25 January 2017

Fresh Courage Take

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take.
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

- William Cowper

The winds sweep into these unsettled lands of dissent. Our days become boxes on which we stand to attempt to be seen or heard above all the rest of the noise of the world. Otherwise, we don't feel heard. Our day (and all the work we do) should be love made visible. Instead, notes of fear echo into the voice and it scatters, colliding with others who are around, doing the same thing. Instead of listening to one another, we tend to just focus on being heard ourselves.

Imagery through words and creative avenues, whether it is written, drawn, spoken, or acted out can be the outlet that we all crave for expressing emotion of the day or week. We all have our specific strengths in these categories. Our job is to make that visible. Create. Some of us are great at speaking, some at writing, some at artistic elements. All of us can act in a way that lends to love beyond us.

Sometimes we need to pull out the chair from underneath ourselves, so we fall into God's arms (His plans) more fully.

You might not think you are creative, but you are. The point of all that we do in creativity is that it has meaning beyond us. Taken differently by everyone, because life experiences brings their own story to the creation. That is what makes it so beautiful.

23 January 2017

Birthday Mischief

I think birthdays are always a special thing to celebrate. When I was little, I always had such fun celebrations with a cake, gifts, dinner of my choosing, decorations, sometimes a little party. I always felt special because it felt like my day. I felt like I was appreciated for who I was. 

So, that's why I love to incorporate celebrations for those close to me. And when I get to celebrate my own birthday, I am so deeply thankful.

I had to work on my birthday, but it wasn't took bad, especially with a delicious, long lunch with the office at a Cuban place close by. Other than President Trump stealing my thunder a little bit with the inauguration, it was a good day, made even better with pizza for dinner and Gilmore Girls.

Then, the next dayI got to go to Tampa with my friend to a favourite spot, Oxford Exchange, for lunch and browsing. The beauty of OE always leaves me with that giddy feeling of being in a special place. The quality of everything there is of the highest level. I drink a lavender fog from the tea bar, with my own tea pot and mug. We eat the most delicious sandwiches and sweet potato fries. I leave with a book (of course) and then we head downtown to a book shop that I had never been to before (I don't know how that's possible), the Old Tampa Book Company. It was a delightful used bookstore, and I found two more books. 

Bookshops invoke the wonder and mystery of words. I step inside and find myself surrounded by shelves of books. Stacks are everywhere and am filled with excitement at the possibility of finding a treasure. This is an ideal birthday activity for me. A little bit of mischief in the way of book browsing and letting my mind wander in the book shops.

20 January 2017

Waking Up With The Morning

My thoughts are busy with the informing truth,
And as I build, I feed, and grow in youth - 
Hoping to stand fresh, clean, and strong, and gay,
When up the east comes dawning His great day.

- George MacDonald

The birds chirp happily as the sunshine fills this spring-like morning. It is quite lovely today - cool and clean feeling. Early spring with deep blue sky emerging with warmth flowing in through the hours.

Rejoicing fills my heart on this day as my coffee brews. The setting is quiet and softly lit. The sun has risen, albeit slowly, and the airy light is mingled with some low clouds that dim the fullness of the sun thus far. I love these mornings that do not come at you with full force, but that grow slowly as you wake up. Let us walk side-by-side together, nature, appreciating one another.

I sip my coffee and pick up my Bible to read about King Solomon. May I learn from his example of asking God for wisdom and discernment in doing what is right. Lord, grant me with such wisdom and insight to make the good, right choices every day.

This morning, I wake up a year older, but really it's just another day older like everyone. Except there is a special notion attached to this day. I rejoice in a birthday with thankfulness. A few nights ago, I read from a Bible storybook to my 3.5 year old niece (for what seemed like hours) and I realized as I grew rather sleepy, that my hope is to always hold onto the childlike sense of wonder of stories and characters, which translates to life and people.

I find myself ever thankful for the slow-living, everyday things of beauty like a beeswax candle, a lovely teapot, a sunrise, a favourite mug, and a stack of books. No matter how everyday they may seem, there is something special about them.

18 January 2017

Our Seasons Are Confused

There is an air of autumn whispering around the lake where I walk/run. In splendid sights as the golden hour progresses, spots of these trees have changed colour to match the expectation we seek in autumn. But here we are, in the depths of winter, and our southern confusion of seasons entails our imagination with images of the past. Or so, in our mind, we think.

Life sometimes doesn't match our expectations. I supposed it would make sense that seasons don't even match our expectations. Here is where we need to be open to what it is telling us. Warm days give way to cooler nights. Enjoy the fluctuation now, because it won't always be this way. We step outside and sometimes it feels like early summer. We step outside a few days later and it feels brisk, so we wrap up. Nature has a way of being finicky this time of year. I hold onto the hope that it will bring the cold air of the north. But it is a short-lived season, and then I must wait.

The leaves crunch beneath my sneakers as I go along the sidewalk. I hear the wind come brushing along the surface of branches. I glance across the lake to my Alma mater. I think about how I love this city, and the good ways in which it is growing and changing me.

16 January 2017

Appreciating Travel

Wherever we go, Christ goes before us.

When we travel, we become more aware of the world around us. We leave our comfort zone of the familiar and enter into a place of transition, along with everyone else who is travelling, too.

For most people, travelling is a stressful experience with heavy luggage, rushing along, trying to make it on times, queues to wait in, etc...While these things can occur, and sometimes these things happen out of our own control, when I travel, I try to focus on the enjoyment of observation and inspiration.

Where else can you go to observe people from around the world, coming and going? Especially in the larger airports that attract worldly travelers.

Where else can you simply sit and watch planes take off and land?

Where else can you step into a plane, and emerge several hours later on another continent?

Travel is a fascinating thing. We live in an age where we can literally fly around the world in mere hours. Our world wasn't this open in our grandparents' generation. While flying can be cramped, tiring, and have bad food, it is possible to enjoy the experience with the right mindset and allowing yourself ample time so you do not become rushed.

Is there anything that you do when you travel, to ensure it is not stressful?

-  I make sure I have plenty of time so I do not feel rushed to get to the gate.
-  I make sure I have a water bottle to fill out when I get through security. If I get dehydrated, I feel terrible, and planes are so dry that I need to be sure to have some extra water.
-  I always have a book or two with me to pass the time. Usually fiction is the best selection for me, as it will engross me in a story.
-  I have a journal and pen with me to jot down notes, observations, lists, sketches. 

Something I notice when I travel is that I am more prayerful. Perhaps in a realization that I am out of my comfort zone, I become a bit more meditative. I pray for safety and a good flight. I pray for my own mind if I am feeling stressed. I pray for the people around me. I pray for the event or reason I am travelling. 

For me, the most comfort comes when I simply remember that Christ is with me no matter where I am located or how many miles above ground I am flying, and He goes before me. 

12 January 2017


I am not very good at keeping it, fully.
There are always chores to do, laundry, or an errand.
There is always temptation to get something done because it's a day off.

But I shouldn't be doing that. When we add work-type things into every single day, it's not as God planned for us. God gave us Sabbath because He knows we need it. He knows that we tend to over-work and over-do it most of the week, but our minds and bodies cannot maintain that and remain wholly well. We need a day of recharging every week. A day to keep holy by simply being restful and abiding in His goodness. Not just once per year on a vacation, but once per week.

This is a challenging commandment to keep. Do you remember that it is one of the Ten Commandments? It is, and it's the longest commandment with the most detail, probably because we need such instruction. It means I need to be more mindful of running errands and doing chores on other days, and not leave them to my Sabbath day. It means I should also be thankful if I eat out or shop (the fun kind) on Sabbath, because that means those workers are not able to rest. Though, their Sabbath may be on another day. Sometimes others need to work so that we may rest.

I find that when I am resting only in between chores on my Sabbath, I am more distracted. I am timing my laundry or trying to fit in the chores and losing sight of all the thoughts that are streaming in my head.

I'll focus on being thankful for the pot of Yorkshire tea. I could drink a few pots on a cold day, but I won't pull a C.S. Lewis (he was known to drink pots of tea at a time). Tea does make everything better, though, I've always felt that way. And now I fully understand why.

In addition to warming me up, it forces me to stop, sit, and be at the table with my books. A pot stays hot and I pour cup after cup. I am focused, quiet, and reflective. I must stay there. It is simply being there that is important.

Tea aids me in keeping the Sabbath.

These are things I am looking to work on this year. Purposeful and meaningful moments that draw me to keep Sabbath a holy day that I abide in.

10 January 2017

Winter Night

Night winds press the cold against my windows,
through the old panes the frigid air enters into my home.
Bundled in layers, I add a blanket onto my lap 
as I read by candlelight.

The night grows colder with every hour,
so I drink a pot of tea and go to Middle-earth,
entering by way of pages bound.
A seemingly reasonable solution in the 
absence of a fireplace. Tea solves all the problems.

Add it to the list of ways to warm up,
next to thick, cosy layers, on a wonder-filled,
cold southern night.
Alongside tea, would be some good company, 
bringing warmth and light.

09 January 2017

Real Winter

You will have to pardon me for being one of those Floridians who goes against the grain of everyone else and rejoices when the temperature drops so low, it could "almost" (just almost) snow. 
I woke up to 34 degrees. That is frigid to a Floridian.

As I was journaling with some coffee, I realized I was smiling. It was probably a good thing that nobody else was here with me to witness it, because my home was freezing cold. I hadn't turned on the heat yet, and I had my thickest scarf and my coat on before heading out to church. Why put the heat on when you can add a really warm layer? That is my thought-process.

I think I was made for the north. I blame my somewhat northern roots. My dad was from the mid-west, and my mom from New York, so it's not my fault! I think my neighborhood owl is pretty happy about this weather, too. I heard him hooting from a tree nearby just a few minutes ago. 

January brings the wintry chill, blowing in all the northernness feelings. That deep longing is there every time. I rejoice in it because it brings an actual season. The weather of a season that barely makes an appearance. It is good for us to have season changes. It helps us become more reflective on our own lives and the different seasons that produce fruits and/or lessons. It also helps us appreciate what we have here and now.

06 January 2017

Language Connecting Us to History

We might think about how we can feel connected to the past when we visit museums and see artifacts from early civilization, or visit places where events occurred. In these experiences we place ourselves in that time for a moment, to try to imagine what it would be like to live at that time. To try to imagine, through the objects or location, as if we were in that time.

I have been fascinated in my learning about how the history of English words does the same thing. We are connected to the past by way of words we use. Each word has developed /changed /modified over time by way of usage in civilizations, and we can trace that as we travel back through the centuries. 

Owen Barfield is the one who awoke this in me, in his books Poetic Diction and History in English Words. He draws out the realization that so much of our history lies in the words we use in every sentence. We think of objects from history as artifacts, but do we ever think of words as artifacts? An interesting topic. 

He writes about how over time we have bifurcated the meaning of words to mean different things, and he relays the wondering - why can they not have both meanings? For example, the one word in Greek meaning spirit and wind is used to mean both things at the same time. The inner reflection of the spirit as well as an outer source analogous to God's presence. The wind is an outer feeling of wind that we cannot see but it is also a spiritual inner recognition of something stirring. When this word is written in the KJV, its meaning is not necessarily metaphorical, but it means two things at once. 

But in our English modernization (and the way we read the passage in Scripture), the meanings of wind and spirit have been separated to mean totally different things. We feel the inner spirit but do not feel anything spiritual about the wind. The wind is an invisible stormy attribute that we do not feel anything spiritual about. And yet, these two words originally did intermingle in meanings. When one spoke of the wind, it was surely a spiritual recognition of God's presence. We do not speak like that today as we use the word wind.

This study of language in the context of history is like opening up a whole new world of discovery. A whole realm that isn't breached while in school. Here is only a tiny snippet of what is to learn. Yet it is part of all our histories, and part of our everyday, unless you don't use words in your days. I suspect that you do.

04 January 2017

Night Lesson

The darkling evening deepens to black,
amidst a humidity-soaked clouded sky.
Tracing layers of heat, upper winds slack
as the stillness quiets, and the quiet still
leaves room for a change. Do the owls
know as they hoot from the trees?

The pitter patter paws of a neighborhood cat
scatters as I come down the stairs, 
retrieving mail from my box is unlike that
which I wait for, as it is always just beyond,
requiring of me a patient, questioning mind.

A mood akin to accepetance, with a heart
ready to leap, I take a stance,
letting sheer contentedness of the present, everyday
bliss hidden in each opportunity and chance.

02 January 2017

A Fresh Year

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. A new year upon us arriving with the age-old sun. Red ribbons glowing at the horizon, slowly dimming their shade into a yellow light casting higher and higher into the sky. 

Be present.

It is chilly, to my delight. My socked feet hit the wood floor that remains perpetually cold. Though here, the chilly floor will be welcomed as the day warms up significantly. 

Light rising from the horizon builds in layers of colour, always shifting as the earth spins. An ambient glow brightens from a soft lamp version of the sun to a large overhead light for all the land.  

We rise into a new day, a new year, with layers of complexity as well, always shifting depending on what our mind dwells on. In some cases our layers thicken if we hold onto things, but if we can let go of the things that add complexity to us, then we shed those layers. They peel away and we are not so complex. Difficulties we encounter seem to glide off and become trails in the dust we leave. We can become so in-tuned to letting God take all such troublesome thoughts. 

This can be applicable with material items as well as emotional items. It calls for a de-cluttering in all areas. The motivation comes in a new year to look a little deeper.

Henceforth, our true light glows from us and we do not have to worry about being ourselves because that is all there is, in its true form.We stop looking to others to try to be like them.We see who God made us to be.

Be focused.