When the earth gives way……..

Psalm 46:1-3–“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

I confess I was stunned by the timeliness of the above-quoted verse as I came across it during an early morning time of meditation this week. Like so many of you, I had been horrified and saddened to hear of the tragedy in Washington state when a mudslide, suddenly and without warning, obliterated an entire neighborhood. What terrible loss, what unimaginable sadness for the survivors, I thought. And, what a terrifying death it must have been for those souls lost. My heart was heavy and my mind could hardly comprehend the magnitude of the disaster.

This morning’s paper enlightened me about a similar event occurring in the wake of Hurricane Camille when 150 people were killed in Virginia. The year was 1969. And where was I, I wondered?
Wrapped in my 19-year-old centricity? Suffering through the angst of almost adulthood? So wrapped in my own world that the event did not even register in my memory. Shame on me!

We humans are repeatedly shocked by the devastation of natural disasters. Snow storms and ice storms, blizzards and nor’easters–these the progeny of the polar vortex that now is such a familiar part of our weather vocabulary. Tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and droughts, earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanoes and sinkholes. The world is, indeed, the stage for all of Mother Nature’s acts, some quite terrible. And how does our abuse of this planet contribute to what seems to be an epidemic of disastrous events? I wondered.

So, how do we not fear (at least once in a while)? We humans generally inherently fear death in all its forms. Unless, that is, we have some firm belief in life after death. I comfort myself with the image of those victims of the mudslide, wrapped in God’s loving arms, accompanied by some comforting angel, crossing gently over. At least I pray that was so.

For, after all, we have the promise of a better life after this one, a promise pictured beautifully in the blossoming dogwood. Upon that truth we should depend. I do so hope you share that knowledge.


The end of the rainbow……..

The end of the rainbow
The end of the rainbow

In honor of St Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share my rainbow story. As a child we all learn stories of leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I am not Irish, though I long to be, and deep down believe that there must be a dollop of Irish blood in my ancestry. Always fascinated by things Irish, I was keenly aware that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was a fairy tale.

Until I was driving home during one of those rain showers in Arkansas that is brightened by sunshine, that is. The weather was ripe for a rainbow, and I soon observed one, its rays of color particularly clear and distinct. There was almost the promise of another bow as faint fragments of color tried to come together just to the left of the first one. Following the rainbow’s colors with my eyes, I was surprised to see that the arc appeared to touch the ground on the roadside ahead, and, thereby, began to understand where the pot of gold legend originated. The sun and the rain had partnered together to create the illusion of a glowing golden something resting roadside. I caught my breath and quickly pulled onto the shoulder to preserve the moment with an I-phone image. I was in awe as I grasped the fact that others had surely viewed the same phenomenon in years long past and places far away and, thus, the legend of the pot of gold was born. Of course, sadly, as I pulled back into the traffic and approached rainbow’s end, both rainbow and optical illusion faded away.

But the episode inserted itself into my consciousness, and I found myself trying to find some meaning in it. My first thought was that the pot of gold, since I “found” it on my way home from work, represented the blessing of home. Then I pondered the emotion that the moment had inspired. Rainbows have always seemed a happy surprise in a rainy day to me, but how disappointing they must be for those who are defeated each time they try to lay hands on that proverbial pot of gold.

In the leprechaun’s tales, the pot of gold is just that, literally a pot (usually golden in color) filled with gold coins. But perhaps the pot of gold is something different for each of us. For me, that rainy day after a long day at work, home was my heart’s desire. There are days now when my pot of gold is a family member’s health or getting published or having some free time just for me. Another might long for the safe delivery of healthy infants after a complicated pregnancy. Still others might dream of finding that special someone that completes one in a happy marriage. One might long to win millions in the lottery, while another might long for just enough to put food on the table and pay the bills. Maybe it is being accepted to the right college or the best graduate program. Perhaps it is a husband finding the perfect job. Mothers and fathers long for health, happiness, faith, and success for children (and grandchildren). Siblings might pine for restoration of a relationship. I have come to believe that these longings of the heart are intrinsically more valuable that any literal pot of gold.

But, most valuable of all, is the realization that there is a God in heaven who knows those longings, a Heavenly Father who loves us beyond measure and provides just what we need at any time, whether a good time or a bad time. Because

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

Rainbows are beautiful. But even more beautiful is knowing the Creator of rainbows and all things good. Have a blessed and happy St. Patrick’s Day!

An elephant in the house


There’s an elephant in this house. It (I will not dignify it with gender!) is huge, gray, and impervious to all my efforts to show it the door. It took up residence ten years ago, but we, through the grace of God and expert medical help, were able to relegate it to the attic, where it slept and, unfortunately, appears to have gathered strength, for its next foray into our world. And, crash back in, irrespective of the hearts and minds and emotions it was devastating, it did, and took up residence, which I do hope and pray is temporary.

That elephant, you see, is depression, and a stronger, more persistent interloper is hard to find. It took up residence with a dearly beloved child. But never think that depression is a respecter of persons. Once it enters the house, its presence is felt by all. Each individual experiences it uniquely, but no one is unscathed. There is no swifter road to a personal battle with depression than seeing one’s child sucked into the dark void of its depths. There is no more certain road to a personal experience with depression than grieving over a child’s helplessness and hopelessness and, again unfortunately, observing that child’s sometimes tragic efforts to escape from its pit of darkness.

The other salient point to recognize about depression is its cloak of invisibility. Everyone knows the elephant is in the house, sitting or standing in the corner, rather lonely in its isolation. Because, though everyone is thinking about it, feeling it, hating it, no one is talking about it!! There seems to be an inherent human tendency to believe that, if it’s ignored long enough, it will just go away. WRONG!! The only way to weaken, and ultimately defeat, the elephant, is to acknowledge its presence. That which we fear can defeat us. Envision the big gray elephant as simply a bully who needs only to be confronted to be defeated.

The psalmist gives life to depression’s form and substance in Psalm 77:1-2:

“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the
at night I stretched out untiring
and my soul refused to be

Yet the writer of Lamentations (?the prophet Jeremiah) speaks a message of hope in chapter 22, verses 22 through 24:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we
are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my
therefore I will wait for him.'”

It is my experience that the only way to deal with the elephant is through faith. It is only through the grace of God that we can push that big gray elephant back into the attic (or basement or cellar or wherever we can relegate it to). But when faith falters, and the elephant is treading roughshod on the hopes and dreams of a loved one (or our own hopes and dreams), what are we to do? My top ten strategies:

1. Pray.
2. Enlist other prayer warriors.
3. Demonstrate unconditional love to the elephant’s prey (so, if you are the prey, that means loving oneself unconditionally!).
4. Maintain as much normalcy as possible.
5. Talk about the elephant. Recognize its presence, the reality of its influence, and don’t be afraid to call it by its real name.
6. Pray some more.
7. Share your hurts, worries, and fears with trusted family and friends.
8. Read the Bible–it is rich in messages of comfort.
9. Do whatever you do to escape from the elephant’s attack–read, write, cook, sew, train for a marathon, go dancing–you fill in the blank. (Guess which one I chose!)
10. Pray without ceasing.

Please don’t leave with the impression that I am writing as an expert. This is not an instructional piece, but more of a catharsis for me. I am tired of the elephant cohabiting with my family. I am ready for it to leave. And I am going to do all of the above (and anything else I can think of) to relegate it to the far corner of our world with the stated intent that it should, “Go away, you big bully, and don’t you ever, ever come back!” I hope and pray it works this time.

My polar poem

This weather, it seems,
conjures polar extremes
to my mind–

First the great polar bear,
I envy his hair–
how warm he must be
to plunge into the sea
with no fear of cold air!

PolarBearSwim11 (2)

Warmer memories, for me,
are the times I would be
cuddled close with my Joe,
as Christmas came close
on a ride we would go!


Our minds opened wide
as this train we did ride,
my grandson and I,
whispered, “We believe,”
all to hear the bell’s chime.

But now, horror of horrors,
a new term I’ve learned–
polar vortex, it’s termed,
and springtime is spurned
as the ice is upon us.

I look out my window
at skies solid gray,
not a hint of sun’s ray
at the end of the day,
and cold winds start to blow.


Icy sleet unrelenting,
then lightning so bright,
with thunder that follows
punctuating the night
with its rumbling.


Lightning with rainstorms
we see often enough,
even snow thunder rarely,
but sleet thunder, really?
What meaning? we wonder.

Global warming, you say?
Climate change,
here to stay?
Winter, please go away–
I am pleading!

Yes, horror of horrors,
polar vortex is here!
What a weird weather year
we are living!

Life is greener……..

grass is greener

Meet Lily. She’s a charmer. Notice she demonstrates that universal perspective–somehow the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.

It does for me as I pursue a career as a writer, anyway. Observing the professional layouts and intellectual content of my fellow bloggers’ work blows me away. (That’s a compliment to each of you.) I have to be careful that it doesn’t make me feel somehow inadequate. I am, after all, an amateur at this. In addition, I am an amateur whose “central organizing factor” is running on empty. You’ve never heard of central organizing factor? Please, allow me to enlighten you.

We all have very busy lives. We women, in particular, tend to want to be “all things to all people”, and we will knock ourselves out trying. Marriage, parenting, work, homemaking (do we still use that word?) and trying to find time to pursue our passions and dreams depletes our central organizing factor. (I didn’t coin that phrase–a good friend did–but I do love it!). We want to excel at doing it all and look beautiful and serene in the process. If any thing gets left on the back burner, bottom of the list, or, in good Scarlett O’Hara style, left to be thought about tomorrow, it tends to be our stuff. Maybe it’s time at the gym or reading that book that’s been on your nightstand gathering dust or sending an appreciative e-mail to a dear friend. Or, just maybe, it’s developing expertise in the field of our dreams, which for most of us bloggers is writing. And, generally, for me, it seems to be carving out the time to blog and work on that next book.

Some days I just know I am running low on the ability to structure my day. I seem incapable of getting all the things on the to-do list done. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of my responsibilities. Numerous worries intrude into my consciousness. Those are the days I know my central organizing factor is low. There are too many demands sucking it dry. Suddenly I realize that I am about to fall over the edge into the pit of helplessness and hopelessness. And that’s when I jerk myself up and, giving myself a little pep talk or reality check or scolding, whichever seems most appropriate, I somehow keep on keeping on. At that moment in time, that is the best I can do.

Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Let me see if I can apply that wisdom to my situation: The art and science (and, yes, this computer stuff is a challenging science for me) of blogging can only be developed by doing. Just dreaming accomplishes nothing. The same applies to writing (and getting published)–just keep working has to be my mantra.

But, more importantly, faith and health and relationships and time to smell the roses are not to be neglected. How will I know to do better unless I spend time with the Lord and His instruction book on living the best possible life? A little dust on the tables won’t matter in the long run. Whether I take care of this body will. And relationships make life worth living. Living in the moment, alert to all of the beauty and love and possibilities that surround us is imperative. And I must remember the words of Edward Everett Hale:

Look up and not down;
look forward and not back;
look out and not in;
and lend a hand.

Lily still hasn’t figured out that grass is grass. She probably never will. Some days I awaken and feel like I can face any challenge. When I don’t feel that way, it’s a clue that I need to refresh that supply of central organizing factor. And, I think the only way to do that is to look up to the Heavenly Father to fill my spiritual cup, look forward to the land of my dreams, and look outside my little corner of life to see where I can lend a hand.

What do you think?