Hills and Valleys

My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!
My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!

It is official:  there was a hill and I’m over it.  Funny…I don’t even remember climbing it. Oh well, I’ve heard that memory lapses with age.  And I’m forty now, so I’d better get used to it.

Now what was I writing about?

Oh, yes.

Each year, when I tack another year onto my age, I tend to glance over my shoulder to see where I’ve been and if I’m heading where I think I should be.  My heart is a fairly accurate compass, but my brain wants to see for itself.

I feel content in our new environment (four months ago, we moved from the desert of Phoenix to the cooler climate of pines, further north in Arizona.) From this horizon, I realize that the last two years had been an emotional valley.  Acknowledging the peace I feel now, I guess my son was right:  I have summited a hill.

But there is no gravestone at the top.

Despite what I imagined forty to be half a lifetime ago, I feel energetic and ready to discover what the next year (or twenty) has in store.  Age may be staking claim on aspects of my appearance, but it doesn’t fool me into thinking the best is behind me.

I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me :)
I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me :)

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Serenity Amongst Worries

Embracing serenity
Embracing serenity

Have you ever been so focused on one thing that other things to do are neglected – they slip by unnoticed and undone?  If I get engrossed in a project, meals get skipped, bathroom breaks are forgotten- until it’s almost too late- and muscles become knotted because I forget to let myself stretch.  (Please tell me this isn’t just me!)

Since we moved from big city to small town in March, I’ve mentioned to my husband several times that I need to look for a church here.  I also say that I need to get a drain stopper for my younger son’s sink…I need to fix the window screens with holes in them…I need to work on my novel more.  Our attention has been directed toward getting the yard cleaned up and we’ve made progress…but it means other things are not getting done.  (I’m not Wonder Woman after all…but oh, how fun that would be!)

You might be wondering, “If you want to find a church so badly, how come you don’t get it done?”  Simple answer:  my shyness and social anxiety have been stronger than my desire to find a church.  Since my husband works on Sundays, I wouldn’t have him to lean on.  Yet, I’m not disciplined enough yet to study the Bible regularly on my own, so I really do need the weekly nudge to keep me motivated.  This has been my struggle for the last few months.

As we drove home from watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, I saw a church and commented again, “I really need to look into finding a church here.  I miss it.”

On Saturday, my husband called and told me about an ad on the radio about a generator for sale.  He looked at it and liked it, so I met him at the person’s house, checkbook in hand.  We got to talking to the people and it turns out they are part of the worship band at a nearby Bible church.  (Oh, we’re small town now, so everything is nearby :razz:)

Long story short, I’m going to swallow my nerves (and eat a light breakfast, just in case) and go to the church service today.  Everyone in town has been friendly, so I can only attribute my anxiety to leftover issues from my childhood.  I read through several Bible verses last night to try to calm my increasing worries.  (What if I get lost on the way…I don’t know where to take the kids…what if I run late and can’t find a seat…what if I find a seat, but it’s all the way in front…oh the list went on.)  I liked these two best:

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  (Proverbs 12:25)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Today, I pray that God will replace my inner turmoil with serenity and ease my social apprehension so it is not a hindrance in seeking a new church home.  I ask that He banish my superficial worries so that my ears and heart will be open.

Do you have fears/worries that churn inside you?  How do you find peace?

New Day, Fresh Start

Sunrise:  Sheds light on the promise of change
Sunrise:  sheds light on the promise of change

The thing I like best about mornings is that each day is a chance to try out a new frame of mind, or do things a bit differently, based on wisdom gained from mistakes.

My last blog post ended up more “ranty” than I like- it was definitely influenced by my state of mind (which was greatly affected by the kiddos’ screaming fight waking me up early!)  By Friday night, I had debated about deleting that post, but I read a comment from someone that something I had written in another comment response helped.

That post will remain.  It’s part of my imperfect (mostly happy, but flawed) life. Perhaps others can find comfort in that.  I avoid rants because I like to keep things positive- that hasn’t changed.

I’m writing this on Saturday night, while I can still move.  You’ll understand that statement shortly.

Saturday morning, I decided it was time to get some much needed yard work done.  I also thought it would be a good time for the kids to practice teamwork.  For a couple hours, I worked solo, but then I got the boys helping.

It wasn’t all harmony though.  They began to fight (as they do 95% of the time.)  I told them that if they couldn’t work with me to get it done, the two of them would have to finish up on their own.  They stopped bickering- and fast!

To keep them distracted, I started singing:  “I love raking leaves, so put another bag in the pile now, baby” to the tune of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock and Roll.  They actually laughed (not sure if they laughed at the singing or the words, but does it matter? :))  Then they started making up their own raking leaves songs to the music they listen to.

My older son and I were able to put the hard feelings from the day before behind us, and in the process, we raked up fourteen bags of leaves.  My muscles already ache (yes, all of them) and my back and knees are stiff.

This is the reason I feel my age x 2
This is the reason I feel my age x 2

Now you know why I may not be able to move tomorrow.  But I will still find joy in the opportunity to grow in a new day, adding to the wisdom gained from my days before.

Like these pine cones, I'm still growing
Like these pine cones, I’m still growing

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. (Proverbs 24:16)


We’re in the middle of a cold front that has sent temperatures plunging.  Here in the desert, we are equipped to deal with scorching heat, not freezing pipes, so four straight days of expected lows around 26 degrees make us shiver in our flip-flops scramble to prepare!

We have citrus trees, morning glories and other tender plants that are sensitive to the frost.  These plants are in the elements; no natural shield from what nature has to offer.  So, we string with lights, cover what we can – anything to provide protection and a chance at life.

01-13 Covered

As I saw yard after yard of covered plants, the thought occurred to me that this is similar to how God covers those who accept His gift of grace.  I imagined God’s love like a blanket over my life.  It gave me a sense of comfort (although my toes are still so cold I cannot feel them.)

Even with the precautions taken, some plants will suffer, some will die.  It is the same with us.  Knowing Jesus doesn’t mean our suffering is over.  But it does give us the strength to arrange the broken pieces into our new self.  I’ve seen it time and again where someone’s suffering has touched others and changed lives.

We didn’t have enough blankets to cover everything, so we did what we could and will hope for the best.  With freeze warnings in effect until Tuesday, it’s likely we’ll have a springtime visit to Home Depot to revive our landscaping.  With God, we don’t have to hope for the best; we get it.  We might be beaten down, tired, ready to give up – but still, we rise.


But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2Thessalonians 3:3)

So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)  

Have a beautiful Sunday!

New Year, New Me? If Only!

It would be nice if the change of a year meant shedding the bad habits and forgetting insecurities.  If only the New Year eradicated unfulfilled promises, repeated mistakes or realizations that the same shortcomings of years past are still woven into the tapestry of my ‘self’.

I am in awe of the people who commit to making January 1st the beginning of change.  For instance, I know a lot of people have resolved to write more.  How do I know this?  My email “In” box told me so!  I don’t know how long I can keep up, but I’ll give it my best :)  I secretly wish I could be excited for the calendar change so I could finally lose that extra fifteen pounds or do the 90 minutes of exercise each week that my doctor kindly reminds me about at each visit.

One year is always linked to the next...
One year is always linked to the next…

I don’t do resolutions, mainly because any commitment I make under the influence of holiday sweets is bound to fail once I come off the sugar high.

Bad for teeth, hips and resolutions
Bad for teeth, hips and resolutions

I do, however, participate in moments of reflection (as I do throughout the year.)  As it turns out, there have been some things on my mind that I need to set free.  (My mind has limited real estate, so this space is desperately needed for other things.)

  • Recently, I did a writing prompt response about guilt.  I feel guilt over silly things – like not having enough time to view all the blogs of people who ‘like’ my posts, or to subscribe back to everyone who subscribes to my blog.  I’ve seen a few comments on other sites indicating that reciprocation is expected, but I hope it’s not really like that.  To me, this is like giving someone a gift and expecting one back in return.   I do appreciate every person who subscribes to my blog – and I visit every one of them…but I sincerely apologize if I have offended any subscriber by not subscribing back.
  • I want to believe I don’t care what others think, but as I prepare to hit ‘publish’ on this post, I have some fear the point above will drive others away.  I want to have faith that my spirit will come through in my writing, and that my spirit doesn’t stand on a mountain top screaming, “I’m a jerk!”
  • I struggle with insecurity.  If I could believe in myself as much as my mom believes in me, I’d be cocky and annoying surely have confidence that I’m following the path God intended.

The last couple of months have left my belly over-stuffed with food that should have killed me by now, but my spirit is starving for something of substance.  I recognize that when I slow down and make time for God, my shortcomings shrink.  My guilt dissolves into peace, I accept that my imperfect self is good enough, and I feel the power of God’s grace reminding me that if I place my trust in Him, He won’t let me stray.

For by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

May this New Year lead you to your peaceful place.
May this New Year lead you to your peaceful place.