This Kind of Hope

In spite of everything I see around me every day, in spite of all the times I cry when I read a newspaper, I have a shaky assurance that everything will turn out fine. I don’t think I’m the only one. Why else would the phrase ‘Everything’s all right’ ease a deep and troubled place in so many of us? We just don’t know, we never know so much, yet we have such faith. We hold our hands over our hurts and lean forward, full of yearning and forgiveness. It is how we keep on, this kind of hope.”

ELIZABETH BERG – Talk Before You Sleep

This week my hairdresser let her clients know that the salon will be re-opening. And then listed all the rules. Stay in car until someone comes to get you, salon will provide you a mask, and your stylist will also be wearing a mask. This, of all things over the last two months, made me want to cry. Maybe it’s because I had hopes that I’d be able to see smiles and laughter and even grimaces by all when social distancing restrictions lifted. And less arrows in grocery stores as those can be so darn confusing! I am somewhat of a rule follower and failing at navigating the aisles properly stresses me! Anyone else with me on that?

I hope for less ZOOM soon and more VROOM from my car traveling the open National Parks, stopping where others too, are enjoying the view of mountains, lakes, and wandering elk.

I hope for less YOUTUBE while on a mat and more ICE-CUBE like ice as I skate in open recreational facilities to challenge my skills and physical fitness.

And I hope for less device FACETIME and more real FACETIME with real hugs instead of circling arms while calling out “virtual hug!” after social distance times with grandkids, kids, and more recently, friends.

Hope is not the closing of our eyes to risk difficulty or failure. It is the trust that if I fail now, I will not fail forever; that if I am hurt, I shall be healed; that life is good and love is powerful! And I shall always prosper in my relationships with God, others and myself.

LYNN J SIMPSON

I hope for these changes. And this kind of hope whispers “it’s going to be okay” easing my troubling places within.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

ROMANS 5:1

What kind of hope do you have today?

Navigating the New Normal

Years ago I met a couple who had recently immigrated to Canada from India. They said one of the most odd things to them about Canadians was how they talked about the weather. For weeks it surprised them when taxi-drivers, teachers, or store-shop owners would say things like, “Crazy weather we’re having, hey?” or “Looks like it’s going to rain tomorrow.” When they realized how much the weather changed in Canada compared to India, they began to understand why Canadians chatted about the weather so much. Soon they found themselves also talking about the constant changing weather! 

Since then, I’ve tried to be more clever with topics rather than the weather when engaging in small conversations with others. 

On a zoom call with a friend this week we found ourselves talking about the obvious –Covid19–and stating how that is all anyone seems to be talking about these days! Our news, our social media feeds, our work emails are full of pandemic messages. Finally I asked, “Snow in spring, hey? I wonder when we’ll get a really warm day for the big melt?”

It is important to stay up to date to what is happening especially as, like the weather, changes are happening fast. My grandchildren left school on a Friday, all their belongings tucked away as usual, then told on Sunday night they would not be returning, possibly until September. Not even a chance to say good-bye to loved teachers and friends. A friend’s senior high-school daughter still has her grad dress hanging on the back of her bedroom door unsure now when or if it will be worn. And unfortunately due to a possible exposure, I was isolating when I received the news my sister ‘n law had entered hospice. I was not able to visit her before she passed away from cancer. 

Many sad stories are happening currently as we navigate this ‘new normal’ for time. 

Keeping it real, I must admit, I have felt anxiety over the uncertainties. It showed up as an upset stomach. So I knew I had to start getting my mind away from ‘what if’ and into the fruit of the spirt.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Ten Ways I Calm my Anxious Mind

  1. Listen to Bonnie Gray’s PodCast – Breathe  http://bit.ly/2QlDORN 
  2. Watch Michael W Smith Live Worship Broadcast from his home. You can watch the recording here.
  3. Listen to a local radio station with only music, no news 
  4. Learning Art Journaling
  5. Making a cake just for the fun of it (even though it is just me and the cat in my home)
  6. Skype with my grandchildren as much as possible
  7. Plan Easter dinner where I’ll be having dinner with my kids via Skype
  8. Daily eating my vegetables, making my bed, and getting dressed (I haven’t been putting make-up on but know I will be grateful for the money I’m saving) 
  9. Watch for the chickadees that have recently started feeding from my bird feeder
  10. Intentionally find new subjects beyond today’s current events to talk about when connecting with others

My Go-To Psalm for Calm

Psalm 63

On my bed I remember you, I think of you through the watches of the night, Because you are my help, I sing in the shadows of your wings I cling to you: your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63: 6-8

So how is the weather in your part of the world? 

A Lesson from B & J’s Ice Cream

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It had been one of those days. Those ‘half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream was gone’ kind of days. And I am a vanilla-liking girl! I also tend to stay away from dairy as it can disagree with my digestion from time to time.

Knowing that my self-control was out of control, I poured hot water over the remaining ice-cream until it was only a mush of brown slime in the kitchen sink while trying to keep my late mother’s voice in my thoughts from interfering: “What about those starving children in Africa?” 

I wasted good ice-cream that is also a perfect for a treat for my grandchildren due to my insatiable desire to feel better with a wordly item.

I mindlessly overindulged to try to relieve and distract myself from what I considered a bad day. 

What do you indulge mindlessly in hoping to feel better or to numb out? You can read more of how this Lenten season is helping me to draw away from overindulging at Inscribe Writers Online

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My daughters enjoying Leopold’s Ice-Cream in Savanah, Georgia April 2018

Next week I will be at Mary Geisen’s Place getting real about being a Type 7 on the Ennegram Wheel. Do you know your number?

Disappearing Ladders–a breath of Creative Non-Fiction

 (Personal Essay and Creative Non-Fiction are genres that intrigue me and challenge me! Is there a genre of writing that intrigues and challenges you?) 

 

One summer when I was small, a ladder appeared against a corner piece of fence that separated my backyard from Rhonda’s, my best-friend. I saw the silver top of another ladder on Rhonda’s side of the fence. That ladder was taller than the one in my yard so I had to swing my leg high over the fence to reach the rungs on the other side. When I journeyed back over to my side, I’d turn backwards, balancing my tummy against the wood, and stretch my leg blindly until my foot reached the top step of my ladder. I learned early that flip flops were not the shoe of choice to climb ladders. Sometimes a pair of flip flops would be in my hands and bare-footed I navigated the hot metal steps between my backyard’s and Rhonda’s.

I don’t know whose idea it was or remember who it was that added these ladders that linked my backyard with Rhonda’s. I do remember my mother, years later, telling me she’d once found me half way to Rhonda’s house after my three-year old self wandered out my front door. And she told me too, about the later times when I was five years old and she received a morning call from Rhonda’s mom to let her know I was safe at Rhonda’s house, pajama- dressed and shoeless. This all must have been before the appearing ladders.

I don’t remember wanderings to Rhonda’s. Mom is gone so I cannot ask her. I do remember Rhonda’s favourite breakfast of crust-less buttered toast. I thought it very special, to eat bread with the crust cut-off. I wonder if I ate Cheerios before I wandered over to Rhonda’s. I do remember floating Cheerios in milk, and my brother, Mark, beside me eating his cereal in our kitchen then. I can’t ask him either about my wanderings to Rhonda’s since he is gone too. At my last visit with Mark, he nibbled on a crust-less sandwich while the sound of distant chimes came from the open hospice window.

I was too late to see Rhonda in hospice.

Rhonda had the prettiest baby doll pajamas. I felt big around her but she was smarter. Her house had four big rooms on the main level—the living room where we made card houses and the family room where we watched cable television, the kitchen, and the dining room with tables bigger than the one at my house even though my family was bigger. I had four older siblings compared to her two however, a big space of nine to twelve years in ages is between the three eldest and I. I remember dinners in our kitchen, a small gathering most often, with my mom and Mark, and a plate of food in the oven kept warm for my dad.

I don’t remember when the ladders were taken down. Maybe it was months before leaving to move west- my parents, Mark and me. Both my parents are gone now along with Rhonda and Mark; my memories behind fences only I’m left to climb.

I miss those ladders.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

Army of Trust

“I feel bad for it. It’s got enemies in there and I’m sending in the best army I have!”

My friend giggled. “I’ve never heard someone describe their body parts in third person context before.”

I’ve been a bit under the weather lately, so to speak.

I’ve had to send in armies for these uncomplicated conditions. Armies of antibiotics, vitamins, herbs, and ‘google’ remedies to fight the battles against these viral and bacterial critters. It’s taken a few tries though, to find out which armies are going to win that battle, and bring peace once again!

I used these medicine armies to battle something I could only feel in the flesh, but I could not see. The pain I experienced a warning to something that needed attending to, needed help in the fight to become healthy again.

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Our pain experiences in life are so often derived from our challenges, felt not in the flesh, but emotionally in our mind and in our heart too. We might find ourselves wrestling with forces that ask us to compromise our integrity, our values, our morals for the sake of a corporation’s definition of success, or for the sake of wanting to belong, or for the sake to avoid conflict with that relationship we feel we could not live without.

God’s word says:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

We may fear feeling the pain of being alone, rejected, judged, so carefully navigate away from possible battles by hiding in timidity, or not using our gifts for God’s glory.

Thankfully, in God’s goodness He gives us the medicine we need, fights for us to become restored through Him, provides the remedies to withstand the attacks that can snare us.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord will be kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Instead of fearing man, relying on man to build-us up, we can be free by trusting in God promises to renew us, strengthen us, and carry us, always.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

We can rely on His promises that He will fight for us.

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15

 Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22

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And God, in His goodness, has provided His power within us!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

“For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.” Colossians 2: 12 

Whatever battle you may find yourself in today, my friend, may you place your hope in the One who can fill you with the joy and peace His goodness wants for you.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

the True thread of hope

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“I’m not sure I like this song. It’s kind of depressing, almost makes one feel less hopeful. I mean, ‘frail and torn’? Sounds like defeatism to me,” I said, turning to my boyfriend at the time, seeing one of his hands leave the steering wheel and move toward the volume dial of the stereo console. But my hand found his, our fingers entwining before he could increase the sound.

“I disagree,” he said, our interlaced hands now resting between us, his eyes still on the road ahead. “It’s all about hope, redemption. That it’s going to be okay.”

Hearing the lyrics  ‘My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world‘ did not, though, evoke hopeful bliss within me! Rather it seemed, in my perception, to swell feelings of being too worn to go on.

Wouldn’t it be more valuable to not hear or speak those gloomy words, and instead only focus on the favorable?

Only think and speak the positive, so to speak? In other words, take control and fix whatever feelings  weigh me down with a warm blanket made of feel good threads.

Threads of phrases and idioms: This too shall pass. Every cloud has a silver lining. Threads of manuals and instructions: Eat Better, Feel Better. Steps to Better Living.Threads of accomplishments: Diplomas. Degrees. Promotions. Goals Achieved. Threads of comfort consumerism: Pandora Charms. Specialty Chocolate. Coffee Lattes.

Threads of …. so many different threads that come from my spools branded Feel Better By Own Efforts.

These threads are of a variety of colours, strengths and lengths, weaving together a blanket that can be satisfactory and mending, thermal and sufficient.

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And yet…

This blanket tainted by spools of Feel Better By Own Efforts threads that break, entangle, and decompose leave only dust behind. What once comforted me for a moment, a season, is reduced, broken of it’s parts to crumble and decay.

And, if this blanket tainted with threads of Feel Better By Own Efforts has value for a time, yet limited, for it is frail and tears, and eventually passes on, what then can I eternally wrap myself in that does not decompose when weighed down by this world?

And the lyrics of Worn came into my thoughts.

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn.                                                                                                                     Tenth Avenue North

It is only through the blanket weaved in threads of Everlasting Truth that give ever lasting comfort and rest.

Colossians 1:7: And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Psalm 147: 3:  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I do not cross roads with that old boyfriend of a few years back, yet if I did I may just let him know that when Worn plays through my car radio, I now reach out and turn up the volume.

1 Peter 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

What blanket are you wrapping yourself in today?