I Can See Clearly Now

June Bug has a brand new windshield. The distorted line of sight is gone enabling me to clearly see where I am traveling. If only it was this easy in other areas of life.

Navigation Systems

Today we have devices in our hands as well as in our cars that can give us verbal directions as we drive or walk. Gone are the days of wrangling a giant paper map to find the best route. I used to love to get the map out and look at all the exciting possible detours that could be taken during the course of a road trip. My husband still prefers the old way. He can lay the full map out and see all the options from which to choose his desired route. This is not possible on a small screen where you can see where you are and a line showing the best possible route to the destination. But the smaller roads, the scenic route, that is harder to find with the electronic systems. If speed and efficiency of travel are the goals then the electronic method is by far the best solution. If, however, travel for the sake of the experience is what is desired, I suggest going old school.

Change Navigation Systems

16 This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls.

But you said, “We will not walk in it.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Haven’t we all done this? Ask for guidance then choose to go our own way and then cry out when things don’t go well. I know I have. I am in the midst of such a situation right now. In fact I have stood at this precipice many times over the past few years and have continued on my own path. The result is an internal emptiness, lack of purpose and even success as described by the world. Frustration and inertia ruled my life. I made excuses: “try harder, work more, make this instead of that, market yourself differently, try a new name, a new product, a new……” Then I played the comparison game, “If she can do it why not me?”

Wait For Directions

This morning as I meditated and prayed this scripture I saw myself standing in the middle of an intersection. Just me and miles of road. There are four choices – go back the way I came, move forward, turn right or left. Only one of those choices is guaranteed to not end well. What is past is past. Notice scripture says “ask where the good way is.” Not the only way; the best way; or even the wrong way; ask where the good way is and walk in it.

Follow Where Led

Sometimes we get so caught up in the right and wrong that we miss what God is doing in every moment of our lives. It isn’t that the paths I have been choosing are wrong or bad, they simply aren’t the best for me. I have another road to take. I can choose to travel that way or not. What is promised to me is that if I travel on the path set before me by God, it will be well with my soul. Not easy or painless, but in the end my soul will be at rest. What a gift that will be.

Until tomorrow I pray that as you stand at your crossroad, you choose the good path and follow it with confidence.

Silence

We recently added to our family. A bouncy, happy, always loving little four legged family member moved in a few months ago. Belle has been a member of our extended family since she was eight weeks old; this was her first home after leaving her mom. She belonged to our daughter and when she left, Belle went with her.

Life is a fluid thing. Nothing ever stays the same for long—change is a constant. When faced with moving to an apartment we were asked to take Belle in for a short time. The inevitable happened, we both became attached. Actually, all three of us became attached. Her visit became permanent. Our daughter and her family decided to allow Belle to live here and they will adopt another dog who is better suited to living with children.

Our dog Maggie has ever only played with one dog and that dog is Belle. Maggie is an old soul who never learned to play as a puppy and was damaged goods when we rescued her eight years ago. She has always welcomed Belle back into her home and willingly shared all she has with her. Belle, who has now become a bit grumpy with other dogs, likewise is generous with Maggie. They are a match made in heaven.

Belle has a very specific schedule. Every morning between 5:45-6:00 she is ready to get up and is not shy about letting me know she is awake. First a couple little whimpers, then a kiss or two on my arm. If I do not respond she becomes a tad more vocal and persistent. So as to not wake hubby I get up and begin my day; I am thankful for my new alarm clock.

You see, this has always been my best time of day but since “retirement” I have allowed myself to just wake whenever or stay in bed longer than necessary. Once up I am not one to go back to bed. Belle has forced me to face the day while it is still dark outside. Dark and silent.

After seeing to the needs of the dogs, I make my first cup of coffee and sit in my Victorian wing back chair in a corner of my studio. A small lamp illuminates just this area. I am not ready for overhead lights. I wish to enter the day slowly, thoughtfully, and with just enough light to be able to read a Scripture for meditation. Once I have read it a couple of times—or as many as necessary—I turn off the light, close my eyes and ponder what I have read. Some of the pondering is active and some is passive. I think about a word or a phrase and then I wait. I wait on the Lord of move my spirit in the desired direction.

In the silence of the early morning I hear the world waking up. The birds, an occasional squirrel running across the roof, then there are the cars and other signs of life around me. But through it all my mind and spirit are resting, listening, anticipating. I know that it is here that I feel the peace and the presence of God. I really don’t want this time to end.

I keep a journal, a sketchbook, pencil, pens and watercolors on the table with my Bible and a book that guides my meditations. More on that book next week. My time alone with God is not finished until I have recorded something in my sketchbook. It is a private and visual record of what I heard in the silence. This is a new practice for me and one that has already become my sacred time. Before I know it two hours has gone by and I am ready to tackle the rest of my day.

May you find your own sacred time and practice. Until Monday have a blessed and healthy weekend.

Are You Listening?

There is has never been a time in my modern recollection that humanity has been in greater need of soul nurturing than right here, right now.

I look at this pandemic and all the chaos going on worldwide as an opportunity for a reboot. A unique moment in time when we are in a forced isolation and we have a choice. It is as if God is trying to get the attention of the entire world. We can look at the humans scrambling to fix it or we can look to God for understanding. Continue with the old way of doing things or listen to that still small voice in our heart and make changes.

What kind of changes? Depends on who you are and what you need. For me, I need to simplify, prioritize, and allow God to permeate every moment of every day.

I have written about my love for choral music. I believe I have the soul of a monastic. I am at my most peaceful and content when I tune out the modern world and immerse myself in music that draws me near to God; spending the first part of my day in the presence of my Creator, waiting and listening for that which is just for me, then going about my day feeling that connection. Making things with my hands is the natural outpouring of how my day begins. Whether I am making yarn, a meal or doing laundry, I am doing all as unto the Lord. Everything is sacred because it is all a gift.

How will you use the gift of today? I pray that you find something of eternal value in your day.

Visible And Invisible

Out of sight, out of mind. That sums up my brain most of the time. I set things down and don’t give them another thought until one day I need it, and, well, let’s just say it isn’t pretty. I’m worse with things I hear but don’t see. I don’t know about you but when I focus on the crazy things happening in the world I begin to think that what I see is the only reality. What a horrible existence. Thankfully, I know that there is more going on than meets the eye.

What Is The Real Battle?

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 NIV

It is so easy to look with the eyes and not the heart. With our eyes we see people fighting for a cause they passionately believe in, refusing to hear or see alternative views. It is so human to make judgements and take sides. We see violence, destruction and the rejection of all forms of authority. It seems frightening, like the world is “going to hell in a hand basket.” When this overwhelms me, I just stop and remember that I am never alone. I have the power of God and the victory over evil through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, I turn off the television news. I listen to music that soothes my spirit and enriches my mind. I pray. And I go about my life looking for those little moments God gives me to speak in love. Not everyone will understand. And that is OK. I have done my job. I am at peace.

May your day be filled with the things that bring joy and peace to your soul…

What Lies Beneath

In 1976 I went to school to become a medical assistant. Among the skills we learned was how to count red blood cells in a sample of blood. I loved this glimpse into the microscopic world. My fascination with minutia continues to this day. There is magic that exists beyond what can be seen with the eyes alone.

This fascination can be seen in my “Organic Crochet” style of fiber art. I love to create, with yarn and a hook, the kinds of shapes and textures found just beyond the surface in nature.

There is a wealth of beauty around us, the key to is to look…really look beyond what the eye can see and the ear can hear. The key is to take the time and effort to really see and hear. Watch and and really see without preconceived ideas. Hear and really listen not merely to what is said, but the emotions underlying the words. Dig beyond the superficial and discern for yourself what you truly believe and hold dear.

I believe that if we treat each individual we encounter in this manner, treating them with kindness, patience, and respect unless proved otherwise, our world would be a much happier and peaceful place.

I serve a loving, omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly just God. I pray each day to have the eyes that see and ears that hear. He sees and knows all. He understands the hearts and minds of mankind and I trust that when I am connected to him in this way, he works through me to be the kind and accepting person I am called to be.

Until tomorrow I pray for you to have eyes that see and ears that hear….

Disconnected

This is how I view the world today.

I’m a child of the sixties – born in 1958, my young childhood was shaped by the sixties. Like most kids of the day my world view came from family, school, and television. My TV watching preferences included cartoons, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart The Brady Bunch and The Wonderful World of Disney among others. Our life was not perfect, but I knew nothing different and I was happy.

My husband was born in 1947 and grew up in the fifties. This period of time is often idealized for the economic prosperity that came after the end of WWII. The nuclear family was strong, people began moving for work thus increasing opportunities for economic success. For a child, this must have seemed like a magical time to grow up. My husband had a happy childhood.

We were children and we viewed our world as children. Those experiences have helped shape us into the adults we are today. We have both grown and expanded our horizons of beliefs and now can view the times we grew up in through less rose colored glasses. We can recognize that not everyone had the kind of life we had. No child can possibly understand that concept, but as adults we can look back and see through adult eyes the inequalities.

One of the things that seemed to hold us together, as a country, was the shared vision of us as Americans. We have continued to evolve throughout history and, though often painful, we continue to evolve. This time feels different. I feel isolated and helpless. I believe that there are lots of folks out there silently feeling as I do, desperately needing to know we are not alone. I need to move away from the shouting to find a place of peace and purpose.

I find solace in God and expression in my art. I am a fiber artist and that is where I go to express what words cannot. I prayed this morning, thankful for a new day and a new opportunity to reach out to the world. This blog is part of my daily work. I also asked for wisdom and guidance in communicating what can no longer be done verbally. We are living in a time where no matter what one person says to another, the potential exists to be misinterpreted. It is as though the words are scrambled in midair before reaching the other person’s ears, much like the adults in Peanuts cartoons , it all sounds like gibberish.

I pulled out my sketchbook and recorded four or five pages of ideas for art pieces that express the disconnect I see and feel. I even have a title for the collection. I now have more inspiration than it seems I have a lifetime to create. But, I will take it one step at a time, seeking God’s guidance along the way, as my hands are doing the work but it is Him guiding the message.

Order out of chaos.

I believe that as citizens it is important to know what our elected officials are doing – or not doing. I watch and read, staying informed; however, once informed, I will not dwell on these events. I will dwell upon the things that are good, pure, righteous and of God. For what I dwell upon transforms my mind and spirit. God is order. God is love and peace. That is what I want in my life and I know where to go to find it.

Until tomorrow, may your day be filled with good thoughts and a peaceful heart…

America The Beautiful – Purple Mountain Majesties

On Saturday morning as I sat, quietly reflecting and praying, the words “purple mountain majesties” floated through my consciousness. There was no context other than it was the Fourth of July, and our nation was preparing to celebrate its Declaration of Independence. In the midst of our current isolation and strife, this Fourth was not going to be like most. We couldn’t gather. Were there parades? I don’t recall any in my area. This year we were alone with our families and ourselves to observe the bold step taken one hundred forty four years ago.

As is so often the case, in my relationship with God, I knew that this thought was not random. It was a gift directly to me from God. At the moment those words crossed my mind I immediately knew that I must capture “purple mountain majesties” in my artistic medium of choice: fiber. I gathered my watercolors, art journal, and began doing quick paintings of the things that came to mind as I thought about that phrase.

I am an abstract fiber artist. I dye wool, spin yarn then crochet, weave and embroider pieces of art. Whatever the final outcome of the art piece or pieces, these are merely an attempt to record that moment with God.

Today I read an NPR transcript from last year about the author of America The Beautiful and listened to the song sung in three distinctive styles. I was moved to tears by all of them. Ray Charles’ version immediately came to mind as the first one I wanted to hear. His soulful, power filled rendition has a gritty, real life message. Elvis Presley and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir both served up the song in worship to God whose grace shone down on the founding our great country.

I don’t know the final outcome of this work, I just know I have an assignment. My job is to pick up this mantle and carry it forward; the rest is up to God.

Until tomorrow, may you have a day filled with purpose and a night of peaceful rest…