Precious worn copies of the Longfellow Birthday Book and The Friendship Birthday Book are now in my custody. These small volumes list a quote (mostly from Longfellow) for each day of the year with space to enter names to remember birthdays. As I flip the pages, I see the names of those important to my female ancestors. I will be using these little books throughout this year. I will select one of the quotes each month and post the quote along with a photo I take that reminds me of the words. A new year, a new endeavor. “No endeavor is in vain; its reward is in the doing.” from The Wind Over the Chimney poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Christmas still comes despite it all, because Christmas is inside of us.
How is it that I have a sounder of swine flying above my writing desk? And what do they do for me? Well, the first flyer was a black and green paper mache pig with black fighter jet wings—a product of my son’s schoolwork. As an IT professional at the time, I decided to hang it in my office as a representation of making the impossible happen—the magic of technology. Over the years, coworkers, family, and friends have contributed the many flying pigs that now soar above my writing desk (and many more parked around the house).
Every creature reminds me to:
— Stretch my wings.
— Look up—see from a different perspective.
— Question my limits.
— Think beyond—use my imagination.
— Not be too serious—have fun!
— Wonder how my late-husband and I somehow managed to raise a good human.
Impossible? Maybe not.
Every time I look at this painting on the wall across from my writing desk, my thoughts go to the child in Haiti who gifted her art to me. My husband and I were on a mission trip there several years ago. The painting was given as a statement of thanks for our work. We were touched by this simple act of sharing. How appropriate that some define “share” as having something in common. And how wonderful that a synonym for “share” is “communicate”. This painting is a constant reminder of the love we have in common with the beautiful souls we worked with in Haiti. And this continues to encourage me to share whatever gifts with which I have been blessed.
I’m often asked how I make it through hard times. My history includes divorce, death (spouse, parents, friends, sister, grandchild in the womb), cancer, and decades of caregiving that included repeated life and death medical situations with both positive and devastating outcomes. Very recently I experienced another difficult time with, thankfully, a positive outcome.
My secret to successfully moving through difficulties? 1. Foundation. Have a relationship with God before the hard times hit. I’m talking more than belief, more than faith. A relationship like you have with a close friend. Learn about Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. 2. Focus. I keep close to God as I move through the struggles. I do this by reading my Bible – my Heavenly Father’s letters to me – and meditating and praying. 3. Fall. Release control and allow myself to be held by God. Trust God. Fall into the arms of Jesus, and let Him support and guide as He brings me and my concerns to the Father.
I can’t control the outcome, but I can control the FOUNDATION on which I stand, my mental FOCUS, and the decision to do a trust FALL to the only One who can be fully trusted.
Making a pottery bowl from a lump of clay was my latest foray into trying something I’ve never done. And the bowl looks more like a bowl than I expected! Not all my first attempts have turned out nearly as well. But I always learn something from the trying. And I give myself plenty of elbow room of grace in the process and in my rookie results. So, go ahead, test yourself. Make an effort. Take a stab. Strive. What’s next for me? Maybe I’ll weave a table runner and placemats.
“The past is gone, the future is not here, now I am free of both.”
“Now is the moment that never ends.”
I’ve been exercising my “paying attention” muscles. As I got into my car, I decided to focus on telephone poles for the drive. I noticed the construction, placement, and what managed to grow on the poles. And I noticed where there were no telephone poles—a rarity in my rural community. Engaging in a “noticing” activity when I’m alone has made routine activities feel fresher and forces me into the moment. I can’t think about the past or future when I’m scouting for something specific. Staying in the moment is something I’m working on, and I’m happy to have found a simple exercise to employ.
Last week I selected “doors” on the way to a friend’s farm. So many well-used doors at the entrances to the barn and outbuildings. I love these faded doors. A door. An access. A barrier. Granting entry. Preventing entry. A door. An invitation. An opportunity. Yes, let’s go in!
Looking forward to harvesting ripe red apples in a month or so. The basis for this anticipation? Belief based on science. The apple blossoms survived a spring cold snap. And small green apples now cover the trees. My faith in applesauce and apple pies rests on apple tree science. Blossom to tiny fruit to ripe fruit. Faith based on science designed by God. And I can almost taste it!
The lilies in my garden are open wide. Beautiful. Strong bulb foundation. Petals spread unconfined. Stamen and pistil fully exposed. Open. Accessible. Without barrier. Free. A reminder to check my mind. Without barrier? Open?