Sometimes All You Can Do…

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  –1 Peter 5:7

It was such a pleasant surprise to find a card from my little “sister” Brittany in my mailbox when I returned from work today.

Photo/Scrapbook Page by Maggie Mae Sharp, Maggie’s Quill, Inc.

Sometimes all you can do…is bow your head and pray.

Brittany wrote that she thought about me when she saw and purchased this card almost four months ago. Sending it was delayed, but it arrived right on time–just when I need prayer and a good chuckle.

Brittany could have sent her loving message via text message, but I ❤ that she wrote it in a cute card and sent it via snail mail. I can tuck it in my planner or a journal and read it again and again.

Someone you know needs to know that you’re thinking about them, so grab a card and write a note. A couple of sentences go a long way to lift someone’s spirits.

Thanks for the prayers and the love, Brit!


Note about the card: The card comes from “Maggie Mae’s Scrapbook.” The back of the card gives a little history about the company: For many years, Maggie Mae Sharp has kept her favorite memories of family and friends in a scrapbook, combining nostalgic charm of antique photography with the wit and wisdom of treasured family jokes, quotes, scriptures, and common sense adages. Today, she brings some of her favorite combinations of pictures and words in greeting card form. Maggie Mae says, “I hope you will enjoy sharing some of my scrapbook memories with the special people God has placed inyour life.”

Escape to the Sea with Janet Bell

Thanks to the cheerful postcards featuring the seaside paintings of Janet Bell, I spent a few much-needed moments at the sea today.

Both came from Love Notes pals who live on the other side of the pond.

Litsa sent my sister Lori the card below with a sweet message of time spent at the beach. I don’t have the actual postcard, but I ran across a scan of it while looking through my camera roll.

“Seaside Days: Pink Flowers” by Janet Bell

Although the artwork is entitled “Pink Flowers,” the flowers are actually purple–Lori’s favorite color [too]–which I’m sure is the reason Litsa selected the postcard.

Jacki sent a fun beach scene with a quote:

“Kites at the Beach” by Janet Bell

Every second brings a new beginning.
Every hour holds a new promise.
Every night our deams can bring hope.
And every day is what you choose to make it. –Unknown

Janet Bell is a popular contemporary artist who has her own gallery by the sea in Beaumaris, Anglesey. Her style is characterized by bright colors and cheerful scenes of lighthouse, boats, and seaside views. You can see more of her work by visiting her site: Janet Bell Gallery.

With so much heaviness on my mind these days, this week’s blog posts will provide a brief escape into the lighthearted and fun. I’ll be contemplating the pretty and catching up on some of the happy mail in my “to be blogged” bin. I look forward to seeing you here!

I Breathe. Hope.

Hope is a midwife, helping us breathe. Out with the pain. In with the Spirit. Repeat as often as necessary. And again and again. There’s no shortage of oxygen. No shortage of God.  —Jennifer Dukes Lee

I wrote the quote above in my Bible Study journal nearly three years ago. I can’t remember the specific reason why it spoke to me then, but at this moment, I am breathing hope.

We learned that my sister’s cancer metastasized to her brain two weeks ago. Radiation was stopped after a week because it was not preventing the spread of the disease and was only making her weaker. Two days ago, the doctor told her husband, my parents, and my baby sister, “There is no hope for recovery.” Plain and simple. To the point. Not what we want to hear, but the candor we need to activate hope and faith.

The late, great evangelist E.E. Cleveland, in expounding on Hebrews 11:1, told our class of wide-eyed college students many years ago that “faith is belief in the absence of evidence and in the face of contrary evidence.” I’ve never forgotten those words. They are ingrained in my spirit.

So now the faithwork intensifies. Now, we pool our faith and hope and pray and fast and plead for the miracle we know God can perform, if it is His will to do so. Because we cannot just lie down and accept that this is our story…again. We cannot simply accept that this is sweet Lori’s story. Lori with the heart of gold. Lori who has been unflappable. Lori who has found a way to praise God through mind-numbing, excruciating pain. Lori whose faith has been rock-solid, unwavering throughout this entire ordeal.

The doctor did his job. Now, we wait in hope for God to do His.

How can I have such audacious faith that GOD CAN HEAL even metastatic cancer after I’ve already lost one sister to cancer? I believe in miracles and divine interventions. I serve the Most High God who still performs divine acts in the face of human impossibilities.

So I lay all of it on the altar and praise God for what He will do, and if He allows another outcome, He is still God.

I breathe hope.

Raindrops and Perfection

He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. –Matthew 5:45 MSG

It seems appropriate to talk about rain today–this 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina–but I have no desire to revisit that horror today. The photo above features my favorite line from R.H. Peat’s poem “Perfection.” When I “encountered” it on the blog Sightseeing at Home a few months ago, I decided to create a series of photos using lines from the poem.

Every oak will lose a leaf to the wind.
Every star-thistle has a thorn.
Every flower has a blemish.
Every wave washes back upon itself.
Every ocean embraces a storm.
Every raindrop falls with precision.
Every slithering snail leaves its silver trail.
Every butterfly flies until its wings are torn.
Every tree-frog is obligated to sing.
Every sound has an echo in the canyon.
Every pine drops its needles to the forest floor.
Creation’s whispered breath at dusk comes
with a frost and leaves within dawn’s faint mist,
for all of existence remains perfect, adorned,
with a dead sparrow on the ground. –“Perfection” by R.H. Peat

The photo above is the first in the series. I even photographed a dead sparrow I happened across one afternoon. There was nothing poetic about that image, so we can probably forget about adding the last line to the series–unless I approach it less literally.

The incongruity between the poetic lines and the actual image of the sparrow reminds me of our tendency to use language to “pretty up” some really “jacked up” aspects of life. I’m learning that such language doesn’t minimize the ugliness and does little, if anything, to help. In some instances, what appears to be encouragement or inspiration is actually damaging. There’s nothing glamorous about struggle. Nothing to celebrate in being strong enough to withstand the blows. People who struggle with mental and/or physical illnesses don’t need platitudes. They need help. They need support. They need love. It is easier to come to grips with life when we realize, no matter how hellish, life is just that. . .life.

Isn’t that the point of Peat’s poem? Life with all its “stuff” happens to us all–whether we’re good, bad, nice, nasty, or somewhere in between. That is part of our messy, perfect existence in this world.

Possibilities

“Possibilities” by Diane W., Midteacher on swap-bot

The academic year began with far more drama than I expected, and I’m finally finding a few moments on a less crazy night. I’ve been reflecting on the mixed media photography piece Diane W., Midteacher, sent for the “Raindrops” swap I hosted a few weeks ago.

Last Monday, I marched into my office after dropping my son off for his first day of school, happy to have a full seven hours to transform “possibilities” to realities. I had such plans! But one obstacle after another hindered any progress on anything day after day for almost the entire week.

When my own classes began two days later, I was not prepared. I “faked the funk” and pushed through, but by Friday, I was deflated–my only solace was knowing I had the weekend to recuperate.

Today, I took a short walk after my morning classes, annoyed by another hindrance. Through some connection in my thoughts, the words Diane worked into her photo surfaced–“today is full of possibilities.”

Was I going to let one thing gone wrong ruin a whole day filled with possibilities? Was I going to allow my week to be hijacked again?

Of course not! There’s too much at stake.

I shook off the icky feelings, returned to my office and got to work…chipping away at the possibilities.

Adventure Time: Tag! I’m It!

I’ve been tagged in A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!‘s “3.2.1. Quote Me!” challenge. It involves quotations, so I can’t resist. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you (Thank you, Darren of The Arty Plant Man!)
  • Post two (2) quotes for the dedicated “Topic of the Day”
  • Select three (3) bloggers to take part in ‘3.2.1 Quote Me!’

Today’s Topic (from a week ago): ADVENTURE

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. –Jawaharlal Nehru

When my son was much younger, he loved going on “adventures.” Everything was an adventure–walks in the neighborhood, playing in the park, road trips, a trip to the grocery store, nap time. When we were headed “nowhere,” he created adventures for us, complete with a filled backpack, a map he’d drawn, binoculars for spying, a compass, and of course, canteens filled with water.

His approach to life illustrated so clearly that every moment offers adventure and that we don’t have to go out and find adventure. Sometimes we have to create our own wherever we are and with the means available to us.

I’m not always as adventurous as he is, but perhaps that’s because parenting is about as much adventure as I can handle most days.

Parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure. –Brene Brown

My nominees are:

Note: Although adventure is the topic for today, there is no specific deadline for it. You can address it whenever you wish.  In fact, feel free to use the topic “adventure” or the latest topic, “chic.”

Have fun!

Quotes Challenge Day 3: Ride the Horse

Photo by my son, Vaughan M.

Behind one pain, there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it. 

The final quote for the three-day challenge comes from one of my favorite books, Simone Schwarz-Bart’s Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle (published as The Bridge of Beyond in English). I feel I must provide a little context–without giving away too much of the plot, of course.

In Part 2 of the novel, Télumée, the primary character, is so profoundly grieved by her husband’s desertion that she sits on a stone in her grandmother’s backyard for several weeks, speechless and unmovable, reduced to a shade of her former self. Her trauma is understandable. After being obviously head-over-heels in love with her since they were children, Elie, her husband, suddenly and inexplicably becomes cruel and abusive and kicks her out of the house in favor of another woman. The events of her life become incongruous with the reality she’s crafted and the people she and her husband are and Télumée is so broken by this unfathomable turn of events that she “loses her mind” and can no longer function.

Télumée eventually “rises,” nurtured by her community and the steady wisdom of Toussine, her grandmother –“Queen without a Name”–who had suffered and survived many griefs herself.  I’m convinced it is the words Toussine instills at an earlier point in the novel that compels her to get up:

Behind one pain, there is another. Sorrow is a wave without end. But the horse mustn’t ride you, you must ride it.

As suddenly as she falls apart, Télumée stands up to live a life different from the one she originally imagined–one that is authentic and communal and necessary.

I have always loved this quote. When I first read it, I put the book down to pause and consider it for a while. And still, several reads later, I am blown away by the tenacity Toussine suggests we must conjure up to survive wild waves of pain and sorrow–the grit it takes to position ourselves so that deep sorrow doesn’t shape our lives, define us, or guide us and the creative prowess it takes to use that sorrow to re-plot the direction of our lives.

Sometimes when the crises come one right after another and literally knock us off our feet, it seems easier to just lie down and wallow in sadness and misery. There can be healing in (temporarily) shutting down, in resting, but at some point we (have to) decide whether we will ride the horse–our circumstances–or let the horse ride us.

There is way more to say about this quote and way, way, way more to say about The Bridge of Beyond. I hope you’ll pick it up and read it. I also hope that when life becomes too much, you’ll choose to ride.

Today’s nominees are [see a previous post for rules]:

Have a restful, fun, and safe weekend!

___________________________________________

Note about the photo: The photo above was shot by my son when he was eight-years-old. He is quite the photographer. I’m working on getting him to share more of his work. #proudmom