I’ve Done It Again!

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Each year I promise myself and anyone concerned, not to make myself one with the outdoor world as Spring turns into Summer. Spring has a gravitational pull like few others, and only becomes stronger as summer dawns. I truly intend each year to divide my time wisely between outdoor activity and indoor obligations. Just as surely as the sun rises earlier and earlier, I become more and more negligent of my pledge. Actually, ‘derelict’ may be a more adequate description of my summer self. To make things worse this year, our backyard population of House Wrens is captivating.

Now, I’m fully aware of one’s reality being one’s perception, so if for some inexplicable reason you aren’t fascinated by all this nature activity or if you do not hear the call of the wild, perhaps you can relate to some other distraction keeping you from being all you think you should be. You will likely think I am loony (and you’d be partly correct) but it’s kind of that trash and treasure idea – it’s all in our perception. My reality, I’m not getting any work done and it’s nature’s fault!

Thinking the rainy days would be my redemption time to clean, or write, or even squeeze in some extra reading, was folly. I refuse, however, to accept all the blame. April showers brought us amazing May flowers. Obviously the birds and bees thought so too, for I have been like a kid at Christmas watching our feathered friends. I go from fascination to frustration as I watch and defend them. My most recent angst has been a Sparrow Hawk who seems to think our Purple Martins came from Brazil just for his or her benefit. Judging by the tenacity, I’d say it’s a she, with a family of her own to feed. That’s beside the point. Aren’t there enough rodents out and about to feed a host of hawks?! Seriously, I’m about a shotgun shell away from committing a crime! On Sunday morning we witnessed said hawk taking an adult Martin down, in our backyard, from her own apartment house. I cried. The dirty bird better be glad it was Sunday! But I digress; I was about to tell you about the wrens, wasn’t I.

Six feet from my sunroom window hangs what remains of a wind chime. It is fashioned like a retro coffeepot, with a birdhouse door and a tiny little awning over the perch. The wrens found it desirable so I cut off the chimes and let them have it. This year it became the chosen one; of the dummy nests created by Mr. Wren, Mrs. Wren chose this one for real. I’ve been sitting in the window, rain or shine, watching them finish, fend off and feed. They are adorable. Other than one seeming a bit smaller than the other, the male and female are identical. They, and another couple near my rose garden, have sung their little hearts out all spring and still sing about anything from “here’s another bug my dear” to “oh what a beautiful morning”! As I write, one of the coffeepot residents has landed on a shepherd’s hook, looks into my window and sings WITH bug in beak, as if to say, “be sure you mention how hard I work”! As one waits for the other to feed their babies, his little wings are in a constant flutter, allowing him to hover a moment for his turn to hand off the groceries. Then he is off on another cross-country mission (across the soybean field to the fence row) for another haul.

From early spring until now, we have enjoyed, besides the swallows and wrens, a daily visit from geese and an occasional Great Blue Heron to our pond, so I get to see them from the sunroom too. We have had gold, purple and house finches; Robins, Mockingbirds, Bob Whites, Red-winged Blackbirds, Bluejays, Cardinals, Hummingbirds and the prettiest little Chipping Sparrows. My favorite is the Eastern Bluebird who has rights to a box I check and protect the best I can. These are the backyard guests that keep me spellbound.

I hate the English house sparrow so much that I will make no further mention of its name. Starlings have been less of a pest this year, but still do some damage. And now the hawk. But isn’t that life? We each see and strive to meet our own needs. Why oh why can’t we all be the gentle melodious Bluebird who just takes care of his own, instead of the screaming predator who kills and maims members of its own class. I know, I know, it’s nature. Not even Mother Nature can please everyone every time. Still, given the pleasures versus the pain, I think she is quite a lovely lady, our Mother Nature!

As I close, a Goldfinch whistling “hey you, hey you”, has joined our wrens in the Crepe Myrtle that shades and protects the coffeepot house. They are completely at peace with each other and my heart swoons. It is nearly noon, and my floors are tracked with tennis shoe prints and dry grass clippings; the furniture is dusty and I have no meal planned. The lawn needs mowing today so there is a multitude of clover and dandelion blooms making happy bees out there. Blame it on the rain. Oh no! An EHS just attempted to enter the wren’s abode! Just as I ran to knock on the window to scare it off, a beautiful blaze of blue swooped down and did the job for me. After a few minutes of peering out her port hole, Mrs. Wren escapes to continue doing what she does, safe and sound. Bluebird, you are my hero!!

Thursdays used to be my productive days. I’m afraid I’ve done it again! Happy watching!

Broken Teacup Lids and Thoughts Of Mother’s Day

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The Thought Pixie brought along the Regret Rascal, arriving just in time to block the Sandman and so I began one of those nights. You know the kind, when every debate you had put away, comes back out to play. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, hopes, regrets; doesn’t matter because once they get on a roll, sleep just doesn’t have a chance. My solution is a cup of Sleepytime tea and a pen in my hand. You know, if you give those random thoughts free range, there’s no telling how long they will romp and stomp. I’ve found intentional thinking by reading or writing will either chase away, or corral them to a manageable level. Even though I am still awake, the effort seems to bring the brain to the point of resting sooner than lying there fighting demons in the dark. The writing usually brings me around to some point where most of those thoughts are connected. Such was this night, two days prior to Mother’s Day.

As if by an unseen force, my hand reached for Mama’s old Hallmark tea mug with a matching lid for steeping. It lives on a shelf, at eye level, where I can see it, but never use it for fear I’ll finish breaking what I started years ago when I dropped the lid. It broke in half, and is glued together with a dark scar, but I treasure it for a couple reasons. First just because it was Mama’s and it was given to her by one of her friends. I can just see her dipping the tea bag up and down in the hot water, then placing the cover to steep the tea and finally, placing the bag to dry on the upturned lid while she sipped her Earl Gray. Rarely ever did I visit her kitchen or den without seeing a dried tea bag where she left it. Secondly, the message written on the cup would probably have been her motto had you asked her. “Life’s truest happiness is found in the friendships we make along the way.” So, in anticipation of this Mother’s Day, I drank my herbal tea from the little blue friendship mug as I wrote to Mama.

Even good things can be broken. Good broken things can be repaired if we care enough to do so. God uses broken things; why shouldn’t we? Although they probably will never be the same, they may be even better – like this tea cup lid. It’s better because it has a new purpose: to remind me that broken is not always forever. It reminds me that people too, are breakable, repairable, and often better than new.

Hearts, relationships, a promise or teacup 
once broken, will leave a scar.
Will one see light shine through the cracks
Or will one see a mar?
Finding hope or substance to patch, stitch or mend
Will prove the thing to have been worthy
When love comes peeking in.


Thank you Mama for being my friend, and for teaching us how to find friendship in life. Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women we call sisters, daughters, mothers and friends! Trisha

Looking Back With 2020 Vision

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Good Sunday afternoon to you! The weekend found me at my old sunroom desk, enjoying sunshine and the song of birds as they declared their hope and cheer.  I was thinking how it’s been a year since I realized COVID 19 would infiltrate every nook and cranny of this country along with the rest of the world. The Murray Ledger & Times reported last week was the one-year anniversary for the first diagnosed case of the coronavirus in Calloway County. Like everyone else, I am thinking back over the year, weighing the lessons and difficulties we have all faced. Part of me wants to just move on and never look back, with gratitude for the vaccination process and for another decrease in cases. The other part of me actually needs to look back and hope the year counted for something. It’s always best to count our gains – always count your blessings – but somehow acknowledging the losses, the trials we’ve lived through and survived, makes us feel stronger and actually hopeful. Hopeful that ills can be healed, lies can be disproven, and I can get out of my pajamas before noon. (Didn’t want this to get too serious!  It’s a beautiful day.)

Most of us have had plenty of time to ponder plans for this new year, to clean out cabinets and cobwebs, and to just be still without feeling guilty. I’ve gotten really good at that last one. In fact, I may have to put it on my negative list because I am literally afraid I’ll never again be as productive as I was. It’s probably best I’ll never know if it was just my age, or the fault of COVID 19. 

I like seeing some of the “lessons I’ve learned” and “people I admire” lists that came out of the extremely weird year. It wasn’t just the coronavirus. From February tornados to scary diagnoses and odd occurrences, it has been anything but dull since late January 2020. Obviously, there has been true tragedy and deeper grieving for many to endure over the past twelve months; my sympathy to all. For today though, I am thinking of lessons learned over the course of Covid. As I’m in the minority who didn’t deal with home schooling, my woes will be different from yours, and yours different from someone else as well. I’d love to see your lists of 2020 pros and cons. Here are a few of mine.

The first few weeks we were learning to adjust while trying not to feel different; also learning ‘normal’ cannot be overrated. Get up, get dressed, get out; hmmmm, where would we go? OK, get up, get dressed, stay in. Eventually necessity drove us out and I became the designated driver, so to speak, to run the required errands for two households. Noticing all the other helpful hands and wheels enforced my belief that Calloway County is a great place to live – the best! I learned that making 20 or 30 masks for a children’s hospital and for family, was easier than sitting down to make one or two for myself. I discovered keeping spare masks in my purse, glove box, and coat pockets did nothing to prevent my panic each time I almost walked into a store without one.  I learned through YouTube videos that ‘easy’ is a subjective word! No wonder folks were paying six dollars for a fifty cent piece of fabric and elastic! Then proudly displaying them on rearview mirrors.

I also learned: the real important stuff in life I took for granted; like toilet tissue,  hand sanitizer, canning lids and visits from my children. Especially those visits!

I need to spend more money on pjs.

I don’t need to eat breakfast each time I wake up throughout the day. 

I am not the “one-way-arrow-on-Kroger’s-floor” police. 

I have absolutely no barber skills!

 I will never again wonder why a generation turned so violent; have you paid much attention to Gunsmoke? Would a duel between Matt Dillon and Frank Barone be out of line? 

I feel like, for the first time ever, I know our Governor personally. 

I cannot blame a lack of time for unfinished projects; I simply start too many of them. And a fresh coat of paint is a miracle worker.

Online shopping and grocery pickup is addictive.

Good coffee is worth whatever it costs.

Most people are real; real people are good.

Life is too short to be fake.

Some things I missed most: hugs from my great nieces and nephews; hugs at church;  Thursday morning breakfasts out. Bunco.

What I’ve accepted:  I am a home-body; I like it, always did, always will.

Home cooking is worth the trouble and I’m a pretty good cook.

I can’t fix the world’s ills but I can pray for them and crying is good for the soul.

I will never forget: the importance of people to one another. Social distancing has its place, but isolation can be worse than the threat of a virus. 

Even home-bodies love and need phone-friends.

2020 certainly wasn’t perfect, but it may very well have improved our vision!

Coffee Breaks

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Trishascoffeebreak began at a time when coffee breaks were at a premium. Over the years the blog has covered many subjects, but usually from a current vantage point in life, mostly in bits of nature where the author felt safe walking through blessings and scattering encouragement along the way. It seems a more fitting title for my blog now would be “Coffee With a View”, since the breaks are more leisurely taken, and I get to actually finish the coffee before it’s cold, perhaps staring out my window the whole time at whatever the seasons bring to view. Today my view took a backward look at the time when coffee breaks were few and cherished; the arena of life that has stayed off my keyboard because I always knew there would be readers with more experience, more knowledge, who were faster on their feet than I and left me feeling like I had no right to write.

Coffee breaks in my former life, were a time to catch your breath or catch up on the endless charting and restocking. Wash cloths, towels and emesis bags seemed to fly out the window if you took time for so much as a half cup of hot coffee. As sure as you decide to sit and enjoy a ten minute break, you’d end up in a delivery where Dr. Austin called for a 14-French suction catheter that wasn’t there and you’d be racing out to find one, wondering how you missed that when you checked to see if the room was ready. The 2-0 chromic suture box was full until a patient tore, or Dr. Cook cut an episiotomy when, sure enough, the box is empty. Coffee breaks were when you chose between restocking or refueling. By the time you empty the overfull bladder and grab a cookie from the box left two days ago by a grateful patient, to quiet the growling stomach during your next patient interview and assessment, there’s no time to stand in a cafeteria line for a fresh cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure God gave us “Preparation Time” that we mistakenly named “Coffee Break”.

On the days when you want to push your chair to the back wall and just breathe for a moment, you hear a co-worker coaching how to effectively push, then suddenly yell “don’t push – just breathe!” and you immediately know you must call their attending physician in for a precipitous delivery and breathlessly you arrive to help her escort a new life into the world. A world where you hope someone used their break too, to restock that room, and you’ll find warmed blankets and suction bulbs ready.

Some days a coffee break finds you sitting next to a co-worker who needs to spill tears for her latest breakup when you really just needed a moment to pray for your son’s failing marriage. But with cup in hand, you listen and sympathize, and make a mental note to drag an apology in with your weary feet tonight for some hasty word said when you left home this morning. You use the final moment of a much-needed break to remind the co-worker and yourself how we have to leave such things at home and give that space in our hearts to hold our patients’ woes, just for today.

Lastly, and less often, there are the days when you actually do have time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy it, only to return to find a gurney rolling in with a patient who started bleeding and you find she only had a couple prenatal visits and those records are in the stack of prenatal records someone just left on the nurses’ station desk while you were gone. The next three hours are spent stabilizing the patient, speeding through paperwork and stuffing your guilty feeling into your scrubs for ever taking a break in the first place

I wouldn’t take a home in Georgia for my times and trials of nursing, but I am so grateful now for a break – to rest, relax and finish my coffee. Though those times certainly gave me gray hair and wrinkles and heart palpitations, they also gave me a world of appreciation and understanding I’d never have gained otherwise. As the reflection off those sharp edges begins to soften with the tarnishing of time, I know there are memories too big and mysterious for words. However, I have begun to try. As I sip my second cup of coffee from my Saturday mug, I allow those memories to begin falling one by one onto my keyboard in hopes of sharing my view. Prepare, pray and breathe, friends.

My Valentine

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Twelve degrees, snow flurries covering a three-day-old layer of ice on the driveway, and it’s Sunday morning, February 14. Reluctant to disturb him from a warm quilt cocoon, I sipped my coffee and listened to the forecast of even lower temperatures, and placed my mass-produced Valentine card near my husband’s head. Oh I had taken time to select a card I thought was warm and sincere in expressing my affection, but compared to what lay ahead today, my signature and six bucks was not much after all.

Eventually he came to life, and with a long look out the window, asked if we intended to go to our place of worship today. I said that I’d really like to. “Okay then, I’ll need to go get old Rose” he said, indicating the four-wheel drive SUV that he had wisely parked out of the weather in a farm shed several hundred yards down the road. Eyeing his red envelope, he sheepishly noted he didn’t buy me anything, but sure appreciated my card. Without breakfast, he was out swapping vehicles while I showered and dressed in the warmth of gas heat and hot water. With time running short, he skipped the slow paced morning most men would have loved today and headed for the shower himself. Shower on; toilet flushed, water running; then water off – all by itself. No water. No shower. What in the world! If you’ve been outdoors in frigid temperatures you know it takes effort to bundle up. Add to that the fact our well and pump are in the field next to our lawn, so there’s that. He checked it out and said the this or that was something or other. I do not speak plumbese. While I stood asking what do we do, what do we do, he made the call to our local well and pump caretakers, on an emergency only day. Cha-ching!

As we waited, we worshipped via laptop with our home congregation. Just after services began, I received an important long distance phone call and had to leave the room. While I was taking the call, this Valentine cupid followed me with the services found on his cell phone, having prepared the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread I had stored, and served communion for us as he knew how important a thing that is for me.

Shortly after worship, a serviceman knocked at the door, stating he heated the pump switch, and that we should keep our water dripping now. Never mind how I was retorting “the water WAS running”; my husband held his tongue and thanked the guy most sincerely for getting out in the cold and I knew I was in the presence of a pretty wonderful Valentine.

Next, I had to report that my commode was now running non-stop. So my Valentine tinkered with the thing-a-ma-bob inside the tank and took care of it. Could he rest now? No, now it was time to go pick up the groceries I ordered yesterday. We left an hour early to drop off a birthday card and gift to a friend, so with time to spend, he drove me to a six-car-wait line for my favorite coffee. Groceries gathered and home again, he gathered supplies and braved the elements once more to insulate the well pump switch just for added assurance. And it’s only 1:30 PM.

Store bought valentines are fine, candy is a danger, and jewelry is for Christmas and anniversaries. What I received today, Valentines Day 2021, is the jewel of patience and kindness and a true sweetheart!! Little things mean so much!

As I was proof-reading to publish, my thoughtful brother-in-law and sister dropped off part of the cheesecake he bought for her Valentines’s Day treat. Seems she and I have much to fill and warm our hearts on this very cold February day.

His Mercy Endures Forever. For. Ever.

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Good Saturday morning to you! My choice in devotion this morning took me again to Mornings With the Holy Spirit where the suggested reading came from Psalm 136. Though I read this before, and even in class heard it discussed, never had the Psalmist’s intentional emphasis on mercy fallen on my heart quite like it did today. Perhaps the numerous changes in 2020 along with my season of life, have widened my vision and begun to open the window of understanding. Or maybe it was the morning’s glow over the red and burgundy Nandina outside my window and a matching purple finch. You choose.

We’re told the book of Psalms was written to sing praises in the temple of worship. Consider our modern hymnals; the stanzas and chorus. With no musical training, even I can see the emphasis of each song is carried in the chorus, where the theme of each hymn is worded. Psalm 136 was explained to be one in which one voice would read or sing a characteristic of God, followed by the congregation in unison singing out, “for His mercy endures forever”. For example, “To Him who divided the Red Seal in two” (give thanks); why, “for His mercy endures forever” (verse 13). The song of Psalm 136 is give thanks to God for His infinite goodness, wisdom, strength, creativity, and deliverance. The theme then is mercy, as each line of God’s work in our lives is followed by a reason for thanking Him – His mercy.

There is a painting in my kitchen I fell in love with a few years ago and it says, “In all of my life in every season you are still God”. It strikes me today with Psalm 136 in my hands, how God’s mercy is what allows me to witness and bask in the goodness of God. He would forever be good anyway, without us. If He had destroyed the earth including Noah and all human life, knowing we’d never get it together, He would still be the creative force, the wisdom beyond our comprehension, the eternal light because in Him is no darkness. Without taking away a single speck of credit to all God’s amazing infinite glory, can we not say it is His mercy which kept us here to witness it? Why? For His mercy endures forever.

Scripture tells us nothing can separate us from the love of God…”neither death nor life…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Gratitude streams down my face for the blessing of knowing my loved ones are still under the mercy of God, even in the grave. Never has it been so clear to me that death is not final, in the spiritual sense. Yes it is the final leg of our earthy journey; but we are so much more. “Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons – …Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses…and broke their chains in pieces.” (Psalm 107: 10-14) Helen’s absence of mind in the darkness of Alzheimers; Daddy’s darkness of depression; Mama’s loss of her body in Myasthenia Gravis; all are overcome by the strength and power in Christ. God broke their chains. Set them free. This life does not win. Even the glorious blessings of this life will not last forever, but His mercy endures FOREVER.

If you live long enough you will gather regrets, face challenges that make you wonder, and become someone who craves the gift of mercy. That’s life. Place it in Christ Jesus, where the immeasurable love of God is revealed day by day. For His mercy endures forever.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. To Him who alone does great wonders…who by wisdom made the heavens,…who laid out the earth above the waters…Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever;” (Psalm 136:1-2, 4-6, 23)

Thank you Father for your goodness: your creation, your redemptive power in Christ, and for my life. Thank you for your merciful heart allowing me see it, receive it and be it. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Using What’s Available (I Just Hope it’s Not Black-eyed Peas)

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Hello blog world. I hope 2021 is starting out well for you. Notice I didn’t say ‘off and running’; where would it be running? (grimace) We are, no doubt, a bit gun-shy. As the cute Facebook message said of the new year, ‘tiptoe in, don’t touch anything…’ and we do know viruses and attitudes do not heed calendars. I did not attempt to thwart fate’s continuance of 2020 with black-eyed peas and pork belly. It’s fun and all, to see all those versions of New Year’s Day meals, but one, I am not superstitious and two, I hate black-eyed peas. I’m a pretty fair cook, so I like to eat my own cooking and as they say, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…so, we do not have the afore-mentioned peas. Bacon and sausage are the extent of our pork fare because I learned years ago that to go further would result in my husband’s pancreatic unrest. Which would lead to my unrest. Bless his heart.

Enough small talk. Truth is, I never plan a particular meal for New Year’s Day. There is always so much left over from Christmas meals, delicious not-so-healthy snacks and sandwich stuff we meant to use but kept replacing with fast food we caught on the run as we got last minute shopping done. I use what I have available. This year it was clean-out-the-fridge soup with grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches; no complaints from the residents.

Applying the ‘what’s available’ thought to our times, none of us planned on having a crappy year. But neither did anyone go without blessings; awaking each day to options is a blessing itself. We have something left over. Maybe not the fancy fare you’d have chosen, but there’s a menu to be had if you woke up able to breathe in the cold air, walk to the coffee maker, and find running water in your kitchen. And, yes, if all I had was black-eyed peas, I’d throw in enough bacon grease to make them tolerable, somehow.

My days begin with a precious pudgy pup taking me outside for his morning constitution. I take that opportunity to say good morning to God, or the birds, or the moon; usually all three unless Auggie let me sleep long enough for the sun to be up and I get to tell the sun good morning. If you can step to the door, listen for a moment to traffic or birds, and catch sight of something moving, you have the beginning already of a prayer of praise, and a pretty darn good day. Thank you God for the ability to walk out into a day of choices, to feel the air sting my face, to smell the neighboring chimney smoke, to watch a bluejay take his breakfast, and to hear quail ruffling up a fence row. I’m able to taste a cup of hot coffee and I know I have the makings of a feast – a feast of blessings with the left-overs alone, not to mention the fat of the calf with which my cup runs over day after day. Family, friends, and fortune much of the world would call excessive, are mine; yours too, I’m guessing. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

No, Covid 19 didn’t go anywhere yet. Sadly, prejudice and hatred still thrive. Crime did not surrender to the authorities. I wish these things would change, but we know it will take a whole lot more than eating the right things on the first day of the year, don’t we? Let’s use what we have to make all the change we can. We have a sovereign God Who craves us to seek Him, be in communion with Him, and allow Him to work in our lives to prepare a forever relationship with Him. I believe He will use what we have left in us – He said so – and will make amazing outcomes of us. (Jeremiah 29:11, for one.) I hope making a better me, will enable me to make good changes in the world of needs. So, until the other shoe drops – no, even if it does, I wish for you a beautiful bold new year in which you can use the leftovers to build, or add on to, a wonderful relationship with the great I AM. (Exodus 3:14) It is the best place to start. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8

A Present of Presence

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I brought my coffee to the sunroom to watch the sun change from a narrow apricot band over the tree tops, become the growing light, and make the sky match the frost covered ground. Sitting by my little “memory” Christmas tree here, I take off one ornament – a clothespin pony, painted red wth white polka dots and a white yarn mane and tail. I remember opening the box of clothespin ornaments back in the 80’s, all painted and decorated in detail; angels, soldiers, a lion, ponies; all still with me today because they were mailed to us from West Virginia. Big Sissy Helen always thought of us.

Reaching for the blessing jar sent only a couple weeks ago from Linda in New Jersey, I pull out today’s surprise message. This one simply said, “We never lose the people we love. They live wth us in our hearts for the rest of our lives.” And I gingerly touch the little red clothespin pony to my face, stirring the present of Helen’s presence in my heart.

A busy cardinal outside my window now reminds me of Helen’s early up-and-at ’em-life. I remember also the first time ever when she didn’t know who I was when I called her. It was Mother’s Day this year. I wrote about it; about the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and the things it robs from us. I need to finish that for Helen’s girls and her husband’s sake. They need to know their mom and wife still lives on in the hearts of others, even though she has only fragments of herself living still in the shell of her body.

Yes, Linda, they do live on in our hearts. Thank you for the reminder coming from the little jar of love; that we have not truly lost those who are not physically in our midst. They are so much more than a body and a face.

I pray God will grant me the ability and time to be like those little slips of paper coming daily from the blessing jar; reminding someone, somewhere that real life – the real life that goes on living in our hearts – is not vanity at all. God gave us each other for a reason. May we each paint the dark skies with light; open gifts of pleasure for others, and speak words of blessing into their lives while we can. We will live in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Don’t Go With The Flow

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With social distancing in place, our seats in worship are anywhere we find a vacant spot. Today it was the balcony. At the end of service, we exited with the crowd, moving along fluidly; again, minimizing contact due to Covid 19. My mind was on the people I saw and heard. Some I hadn’t spoken to in months – again due to the swiftness of exit, the masks and different seating – and some I’d love to get a hug from; and then the snippets of conversations and wondering about the rest of their stories.

A word of caution: reading the following may cause one to dread aging. Don’t judge until you’re there:)

As we entered the vestibule at the bottom of the stairs, we fell into the flow of those coming from the auditorium toward the exit or other classrooms. As my husband paused at the trash can to leave our communion packaging, he whispered “Is that it?” Assuming he meant was that all he needed to discard, I nodded affirmative and we were swept on through the commons area and out the door. Concern for a troubled stranger in our midst gave us added distraction from the norm. Not a bad thing; in fact, I realize we enter and exit worship far too often on auto-pilot and need a little extra stimulus to ponder our plot in life. But I digress.

As he started our car, my husband again questioned me, “So we aren’t having class again?” Class. Oh. Class! Suddenly I realized I’d gone with the flow of folks and completely forgotten about Sunday School! Had I been entertaining purposeful thinking, I’d have realized he was asking at the trash can if we were leaving. Duh. Feeling kinda foolish I opted for continuing on our way home instead of walking back inside, against the flow. Now, this isn’t about a virus, nor precautions, nor even about Sunday school attendance. It’s about the difference purposeful thinking makes in whether we go with the flow, take another route, or step aside and hold our place until we’re good to go. (Maybe it’s somewhat about absent mindedness too, which I’ve been accused of before.)

How might we have altered our outcome? Two ways; one, take another route. There’s a side hall to step into from the balcony stairs and through it, we would have many doors of opportunity to enter the auditorium for class without interrupting the smooth flow of traffic. The other option would be to wait; taking time to watch from a distance as our brothers and sisters moved in tandem toward the door. We could then make our way to our auditorium class minus the mass exit.

In life as well, it feels natural to go with the flow. But what is popular may not be best. The path of least resistance is easier, but it doesn’t build strength. The crowd’s concerns are not likely matched to your cares, nor can you see the signs ahead if lost in the crowd. Or, my leg of the journey may need further planning, mapping; perhaps I need to reenter the destination in my GPS. Purposeful thinking – looking ahead at desired outcomes – may cause us to divert our direction, or press the pause button.

Diversion may find us taking a side road less traveled where we can experience new opportunity to bless and be blessed. By the way, diversion can also force the enemy from the principle point of operation, where he expects us to be following mindlessly. It brings to mind the words from Matthew 7: 13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV) Not a very popular thought, but those words are from the mouth of Jesus. I need to put that in my Garmin.

Pressing the pause button as well, just might be a gap of opportunity in which we see others instead of self; where we can refuel; time to regroup. This is a good time to recall God’s word. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 6:10 NKJV)

So, we missed Sunday class, but I learned a lesson. I’ll listen with purposeful thinking when my husband asks a question. (OK, I will try.) And if I don’t want to swim back upstream, I better divert my direction ahead of time, or wait patiently when purposeful thought says, “You do not want to go with the crowd”.

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139:3 NKJV

I Didn’t See It Coming

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Before the storms….spidey in the summer shadows
After our first frost…we shall see.

This pretty Spider Plant may have “bit the dust” on my watch. As the photo comparisons over a couple months show, Spidey has grown in spite of being thrown to the ground during three summer storms. Finding a lower perch for her did help, but only after losing several of the ‘babies’ and leaves. After all that, last night’s frost may be her demise. She looks good enough this morning but only a day or two of sunshine will tell for sure. The same for the prettiest roses I’ve had all year. Roses do not appreciate too much rain so they have only lately had their richest color and fragrance. I’d have covered Mr. Lincoln had I seen it coming. I have hopes that the chrysanthemums were not hurt, but this was a 36 degree white frost so, what should I expect? Wasn’t this a bit early for frost in western Kentucky? Oh yes, this IS 2020!

Why didn’t I see it coming? First, I stopped watching. I stopped listening. My mind was not open to hearing the news so I even missed the weather forecast with its frost advisory. Secondly, complacency; I was enjoying the amazing weather so much that I couldn’t think of it having a possible down side. Thirdly, and hardest to admit, I kinda dreaded dealing with it. She is heavy, cumbersome, and where am I going to keep it all winter? She resided with all the other house plants in our sunroom last winter, but she has put on some bulk since then. Just picking her up after the storms was almost more than I could handle and now I need to figure a way to pack her into the house. That is, if she survived.

Mr. Lincoln long stemmed rose below the autumn berries of Washington Hawthorne

Does any of this sound familiar? Am I watching and listening to the cues of loved ones, friends, or scripture? We may become so engrossed in day to day pleasures or pain that we miss the hints that a friend needs encouragement or a loved one may be falling off the edge. Do we grow tired or discouraged when reaching out to someone hasn’t reached far enough? As much as we love God’s Word, do we subconsciously look past the heavy verse that might change a comfortable aspect of our lives? It is difficult to admit, but yes, I do. All of these, from time to time haunt me and last night’s frost serves as a reminder. However, the beauty of the day also reminds me of God’s grace, shielding me and providing new opportunities every day to be watchful, to provide care and compassion, while enjoying His blessings all the more! “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Hopefully shielded by the roof overhang.

The New Testament writers were inspired to warn us to be watchful for the wiles of the devil; for the return of Jesus; for our souls’ well being as well as the welfare of others. Here are just a few. “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33 ESV) “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (I Corinthians 16:13 NKJV) “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (I Peter 4:7). “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2 ESV) ” Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NIV)

Have a beautiful autumn. It is still my favorite even with it’s surprises.