beauty, life, pandemic

the beauty of life

I’m sitting on my back deck, the sun slowly setting on my back. a dove coo’s a contented day’s end while a far -off woodpecker pecks his rhythmic beat, calling all of nature to today’s final dance. the day brought us emerald and topaz, drawing us physically and mentally outside of the past weeks of mostly walled existence. birds sang praises, merrily prancing their lawn jigs..hopping and flitting, heads tilted, as if to say, “do you hear it? don’t you see it? all the earth is awakening and breathing life into dead places!” and my heart is delighted!

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if it were not for spring’s promise i think this pandemic would be much more difficult to endure. so, i’m grateful that if we were to walk through this season of careful and slow, that we have the sunshine to warm and the birds to chirp and the flowers to beautify the landscape of our minds.

while not ignoring the current state of our world, i am determined to focus on gratitude, cherishing the beauty of life. full admittance, this task seems nearly impossible at times. but i’ve witnessed many on similar quests. facebook profiles are graced with so many pictures of tree buds and flowers. of families walking together and enjoying backyard campfires. there are thank-yous acknowledging our healthcare workers, and those caring for our elderly. there are breads baking and dinners being prepared… some of us are feeling quite the pioneer’ish spirit! all joking aside, it’s apparent that this mandated slow has brought more awareness to the less obvious areas of life. there’s much to be said for the art of listening long and noteworthy noticing. and while so much that used to fill our lives has suddenly stopped, life has had to keep going, and going we are.. each one of us waking each day with lives to live, families to care for, and a God to thank and love. and there’s so much praiseworthy in that alone.

i don’t know the end results of this pandemic..none of us do. there are no promises of when the virus will end or how the stock market will fair or even when children will go back to school. but i cannot help but think that the lessons we are learning now are to be taken into the next season, whenever it may come. lessons of listening, taking walks just to take time with God, families relishing their time together and making the most of  what we’ve been given.. love that grows when we look with eyes of gratitude, not taking each other for granted.  friends, whenever this ends, let’s determine to maintain some of the slow and continue to cherish the beauty of life.

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renewed minds

in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, people are running scared, stocking up on every known essential, and likely many non-essentials as well. and i get it.. we all have the desire to have enough for our families and loved ones. i, too, acted out of prudence, shopping with the thought that i may not get to for a few weeks.

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but what are we really reacting to? over the past couple of weeks, i’ve heard and read people saying “the media is stirring this up. it’s all hype.” and while there may be some truth to the stirring part, the next statement is what gets me… “they’re (media) causing everyone to be afraid.”

may i pose a question? why is it someone else’s fault that we’re afraid? do we not have the agency over what we’re consuming and how we’re reacting?

the truth is that we are only reactionary to what we dwell on.

if we consumed a dozen donuts in one sitting, we wouldn’t blame anyone else for how we felt afterwards. the same is true when we listen to the news all day or scan our newsfeeds for hours.

as long as we believe that our thoughts are someone else’s fault, a change in thinking can only derive if those sources change their thinking. then, that change only lasts as long as they decide to accommodate our thinking. that cycle will remain until we decide to take agency over our thoughts and feelings. we have to be responsible, removing the victim mentality.

what does God’s Word say about taking responsibility over our minds and thoughts?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,  but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:2-3

what do we see?

~as Christians, we’re not to react like the world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds

~there will be things in our paths that we will have to think through, and some things that we find out we need to avoid

are you finding yourself anxious? perhaps it’s time to turn off the news and put social media away for a while. i know it’s important to stay informed, but we don’t have to be consumed.

this is an amazing moment to join God in what He desires for His glory in our lives. we’re all finding ourselves with events canceled and newly opened schedules. instead of filling that time with more spinning of the press, let’s open our Bibles and learn more about Jesus and how He truly is the Prince of Peace.

 

 

 

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20 years of marriage

my husband and i just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. and with any kind of milestone, i find myself pondering the past, anticipating the future, as well as wondering how in the world so much time has flown by at lightning speed.

at 20 years old, we had no idea what the commitment of marriage really meant.  (does anyone, at any age, prior to marriage?) there were undoubtedly those saying “they’re too young”, “they should wait to graduate from college” (remind me again where this is found in God’s Word..i digress..). but we knew that God was calling us to marriage. in our case, it was an act of obedience on our parts to do so. i’m so thankful we chose to walk down the path He alone had laid for us.

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lifting this framed picture of us on our wedding day, a close friend recently posed this question, “if you could tell these two young people anything, what would you say?”           i pondered the question, and this is my response…

do it all over again.

put away selfishness.

grow quickly in your love for each other. support each other in every aspect of your learning and growing. delight in each other’s company, even when it means helping him study for an upcoming test. trust God in His timing to bless you with children.

put away selfishness.

when those babies come, have much grace towards each other in the midst of tiredness. you’re both learning new things. understand that this is another stage of growth God desires for you. be content in all things. value the little house that you can afford. it may be small, but it is less to clean! and love truly does grow in small houses.

put away selfishness.

understand the blessing of children. raise them to know and understand who God is and why He is worthy to be followed. while this task can never be done perfectly, it can be accomplished with His strength. spend more time on your knees, pleading with God for their obedience, than discussing any part of who they are with friends. we can talk about the “issues” all day long, but God is the only one who can change their hearts and lives.

put away selfishness.

serve your family with a happy heart. there is no better way for you to teach them of a loving God. choose “them time” over “me time” most of the time. for time itself moves.so.fast. and there will be a day, sooner than you think, when “them time” isn’t an option.

put away selfishness.

and so, for 20 years we have had wrinkled nosed laughter and ugly cries. mountain top experiences and valleys so low. choosing to stay in the midst of both is what has made who we are today. we have learned to accept those quirks that either went unnoticed during those early years, or perhaps are newly developed. either way, they’re part of what makes us, us. and there’s nothing better than being in a crowded room, his glance from across the way bringing rest to my heart. his look, protective; his smile, affirming.

we haven’t done things perfectly, but i’m thankful that God has taught us these lessons in the timing that He did. the commitment of marriage is a choice, and being happily married is even still a greater choice. as i said, it is not that we have a perfect marriage, but rather a perfect God in our midst. He alone takes those moments of selfishness and molds us through them. it has been said that marriage is the fastest path to holiness, and i believe this to be true. living with another person, loving them through every high and low..none of it is easy. but it is worth it.

we choose each other again, and again.

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good gifts

so, here goes nothin’! once upon a time i took the time to write. some subjects were important, others more just everyday thoughts. but the common binding of anything i’ve written in the past is that they’re all fun to go back and learn from.. to review where i’ve been and how far i’ve come. i suspect that the same will be true with this endeavor. please bear with me as i fumble my way through learning a new blog platform. it has been years and my brain isn’t any younger.

i’m comin’ to ya at the tail end of the weirdest week in the history of the past 18 years of motherhood. let me explain.. my 3 youngers were all away, serving on a missions team. originally, my youngest wasn’t planning on going on the trip. he’s a year younger than any of ours were when they first went on a trip like this. so, we were thinking perhaps next summer would be his time to begin going. well, low and behold, a spot opened up last week and our baby boy was asked to go. he jumped at the opportunity, and, from all accounts, has had an incredible week. (they arrive home this evening…i cannot wait to see them and hear all about their time!) well, that left only my eldest home. with him working full-time, my days have been quiet, but he’s been home in the evenings. my hubby and i were able to go to dinner with him, do a little shopping in preparation for college, and overall, just enjoy his company. never, in the past 17 years of his life, have we had a time like this with him. there is no doubt that God, Himself planned this for us. what an indescribable gift to have him one on one for this time..and right before he leaves for college next month. God gives good gifts. wrapped up in a beautiful box, and topped with a puffy bow, He presented this much needed time together.

life is so much better when we relinquish control and allow God to handle the reigns. i’ll admit, when we first considered the idea of our youngest going on this trip, i was a bit hesitant. he’s young! and my baby, for crying out loud! and we had special plans already thought through! what about me?! but then i realized that my thoughts were triggered out of fear, not out of trust. my instinct was to take control and not lean into what God was trying to accomplish. we had a choice to make, and only one was obedience. it wasn’t until after we’d made the decision to allow our son to go that we realized the gift God had offered to us in the midst.

i don’t have it down perfectly…that’s a definite. but i am learning, more and more, to trust what He’s doing. and that leaning in and learning from His guidance quite often produces good gifts.