Pruning

Summer is drawing to a close. The months of bright, festive flowers that beckon and sing to the pollinators and picnickers is dwindling down. There will be a few days of heated fury and defiance, where summer rebels just a bit – blazing hot and fierce. Time is almost up, and it knows.

The garden knows, too, and begins the descent into autumn. The spring and summer flowering plants and bushes slow and droop, dropping dried blooms, except for those that flourish and delight in autumn, bringing fresh color and excitement to a waning garden.

With this changing of the guard comes a season of pruning.  Much needs to be done to keep the garden looking loved, cared for and peaceful. Garden shears, trimmers and trowels are still needed.

Upon close inspection, one sees the stems, leaves, vines, and small branches shut down, wither, and die back. The perennials need this season of pruning for survival; they need someone to cut away and remove those areas that are no longer serving them or the garden. At times the pruning seems brutal, harsh, and perhaps cruel as some parts are cut away so severely there is hardly any of the original plant left.  All is cut away that is not actively helping, nurturing, and stimulating growth in the plant. Those dead and dying off parts suck vital nutrients from the healthy stems, branches, and leaves. A good gardener knows that they cannot be left to compete with and deplete the healthy plant.

Bending close to check each branch and stem, the gardener determines where best to trim and cut away. At first glance, a stem or branch may look completely wasted away, yet a closer look reveals tiny, minute new growth attempting to push its way out. The gardener values this new growth, barely visible except to the one who actively seeks and delights in nourishing this fledgling sprout of new life. All that is above it will be removed and tossed away, allowing plenty of room and careful tending to encourage the new life.

Do you see how this imagery of a master gardener lovingly tending his or her garden applies so beautifully to how the Creator loving and intentionally prunes, tends, and cares for each of us?

The pruned plant may look bedraggled and worse for wear, hacked and shorn off, appearing vulnerable and fragile. But this is where the unseen work takes place in the root system below the surface.  With the dead and decaying parts pruned away, the roots are free to prepare and strengthen the fragile plant for the new life waiting for rebirth when the season is just right; when spring comes and the time for its new beginning arrives. The quiet season of strength building is vital for this plant and is vital for us, too. When the Master Gardener deems it is time, new life will burst up, break forth and take its place in the Garden of Life, amid humanity, where the plant and you and I will live out our purpose, delight those meant to encounter us and be deeply nourished from a root system well established and fed by the Master Gardener and His living water.

The pruning season is hard. It hurts and can leave us feeling like there is nothing left of us but stumpy, stick-like nubs that are ugly, barren and have no purpose. But we can’t see with the eyes of the Master Gardener, who sees these shorn off places as a thing of great beauty and Divine Purpose, because He knows what’s coming. He sees the pruned places for what they are; stealers of joy, a heavy weight of bad habits, bitterness and anger, idols we erected in our search for happiness and value, and greedy competitors that robbed precious energy.  I imagine Him smiling and laughing in anticipation of all that He is doing below the surface to the root system of our lives. Every nip, cut, snip and prune hold tremendous value and purpose. So, can we endure for a little while, during the quiet autumn of the pruning season, to see the joy, delight and surprise that will spring forth?

Book Promotion Divine Encounters…

I’m currently running a promotion on my eBook on Amazon, AND If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, please check it out, my eBook is listed as KU book.

If you have read my book in either format, I would absolutely love it if you’d leave a review of it on Amazon. It helps me as an author and it keeps my book from being lost in the sea of algorithms that is Amazon, hahaha! I so appreciate the lovely reviews that have been left so far. It only takes a few minutes 😉

Coming very soon…

Hi everyone! I’m excited! My book is very close to being published; waiting on a proof copy of the paperback to arrive. Once I see it’s just how it should be, Divine Encounters…will go live on Amazon KDP (eBook and paperback), Kobo, Barnes and Noble Press and Google Play Books. Here is a sneak preview of the cover and blurb.

When it is out there and ready I will publish again with the links.

I can’t wait for her to be out in the world, doing what she was meant to do!

Roads and Rivers

Isaiah 43:19 (MSG) “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”

This is a favorite verse of mine. I love the themes of hope, adventure, new beginnings, and provision.

I tend to revisit the past and analyze it to death. I become consumed with situations, words spoken that hurt (either by me or to me), and actions that I fear will happen again and again. Isaiah’s words say to forget about reliving all that and be alert and present. I do not want to miss the brand-new things God is planning to do. God is not saying, “I’d like to do something new” or “I’m considering it”; no! He says, “I am about to do something brand-new!” It is a promise! I can feel His excitement breaking through when He says, “Don’t you see it? There it is!” The Lord is wild about us and loves the plans He has so masterfully created for us. I imagine it brings Him such pleasure to surprise us with His purpose for our lives and to whisper into our spirits, “this is the way, walk in it.”

If I stay tangled up in the past or worrying over the future, I will miss what He is doing right this minute. I want to fully experience the road He is making through my desert; the obstacles He will move and the ruts He will smooth over. Imagine looking back and seeing how it all unfolded! Some days it feels like I can’t find the road because there are too many off shoots and rabbit holes that distract and keep me spinning. If I stop, breathe, and give myself space and permission to spend time with Him, He reveals the path and gives wisdom about how to get back to it. He helps me over the ruts, around the boulders and through the brambles. He reveals the beauty that is there.

How bleak to miss the rushing river of blessings and revelation that He is creating in the badlands I often roam! How quickly I forget that water is the source of life. Where there is water, there is often beauty, refreshment, life, and provision. Jesus is my river in the badlands of humanity. He is beautiful, my strength, my peace; He refreshes my soul and provides everything I need. He is the source of life, and He is enough. How wise I would be if I lived with this mindset every day. So, let’s be alert! Let’s watch and wait on the Lord to see what He will do in our deserts and badlands. There is joy and beauty He wants to show us on our journey. May we live in watchful expectation.

Living Blessed

My coffee mug has the word Blessed inscribed across the front. The letters are big and bold, like a confident declaration.

Sitting at my kitchen table, I watch the morning unfold in my garden. There are a variety of birds at the feeders that sing as they jostle for position. They wait their turn, sometimes with nice attitudes and other times, not. Other birds scratch and scritch among the garden debris, ferreting out whatever treasures are hidden in the rich dirt. Watching these birds go about their daily business, I think about the word blessed. The dictionary says it means consecrated; holy; sacred; blissfully happy or contented. These words are beautiful. I want to be these words, feel, and live in these words.

Living and being blessed often seems elusive; like a thought or elevated idea that is difficult to truly capture. As I pondered this idea, I began to see that the word blessed is not a higher thought on a difficult to achieve spiritual plane.

Imagine a typical day – you wake up and grab your coffee in your favorite mug. Perhaps you watch the morning unfold in front of you on the patio with a soft breeze floating past, all kinds of sounds and scents in the air. What if you decided to be grateful that you are alive; able to see, smell and experience nature going about its business in the Divine order of things? Is that not sacred, bringing bliss and contentment? What if you witness a startling and unusual act of kindness causing you to pause, tear up and have your faith in humanity restored, if even for a moment? Is that not holy? Is that intersection of the Divine and the human, not sacred ground? I wonder, if when I’m making dinner, listening to music, or chatting with Jesus on a walk in my neighborhood, those places become sacred, holy, and divine. Blessed.

But… what if the day isn’t full of things that make me blissfully happy? The car accident that totals the car, the child who makes a poor choice and you see no clear way out of it. Maybe cruel words were hurled in the heat of the moment, and they can’t be taken back. Perhaps there is a diagnosis you never saw coming. Is there room here to declare “I am blessed?” Yes.

Some blessings come after the hurt and wounds. The Divine often shows up in miraculous ways, turning devastation into glory, failure into victory, wounding into strength and the impossible into something to be remembered in awe and reverence, because there seemed to be no good ending, yet there was.  To live blessed, we need to be alert and seek it out. It won’t always show up immediately. Blessings may not be dressed up in blissful happiness and a cute outfit. Blessings may come dirty, scuffed up, straggling and a bit off kilter, but will come. I have seen them come in both forms – equally holy, sacred, consecrated. Blessed.

I want to live expecting blessings; bloom where I am planted and thrive, no matter what it looks like. Holy, divine, sacred, and blissful happiness is all around us, waiting with open arms for us to slow down and seek it. What is sought will be found.

People Watching

Sitting downtown at the park with my Peets cappuccino, I settle in to observe people; one of my favorite pastimes. There is so much to learn through the countless ways people express themselves and interact with others.

There are several paved paths in the park allowing walkers and runners to take different routes each time they go around the square.  It is interesting to see the paths each person chooses to walk.  Some strictly follow the square path circling the park and do not deviate from that. Others choose a different intersecting path each time, making their jaunt around the park unpredictable to those observing them. Different personalities at play.

From my bench, I spot a group of 60-something ladies in their comfy walking outfits, white shoes, and brightly colored sun visors, walking 2-3 abreast loudly chatting about the choices their grown children and grandchildren are making. The ladies appear oblivious to the rest of the park goers as they march in serious conversation often peppered with laughter, stemming from a long-time camaraderie. These ladies must know each other and the inner workings of each family on a deep level to have earned the right to share their opinions. It’s entertaining to guess how they first met and the careful dance they did around each other until familiarity, trust, and love grew into the friendship they now share. I want friendships like this – women who have a place in my heart that is so woven and interconnected that we weather all kinds of storms and victories together, never hesitating to rally around each other with love, laughter, encouragement, and respect. I am grateful for the precious women that fill this spot. I say a prayer for those I’m blessed to call friends.

Across the square, there are 4 or 5 teens hanging out at one of the tables. Backpacks, phones, and food are strewn between them as they take selfies, gossip, and laugh at TikTok videos. One young lady appears to lead the pack. When she laughs, the others laugh and when she stands up to dance to a favorite song, all eyes are on her and a couple of them get up and mimic her dancing. She is the first to grab for the snacks and the others defer. Interesting how different personality types drift together; the leaders and followers, the outgoing and introverts all have a place. As I observe them, I wonder what God’s plan is for them. They each have unique gifts and talents. It is easy to watch a strong Type A leader and imagine them going far, but sometimes it’s the quiet observers, who take it all in and ponder, who quietly take the world by storm. I pray that they each find their place and people; that there is always someone in their corner who supports and loves them deeply.

Next to the water fountain an older man takes a break from his walk. He follows the same paved path for each turn around the park. This is not the first time I have seen him here, walking his predictable route. He walks with purpose, but at a slow pace. His comfortable shoes and tan slacks with a t-shirt are his usual outfit. As he sits a spell, I notice him looking at each person as they move past him, as if willing them to notice him and spend a few minutes shooting the breeze. I’m close enough to see his wistful gaze, as if he remembers other walks in this park, perhaps with his wife or a close friend that he has since lost. Are nostalgia and memories his close friends now? It gives me an ache in my heart for him. I imagine Jesus next to him on the dark blue bench bringing him comfort, peace, and a balm for his loneliness. The ultimate best friend. I say a prayer for this gentleman, asking for some joy, peace, and camaraderie.

As the morning moves along, the playground fills with moms and kids. Different parenting styles are evident this morning and I find it fascinating. There is the group on one side of the playground, who have taken up an entire section of the granite bench that encircles the play area. They are so orderly and neat! Snacks, tiny water bottles and juice filled cups are lined up carefully. Each child is told to get a big drink and stay hydrated before going on their climbing, shrieking, energy draining adventures. Most obey and take big drinks except for a couple of them, who cannot resist the pull of play. They peek at their moms, take the tiniest, fastest sip possible and dash off. These moms seem to enjoy their together time, but always with a sharp eye on all the shenanigans happening on the slide and big climbing tunnels. I hear warnings of “be careful, slow down, that’s too high and use your words!”, shouted from the bench, all the while still managing to maintain the flow of conversation.

Another pair of moms and kids occupy a spot next to the well-organized group. These moms have a couple of backpacks full of random snacks, toys and juice boxes spilling out. They are more carefree in their playground rules. I hear less shouts and warnings from these two. They are intent on their conversation and less focused on the playground interactions, which the children are quick to take advantage of while they can.

The children and their interactions with each other are fascinating! I love how the lone child there with his mom, is included in the games and treated as if he has been part of their group forever. Easy inclusion; no posturing and judging. Adults could learn a lot from that.

Looking at these little lives, I imagine the mark each of these children will leave on the world. I ask God to smooth out and make their paths straight; to open doors that keep them going in the right direction and for His hand of protection to be all over them.

Under the leafy trees next to the pathway lies a homeless man wrapped in his sleeping bag. His isn’t sleeping. His arms are behind his head as he looks up into the leafy foliage. A suitcase full of his belongings and life is settled next to him, along with a water bottle and a crumpled chip bag.  I watch as the park walkers notice him there. The reactions are varied. A woman with her coffee and small bag of something yummy from Peets changes direction and follows a different route. Is it to avoid passing him? Does she fear having to acknowledge him or worry she will be asked for something? Others pass him by without a second glance, intent on the path in front of them or their phones. I can tell they are very aware of him, but don’t want it to be known. Are they afraid of what they don’t understand and haven’t experienced? Is it fear? What if the person suffers from mental illness and acts erratic, what do they do then? How lonely and hurtful it is to be unseen.

Eventually an older man and his dog stop and engage him. The dog sniffs and wags as the man pets and interacts, maybe for the first time in a while. After their pleasantries and chat are finished, I watch the man’s face. He looks after the one who stopped and made him feel seen. His face reflects that joy of acknowledgement and it’s a lovely thing to see. Who knows what that simple act will do for this man and his life trajectory? We never know for certain what our interaction with another human being does for them, but we can rest assured there is an effect, either positive or negative; never neutral. I offer a prayer for provision, protection, and opportunity for his circumstances to change.

There are frequently lone walkers in this park. They seem to be tranquil and at peace on the outside, but I wonder what burdens lie on their hearts. A few take a seat on benches and watch the world go by. Maybe they are taking advantage of a few moments alone to recharge. Maybe they are on a break, getting in some steps or waiting to meet a friend.

As I sit, I wonder if there are fellow people watchers quietly observing me. Are they trying to divine what I’m about, what my facial expressions and body language are speaking and what my heart holds? I wonder if they can tell that I’m a fellow observer trying to glean insight into the human spirit.

Psalm 139:2-3 (ESV), says, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”

God is the ultimate people watcher. He sees, knows, and discerns everything we are about and all that hurts us and heals us. It makes me happy to know how carefully watched over and known I am. We only see what people choose to reveal and try to discern what it all means, but God…He knows our inner workings, sees past the persona we offer to the world and the parts we so desperately want to hide. To be fully know and greatly adored; that is relief, rest, and peace.

Nostalgia

It’s going to be another hot day, so I’m up early.  I head to the patio and warm coffee comes with me. There is a slight chill, oh so slight, but I can feel it on my skin.

There is something vague and wistful in the way the air feels this morning. The hint of the warmth that’s to come, mixed in with that slight chill. It feels so familiar.

It’s the way the light is coming up over the apple tree, shadows from the branches falling just so on the green grass and touching the edges of the 3-tiered fountain. The yellowy-white light pulls at my memory; I’ve seen this light before. I know it.

I hear it in the way the finches, bold blue jays and grey titmouse call and chatter. Fuzzy squirrels scampering and digging in the grass and garden tug at something hovering in my mind.

The scent in the air has a subtle, comforting, reminiscent quality to it that dances on the fringe of memory. It’s happy and calming; stirring up a sentimental longing and wistful affection for something… Is it a specific memory or snippets of various memories stirred up by the sight, sound, scent of this peaceful morning? I wonder…

Sitting here at the pine table I allow my thoughts go where they will.

The scent in the air, the light and the creature sounds call up memories of my grandparents’ house in Lakehead, CA. I loved this place! It was nestled in and around pine trees with squirrels and birds galore! I recall the warm, safe scent of those pine trees, the dusty earth, and bubbling excitement of walking through the wooded area to the little market with my grandma. Exciting!

In the warm afternoons, the blue kiddie pool was set up in the backyard under some shady pine trees. Buckets, cups, Barbies, and various other toys made for a fun and easy afternoon. I think time stood still for a bit. My grandma sat in the shade on her 70’s era lawn chair with a sweating glass of sweet tea and chatted with me. Always the safe, old, lovely scent of warm pine and earth.

I remember the thrill and exhilaration of hurtling down a big hill near their house in my little red wagon with the pine-y wind in my face – what a memory of freedom and adventures. I looked forward to the summer-night strolls to visit neighbors and see a few deer as we walked along. Pleasant and friendly.

The sound of scampering squirrels on my fence reminds me of hearing pattering squirrel feet run over the roof of their house and my grandpa’s garage in the early mornings. The garage was a wonderful place. It was full of gadgets, boxes of nails and rakes, the fishing gear, and all sorts of fun things to play with and examine. It had the distinct smell of cars and a tangy scent of oil and gasoline. Order and routine, everything in its place.

I can smell the fishy, earthy, watery scent of Lake Shasta where my grandpa, my Dad and I spent many hours on his boat fishing and motoring around the lake, stopping in the small, quiet coves to cool off and swim. Even in the summer heat, there was the distinct lake chill that danced above the water. Dinner of fresh caught fish back at the house gave me such a warm, cozy, homey feeling. We sat and ate on the enclosed porch at the picnic table, talking and laughing about the highlights of the day. As the adults talked on into the summer night, I would drowse and day dream.

Yes, these are cherished memories. Interesting how a subtle scent on the air, a ray of sunlight and nature sounds have the power to trigger the mind and bring these memories flooding back.

I wish I could go back to relive those parts of life to recapture the feelings and sensations. Happy memories of pleasant times where life seemed simpler, sweeter, and not so complex. I often feel this way around the holidays as I look at old pictures of my family gathered around a festive table, carving a pumpkin, or sitting by the Christmas tree.  When I look at paintings of the holidays in times past, there is a wistful, yearning feeling of wanting to be there. Nostalgia.

Life can be chaotic and unpredictable. I wonder if our adult brains unconsciously seek out the sights, scents, and sounds of those times where things were ordered, reliable, safe, and predictable. I think God wired us to treasure and preserve those moments. We can pull them from our heart-memories as a comfort and break from the monotony and loneliness of life. Blessings.

I think I will pray that nostalgia visits me often, like an old, dear friend; full of comfort, comradery, and memories to make me smile. What a gift!

Look to the Clouds

The summer morning is warm with a brilliant, Robin-egg blue sky. The warm dirt under my young back is soft, yet bumpy with divots, small rocks and tamped down grasses. It smells comforting, earthy and old. It feels safe.

The air is warm and a bit close, broken up by the occasional snippet of breeze, that lazily puffs over me in my earthy spot; grasses and wildflowers tossing and bobbing as the breeze slips through them, forcing movement on this indolent summer morning.

I fancy myself a cat; lazy, snooze-y and hidden from view; yet spying and aware of all that is going on around my little nest.

There is a Blue Jay, raucous and naughty, dipping and darting as she looks for her breakfast in the oak trees. She is not afraid of disturbing the more stately Robins and Sparrows that are seeking out their morning meals. The birds do not notice me in my lair and continue about their morning business; or maybe they do…

A variety of ducks and some Canadian geese glide by on the rippled water of the canal just a few feet away from me; blackberry brambles and other sticker bushes guard its banks like stubborn sentries. You can get through to the water, if you dare to pass through them. Brave creatures have carved paths under and through these sentries, to make their way to the water and safety. Their dens are cozy and well protected. Easy access to tiny fish, frogs and maybe crawdads.

Ah! There is the distinctive splash of the muskrat, slipping through the cloudy waters of the canal. His path can be traced by following his bubbles, as he searches below the waters for his breakfast. Routine. Safe. Ordinary.

Looking to the sky from my child-sized hollow in the summer faded grasses, I notice the white, marshmallow-like clouds floating past. They are fascinating! Some are huge and billowy, while others are small, wispy and seem to vanish or meld into bigger clouds nearby; as if swallowed up.

Imagination has free reign while cloud watching. My mind can wander and make up all sorts of fantastical stories. I see one cloud that at first glance, is just big, fluffy and non-descript; but then it emerges; a boat with a crooked, tilted mast and a scraggly, wispy sail. Peeking over the side of the boat, is a horse’s head and strange looking bird. What stories that boat has to tell! Another cloud is almost perfectly round, except for one edge that has a thin, feathery tail wafting off to the right; like a child’s balloon rushing off in the wind on exciting adventures.

Breaking up the daydreams, the sleek, black cat saunters into my grassy hideout, curious and nosey; casually attacking a random leaf, sniffing around my hideaway; demanding pets and chin scratches. Having determined a spot near my head as acceptable, she settles in for a drowsy rest, as the warm morning is becoming a hot, summer afternoon. The shade is moving with the shifting sun, flooding my little earth-nest with a bit too much heat and light. Maybe it’s time to get the sprinklers out, as another dreamy, lazy, hot, Northern California summer day plods along into the next one.

Summer as a child was pleasant and predictable with routine, yet full of adventure by the canal behind my house. Lovely memories of feeding ducks and meeting the new ducklings each summer, picking blackberries and making pies, cobblers and jams, taking long walks along the grassy, wildflower laden paths near the canal bank. It felt joyful, exciting and new; yet familiar and safe in that familiarity. I recapture bits and pieces of those feelings, when as an adult, I revisit the canal and all its creatures, scents and sounds, as I relax and observe from the patio swing or from the lone bench nestled under an old oak, with a blue wind chime tinkling; ducks, geese, river otters and muskrats going about their business. The familiarity soothes and calms. Tilting my head back to feel the sun, I allow the warmth to penetrate and loosen the chilled, hardened, practical places my adult mind has created. Sometimes life forces that on us, just to survive the onslaughts of life. Peering up through the gnarled, old branches of the oak tree, I see clouds. Puffed, billowing, white clouds and I remember my child-self lying in the tall, warm grasses, surrounded by the stout wildflowers and nosey cats. Content and care-free. I remember the day dreams and simple joy of seeing life, nature, and me in the cloud shapes, imagining the Creator with his paintbrush, delighting me with adventures and laughing as each stroke of His brush changed everything. There is peace and contentment for an exhausted, stressed, adult mind, when I simply look to the clouds and allow that child-like joy and imagination to have its way for a bit, and laugh with my Creator as He fills the sky with Himself.

Random thoughts on quarantine, prayers and thankfulness…

This is a weird time to be in right now. The requirement of being home is quite different than wanting to be at home or choosing to be home. When I want or choose to be home, it’s like giving myself the gift of permission to just “be” and that feels safe and cozy and pleasant, something to savor and appreciate. With a lot of things feeling off kilter and out of balance, I feel a bit lost in being home and it not being my choice. Errands that were annoying and exasperating a few months ago, begin looking so lovely! An opportunity to get out! Go! Do! Accomplish! But, that’s not how life is right now. It is eerie being out, strange to feel exposed and vulnerable just doing what I always do. It is odd to need a mask on my face to feel some semblance of safety, yet not really knowing where the threat is coming from…is it the guy over there by the bread? The woman, with no mask on, coughing, by the eggs? The seemingly strong and fit younger guy browsing the veggies? Or the couple walking by with their dogs, trying to enjoy some sun? It is a disconcerting knowing there is a real threat out there but having no idea exactly where it is lurking or if I am the threat to someone else.

I love to pray, intercede and talk to Jesus during the day. There are times when I feel unsure and overwhelmed by all the need in the world and next door and in the next state and in my own home, that I literally do not know how to pray for all of this. We haven’t experienced this before and there isn’t a “set way” to do it. This truly is beyond us. But God… sitting on my patio thinking about how to pray for ALL of this, God reminded me of Romans 8:26, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” That’s comforting. He knows how this is going to turn out. He knows what He is going to do and not do, who He is going to equip and raise up for such a time as this. It’s been in preparation for eternity and this virus has not taken God by surprise. He’s gifting scientists and researchers and healthcare workers with wisdom, creativity and intellect to tackle this and we aren’t left all alone in it. Filtered through His hands. When we don’t know what or how to pray, it is perfectly ok to say, “Here it is God, here’s all the need and fear and illness and death and unknown, so just here, take it, heal it, work it out and please just give us You.” He’s enough.

There is a book I like reading each morning – Jesus Calling. I loved yesterday’s reading. “When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers and countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.” Negative focus darkens the mind. Hmmm. Yes, I think it does. Right now, there are a lot of things that are not going our way, that seem impossible to surmount, that are terrifying and unknown and create so much fear and panic and feelings of lack. I think it is healthy to acknowledge all the things that displease, frighten and anger us. If ignored and denied, those feelings and fears fester and grow and threaten to take over. But, once looked at and acknowledged, maybe we can choose to look about us with clear eyes, open minds and expansive hearts to find things to be thankful for that are good, positive and bring joy. What if we were present and not attempting to rehearse the future, imagine what post-virus life is going to be like and just be and see what is in front of us. There will be terrible things, but I need to believe there will be just as many, if not more, good things right in front of us; maybe hidden by the large looming pandemic, but still there. Simple things like warm sun, chilly rain, 11 day old baby kittens in my guest room, sunrise and sunset, birds singing, coffee on the patio, a walk in the neighborhood looking at all the flowers, the actual chance to sit, to be, to stare at nothing…

I know this is random and disjointed, so thank you for sticking with me, if you made it this far, but this is my mind right now. I don’t have this figured out and I don’t know how to do this either. I can guarantee my mind will go to dark places, probably even today, but I know I can pull my thoughts back up and refocus as many times as I need to and so can you. The one constant I know completely and has never failed me is Jesus. He’s never left us and He’s not going to now.

I pray His peace and presence all over every one of you!

It is well

Pandemic. Shortage. Lack. Hoarding. Panic. This is how it feels right now. All of social media is full of the latest death, new cases of Covid-19, rumors of martial law, people ignoring social distancing out of fear, denial, ignorance, stupidity, selfishness…it is frightening and disconcerting. We haven’t had to do this before. We don’t know how to do this and that in itself makes everything feel off balance and surreal.

The first time it really struck me and became “real” was in the grocery store not that long ago. The atmosphere was odd. People were wandering the aisles and I could see the uncertainty in their faces – how much do I buy? Will there be enough? Will we be ok? I stood still in the aisle that normally contains all types of dried beans, rice and pasta and felt totally overwhelmed. The shelves were bare. Stripped of just about everything. It was such a surreal feeling. I have never felt that way before and it felt like the footing was ripped out from under me. I stood there and wanted to cry; for the loss, the strangeness, the total unknown, the anxiety that all of that produced. I finished my shopping, but that undercurrent of unease and chaos still simmered there.

I turned on music as I put away our groceries and the song It is Well by Bethel Music started to play. I stopped, sat and listened to the lyrics. Such beautiful words. Such truth.

“And through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. And through it all, through it all, it is well…and this mountain that’s in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea…So let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name…and it is well with my soul, It is well with my soul…”

God knew I was afraid, disconcerted, stressed and feeing out of control. I adore Him for gifting me with this song at that moment. I literally felt my muscles relaxing, my breathing slow and my soul calming. The wind and the waves obey His every command! They cannot cross the boundaries He has put into place without His permission. He’s got this. He’s got us.

The chaos is still here, life still remains uncertain; panic and fear prowl and sniff at our hearts and minds, looking for any tiny fissure of terror and doom, to sneak in and flourish. We don’t have to let them in. We don’t. It is very hard not to, believe me, I get it. I have to talk to myself and Jesus constantly to keep from getting sucked into chaotic thinking and trying to rehearse what will happen and how this will all turn out. I am not good at that and not always successful. I don’t know what the new normal will look like, as this virus continues to rage or what the new normal will look like once it has run it’s course. No one knows but Jesus. He knows and He isn’t afraid, He isn’t scrambling and panicking. Nothing touches us that isn’t first filtered though His hands.

I pray that as we navigate all this “new”, that we will love others and try to give lots of grace and compassion. I pray that we allow others to feel what they feel and allow ourselves to feel what we feel, because we are humans; but I pray we choose not to reside in chaos and fear, but remember that it is well and He is so very near.