Ennui

Does this sound familiar?
Verb      1.            constrain - hold back
cumber, encumber, restrain
confine, limit, throttle, trammel, restrain, restrict, bound - place limits on (extent or access); "restrict the use of this parking lot"; "limit the time you can spend with your friends"
bridle - put a bridle on; "bridle horses"
curb - keep to the curb; "curb your dogs"
clog - impede the motion of, as with a chain or a burden; "horses were clogged until they were tamed"
2.            constrain - restrict; "Tighten the rules"; "stiffen the regulations"
tighten up, stiffen, tighten
 
I am bridled by the isolation and social distancing rules. I am straining against the limits and confines of this house, this new routine, this spring of our disease and discontent. And yes, I am
bored
adjective fed up, tired, hacked (off) (U.S. slang), wearied, weary, pissed off (taboo slang), uninterested, sick and tired (informal), listless, browned-off (informal), brassed off (Brit. slang), ennuied I am getting very bored with this entire business.
en·nui  (ŏn-wē′, ŏn′wē)
n.
Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest; boredom
Definitely there.
ENNUI

Not accustomed to being told what I can and cannot do, I protest. Yes, I am an introvert. Lately, I am missing the few groups I do interact with. Journey Together In Stitches = JTIS = Crochet and knit group that meets at Convent of the Transfiguration on a monthly basis. Tuesday night prayer group at The Crossing. We pray on behalf of the Leadership, Missionaries, Ministry teams and leaders, events (all suspended for now). Currently we are meeting via Zoom and praying separately. Monday night small group is also meeting via Zoom. I find Zoom less than satisfactory, but beats not seeing each other at all. And then there is church. Our congregation had a Thursday service and two on Sunday. Now we have one on YouTube with worship team and Pastor. It too is better than nothing, but even I am tired of it.

This introvert needs to mix and mingle.

Is anyone else out there tired of this isolation? It seems that for senior citizens like me this could go on for a long. long time. They are saying life as we knew it (read “as we took it for granted”) may never return. Our theater tickets are canceled. Our trip to the North Georgia mountains to seek wildflowers is canceled. Unlikely we will get to go to the beach with Grandgirls and their parents this year. Our oldest Grangirl has her graduation postponed until sometime in August, possibly held on football field. That is risky if you know weather in Southern Ohio in August!

So Bob just went for a drive by himself. Wonder if this is what he is doing in his car right now??

Let’s try this method!

Every Thought

Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards;  for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments  and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NRSV)

War in your mind. War is waging all about us as this pandemic darkness floods the earth. There is nothing more the enemy of our soul would like better than to have us frozen in fear. I admit there have been a few times when I have been frozen. Just plain stuck in an ugly place. Not able to move. I wonder if that is how wildlife feels when hit by our headlights? Research says it because their eyes are wide open and our lights blind them. I am thinking more of being blinded by darkness.

Divine power to destroy strongholds. Where are your strongholds? Do worldly thought patterns have a strangle hold upon you? Are you willing to fight that off?

We have been given “divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God.” Trust. A cross at the beginning of the word. A cross at the end of the word. And in the middle are us. Can we trust God in this time of uncertainty? Will we? If fear of death has a stranglehold upon you, you will have to put it off with these divine weapons. Does the cross and all the benefits Jesus brings to us appeal to you? Are you willing to take up your cross and walk with Him?

Hebrews 2:11-15 (HCSB)  “For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers,  saying: I will proclaim Your name to My brothers; I will sing hymns to You in the congregation.  Again, I will trust in Him. And again, Here I am with the children God gave Me.  Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil—  and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.”

Have you been held in slavery all of your life by the fear of death? The death and resurrection of Jesus have destroyed the one holding the power of death. We will pass from these bodies, but by faith in Jesus we will live forever with Him. Recently I have often been reminded of Paul’s writing in Philippians 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” What could possibly be better than to be with the Trinity for eternity? So what is there to fear?

Ah, but I digress. None of this is possible for me without taking every thought captive to Christ. That means the dark blips that come across my mind must go before Him and show their true nature. Brother Lawrence wrote, “Useless thoughts spoil everything and much mischief begins there.” Much mischief … oh goodness. This little dark thought can lead to one an hour from now and then build upon another to interlink and make a chain that is soon trapping me and hobbling my stride. If I allow that first little dark thought to abide in my brain I am soon crippled. Useless thoughts spoil everything.

I have taught 2 Corinthians 10:5b in various women’s Bible studies and without fail someone will voice the query “Every thought?” Well, many of our thoughts do not need to be taken captive. They are not a threat to our journey with Christ. If you watch your thoughts though, you will soon begin to recognize the ones that form patterns of darkness and ill will towards your soul. Your patterns of thinking will show themselves to you over time if you will pay attention to them. Who will win the battle between your own ears? The world, the enemy of your soul, or Christ?

When I take a thought captive to obey Christ I can tell almost immediately upon examination if it is something Jesus would approve of. Compare it to the beatitudes in Matthew 5 or Philippians 4:8-9 whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, etc. How does the captive thought compare? If it does not glorify God, send it packing in Jesus’ Name.

This weighty topic can actually bring you greater peace if you are willing to practice it. Why not try it out to experience for yourself if it is true or not? God will help you. All you have to do is ask.

Grrr

We have a van that drives through our neighborhood once a week. They throw out a pink plastic bag with advertisements from the local grocery stores. When they used to be late, or not come at all, I would get aggravated. I base some of my cooking and shopping by what is on sale at different times.

Now that we are restricted from doing our own grocery shopping, that van throws the ads in our drive and I just growl. Grrr. Only one local store offers shopping where they get the items, bag, total, charge them to my credit card and bring them to my trunk. Touch-less shopping. So NO, I do not want to read the ads. I had not realized how much shopping I do from memory while in a store. I see an item on the shelf and think, “Oh, yes. We are almost out of that.”

One week the touch-less store was out of my low carb yogurt. It is pretty much a staple in my diet. This week, no carrots. What? Who runs out of carrots? And mark down items? I told Bob I could not stock up on Peeps Marshmallow chickens and rabbits for him this year. I usually buy them in the markdown sale after Easter and store them in the basement. Then I ration them out throughout the year. I will say that this year when I went to make Ambrosia salad for Easter scrumptiousness and we did not have enough mini marshmallows I chopped up a yellow peep or two from last year!

It is likely many more weeks before I can go to the grocery for myself. Even then I will be wearing a mask, gloves, and who knows what else? I am trying to remain GRATEFUL. Can you imagine this pandemic 10 years ago without internet and touch-less grocery shopping?

So if they throw ads in your driveway, please pray for me to be patient and remain cheerful. I don’t care right now who has the best price on Cheerios. Would just like to fill my own basket.

-Grumpy Old Woman

The Masks

So Dr. Acton of Ohio tells us we should expect to wear a mask here for at least a year. Wow. I understand the cloth mask does not keep me from getting Coronavirus or Covid-19 or whatever you choose to call it. It does keep others from getting ill if I am shedding the virus. It does keep me from touching my face, especially eyes, nose and mouth where contamination is most likely to enter my body. In Ohio Dr. Acton has taught us to call that the T-Zone. The first ones I made were flannel. Oh my! Too hot for me. Grandgirl #2 pointed out they would be good in winter when your nose gets cold on a walk!

I ordered some cotton fabric for curbside pick up as most of my fabric scraps were ideal for women, but not so much for guys! So now I own stars and stripes, solid red and solid brown. I make them with a piece of wire (pipe cleaner) sewn into the seam above the nose. There is also a pocket to put a coffee filter cut to size or a piece of paper towel to help filter things out. Now I’ve learned putting some light interfacing into the mask also makes it less permeable.

Elastic in 1/8″ size is hard to come all by. They are all sold out of the elastic at the local fabric stores. A theater supply place did fill an order for me for 30 yards. I ordered that much thinking I would have plenty left over. I use about 16″ per mask. Now I am thinking, maybe not enough! Now to just keep cutting, sewing, pressing and distributing!

Once people find out I make masks, it is sort of like the nylon scrubbers I used to make for my mother-in-law … they ask for some. “Oh, and so-and-so needs one, too.” So I am making masks. I think when I get the ones on my sewing table finished I will take a break and get back to some of my other projects for a week or two.

Until then, I am learning the pluses and minuses of Roku TV while I sew in the basement. MINUS – cannot record and fast forward through commercials! Cannot put sound through the speakers we have down there. Speakers were nice to project sound over hot water heater, washing machine and dryer. Pluses, can tune in online accounts like Pandora, Amazon music, and some movie channels with my older TV!

Bob needed to get something out of the safety deposit box at the bank. He left home wondering if they would let him in with a mask on! The bank door has had a sign about not wearing sunglasses, hoodies or hats. The manager met him at the door for his appointment and said yes, only under these circumstances was his mask allowed. Whew!!

And so, wash your hands and wear your mask! Throw away the liner after one use. Change the mask daily. Launder in the washing machine and if you want throw it into the dryer. Repeat. The masks I am making now are cotton and come out of dryer all wrinkly. I just reposition the folds and hit them with a hot iron. Presto! Good as new! A nurse friend told me to keep a stack by the door. Okay. Got it. After this batch I will eventually be back at it. Dare I say, let me know if you need one?? and please be patient while I fill the requests! Blessings!

How Can I Express My Gratitude? Let’s Worship

What can I say about the Resurrection? I have been redeemed and given access to my Heavenly Father – free, unmerited access. I can go to Him at any time with no middle person. Direct contact with the Holy.

The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom during the crucifixion. No longer limited to only the High Priest once a year, but open to me. Open to all those who believe that Jesus is Lord and risen from the dead.

And the SAME POWER that rose Jesus from the dead now lives in us! His promise before the crucifixion is fulfilled.

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 HCSB

How can this happen? In John 16:5 Jesus said He was going to Him (God) who sent Jesus to us. Verse 7 reads “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” The Advocate is the Holy Spirit. Jesus returned to Heaven to give the Holy Spirit access to us. He died for our sins that we could be indwelt by the Spirit.

Years ago there was a popular Christian song called The Champion. You can likely find it on YouTube. In it the enemy of our souls thought he won by killing Jesus. Then to his horror found out that Jesus lives in and through each of His believers. Ha! The last laugh is on him.

Instead of one Christ, there are now millions of Christ followers walking around with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside. THE SAME POWER THAT ROSE JESUS FROM THE DEAD DWELLS IN US!

That is something to celebrate. Live into that! Pray with that power! Smile! Your are His and He is yours!

May the truth of the resurrected Lord resound through your heart and soul today!! Once I spoke with a Pastor who questioned if I really believed that (as In The Garden goes) He walks with me and talks with me. I was shocked! I asked him, but don’t you believe that? He did not. I was out of there in a flash!

I grew up being taught (on car trips , no less) to sing harmony on In The Garden. Now, if that song is not to your liking, how about “He Lives! He Lives!” Same idea there. “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.”

The Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!!

And I do miss worship with my friends from “Having The Courage to Change!”

I love how she puts it! You go, Sister! 🙂

And last, but not least, one of Bob’s favorites!

May you experience an increased awareness of the Presence of God in and through you this Easter season and always. Blessings to you and your family.

Hike #2

So the bluebells gave way to more and more climbing up out of the valley we had dropped into. On a huge boulder we found Miterwort, below.

The flowers are 1/6 inch wide!

At one point walking back we were feeling lost. How long has it been since you took a walk and suddenly, as an adult, (not with dementia) had no idea where you were? You see, we had not brought Bob’s backpack with the compass. Had never been to this preserve. At one point, when I knew Bob was feeling some of the anxiety I was experiencing, I quoted to him “We’re goin’ on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one! We’re not scared…”

Path was only a narrow area of crushed leaves. But we were totally unfamiliar with it. And in many ways, it was exhilarating to have this much fun, all alone in the woods. Oh. Had we told anyone exactly WHERE we were going?

We took turns walking in the lead. Bob walks a little faster than I do. At one point he was almost out of sight. I knew all I had to do was call to him, but it brought some adrenaline to my system to not be able to see or hear him! Then we were out of the area where the wildflowers flourished. Just downed trees and leaves. Brown leaves, dirt and twigs, occasional rock.

We pushed on. We thought we saw the tree where the trail split. Five minutes later knew, it was not THAT tree. Finally, finally, spent with exertion we were at the place where the trail had split. So grateful for that walking stick. It helped me push up through the trail and helped we navigate my way down in some places.

At the end the Fitbit registered 41 flights of stairs. That is equal to climbing the Carew Tower overlooking downtown Cincinnati! We laughed wondering if either one of us would be able to walk the next day.

Turned out we were able to walk the next day. Chose not to take any long walks and a very long nap! Such fun to have the photos, the memory and an exit from the pandemic fears for a couple of hours.

On the way home we saw a Creamy Whip stand open for business. There was not a line of people, so we stopped. I put on my cloth mask and took some cash. There was a man in the truck next to us. I asked if he had placed his order yet. (I did not want to upset whatever the protocol was there.) He said yes, he was waiting for his order to be prepared. Then I realized there were several cars with people waiting. This placed served foods as well as ice cream. The people in line moved to one side. Oh! there were people on the other side of the building at picnic tables.

I placed our order for two cones. Paid, was given the cones and climbed into the car, shedding mask and getting hand sanitizer. Back to the reality of Corona virus.

Enjoyed our yummy cones and felt not one pang of guilt after that arduous climb! Drove home in peace. Looked forward to seeing how our photos came out. Maybe one day soon I will just post Bob’s photos!

THE HIKE

We love to go to the Smoky Mountains and hunt wildflowers. This year we were going to explore the mountains of northern Georgia for the same sort of wildflowers. Well that trip will be postponed for another year.

So Bob started exploring the web for Ohio Nature Preserves and Parks that boasted spring wildflowers. The first part of the adventure was trying to decide if we were in the right place! Found a local resident who told us, “Yep! that is the place. Park on the shoulder.” The shoulder of the road was very small. But on further review we found we could safely park there.

The smaller sign in the background reads “Twinleaf Trail, 2 miles.” We discussed it and decided to set off to see what there was to find. We assured each other if it was too difficult we could just turn back.

Gorgeous day and two bored senior citizens! We took off. The start was fairly boring, but the sky was a stupendous blue and the temperatures were nice. We carried fiberglass collapsible walking sticks. Bob found a deal a couple years ago where two where a bargain price. I rarely use mine, but took it this time, “just in case.” We came to a fork in the trail where the trail began its loop. Bob chose the left side of the fork. We climbed and then the trail began to circle around huge boulders (rocks as big as our living room). Slowly we dropped down. Then a bit more and then a bit more. I kept thinking “Oh man, we are going to have climb back up at some point.”

We did not take our flower identification book with us. (Silly people!) But then that would have been one more thing to carry. I had grabbed a water bottle, tissues, Chap-stick, sunglasses, hat and phone.

Bloodroot

So the first Bloodroot were exciting because they bloom very quickly. We often see the leaves without any flower in evidence. Later on the trail we would see better examples. But you know, the first discovery is often your most memorable!

Then we happened upon yellow violets. They are impressive to me because I have not gotten them to grow in our yard. There was one, then three, then eight, fifteen. I was having a blast! When I got to thirty I asked Bob if he thought I should stop counting? He counted six more and said, “There, an even three dozen!”

I finally stopped estimating at fifty!! So much fun!

One Bloodroot and some Rue Anemone!

(Bob likes to point out that the first wildflower we found on this hike was the Dandelion, part of the Aster family.) Next up after the photo above was the Wood Poppy.

Strange little bristly hairs on stems and seed pods!

There were crowds of them. It the plants had been level we would have called it a meadow! They grew down the hillside in wondrous glory.

And more poppies to come!
Like looking for certain shells on the beach!

Often our hunting is in half sun, half shade. The large white flower is Trillium. Not exactly certain what sort. Flower stalk with multiple flowers up and left of that is Toothwort. Then yellow is another Poppy. Center lower leaves will be either Solomon’s seal or False Solomon’s seal when it blooms. At the very top of the frame are more Trillium, not blooming yet. Just below those leaves are more Toothwort. At their base is more Anemone. Ah! Spring 🙂

After driving to Texas last year to see Blue Bonnets, it was such fun to find Bluebells growing in our native Ohio! I’ve had several friends tell me they have never seen these. They are a perennial “native that prefer to grow in wet, shade, in clearings and at edges of deciduous woods.” Gee, Bob, perhaps we should try to plant some if we can find them at the garden store? Here they are from above as the trail ascended again.

Look at all of those Bluebells!!






What must the cross, death and resurrection have been for Jesus, my Lord? Walking through land He never knew. Knowing He was led along in obedience by the Spirit. I do not want you to think I take Good Friday lightly. His walk to Calvary was more than I can even comprehend. He found beauty in redeeming our souls. His resurrection was more glorious for eternity than any spring wild flowers. I am humbled.

Our Yard

This is my only primrose. It reminds me of the time we went to London. It was late winter, very early spring. The flower boxes were packed with colorful primroses.

Then there are the grape hyacinths. They spread like crazy. When my kids were little we would pick bouquets to take to the neighbor ladies. In our new neighborhood, some folks have them planted throughout their yards. They make me smile. Ours are planted on the hillside and spreading, much to my delight.

The sweet viburnum shrub is about to burst. They are so fragrant that if I leave my office window open when they are blooming, I can smell them inside!

A friend of mine recently sent a photo of lilacs that she had quilled. When I took this photo the lilac in our yard was tightly closed.

Yesterday there was one tiny flower open. I have not yet looked today! The yellow flowers in the background are forsythia.

And the sweet bleeding hearts! Remind me of years ago (2011) when the Grandgirls came to play. I turned them loose to do whatever they wanted with flowers in the yard. Seeds of some sort in one bucket, (perhaps dandelion?) and blossoms from the Bleeding Heart in the other!

Lilacs have never had it so good as in the hands of a young’n!

They do not come over to play any more! But they are willing to do our grocery shopping and delivery.

Stay Well!

Neighborhood

For me serendipity is just like snatching rubies out of thin air. Serendipity: “the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.”

I was out walking and overheard two little girls playing in a yard.

“Where are you, Susie?”

“I’m over here at my favorite tree,” she replied, standing at the base of a pink magnolia in bloom. “I am sad. This is my favorite tree. I come here when I am sad.” There was a pause with no response from the other child. Then in a lilting voice Susie answered, “Do you want to see me climb my favorite tree?”

Can we become childlike during this pandemic? Recognize our sad feelings, but then go on to delight in the life we own at this moment? It has long been said that the waiting is the hardest part. Give me something definitive and I will find a way to cope. Leave me without a decision and I flounder and flop around. Perspective of that child? I am sad, but there is a tree right in front of me waiting to be climbed.

“Do you want to see me climb my favorite tree?”

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18:1-5 NRSV

Come, Lord, help me climb this tree! Help me to humble myself and change. Help me become like a child.

Help me to be less fearful of the measure of time, and more fully alive in the time that simply is. Help me to live time, not just to simply use it; to breathe it in, and return it in acts of love and presence.

Avis Crowe

We were advised that in this worldwide crisis we would experience the famous stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Allow yourself to feel those emotions as they arise, then release them and let them go. They may overlap. You will go in and out of those various feelings.

Always look for your favorite tree. Climb it and be restored.

Suspense over Bunny

Here is where he chose to hide from the rain. I did not dare peek yesterday to see if Momma Bunny had returned for him. This afternoon I decided to look as we are forecast to heavy rains tonight. If she had not returned from him I was fully ready to call an Elder at our church, Lowell, who has pet rabbits at his house. I could house him in a shoe box and take him for a ride to safety away from cats and other critters.

 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.

James 5:14 NRSV

Okay, that is a stretch! But Lowell might have bunny bottles and be willing to have his kids care for a Bunny?

So, I carefully pulled back the nesting material and had my phone ready ….

NO BUNNY! Yes! Momma came back to get him and neatly covered his hiding place.

Whew! What an adventure, in deed!! And I do thank the Lord that I did not harm them when I disturbed them. If she returns next year I will try harder to curb my enthusiasm!