Tag Archives: Comfort

Healing things

I find it is the small things, the often overlooked or sometimes neglected things that can bring calm and restoration to my life. During these past months, I’ve had to force myself to find the things that comfort my soul. I’m sharing them to remind myself of the Whispers of Rest that God provides, if I will only notice. Perhaps they might be a reminder for you as we move closer to the winter holiday season and beyond into what we have as the long, cold of winter.

Notice. Make something with your hands. Enjoy the space that surrounds you – and all those you are blessed to have in it. The seasons change always brings some new beauty to bless us.

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2017-08-30     Collages6

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ferns    calla bulbs and amaryllis bulbs    Sadie cat

still life  Advent begins. A quiet soul time. The link is a story with some resource links from the past. An online friend, Diana Trautwein, is starting her Advent Journey: Reflections for Weary Travelers and Bonnie Gray is Celebrating Advent, listening for God’s Whispers of Christmas.  Maybe you need a bit of rest yourself?

sunset

  • Double click on any photo to see the enlargement.

 

Living in sacred moments

What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events which alter and illuminate our times… and you were there.     from You Are There – hosted by Walter Cronkite.

dish of shells

Behind the silence here, the drama of a life ending has been unfolding. A drama I would never choose to be a part of and yet, I was, I had to be. In the days since the final goodbye, I began to look for words. Words to record the pains, the sorrows, the griefs, and also the laughter,the  love, the sacred… oh, the sacred moments… of watching a mama sing her last Happy Birthday to a son – fully grown, but always her baby.

butterfly lamp

Marguerite. It means daisy or pearl or child of light.

Marguerite – daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother

Daisy – butterfly attractor, organic gardener, flower lover

Pearl – baker, crocheter, embroiderer, doll collector

Child of light – a woman of faith who showed up, and quietly, faithfully lived her life and served everyone in it

When she moved from home hospice to a facility, we were given a booklet. One that tells the truth about the stages of dying in a very compassionate way. But, there is really no knowing when the last day, the last moments will come.

September 25. My birthday. It was a Monday and my husband and I went early to see her and to pray with her. She seemed alert and strong and prayed with a calm and certain voice. Then she thanked us for visiting and we left. After dinner, I drove back, I had promised pie for the celebration. She was sleeping while her other visitors chatted softly. Eventually everyone left but my niece and I. I had brought Erin her dinner and we went down to the kitchen for her to eat. She kindly showered me with gifts and also delivered a gift from her mom, my younger sister who could not be in town.

20170926_211111Quirky napkins!

When we went back to the room, Margie roused and we had her re-positioned. While that was happening, she told the staff that it was my birthday. It was about 9 pm and we thought we would just leave but she asked about the pumpkin pie I had promised her to celebrate my birthday. And so, we ate pumpkin pie and used our quirky party napkins and laughed and enjoyed our minutes together. There were hugs and kisses and happy smiles, as we said good night. Sacred moments.

That was the last time she chatted with us. Though we all continued to speak quietly to her our words of love, sweet memories and thanksgivings through the next days and nights. She quietly slipped away from this world the morning of October 3.

Marguerite – Margie to me, my older sister. Her presence will always be like music running in the background of my life. Music full of the steady beat of faithfulness, punctuated with trills of infectious laughter.  A sacred life.

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My life — forever altered and illuminated by her presence.

I’m so glad we were there those days —  together.

A new book by Bonnie Gray

Whispers of Rest

While we’ve not yet met in real life, I call Bonnie Gray – Friend. Since reading her first book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, several years ago, I’ve been waiting. Waiting for this book that I didn’t even know she was writing! But here it is: Whispers of Rest. It is a wonderful encouragement to care for the most important part of ourselves – our souls. Taking time to learn to rest, finding peace.

In a world that churns with need and duty and is in desperate need of peace, we can learn through these “40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul” how to receive from God in new ways so that we can give, we can encourage, we can love – a little better – through rest and soul care.

Bonnie calls this a guidebook. In its pages, you will find:

  • Soul Care Tips & Trail Notes — Reduce stress and nurture your body and spirit.
  • Daily Beloved Challenges
  • Simple Prayer Practice

At www.whispersofrest.com, you will find information on ordering and downloading the free gifts Bonnie has prepared for us. These will include videos to share and an opportunity to join the online book club to begin on June 5, 2017. I hope you’ll check it out. Summer is a great time for refreshment of soul. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Where the Wind Blows

The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.    John 3:8 HCSB

sunrise   sunrise   sunrise   sunrise

Months of wind. Cleaning the trees, knocking things over, waking me in the dark hours of night and morning and offering me opportunities to see rare beauty. The Spirit of God is like that.

The photos above are from this morning. A few recorded beauties follow.

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

Amaryllis

These. of course, are from our anticipated visits from Amaryllis. [click on any photo to enlarge]

 One welcome visitor, one not… One must look closely where the blossom starts to see the Brown marmorated stink bug. While nowhere near as invasive a nuisance as a few years ago, some still find their way through cracks, open doors and down the chimneys to overwinter. Any warm day finds them zinging about the house looking for a landing place – or a meal. I know it was probably cozy on the blossom, but, he was removed and perished. These are an invasive, non-native bug with no known predators. They do not bite, but suck. They have been particularly destructive to fruit crops here in the Mid-Atlantic region and, according to the linked article, have continued to spread throughout the country.

That’s the way, too, of life sucking troubles: they can hide away, just waiting for the right day to get out and about reproducing their destructive kind and sucking out the joy of life. It takes vigilance to catch and dispatch them.

Jonquils   When we first bought this property, we found a country trash pile in a back corner. We spent years hauling it away, bit by bit. It was covered in leaves and brush and every layer we removed gave opportunity for the wind and rain to remove more of the covering, revealing old metal parts of who-knows-what, foil baking pans from TV dinners and lots of glass – mostly broken. I did find two lovely pieces of blue glass, one a Noxzema jar (my Mom’s favorite) and the other, this 4 inch tall Bromo-Seltzer  bottle (always in Dad’s cupboard). The Jonquils were picked before the snow came. I love them in this blue, don’t you? These minis grow near the kitchen door where the sun warms the protected area and spring comes early.

Dawn   snow   deer   deer

The last snow of the season? Beautiful day with lots of bird visitors and and this brazen thief. Totally unimpressed with me. Her kind have totally stripped the hydrangeas of buds and the warm days that inspired growth of the daylilies provided unintended salad for them too.

What do you do on cold snowy or rainy days? I find them good soul nourishing days. Sometimes I make soups and bake bread and treats and get in a bit of stitching. craft  booksAnd, there are always stacks of reading materials at hand. The top three are in my own library, the rest borrowed from the county. Patsy Clairmont’s book of short stories – Stardust On My Pillow –  is a sweet favorite to re-read from time to time.

This time, I wanted to re-read “Chattanooga Choo Choo” Miss Pearl teaches Jamie about way-markers as she tells him to remember the signs his daddy left him when he died… “the signs your daddy left you will guide you into manhood”, for “A way-marker is like a signpost telling you which way to go.”  Way-markers. “Never let a good dead go unattended.” was one that inspired Jamie to take action. We might know it under different expressions: Saying thank you, writing a thank you note, taking a hostess gift, sending a teacher’s gift… So many things can be way-markers. Things remembered by the winds of the Spirit that remind us of the best way, not only to deal with the affairs of life, but to find the perfect way to our eternal home.

                         Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,  for in You I do trust;                                           Cause me to know the way in which I should walk. for I lift up my soul to You.

from Psalm 143

20170321_132941  This last photo was taken yesterday when the whispering breeze through the tree tops could barely be heard over the honking geese, screaming gulls , occasional car traffic. Each day is different in life. I must learn to listen.

Happy Spring!

hellebores

Out and about

Do you ever push the doctor’s advice? “Do what’s comfortable.” he said. How do you know unless you do something? So I took my healing foot and drove to the lake to see my tree friends. (After breakfast at Panera.)      Loch Raven   It was a beautiful day and I was so grateful to be able to go out on my own. Of course, when I got home, foot suggested I give it a rest! Driving a standard transmission for so long now, I don’t think about how the left foot flexes to do it’s job. I was reminded!

African violet In my indoor garden, I have a very aged African Violet which I love. Watching the buds open each day is soothing to my soul.  African Violet  I will try again to propagate a new plant. I’ve not been successful in the past.  I rooted cuttings from the aged Christmas cactus and was delighted with a first bloom.     IMG_8673

My indoor gardening efforts require patience. For the first time, I succeeded in killing the bud on an amaryllis. That made me very sad. My old bulbs seemed to want to sleep in till spring! Then all of a sudden, they grew! Amaryllis  The pot on the left is my failure to bloom. Maybe next year! Soon, I will be showing off fabulous flowers!

The winds have been fierce this winter and the lawn and field are littered with downed wood. Ignoring it all is also a lesson in patience. On the one glorious hint-of-spring day, I ventured out into the backyard for the first time since mid December — because there were snowdrops!  snowdrops And those funny little rosettes of Autumn Sedum. It was so lovely to be outside, I had to go look for Lenten Roses. 

Hellebores The reward was mine! The next day it was again windy and cold with a dusting of snow that melted as the sun rose.

20170214_120512  Someone else’s fun. On a nearby street, many trees have been cut down. This property owner re-stacked quite a few pieces of the trunk of his tree and uses it to show his address, and his creativity. Last fall, the figure of a Black Headed Vulture was perched on top. The bird celebrates all the holidays. Here we have Cupid.

mug

On a sweeter note, not only on Valentine’s Day, but everyday, my prayer for you —

May your cup be filled with JOY!

Winter – is it over yet?

No, but the page for January has been torn from the calendar. It was a slow month, a healing month with lots of resting under cozy quilts – with days when I felt like a hibernating bear. winter quilt  The good news is that the big boot has now been retired to the closet. Another month of caution and care has been prescribed, but healing is well under way in my bones and I am grateful.

The month began with robins celebrating the New Year here. The large holly tree we watch is at the front of the house and the bird bath at the back. There was constant activity and socializing for several days until the trees were stripped of every berry. Something we note every year – they eat the berries they pick fresh from the tree and ignore any that have fallen.

robins

I tend to wake early most days and love to open the shade and watch as night fades away. Some days there is drama, others just a gradual lightening of gray, but always there is beauty as the new day of promise dawns.dawning

My small world has been enlivened with candle light candle light and more bird watching.   Days I hear the Carolina Wren even before sunrise, his cheery wake-up call is very welcome. We have many woodpeckers: the Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Flicker will all come to the suet feeder outside our kitchen door.

This is a Northern Flicker.Flicker Several days I watched one or two poking about in the lawn/field for the longest time. They did seem to be successful in their hunting.

My month of self care has been full of reading, stitching, tea and coffee drinking, letter writing and musings. I found my word for the year – Trust – and started a notebook for verses, quotes and thoughts. notebookI also received a wonderful gift for this time when I discovered a month long online writing course from the very gracious and encouraging Andi Cumbo-Floyd. Each day was informative and thought provoking. The material she provided will be teaching me for quite some time – helping me to discover myself as a writer.

I’m watching my indoor garden plants come into bloom. I so appreciate the life and color they add to my life.

 Christmas cactus

I hope your January offered fulfillment and joy. May you be blessed in the coming month.

Tidings of comfort and joy

Christmas tree

If someone had peeked in a window here today, they might have thought I had worked so very hard on Christmas day, as I slept away the afternoon on the couch while carols played, tree lights twinkled, the tea grew cold, my book slipped from my hands and all was dreamy…

dreamy

But I didn’t work hard at all. I’m so very grateful for my beautiful, thoughtful, and efficient niece who prepared and served our Christmas dinner. And for my wonderful hubby who made sure the kitchen and dining room were cleared and cleaned.

 snowmen chocolate

There were wonderful conversations with loved ones far away and precious gifts beside. So blessed to enjoy this peaceful Christmastide.

Christmas comes

candleIt’s late on Christmas Eve. Only now, as I’ve stopped by this place with a cup of tea do I realize what has really been wrong this last week.  I’ve been cranky, and it’s more than the exhausting pain of two small broken bones in my left foot. It’s more than the clunky boot that makes it so I can get around somewhat pain free but will keep me from driving and makes the stairs a challenge. It’s more than the shopping missed, the cards not written, the cookies not baked…

Cookies not baked… the actual cookies don’t bother me much…

I ran a soapy mop over the kitchen floor – I’ll spare you the description. But the ‘lick and a promise’ clean-up in this quiet helped me to see what I’ve been missing, longing for — the portal. The one I once saw while the cookies baked, the one that even not seen, settles “heavenly peace” over my soul. Do you know it? I’ve been so caught in the web of my painful misery and this following on an autumn of loss, that I wasn’t looking for it. I wasn’t waiting for it. But I am now. I’m quieting myself, waiting.  creche

cropped-20161222_170231-e1482632221986-2.jpg Past the glitter, lights and fancies, the small straw creche with it’s array of wild animals calls. creche Everyone is welcome there: the tiger, the armadillo, moose, penguin, sheep, squirrels, fox, raccoon, owls, mouse, llama, elk, horse, polar bear, a lovely poodle and you and even me. The weak, the mighty, the feared, the loved, all creatures great and small come to adore their Creator.

creche

May we sleep now in heavenly peace on this silent, holy night while angels sing around us.

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Joyous Christmas to you.

 

30 days hath November

porch There were glorious days, warm ones and cold ones that had me scurrying about freshening bed linens and garden beds, planting bulbs and dealing with leaves and leaves and still more leaves! Oak leaves 12 inches long!

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The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore was only available as an audio book from my library. I debated and then reserved my space. When I saw it was 10 CDs, I wasn’t sure I would persist. But I did. her masterful storytelling kept me company as I dug and pulled and trimmed and planted a garden bed and then kept me company as I restored the edging of our old quilt with fresh binding. Then I listened to it all over again!

I began the quilt long years ago. When I started the class with Lois Smith, I was excited by the possibility of making – start to finish  a quilt for our bed. Under her kind, clear, tutelage, I learned so much about color, pattern drafting and machine quilting. But life, or a kind of death in the specter of fire, happened and rearranged our lives for a season. When it was over, nothing was quite the same and I chose not to work on this autumn themed quilt. I moved on and took several more classes with Lois and finished two more quilts. Sometime, I finished it off and hung it  in our family room in winter. Then I started using it, the weight and comfort just right. It was a shock to realize it is now a shabby beauty, warm and cozy.

quilt

Autumn color can be a long, slow, unfolding here. Tender plants first, some trees seeming to forget to change, high winds swirling leaves around steps and doors. Holly berries ripped from their stems. One has to look for the beauty in all the pain and dying of this month.

golden tree   ruby trees   trees   oak   yellow   lighting

And, of course, we went chasing the super moon. It doesn’t look all that exciting, but the chase was fun. One more to come on December 14.  November moon

squirrel Of course there are always squirrels running to and fro and sometimes hanging from their toes to eat the suet cakes.  Woodpeckers, Flickers, Titmice and Nuthatches are the usual diners. But one day, I happened to catch this Bluebird too!bluebird   Things are always a bit fuzzy through the screen and glass, but there is no mistaking the color of these beautiful birds.

One of the surprises of the garden cleanup were stalks of Hosta seeds hiding deep within a large plant. Hosta seed pods  I’ve done a little reading and I’m not sure I will try to grow plants from the seed, but the pods are quite interesting. Hosta seed pods

This season of apparent dying and seed planting has been brought home to me these past days in the sudden and untimely death of my niece-in-love. At the several services we attended, even her pastor, who knew her well, marveled at the packed church as people came to show their love and respect for this lovely, quiet woman. She sowed seeds of love and acceptance in everyone she met. I pray that those seeds will bear much fruit in the coming days and years as her family struggles with her death and the changes in the home and for her children who were being home schooled.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

tree