Faced With ….

“Faced with demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. Faced with brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. Faced with despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.” -ROBERT EMMONS

Demoralization: The pharmacy workers where I get my prescriptions are exasperated by the rudeness of the public. The pharmacist cannot figure out if it is this prolonged pandemic or the way society has given up on being polite? Some of the techs have even quit. Some of the workers that are most experienced have had to leave to provide child care for their children. The new employees are green and new. They need time to find their way through the insurance mazes and medicare technicalities.

So we took them three balloons and a dozen donuts. On the balloon shaped like a gold star I wrote “Be kind.” Really, kindness does not cost us anything. Hopefully our gratitude towards them with energize them in their work.

Brokenness: Well I have a friend whose daughter is terribly ill. For several weeks they did tests and scans and more tests. Finally the surgeon said okay. He is very experienced and did the “Whipple” procedure. She had a tumor wrapped around several organs. The first few hours of the surgery went well and were done robotically. Then he found the tumor had almost completely blocked an artery and some veins around her liver. When they called in the vascular surgeon he had to open her belly. When it was all over, she had endured something like 14 hours of surgery. She remains in ICU. They had to remove part of her stomach, part of her intestines and part of her pancreas. There is great concern over the length of time her organs were exposed. She and her husband always like to watch Monty Python and have memorized many of the lines. When her mother finally got to speak to her on the phone the patient quoted the movie where they were loading bodies during the plague. One man being carried out lifted his head and said, “I’m not dead yet!” Both mother and daughter had a good laugh. This family has been broken and ground into a dust that now completely depends upon the Lord and His servant the surgeon. Surgeon said this was the worst tumor he had ever dealt with. Praise God, there is NO sign of cancer. The two teenage daughters are struggling with not seeing mom at all. Only husband can go in her room due to pandemic. She continues to get units of blood. This photo was taken the first time PT had her stand up. Still struggling with lots of pain. Father, help their gratitude heal their weary hearts, I pray. Heal her and strengthen her I pray.

Despair: In this prolonged isolation and rapidly spreading pandemic we each need more gratitude to help us combat despair. To me, it seems this despair is being poured over the earth like hot tar. Robert Emmons says gratitude has the power to being hope. Are you familiar with the lyrics to “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

His faithfulness will see us each through this weird year of 2020 and beyond. Gratitude can heal and restore us, energize us and give us hope. Find three things each day to give thanks for. Be kind. Give thanks.

Bob’s Sense of Humor

Robert 1975 Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often called this man my knight in shining armor. Journaling March 31 of this year I wrote.

“I had an emotional break through of sorts. This morning I noticed my scene out the bedroom window that I have looked at for years. Clearly I saw split rails that were missing or had fallen from the neighbors fence. I thought “fences are broken down.” And in this weird thing we are living through fences are down! During my meditation time I saw the photo of me the day of my dad’s funeral when I was eleven years old. Remembered the grief and fear of being left alone (especially with my mother and sister because I am so much like my dad). As the meditation continued I realized that Bob is the one who for most all of my life has kept me from the alone-ness of that grief and fear. And THAT is why I have been feeling I cannot bear the possibility of ever losing him. Jesus touch me in that place, I pray.

“Later John Eldredge confirmed all that pointing out that places in us from childhood may be calling out during this stay at home season. We need to have mercy and grace for ourselves and others.”

So he is my knight, but also my husband of soon-to-be fifty years. Yep, 50! Here is a cartoon he handed me recently. Did I mention he is the oldest of five and a terrible tease? Click the link below to see what I mean!

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a23696

When Did You Last Act Like A Kid?

During a recent rain shower I saw a child playing in a water-filled ditch. As a mom I first checked, and no, there had not been thunder or lightning that day. My second thought was how delighted I was to see her and how she reminded me of myself at that age. Once I found a crawfish in a puddle and brought it home as a pet. It was about 3/4″ long. I put it in the bathroom sink with a little water while I tried to find a container for its home. My sister unstopped the drain, not noticing my pet and all was lost. I was sad and mad. Fast forward to today!

“Maybe what God really wants are grown-up kids who dance in the puddles, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, who dare to ask why a whole lot. Maybe we are far too proper. Maybe it’s time to take a page from Dainty doodlebug’s story and give in to the way we’re created to live—for our sake and for the gospel. Little else is as compelling and glorious as a giddy child, mud-covered and grinning, because they know how loved and safe they are even while thunder sounds in the distance.”

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Giddy child of God, relax and enjoy creation again! Don’t those boots just remind one of Mike Powell?

“You were made from dust and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:19

“Dance in the puddles, get your hands dirty, ask why a whole lot more.” Recently I had the opportunity twice in one week to counsel two different women on the fact that we are allowed to get angry with God. He can take it! He would much prefer we be genuine with Him than pretend some sort of proper piety. After all, He reads our hearts and knows our thoughts and our words before they cross our lips.

 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Psalm 139:104 NIV 2011

Why not make an effort this week to get real with God? And if you have the opportunity, try jumping in a puddle, just for fun!!

The Covid-19

Bob passed a page from the New Yorker to me that had some funny definitions on it such as Covid-19: Formerly Covid-15; the amount of weight gained by an average adult during quarantine. Sometimes related to a pan-demic.

Pan-demic: A potentially dangerous increase in the baking of bread in a quarantined home.

Maskhole: An individual who wears a mask in a way that makes it completely ineffective – e.g., below the nose, under the chin, on the back of the head. See the link below for more humor and the complete lexicon!

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/20/lexicon-for-a-pandemic

Keep your humor! It’s the only way to fly!!

Compare and Contrast

I took this photo on June 27, 2020.

Local cornfield.

And these photos on July 31, 2020. Same corn field!

Tried to get same tree perspective for your comparison!
What a grass!

Other things have been growing, too. I have never tried to grow a Hibiscus, but some around here do. One person had a ditch full of pink, white and red ones! This is one Lucky and I found while walking the street.

And another

I think the red is my favorite!

Remember this photo of the milkweed from May 14th?

Look at it today! The tall ones in the back are about 5’8″!

Big guys in the back!

Has your spirit grown and prospered so far this year? Are you feeding upon the Word of God?

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:24-25 (NIV2011)

“The Conscious of the Congress”

Time Magazine Cover, August 2 to 18, 2020

This photo of John Lewis was one of his personal favorites. The photographer, Steve Schapiro, commented in the Time magazine issue that ‘It’s a picture of someone who knows who he is and what he has to do, and for the rest of his life; after this picture, he did it.” In the photo above John Lewis was a 23-year-old civil rights activist. The photo was taken in Clarksville, Mississippi with John’s permission. Schapiro, now age 85, remembers, “You see he’s looking forward with an enormous amount of strength, in terms of how he sees the future.”

Our country suffered a great loss with the death of Representative Lewis on July 17. On one of his last active days before he died at age 80 from pancreatic cancer, he visited the Black Lives Matter Mural painted on 16th street in Washington, D.C. “It’s very moving. Very moving. Impressive,” Lewis said. “I think the people in DC and around nation are sending a mightily powerful and strong message to the rest of the world that we will get there.”

For the civil rights of black Americans he was handcuffed more than 45 times and beaten. He believed that Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that was not impossible to obtain. He was a warrior against racial discrimination.

Representative Lewis was the first black American to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. “Lying in state” is a form of ceremonial tribute reserved for honoring the lives of the most prominent and distinguished American statesmen and military leaders.

May each of us carry on his work for freedom in the 1960s peaceful, non-violent ways of the civil rights movement. And Lord, it is said that he was respected and beloved on both sides of the aisle. Please give our Congressional Members a conscious such as Yours.

In his own words from June, 2018

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Representative John Lewis

Strange Summer

Besides the obvious corona virus restrictions and civil unrest, the Cicadas have been singing even though the large scale emergence is not expected here until next year. We have had sweltering heat and humidity. Frequent air quality alerts with ozone levels on the rise. Even the shrubs and trees look wilted. Then we had almost 3 inches of rain in 24 hours.

One particular evening a strange rain storm swept through where entire sky looked yellow. No storm sirens blaring or weather alerts, just so strange. Our cameras could not capture the tones we saw with our eyes. I was able to adjust the color somewhat.

Teeming rain and some wind

The only other time I have seen a sky similar to this was in Lexington, Kentucky years ago when a tornado was close by.

Weird and fascinating. I prefer those blue skies with white puffy clouds and low humidity!!

See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground.

Isaiah 28:2 NIV 2011

For I know that the LORD is great; our Lord is above all gods.  Whatever the LORD pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.  He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth; he makes lightnings for the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.  

Psalm 135:5-7 NRSV

Lucky Dog Update

Oh yes, she is settling in just fine and almost has us trained! Benjamin asked to be kept updated on Lucky so here is the news! Grandgirl told me about a Starbucks dog treat, so of course we had to try it out!

Something like Pupperacino. Whipped cream in a tiny cup. We went to the drive through and parked in the lot.

She is wearing her harness to ride in the car with ease now. It has a handle on the back that helps if we need to lift her into the car for some reason. Bob wants to get a handle installed permanently on her back. Silly man!

The League For Animal Welfare is always looking for unique names for the animals. There ought to be a dog named “Move!” When we had our other beagle one child I kept called her “Moo!” because I so often said “Move!” She walks in front of us and we tell her to MOVE! Trying some new techniques to get her out of the way.

She fared pretty good with the fireworks. Thunder and lightning, not so much. There was thunder in the distance the other night. She was up in a nanosecond, looking out the window as if to exclaim, “Not AGAIN!”

Oh no! Not again!!

When it rains she wants to be touched. If it really storms she wants to be held while she trembles.

Not certain when we might be able to let her off the leash even around our yard. Maybe in due time. She adores Bob. If he leaves the house, even to empty the garbage she waits at the door. I have gotten to where if he leaves in the car, I first open the garage so she can look out the screen door to watch him get in his car and then drive away. She cries less that way, though she most often waits for him by the door. Wonder if we need another dog so I can have one, too? If we both go out she sometimes howls from her kennel. When we get home she most often has not consumed her treat! And she has a lot to say when we return. Yowling and crying with delight. Wags that tail and wiggles those hips like a professional dancer. She rarely barks though, inside or out.

As I write this blog she is asleep under my desk. I occasionally nap with her in the guest room in the afternoon. She understands not to sleep in our bed at night. I layer my bedroom recliner with her blankets and she gets her FAVORITE, a bone filled with a slice of cheap lunch meat, a Milk bone and a smear of peanut butter. Then she settles in the chair for the night or occasionally on the floor.

Still insists on being walked before she will “do her business.” Hoping she will start going in our yard before winter. If not, we will be walking more in the winter!

Already five weeks in her furever home! Still some timidity that we may never understand, but she is getting more accustomed to us our routine and her place in the family.

Euchaetes egle

Yeah that is what I thought too when I read the name! We have been awaiting the emergence of monarch caterpillars. Recently while inspecting the milkweed plants I saw piles of tiny black poop on some leaves. A telltale sign of caterpillar activity. Imagine my shock when I found these instead!

Looking online for more information I found …

The furry milkweed tussock moth caterpillar looks like a tiny teddy bear covered in tufts of black, orange, and white. In their first three instars, milkweed tussock moth caterpillars feed gregariously, so you may find entire leaves of milkweed covered in caterpillars. Milkweed tussock moth caterpillars can defoliate a stand of milkweed in a matter of days.

The adult moth occasionally is observed on milkweed or dogbane, although you might not be impressed enough to notice it. The milkweed tussock moth has mouse gray wings and a yellow abdomen with black spots.

Mouse gray and yellow my foot! These ugly monsters are literally defoliating many plants and I am angry! Then Bob reminded me we have seen these before. Oh. I guess there is enough milkweed to provide for all of them. But WHERE are the monarch caterpillars?

Evidently, not here. Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar U G L Y

Meanwhile, the corn is fine and growing quickly!

Unexpected

Have you ever done a tedious job that you might have to repeat? Then you dread doing it the next time? Recently our wireless internet connection went down and we needed to get the wireless printer reset to operate again. If you have had that pleasure, you press one button and then hold in the WPS button on the router down. It did not work.

img_2371

But while holding in the button I looked to the left, out the office window and beheld a wonder! A Scarlet Tanager, right under our feeder! And then in the branches of our maple tree. Nope! I could not grab a camera (holding in the stupid button) and even if I had run for a camera I might have missed the grandeur of that lovely startling bird. I have only seen one at our house once or twice before! Here is a photo from online.

Be still my heart!! Yes, eventually Bob and I figured it out together and all things wireless are working, for now!

“Human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.”

E. B. White

A few days later Bob and I took on another rather tedious job. Our office windows look out at the front yard and sun all day long. The window seals eventually rotted from all that sun. Bob connected with the building supply company who connected with the window company which eventually found the seals. He picked them up in northern Kentucky and then we played window installers and put the seals in. Yikes. I was grateful for my crochet and sewing experience! We had to feed this tiny plastic edge into a tiny plastic slot and get it to lock in. Had to make certain the corners were cut on an angle that would match the window. More than once we had to take it out. All the while the windows in question were open and the summer heat was pouring in vigorously.

Poof! While holding an edge of the window I looked down at my cactus garden tray. The tips of one succulent were amazing. Right there! Just then!

Right there in the midst of the tedium a wondrous sight! Oh, that appreciation made the job much easier.

There are treasures galore around us if we will just stay aware. May the blessings of your day astound you!