A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


5 Comments

De Colores

I have just a small hankering for color!  Now, don’t you believe that for a moment!  My hankering is for LOTS of COLOR in lots of places.

IMG_0616

Take, for instance, the Spring!  The time after Barrenness.  The time after the Big Chill.  Now if Spring isn’t a time and a place for COLOR, I don’t know when or where is!!

 IMG_0618

I’ve been marinating myself in COLOR for nearly a month now.  There was the first spotting of them setting out  flowering annuals at the local grocery.  The Big Box Store, it seemed, burst into bloom at the same instant.

It was marvelous!  One moment, there were drab brick walls and plain sidewalks and fenced gates; the next moment, bright red, vivid yellow and winsome blues were interspersed with tangerine and white and lavender.  Green herbs of all sizes, shapes and scents called invitingly to be chosen for Dishes yet-to-be-created.  For me, Spring had Sprung into action.

IMG_0611

IMG_0614

My daily yard walk-arounds have revealed striking changes overnight!  I love to find the first little plant poking its tentative sprout up through the still very cold soil.  Then, as Sun begins to warm the days, more and more sprouts give rise to more and more green shoots reaching for the sky and its golden orb.  The hues conjure up in my mind an Irish mural in a palette of forty shades of green, all which color the landscape of the Emerald Isle.

IMG_0524

IMG_0517

IMG_0514

IMG_0548

IMG_0532

IMG_0527

IMG_0525

Once the red buds and pear trees and lilac bushes, the dogwood ~ pink or white ~ begin to put forth their flowers, it is confirmed.  I know that finally the long, dreary days of Winter have passed.  What seemed forever dead is alive again!

IMG_0463

IMG_0508

IMG_0453

When I was a young mother with small daughters, my parents went on a three-day cloistered retreat called Cursillo in the Catholic Church or Walk to Emmaus in the Protestant.  They were smitten with the experience, literally meaning “A Little Course in Christ.”  They encouraged both my husband and me to make our own Emmaus Walks, where the Risen Christ is revealed just as He was revealed to His sorrowing Disciples walking along beside Him, unrecognized, going from Jerusalem to Emmaus after His Crucifixion.*  We did go ~ now so long ago.  It was the 1980’s, though I’m told that in 2014, Cursillo and the Emmaus Walks continue.

Many traditions have grown up in this deeply spiritual, highly creative, and eternally impacting weekend with “small lessons” which cover the foundation and doctrines of our Christian Faith.  One of those powerful traditions is the singing, accompanied by guitar, of a song borrowed from the Hispanic culture called De Colores.  Those singing it together are reminded of the colors of the earth, the colors of the rainbow above, the colors refracted in a diamond, and in the birds and the flowers and the roosters and the cluck hens and the baby chicks, the colors all of which summon us to love and to celebrate the many-faceted colors of personality and faces in human-kind.

IMG_0615

 

When the COLORS burst forth every Spring, I am reminded once again of the expanse of love and acceptance I felt on my Walk.  It is as if that cocoon of 72 hours was not an isolated experience.  Rather, it was a glimpse of True Reality ~ the reality of Eternity and the opportunity we each are given to choose to receive Jesus.  Through Him, we can know we are loved, forgiven, and welcomed by the Father ~ FOREVER!

IMG_0538

 

IMG_0624

IMG_0547

De Colores ~ It’s not just a simple folk song!  No, it is a Story of The Father’s Love for ALL of His Creation ~ from the wee little ones to the great big ones, from the flowers of the field to the creatures of the sea to the bird and the butterfly emancipated from gravity to fly free.  The Colors speak of God’s Creative Love and Power.  The Colors, they call me, they woo me to draw ever closer to Him.

IMG_0510

IMG_0626

* Luke 24:13-35

 

 

 

 


1 Comment

Reflections on Mother

So here it is again: Mother’s Day! The Day for Mothers to be honored, gifted, cherished!

I love this day because it speaks loudly that Mothers Matter!!

IMG_0584

MOTHER: the one who carried you under her heart before she birthed you from her soul and body!  Whether she wanted you or not, she waited long for you!  Held you in her arms!  Discovered new identity through your being!

Mother:  the one you have called for, cried out to, challenged and complained to, perhaps even complained aboutI

Mother:  the one you have longed for, if she has been missing from your life!

Mother:  the one you never stop missing when her journey here is ended!

She’s been idealized, romanticized, cursed at and coddled. She is always back there somewhere in your mind, influencing beyond words who you become.

As surely as the sun rises each day, her love makes all the difference in your life.  Whether her love flowed like the droplets of milk from her breast God created for her to give you sustenance or it was withheld out of her wounds and pain, rejecting you, rejecting her very identity, she makes a difference in who you are!

I am my mother’s daughter, being her first-born, privileged to “make” her a mother.

IMG_0596

Yet, here is the Plan, the one that Creator God made: He designed a Mother’s Heart to be a beautiful expression of His Everlasting Love! He designed us to be nurtured and comforted in her care.

IMG_0595

I have a little corner in my heart and in my Study which keeps my mother near. I lost her to a stroke long before God took her Home. While she could no longer communicate her heart, I knew she loved me yet. Those years were hard, wreaking pain and sorrow greater than I ever could have imagined. But her love to me is Everlasting! It has framed me, in so very many ways.

IMG_0583

Her love has formed me, influencing many of my own choices and interests.

Writer.  She wrote volumes: postcards to family, getting more words on a 3×5 inch card than the USPS ever intended; notes of encouragement and care to many around the world; letters to officials, reminding of their moral duty to uphold God’s commandments; copying the entire Bible over several years as she worked out her grief and loneliness after my father died; attempting to learn the computer and write a book with family letters from the 1800’s in her late 80’s.  Though an accomplished typer, her penmanship echoes in my mind’s eye!  I, too, write.

Cook.  The kitchen was a playground, a place to create fun and fancy. She loved to see beyond the ordinary, as she did her culinary gymnastics! “Come, look,” she would say! “Look at this beautiful kiwi” cut wide open. “Look at this apple cut through its waist! A star!” “Listen to this ‘Singing Rice’ the Orientals make!”  I, too, love to cook and play in the kitchen.

Gardener.  She grew herbs, not just flowers! Her spring phlox cascaded down the garden wall with all the aplomb of a royal robe! And roses! Galore! “Smell! Just smell!!”  Gardening is my therapy!

Lover of Jesus.  Bible student. Prayer warrior.

Lover of People.  Knitter of 2000 pair of Booties for Babies just born.

photo

Gatherer of Love.  Lover of Beauty.  Giver of Care.

All these and more were My Mother.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I pause. I reflect. I look at her picture young, fresh, ready for all Life would dole out to her. And ready to give, give, give her life away ~ to me, to my sister, to our brother! This, after all, is My MOTHER!

IMG_0593

 


2 Comments

Another Year Lies Open Before Me

I stand on the cusp of a New Year ~ one now ending, another beginning.  No, I don’t have my months messed up!  I know that tomorrow is the 1st day of May:  May Day!  A beautiful day to be born!

Now more years than I can realize, I have been celebrating that I am!  More years than I can remember I have enjoyed blessings galore, wafting down upon me like some rainbow-colored confetti sprinkled by the Hand of God.  One in particular I do remember:  the year I turned ten!

I have a Grandboy who just turned ten last week.  Was I ever the age that he is?  All fresh and expectant, knowing that a mix of good and not-so-good lies in wait?  I was 9 turning 1~0, two digits, for probably the rest of my life.  What a turning!

After school, I was to meet my mother at the school flag pole.  Unbeknownst to me, so were the members of my entire Brownie Troop!

$_35

They’d each received an invitation a few days before ~ in code ~ so they wouldn’t forget it was to be a S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E Birthday Party.  They’d been invited to “teem ta eht galf elop!” To read the invitation, each had had to figure out that it would only be understood by holding it up in front of a mirror!

     us-flag-pole

Now how that was determined, I don’t know, but there they all were.  And off we went on a hike to the local museum called “The Pink Palace”.  Now the Pink Palace was one of my most favorite of all places to be.  It had birds’ eggs – lots of them – in nests.  And it had fossils.  It even had a shrunken head ~ yuk!!

Where we were going, though, on this my 10th Birthday, was to the Planetarium in the museum.  The ambiance (I surely didn’t know that word then!!) of the room where we could see STARS was mysterious and wooing.  It was also my most favorite room in the entire museum.  You got to sit in these wonderful, cushy chairs that reclined when the stars came out.  Just before they did, the ceiling became this warm, rosy color as if the sun were setting right where you could almost reach out and touch it.  Such peace! Such amazement!  Such wonder!  We learned of the heavens just as they were at that very time and season.  We heard names like “Orion’s Belt” and “the Seven Sisters coming home from their Bridge Party.”  We saw where we could find the Little Dipper pouring into the Big Dipper in the heavenlies that very night.  We saw how the stars rise on the horizon and set just like the sun on the other side of the expanse of night sky.

And I learned in those days at Sunday School words from the Psalms like:  The Heavens declare the Glory of God and the firmament displays His Handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19)  I learned of a Creative God whose Power extends beyond the confines of this limited sphere we call Earth.   I learned that He is a speaking, communicating God who desires communion with His Children.  I got a glimpse then, sitting in that dynamic ‘Simulator of the Heavens’ of our Omnipotent, Omniscient God which became formative for my worship of Him for the rest of my life.  It fit with the Catechism I was learning, too.  “What is the Chief end of Man?”  “To glorify (worship) God and to enjoy Him forever.”

I stood then on another cusp, a point of transition between two different states; I was transitioning from childhood with a rapid trajectory into what we call today the ‘Tweens.  I would no longer be a ‘Brownie’ when I entered Fifth Grade; I would be a full-fledged Girl Scout.  I no longer would be a Big Sister to one Little Sister, but soon would be Big Sister to a Little Brother, as well.  I would wear that role like a Badge, “mothering” this little one as if he were my own.  I would have more chores at home and more privileges to go out and travel farther from home.  In fact, I could now walk to the Pink Palace with my friends ~ all by ourselves ~ without a Grown-Up!

Tonight as I transition into yet another year of growth and challenge, another year of surprises and blessing, I look out from where I am with Hope.  I want to be a Light shining in the darkness of these changing Times.  I want to season the lives of others with my words and with my heart-felt presence.  I want to be Salt, helping to preserve what is to be treasured from the past, and adding fresh spice to what is lies ahead.  I am truly most blessed!

birthday cake with lots of cute striped candles shot on a red background

 

 

 


4 Comments

(in)REAL LIFE Story

Listening in my heart hasn’t always been easy.  I have wanted to hear God from way Little.  But, you see, I have this impediment in my heart.  It blocks out at times the sounds even of Love.  It holds me captive to myself:   my agenda, my image.

But, on Saturday, there was this shifting of Seasons in my life!  I experienced it first-hand ~ saw and heard how it doesn’t matter the outer “Dressing” of our lives ~ our homes, our skills, our “perfected” decor, our clothes (of course).  Rather, it IS truly ALL ABOUT THE HEART ~ all about JESUS’ HEART actually ~ what’s on the inside.  What’s on the INSIDE?

I had heard the message many times over.  Taught it even ~ many times over.  But Saturday was different.  Saturday I truly believe the message finally was steeped into my heart of hearts,

IMG_0445

Late last year, two words dropped into my mind.  I listened with my heart.  And I heard IMMANUEL ~~ and ~ STORY.  Since it was nearing the Christmas Season, IMMANUEL made sense.  It fit the Song of the Season.  And to carry the sense of HIs Abiding ~ His ALWAYS WITH me ~ Presence for a whole year, that too made sense.  But the other word ~ STORY ~ the two just somehow didn’t seem to fit together.  In fact, I found the two words side by side almost jarring, startling.  Was I hearing from God, or was this just me?

As I shopped around, seeking how I might display these two words in our home, they remained surprisingly elusive.  The year before the words were HOPE ~ STILL.  There were many things readily available to choose to keep those words before my eyes and heart all year.  But not this time.  Even in the post-Christmas sell offs, I could not find IMMANUEL!   He had gone missing, this One Who promises to ALWAYS ABIDE NEAR.

And STORY .. what is my story?  Can I tell my story?  Can I tell it well?  My story, you see, has been a long time in the forming. It has many twists and turns with some very dark nooks and crannies. It has taken years to pull out by the roots the UGLY that existed in my soul.

IMG_0426

In my family of origin I had the auspicious nickname of  “Sharp Elbows”.  Does that tell you anything?  Do you think I might of been a wee bit pushy?  Overbearing?  Full of myself?  Controlling? You betcha ~ and not just a wee bit either.  I was the eldest; I was the first born; I had it all together.  If you could be just like me, you would be fine, fine, super fine!  And if you would do it my way, then we’d both be fine, fine, superfine!  And if not, well ….  You get the drift!  I was a Performer.  It fit the role I had in my family:  the role of Hero Child.  I performed well.

Then along came Jesus .. and He turned this self-centered world of mine upside down.  He said, “Come!  Receive My Love.  Receive Me.  Let Me live in and through you.  Then you will be empowered by my Holy Spirit to be like Me!”  I did and He has.  But, let me repeat, it has taken a long lifetime of stumbling and getting back up to find that perfect is not what He wants.  Obedience is how He knows I love Him back (I John 2:5; I John 4:19).  Obedience and obedience only.  He’s done all the work.  I need only Trust and Obey!

 IMG_0424

So, we, a small group of women seeking to follow Jesus more fully, met together in front of the TV screen on Saturday to watch pre-recorded videos on (in)RL, this World-Wide Conference of Women using virtual space to tell their many stories.  This (in)REAL LIFE brought together the broken and the healing through God’s Redemptive work in lives trusting and obeying Jesus.  As we heard story after story after story of rejection and fear and loss and sadness and abandonment but in each hearing the OVERCOME, the words IMMANUEL and STORY finally meshed.  They overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

I see more clearly now.  I hear more dynamically now.  It is not by my effort.  It is not in the doing.  I can tell others this Truth.  But the hard part has been believing it in my own relationships, in the living it out in my own life.  I have fallen, slipped back into unrealistic expectations, into perfectionistic thinking and valuing.  And He who is Faithful, He who is WITH me always, picks me up.  He asks me to face Him.  To turn away from the Old Me and embrace the New Me in Him.  I am made NEW! (II Corinthians 5:17) This is a NEW SEASON in my life.  I see clearly now:  the OLD has passed; it is gone.  I am turned!  I am gazing fully toward my Saviour!

I see transformation ~ how it looks ~ in this Glorious Shifting of Seasons .. this Re-Birthing of flowers and trees and flying bees and creepy, crawly bugs.  It’s there in the song and the dance of the birds on the wing.  A.L.L. happens W.I.T.H.O.U.T. our effort.  It’s. not. in. our. doing!  We ~ the created ones ~ cannot create anything so beautiful, so perfected as Nature in the Spring.

My heart, it is turned.  I am facing away from my ugly, my self-center.  I am turned toward Jesus for He tells my heart who He is and who He created me to be.  He tells my heart that my story is unique and it is needed.  He is IMMANUEL:  His is My Story, Our Story.

IMG_0423

Because the virtual setting for this virtual (in)REAL LIFE Conference is a Beach House, we enjoyed a beach-y decor.  And we each created a Shell Story as a way to tangibly hold onto this Day of Stories we shared.  We picked a shell that became the feature, a shell that looked in some way like each of us felt as we considered our own story.  After placing it in a small planter filled with sand, along with a candle to illuminate IMMANUEL, we added a few more shells to embellish our story.  Then we took pictures to hold onto each other, to remind us that we need each other in community.  Our Jesus Sisters are such a needed part of our STORY.  Jesus knows!  And He is right here in our midst!

IMG_0428IMG_0442

 

 

IMG_0421