more lighthearted.

Thank you for being here and sharing the crazy reality that seems to be Summer 2020.

Summer: the Dream

food healthy red summer
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com
“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer…”

Remember that song by Nat King Cole?

Summer’s idolized dreams are all there in this song: picnics and beach parties complete with girls in bikinis. And let’s not forget drive-in movies and romantic summer moons, kissin’, fallin’ in love and wishin’ summer would last forever.

I don’t know about you, but most of my happy Summer memories come from the middle of my childhood years and the early teens.

Summer means vacations to the beach- or mountains, kids riding their bikes through the neighborhood or roller skating on the sidewalk without having to be home to finish homework. It means lemonade and going barefooted all day and visiting the distant family and sightseeing. As a child, Summer felt like freedom, especially on the Fourth of July. Fireworks! Hot dogs! Swimming! Parades! Add to that fishing and catching crayfish in the creek; reading in the hammock and running through the sprinkler in the backyard. Even drinking from the hose! (Horrors!) It means sundresses and sandals and shorts and bare midriffs. Popsicles and ice cream dripping down your arm and snowballs shaved from a big ole block of ice. Catching lightening bugs and putting a penny on the train track. Or being shipped off to Grandma’s house for a couple of weeks and having to sit through revival or the meetin’ on the grounds, fans flapping in time with “Just As I Am”. Helping pick veggies from the garden. Going to town just to get frozen custard. Going to the farm-league baseballs games and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”. Swimming at the lake. Nursing baby birds back to health, catching frogs. Picking blackberries (scratches from stickers, anyone?) Maybe this should be in the down-side of Summer category. Picking wildflowers for your Mama. Making clover chains as necklaces. Climbing the maple tree and spying on the grown-ups. Watermelon seed spitting contests with your cousins. Wishing on dandelion fluff. Wishing on the first star at night.

There’s beauty in these memories, even if they are skewed by the passage of time. There’s a kind of exhale, thinking “about the way things used to be”.

The down-side of summer was bee stings (vinegar and baking soda and tweezers to pull out the stinger) and thunderstorms. Sunburn (Noxzema, anyone? You DO remember smelling like Noxzema, don’t you?) and skinned knees. Sleeping with the windows open or sleeping downstairs because it was just too hot upstairs (that was, of course, before AC). Maybe an occasional garden snake and, of course, mosquito bites. (Bring on the Calamine Lotion!)  Riding in the hot car to those beach vacations wasn’t very much fun (I’m feeling a little queazy…). Thankfully it was only me and my sister in the backseat of the car so we had plenty of space. Toward the end of summer, we might worry whether our best friends would be in our classroom next year.

Somehow we can manage to romanticize even the down-side of summer in our memories.

What are your favorite summer memories? How about any down-side memories that stand out? Please share and complete our Summer vision, Summer in our dreams.

In This Last Week of Spring, Part 2

Open Planner

Happy First Day of Summer!

As we head into a new Season, we’ve been looking back a bit at the previous one to see what we’ve learned, what we want to discard, what we want to change, what we want to learn. This First Day of Summer is the perfect time to do that and even though Saturday is almost over, if we don’t quite finish, we still have Sunday!

We’ve determined that Spring 2020 was not predictable in any way, shape or form. And that is precisely why it’s important to look back over the last 3 months and take inventory. I’ve been trying to take stock about once a quarter, to re-examine my goals, look at the positive and negative experiences of the previous season. We all tend to take stock at the beginning of the year… think: New Year’s Resolutions. But instead of stockpiling all our losses and gains, it’s a good idea to look at life more in the moment. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to set aside some time each week to do a little pondering along those lines. Perhaps that’s partly what Sabbath is meant for… slowing down, being quiet before the Lord, asking Him for guidance.

So, here it is- officially Summer. Let’s allow Spring to guide us into Summer.

What has Spring brought me? What have I learned? What have I accomplished, lost, enjoyed, hated? What can I improve upon? What can I unload? In the previous post, I listed many of the things I’ve learned during Spring 2020. Some of those things are silly, some are practical and some are more serious. What’s on your list?

I think the biggest thing I learned during this crazy Spring is that I can change my perspective. Changing my perspective on this whole pandemic thing and now, on the racial problems we face as a nation, has made a difference in the way I think and deal with my daily life. It’s the difference between worry and trusting God. The difference between what satan wants us to see and what the Lord God Almighty sees. It is truly the difference between total inky darkness and brilliant bright sun Light. I want to see as God sees. I want to know that there IS Light, even if I can’t see it at this moment.

Then, there’s the question of planning. How can I even think of making a plan? I’m realizing I need to live in the moment and make the plan as I go. Or, allow the plan to come to me. Be intentional in holding the future a little looser. Yes, we can plan. We can plan the way we see others, we can decide how we can be kinder and more encouraging to people we meet. And I can still set goals to take steps toward whatever my vision is. We might have to tweak those plans and goals, but if they were valid in January, they are still valid in June. It’s hard to know how to plan or think when nothing seems to be consistent or sure anymore. However, it is do-able as long as we focus on what’s important – focusing on the Love and faithfulness of Father God, who is always consistent and sure.

As we set off into a new season, Summer, remember to take a deep breath. Pray. Hold your head up and don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Seek a new perspective. Reframe. Summer might not look exactly as you planned or what other summers have been like but you and I will find our way through it when we focus on the Lord and let Him lead us.

It can still be a summer of refreshing and enjoying outside activities. It can still be a season of growth- both in the garden and personally. Let your roots go down deep into the cool soil, and let your face glow in the warm Summer sunshine. We can Hope for a better tomorrow as we make changes to deal with an uncertain today.

 

In This Last Week of Spring, Part 1

Planner

The end of Spring is a good time to look back at the past 3 months and do an inventory. What’s happened and what have I learned? What shall I keep and what needs to go from my life?

This Spring is not disappointing us in its surprises and challenges. The last week of Spring in Central NC is generally more like mid-summer- hot, muggy, perhaps already in an early drought. Ah, but Spring 2020 is living up to its MO (modus operandi = a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established.). This week has been rainy and cool, even chilly. In fact, I’ve pulled out my socks and flannel shirt! Now, that is strange.

So, what have I learned over the previous 3  incredible months? This entire season has been off the charts. In just 3 months, one season, words we rarely used have become over-used: words like “unprecedented” and “pandemic” being at the top of the list. Also over-used: unknown, uncertain and “I don’t know!”. We have let go of important milestones: family birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals. I know this is not right. As a society, we’ve been hoodwinked (deceived, tricked) and bamboozled (cheated, made to look like a fool). We’ve been lied to and jerked (rather violently) back and forth (take wearing a mask, for instance.)

But let’s move on, away from all that. I can feel the quicksand.

What have I gleaned personally from Spring 2020? A bunch of stuff! I should add that our Spring 2020 has been undermined by Colin’s diagnosis of a re-occurance of cancer and subsequent chemo treatments. Chemo, of course, leaves his immune system wounded and therefore increases the risks (and spoon-fed terrors) of COVID19. All of that has me feeling particularly vulnerable to the lack of true information and fluctuation of so-called facts.(Oops, there’s that quicksand again.)

So, I’ve learned, and been frightfully amazed, at the speed at which we can adapt to totally abnormal ways of living.

Continuing the list in no particular order:

I’ve learned getting groceries pulled and delivered for you is OK! I will probably continue to do it. At the same time, I can hardly wait to go into the store again myself and wander the aisles, being inspired by the variety of items and possibilities.

I’ve learned I can adjust to different brands. I even prefer a few off-brands now. And I will probably continue to use many of these store brands because they are just as good in quality and cheaper. I would never have experimented with store brand paper products or frozen veggies unless I’d been forced- so that a win!

I’ve learned that not seeing, up close and personal, and hugging my grandchildren is horrible, it’s cruel and unusual punishment. Spring 2020 has proved it’s true.

I’ve learned that although we normally don’t do much, not going to church or out to eat occasionally, sucks. If I’d thought about it, I would have known that to be true anyway. But who in the world would ever have thought about such a thing?!

I’ve learned I don’t need hair product and if I’m willing to give it a day, I don’t even need to curl the ends of my hair. It takes care of itself. (No, I do not shampoo everyday.)

I’ve learned that Zooming with far away family is fun.

I’ve learned that, while I want to blog, sorting out all the things flying around in my head is sometimes just far too difficult and frustrating. But I will get it done eventually.

I’ve learned I use way too many paper towels and cloth towels work just fine. Laundering them once a week is do-able. On the other hand, some things can only be done with a paper towel and it’s OK to use them occasionally. Also, regarding paper towels, the brand really is better. I’ve learned a lot about paper towels.

Along the line of paper towels, I’ve noticed I have some really nice tea towels.

I’ve learned some store brands of toilet paper are OK and I probably don’t need to spend the big bucks on the brand name. This was a surprise to me.

I’ve learned that even when there’s “nothing” going on and I’m nearly bored (I really don’t get bored), I still need specific quiet time.

I’ve learned what it’s like to be subtly accused (or admonished) of being something I’m not (you don’t know me or my situation). This has made me work harder to let go of my own judgements and jumped-to conclusions.

I’ve learned I can choose to be offended or I can choose to forgive and move on.

I’ve learned you can throw together a dinner from cans. (I’d forgotten the convenience of cans.)

I’ve learned Lindt chocolate squares are the real life savors/savers.

I’ve remembered baking is good.

I’ve learned I can make my own alcohol wipes and prefer to do so. (If only I could make a disinfectant aerosol spray…)

I’ve learned it’s not time we need, it’s inspiration and motivation and vision.

I’ve learned it truly is ok to be not ok, because it leads us to change.

I’ve learned things I can’t tell you.

I’ve learned, again, that God provides abundantly.

I’ve remembered just how blessed I am and that God is oh-so-good.

I’m working on what I’m going to change after this “is over”. Really, it won’t “be over”, life has again shifted and we have to figure out how best to live it. But, that’s pretty easy. I’ll live it like any other day, focused on God and seeking His guidance in all things.

Your turn. What have you learned during this Spring season? Share one or two, or share the whole list!

 

 

Hope is Always in Season

rock formations and ocean during day
Photo by Steven Hylands on Pexels.com

Hope is Always in Season

“Maybe hope isn’t so much something we find but something we let in.”    @apeaceofwerk on Instagram.

Hope. Hebrews 6:(13-)19 tells us that hope is a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul. An anchor- a reliable or principal support; something that serves to hold an object firmly.

Hope can be hoped against… Romans 4:18-20.

God is faithful, Matthew 28:20

There comes a time when we must simply decide. Yes, I trust you… or God. Yes, this car will be reliable. Yes, the medicine will help when I take it properly. Yes, this exercise will strengthen my ankle…

Hope abides. Hope abides (dwells, stays, IS) because God is faithful. We decide to believe and keep believing the Word of God for the things we don’t see yet. We put our faith in God’s promise. Hebrews 10:23.

How does one survive any hard event? Whether it’s a relational crisis, an illness or a global pandemic, we survive, and can thrive, by having hope that life will be better again after this season is passed. We know that nothing- good or bad- lasts forever (not completely true. God’s love is forever, His Kingdom is forever). The season will change, and life will go on. If we allow hope to guide us, we are more likely to thrive. Sitting on the sofa, “hoping” everything will be ok, is not going to get you anywhere. That kind of “hope” is basically wishful thinking. But true hope actively sees with our minds and speaks with our mouths what we are hoping for, which is the Word of God manifest. We know we can count on the Word of God because we’ve seen it in action in our lives and in others’ lives. That is the kind of hope that anchors us, hold us steady and opens our heart and spirit to better things. It gives space for our brain to be creative and see beyond the current situation, possibly finding a solution to a long-term problem. However, if we dwell totally in the future, we can miss the good to be gleaned even in the hardship or suffering. We want to make our suffering “count”, we want to be able to learn whatever lessons the hard season has to offer. Every season is an opportunity to be fruitful and harvest an experience that will enable us to thrive in the “good” times and to weather the next storm that will surly come our way.

In the present, allow the grief and mourn but don’t forget there is comfort promised to those who mourn. Accept comfort so you can indeed move through. In the present, name and deal with feelings of hopelessness, fear, anxiety, discouragement, anger. Sometimes it’s simple. Realize a cloudy day makes it harder to feel hopeful. It just does. When we’re aware of our feelings, we can intentionally choose how they affect us. We can choose to cry that ugly cry and know why we’re crying. It’s one thing to feel unsettled in general. It’s something else to know where that unsettled feeling is originating. It may be a very valid reason for the feeling and then it can be dealt with. (Too much “news”, for instance? Turn off the TV.) On the other hand, it may be based on a lie and can be dismissed. There are plenty of things that genuinely concern us, let’s not waste energy on the lies. We must look deliberately at our thoughts. We cannot simply accept every thought as true, or even as being our own. Pay attention. Listen to what your thoughts are saying, then challenge them. Pray about it. Mark it off your list. Let it go. Choose hope because we have good reason to hope, and we have good things to hope for.

There is hope even at the bottom of the pit. Hope is the bedrock that causes us to stop digging our pits of despair. Did you know, many lovely flowers grow on rock. ROCK, with very little soil. That is a good picture of Hope. Let’s be rock-loving flowers! Hope is the knot at the end of our rope. Hope is the Arms we fall into when our strength gives out. Hope is a thing with feathers, that never stops singing.

Our hope can abide (dwell, be secure) because we know Jesus. Every storm- big or small, personal or global- can be traversed in confidence because our foundational hope is Jesus. He is with us, He is for us, He never changes. He provides, heals, gives mercy, helps, loves, is peace, delivers, is an unlimited in resource, gives grace and even joy. He restores, renews, has won all the battles… and so much more.

Our hope can cause us to move forward even now, when it seems we’ve been at a standstill. There is progress to be gained in stillness because stillness and quiet feed our souls and give our brains rest. Don’t dismiss quietness and rest as unproductive. It is the very stuff of life.

We have all had to deal with this situation and decide how to respond. And it continues to challenge us.

We are in this storm together but not everyone has made Hope their lifeboat. Respond in hope.

Hope is always in season.

Your thoughts are always, always welcome. In fact, I’d love to hear them! Thanks!

Re-imagine

 

black and white blackboard business chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Teach me to fly, O Lord,

when I feel like I’m falling.

Help me rest in knowing You are God.

Let me look for and

anticipate Your great goodness.

Help me keep my heart untroubled,

teach me to keep it unafraid.

When life spins into outer space,

help me rest in You, who breathed the stars,

remembering Your Light shines- always.

(c: Sandra Burch; May, 2019)

 

If life goes off our carefully laid tracks, it’s easy to panic and get anxious. But if we imagine the falling feeling is flying, it changes the way we react.

If we refocus our hearts on Abba Father’s goodness and how He shapes lives given to Him, we can anticipate an exciting new path.

If it feels like darkness is all around, we can look up and see the stars, and our perspective expands.

Did you know that imagining changes your brain? We re-wire our brains when we re-frame our thoughts.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2) There it is… transformed, changed… by re-focusing our thoughts.

When our first “imagination” slides off the road, Abba Father can refine it or even bring about a better one. When we rest in God’s presence and calm our minds, He will bring new ideas and open new doors we never considered before.

“My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

The Lord’s presence IS rest.

God bless us every one. As we calm ourselves in God’s presence, we can rewrite, reach, remember, restore, rest, reconnect and re-imagine even in the middle of a pandemic.

 

 

Reconnect

Elecctric plug

Reconnect: to establish a bond again; reunite, rejoin, put together again.

In this pandemic, we are all disconnected from most of our “norms”. Nothing is as sure as it was before and we have nothing of this magnitude to compare against. Life in general has become “unprecedented”. We feel untethered and adrift in an uncharted sea. We might even feel there’s nothing solid to attach our anchor to anymore. We don’t know who we can trust and we may even be tempted to question God.

But it’s not really that bad. Take a deep breath or two.

We have weathered the unknown before. We have survived the bottom dropping out from under our feet and we’ve endured unimaginable loss. We’ve been shattered by unexpected illness but lived to gather the pieces and become whole again. As a matter of fact, we do have experience in the area of the unknowns and we know experientially that Father God is always with us. Our past experience helps us reconnect with God, as well as with our original dreams and goals. Our past experience helps us sift through the perceived losses and unknowns; it enables us to regain connection with Father God and the things most important to us. It serves to help us refine our call and vision as we reconnect with our Source.

Whether it’s being outside in nature, music, dancing, meditation, reading, writing, cooking…. whatever pulls you back is what will reconnect you to God and peace. You know what helps you. As we each engage in our personal reconnection process, we will find calm and peace returning.

When we are reconnected, we can see the unknown future with clearer eyes and a steady heart.

Romans 8:38-39 J.B. Phillips New Testament

38-39 I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Rest

close up photography of sleeping tabby cat
Photo by Ihsan Aditya on Pexels.com

#hopewriterlife

We all need it.

But many of us we feel “Rest” is a cruel joke.

In order to get through this pandemic and whatever else might be coming our way in life, we absolutely MUST learn to Rest. However, very few of us have a clue what it entails, much less how to get there.

But it doesn’t need to be hard. In fact, it is really very simple.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? We cannot believe that God would be willing to… no. Change that… that God actually WANTS to take care of our every need. Let’s amend that one more time… God wants to take care of our every need so much that He has ALREADY provided for them- every single one

Several places in the Old Testament, the Children of Israel were offered Rest, but chose not to receive it. Jeremiah 6:16 is one place we find that to be the case. “This is what the Lord says: ‘…. and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” Choose to Rest, that’s the first step.

Once we choose it, we have to figure out what it’s all about and how to actually DO it. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to Rest and tells us what Rest looks like with Him. Rest is an invitation; it is also a command and a gift.

It’s still a challenge. Our society extols Production and Busy and Get-it-Done people and frowns on those of us who prefer a slower pace. We Americans, in particular, look on Rest as a waste of time; as being lazy. However, Rest is anything but lazy. In fact, the Bible tells us to “labor” to enter Rest (Hebrews 4:11), encouraging us to “make every effort to enter that rest.” God probably knew we would have a hard time even thinking Rest is do-able. He knew we’d need lots of encouragement to move us toward His Rest.

Rest isn’t doing nothing. Rest is trusting God, believing Him, and listening to His voice, then doing what we hear Him say… and no more. Rest is Peace.

There are 100’s of books on Rest. I’d like to recommend one that I’ve used time and again. It’s Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. Check her out at @theBonnieGray, on Instagram. This book is a 40 day devotional that will really encourage and inspire you to find God’s Rest.