The Search for Peace

PEACE – A simple five-lettered word that has stymied people essentially since time began. I dare suggest that people have searched to the ends of the earth and looked into remote galaxies in a quest to find it.

What country can you think of that hasn’t had war as part of its history? Yes, even though Switzerland escaped being an active participant in World War I & II, it has had its share of conflict. The idioms “make peace with” and “keep the peace” are easier said than done. Diplomats can attest to the fact that even when peace accords/treaties have been instituted, there is a big chance that the hatred and violence will continue and even escalate (take Angola and Rwanda for examples).

The Hippie generation used a peace sign as their symbol. The victory designation with two fingers up was a way to state “peace” without even having to say it. Both Arabic and Hebrew use “peace” as a form of greeting.

I think the real question is, can peace really be something manufactured? Can we bestow peace by a decree or a greeting? When we go to a funeral and someone consoles the mourners with “At least they are at peace now”, do they really know that? Even in life, we can go around with a plastered on smile and fool others into believing that we have “peace of mind”, when in reality we may be plagued by inner turmoil. Continue reading

crocuses

Hello Spring…and a free gift!

Oh, how I love spring!  

Along with the other new beginnings that I’ve mentioned enjoying in previous blog posts (New Year’s Day, mornings), spring is a fresh start.  Here are just a few things I love about this time of year:

  • Fringy leaves on trees.  Fully developed leaves in the summer are nice for shade, but there spring treesis something about the delicate nature of leaves when they are just starting to pop.  This is an advantage to living in the Midwest and being rewarded for enduring the bare winters.  The new leaves give a fresh appreciation of God’s creation.
  • New flowers to discover.  I have planted a number of flowers in our flower beds throughout the years we’ve been at this house.  I don’t claim to have a green thumb and there are definitely plants that haven’t fared too well, despite my efforts.  However, I love the excitement of seeing the various colors emerge, so I keep planting more.   Squirrels have a plan of their own and I’ve caught the little rascals in the process of redistributing what I have planted.   One year, I bought a bunch of mail-order bulbs to plant in the fall.  Since none of my crocuses have stayed where I put them, I questioned whether I should even bother to plant any other bulbs.  A friend told me that I should cover the bulbs with screen to keep the squirrels away.  Smiling to myself, as I imagined thwarting my garden thieves, I went off to buy some screen.  The screen I bought at the local hardware store was in a large piece, but not large enough to cover my whole bed.  So I cut it into about 12″ sections and plunked a piece of screen on top of each bulb in the hole and then refilled the hole with dirt.  Well, the squirrels (not to mention the neighbors) must have been laughing in the spring.  Instead of tulips emerging, I was growing screen!  As each bulb sprouted, the tulip pushed the screen right out in front of it, so that there were little hillocks of screens all over!  Oh, I wish I had a picture to show you!!!
  • Returning birds.  I took an ornithology class in 8th grade in an attempt to avoid chemistry and other difficult classes.  Although I’m still convinced that my teacher was crazy (he cut off a chicken’s head and invited us to watch what happened – I declined), I learned more from this class than from almost any other middle school class…and most of my high school classes!  I enjoy watching the birds.  My favorite birds are Sandhill Cranes.  I have seen some recently in a nearby community, so I know it is just a matter of time until they come to visit my neighborhood.
  • Warmer temperatures.  It is so refreshing to be able to walk outside rather than on our treadmill in our dreary basement.  The earthy smell of spring that replaces the musty smell of our lower level definitely adds to my walking enjoyment.
  • Thunderstorms.  I really miss thunderstorms in the winter.  I have been known to pull back the drapes that we’ve closed in the evening just to see the light display.  I enjoy the flash and then trying to guess when the rumble will come.  The only time I don’t enjoy thunderstorms is when I’m caught outside when they start up.

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birthday cake and candles

Having a Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I feel a little funny about broadcasting that fact.  It smacks with self-exultation and attempts to solicit well wishing from others.  That is not me.  I have always felt an embarrassment creep over me when the candles on the cake are lit and everyone starts into “Happy Birthday to YOU!”.  The stares I received as a child were only compounded when I got married and found that some of my husband’s family added to the verses, making me want to melt into the cake along with the dripping wax.  The reason I decided to reveal this fact is that I wanted to write about our perceptions of birthdays as we grow older.  Continue reading

Mary Pickford sad photo

Valentine’s Day with a Broken Heart

BROKEN HEARTHow do you feel about Valentine’s Day?  If the thought of it leaves you feeling depressed or lonely, you’re not unique.  According to one statistic, about 40% of people have negative emotions when thinking about the ‘Holiday of Love’.  If you are currently single, widowed, divorced, or have recently broken off a relationship it may seem like everyone in the world is celebrating except you.  Although I can’t change your circumstances, my aim in this short post is to give you some alternative things to focus on.  What if you are happily in a relationship and these ideas seem far removed from you?  Chances are you know someone who could use a boost in their perspective.  Read my suggestions and reach out to someone who may be lonely.  Better yet, send them a link to my blog and suggest they read it for themselves.  It might change a dreaded holiday into one they cherish.

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New Year – Prayer

Hello,

Today’s New Year’s topic is prayer.  Once again I’m terribly shortcoming in this area of my life.  In my younger adult years, I really struggled accepting that I needed to pray.  I figured that God knew everything that I ever would think about praying for way before I ever even knew about it myself.  On top of that, I had the attitude that God’s will would win out no matter if I prayed for it to happen or not.  So what’s the use of putting in the time to pray if it really had no purpose?  Oh and here’s the kicker, I actually became convinced that God was doing the opposite of what I prayed for.  People would ask me to pray for them.  Of course, I would tell them that I would pray and I even made sure I did (at least once), but in my head I would think, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking.’  Do you remember the Old Testament story in Numbers 22-24 about how Balak, the Moabite King, hired Balaam to curse the Israelite people?  Every time he attempted to curse them, he ended up blessing them instead.  Well, I felt like my prayer life was similar, only in reverse.  When I cried out for God’s blessings on someone, something bad would happen.  I was not the one you’d want on your church’s prayer team!

<aRomans 12:12 plaque (2)

Even in my rebellion, there would be times I would feel guilty for largely abandoning prayer.  I knew that Christians were supposed to pray.  You can’t read the Bible and escape reading about people who prayed – David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jonah (who was a prime example of a rebel) prayed.  Then, of course, there is the Lord’s Prayer.  If God acted completely without regard to prayer, why would Jesus give His disciples (and us) an example of how to pray?  I finally came to the conclusion that, even if the idea of why people should pray is beyond my comprehension, God wants us to pray and I needed to obey Him in this area.

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Decorating with JOY

Decorating with Joy ornament


Want to see what I’ve been up to?  I’ve been making deco mesh garlands to hang on our front porch.  You see, last year was the final straw for the pre-lit garlands we’d put out for years.  Every year it was the same hassle, most of it brought on by my less than logical mind.  I’d hang six garlands along our railing.  My obsessiveness would take over as to whether they each had the same amount of swag and if the lights were pointing in ways that could be seen from the street.  I’d adjust here and there and finally, not because they were perfect, but because my fingers were freezing, I’d decide enough was enough and it was time to plug them in.  That’s when I’d discover that I’d hung them all in the wrong direction and the plug prong was at the opposite end from the plug.  So, I’d have to take them all down and hang them up again in the opposite direction, my frozen brain caring a little less about how good they looked, as long as they lit.  Of course, there always were one or two that wouldn’t light up unless they were in a specific spot (still don’t understand the reasoning there).  So, at the end of last season, I chucked them!

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I am now going to say something that may shock some of you – I HATE decorating!  Despite the capital letters, I whispered that statement.  It seems almost “unChristian” to dislike decorating for Christmas.  From what I can tell by listening to others, there aren’t many who sympathize with my anti-decorating mindset.  I talked to a patient last year who confessed to having three Christmas trees.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t even have a single one. Continue reading

The Love of a Neighbor





Juicy red tomato

Have you ever had a day that was so hectic that you were running around like a chicken with your head cut off?  Sometimes, when all the dust clears, you find that in the chaos you fulfilled that picture by doing something mindless.  I have found some things in pretty odd places because I absentmindedly put down what I was holding in a crazy place.  I know when I was younger I accidentally put ice cream in the refrigerator and when I later saw the pools of melted gummy ingredients, I didn’t think I could ever eat ice cream again.  Wish I could say that resolve lasted.

Anyway, a few months ago I was having one of those mornings of insanity.  I was leading a staff meeting that day which was likely to be taken as confrontational.  I decided that a home cooked luncheon might “tame the savage beast”.  As part of a meal, I threw together a simple lettuce and tomato salad.  Food in hand, I rushed off to work. Continue reading

An Attitude of Thanksgiving and a FREE GIFT




blessings-journal

Hello Everyone,

November is here and in just over three weeks Thanksgiving will be upon us (for those in the USA). Thanksgiving is, in my opinion, one of the few remaining holidays with a Biblical focus.  While it’s true that we could choose to get caught up in the feast mentality or even the early shopping deals, I am really going to make a conscientious effort to notice the good things that God has provided.

I will begin by telling you that I haven’t always found this to be an easy thing to do.  About five years ago, I received news that rocked my once stable world.  Do you recall falling off your bike as a child and hitting the ground so hard that your breath was knocked out of you?  Remember how one moment you were riding along free as the breeze and then suddenly you were on the ground, gasping for air, and wondering what happened?  That’s exactly how I felt.  It happened so unexpectedly that I was caught completely off guard.  The only difference was that after falling in childhood, I was able to breathe again normally after a minute or so.  This time, I waited for that suffocating feeling to subside.  Any moment now…but I continued to struggle to get back to normal.  Each night I would go to bed in tears, sometimes stifling the sobs so that no one would hear.  I would pray that when I awoke the next morning everything would be back to normal again.  However, the next day would come and the pain would still be there.  One time I even woke up on my knees in my living room.  Apparently I had walked in my sleep and had gone into my prayer position automatically because of all the times I had spent pleading with God to restore the beautiful times I barely remembered. Continue reading

Unexpected Treasures




My husband and I have been trying to walk the neighborhood more often in an effort to stay fit. We are blessed to live in a safe community and our house is situated at just the right place to give us a number of options from which to choose.  This morning, we decided to walk into an affluent neighborhood. We soon discovered that it was their trash day. As we walked and talked, we would occasionally glance at the mounds of rubbish waiting to be picked up along the curb. You can tell a lot about a household from their recycle bins: Are their newspapers stuffed into a diaper box? Which pizza place do they prefer?

On our way back home, I noticed a colorful box in a bag next to a trash can near one house. As I stopped to look more closely, I discovered that it was an entire bag filled with little boxes, the kinds you would get with a jewelry purchase. Being a crafter, I’m always looking for ways to wrap up the gifts I make. These would be perfect! So, to my husband’s dismay, I announced I was going to carry the bag back home with me. As I lifted it up, I discovered another bag filled with similar boxes underneath. Double score! One glance at my husband’s face told me that I would not be getting any help toting these home. Continue reading