August Imagination Challenge- Week 3

“Mountain Trail”, acrylic and ink on paper, painted by me, Sandy Burch, 2022. Photo is mine too.

Happy Saturday! How was your week?

Did you accomplish your goals? I got some good stuff done but not everything I’d hoped. Still, I am counting this past week as a win! And whatever you accomplished, you should count it as a win too! Plus, we got through another week of August heat and we’re still here! I know not everyone shares my love of Autumn and dislike of Summer, so, sorry, but HOORAY! We are one week closer to cooler temps!

My imagination vacation took me to the mountains last week. Where did you imagine-travel?

When you use your imagination, your mind “sees” what you’re thinking and often your mind thinks it’s actually happened. The exercise creates a happy place (or otherwise, if you’re replaying or imagining a not-so-happy stuff). It also changes your focus for as long as you engage in it, thus giving your mind a rest from worry or anxiety.

I enjoyed my “trip”. Because I was making it up it was perfect, of course! I “stayed” in a cozy cottage, overlooking a babbling brook. I could wade or sit on the rocks in the sun. In the evening, I sat on the porch, listening to the water, watching the stars become visible. And the STARS!! Oh! SO many beautiful stars! I LOVE stars! It was heavenly- literally!

During the cool, clear days, I hiked the nearby trails. My feet didn’t hurt, my boots were comfortable and my joints weren’t achy the next day. (See how wonderful imagination can be?) The air smelled of pine and sunshine. I saw birds and rodents, as well as a few deer, but no bears (yay). Bright yellow wildflowers bloomed everywhere along the trail and I could see a sparkling lake in the distance. It was so peaceful. Even though the large evergreens made me feel small, I felt protected and safe in their presence.

This week’s creation is acrylic and ink on paper. It was a busy week and I didn’t have as much time to devote to this challenge, thus, the painting instead of a collage. Collage is fun but more time consuming.

Although I haven’t decided on which medium I’ll use, after the solitude of the mountains, I think I’ll “go” to a big city this coming week. Someplace where I can see a show or concert, do some shopping and have coffee with friends. Then I’ll dress up and have fancy, delicious food in a gorgeous setting.

Where are YOU going this week? Will you use watercolors or acrylics to paint your destination? Or will you do a collage? Maybe you’d rather create a sculpture or a yummy dish specific to your imagined location! I’m looking forward to your joining me so I can see where you “go”!

Have a great week. See you soon!

August- Week 2

Happy Monday! Before we move into this week, let’s take a few moments and look back at the first week in August. I sincerely hope it was good to you. Did it bring you new opportunities? I hope there weren’t any challenges- except maybe to “go” somewhere on an imaginary vacation. Did you create an imaginary vacation for yourself? Did you enjoy it?

While I’m still looking forward to the lovely coolness of Autumn, I have to say I enjoyed dreaming up a little road trip last week. It’s pictured above. What do you think?

There’s a lot going on in this multi-media piece. But isn’t that what a road trip is? There’s so much to see! There’s so much variety outside our car windows!

My imaginary trip, in my cute little imaginary car, takes me out of the cities, into the countryside. Rolling hills reveal grazing horses. The 2-lane country roads take me past old mills and farm stands bursting with fresh produce.

We might come to a crossroads with it’s very own country store, always a treasure trove of goodies that usually includes soft drinks in glass bottles. It makes for a fun break from sitting in the car.

Back on the road, we find streams, ponds, lots of lovely trees and more flowers than we can count!

As the sun gets low in the western sky, a trusty map will ensure we’re heading in the right direction to get back home.

Where did you go in your imagination last week?

Where will you go this second week of August?

Moving along into Week 2, this pic is NOT a mess! LOL!

A hint for where I’m “going” this week on my imaginary August vacation.

… it’s a hint.

This is the second week of the August Dream Vacation Challenge (that’s what I’m calling it this week😘💥).

How’s your August going? Hope you’re making your dreams come true- even if only in your imagination!

Can you guess where I’ll be “going” this week, based on the colors I’ve pulled out?

Where are YOU “going” this week? How will you either escape or embrace the HOT August weather?

I’ll see you Friday or Saturday with my finished project! Hope you’ll jump in and join me this week!

Have a great one! ♥️

August 1st

just the beginning of my August “road trip”…

Wow! New Day. New Week. New Month! All sorts of new beginnings.

August is the fullness of summer. It’s the culmination of June’s planting and July’s growth. It’s seeing the fruition of what was once a plan and a hope. August is the fullness and it’s also the beginning of the end… the end of summer. So it seems like a good time to imagine some new future fun.

New beginnings also bring new challenges. Challenges can be both good and, well, “challenging”. Will you join me in a very informal, fun challenge?

I usually look at August as a time to survive. A month to get through until there’s more hope for the lovely coolness of Autumn.

While surviving, in and of itself, is important, I want to change my internal narrative. I want to see August differently. I want to thrive instead of simply marking time. Besides, at my age, time is not something to squander.

So, I’ve challenged myself to a dream summer vacation, “going” to a different location each week this month! Since I don’t currently have the funds to actually GO, I’m creating my destinations. I’d love it if you would join me in creating this dream August vacation month.

There’s no prize a the end (except the pleasure of having created some art and allowing your mind to run a little wild with imagination!). Nor am I going to be selling you anything at the end. No e-courses, books or mentoring. Nope, Nada! You can just post your creations and we can cheer each other on! Maybe we’ll create a hashtag or something. Maybe we won’t. I’m planning to post my creations at the end of each week with a little explanation of where I “am” and my thoughts in the process. Creating in your imagination is wonderful… everything can be perfect! No rainy days or hurricanes at the beach, no sweltering on the city sidewalks. You can wear the cutest shorts or the most glittery evening gown when you go dancing at dinner!

I’ll be using a variety of techniques and you are welcome to use whatever suits you. You can use any medium and any substrate. You can paint, draw, sculpt, sew, use markers, use colored pencils… whatever strikes your fancy! Hey! You could even imagine-travel by cooking “local” dishes and sharing a photo of the finished product before you dive in for your fancy vacation meal.

Will you join me? I’m beginning the month with a road trip. I’ll share with you how it goes this Friday or Saturday. Stretch your imagination with me! Stretch your creative muscles too! What have you got to lose?

Here’s to a great August! May it be full of creativity and joy… and air conditioning!

See you Saturday!

Pictured is the first step in my “Road Trip”. I’m using watercolor paper as my substrate and I’ll be using the abstract multi-media technique I learned from Laly Mille, because I love it so much!!

@lalymille @ paintwithlaly on IN.

What’s in a Name?

Our names are our identifiers.

My mother would call my name to tell me it was time to come to dinner.

My teacher would call my name to see if I’d done the work and knew the right answer.

When we get married, we say our name to clarify the pledge we take… “I, Sandra…. take you, Colin…”.

Aging and Remembering Names

As we age, we joke about not remembering names. But names are important and worth the effort to learn and remember. It shows respect and care for the person as an individual. No shame if you really just see the person once in awhile and can’t remember. (Just don’t go getting all insulted when they don’t remember your name either.) I recently introduced myself, again, to a person in church. We both knew we’d met previously, but neither could remember the other’s name. We both apologized and both said, “I’ll probably ask again….”. But you know what? In that moment, I knew I needed to remember her name because I’m going to be seeing her regularly. So, all week, I thought about her and, yes, I do remember her name. I could hardly wait to see her the next Sunday, so I can use her name! But she wasn’t there. Then, the NEXT Sunday, she called me by name and I returned the greeting using hers. We both laughed and said we’d been sure to actively remember the other’s name. See? It CAN be done!

Names in the Bible

Names in the Bible seem to be especially important. They took names and their meanings seriously back then! God Almighty, Maker of All Creation, knows my name and yours. Isaiah 43:1 says,”I have called you by name, you are Mine…”. John 10:3 tells us, “… He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”. In Exodus 33:17, we’re told, “… and I know you by name.” It’s comforting and encouraging to know that God knows me by name. I’m not just some random creation sitting around on a shelf gathering dust. God even calls the stars by name! And there are a whole lot of stars!

God made a covenant with Abram and Sar’ai in Genesis 17 and changed their names to Abraham and Sarah. Their new names reflected the promises given within their covenant. Abram means “exalted father”, whereas “Abraham” (one little letter different) means, “father of a multitude of nations”. Both Sar’ai and Sarah are different forms of the name meaning “princess/woman of strength”. However, the addition of one letter (as with Abraham), adds a deeper nuance denoting, “mother of many nations”. In each case, the addition of that one letter made a huge difference in the meaning of the name.

And then there’s Jabez. His name means, “sorrow, because I bore him in pain”. How would you like to be reminded, every waking moment, that your birth caused your mother great pain? Jabez didn’t ask that God change his name. But he did ask God to “bless (him) and enlarge (his) border, and that (God’s) hand be with (him) and that (God) would keep (him) from hurt and harm (pain)!”, Isaiah 43:1. He asked God to keep him from what his name meant! His mother named him “sorrow and pain” because she had a hard, painful labor and then died. But Jabez overcame his name by asking God to bless him. And God blessed him greatly!

Family Names and Nicknames

Family names carry on tradition. When we named our daughter Elisabeth Ann, my father-in-law said, “How nice. We can call her Betty Ann…” Ummm- NO! He thought it was a nice name but I had other ideas and, thankfully, my hubs agreed with me! Traditional family names are lovely though and carry on our history. For example, my middle name is Elaine. My mother, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, daughter and granddaughter all have the same middle name- Elaine. I hope it will continue. Elaine means shining light. It didn’t became a tradition intentionally, but I’m happy it did!

Names can also seem off the wall… I once had a friend whose name is Melody Lane. If you took piano lessons when growing up, you might know that name. It’s not only her name but also the name of a sheet-music publisher! Her mother loved music and played the piano and she thought it was a beautiful name!

Whether your name is Sue or Gobbledegook, Moonbeam or Horatio, it meant something to your parents at some point. I do have to say I think some parents are just plain mean to saddle their children with puns or rhymes or worse. I’ve know people named Bunny Easter (un-huh), Harry Buttz, (yep, it’s true). But it’s not for me to judge, is it? By the way, I am not including Native American names in the “odd” names category. Generally, Native American names are drawn from nature, providing the child with a strong sense of being part of the natural world. * That’s a great thing. Give the child a name worth living up to!

The fact that children know their grandparents’ names while they are still children is a product of our electronic age. I don’t think I knew my mother’s mother’s given name until I was at least in my late teens. On the other hand, my other grandmother preferred to be addressed by her first name (she was a woman ahead of her time!). She was “Sally” to all her grandchildren from the start. Later, oddly enough, when we all became adults, we began to refer to her as Granny Sal. A term you’d expect younger grandchildren to use. Even knowing her as Sally, I don’t think I knew her given name, Salome, until I was an adult. At our granddaughter’s wedding, the place card on the table said “Sandra”. Another granddaughter saw it and asked, “who is Sandra?”. She didn’t know it’s me! When I was young, one grandmother called me by my middle name because my nickname, “Sandy”, wasn’t feminine enough for her. I don’t know why she didn’t just call me Sandra. The other grandmother (Granny Sal) called me “Sandy McDuff”, I never knew exactly why but I think it’s because she thought “Sandy” sounded Scottish, thus the added “McDuff”! And, of course, I’ve met my share of dogs named “Sandy”!

Somebody Knows Your Name

We recently changed churches. We only knew of a few people in that church family. Basically, though, no one knew us and we didn’t know anybody. It’s a lonely feeling, to be honest. Moving to a new church was challenging. At our new church, which we like very much, we volunteered to help with a couple of ministries, not only to serve but also so we could meet and get to know a some people. I am surprised at how good it feels when someone says, “Hello, Burch’s!”. Even more pleased when someone recently said she had a job to do and thought “Colin and Sandy” would help (although, sadly we couldn’t this time). It is good to know someone knows your name!

Do You Remember?

Remembering is an important human activity. Remembering names is especially important because we are remembering the person. It is well worth the effort to remember a person’s name because it shows respect for that person. It lets them know you think they are valuable. And they are. Each person is made in the image of God and is, therefore, valuable.

Are you pleased when someone remembers your name? Do you make an effort to remember a new acquaintance’s name?

*”The Multifaceted Native American Naming Tradition”, Psychology Today, https://www.physhologytoday.com

Birds

Trust, painted by me, Sandy Burch. Available for purchase at http://www.sandyburch.com

I love birds! They’re so pretty and have so much to teach us!

From the cardinal couple who lives in our backyard to the crazy fella singing his heart out from the top of the light post in the Walmart parking lot, I love them all! They are so free! Imagine lifting your wings and flying away from trouble. Imagine soaring around beautiful gardens or mountain valleys. How wonderful it must be to have the gift of wings.

Like all wild things, birds trust God. They know they are cared for. The Bible says God gives them food and is aware of when they fall. They are confident in the gifts God gave them- wings to fly away from danger or to find new feeding grounds; sharp eyesight and keen hearing to find food or warn them of danger.

They know how to use their God-given gifts. They don’t have to ask everyday for help, instead they sing happy, cheerful praise for the ways God equipped them. They spread joy wherever they go simply by being there.

The Bible tells us that God provides for birds, even though they are worth far less than people. Birds don’t really DO anything… they certainly don’t sow or reap for their food. If God takes care of birds, how much more does He care for us, His people? (Matthew 6:26) Remember, when God created the earth, He said “it is good” after each day’s work. When He finished creating people, He said “it is VERY good”. I think it’s safe to say God considers humans His highest creation.

He has given us gifts too- everything we need for life and godliness in Christ Jesus. We have what we need- all graciously given for our use by our Heavenly Father. We don’t have to continually ask- although He is happy to give us extra help, (sometimes in the form of reminders of how to use what we have). If I need to dig a hole and you gave me a shovel, it would be silly of me to ask you to dig the hole. I need to use the shovel and gratefully give you a hearty “Thank You” for the gift. When we study God’s word and consider His promises, gifts, and how He sees us, it’s clear that we have everything! We might need help accessing it. We might need help believing it. We might need help knowing how to use those gifts. But we have them. The way to access, believe, know-how, is to be close to God. To seek His face and presence every moment. As we hang out with God, He opens up the doors that seem locked and He provides the information we lack.

I believe our prayers seem ineffective sometimes because we pray for what we already have. We pray for healing, for example, but we already have healing. We know about Jesus’ work at the Cross. He said “It is finished.” By His stripes we ARE (already) healed and healthy. What we need is the manifestation of healing so we can see it working in our daily lives, in our ordinary bodies. When we ask for healing, God probably says, “You’ve got it! Ask for what you don’t have.” In this case, we don’t have healing operating in our daily life, so that’s what we still need from Him. God tells us we have the mind of Christ to know all things, yet we walk around in a stupor wondering what to do. We need to ask for guidance and seek God’s presence because in HIS presence are all things… joy, wisdom, peace, love, provision, deliverance, etc. Whatever we need is within our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I don’t have this all “figured out”, to make it work in my day to day, moment by moment life. I am “preaching to myself”, big time. But I am seeing more and more how extremely important it is to be in God’s presence all the time. He is with me always, but am I with Him? I’m can see that is often a simple change of perspective. True, it’s not easy to change your perspective. But it isn’t complicated either. Making a shift in my thinking is great here, sitting in my cozy chair. It’s another thing entirely after battling for a parking place that’s not a mile from the store. I need to see myself above the chaos – because I am when I’m with God. Like the bird, sitting on top of the light post, singing like crazy! That bird leads a far-simplier life than I do, for sure. However, if I can be aware of God’s presence, I can surely sing in my heart and be at peace with whatever the situation.

When I am at peace, I am kind and loving toward others. My being at peace brings peace wherever I go. Like the birds bring peace and joy to me whenever I see them.

How about you? Do you find it easy to stay in God’s presence, even in challenging situations? Do you trust the gifts and promises He has given us? Do you sing from the top of the light post?

Turning a the Page, Turning a Corner

It’s Wednesday. Just a plain, middle of the week Wednesday.

You might think it’s a perfectly good day to stay on the path I’ve been traveling. And so, it is.

But I feel like there’s a change coming. And I really NEED a change, a breakthrough.

Earlier this month, the Lord dropped a writing prompt into my mind… “turning the page”, “turning the corner”. I’d been feeling like there’s a corner to turn.

Lord?

Where is the intersection?

Where is the corner of the page so I can turn to a new one?

Where is the corner of the street so I can take a new path?

Ever felt like your life was getting ready to turn a corner and go in a different direction, even a slightly different one? Like there was breakthrough close at hand but you couldn’t find the corner, couldn’t see where the threshold was to step over and into something new.

Yeah. Me too.

Many years ago, I spent a good part of a year saying those very words. “I feel like we are getting ready to turn a corner.” “I feel like we are so close to a breakthrough.” I don’t remember now what the situation was but I stopped saying it. It must have come to pass. I wish I could remember the situation and whatever the outcome was. Speaking that sentence is so vivid, it must have been important.

Anyway.

I’m feeling like that now. My mind, seeing a pages and pages filled with words and words and more words. Full of ideas and thoughts and scripture and poems. Full of desires and prayers, wanting to be closer to the presence of God, wanting a better way of being.

It’s good to have pages and pages of words and words. It’s good to have traveled blocks and blocks and to have had experiences and to have learned lessons and grown. There comes a time, however, that we need to put those thoughts and experiences to good use and do some good. Do something, rather than write them or collect them or keep adding to them. There comes a time when it’s time to turn the corner and change the path. There comes a time when it’s time to turn the page and write a new poem, or book, or travel a new road.

The time of “turning a corner”. That time of “turning a page”. It’s a waiting time. It’s a time of waiting just like waiting for the birth of a baby or waiting for Christmas or waiting for the medical report or any of the millions of little- and big- things we wait for each day. And we, in our Western culture are not good at waiting. We don’t like change thrust upon us but when we know it’s coming, or want the change to happen, it can’t get here fast enough. “Wait” is a four-letter word to many of us! The vague feeling that a change is coming, that we’re about to “turn a corner”, is exciting and at the same time, it’s frustrating or scary. I do remember feeling frustrated all those many years ago, that the next corner never seemed to be the one that finally got turned.

There can also be a feeling of having the key but not knowing where the lock is. Or vice versa, seeing the lock but misplacing the key. I know there’s a breakthrough for us. I know it’s close at hand. We pray and quote scripture. We believe and declare the belief. I know, in Jesus, we have everything we need. So, where’s the corner of the page so I can write something new? Where’s the corner of the block so we can walk a new path?

Of course, the answer is always, “in God’s time”. God reminds us the key is under the cushion the cat sleeps on, when it’s time to open that lock. Father God brings us to the end of the block when it’s time to take a different road. Not a minute too soon. Not a moment too late. Just at the right time, He whispers just the exact right words that set us free to turn the page and begin writing something new. At just the correct time, not too late or too early, He whispers, “this is the way, walk in it” or “here is the vision, write it down, run with it”.

God is not worried. He knows and He also knows how to let us know so we don’t miss it. We worry about missing it. We worry it’s too late. (We rarely worry about being too early!!) We worry there’s too much to do to make it happen, when He knows just one word will change everything and it will happen the way it’s meant to be.

God knew when He started mentioning “turning the page”, that I didn’t know the whole story. I still don’t. But He has reassured me, through following His lead with “turning the page” as a prompt, that all is well. So, as much as I don’t like to wait any longer… as much as I don’t know when it’s going to happen… as much as I feel like we need a breakthrough RIGHT NOW… all of that is in His hands and He knows. He knows what I don’t know. He knows, therefore I don’t need to know. I just need to believe and trust. And by His grace, I will do just that.

I still want that page to turn soon. I admit it. But I’m trying not to stress or force it. I’m resting, mostly. I’m waiting for God ‘cos He’s the only One who can make it happen. I’ll keep filling the current page with words. I confess, though, that sometimes I’m NOT doing a single positive thing in the waiting (just keepin’ it real).

So, turn the corner, turn the page. Change will come when it’s the right time. My job is to be prepared and look for it. My job is to realize that the changes we desire are not always packaged the way we expect them to be. Stressing and worrying about change doesn’t change anything. It only makes me think (sometimes) that I’m helping things along. I’m not.

Like the time change from standard to daylight savings, nothing really changes, the amount of daylight is always the same on a particulate day, whether you call it 7:00 or 8:00. You cannot add any light to sun time. The sun doesn’t say, “oh look, the Americans are wanting another hour of sunshine, I guess I should stay in the sky a little longer”. The world was set in place eons ago and it’s not changing at our whim and want. We cannot force more daylight than is already prescribed. Changing the hands of the clock only fools me into thinking there’s more day light. The only way to get more sunlight is to wait until the earth moves closer to the summer months.

We get to choose how we wait. It can be a messy, haphazard time if we just let it happen to us. (And, remember, not making a decision is a decision.) Or it can be a time of growth if we take charge of our inner conversation. We can narrate positively or negatively. Choose wisely.

All is well. Keep believing. Keep trusting. All is well.

The key will be there when it’s time. The threshold will be highlighted, the corner will become obvious, the page will finally be full. All in due time. All at the right time. My job is to keep writing, keep walking, keep paying attention, keep making the best of where I am right now.

Do you have a corner to turn? A key that seems lost? A page to turn? How are you doing in the waiting?

Celebrate US! International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, 2022

Macrina Wiederkehr wrote a prayer…

“O God, help us to believe the truth about ourselves, no matter how beautiful it is.”

And isn’t that true?

We ARE beautiful. We are created in the Creator’s image and carry the mother heart of God.  Yet we often have a hard time believing it about ourselves. I know it’s something I have to work at.

I want to publicly celebrate the beautiful, inspiring women in my life. I feel like, at my age, I should be inspiring other women, but I don’t hold a candle to my daughters- and that includes my daughter-in-love-, granddaughters and nieces. I am blessed with an amazingly inspiring sister. My sisters-in-love are truly sisters who (whom?) I cherish. Thank you to the strong and faithful women who have gone before me… my mother, mother-in-love, grandmothers and aunts. I am blessed and thankful for friends- old and new. With a special shout-out to my college roommates, Sue and Marg! (We still keep up with each other after 50+ years!) Women who have cut my hair or cleaned my house, brought a meal or held my hand or prayed for me. And women around the world who, while I don’t know them personally, call me closer to Jesus and make a difference in my life.

Thank you to my wonderful daughters, including my daughter-in-love, who are gifted nurturers and have raised 11 sparkling young adults who are making the world a better place. Ya’all inspire me!

Thank you to my 9 awesome granddaughters. Anna, so creative she wrote a trilogy when she was around 15, who inspired me to begin my blog. Maggie who travels the world, literally, who inspires me to be more aware of the environment. Emily is a courageous cook and baker who inspires me to try things I would not otherwise try. I won’t go through the entire list but each of these young women is unique and beautiful and caring and so smart in her own individual way.

There’s so much variety to celebrate in women.

Women have babies and raise the next generation of citizens. Women go into space; they clean toilets on earth. Women are caregivers: doctors, nurses, teachers, companions to the elderly, mentally and physically ill. We cook, clean, create, keep not only our schedule, but that of the family, school, or office.

We come in all shapes, colors, sizes, personalities, and abilities. We are models and athletes. We are moms and CEO’s. We teach Sunday school or preach the sermon. We change diapers and bandage boo-boos. We drive carpool and take our elderly aunt to the doctor. We squeeze in a coffee with a friend and rush to pray with another one. We invent computers and windshield wipers. We operate machinery and head up banks. We are lawyers and judges. We are farmers and makers. We can do anything!

Women are ministers at heart. It’s in our DNA. It’s the way we’re created, displaying the mother heart of God in both small and large acts of kindness, care, creativity, service, support, love. It might not come out as a gushy love of babies, or the need to feed everybody who walks through our doors. But we all have the deep desire to serve, to care for, to give, to fix, to create beauty, to help. In other words, to make our family and our world better.

And when women come together…

Like an illustration used at our Chosen Women’s Greatness Conference last weekend, we are a tapestry of shapes, colors, sizes, personalities, and abilities. And just like a tapestry, we need somber colors as well as bright ones to create a pleasing picture. Our contrasts compliment each other and draw us together into a stunning tapestry, a masterpiece of brilliant detail, an inspiration to those who see it… who see us!

The Conference shows just what can happen when women come together. A handful of women with a bold vision prayed, then invited other women into the vision, enlarging it. They must surely have spent hours in prayer because the presence of God was evident in joy and worship, in love and companionship. The teaching brought by our amazing guest speakers, Sue Horst and Vanessa Birkbeck, as well as that of our own Pastor Judy and Pastor Sheree, encouraged us to believe, to be bold; it was both uplifting and challenging.

For instance, I’ve known for decades that God calls us “royalty” but that wasn’t something I embraced. I didn’t feel it was really “me”. (Yes, I was being religious. Who am I to disagree with God?) After this past weekend, I am indeed comfortable in admitting that, if God says it, I believe it. I have a pink, die-cut crown on my frig that says, “Own it”. And I do! It’s a daily reminder that I am who GOD says I am. It’s a shift in my heart that’s been decades in the making! (I guess I’m a slow learner…). But thanks to faithful women, the shift was made. We need each other to inspire us, come alongside us and challenge us. We need our sisters!

So, girls, celebrate you! Celebrate each other! And believe what God says about you. You are beloved. You are powerful and you are great in God. Father God loves His beautiful daughters!

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Eph. 1:19-20

The Hope of Juxtapositions and Thoughts About Looking UP

It’s the last day of February AND the first day of the week.

I love a good pattern or a juxtaposition. Not sure why but I do! I also love palindromes and today is the last one of the year… 22822. No more date palindromes for us.

Today has been sunny with a bright blue sky!

What a treat after almost a week of gray and cloudy skies, chilly temps and rain. Can anybody say “Dreary”? A lot can happen while you’re hunkered down, when you’re just focusing on getting through another gray day. A lot can happen, and you don’t even realize it happened because you’ve been looking down, trying to avoid puddles and mud. Just trying to stay dry. I realize there are lots of folks still dealing with snow and more snow, and that must be very trying. God bless ya’all.

But this is the kind of day that makes you feel alive again; joyful, even. The kind of day that makes you want to dance and twirl around.

In fact, that’s just what I did. I went out on the deck, took a deep breath, turned around and looked up at the gorgeous blue sky! Magnificent! And that’s when I saw it.

Look at that tree!

I had no idea! This is a good illustration of why we should look UP! One of the trees in the backyard is FULL of buds! It’s so full you can hardly see the squirrel’s nest in it! It seems like it could burst into full leaf at a moment’s notice!

I’ve seen some of the early cherries and crabapples blooming here and there, but not the hardwoods. So, I was surprised to see our elm so primed for leafing!

The juxtaposition is that right next to the elm is some kind of oak and it is bare. Absolutely bare! No sign of life at all. I know it’s not dead, though. It’s just not the right time yet.

To me, this whole experience is an example of life in general.

When you’re hunkered down, just trying to keep going, you miss what’s going on “up there”!

When you look UP, it changes your perspective and you perception.

When the time is right, the right things will happen.

So, keep looking up even when you risk getting a raindrop in the eyeball. At least take a quick glance once in a while!

The gray sky will, eventually, become blue again. You will see the sun again, and the moon and the stars.

Circumstances rarely last forever. Whether it’s good or bad, it will change. That’s life! Life is change and that gives us hope. The bare branches will again hold green leaves. And you know what? If the circumstances don’t change, we can change our attitude toward them.

What are you seeing? Are you looking down? Is there mud on your shoes? What do you see when you look up? Has your gray sky turned blue? Have the trees burst into bloom or leaf? If we can become less worried about getting mud on our shoes and more intent on creating and maintaining a positive attitude, wouldn’t we all be happier? Is there a situation that would improve with you changing your mind about it?

This evening we go to sleep in winter, tomorrow we’ll be waking up in springtime. Nope, the weather probably won’t always be spring-like, but we all know spring is nearly here.

So, there’s hope in our juxtapositions- the full and the empty, the down and the up, the gray and the blue, first and last.

And there’s hope in our bad days and good days.

The Challenges of January

Well, I guess Christmas is officially and completely over.

I finally put our Nativity away about a week ago. I kept it out longer than the other decorations to enjoy the beauty and lights.

We’ve moved on to hearts and love now but kept the lights. I’m hoping that the extra light will carry us through to spring. I can tell it’s staying light outside longer, so I’m hopeful! Much as I like winter, I really like light too!

So many people seem to be ready for spring but I’m not quite there personally. I think I need a bit more tranquility and contemplation, more snuggling and hot chocolate. I’m almost never “ready” to move on. I continue to hold onto the dream of having all my ducks lined up and quacking, ready to take on the goals for the current year. However, this year I feel like I’m getting closer to direction for the year.

We’ve been participating in a 31 day challenge, going through the book of Proverbs, a chapter a day. And it HAS been a bit of a challenge to stop everything in the middle of the day, high noon, and give an hour or more to sit and study Proverbs. In addition to the daily chapter challenge, on Monday and Wednesday evenings during the month, there’s also been a targeted subject workshop. In all we’ve spend about 40 hours digging in to the Wisdom found in the Kingdom of God. It has been a challenge and also a “fast” of sorts, “giving up” those hours, creating a deeper hunger for more of God’s Word.

Digging into Proverbs, while not exactly producing yearly goals and intentions, has provided a foundation for the year, giving us a new “habit” devoting time daily to seeking a closer relationship with Father God. A challenge well worth taking.

The other challenge of January in the South is wondering whether or not the “sever winter storm” will actually be an event. Will we get snow? will we get ice? will we get rain? will it do anything at all? It’s always anybody’s guess as to what will happen!

What about you? Have you had challenges this month? Are you ready to jump to spring or are you still cozy in winter? Are you well into a new habit or still looking for your focus for the year? Or both? We can be both looking for direction and established in something new. We can be happy with winter and happy with spring. In fact, we can just be happy!

Good-bye January!

Hello February! Let’s make it happy!


January, 2022- Look for the Light

Here we are. Seven days into a shiney, brand new year.

But it doesn’t feel new and sparkly. It sorta feels same-old-same-old somehow. It doesn’t feel all bursting with exciting possibilities. It feels a little uncertain and tenuous. It feels a little PTSD, and I’m not making light of PTSD, in any way whatsoever.

I love Beginnings- clean slate, reset, possibilities. I love to start a new year, month, week, day, journal, project. I mean, I actually LIKE Mondays.

So why, at 7 days (a WEEK!) into the year, on a Friday (the END of a week!), am I making my very first post of the year? I think I’m easing into this year; connecting with my foundations, my anchor.

We leave happy Christmas lights glowing until Epiphany to shine into the dark, as yet unrevealed, new year. Even that light seems dimmer this year. Like the colored LED lights on our tree, the year, although new, is somehow dimmer than usual. Like, when we turn the tree lights off, we hardly notice any light has gone. Even the weather across the country is weird- weird warm, weird cold, weird snow, wind, rain, floods, fires. Everything is too much and yet not life-giving. I guess too much of a good thing is possible.

With so many things in our collective lives feeling untethered, we can easily forget we have an anchor. We all have access to this anchor, who is Jesus. Although there are times we all can get blown away by what’s swirling around us, our anchor is there, ready to stabilize us and hold us steady.

(Anchor is defined as, “a heavy object attached to a rope or chain and used to moor a vessel to the sea bottom, to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current.“)

Christmas is all about “God with us”… Emmanuel. Christmas isn’t just December and pretty wrapped presents. It’s about all 12 months, every day, 24 hours a day. Jesus is with us every single day- with or without the pretty lights of Christmas. In fact, when the days are dreary and grey and just plain hard, HE is there. Right there in the depression that is trying to sink us and the disappointment that is trying to swallow us. Right there in the hard thing that is trying to get us to give up. Jesus is with us every moment and He has the hope and peace and love and freedom we need. When we give Him our troubles, He gives us His gifts… all found in His presence.

Winter is about rest and rejuvenation. It’s about snuggling up and contemplation and dreaming. Rest is not giving up. Rest is about digging in and deliberately focusing on being in the presence of God-with-us. We love to think of snow covering the ground, hiding all the imperfections and dead leaves, making everything beautiful, peaceful and clean looking. That’s what rest is about… letting God snuggle with us and letting Him cover our imperfections and dead parts, letting Him nourish us and restore us, cleaning us and making us whole. Snow nourishes the ground, bringing hydration and nutrients to refresh what was used up during the growing season. Jesus’ presence nourishes us.

Jesus takes the messes of life, untangling our strings of unruly Christmas lights, and gives us calm hearts in return. Jesus takes the mess of life and gives us a loving embrace instead of a lecture.

John 1:9 “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. ” Darkness emphasizes the glory of Light but Light is its own glory (John 1:1-5) Darkness emphasizes how much we need Light, it makes us more aware of the value of light. Jesus (the Light) is in us, He is always with us. So no matter if the outside darkness just keeps getting darker, Jesus in us is only a matter of focus- turn to Him, turn on the LIght. He does not leave us alone in our darkness. He is here. If our eyes see only darkness, our HEART is flooded with light.

I like winter. I like the quiet, the symbology, the contemplation. Sometimes I have a hard time allowing myself to dream but winter is the best time for letting those dreams take shape and turning them into plans. Winter can be dreary for sure, but that’s when you bring out the fairy lights and candles, the fuzzy socks, soft flannel or sweat-shirts and those lovely warm throws. That’s when you sit in front of the fireplace and have hot chocolate and play a game… or read.

Here it is, the beginning of our journey through 2022. We have no idea what will unfold. What will we face corporately and individually? So much more than most of us have experienced before, we are on uneven ground and essentially without sight, and that naturally causes us to be wary and concerned, if not downright afraid. But we CAN be hopeful and have faith. We can have expectations for good- good expectations serve us well. Whatever the situation or fear, we know that GOD is with us. He is the Prince of Peace, He is Love, He’s our Comforter, our Counselor. We can and will make it and grow and it will be good. See God and you will find Him, and everything you need will be found in Him too.

So let’s look for the Light. Let’s expect GOOD things to come our way. Let’s spread hope and love and kindness everywhere we go.

It’s a NEW YEAR! There are things to do and people to love! It’s time to celebrate!