Thursday, December 06, 2018

Be Merry in True Christmas Spirit

 La Vierge au Lys & Pieta,  by William-Adolph Bouguereau
Christmas isn't about glittery baubles, or colorful lights. It's not about cutesy movies, cookies, cards, or festive culinary delights. Gifts, and music, and wide-eyed children in brand new pajamas - sweet as they are - hold no candle to the true meaning of Christmas, the thing we who believe hold dear every day in our hearts, or should. Christmas is a remembrance that we are but creations of a loving Creator who sent a Messiah so that we may know the forgiveness of our sin, as well as true goodness, perfect love, and life beyond the grave, if we but have eyes to see and ears to hear. Christmas, after all, is about Jesus, born to provide and be The Way, The Truth, and the Life. Let us celebrate as we will, and find joy in doing so, but let us remember the truth of what we celebrate. May the love of God shine brighter in your heart than the most elaborate Christmas display in the world, and may His humble life and words - and especially the gift of salvation He offers - speak to you more clearly and beautifully than the most wondrous Christmas concert you may hear. May you feast on His love for you, and be purified by His grace. Let us sing and be merry, let gratitude rule our observances for unto us a Child is given. Jesus, our Savior. Merry Christmas, all! ⭐️

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Not Ready to Be Old and Sensible Just Yet

My day-to-day living has been altered a bit due to my husband's work shift changing and the kids moving out. I do my running around earlier in the morning now. Here's the thing: the morning after our town's very first nightly experience with temperatures much colder than they've been since last winter, I went to the grocery store. Yes, the night had been quite chilly, but by ten in the morning the thermometer had risen to the low 70's. Felt great! I wore my summery khaki capri pants, a favorite white shirt, and sandals. Again, very comfy. 

I arrived at the grocery store only to find it populated by short-cropped-gray-haired ladies in long-sleeved flannel shirts and those Michelin-man vests or L.L. Bean chore coats, jeans, and - get this - hiking boots! Their men were dressed the same. They looked very autumnal. 

Sure we all passed a giant pile of pumpkins by the front door of the store and stands of yellow, purple, and magenta mums, but other than that, it felt like a cool summer day, cloudless blue sky and all. 

What the heck? 

I have to confess, I was chuckling all through the aisles as I spotted more and more of these frost-triggered stalwarts. They were all constricted-looking, hunched over shopping lists, tense as if a snow storm was only minutes away and they'd better stock up and get back home! 

I thought to myself, "Oh dear, I don't like this one bit. I cannot allow myself to be a part of this group. It might rub off!" I shop in the early afternoon now and will continue to until I feel compelled to wear autumnal attire, too.

Friday, September 28, 2018

And Yet . . .

The weight of sin.

The overwhelming sensation of a broken world devouring itself.

I slump.

I weep.

I feel like I'm drowning.

And, yet, the sun shines...

. . . squirrels scamper . . .

. . . birds flit and chirp . . .

. . . flowers bloom and leaves change color drifting lazily to the ground.

My children suffer today. My nation's fabric tears.

I cry for them, shoulders shudder convulsively.

No help can I offer that will better their situations.

It's dark, dark, dark. They hurt hurt hurt.

Pain for them, I feel such pain for them.

And, yet, friends exist and love does, too . . .

. . . honor and dignity can be found all around . . .

. . . recovery happens every day and babies are born to good people . . .

. . . and God has good reasons for everything that happens whether I understand or not.

Hope. Hope. Hope.

Hope lifts me, restores my soul, lightens the heaviness of my heart.

And the sun and the squirrels, the flowers and the leaves,

And honor and dignity and recovery and babies remind me that even though life is lived amidst the sinfulness of mankind and a cursed world, God sees fit to shed His grace on us.

His goodness.

His love.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Autumnal Stirrings


Beautiful in Oregon

But . . .
. . . it is the promise of winter around the corner.

Winter in Oregon
Have I mentioned gray?


This Oregon Seasonal Affective Disorder hits hardest after New Year's, though it begins to intensify much earlier. . .

And it's bad.

We who experience this loathsome sunless slow-motion suffocation dread it this year more than usual.

We don't know why.

But we do.

Looming forbidding haunting - can't shake it.

The sunshine this week is deceptive - but we'll take it.

We'll take it all in.

We'll throw our chore lists to the winds and soak up the sun, as much as we are able, steeping our minds in it in the hope that its memory will somehow see us through. . .

. . . the gray.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Embrace the Red-Eye Day

The area under my eye is red and puffy from a soap allergy flare-up. It looks like I ran into a door.

I almost didn't go to my morning hair appointment today. Realizing just how much my hair needed a trim up, I went anyway. It needed to be done, ugly eye or no.

After I informed my hair stylist what the red puffiness was, that it didn't hurt, and could she please take care to keep sprays and soaps away, she was very chill. No big deal. We went on to talk about our yard projects, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, and how cute her little boy looked when stuffing fresh-picked blackberries into his greedy two-year old mouth under the summer sun.

My stylist, along with other staff and customers in the salon, were interested in interacting with me, not my eye. So encouraged was I by this friendliness that I decided to tackle the grocery shopping which I had felt shy to do because of my shiner.

Again, no one cared. Same smiles. Same courtesy. No staring. No one even seemed to notice.

How silly of me! How great that I fought my vanity and in turn discovered anew that this world is full of great people. We are human beings, after all, with bodies that do what they want when they want. This is understood.

Today's most welcomed reminder lifts my spirits. I hope the sharing lifts your as well.

There is much good in this old world, if we just have the eyes to see it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Liberty Applies to the Commander in Chief, Too

John McCain was a war hero, a brave and loyal soldier.

He was a devoted senator, too.

America is a compassionate country that honors its heroes and hard-working politicians upon their deaths. This is good and proper.

The outpouring of affection and gratitude showed to Senator McCain comes voluntarily and from the heart. Also, from the heart, is the silence of those who found McCain less than stellar in his conduct toward them and others. Respectfulness is to keep silent rather than respond negatively. Our parents taught that if we don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all.

I wonder if that is what our President had going through his mind in the first days after the news of McCain's passing?

You see, McCain was not kind to President Trump. Even in his final words, which were read after his passing, he takes potshots at the President's policies, policies applauded by half the country.

I heard Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of President and Mrs. George W. Bush, say she thinks it's fitting that the Maverick got the last word.

Did he? In a sense I suppose he did. He cannot hear responses anymore. His words, after spoken, linger for a moment and then are gone. No chance for rebuttal, not that anyone would want to.

But were his last words healing words, respectful of all the citizens of this country and its President? Interspersed with very moving and beautiful sentiments were snipes meant to demean the President, to throw egg on his face at a time when Trump couldn't tweet back because his belief in respecting the dead wouldn't allow it. Who is the better person here, the bully or the one who kept his mouth shut for a few days rather than blurt unkind - albeit probably accurate - sentiments? Well, let's not go there.

What is Trump supposed to say in light of the fact that McCain 'got the last word' with him? Seriously?

I think it took a lot of self-control for President Trump to keep his lips together and not say anything rude, which we all know he is quite capable of doing. Instead, he waited a bit, kept his cool. He chose the time he would say the presidential words the office demanded. What does it matter that they came a few days later? Who has the right to demand what he says, when he says it, how he says it?

It's called liberty. Liberty applies to the Commander in Chief, too.

For all those who vilify President Trump - for every single time he doesn't do or say exactly what they demand he do and say - I say grow up. He's free to pick and choose his own words and the timing of them, whether you like it or not.

That being said, I do wish the Senator's family comfort in the days, months, and years ahead. I pray that they'll have the strength the next days require, and that they'll feel the love the country has for them and for their father/dad, who was after all, a human being and a loved one first and foremost.

R.I.P. Senator McCain. You will long be remembered for your service.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Why Hate on Jordan Peterson?

Food for thought:
"There are plenty of reasons for individual readers to dislike Jordan Peterson. . . . There are many legitimate reasons to disagree with him on a number of subjects, and many people of good will do. But there is no coherent reason for the left's obliterating and irrational hatred of Jordan Peterson. What, then, accounts for it? 
It is because the left, while it currently seems ascendant in our houses of culture and art, has in fact entered its decadent late phase, and it is deeply vulnerable. The left is afraid not of Peterson, but of the ideas he promotes, which are completely inconsistent with identity politics of any kind."

~~ as quoted in the WSJ, Caitlin Flanagan writing at the Atlantic's website, Aug. 9, 2018

Definition of the Liberal Paradigm

An agreeing 'Yes!' burst from my lungs as I read the following excerpt. It's from a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled If America Is Divided, So Is Europe. In it the author, Tunku Varadarajan, recounts his interview with Mr. Ryszard Legutko, a professor of ancient philosophy who also represents Poland's conservative governing party at the European Parliament.

 "The EU's elites, Mr. Legutko says, are unbending in their belief that 'one has to be liberal in order to be respectable, that whoever is not a liberal is either stupid or dangerous, or both.' Seconds later,  he corrects himself: 'I mean the elites of the West, including those of the United States. Being liberal is the litmus test of political decency. This is today's orthodoxy. If you criticize it, or you're against it, you're disqualified.' The world has 'shrunk,' Mr. Legutko laments, 'and the liberal paradigm seems to be omnipresent.'

"What is that paradigm? 'A liberal is somebody who will come up to you and tell you, 'I will organize your life for you. I will tell you what kind of liberty you will have. And then you can do whatever you like.' His response - and Poland's as a sovereign entity - is unequivocal: 'Don't organize my liberty for me. Do not try to create a blueprint according to which an entire society must function.' That's why, he says, Poland is a 'a dissident member of the EU, and the primary reason why it has been attacked so much. Not because we did something outrageous, but because of who we refuse to be.'"

If you doubt that this is a prevailing paradigm here in the U.S., think about the recent remarks made by Santa Barbara Councilman Jason Dominguez.

“Unfortunately, common sense is just not common. We have to regulate every aspect of people’s lives.”
Oh dear.

No, Councilman Dominguez's is not an isolated point of view, it is a rampant, deep-seated, liberal one.

I concur with Mr. Legutko's response: "Do not organize my liberty for me. Do not try to create a blueprint according to which an entire society must function."

I sometimes wonder if Patrick Henry were to speak his sentiments today, what would be the outcome? Liberty?
"What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
I encourage you to click on the link above (the word 'sentiments'). Read Henry's entire speech. It's not long. You may see similarities between 18th century British and 21st century liberals.


*July 7-8, 2018, Weekend Edition Wall Street Journal

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Summer Heart

Since my husband and I moved away from where my parents lived, the season we spent the most time with them was summer.

Warmly welcoming each of us to the vast playground that was their country estate - The Hill - Mom and Dad hand cranked homemade ice cream, Dad barbecued tasty meats on his ancient barbecue, he cut juicy watermelons into drippy wedges - the rinds of which were gleefully thrown off the deck for cattle and deer - and Mom kept the pool crystal clear and clean, her bathing cap always close at hand.

Family gathered from far and wide to spend an invigorating and relaxing weekend together goofing off, enjoying scrumptious food, and telling stories.

The kids rode motorcycles, gathered chicken eggs from the henhouse, fed Dad's wild turkeys, played pool, shot guns, swam, played with cousins, and picked fat, deep purple blackberries.

I can still hear the unrestrained laughter, the croaking of frogs, and chirping of crickets. I smell roses and irises, taste potluck offerings delivered to the kitchen with cheer by each family, see bats swooping in the twilight sky.

I feel the thrill of sliding or diving or jumping into the huge pool, recollect the energy in my kids' little bodies as I teach them to swim and to see and to listen to life in the country.

The summer air smelled of crispy dry pasture grasses and hot evergreen trees, freshly watered verdant lawn, and sometimes the promise of a storm. Electrical storms, with their sticky humidity, frequent in the hot days of July and August, brought with them excitement in noise and flashes, contentment in the delicious warm rain which relaxed already smiling faces.

Underfoot crunchy pine needles offered up friendly seasonal scents, while hot sidewalks caused barefeet to quickly hop, skip, and jump onto damp lawn.

Summer on The Hill was a sensory feast! Memories linger, I hope as long as I live, comforting and encouraging me.

What a lovely thing to recall the goodness of time spent with my parents.

I ache for them, but more than that I am grateful that they were, indeed, mine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Vanquish the Darkness

It takes more courage to dig deep into the abyss of one's own soul than it takes for a soldier to fight on the battlefield. ~~ William Butler Yeats

How many people really understand what Yeats is saying here, I wonder. Do I fully understand his meaning? I think so.

There is dark stuff in the abyss of every soul on Earth. Dark, nasty stuff. To face it head-on is frightening.

A wise person will face the abyss, though, piece by piece, horror by horror. If light isn't shed on the darkness, the evil unchecked alters us, holds us in its grip. We cannot progress into the Goodness that we desire until we address the darkness in battle and vanquish as much as we can.

God reveals our darkness to us through life situations. We react in ways that seem horrible to us, surprising ourselves with our ugliness. A proper response is to thank God for the hard moments. Then, evaluate evaluate evaluate.

Bravery is so necessary.

On the other side of each victory is the strength and bravery to go in again, win a bit more territory for Goodness, snatch it away from darkness.

Only an evaluated life is worth living.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Swimming with Mom

Treasured memories, pulled up and pondered, furrow my melancholy brow and wet my face with salty, sunny-morning tears. Priest Lake, Idaho, Grandma, Grandpa, summer days on the sand, sliding through the water, Mom swimming the cool lake's clearness in her rubbery white bathing cap an iridescent blue dragon-fly hitch-hiking on her head as she grins, reaching her tanned, toned arms forward in perfect free-style strokes, while I swim confidently right beside her.

Memories of ten-year old me at the lake with my dear mother ache my heart today.

I miss her most in the summer, particularly when I am swimming.

Yet, my heart shines in joy - through the ache - at my ebullient memories.

I hope there is swimming in Heaven. I want to swim beside my mom again.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Long Live the Printed Page!

"Recent scientific studies have shown that holding a book and reading it creates a richer experience for the brain than reading something that is online. So, in addition to reading, we should read printed, physical books. For in addition to writing being the greatest invention in human history, the book may be the greatest device ever invented."      ~~~Byron Tully
A certain satisfaction puffed this bibliophile's mind when I learned that the sales of e-books are declining while the sales of physical books are increasing.

Trinity College in Dublin - a magical place 
At last, science is proving what those of us who know the value of holding a real book in one's hand have known all along: devices do not come close to the experience of reading a paper book. The smell of the ink and pages and their feel under our fingers, the subconscious measuring of how much we've read and how much of the book remains simply by measuring the thickness of pages under left and right hands, the scraping, swooshing sound of the pages turning and the covers of a hardback thumping closed are pleasant, interactive sensations. The sight of our books on our shelves comforts us with the assurance that our old and new friends are always near, ready to help us escape or learn, to inspire or remind. These things matter, they make life better.

Aside from my obvious sentimentality, I have pragmatic reasons for preferring a printed book over an e-book. Science is proclaiming that it can be hard to absorb an e-book. The chronology of a story can be less fixed in the reader's mind, especially younger readers.  More is remembered about a text's timeline if it is read in print as opposed to on a device.

Studying is more efficient with the printed book as bookmarking, highlighting, and flipping forward and backward are easier, thus saving time and helping the reader's mind stay focused on content.

Also, e-books tire one's eyes and brain as they require a higher cognitive workload due to the dual-task of reading while using a computer.

And finally, most of us have either experienced or read about the fact that looking at a computer screen before bed contributes not only to disrupted sleep patterns but to increased tiredness the following day.

Granted, there is room in this world for both types of books. However, let's make it perfectly clear, the e-book has not dethroned the printed book.

Long live the printed book!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Death, Where is Your Sting?

He was in His early thirties.

Just a kid, by today's standards.

Yet, Jesus lived a sinless life, died a gruesome death, and most importantly, awakened to eternal life.

I imagine Jesus stirring to consciousness there on that cold slab. Remember, He was a young man, a human being like the rest of us. Have you ever awakened from a nightmare only to react like Ebenezer Scrooge, rejoicing to be alive? Jesus must have been rejoicing, too. His sacrifice was accepted by God! He conquered death! He knew full well what, in His obedience, He had done not only for Himself, but for those who believe in Him, those who are drawn to the Goodness of God.

The Prince of Peace sat up, and unwound the grave clothes from His body. Then, Jesus folded the small facial cloth and set it on the slab. An interesting note about that action, the folding of the facial cloth, is that in Hebrew custom, when a master was finished with his meal, he'd leave his napkin wadded up on his plate to signal his servant that he was finished eating and would be leaving the table. If the master left a folded napkin at his place, it meant he would return, so please, servant, leave his plate and silverware on the table. Was Jesus, in folding that piece of cloth, leaving a signal that He'd be returning for us? Perhaps. At last, the Messiah walked out of the dark tomb of a rich man into the fresh air of Jerusalem.

Think of it. Just think of His experience.

Death could not keep Him. He rose victorious over it. He is alive today.

Because He lives, we have the choice to follow Him to another Age, which we call Heaven. It is there He prepares a place for us so that where He is, we may be also. He waits for us, his younger brothers and sisters. It is glorious, and so humbling.

To you, gentle reader, I wish an Easter Observation full of love, joy, meaning, refreshment, and the realization that Easter marks the most Important Event in World History. The resurrection of Jesus.

I hope He has your attention...and your love.

Happy Easter!

Friday, March 23, 2018

SJW's and Social Media

A young man I know proudly considers himself a social justice warrior, also known by its acronym SJW. A socially awkward chin-on-chest mumbler who, in person, cannot string together a coherent sentence, hides behind his computer screen. He is one of the many who spends inordinate amounts of time on social media stabbing his harshly written opinion, coupled with links to obscure oddball websites, into the comment streams of anyone with whom he disagrees about social issues. Like a pit bull terrier with a hunk of raw meat, he never lets go, viciously hurling insults, coarse terms, and demeaning epithets. You know the type. You may even be the victim of a shocking, hurtful SJW diatribe.

Generally speaking, if an SJW realizes he cannot turn you, he or she immediately begins a campaign of humiliation, vilification, and isolation the aim of which is to utterly destroy credibility. He wants you to tremble at his words and back down. Then, he'll kick you again. Twice.

I've been giving this phenomenon some thought. Though I immediately discovered the uselessness of engaging an SJW - just don't! - still, the behavior mystifies me and, to be quite honest, brings out a personal reaction I'm not okay with. To become distractedly frustrated - or even angered - enough to wreck a day or two is not acceptable. Really not acceptable at all.

Rather than stoop to the uncivilized level of these misguided superhero wannabes by clashing with them on social media, might merely ignoring them be a perfect response? Imagine willingly allowing their hostile, condescending remarks to sit unanswered in comment streams? Who cares if these snarky scribes consider it a win? Simply walking away into the sunshine of our self-discipline and freedom clears the air of the effects of the SJW's vitriolic verbosity.

Yes, this is the advice of parents everywhere, "Ignore them and they'll stop," but sometimes, in some cases, it actually works. At the very least refusing to engage will save us unnecessary aggravation.

If revenge is a life well lived, and the best defense is a good offense, then, perhaps the most productive and efficient way to deal with the unpleasant SJW is to not become the anti-SJW. Instead of pandering to the irrationality by mimicking the pointless arguing, how about we simply reject the bait, walk away, model graciousness and poise?

During the 16th through early 20th centuries, Parisians (and others) hosted salons in their homes. A salon was a hand-picked gathering of people from various walks of life who held diverse world views and contrasting interests. These salons could be lively, but they were civil. The intellectual pushing and pulling of vigorous discussions on a number of topics created opportunities for people to grapple with new ideas and evaluate their own perspectives. Illumination occurred.

Compare the cultured salon approach with the blanket bombing method of communication wielded by the SJW. Where a salon offers permission to fervently disagree, then, cordially shake hands at leave taking, the overbearing, intolerance of the SJW method leaves a clenching restriction on free-thought and connection. It creates alienation. Courteous intellectual discussions nurture the mind, create bridges of understanding. Malicious, hastily scribbled venom turns an opponent into an enemy.  What good can possibly come from such behavior? Salons grow deep friendships, nurture community cohesion. SJW's rarely make disciples of those who challenge them. Instead, they foster division.

Here is a place where a small change in procedure can make a difference. Not only will courteously countering the social media boorishness of the SJW crowd be a blow to its anarchic mentality, but it will be a boon to the ideal of dignified living.

Like a detained child creeping to his bedroom door contritely asking Mommy if he can come out now, the young social justice warrior I previously mentioned has been known to, when a vitriolic comment of his is left alone smelling up a comment stream, meekly inquire if he has offended his target. He has even apologized.

Travel the high road. It's better.
An ounce of restraint is worth a pound of exasperation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Day of Rest, Meant for You

A man I admire suggested something that resonates with me.

He suggested that I reclaim Sunday as the special day it was meant to be.

"How exactly?" I asked, curiosity piqued. "I already attend church on Sunday and make a family dinner for my loved ones."

"Unplug from technology," he answered. "Experience the moment, the important real-life moment that surrounds you."

I thought to myself, "Sunday as lived in my childhood. Sounds heavenly."

The following weekend I unplugged. My family wasn't quite ready to join me, but they sure supported my effort.

No television. No texting. No iPod. No email. No Facebook, no computer screen at all.

Instead, I rested. I looked out the window. I walked through the front door, down the street, and to the park. I sat on a park bench and watched people play tennis, and basketball, push their tots in swings. I greeted dog-walkers and children, even the occasional, bent-necked phone-staring adolescent. I watched the treetops sway gently in the breeze. For a long time I watched those treetops. Cares melted away. Just like that.

Just like that.

Back home a book beckoned. I opened its front cover and read. And read and read and read until a peaceful twenty-minute nap overtook me.

Awakening refreshed, I sought family members. We talked. We laughed. We played badminton and gardened. Then, we sat quietly together amidst our colorfully budding and blooming verdant backyard as our exuberance and sharings softly settled into our hearts and minds in that gentle evening. Preparing an easy supper together bonded us, the eating of it soothed our now receptive, relaxed souls. Sweet connection! Fuel for the week ahead.

Life is precious. People more so. It's difficult to meaningfully connect via technology. Lack of human in-the-flesh experiences with others takes its toll, making us hedgy, unnaturally introverted, anxious, suspicious, and often just plain wrong about situations and people. Misunderstandings abound, conclusions are jumped upon. It's a problem.

Please allow me to be the amen corner for my friend's advice. Unplug at least once a week, preferably on Sunday when the rest of the world tends to run a little slower. See if your experiences match mine: the meeting of life in its natural state, the infusion of fresh thoughts, restfulness, vibrant experiences, and the warmth of genuine human interaction.
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." ~~ Jesus (Mark 2:27)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

 Best Society is not a fellowship of the wealthy, nor does it seek to exclude those who are not of exalted birth; but it is an association of gentlefolk, of which good form in speech, charm of manner, knowledge of the social amenities, and instinctive consideration for the feelings of others, are the credentials by which society the world over recognizes its chosen members. ~~ Emily Post

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Embrace Sacrifice

Visualize the moment.

How do I see myself there?

What thrills me?

What contents me?

What is important to me?

In that moment in time toward which I am daily progressing how do I look, feel, and think?

Have I made myself proud? Am I pleased with the way I spent my time each day from the moment I started working toward my dream until I reached that moment of destiny?

Now, what can I do today to ensure that moment is how I desire it to be?

What action can I take today?

What thoughts need I have?

What changes can I make?

What plan can I make for tomorrow - and the week after - to propel me to my goal?

My future begins this very moment.

In every happy moment, in every dream-come-true sacrifices were made along the path. It's the way of things, the balance of things. Nothing joyous comes without something difficult being involved. Every celebration requires time given up, money surrendered, sometimes sweat, and even disagreement. The joy of a child coming into the world requires labor pain. Dream travel requires money surrendered, plans made, time arranged, packing, paperwork, patience, and more.

Everything has a price.

To expect a dream to magically appear is wrong-headed. Dreams don't come about that way.

Somewhere something is sacrificed.

Sacrifice and deprivation are not always bad. In the case of making dreams come true they are essential. They are the means to the end. They are good. They are required. They are friendly.

Embrace sacrifice. Embrace deprivation.

They are the paths down which lies the stuff of imagination and delight.

~~ I wrote this out in late summer of 2017, after buying my plane ticket for Europe. It pleases me to know that the moment in my life for which I embraced sacrifice and deprivation played out even more beautifully and magically in reality than I even dreamed. This is very good advice, this post. ~~ Cherie

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

My Word for 2018

Some lovely women I know inspire themselves with self-chosen words to lead them into a new year.

In deciding to join them, I ran into a mental wall. Hmmm. What would be an apt word for me, for my hopes, my challenges, my growth?

The ladies suggested I let the word just come to me rather than trying to sort it out myself.

So I did.

And guess what? A word came to me in all its gloriousness. That word is serendipity.

Why? Because during the past year in which both of my daughters were married with all the planning that entailed, plus the enjoyment of a month long European vacation, with all the planning that, too, entailed, plus the actual carrying out of these weddings and the joyous living of the trip, I discovered a phenomenon only slightly experienced until now: serendipity.
The Mediterranean and Me - At Last

See, planning weddings and trips have one thing in common, they will not be entirely controlled. Many aspects are out of our hands, left to others such as florists, bakers, churches, attendants, salons, photographers, Airbnb hosts, airline schedules, rental cars, cab drivers, Venice water busses, and the Eiffel Tower. People don't have the same priorities we do, much of the time. People move at difference speeds than we do. People don't understand the vision we try to convey. Snags and hitches occur outside the control of all of us, leaving delays, inferior services and products, frustrations, the need to search elsewhere, increased security checks (so many security checks!) and the definite requirement of patience. Lots of patience.

Once the realization sunk in that I could control only my own role, my own self, once I fully grasped the truth that others would, indeed, let me down, that things would go wrong, that delays were inevitable, and that I did not have enough fingers to stick into all the leaky holes in the dam, then, and only then, did I decide to quit flailing around and, instead, embrace serendipity. Again, why? Because once I gave up and let things go the way they'd go, I discovered that often things went better than I imagined. New ideas surfaced. New places appeared. New people entered the picture. Beauty arose, noticed.

Once I took care of what I could do, and left the rest to God, I found that He revealed to me His wise, intelligent, guiding hand in absolutely everything. He took gentle care of me. He guided me through fearful situations. He fed me, literally, when I was hungry. He provided water when I was thirsty. He provided kind faces when I was anxious. He introduced me to the immense joy of a Venetian water taxi merrily speeding my weary family and me along the Grand Canal when my exhausted legs and feet could tread no more. He showed me wonders I never knew existed. My curiosity grew and I saw things that before I would miss as I was struggling with all those fingers in the dam. God allowed others to help me, but more importantly, He gave me the grace to let them.

Soon, I was awakening each morning with the question, "I wonder what serendipity God will provide today? Maybe nothing. But, oh! maybe something!" More and more the days held something.

2018 now has a word for me: serendipity.

I'm excited!