Friday, June 26, 2015

I Dream

Today the Five Minute Friday word is dream. The idea is to write for five minutes on the topic not worrying about editing or getting it perfect. Just have fun!

I woke up during the night last night and thought about the prompt. While lying in bed I came up with a poem rather quickly and actually remembered the first two stanzas this morning. I tried to remember more, but couldn't so I wrote what came to mind in the time remaining.

It is short and simple, but with all the heartache around us I wanted us to dream of better days.

(photo by gayl)

I Dream

I dream of a world
where wrongs are made right
where all are deemed equal
with no need to fight.

I dream of a world
where dark becomes light
where all that is hidden
is out in plain sight

I dream of a world
that's filled with delight
and all of the people
are happy and bright.

If you'd like to join us or read the offerings of others please click on over to Kate Motaung's blog for Five Minute Friday. I'm also joining Lisha Epperson with #GiveMeGrace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Greatest Power

Today for the #WholeMama linkup we are talking about superpowers, asking questions like “What's your superpower?” and “How do you live into empowered you?”

As I pondered these questions I began to think about the different aspects of motherhood. Most of us feel inadequate to the task as we begin the journey of raising children. Our bodies are stretched and pulled as we house a growing baby. When the time comes we summon all our strength and effort to birth these babies.

Being a mother is hard work.

Although thrilled with the new life that is placed into our hands, we are also very tired. The tiredness never seems to go away. Our weariness seems to get the best of us and we wonder if we will forget what it means to have a good night's rest. The word superpower isn't even part of our vocabulary at this point.

Where do we find the strength to keep going when all we want to do is sleep?

I find comfort in knowing that my children are close to the heart of God and that He gently guides us as we care for them.

Last night on Twitter, my daughter, Jamie, shared some thoughts about motherhood and she and I had this exchange:

Jamie: “Lately I've often felt like I've needed to be, specifically, Elastigirl. Motherhood never seems to stop stretching me.”

Me: “I think motherhood stretched me more than anything else.”

Jamie: “It's never really past tense, is it? Hehe”

Me: “You are so right! I love you.”

Now that she has children of her own, she understands more of the why behind some of my actions as her mother. She also understands that motherhood never really ends. Our children always needs us, just not in the same way they did when they were young.

I think all of us face the above challenge. 

There have been #WholeMama conversations on Twitter about wholeness and being broken. Each of us mothers have areas where we excel and others where we are weak and seek to be empowered. 

We have to face our weaknesses along with our strengths, accepting all as who we are, then move on with power. 

We must admit our brokenness and ask for help in order to be whole.

When we look to God for strength, accepting the fact that we can't do it all, some of those superpowers begin to reveal themselves.

Jamie also gave some ideas of what some of them might be: “peace, comfort, goodness, love, compassion, understanding, a listening ear, empathy, shalom,” and I also thought of baking, making comfort food and hospitality. 

About compassion she said that it is not just passive but can be “an act of reaching out, to give or to receive.” I think most mothers do have compassion. When our children have needs, we reach inside and pull up all the strength we can muster to meet that need, even when we are exhausted. We, in turn, receive compassion from others who fill in the gaps for us in our times of need.

I believe some of my “superpowers” are love, empathy, a listening ear, compassion and hospitality. 

That is not to say I have always been consistent in demonstrating them to my children or to others, but the desire has been there. I have always loved children and welcomed friends of my children into our home. 

Showing love to others is something I try to do, letting them know they are important. It's part of my nature to empathize with people, to try to see things from their perspective, and encourage them. It gives me joy to have people over and serve them good food.

It's kind of fun using our imaginations to think about Super Heroes and Super Powers. We know they are fantasy, but we somehow use those thoughts to boost our energies. We pretend along with our children and we all enjoy it while improving our attitudes. Sometimes that is all we need, but there are times when we need more. When that happens we need to remember that:

We have access to One greater than all the other superpowers. 

Our God, the Creator of the universe never tires. 

He is with us when we don't see or are exhausted. 

Even when we find belief hard, He still sustains us.

Don't forget to visit the #WholeMama linkup to see the variety of wisdom shared by some lovely women. I'm also linking this up with Stacey Thureen and #FindStability.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hope in God

There is so much fear, pain and hurt in the world, we feel like crawling into a hole and never coming out. Many of us have had our share of hard things lately, things that make us sad, things that weigh us down. 

(photo by gayl)

My heart is heavy with its own burdens but also for those who are experiencing grief, most recently the families and friends of those who were murdered while studying the Bible and praying at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC.  

May God have mercy upon us and comfort those who are grieving.

With all of this evil rampant in our society we feel helpless and wonder if there is anything we can do. We think what we can do is so minimal that it won't make any difference.

I do not have any easy answers.

What I do know is that there is a God whose ways are higher than our ways. We cannot completely understand God or why some things are allowed and others are not. 

I do know that He is good and is grieved when evil raises its ugly head.

As I thought about all this and prayed I was inspired to write a poem.

(photo by gayl)

One day things will be made right, when everyone will put their trust in God and worship Him. Until then there will be evil, pain, sickness, and many other things we cannot explain. He did not promise an easy time of it, but He did promise to be with us and bring peace to our hearts. He has given His Holy Spirit to be with us through the good and the bad times.

Listen to what Jesus says:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things 
and bring to your remembrance
 all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, 
neither let it be afraid.
(John 14:26,27)

Because of Jesus we can have hope even when there is evil all around.

Our soul waits for the LORD; 
he is our help and shield.
For our heart is glad in him, 
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, 
even as we hope in you.
(Psalm 33:20-22)

We may feel small and helpless but there are some things we can do right where we are. 

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Remember those who are in prison,
as though in prison with them,
and those who are mistreated,
since you also are in the body.
(Hebrews 13:1-3)

What we do does matter. 

Together we can change the world. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shalom: Finding Wholeness in Life

This summer I am joining with other mothers to encourage each other as we juggle the many different areas of our lives. We call it #WholeMama, and you can find out all about it by checking out Esther Emery's post About #WholeMama. Today is our first linkup and the prompt we are writing about is wholeness or shalom.

(sunset view from my back porch)

Shalom is a word used when saying goodbye, but I found out today that it is also used when greeting someone. Its simple meaning is peace, but it really is so much more. After just a little bit of research I saw that the meaning includes being complete, whole or sound, and has to do with well-being.

As I thought more on this idea of shalom I was reminded of how our family used to have a special meal on Saturday evening. We got the idea from friends and had a printout that we followed for the different parts of the meal which included readings and some scripture. 

It was patterned after the Jewish Sabbath meal.

We would prepare the food, make the table nice, clean up and change into nicer clothes, then begin the meal by lighting a candle. Using bread as a symbol of sustenance and wine as the fruit of the vine also providing nourishment, we would say a prayer thanking God for them. As I lit the first candle I would thank God for sending Jesus as the light of the world. We would pray that we would also let our lights shine.

My husband would go around the table saying a blessing over each of the children. Then he would read a couple of verses from Proverbs 31 as a blessing over me. I remember every time he read it, one of my daughters would just look at me and beam. It was so precious as the light of the candles reflected from her eyes full of so much love and admiration.

It was quite humbling to me and really touched my heart.

At the end of the meal we would one by one wish each other a happy or peaceful Sabbath by saying the greeting, “Shabbat Shalom.” Later, as our family grew, it became more difficult to try to fix a big meal and change clothes, etc., and we finally stopped doing it altogether.

It was a time in our lives that I look back on fondly and realize that it was one way we found shalom in our family life.

(our corn we planted in April)

Many years have passed since then, and there have been many ups and downs in our family life. It is hard being a mother with people who constantly depend on you, and sometimes you just feel like giving up. I remember being exhausted, frustrated and losing my temper at times.

I wonder if shalom would have shown up more often if I had taken the time to notice the good in each situation, if I had practiced more gratitude rather than discontent or complaining, if I had looked for beauty in the ordinary things.

I wonder if shalom would have shown up more often if I had taken the time to properly care for myself instead of pushing to the limit. We think we don't have time to stop to rest, to read a book, to create something, but in reality we don't have time not to do those things.

To experience wholeness we need to be true to the person God has made us.

We are all uniquely made, created in the image of God. He has given each of us talents and desires to use, and I don't think we are meant to forget them as we raise our children. I believe if we take time to be refreshed by stopping for a cup of tea or creating art or writing a poem or whatever calls to us, that we will be better able to fulfill our callings as wives and moms.

My children are all grown and some have families of their own now.

We have gone in varying directions, but we all have the underlying knowledge that we are loved by each other. I believe that is also a way shalom shows up. There is a sense of security and well-being when you know you have people who are always there for you.

These days I am learning to find shalom/wholeness in many ways.

I am more fulfilled as a woman realizing that all the things I am called to do really work together in giving me a sense of wholeness. God has given me desires that I want to pursue. I don't have to be afraid of failing or worry about what others might think. It's okay to fail, because every time we do we learn something. As we keep trying we are able to get better each time. When we have worked hard for something we appreciate it more.

I am finding more joy and peace in life as I:
  • spend with friends and family,
  • write poetry,
  • read my Bible and other books,
  • pray and write out some of my prayers,
  • take walks and enjoy nature,
  • listen to music,
  • write blog posts,
  • learn karate,
and generally be open to seeking and finding beauty in unexpected places as I go about my day.

(view from my driveway)

To read what others have written or to add your own please visit Jamie Bagley or Esther Emery for the linkup!

I'm also linking up with #CoffeeforyourHeart.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What in the World?

The word prompt today for Five Minute Friday is world. If you are new to #FMF you can get all the information about it HERE.

What in the world is that?

What in the world are you doing?

Where in the world are you going?

How in the world will I ever get this done?

What in the world were you thinking?

Did you ever hear or utter any of those questions? 

They were usually asked with a sense of urgency or surprise.

I wonder what we meant by the word world.

Maybe it was a metaphor for something so big we couldn't explain it.

Or maybe it was because whoever was asking the questions was either shocked at what was going on or felt like they had an impossible task.

I guess we just inserted the word world because it sounded more urgent or bigger than the situation really was. I don't know.

Isn't it funny how things like that seem to become habit without us really thinking about them? 

I mean, really, what does the word world have to do with any of those questions?

(photography by gayl)

The world is big and vast from our point of view, but from God's point of view it may be quite small. It's only one small part of the universe, yet God chose this place to put people. He made the earth with just the right combination of water, air and land to be a perfect place for humans to live.

Yes, it has been messed up in places, but there is still beauty left.

There are all kinds of people in the world, but we are all human beings created in God's image. How I pray that we could all see each other through eyes of love and compassion, that we could find ways to work together in the great big world we live in.

(photography by gayl)

Don't forget to visit Kate Motaung and Five Minute Friday for other thoughts about the word world.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Welcome Respite

Early in the spring I took my daughter's ecourse A Heart for Prayer: Book of Hours. Ever since then I have wanted to stop throughout the day to take time to pray. My intentions were good, but I could never seem to remember to do it. I realize that I can pray anytime no matter where I am, and I do that quite often during the course of a day, but I wanted more.

I wanted a specific place where I could go to pray, read, meditate or write.

Sometimes I would sit in bed either late at night or early in the morning to do some extra writing or praying, but that position was not really good for my back. I thought maybe if I had a better place I would be able to establish more of a habit.

If you have read my blog in the past you will know that I struggle with getting rid of clutter in my house. I decided to start in my room by getting better organized there. It is a bedroom but also where my desk resides. My son suggested that I also bring the wooden rocking chair up to my room since we don't really use it in the living room. 

An idea began to take shape in my mind.

I saw a link on facebook from Ed Cyzewski that the kindle version for his book Pray, Write, Grow was on sale at Amazon. I purchased it right away and began reading. It seemed to address some of the very things I had been contemplating and put me one step closer to having my special place. In fact my husband and I moved the wooden rocker up to the bedroom. I wasn't sure how to arrange everything so it just sat there for a couple of days. 


I read a blog post by Andrea Cumbo-Floyd entitled “Why I Love Writing Rituals.” That spoke to me so much that my desire for a special spot grew to the point that I knew I had to make it happen. I moved my art table to one side and put the rocking chair next to it by the window. Books, journals and a candle were added, and I was all set. 

It has truly become a welcome respite. 

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote in my journal after beginning this practice:

June 9, 2015 - This is my third time sitting in the wooden rocker by the window. I have lit the lavender candle. I have spent some time praying. I have enjoyed the peacefulness and sense of calm I have while sitting here.

Later that night I wrote:

I did sit in the chair a second time today praying and writing in my prayer journal.

Each day this week I have been spending more time in this very spot praying and writing my prayers. I cherish those times as I pray for myself, my family and others. It has made me more aware of God's presence. Even though there are things beyond my control, I know that God hears my prayers and will answer in whatever way is best. 

This special area of mine is not fancy. It is just a table and chair by a window, but what a difference it has made! I know that anytime during the day my special spot will be waiting for me. Whenever I get the chance I can take a few minutes to pray or to write whatever is on my heart.

What about you? Do you have a special place set aside for writing or praying?

Friday, June 5, 2015

All Kinds of Gifts

Gift is the Five Minute Friday word for today.

(one of my mom's beautiful roses)

Gifts can come in all shapes and sizes and for any number of reasons.

Gifts are fun to give especially when you've picked out something you know the receiver will like.

Gifts are also fun to get even though sometimes they may not be just what you wanted. At least you were thought of by someone.

Gifts can also be in the form of the beauty we see all around us in the sky, in flowers, in architecture, really in just about anything. Sometimes we find a gift as we see a beautiful reflection in a rain puddle on the ground.

What about the gift of a beautiful sunset over the ocean or a sunrise coming up over the mountain.

(watching the sunrise from my front porch)

We are blessed in so many ways. We miss many gifts when our lives are full of running all the time and never stopping to notice what is right in front of us.

The greatest gift we have as Christians is the gift of eternal life purchased for us by Jesus when He gave His life and then was resurrected.

We can be gifts to each other as we share our words, our paintings, our drawing, our music, or whatever our talent may be.

(photo taken from my front porch)
(To clarify, I wrote the above poem at a different time, not for Five Minute Friday.)

My time is up, but I wanted to mention that the greatest gifts I have received are my husband who loves and cares for me daily, and the beautiful children and grandchildren God has given me. 

Be sure to visit Kate Motaung and Five Minute Friday. I'm also linking up with The Weekend Brew ,#SmallWonder, and the #RaRaLinkup!