A silence fell over the group that went on…and on…and on. So, I started to talk. I chatted on like a radio.
I’ve been reading through the book of Job from the Bible this summer. It really is a painful little book. It’s painful, not only because of the horrific catastrophes that happen to Job. That is excruciating enough to imagine. But, to have to listen in as his closest friends carelessly prattle on and on as Job suffers…well, that just breaks my heart.
Give light and people will find the way.
The sun room in the condo where we’ve stayed in Big Sky, Montana the last couple of years overlooks a small lake hedged in by the small ski village. The village sits at the base of Lone Peak. And the view at sunrise is breathtaking.
Our fourth guest is a writer of poetry. Her name is Denise Smith Collier and her beautiful words can be found on her Facebook page, Heart of Worship. May these words from both of her poems bless and encourage you today...
Love Letter from Jesus
My beautiful bride,
I long so for you,
With sharing our love,
Communion of two.
It's our third week and we are really excited to share another lovely lady's blog with you. Her name is Heidi Zwart. She has a wonderful blog about health and wholeness that you will be so encouraged by. Follow her at www.heidizwart.com.
We pray that these words that Heidi wrote will resonate with you today as you move toward a healthier life, day by day.
Check out her blog: https://byambershands.com/. It's a wonderful collection of yummy recipes, creative crafts and ideas to inspire you to tap into your own God-given gifts and abilities.
The last few days have been incredibly difficult ones for me.
On days like today, when my heart is heavily burdened, when my thoughts are clouded and my spirit is grieved, I find myself drawn to performing simple tasks with my hands.
During the month of July, we gals at Heart Matters want to lift the voices of other women who write beautiful blogs.
I'm delighted to re-post a beautifully written blog by Hannah Sorvik Fordice.
“I don’t know who I am! I’m like cat here, a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.”— Breakfast at Tiffany's
"Did you hear a cat too? Or am I crazy?"
The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, it is hello, goodbye…until we meet again.
One of the advantages of advancing years are all the memories that are stowed away in the heart. Like treasures that have been carefully tucked away up in the attic, we brush the cobwebs aside, lift the trunk lid and memories come spilling out.
I’ve reached the age where my train of thought often leaves the station without me.
I’m aging. And it’s getting more and more apparent: from the crow’s feet around my eyes to my ever-growing wattle neck. Yep. Inherited that lovely item from my grandma o. There were so many wonderful traits I would have loved to have inherited from grams, but, this is the one I got.
We gals grew up hearing and reading love stories and fairy tales from the time we were little. One of my very favorites was, and still is, Cinderella.
Perhaps I am drawn to her story because, like myself, she was just an ordinary gal.
And, she, like many of us, found herself stuck in what felt like the inescapable drudgery of daily life.
I heard an old man speak once… He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is an addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the back seat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m a firstborn. A child of divorce. A burden-bearer by nature that desperately wants everything to be alright. Or a combination of all three.
They were longing for a better country… a heavenly one.
Think for a moment about the word paradise, what comes to your mind? Is your first thought a tropical retreat with white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees? Or does a cabin up in snow-capped mountains with stunning views better fit your notion of the word?
My idea of paradise would be a little cottage surrounded by flower-filled gardens set in the Lake District of England.
The mere thought of getting away to places such as these stirs our hearts with longing.
There is something almost magical in the plotting and planning of a trip, whether it is to Boston or Barbados, Portland or Paris. Once we’ve settled on where we are going, the anticipation begins to build as the longed-for day of departure approaches, which to me is half the fun. After counting down the days on your calendar, you finally begin your journey, and before you know it, you are finally in the destination of your dreams - you are in paradise.
But, a strange thing begins to happen to me after I’ve been away awhile. I begin to feel a lot like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. In spite of the fact that Dorothy and I once ached to be somewhere over the rainbow where all our dreams would come true, it is not long after our wishes have been fulfilled that we begin to yearn to be back home.
It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.
Whoever clings to his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall save it.
It’s midway through August now, and I’ve already spotted signs of season’s change.
I’ve spied goldenrod blooming, burning bushes blushing in shades of pink and red, and tall grasses waving taupe-colored plumage. I’ve noticed crabapple trees shedding their yellowed leaves and stood gazing in marveled wonder at the peapod-shaped seeds that now top what was once a cheery carrot-orange butterfly weed.
I’ve been so taken by those odd looking seed pods of late, that I’ve started taking pictures of them. Have you seen them in your neck of the woods? If not, you ought to be on the lookout for them.
They’re green now. But, as the waning days of summer march on, they will dry into a tanned husk and break open. Then, the seeds inside will fly.
Last year I picked a dried pod that was chuck full of seeds and placed it on my desk. I can’t explain it, but, it spoke to me then… It speaks a clearer message to me now.
Here's what it's whispering...
My life. Your life. Our lives. They’re fleeting.
I’ve gone to look for myself
If I get back before I return
Please ask me to wait!
Our last day in Aix en Provence happened to be Market Day. And I, for one, was not leaving until I had sufficiently shopped as many stalls as possible.
Nearly every inch of those tight, old Roman city streets was lined with vendors plying their wares.
We began our little spree amidst the artfully displayed tables piled high with vegies of every shape and variety. Little chalkboards with the prices in Euros were wedged between purple l’aubergine (eggplant), bright red tomatoes, orange peppers and bundles of laitue (lettuce).
From there we made our way over to the local les fromagers (cheese makers) who were offering small wedges to taste, and to the meat merchants slicing slivers of saucisson for sampling. And who in their right mind would pass up the wine vendors? A sip of summer rosé does a heart good.
Then there were the stands of fresh cut flowers—big bouquets of les tournesols (sunflowers), peonies and roses, as well as plants to add to one’s garden. I could’ve stayed there all day, but, a booth filled with homemade soaps of jasmine, cherry blossom, vanille, and nearly every fragrance under the sun, tempted me to move on. That was followed by a stall filled with all things lavende (lavender).
The deeper we went into the market, the greater the hordes of humanity. Temps were nearing 100° - the humidity was thick.
And I loved it! Absolute joy…
That is until my hubby and I got separated.
"My soul is utterly frantic for that single place of perfect refuge from which I can clearly see the winds rip and hear the tempest tear, yet despite the ferocity of the tumult I rest in such sublime peace it is as if neither existed at all. And if I have not found such a place, it is because I have not yet found God."
Craig D. Lounsbrough
Between thunderstorms, I scampered outside for a breath of fresh air…and to take a sneak peek at the state of my waterlogged gardens. There amidst the leaves and twigs littered across our yard and driveway, I spotted a sweet little birds nest lying on its side. I was grief stricken. The violent wind and rain had shaken that little shelter right out of the tree limbs.
I carefully took the nest inside and placed it on my desk in my office. Then, I made my way back out to the deck to pull my poor potted lavender plant under the eve. It, too, looked as if it had had quite enough of the wet weather and could use a bit of a reprieve.
Hoping to spend a few minutes outside journaling between storms, I set out in search of paper towels to dry off my patio table and chairs.
As I began to wipe the glass surface, I noticed a moth clinging to the underside of our table.
I ran inside to grab my camera and took a photo of my insect friend just as the heavens began to weep once more, sending me scurrying inside.
Standing at my sliding glass doors I watched the heavy raindrops pour down from the sky. It felt as if the heavens were weeping both raindrops and tears.
With all the tragic events that have unfolded, with such hatred and division plaguing this nation of ours…is it any wonder?
I wept along with the clouds.
“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.”
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
You made summer… and gave it to the earth.
We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. It is a difficult lesson to learn–to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practice the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. And yet, once it is done, I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a solitary place where he could be alone in prayer.
I spent the afternoon gardening at my friend Mariann’s house. When we parted ways she blessed me with gardening goodies. As soon as I got home, I planted those green gifts, along with a packet milkweed seeds I’d purchased, to add to my growing gardening collection of butterfly-charmers. I love everything about butterflies–from the fuzzy caterpillar stage to chrysalis to the final metamorphosis. That’s why flowers like allium, asters, bee balm, coneflowers, daylilies, hollyhocks, lavender, Russian sage and Shasta daisies fill every space possible in my garden to attract my beautiful winged friends.
I now notice almost every single butterfly. I pay attention to most plain old butterflies, not just the ones in tiaras or argyle socks. Butterflies…are like one perfect teaspoon of creation.
For all the enjoyment fuzzy caterpillars and flittering butterfly antics bring, it’s the cocoon stage that absolutely intrigues me. I find it nothing short of supernatural! How God takes a hairy little creature with myriad legs and transforms it in the quiet darkness of a chrysalis into a winged thing of beauty–in just a week or two–flabbergasts me.
And yet, astonishingly enough, that very miracle of transformation that God shapes in a cocoon, he also longs do in us.
But, that kind of work requires something of us.
It requires our time. Just as the weaving of a caterpillar into a butterfly takes time.
In order for God to do that kind of supernatural metamorphosis in our lives, we must carve out time hidden away from all eyes but His. Time alone. Time in solitude. Time enough to free us from distractions. Time enough to abandon ourselves to the Spirit in order to stretch, mold and shape God’s heart in us.
Solitude is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. In solitude our heart of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart, and a closed heart into a heart that opens itself up once more.
Henri J. Nouwen
It’s plain and simple, life or the plans we make in life are not plain or simple.
I had spent countless hours on the internet pouring over airline, hotel and B&B sites for our trip to France last summer. I started the process in February, booked our flights the end of April, and our hotels the end of May.
But, even best-laid plans can change at a moment’s notice.
Our flight was delayed two hours in Minneapolis. The connecting flight in Frankfurt--missed. Confusion and mayhem ensued. Long lines endured, barely. When we finally arrived in Geneva hours later, Rey’s bag had gone AWOL, literally—even the airline had no idea where it was.
And to top it all off, Rey was scheduled to start work at a cheese factory in the Alps the next day. Only, his uniforms and boots were packed in that lost suitcase--floating somewhere out there in the airport stratosphere.
Here’s the thing I’m learning through experiences like this one… God doesn’t always get you where you are going to smoothly.
But, I like things to go smoothly. In fact, I kind of expect it to. How about you? If you're like me, interruptions, schedule changes, waiting in long lines, or behind slow cars in the fast lane when you're in a hurry can be a real mood changer.
Why is that, I wonder? It’s not as if everything in life falls into place or goes according to our plans and dreams every single time. But, somehow we still expect it to and are so disappointed, frustrated, or agitated, even with God, when it doesn’t.
What does this say about me? About us? What does this say about our faith in a God who works all things together for our good? (Romans 8:28)
Our arrival in France put us behind schedule in every way. With no way of connecting with le fromager (the cheese-maker) in Bogeve, we headed to our B&B on Lake Geneva. The following day we nervously made our way to our hotel in La Chappelle d’Abondance and prayed for the best.
“Civility awareness and a common foundation of considerate conduct are crucial to our future. Let us work towards not only bringing civility back in style, but ultimately making it a lifestyle.”
Cindy Ann Peterson
The Power of Civility: Top Experts Reveal the Secrets to Social Capital
Put a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
I found myself in a long line at Walmart the other day. It’s one of the reasons why I find it so difficult to shop there…those lines try my patience! Yet, there I was. Stuck, like everyone else ahead of and behind me.
Let me just say that there was plenty of foot-tapping, head-shaking and sighs going on all around me. That is until one woman could no longer hold her tongue and unleased her frustration on the poor cashier.
Nothing unusual these days. But, what was unusual was that rather than turn away wrath with a gentle answer as Solomon so wisely advised, the cashier instead goaded the irritated customer with snide remarks and sarcasm.
This only flustered the older woman further. She searched desperately for support from one of us in line, who now had their eyes diverted in order to avoid being drawn into the situation.
After she was gone, the cashier continued to belittle the “rude woman” to the remaining customers in line.
I was saddened.
When it finally came my turn at the register, the cashier tried to lure me into her tirade as well. Instead, I shared a little story with her. I told her that several years back when my sister was hospitalized with brain cancer, I spent days at time away from my own family in order to care of my sister’s three children. I often brought them back home with me, as well, so that my sister's hubby could be by her side. Before long I felt emotionally, spiritually and physically spent and, as such, I have no doubt that I said and did things under duress I would surely regret today.
I continued, “We never know what the back story in another person’s life is. Yes! That customer may have just been downright crabby, but, since we don’t know, it’s always best to counter rudeness with a civil, polite, courteous, grace-filled response. Because the only words we can control are our own.”
She started for a second, then began offering excuses for her behavior. I simply listened and walked away disheartened.
Sadly, this scenario plays out every single day. At Walmart. At the grocer’s. At restaurants. Sometimes even at church.
It happens in our vehicles, too–only we use hand and head gestures and, these days, sometimes bullets to get our point across.
What has happened to civility? To patience? To respect? To common courtesy and being polite?