If I could only fly

We have dinner baking in the oven so we poured a glass of wine (me) and a cold amber beer (him). We then hooked up my iPad to our Bose speaker and chose to stream Merle Haggard and a montage of his Gospel songs on utube! (Yes, really! Merle sang gospel music) We forgot how beautiful his voice was until we started to listen to his deep rich tone! Within a minute we settled into a trip down memory lane. It is my opinion that there is nothing he could not sing well.

As we listened to song after song, I thought of the many country music singers who have sung songs of praise to God and Jesus! I find that part touching. So many of these country music legends have lived rough and tumble lives, yet they all loved their Mama’s and Jesus, both who were the most likely to love and forgive them unconditionally!

Mr. B is melancholy tonight, eyes welling up as we listen to sentimental old time songs. We have a very dear relative who is on hospice, and we know his time is short. Even though we previously received notice of his condition and prognosis, it still comes as a shock when someone actually begins their journey “home.”. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…and all that.

The queue line ahead of us to go to heaven is getting shorter and shorter and we are ever increasingly aware of this. We have never been people who counted our years on earth in any serious kind of way. Naturally, the birthdays serve up a reminder of how long we have been walking this earth, but we have never really put serious thought to our demise. After all, our spirits are eternal and in our case, because we have been reasonably healthy, we motivate about our world with the joyful sense of living in the day while anticipating and planning for what is ahead.

Lately, however, we have received many notifications of people we know who have died. We are losing the world in which we grew up and lived for so many years, one relationship at a time. As I reflected on the departure of so many friends and family, it came to me that an interesting representation for this ongoing loss would be the visualization of removing pieces out of a completed jig saw puzzle. Each person’s piece in our life’s puzzle is taken out as they die, leaving a hole where they used to be in the picture of our life. Through the years, these pieces were inserted, one at a time, as we continued to build our picture, and now, all these years later, they are being lifted back out.

From birth, we begin our life within a circle of loved ones and as we grow older, we accumulate more and more people in our life by way of friends, loved ones, children, children’s friends, acquaintances, and the list grows through the years. The same is true for our accumulation of material possessions. A friend said once, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our lives accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them?” I thought it to be a rather profound statement from someone who was only about 30 years old at the time. Of course, she was talking about our material possessions, but it applies in a different way to our unintended loss of loved ones as well.

As we face our final destination, we realize that we cannot take anything with us, not material goods nor even the people we love. We are forced to let go of everything we have gathered in our lifetime. All we take with us are the lessons we have learned about living and loving. Life’s meaning has always been about what we leave behind as we depart this earth and I am not referencing our material goods. I am referring to what we leave behind in the way of experiences and memories with others while here on earth. The ultimate harvest is about our relationships with other people, how we treated them and how we made them feel. Our journey here was never about us and what WE would gain. Rather it is about how we give of ourselves and how we have gifted and blessed and loved others.

As we sat there over dinner, listening to the music and talking, I began to imagine our loved one finally releasing his spirit from his earth bound body. I imagined him returning to God and to the promised land where there is no more pain, hunger, thirst, fear or loneliness. What will be greeting him upon his arrival to that distant place is a pure, unconditional love…the kind of love we have yearned for all of our lives. His spirit will soar and swoop with an unbridled joy not known or experienced here on earth. While we weep over the loss of this dear soul, we also give up thanks for having been blessed with his presence in our lives. We also give up thanks for his final and most important reward, which is life everlasting!

He was a very important piece to my life puzzle, having been a part of it my entire life. He was like a brother to me, and it has been written that the sibling relationship is the longest relationship we will ever experience on earth because they were there with us at our beginning and can be witness to the many events that shaped and formed the person we became.

In my puzzle of life, I would say that he was a corner piece, an important connecting piece to all the other pieces that were added as I grew up. The loss of his piece will undo the completed frame of my puzzle which means the framing of my life back to my birth will not feel as secure as it once did. Some people are foundational to our being and he certainly was that for us when we were young children.

But, life goes on. His life will continue in an expanded glorious version while our life will continue on in a slightly contracted version due to his departure. Memories of him will sustain us and as we imagine his spirit taking flight, we will rejoice in knowing that we will be reunited with him again someday. Oh the conversations we will have then about the lessons given to us while here in this realm. FINALLY, there will be a pulling back of the veil giving clarity around all the things we just do not understand while on earth.

I used to say to my Mother as we talked of such things, “I will tell you what, Mom…when I die and go to heaven, I am going to have a LOT of questions for Jesus to answer!” She said to me, “Oh, J…when you go to heaven it will all become CLEAR!”

Yes, I believe she is correct about that. If I could only fly…and I will….. someday at an appointed time and place. Until then, we do our best to matter in this world and to make a difference!

jjb/6/15/2021

Down though the years…

A long time ago, when we were fairly new empty nesters, we were having a conversation with a friend of ours. He traveled a lot with his work and said that one morning when he woke up, he found himself on a fold out sofa bed in his sons apartment’s living room. While he laid there orienting himself as to where he was, he wondered where all the years had gone? His story gave me a smile because he really was surprised to find himself in that time and place not having fully realized the journey! This is how time slips away unnoticed.

This is also how it goes with raising kids. From the moment they are born, our life seems to go into a fast forward mode. When it came to our own adult life, we have been so incredibly busy, the words “savor the moment” simply came down to wishful thinking. That is, until all the kids had flown the nest and we were left with mountains of extra time to fill. Savor….how do we “savor” something with which we have had no previous experience?

Our granddaughter graduates high school this weekend. As I look at her and see her excitement over her next big step of leaving home for college, I am sure that her parents are filled with a lot of conflicting feelings.

Of course, they are happy for her because as parents we want our kids to be happy and to advance in life on their own terms, remembering our own launch into life so many years before. On the other hand, they are facing the beginning of their own nest emptying out. For the first time they are facing the fact that she is going off into a world where her parameters are no longer the same as their own.

We parents live under an illusion of having control which comes to us when our children are born in a very vulnerable state, totally dependent on us for survival. We nervously step up to the challenge, making so many decisions for this newly minted baby. Then as the baby begins to grow, they begin making their own decisions while we still have a modicum of control in their lives. We encourage them and guide their choices while we still have some influence over them.

The years go by and before we realize just how quickly it has all gone, we watch them walking across a stage to receive their diploma…a certification of completion which says they have earned the right to choose which path they will begin their new independent life.

Long ago I read something that said our children are placed into our safekeeping but are only on loan to us from God. They do not belong to us. They belong to God. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I was so aware of this when our daughter was in the hospital and so very sick! Prayers poured forth laced with heavy bargaining, though I know that is not how we should do things. I know who is in charge of the universe and it is not me! I prayed for her recovery and for a renewed contract to us on the loan He granted to us of this beautiful and beloved human we brought into the world.

I was listening to a lecture recently where a woman said that a person should not be afraid of death nor should we be afraid of life. We should not make our children afraid either. Living life fully means to embrace whatever comes and to face life fearlessly. Life contains adventure and risk and we should not go though life with the hand brake on. Without doubt, there is a lot of darkness in this world, but there is also a lot of light. As we seek the light we should also BE the light for others, sharing our knowledge and love and wisdom.

Our granddaughter is a light filled personality. She is going to be such a positive addition to the world with her kind and sensible ways. Her parents did a very good job of raising her.

No wonder they are so proud of her.

No wonder she loves them dearly.

The world needs people like her and I am grateful and delighted with how she has turned out! She has the mindset of giving back to the world and has already been doing so for a while now.

The generations march ever forward, each seeking their own way. I am glad we have been blessed with a life long enough to watch not only how our children’s lives have evolved and how they contribute to society, but so too, our grandchildren.. We are in the spectator section once again, watching and cheering them on!

Whether we wake up on our child’s sofa bed in an apartment or in a guest bedroom in their home, the operative word is guest. We have had to learn what that word means. A perfect guest is someone who blends into the life of their Host. We mind our manners, our words and our actions. We are on their turf now and they get to call the shots!

I find myself wondering how our son will feel someday in the not so distant future on that first morning he wakes up in his daughters home and realizes he has now become a guest…a loved guest, a wanted guest, but a guest nonetheless. 🙂 Only then will he understand the journey we have been on ourselves, each generation passing the torch to the upcoming generation.

jjb/6/5/2021

Having a moment…

Today has been one of those days. It started out simply enough with a quiet morning, a cup of coffee, and a walk in the courtyard while planning my day.

We have been absolutely swamped with yard work since the historic Texas snow and ice storm destroyed over 30 percent of our trees and bushes this past February.. 23 years of growth gone in a few days. I rarely cry, but cry I did as we walked around our property assessing the damage shortly after the storm. So many of our plans and plants gone, gone, GONE ! This at a time when we have a very limited access to landscapers who could take care of the storm aftermath due to them being swamped with excess work. So here we were, Mr. B and me, day after day going out there to cut and trim and dig and plant. Not exactly what we had envisioned for ourselves at this stage of our life. I had actually envisioned the two of us sipping Mimosa’s on a summers eve while swinging on the swing in our courtyard. Instead, we were gulping water to quench parched tongues as we labored away.

That said, we are now a few days away from June and everything has been sorted out. Things don’t look as full and lush as they did before the storm, so we are now watching baby bushes and trees growing upwards and reaching for the sky. Hope springs eternal.

As I walked around assessing the new plants and their growth, I was surprised by how my grief over the loss of my plants and trees had morphed into a “looking forwardto how things were going to shape up.

We are now on the 15th month of the Pandemic. Life has been severely altered from what it was before. Will it ever go back to what it once was? This is doubtful because life is on an ever changing trajectory forward. I am a person who does not embrace change, even though I understand that change is at the very heart of our journey through life. It is how we learn and grow.

As I stepped back into the house, I got a call from Mr. B sharing with me that our daughter was in the emergency room with acute kidney failure. I was stunned because this exact same situation happened to her last year when she was struggling with covid. We discussed the situation with her husband and we were put on standby mode for driving the 4 hours up to support her. Her husband is back in town and taking very good care of her and both she and he said to “sit tight”.

I felt like I was abruptly jerked back in time to the last time she dealt with this. She is part of a group of people who are known as “Long Haulers”. She is one of those people who dealt with the symptoms of covid far longer than most. We thought her 4-5 months of lingering and ongoing symptoms were finally gone for good. But, here now, after about 6 months of good health, her body reared its ugly head in the form of acute kidney failure and an inflamed pancreas. I have to say, this incident took my breath away because I thought we had left that particular route of our life journey behind. We are now on what could be defined as a detour back again.

This time I found myself reeling with emotion. Is this going to be her future? Will she live a normal life punctuated periodically by health crisis? The bubble our family has lived in for so many years felt like it had developed a pin hole and was deflating around us. I found myself imagining many life altering scenarios which made me feel helpless and afraid. There are just too many “what if’s” to consider, and it overwhelms me.

The thing is, we have dealt with problems before, but those were things that affected us personally. Some were pretty tough to get though but we managed. We have had times where I felt a lot of fear where I could barely breathe. This is what happens to someone not previously challenged. What we discover is that with each challenge, we grow tougher, more resilient and more courageous. Our faith grows too!

Faith does not come to those who are sitting on a peaceful lagoon under a cloudless, sunny sky. There is no real need to check our faith then. We may talk philosophically and theologically about faith in those times, but it is a “thinking mans” lofty ideal rather than a work in progress. The test of faith comes to those who are seeking a strength they do not possess. A test of faith comes to those of us who have taken our unblemished good life for granted, assuming life would always be a joy filled ride. But then we blow a tire and swerve to avoid hitting a tree and end up in the ditch.

This morning after the phone call, I was wiping down my kitchen counters and my imagination was high jacked with troublesome thoughts of what could be. In those moments, I looked around our lovely home and realized how little any of the physical stuff really matters to me. Of course I have been in that mental zone for a long time now, but today it really spoke to me.

One does not realize it at the time, but when we decide to have a child, we are signing up for a life long journey filled with enormous love, parental pride, celebrations of achievements, and a rediscovering of the world through the eyes of a child which give us many joy filled moments. However, these moments are also punctuated by the wringing of hands and concern over another person’s welfare. Their pain is our pain, their disappointments are our disappointments, magnified! I think we actually feel their dips and lows in life more acutely than they do. I doubt I ever worried nearly as much about my own life outcomes as I have over my children. I had no idea how completely invested I would be in the life of our children and that emotional investment grew right along with the child. By the time they were adults, we were so melded into their life that we almost felt like we were having an amputation done when they left home. Of course, we adapted to this in time, but the commitment we feel toward them never leaves us.

What value does life hold without our loved ones? I was remembering the day of our daughters birth and how fervently I had prayed for her! Every day of my entire pregnancy I prayed for her and had total faith that God would reward me with a daughter, and He DID! I remember holding her in my arms and my joy spilled over onto everyone in the surrounding area.

This little girl was a force to be reckoned with. She was never the shy retiring little flower at the edge of a garden! She has held her own with her two older brothers and has held her own with her moral compass and principles in life. She is strong, decisive and focused. She has a confidence about herself that I did not achieve until I was much older. I admire her greatly.

She has been a blessing in more ways than I could ever have imagined during the gestational months I carried her! I always imagined her in my life as I grew old. Yet, there are never any guarantees! Thinking of this made my eyes well up. No guarantees! It makes me think of that old saying “When man makes plans, God smiles”. Indeed….we just never know.

There is a major thunder and rain storm passing over as I write this. High winds, heavy rain and lots of thunder. The angels are bowling in the sky, we used to say. It matches my mood.

I have talked with our daughter and she is being pumped with fluids by IV. 4 one liter bags so far! Thank you God for this day and age of modern medicine! Thank you God for the reminder that prayer and faith are sometimes rewarded. I have thought of so many people who have dealt with significant loss and my heart goes out to them. This Pandemic has altered the lives for most of us forever. I, for one, will never take anything for granted again, most especially the relationships and love of those who are near and dear to me.

Please, Lord, take care of our “little Tootie” as her Grandpa used to call her. Please also give comfort to all those who are burdened with so many of life’s problems. I pray that we can soon move forward and away from this Pandemic life so that we may live the way You intended for us to live. Thank you Lord for the reminder that we should live one day at a time. “Do not worry about tomorrow for today has enough troubles of it’s own.” So, TODAY, Lord, I pray for restored health!

Amen and amen!

jjb/5/28/2021

Where did she go?

Once upon a time, in the woodsy northern territory of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a young girl freely roamed the countryside in the summer months when school was not in session. She had many Uncles and Aunts who lived in the area along with a multitude of cousins. She had a brother, a sister, a set of parents and two sets of grandparents. Love was in abundance and she felt it. Her life was simple and each day took care of itself. She is me and I remember it all so well!

Summers were a time when my Mother would let me sleep in as long as I wanted and I always slept in late. My bedroom walls were wallpapered in a very soft moss colored textured pattern and as the sun would shine in the window on that side of the house, the room glowed a soft green and I often felt as if I were waking up outdoors. As I slowly woke up from a deep sleep, I would stretch out in my bed and lay there watching the dust motes dance on the shaft of sunlight pouring in through my bedroom window. I could hear the birds singing in the trees and the flys buzzing around the windows. I could hear a dogs occasional bark off in the distance. Someone was already mowing their yard and I enjoyed hearing the motor as it went back and forth cutting the grass. These were some of the sounds of summer, and I also enjoyed the quiet within the house. Mom was always very quiet on those long ago mornings. One could hear her in the kitchen with the sounds of dishes and cutlery being moved about. She was our short order cook who would make breakfast for us as we arose for the day. It was a peaceful existence and she created this for us.

My world was my own to explore because there were no set expectations for how I should spend my day. In those days, kids were allowed to be kids and we spent our childhood summers in a lazy, unscheduled, unfettered fashion where each day just unfolded before our eyes.

I seriously doubt if any of the kids in that time and place even knew for certain what day of the week it was during the summer months because one day was pretty much the same as the next. The only exception to our unscheduled time came about on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings.

Most of our Saturday evenings were spent after dinner in preparation for Church and Sunday School the following day. Our Mother orchestrated the preparation by making sure we had our baths and shampoos before bed. She also made sure that her daughters hair was rolled up in curlers. Our Sunday Church clothes were laid out for the following morning. Shoes were cleaned or polished and a couple of nickels were tied up inside of our hankies for the Sunday School offering. The next day, after we attended Sunday School, we would go upstairs to the main church and sit next to our parents and/or grandparents for the church service.

In my minds eye, I can still see and sense my long ago family sitting beside me in our modern day church pews. I can almost hear them singing along with me to the same old hymns that were sung long ago in that little white church on the hill. For us rural folks, Church was also a social event tied up with learning our scripture lessons and listening to the Pastor share his insights on how God would want us to live. We saw many extended family members and friends at our church and everyone knew everyone! I remember how proud I was of my Mother as I watched her exchange pleasantries with friends and neighbors after the service. She had a sweet soul and a kind heart and people were naturally drawn to her. She was a beautiful woman who took pride in her appearance. In my young girls view, she radiated a glow around her, all the way from her smiling face to her animated way of talking and laughing.

Because my Mother was a self described perfectionist, she preferred to do all household chores by herself just so they would be done to her own specifications. We didn’t have chores as children and we did not receive an allowance. Because we lived in such a rural area, there was no need for kids to have spending money, other than the occasional nickel or dime our parents gave us to buy candy if we were somewhere near where they sold it.

Our family lived down the road from a small lake where I would swim daily, weather permitting. I was often teased about my love of the water and was jokingly warned that I might possibly develop gills on the side of my head just like the fish that inhabited the lake. I knew they were kidding, but the image stuck in my head.

I did not lack for anything, nor did I have anything in excess. When I walked to the lake for a swim, I walked down the road wearing my bathing suit under a pair of summer shorts with my towel thrown over my shoulder, so different from my city cousins who would come to the north country to visit. These cousins had beach bags filled with their swim suits, towels, sun tan lotion, beach balls and/or inflatable tubes which they would inflate upon arrival at the lake. Huff! Puff! I would watch them slather Coppertone Sun tan lotion on their bodies and when I inquired what that was, they began to explain that it was to help them get a sun tan. Half way through the explanation they looked at my rich deep tan and said “Never mind…you don’t need it”.

No wonder I miss this young girl, this long ago version of myself where I was so tenderly cared for! Growing up has its advantages and in my case, I have certainly been blessed. I have a wonderful husband who cares for me as well as my Mother once did and I happily return the favor to him. I have nice children, grandchildren, good friends, and a lovely place to live.

Yet, despite this very nice adult life, I often reflect on her …that young girl from so long ago. She, who lived amongst a very large clan of people in a community that existed in much simpler times. It was a place where we all knew we “belonged”. Many generations were born and raised there and some remain there even today. In modern times, the newer generations often move far away, following the path of their careers. Each move promises nicer cars, bigger houses, and more vacations, which are all nice in their own right. But at the end of the day, nothing material really satiates our spirit. What each of us really want, really yearn for, and really need is love and acceptance and a feeling of belonging.

Sitting here now, as I think about those days, I feel a sense of longing and melancholy, which seems odd because I have been gifted with such a rewarding life. I am content in my journey, having been blessed with a husband who has been both my sail and anchor in life’s waters. His sail is always there, giving us a lift and speed and direction. His anchor is always ready to stabilize us during life’s storms. Together, we have wonderful children and grandchildren. So, why then, the yearning?

I do not really know why this yearning comes over me. Somedays, I miss that much younger version of myself! Yet, I know and understand that she belongs back there in the recesses of my memories. It is nice to go in and collect her every once in a while to laugh with her a bit as she and I enjoy a shared memory. Memories are wonderful, but as I move forward in life, I need to remind myself that it is in the present where I will be living and making more memories. I think all of our good times are stored in our memory vault for those less than perfect future days where we feel sad or lonely or lost. They are there for us to pull out, relive and remind ourselves how rich and rewarding our journey has been. No ones life is perfect, but life is often filled with perfect moments. These moments are little gifts for us to revisit, enjoy for the moment, and then put back again. It is not good to live in the past, but a visit now and again is perfectly o.k. and is often satiating to our spirit.

“Where did she go?” you ask….Well, she is right here. She has always been here. She and I are each a part of all the ages I have ever been which makes up the fabric of my life. . The good Lord knew that a reunion between my present and past self would be balm to my spirit on those days where I feel a yearning to go “home” and I think that is why he gifted us with memory.

Where is home, our one true home? Home is wherever I am at any particular time, and wherever I hang my hat. It is a collective of all the places I have ever lived and left behind as I continued my life’s journey. I do know where my real home is and my journey will eventually lead me there, deep within the heart and spirit of God!

I enjoyed those childlike memories today….memories of a childhood well lived while I was being well loved. No wonder I like to go there for a visit. For now, though, this visit has filled my cup and it is time to step back into the present, which as we all know is the “GIFT”. I think I will also enjoy unwrapping this gift as it unfolds! From the looks of it, it holds much promise for what will be revealed.

jjb/5/21/2021

Out with the old..

It is interesting how much we change as the years go by. People come and go in our lives, our views on life, once so black and white, have turned to gray, and material goods we once thought we could not live without, are now going out the door to serve someone else.

Yesterday was a very dark day emotionally for me. My mind was spinning with thoughts of the worlds troubles of which there are SO many! I was also dwelling on the recent death of a good friend. In fact, we have lost 3 friends in just the first 4 months of this year. Two of them were sudden enough to take my breath away. Here today, gone tomorrow, as has often been said. The finality of it for the ones who knew and loved them is jarring! There are no more chances to say what we wish we had said to them. No more chances to see their laughing faces. No more “do overs” whatsoever!

This past week for me has been filled with a lot of restless and sleepless nights. I have tossed and turned in bed as I wrestled with a lot of thoughts about what the future could possibly have in store for us. The death of good friends is a stark reminder that we are all at life’s train station with no clue about which train we will be leaving on or when.

For me, the Pandemic has certainly reinforced the Bible verse, “Be Still, and know I am God”. A year ago, most of us were yanked out of our overly busy lives of comings and going’s and dropped into the quietness of solitary (or near solitary) living. In this solitary quiet, I think many of us have discovered new facets to our inner self. Reflection is very good because it uncovers many aspects of how we think, why we see things in a certain way, and why we respond the way we do. When alone, we are not influenced by the opinions of others which frees us up to be true to our own beliefs. What I have once again discovered about myself is that I just do not want to be bothered by so much “stuff” anymore. I no longer want it here collecting dust as it takes up space in my house. I also don’t want to have to care for it. Of course, I have a few favored pieces that have sentimental value, but there are many things that come from a time in our life when each piece had a purpose to serve. These days, we live very differently than we did when our family was still young. I want to use my time differently by living large rather than caring for material goods.

As a result of my reflecting, I have reactivated my unfinished decluttering project of a couple years ago by pulling more things out of the closets, putting them in large bags and boxes, and bringing them to the thrift shop. The rule I use for now is if it hasn’t been used in 5 years, it needs to go and serve someone else. When this sweep of the house is finished, I will then conduct another “go round” where if it hasn’t been used in a year, out it goes. Each trip to the thrift shop gives me a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of becoming lighter and freer. I have been purging for a couple of years now, and it gets easier to say goodbye with every new purge.

Yesterday, I was in a text conversation with our daughter, sending pictures of things to her first before releasing it to the universe. Some things she wanted and others not. I have my wedding dress that has moved with me nine times. I always thought that maybe someone in the family would be interested in it, but as it turns out, no one is. We live in a day and age of abundance, so the younger generation isn’t nearly as caught up in the sentimental attachment to ancestral things as my generation was. I asked our daughter if she was ok with me releasing the dress and she enthusiastically said, “I think that is great! Someone is going to be so happy to be able to buy that for themselves!” (Funny…I was ok with her not wanting it.) The dress had served its purpose in its time and now maybe it would serve a new purpose for another person with a new love and new vows! Or….maybe it would be utilized in someone’s craft project. It doesn’t matter…just so it is useful!

Bit by bit, more pieces of our life go out the door. Things that were once needed and useful but no longer serve us. We say a quiet thank you to each and every thing that gets put into a bag or box for how it added or served in our life in one form or another and then we say goodbye!

Our thrift shop is owned and run by the Catholic “Ladies of Charity” and they do a fantastic business in the area in which we live. On the backs of their receipts is a list of all the charities they contribute to and there are many! I always feel so good when we bring in another load of goods from which they can make a profit and can forward the blessings of that profit on to places that need the financial support.

I wish I would have heeded a quote I heard many years ago when I was in my 30’s. My friend said, “Isn’t it interesting how we spend the first half of our life accumulating things and the second half getting rid of them?” It was profound to me at the time, but it did not stop the accumulation of things. Everything purchased was bought with the idea of our family expanding several times its original size, but it did not grow as large as I had anticipated. I also did not anticipate adult children having so much of their own stuff! We live in a day and age of ‘much too much!’ Everyone is dealing with too much stuff!

Our goal going forward is to live very simply before we die. I told our younger son that in the end, all I want is a nice room with a recliner, a bedroom, a small kitchen and a bath. He looked at me with a look of horror! haha! Of course I was kidding, but, honestly, as we age, our needs keep shrinking. A long time ago, I remember reading a card in a gift shop that caught my attention. On the front of the card was written, “The more you have”……..and, then on the inside it read, “The more you have to worry about!” No truer words have ever been spoken. The older we get, the less we want to take care of things. In our case, all of our kids live in very nice, well appointed homes. We love to go see them and spend time with them. They come here too, but not as often as we thought they would when we built the house, because everyone is busy working and living their own lives and we are all very spread out geographically.

At our home, the two of us actually only use about 4 rooms on a daily basis while the rest of the house sits unused. These rooms are the kitchen, family room, bedroom and bathroom. So, WHY do we have all this extra space? We are not in a hurry to downsize, but that seed has been planted and it is continuing to expand in our thoughts. Perhaps we will sell our house someday, and if that ever comes to fruition, we will have had a lot of the discarding done already. Yay us!

So, going forward, my incentive is to keep carrying stuff out the door! Just since last week, we have brought four large SUV loads of stuff to the thrift shop and now another large group of filled boxes and bags await the next trip over.

Adieu! Adieu! To you and you and you!

Well, the closets are calling to me so off I go to make more room! I am going to need more boxes! My goodness, I think the house is getting more spacious by the week! 😁

To stay vibrant and viable in this life, a person has to change with the times. We need to let go of the past and leave behind those things (and those people) who do not give back joy or serve a purpose to our life. I often think that a lot of our unhappiness and stress stems from not knowing when to loosen our attachment to things and people, and to just release!

Creating uncluttered space in a home brings peace and serenity.

Inspiration picture!

jjb/5/13/2021

The Best Blessing of all!

I was swept off of my feet, by a man who was sweet
When I was a mere slip of a girl.
As we danced our first dance, our attraction advanced,
With each little dip and swirl.

I was really quite sure his intentions were pure.
I could tell by his modest replies.
It did not take long as we swayed to that song,
To know he was one catch of a guy.

My smile became brighter and my heart became lighter,
When we married and started our home.
It makes my heart leap to feel a love rich and deep
for Al, the man in this poem.

48 years have gone by, which brings tears to my eyes
To feel so lovingly blessed.
I pray that someday we’ll still dance and sway
Together, in our heavenly dress.

JJB/4/30/2021

Is your name in this book?

Each morning, Al and I do devotions to get a right start on things for the day. In addition to this, each night we say our prayers before sleep to help remove the worlds assaults to our psyche which sometimes dims our inner spiritual light. We want to feel cleansed, safe and protected through the night, and our prayers offer us that blessed assurance.

The following has always been a favorite verse for me because it creates a wonderful visual as I recite it. I learned it many years ago in our church and I am grateful for having it taught to me!

Psalm 51: v 10-12 Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. These verses give me great comfort, especially during times when I feel overwhelmed or anxious. I often include this prayer in my evening prayers.

I also love the prayer we were taught as very young children and have prayed this my entire life.

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

If I should live another day,

I pray the Lord to guide my way.

I love you Jesus!

Amen!

This simple child’s prayer covers it all and as a child I can remember always feeling relief to say the third part which meant I would likely get another day. Children are literal and I am as literal as they come. Lol!

Our morning devotional followed by prayer for others is how we refresh our spirit. It is similar to us taking vitamins each morning to give added strength and resilience to our body, only in this case the devotions and prayer adds strength and resilience to our spirit as we seek to put on the whole armor (or spiritual vitamins) of God!

Our day begins with the advantage of a clean heart and a renewed spirit from praying the night before, but we know that by the time we end our day, it will be time for another cleansing.

The morning devotions and prayer serve the purpose of making us ready to face a new day with new challenges, and, as the good Lord knows, we need all the help we can get in the day and age of a pandemic and warring political factions!

This prayer book in the picture was my Mother’s. When she died, I chose to not take much in the way of her material possessions because I knew she had no great attachment to them (which is why she did not own a lot of excess). Her small apartment in her widowhood was full of things on the walls and surfaces, but these were mostly gifts given to her from family members who were constantly showering her with material expressions of love. She always displayed our gifts so when we came to visit we would see them and feel good about her enjoying our gifts.

At the time of her death, her prayer book spoke to me, along with some other personal writings she had left behind. This prayer book journal was full of blank pages waiting for names to be entered of someone we should pray for. Since her death, Al and I have used her prayer book to write in the names of those friends and acquaintances who are dealing with problems and are in need of prayers. We have always prayed for people, but this time we actually began to log peoples names in this book and as prayers were answered, (one way or another) we drew a line through the name.

The prayer book benefited us every bit as much as the people who are entered in the book because as time has gone by, we began to understand that everyone on earth has their challenges. Some have ENORMOUS challenges, and some have MANY challenges, but we all have them in one form or another, be them big, small, or many.

We began to notice people who helped us build OUR faith as we witnessed their fortitude and perseverance on their health journey. These are the people who have dealt with health issues for years and years, who continue to thank God for the little blessings in the midst of their suffering. These people, who we have long admired, are full of Gods grace and we are/were grateful for their example of a strong faith. (Great is thy faithfulness)

The challenges faced by our friends (and ourselves…our names are in the book too) consist of a wide variety of human suffering. There are always many health concerns, but the list also includes people who are dealing with challenges with their children who unknowingly break their parents hearts in one way or another. Maybe their child has a mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness, broken marriage, loss of job, or a failure to thrive in this very difficult world we find ourselves in. There are children and grandchildren who get sick and die ahead of the parent or grandparent which is always heart wrenching.

We have friends who are personally dealing with dementia, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, lung disease, and the list goes on and on.

Then there are the friends who have no family support for one reason or another. These people are lonely and alone.

We have friends who have lost the most precious or most important person in their life…a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a parent, or maybe a sibling. Sometimes the loss comes from death and sometimes there is estrangement or separation. Whatever the reason, it is still a loss that leaves a hole in your heart.

The list of troubles that people face in this world are seemingly endless and by way of our little book, every single morning we are reminded that we are not the only ones in this world dealing with problems. Like my Mother used to say…”Sometimes I think that it would be nice to have a “Trouble Store” where I could bring in my bag of troubles and exchange them for another type. But, I suspect that once I got there and took a look around, I would say “thank you anyway…I think I will keep what I have” 🙂

Oh, how MUCH I miss that clever, witty, kind hearted woman who was my Mother. (Now here is a huge loss I have never been able to completely accept!). But, you know what? In the midst of the sorrow I always feel in the loss of her, I send up big thanks to God for Him making her my Mother in the first place. I would not trade her for anyone else in the world. So, these days, as I clean our house and pick up a picture of her here or there under which I dust, I say “Hello Mom”, and then the memories flow forth from my mind on down the inner highway to my heart where it swells with gratitude for having known her and for having the privilege to learn the lessons she provided for me! She loved to laugh and so do I! God bless her for bequeathing that trait to me!

Back to the prayer book. Are you in it? If we know you and we are aware that you are struggling with something, you are likely in the book. There are some of of you who we know better than others, but even so, if we know of a need you may have, then you are there. We not only pray for your struggles to be lifted, but we also send up gratitude prayers for when God takes them away. We have many acquaintances on our list too…people who have no idea we are praying for them. Prayer is powerful and we know that it works in Gods timing and for Gods purpose.

I will close this with another prayer I have always loved because the wording is profound in its simplicity. It is the Johnny Appleseed prayer/song.

Oh, the Lord is good to me.

And so I thank the Lord

For giving me the things I need:

The sun and the rain and the apple seed;

Oh, The Lord is good to me
..

Amen,

Amen,

amen-amen-amen

🎼 AaaaaMEN! (Praise the Lord!) 🙏🏼

Today is the day which the Lord has made…let us rejoice and be glad in it! Out, out, out I go, rejoicing all the way as I tend to all my new replacement plantings! When I water these new additions to our yard, my nurturing side steps up as I mingle with the birds, the bees, the butterflies and the little baby chameleons!

Oh the Lord is good to me…Amen!

jjb/4/26/2021

Heart on fire…

My heart feels like it is on fire…a deep burning sensation that comes from feeling intense emotion.

It has been such a long year since the Pandemic was first announced and along with its arrival we were given restrictions of lockdown, masks, 6 foot distancing, no hugs, no gatherings, separation from loved ones, and all of it with a heaping helping of fear laid on top.

Now we are entering the 2nd year of restrictions, and it seems as though life will never go back to what it once was. This saddens me greatly.

We have a very good friend in ICU on a ventilator and he is really struggling with double pneumonia, difficulty breathing, and low 02 levels. Please pray for a miracle. We believe in miracles and we know God has the power to grant a miracle to those who pray for them and keep the faith.

We are in our sunset years and while we have gratitude for having come this far, the journey also hands to us many challenges, not the least being, having to deal with ongoing loss. These losses are either experienced first hand or through our loved ones challenges. We notice a loss of energy, loss of strength, loss of health, loss of purpose, and loss of friends and family. The potential for loss grows exponentially the older we get, and one never becomes accustomed to it. I never realized how brave our elderly parents were until now. It takes courage to stand strong in the face of this kind of adversity.

We pray for our friend to heal and be allowed to enjoy more years with his wife, children and grandchildren! I ask anyone who is reading this to please pray for him. His name is Paul! God will know who you mean! Prayer is powerful and the more people who are praying, the better chance for a miracle!

Thank you,

jjb

He is Risen!

Today is Saturday and I have not been on my blog for many months because life has been so incredibly busy. We were deeply affected by the freak February snow and ice storm here in Texas and we have been dealing with the destruction left in its path. We are beyond a year now into the Covid 19 Pandemic, dealing with lockdowns and face masks and limited gatherings with loved ones.

I quit Facebook a while back because I wanted to be free of (my) perceived obligation of having to post and comment on a daily basis. I worried a little bit about dropping out because I thought that I would lose touch with everyone I knew on Social Media. I actually did lose touch with the majority of my fb friends, but I have also discovered the pleasure of an engaged precious few who were getting in touch with me by other means. Gosh! To think I actually did matter to some after all! What an ego tripper! It was also a gratitude growing phenomenon in the making!

The decision to break free reminded me of a time, LONG ago, when our family was about to move to yet another new location due to my husbands career, I sat across from a friend discussing this move. She said to me, “You will be surprised at who stays in touch with you or reaches out to you. It is not always who you think it will be either! Just remember, the cream always rises to the top”. I found this comment to be prophetic and never forgot it. Indeed she was absolutely correct!

I thought I would be mourning the loss of many fb “friends” but instead, I was blessed to see who was actually invested in ME as a person. It wasn’t many, that’s for sure, but the ones who contacted me by snail mail, text, IM, phone and email, really did turn out to be the cream! It is difficult to pull back from Social Media because we humans are such social creatures. However, in my case, I discovered the value of truly connected kindred spirits at a heart level. I guess it is a bit like finding the prize in the cracker jacks box! Lol! (No disrespect intended). It has been a huge blessing! Now, with a small group of “compadres“, I actually have time to share thoughts and have intellectual conversations rather than an endless supply of sound bites that don’t mean all that much!

In this past year I have learned to “let go” of things that no longer serve me. I have always been the type of person who would hang on to people and things for sentimental reasons, probably long past their expiration date. I have especially been this way with family members. In my mind, if we were family, it meant we were bound to one another forever. I have discovered that even in families, some are more invested than others. You realize that letting go may actually be a gift to both parties.

Recently I mailed a large envelope of old pictures to someone who I thought would enjoy seeing them. I actually mailed this person two large envelopes of photos. I got no response. I wasn’t really expecting a response, because this person stepped away from the family long ago. When I had it ready for mailing, Al said, “Why bother?” I said, “Because it is always good to do the right and kindly thing and then let the chips fall where they may”. The chips fell on the side of silence. Well, o.k. then….good to know it is ok to let that one go! It frees up a lot of emotional space for someone who may be interested in that spot and can step in to it.

Value is always in the content and NOT in the numbers. I would far rather have one seriously interested and invested friend than a whole host of “fly by’s”.

Tomorrow is Easter! What a great gift we have been given by the One who is REALLY invested in our future and our well being! I love Easter and the significance of the greatest gift ever given to mankind!

This weekend I get to see my children interact with each other for the first time in a year and a half. This is the “second greatest gift” to their father and me.

I want to thank those friends who remembered me and let me know they still care. I want to thank our son who drove all the way across the country a few days ago to visit with his siblings and to help us clean up our landscape after the history making Texas February snow and ice storm! How grateful we are to be parents to someone who is that sensitive to our needs.

Darkness to light is manifested in so many soul enriching ways.

Happy Easter everyone! We are eternal souls and I am glad to have made your acquaintance. To others I have not met yet, our acquaintance is a distinct possibility. One just never knows!

With love, Jjb

4/3/2021

Take Aways

This has been the year of “take aways” starting in March when the pandemic was announced. As a society, we have had our jobs taken away, our facial identities were taken away by masks, and our freedoms to come and go wherever and whenever we want were taken away by the shutdown of airlines, restaurants, bars, churches, schools and the lockdowns of our own homes. Our gatherings were reduced in number and size. Adult children were taken away from their elderly parents due to quarantine of old age homes and old age in general. Our holidays were taken away due to strict covid restrictions. Basically, most anything that has been an American tradition has been eliminated in the name of covid.

We are retired, so it has not affected us as cruelly as it has some people. I sat quietly on Christmas morning listening to beautiful traditional Christmas music. Hub (husband) went for a walk and while I felt somewhat melancholy, my heart was full and my mind was overflowing with memories of Christmas’s past. Many things can be taken away from us, but we are gifted with the retention of all of our memories of a lifetime. One thing that has become a gift while living with excess time on our hands is the stillness that comes with it which allows us to seek and reacquaint ourselves with our inner spirit. Even the Bible says “Be Still…and know I am God”

Usually the Christmas season is a breathless chase of shopping, buying gifts, decorating our homes inside and out, writing cards, cooking, baking, traveling to family far and near. In all that hectic busyness, the season seems to come and go in a flash and we find ourselves collapsed in a heap of exhaustion, feeling spent after having “overspent”.

For us, very little of this occurred this year. We did manage to write cards and “hub” helped me which resulted in some friends getting two cards as our coordinating skills were failing us in our “uncoordinated” process. Lol! Oh well, two Merry Christmas’s are better than not getting even one card!

I like the quiet, and I think that some of the changes these forced lockdowns have brought to us may end up being permanent and this time they will be by choice. . This Christmas, we had the time to read the cards arriving in our mailbox and savoring the ones who wrote letters. We no longer watch t.v., so the radio or c.d.’s filled our home with Christmas music, both Christian and secular. We get to choose exactly the kind of music we love to hear, anytime we want, right off the internet and play it through our Bose speaker.

I wonder how many other retired people have found this lockdown a hidden blessing? We were plucked out of the frenetic busyness of modern day life and gently set down in our homes where we learned to enjoy all this excess time at our disposal. I have so enjoyed our home…I used to laughingly say that for all the money we spent on our home, we could have just as well have saved it because we were so seldom here to enjoy it. That changed with covid and I have found myself bonding with our surroundings in a big way. Pictures I once purchased because I fell in love with them were barely noticed in the rush of our living following the purchase. Now I stand in front of our pictures one by one and take them in. I found myself standing in front of this old wooden carved picture and as I read the woods, I sang the song in my mind and fell in love with this piece all over again.

On sunny days, I watch the suns rays move around our home as the day progresses. It lights up our eastern wall of windows in our bedroom and feels like a cheery “Rise and Shine”. As the sun moves through the sky, it’s light rays are reflected through our stain glass windows in our dining room which sends prism’s of color throughout the room. It is also reflected off the big mirror on the dining room wall which lights up the opposite side of the room. Continuing to move through the sky, it shines in through another window which lights up our fireplace brick and mantle on the far side of our family room. The sun continues its journey and finally wraps itself around the back of our house where the rays stream in through our living room’s wall of windows and I can see dust motes dancing in that stream. The brightness in that room seems to beckon us to come on in and set down for a spell.

Everything that I am now noticing in our home, I have rarely had the time or attention span to notice previously. Daily, I enjoy looking at an orchid our daughter gifted me a while back which sits on a small table in front of our dining room window.. I tenderly care for it and watch its progress from day to day. It is very happy in its warm, southerly location. Her gift to me was in her favorite color of purple, therefore, each time I glance at it, or tend to it, I think of her! (Purple gift equals love) ❤️🥰😁

My husband and I have grown closer than ever before and have rediscovered exactly how compatible we are. 🎼Love and marriage, 🎼 horse and carriage, just like the old song sings, we seem to go together. Getting old isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it is much reliant on the fact that we do still have our health and a life long loving companion to soften the realties of what aging will eventually bring to our doorstep.

I finally quit my facebook habit! After a decade of being on that site, I finally decided to put that time to better use. What I discovered was how much happier I was without it. It’s not healthy to constantly be into other peoples business, and certainly cannot lead to peace while engaging with so many people. My life, OUR life, is custom created for the two of us. Perusing facebook can somehow make a person feel as if they are “missing out” on the things other people have that we do not. This does not mean that I was jealous or envious because I was not ( well maybe just a little bit on some of it). It was more about the fact that I was so wrapped up in noticing everyone else’s blessings, that I somehow missed seeing some of our own. Our life once again feels FULL of blessings because I have more time to notice them, live with them, and to feel grateful for them. We are ALL given blessings, but we each receive DIFFERENT blessings and it somehow just works out perfectly!

What did I discover about myself that I did not know before I went into the Pandemic quarantine? I went into it with the assumption that I was an extrovert. Instead, I have discovered that I am most likely an introvert, maybe even a social introvert, because I have not minded this time at home as much as I thought I would. Of course, I do have my husband here which makes a huge impact on how I feel about the last 10 months, but, I also now understand why large parties were always so uncomfortable for me to attend. I love people and enjoy engaging with people but preferably on a one on one ratio or in small groups. I can remember the days when my husband was working in a company that required that I be involved in the large scale social functions and how drained I felt at the end of each one. Where extroverts draw energy from mass gatherings with a lot of conversation and interaction, I would lose energy. Now I know why, and it is ok.

So, here I sit again, in the quiet of a Sunday, January 3rd, 2021! I am “being still” and acknowledging the Who that is, Who that was, and Who will always be. (The great I am.) He is the one element in our life that was NOT taken away, in fact, I am more aware of his presence in our life now than ever before, because I have the blessing of time to focus on our Triune God! Thank goodness we made it through 2020. We are 10 months into this shelter in place and doing well.

What have you learned about yourself in this past 10 months of lockdown? I would love to hear about it!

jjb/1/3/2021

Thanksgiving!

I turned on the television and within minutes there was hateful sarcastic speech, so I turned it off. Then I went to my email and read a Next Door Neighbor question where within minutes a comment popped up that was very inflammatory about the area in which we live. I backed out of that site quickly.

I have determined that anything said or written that is dark or mean spirited is just going to be eliminated from my life! I move away from it! I have to say, in a country where people have been blessed with so much, there seems to be so much discontent and unhappiness, and it saddens me greatly! I have seen people in other countries with so much less than we have here in America and they actually seem happier than people in our society do. Maybe less really is more.

Our church opened for services in the new church building but we did not attend. We do watch it virtually and it was nice to see that people were in attendance. It was far from full due to covid restrictions for our sector of society. We are advised by our government to stay home and stay well.

I miss our old life. I miss the coming and going and mingling with people. We are still here sheltering in place after 10 months. While we have discovered that we are most likely introverts, based on how well we have been doing, we are finding the lack of socialization to be a huge loss! That said, it has had its positive side as well!

We finally had time to do things we had such limited time for before. Reading, clearing out and downsizing things, painting, repairs, gardening and trimming on our property, etc. etc. We have been doing devotions in a leisurely fashion rather than having to squeeze them into a busy schedule! Time has been a gift to us, though it is countered with a longing for communion with our friends and family.

Today a friend of ours was working security at our church and he texted us to see how we were doing. This was the first Sunday service in our newer, much larger church. I dearly love our former, small, chapel type church and I know I will miss it. So, since we could not be there, I asked him to send me a photo of the new church cross. I felt so uplifted when I saw it because the cross and the Bible are the foundation of our church.

God feels closer and more present to me now in times of covid than ever before. He has always been an important presence in my life, but these days I am leaning a littler harder into Him because I long for peace in this world. I am so incredibly grateful to my Mother for teaching me about Him in the form of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! I am grateful to know about the gracious and free gift of life everlasting. How would we feel without that promise? I cannot imagine!

Blessings to all as we approach Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for!

God bless!

jjb/11/15/2020

Words

Words are very important to me. Because I am a writer, I generally contemplate every word I am writing and how it applies to the content of the story I am trying to present. I am also a voracious reader and have been so since I was a young child. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, even reading the words on a cereal box as a child while I ate my Cornflakes, Wheaties, or Rice Krispies on any given morning.

In my formative, growing up years, we lived rurally in a day and age before the internet and social media, so we got our information from Newspapers, books and our parents who watched the evening news. This was a time before children were over scheduled every minute of everyday with planned activities, so it was up to us to create our own entertainment. I read books with great enthusiasm because books opened and expanded my world. As I read, I gained knowledge and a growing perspective of the world around me. Every time I came to a word where I did not know its meaning, I would look it up in the dictionary and with that, my word knowledge continued to grow! I read many different types of books. I read books of Fiction, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Bibliographies, Memoirs, History, to name a few. In church we read and were taught stories from the Bible. With everything I read, not only did my knowledge and perspective grow, my curiosity also exploded. The more I gained knowledge, the more I realized how much was out there that I didn’t know. There was so much to discover and I was a very interested explorer.

Recently, we were involved in a Bible Study about a chapter in the book of Daniel and as we read the passage, a couple of sentences leaped off the page for me. This chapter in Daniel is recounting something that I had not fully considered previously.

Daniel’s Vision of a Man

10 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel. Its message was true and it concerned a great war.The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz,his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 

13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 

14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

As I exclaimed enthusiastically over the “conversation between an Angel and Daniel” in verses 12 and 13, it was suggested that one should not get involved in only one sentence of a story, and that I should not to focus on the “details”. Rather, I should just pay attention to the story as a whole and the message the story was intended to present. I understand that to be true, but what is also especially true for me is the fact that ALL words matter to an author or they would not be there in the first place.

So, not wanting to be a burden to the class, I let it go, but knew I would go and research that sentence later on, which I did.

The sentence that caught my eye is where Daniel is being told that God heard his prayers and had sent this spirit or angel in response to his prayer.

This got my attention because while I believe in angels and I DO believe they are here to help humans, I never considered that Angels might have particular assignments doled out by God. Now, as I said, we all see things differently at different times of our life, and this was a moment of clarification for me. It was exciting!

I always thought of my prayer as going directly to God (which it does) and that God or Jesus would act on it (or not) depending on His great authority. I know that the Holy Spirit is a gift God gives us Who lives IN us to protect and guide us, so my focus has always been on the Triune God, assuming all three aspects of God were directly working things out for me in regards to my prayer. (Which They are, but also while enlisting Angels to help Them with the response.) This sentence, then, opened my eyes as to how God directs the Angels. It also clarified to me that things are often happening simultaneously and I may need to wait patiently on the Lord to bring an answer to my prayer until a time opens up for Him to answer. The visual of the angel being busy in Persia for a time on the way to bringing a response to Daniels prayer was a great illustration for me. The visual of the Archangel Michael going there to relieve him so he could respond to Daniel was also profound (to me).

Why this was important to me was because it explained to me why it sometimes takes a long time for some prayers to be answered.

Our Bible Study discussion was about how Spiritual Warfare goes on unseen by us and around all of us. This entire passage reaffirmed to me, once again, that God not only hears our prayers but that He notices our humility (or lack) while we are praying.

There is so much here that one could discuss, but going forward, (for me) I now have a very strong visual about the unseen war going on constantly between Satan and his cohorts and God our Father and his heavenly army of Angels. Both sides are always in a war, fighting for the acquisition of our souls. It was a lightning rod moment for me.

We all come to an understanding at our own pace and in our own time. Because each and every one of us are custom created by God, we are different from one another so we come to know God through His Word in our own unique ways and in our own unique timing. There is a saying “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” and I guess I was ready for that little epiphany.

Here in America, there is a spiritual war going on with Satanic forces fiercely working on all of us to our detriment. The mayhem we have seen, the hatred that people are displaying in words and action are of the devil. Of that there is no doubt. The angels are working on behalf of us at Gods request and in answer to prayer. Prayer is extremely important and the fervent, ongoing prayer going up to God in a chorus of spiritual voices will have a huge impact on how this all ends.

This sentence within the story of Daniel really resonated with me. So much so, I wanted to share it with you! You may have already arrived at that conclusion or even a different conclusion, but this happened to be mine.

Praise be to God, and please, God, BLESS America!

jjb/11/2/2020

Cockadoodle-doooooo!

Good Morning! One thing that is a relatively new thing for me is how my sleeping patterns have changed. Some nights I can sleep a solid 9 hours and other nights I open my eyes after 4-6 hours feeling WIDE AWAKE, yet attempting to roll over one more time to catch another wink or two. But, alas, the rooster has crowed in my mind and I know I may as well get up! Last night was one of those nights. I slept like the dead for about 5 hours, from 10 pm to 3 am and then that was it!

It worked out fine for me though because Mr. B and I are driving up to our future daughter in laws mothers home today and we are going to have a socially distanced lunch out on her patio. We decided to “brown bag it” to be safe and I decided to bring some brunch type breakfast muffins. I am making them with biscuits, sausage, hash browns, green onions, eggs and cheese. They should be yummy and I plan on bringing a few extra along to leave with our dil’s mother for future consumption.

So, first things first, I made coffee and poured it into a cup that was a gift to me from a long time friend who was one of my bridesmaids in our wedding. Considering how long I have been married, I am rather proud to still be able to call her my friend. As we move into the autumn and winter of our life, we come to realize just how valuable long term friendships are. We know each other’s history and she and I kid each other about the fact that we “have” to stay friends because we have too much information on each other. We always laugh and say “If I go down, YOU go down”, meaning that neither of us must ever tell some of the things we know about each other. Lol! So I tip my cup to my friend who I call Ethel (I am her Lucy) and wish her a telepathic “Good Morning” because she lives in the far northern climate and while I reside in the south.

It is still dark out at 5:22 a.m. and I have been up over an hour already. Normally I am a night owl type, where I enjoy reading long into the night, but on these rare occasions where I am up early, I find I enjoy the beginning of the day as well.

The furnace is running this morning. This is the 4th night of a cold front that came through, but fortunately, the weather man is promising that today will be in the 70’s. I love weather in the fall where the sun is warm and the air is crisp. God knew we Texans would need variety so he blessed us with it! Today is going to be a very nice day. We will get to enjoy nice temps, a nice drive and a social outing of which there are very few in these days of covid.

COVID! That nasty invisible enemy that lurks out there just waiting for us to bump into it! We avoid doing this by staying home. It has been 7 1/2 months already since Covid turned our life upside. We went from having fun part time jobs to being unemployed because we are in the high risk group. We used to have friends over to our home often, but now we rarely do because of distancing issues. We haven’t seen our older son and his family in over a year because it would require an airline flight or a motel stop if we drove. We used to frequent restaurants a lot, and have only eaten “out” three times since we have been shelter in place, and those times we ate outside on a patio. Church has been closed for a long time so we attend virtually. The pattern of our life which used to be very busy, came to a screeching stop!

BUT, some good things have come out of this! We have been spending much more time on our property planting and trimming. I have never cooked this much in my life. By cooking, I mean trying new recipes and making delicious simple meals. It has been fun finding recipes online and creating something I haven’t tried before. Mr. B sure enjoys it! Eating out has lost its attraction for us and even when covid finally leaves town, I doubt we will ever again spend that much time or money on dining out in the future as we once did, nor on shopping or entertainment….

We have returned to our roots, metaphorically speaking. We were both raised in simpler times, in simpler homes, with simplistic needs for happiness. It does not take all that much to make us feel happy and content. We have replaced television with books and online documentaries, cooking shows, and old movies. Whatever made us think we needed so MUCH in the pursuit of happiness? We spent many years pursuing “the dream” and in many ways it worked out for us because we were able to put our children through college, move to the south, build our retirement home and so on. But, now that we are here, sheltered in place as they call it, we have rediscovered who we really are and we are happy. We recognize the imperfections in ourselves and each other and feel the love anyway. We see the imperfections of our lives and feel gratitude anyway. We see the imperfections of the world and we pray to the one and only perfect person who ever lived, and then we feel contentment!

Life is good!

Now, I have to see about how those breakfast muffins are doing! Will check back in with a picture!

YUM!

jjb/10/31/2020

An old love thing…

As I here in my old leather chair in our kitchen/sitting room, the sound of a strong wind beckons me to look through our windows. I can see the branches of our trees moving about by the sheer force of our Autumnal wind. No wonder the nickname for Autumn is “fall” because many of the leaves are doing just that. They are being blown off of the tree limbs and like little parachuters they are falling every which way as they ride the currents of the air. They flit this way and that way, until they finally coast on down and hit the ground. The word “blustery” comes to mind. The sun peeks out on occasion as the clouds scuttle by hurriedly in the wind.

A cold front moved into Texas a couple of days ago and as a result of this, I went into full “north country girl” mode. I dug out the pots and pans and baking utensils and I continued on with the Christmas cooking project I began a while back for our daughter and son in law. They are a busy career couple who rarely have anything to eat that is not grilled or tossed… as in grilled meat and a salad. (Quick and Healthy). I wholeheartedly approve of how they usually eat healthy and I support that! We ALL should eat like this most of the year, but holidays are special times to indulge in some good old comfort food!

We will likely not see each other on Christmas 😢 because she will be working in the cardiac intensive care unit. The holidays are when home cooking is much desired, so I decided to make them a variety of home cooked meals to help them celebrate the holiday. I am making old fashioned dishes like my Mother and Grandmother used to make which equates to delicious because I am using their old recipes.

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Delicious does not always equate to healthy eating, so I am substituting keto ingredients wherever possible as I attempt to preserve the original intended flavor. The idea is for them to have a freezer full of home cooked meals that they can pull out, thaw and reheat; (not every night of the week of course, because that would be unhealthy eating). I thought that perhaps once a week they can have a nice dinner together with a glass of wine and candles casting a glow on the table as they share their work experiences of the week previous. I hope their taste buds feel the love behind the flavor because I am liberally seasoning all the food I am preparing for them with loving thoughts.

It came to me that this culinary act I am partaking in could be described as “an old love thing” (to quote an old Tammy Wynette/George Jones song). 😄 Of course Tammy and George were singing about something other than cooking, but the application is still the same. Our maternal ancestors expressed their love for their families in their kitchens and I remember very well the sounds and aromas emanating from my Grandmothers and Mothers kitchens. I still salivate when I catch the scent of fresh baked bread, or the spicy, meaty aroma from my Mothers home cooked pork and beef roasts slow cooked and simmering in their combined juices in one large cast iron pan.

I was going to bake Cornish Pasties today, but have to wait for a grocery delivery of the course ground beef. The Pasties will have to wait for another day to be made. I am excited about creating this Cornish aka Finnish/Swedish baked meat and potato pie because I have never attempted to make them before! This Pandemic delivers certain odd rewards as we hunker down in modern day confinement advised for high risk individuals. One reward is the gift of excess time. We were always too busy before to spend this much time in the kitchen and I am finding myself humming little tunes as I listen to music in the background. Humming usually comes with feelings of contentment, so I guess the Pandemic has delivered a blessing of domestic happiness to me in the midst of everything else it has done. A little bit of good along with the bad. So the year 2020 might as well forget trying to get me to give up on life! I love life and to keep it interesting, I just keep changing up what I do from day to day.

The day is speeding by and my project of disassembling all of my old albums is calling to me from our home office. It is a HUGE task to go through 50 years of pictures and decide who gets what! The end result will create room on my shelves where the albums used to sit, and it will be one less thing for the kids to have to concern themselves with after we go to join our parents.

In the meantime, it is a great day to be alive, don’t you think? EVERY day is a gift!

jjb/10/29/2920