Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lilies of the Field

July 28, 2013

Good Sunday Morning to you!!

So what are your plans for today?  Are you working today? Or are you having a fun play day? Maybe attending church, or having a family day? Or maybe you’re going to have a relaxing day at home?  Well, whatever your plans for this beautiful Sunday, I hope each of you are able to begin your day with a reviving, renewing moment of prayer and meditation to start the day off on a balanced note.  It is for certain that we all can benefit from a moment of getting in touch with our “inner” selves, which is really our spirits; that part inside of us that God designed to commune with Him. Give it a try – you might just like it J

Communing with God is on my mind this morning because, as usual, since it is Sunday, I got up thinking and worrying about what I am going to wear to church – do I go casual with jeans, or slightly more dressed up with slacks and a flowy top; or maybe that new skirt I bought, though I’m not sure what top to wear with it; do I wear comfy sandals or my pretty platform wedges?  How do I fix my hair – especially since I just got it cut, keep it straight, or try to curl it some?  I want to look cute and stylish and, well, like I matter.  Hmmm…Worry…Worry!  Ugh!  Here I go again! 

Time out! - with my rich, fragrant Caribou coffee, flavored with yummy Sugar Free Hazelnut creamer, poured into my mug which clearly says “Count Your Blessings.”   Okay.

Okay, so I retreat to my little oasis of peace and beauty (the sun room) to wake up and have a few moments of getting my heart right and thanking God for my blessings, before resuming the worry of what to wear today.

And after a few moments of my “commune with God” I flip open my Bible to receive my “Word blessing” for the day.  And of all the wise Scriptural words of advice, what do you think I opened to??  Yep, you guessed it – “The Lilies of the Field” or “The Cure for Anxiety.”  Matthew 6:25-34.

 For those of you not familiar with this passage, it actually says we shouldn't worry about what clothes we are to wear.  Yep, it does.  Here it is:

Matthew 6:25-34 (The Message)
25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
(Wow - God knew I was stressing over this?)
27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
(Well...yes, the flowers are definitely beautiful!)
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance 
of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving
(Ohhhh - yes, I am guilty of wanting to get)
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
(Yikes - this was exactly what I was doing - fussing over those things)
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Wow.  That was spoken right to me, wasn’t it? This morning, as I sat here in my oasis, looking out at all the beautiful trees and flowers, thanking God for providing this for me, I realized that as I took in all this lovely sight, I could see God in it – because this is all God’s creation, and He is in it.  And I feel comforted; all will be ok, because God is near.  He is here with me.  Surrounding me, enveloping me with His presence, with His beauty.  I am communing with God.  I am in tune with God.  And I thank Him.  I count my blessings.  And then I turn to His Word.  And through His Word, He speaks to me.  Directly! And without a doubt, it is Him.  Directing me.  Assuring me.  Comforting me.  Answering me.  Wow!  I am refreshed, I am renewed, and I am revived!  Hallelujah – God is alive!  And His presence is within me! 

So what I learned (again) this morning is that when I put my thoughts – my mind – on God, when I choose to see God in all the things around me, when I choose to “commune with God,” I find Him, and He communes with me. 

And further, this Passage He led me to and spoke to me through, says that when I “commune with God” or give my entire attention to God and what He is doing right now, and not worry - that God will help me deal with anything that comes up in my life.  And that He will provide all my basic needs for me.  If I just keep in tune with Him and set my mind on what is important to Him, and not on my own wants, He will be with me and help me and provide for me. 

Yay!  I like that.  A personal message from God.  How about you?  That spells relief to me, and gives me a smile in my spirit to start my day.  Now, I’m off to get ready for church. 

Did you have your “commune with God” time today?  See what bright message He has for you.

Great gobs of blessings and love to you,


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Moment's Breathe of Reprieve

Hi Everyone!!

How’s it going today?

Here in Massachusetts the heat wave has finally broken and this morning we are enjoying a peaceful cooling rain coming straight down, no wind, no thunderstorm, just wonderful, renewing rain.   

So, as I look at my daily planner this morning, already thinking and stressing over the weighty national, as well as international issues affecting us, I now add worrying over my lengthy to-do list.  And my anxiety level begins to rise.  My shoulders tense, my head begins to throb. How in the world am I going to get all this done, I don’t know! I rub my sleep deprived eyes, set my Keurig to brew, feed my two kitties, and then take my cup of coffee and head into the sunroom.  I slide open a few windows for the kitties to look out…..and I hear the rain.  I look out and see the little glittering streams of water trailing down from the house eves.  Then I see the flowers, some with their faces lifted up to receive the refreshing wetness that will renew their vibrance and sustain their summer lives.  Ooooh.

I think how peaceful and inviting this scene is.  But then I also think of all the tasks on my to-do list, everything needing my attention today, and I feel the anxiety begin to rev up again.  I feel the throb in my head again.  I spot my Bible on the table, and remember that I committed (to myself) to having daily morning devotions. But I don’t really have time this morning.  But then I look out at the rain.  I listen…it’s so calming, so peaceful.  My floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows allow a full view, and with them open, it is a symphony of refreshing, calming sound!  I realize I am smiling.

Ohhhhhh….. I want to just stand here and take it all in.  I want to listen, to hear, to see, to smell, all this enchanted peace – it’s so pretty! It’s so tranquil.  It’s so soothing.  It’s…yes… it’s anxiety relieving.

But I have so much to do!  But oh how I long to just enjoy a moment of this peace.

Some days it’s really hard to make the time, to make ourselves slow down, stop a moment and just rest.  De-stress.  Rejuvenate. Forget about our troubles, what’s going on in the world, what needs our attention.  But that is exactly what we need to do – to replenish our dry and thirsting minds and souls (and nerves!).  I am so very fortunate, yes blessed, to live in such a picturesque and soothing place, which sometimes demands I stop and simply see and observe.  Beauty, tranquility, peace – all right here for me to behold.  Yet, at times I will choose to ignore it all and embrace stress and anxiety instead.   
This morning……I chose beauty, tranquility and peace!!

What about you?  Are you stressing today? Is anxiety causing you to tense and have a throbbing headache? Do you feel overwhelmed?  Are there little feelings of panic inside of you?

Well, try doing what I did, stop a moment.   Just for a moment or two, that’s all it takes.  Sit in a serene place – or any place out of the noise and confusion.  Close your eyes.  Take in a slow, deep breath, allowing your stomach and abdomen to fill and pooch out.  That’s it.  Now slowly let your breath back out.  Begin to think about something good; something pleasant; a nice experience you had, something nice that you saw somewhere, something beautiful, something fun; something that brings a good feeling inside of you.  Allow yourself to smile at the thought or memory –even just for a moment.  Take that moment’s breathe of reprieve from all that is going on, from all that is stressing you out. 

Now just sit there for another moment; dwell in that place, in that scene.  Open your mind.  Let the good feeling seep in.  Embrace it in your thoughts, allow it to envelope you.  Feel the joy in that one moment. Let it begin to push out the stress and begin to flow and spread, through your mind, down the back of your aching head and tensed up neck and shoulders, into your heart, warming your inner self and releasing the tension.  Stay there.  Hold on to that feeling.  One more moment as you verbally give yourself permission to feel more relaxed, to dwell in that peaceful moment, to relive that wonderful memory.  Take another deep breath; drop your shoulders, relax your arms as you breathe out. Feel the calm begin to enter and flow through you.  With eyes still closed, smile.  For just one moment, allow yourself to feel calm, refreshed, and beautiful.  Make the choice within you to hold onto this place of peace and serenity this day.

And then open your eyes, smile at what you've just done, make the decision to see the beauty and any positives in this day and start working on your tasks, one thing at a time, until you’re done.  Any time throughout the day you begin to feel overwhelmed again and need a quick refresher, just take this moment’s breathe of reprieve again.  The more you practice it, the better you will get at it. And the better you get at it, the more peaceful and less stressed you will be!!  Which means a happier, healthier you, better able to leave your positive mark on this world!

..whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - 
think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lover of My Soul

This morning I find myself looking in awe, out the windows of this nature wonderland in which I live.  My heart is stirred deeply into my soul – and the words and the notes to the song, “How Great Thou Art” begin sweetly playing in my spirit.  

 I look out the tall windows and see the thick surrounding border of tall, pines and varied vibrantly green trees that is my back yard, flowing back into a lush tree conservation area;

As I look out, the sun begins to crest the treetops, leaving dancing little fluorescent spots and spotlights on the deep grass and assorted blooming bushes around the yard;

I see the succulent raspberries in various shades of red and pink, the promise of blueberries newly budding in their small, round clusters;
The little sections of landscaped plants, trees and conversation areas, inviting me to come and sit - rest a bit, bending my nose to take in the fragrance, or lift my face into the glorious warming sunshine;

And the flowers – oh my – the beautiful, ever unfolding, smiling, dancing, weeping, laughing, fragrant, lovely flowers – all around the yard – front, back, sides – everywhere!!

 I hear and see a symphony now, the notes and words – How Great Thou Art! Leaping and flowing and frolicking around in my heart and mind and through my very soul! Oh, what a glorious vision!   

From early spring, the field of vibrant yellow daffodils, leading into the orange faced white daffodils, then one after another, all throughout the summer – beautiful splashes of new color, various races, all shapes and sizes and kinds and colors; sprouting, budding, unfolding – telling a wonderful story of life and renewal.  

Oh my, Ann, how your soul must have rejoiced at planning, planting and watching grow, this magnificent display of God’s earthy beauty for our eyes and hearts to behold and take pleasure in!  Thank you so much for the massive amounts of time you must have given to create this visually stunning, heart enthralling, soul satisfying beauty.  Thank you for allowing us to share in your marvelous creation of your little bit of heaven on earth.  

 And, yes, thank you, God, for You are the Master Landscaper, the Master Creator, the Master Lover of all things good.  And the kind Lover of my soul.  Deeply, I thank You.   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hotline to God

Good morning! Or afternoon, or evening!
My, what a lovely (but already very warm) morning it is here in Massachusetts.  It’s a nice feel-good moment looking out my kitchen window at the sun breaking through the trees, dancing little patterns on the lawn.  Good time for morning reflection and meditation on something good!

 I don’t know about you – how you start your days – maybe hitting the alarm, jumping in the shower, then gulping down a cup of coffee as you jump in the car and begin the harrowing commute to work? Or maybe hit the gym or the walking track for an invigorating work out before the stress of the day begins?
I am well acquainted with both of those!

These days, however, after getting my husband off to work, I enjoy the serenity of sitting with a cup of fragrant, flavored coffee, looking out over the scenic beauty of my yard, the surrounding tree conservation area, and reflecting on what I can be grateful for.  

I am a deep believer of prayer – whether on my knees or just heart communication with God throughout my day, and this time of the morning, when my heart is fullest, my prayer comes very easy.  There are those times, though, when emotions may be running too heavy, or my mind is very tired, or I just don’t feel like a deep prayer.  So then I begin with the perfect example God gives us, to shape a beautiful and effective prayer. 

Here, I give my version of this heart-lifting prayer, which I pray when I am having trouble forming my own prayer.  This, BTW, is from Matthew 6:9-13 NASB Study Bible.

Our Father who is in heaven, (Dear God, my heavenly Father)
Hallowed be Your name. 
(Hallowed be Your wonderful, loving, kind, beautiful name, O Lord.  I worship You, yes, I do praise You Father, for I know You are good!)
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
(Thank You God, for this beautiful promise and relief in the knowledge that one day, Your goodness will reign on this earth, just like it is in heaven right now.  I look so forward to that day!)
Give us this day our daily bread. 
(Lord, I pray that You will continue to provide my daily needs, and those also of my loved ones.  And I thank You, God, for doing so, so abundantly!  My cup runneth over! But thank you also, God, for sometimes allowing my "cup" to empty out, because sometimes I need that tough reminder to not take things for granted and to keep working toward my goals.  And thank you for always being faithful to fill my cup back up after it has been running on empty!)
And forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us).  (Please forgive me of my sins, God, and help me do better.  Help me walk more closely with You and be more mindful of doing good.  Forgive me for desiring things that are not good for me, forgive me for harboring bad feelings in my heart towards others.  Please help me forgive those who hurt me, and who hurt my loved ones, without holding grudges against them. Please help me always remember that You say vengeance is Yours, that You will repay! {Hebrews 10:30})
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 
(And lead me not into temptation, God, but please open my eyes and give me wisdom and discernment to see the temptation of things not good for me, as the bad or harmful things they are.  And please give me strength and courage to turn and walk away from that temptation – without looking back and desiring it! And please God, keep the evil and the harmful things away from me and my family! Guide and protect us, Lord.)
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. 
(For You reign oh God, You have the ultimate power over all, and You alone are worthy of glory and worship.  And I will worship You and dwell in Your house, forever!)
Amen.  Amen.
Prayed up and fixed up - ready for the day!!

Have a beautiful and wonderful day,
and blessings on your prayer,

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I and My House Are a Mess!

Psalm 23, with an honest evaluation of how I have been applying (or not applying) these Awesome Words to my life.

The Lord is my shepherd (when I allow Him to be)
I shall not want. (Even though I do want - lots of things - I will try not to want unreasonably)
He makes me lie down in green pastures; (even though sometimes I don't see them)
He leads me beside quiet waters. (Even though I tend to stir them up)
He restores my soul; (time after time, after time)
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake. 
(This means He guides me when I seek Him. When I forget to seek Him, or ask for His help, more often than not, I end up on the wrong track!)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
(Sorry God, I know that not having enough money for the things I think I need, is not actually the valley of the shadow of death, nor is having shoe envy! - but I get what you mean here.)
I fear no evil, for You are with me; 
(I know You are with me, God, but sometimes it's so hard not to worry or be afraid. Bad things have happened in my life in the past, and I keep being afraid they will happen again. There is so much evil happening in our world right now, I feel so afraid - please help me, again, to not let fear rule my life)
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
(Yes, God, I have to admit that in probably every tough lessen I've had to learn, I came out better for it. I don't like tough lessens at all - as a matter of fact, I dread them, but there is comfort in knowing that once through the lesson I will be stronger and a better person for it. And when I let You lead me, my reward is always greater on Your path than my own.)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
(sometimes I don't get this one - but I know that when I'm around people I don't know, or those I feel uncomfortable around, or a little scared of - if I just say a quick prayer to You to help me or keep me safe, I always feel reassured. I know from Your Word that You will bless me for my faithfulness and carry me through any danger.)
You have anointed my head with oil; 
(and my feet with beautiful shoes)
My cup overflows. 
(Yes, Lord, even though I like to "want," I do realize that I have much more than many, many others. I have a non-leaking, heated and cooled roof over my head; I have a dependable car to get me where I need to go; I have ample and nutritious food in my tummy every day; and I have so much love and support in my life from family and friends - My cup does overflow! I will be grateful!! And during those times when the level in my cup begins to lower, yes even when it seems it will dry up completely - well, somehow just in the nick of time You fill it back up and then even overflow it again! I will remember this! I will!)
Surely goodness and lovingkindness (and mercy) will follow me all the days of my life. 
(This means God will take care of me, providing for my basic needs and love me forever. This does NOT mean I will always be trouble-free, carefree, or rich! But I promise I will try to remember this and be grateful, even in the tough times.)
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
(Thank You, God, that I have Your house and Your presence to dwell in.  
Because, sometimes, I, and my house are a mess!)

Thank You God for the Words You give me - that You give to everyone, to help me - us- make it through each and every day. God, please help me remember to start each day saying "hi" to You, and asking You to walk with me that day, and to be with me, no matter what. Show me who You are in my life, God. Give me faith to believe completely in You, and that You have a pre-made plan for me, because You loved me and formed me, and consecrated me even before I was born. Please help me be faithful.  I love you God <3

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tommy's Momma

Hello!?! Is anyone there?

I know, it’s been so long since I’ve been here – sorry those sideshow distractions got me again!

So yesterday was my son’s birthday – well, it would have been if he was still here and not in Heaven.  (If you haven’t read it, for a little info on the loss of my son – and some helpful tips on grief, please see my blog: Good Grief

Anyway – so first thing in the morning I posted a blurb and a few photos on Facebook, just to acknowledge the importance of the day to me and affirm my somewhat rekindled feelings of grief.  Even though it has been many years, this day, and the anniversary of the accident still give me pause each year.  I find myself browsing through old photographs, old handmade mementos, sweet memories of my son’s little-boy laughter, the feeling of holding him in my arms, the unique and wonderful way he said “momma” in his little boy southern drawl.

This precious and sweet little boy was only 9 years old when he left us for Heaven.  But I realize today that in those short 9 years of his life, this child has left a lifetime of wonderful, sweet, fun, heartwarming, endearing memories, and footprints upon my heart to cheer my heart and spirit, every moment of every day. Yes, I have so much of him still!  He is still in my heart, in my mind, in my soul <3 

I also realize today that it is not really grief that I feel any more.  Yes, there is yet a feeling of sadness.  And yes, my eyes still brim and spill the beautiful cleansing tears when I look at his pictures, touch his jean jacket, wander the memories in my heart. 

But what I realize today that I have not seen before is, that along with that sadness, along with those tears, there is joy

Sweet, marvelous, enveloping joy.

The joy that was Tommy, the joy that was my child, my son.  The joy of the time I spent with him.  The joy of holding him.  The joy of watching him grow.  The joy of being his “momma.” 
The joy of knowing that wherever he is, on earth or in Heaven, he is my son. 
He will always be my son. 
And he will always be with me
No matter where he is.
No one can ever take that from me.

I bask in and cherish the knowledge that while he was on this earth, I got to be his momma.  No, the time was way too short, but I will always be grateful and thankful for the time I got to be Tommy’s momma.

So, from this moment on, I will embrace the joy that was my son,
I will allow the smile to take over my face as I think of him,
I will laugh as I pick up and caress his jacket upon my cheek,
And I will know the tears which fill my eyes – even now as I write this – are not because I desperately grieve for the loss of a child – but rather they are the tears of joy and happiness of a beautiful time spent with a most beautiful and exquisite little boy – Tommy.
Because I am Tommy’s Momma!