Yesterday was a perfect Spring day around here. Sunny, warm, with a constant breeze. Today? Cold and rainy. Typical of the weather in Richmond, Virginia. Changeable.
I have spent the day cleaning and going through old boxes and footlockers. Consolidating. Organizing memory boxes for the kids. Feeling a bit lonely and nostalgic…coming across old pictures helped.
Then the rain and the looking back got me thinking about popovers. Steaming hot from the oven. I haven’t made them in over 20 years. In fact, it was only recently that I found a popover pan while thrifting one day and brought it home.
Popovers always take me back to a trip to Maine one summer in my 20s. With my dear friend, Paulette. We discovered a tearoom in the woods along the Maine coastline. Jordan Pond House.
Having the pan and a rainy day gave me the courage to try baking them again after all these years.
OK…a little bit scorched on top, but it took nothing away from how yummy they were…with blackberry preserves (strawberry for me), a bit of butter, coffee, and this dearest friend. Not bad for my first time in a long time.
Do you have any go-to foods for a lazy, lonesome Saturday? Please pop a comment below. Thank you for spending a bit of time with me, here.
Friday! Long, deep breath. A weekend away, visits with both grandchildren and their parents, time with our youngest, and hard physical work were all part of this week. Also a clean bill of health from my oncologist…cause to rejoice again for another six months.
Here are my faves this week – you’ll find them a bit more about books and writing than usual…it’s just where I am and what has popped up this week.
1) Writer Jeff Goins – author of Real Artists Don’t Starve (read about it here). He is also the organizer of the Tribe Conference – a gathering of writers and artists to learn from each other and from speaker/mentors. Jeff Goins is a successful writer. He is also incredibly generous in teaching others how to be successful as well. Maybe next year I will have the courage to attend the Tribe Conference. Fortunately there are several who did attend and published their take-aways, including Jeff.Photo Credit: Andrea Cadelli
Make your Mess your Message. – “Make your mess your message,” Ishita Gupta told us. Don’t try to hide the unkempt parts of yourself. Let your hair down, tell the ugly parts of your story, and allow people to love you for who you really are.
Prioritize People Over Performance. – At the Tribe Conference, audience engagement is built into the program. Goins makes sure that the conference experience is a fully satisfying one for all in attendance. “With your own creative projects, think of ways you can empower your audience to feel like they are a part of the work you’re doing. Not only that, actually include them. Give them some ownership and see what they do with it. In our experience, this almost always yields a better product.”
Focus on Action Over Information. – The information sharing is not the most important piece of the conference content. It is what the audience does with the information, sifting it for what applies to their own art and platform. After each talk, 10 minutes is give for the attendees to process what they learned. Extra long breaks and lunches allow for maximum connection of conference attenders with each other and with the speakers.
Be a Fan of Fun. – Conferences can be so serious. Goins and his team work fun into the schedule. “It’s okay to enjoy yourself. It’s okay to celebrate…So, we have dance parties and chocolate tastings, mimosas and popsicles, after parties and pre-event meetups, and so many other fun surprises.”
[At the end of the article above, Goins posts links to what others wrote about the conference. Very helpful. Not quite like being there, but helpful nonetheless.]
2) Note-Takers – I don’t know if it’s because I’m a visual learner, but taking notes has been a life-long habit for me. That’s why journaling is also a joy – I learn better (deeper) when I write.Photo Credit: The Inner Sage
As with the Tribe Conference above, I love to find conference notes online. Writer and productivity coach Shaun Blanc‘s article was informative and made me want to attend the Tribe Conference even more. There are many like him who have the skill of comprehensive note-taking. How delightful when these folks share their notes.
Would love to hear what are some of your recent reads. Please post your suggested books in the Comments.
4) Children’s Books – Earlier in the year, I had blogged about the desire to write a book. Shortly after that, my daughter and I began the process. It will be a children’s book (or a short series of books). The target audience will be preschoolers but our hope is to write in such a way that parents and older siblings will want to read it aloud and again and again. Lofty goals. We will need an illustrator. I love the children’s book author and illustrator Nancy Tillman. She has just published a tiny boxed set The World Is a Wonderland Collection. The prose is lovely but the best part is her illustrations. Just beautiful. Maybe she has a real heart toward new authors… Is it crazy to think of asking her to illustrate? Who knows?
5) Weekend Getaway – Last weekend Dave and I ducked out of town to just have a few days at the beach…Virginia Beach. There’s something very healing for us to be near the ocean. It clears the mind. As always we came back home with a refreshed vision about life and a restored resolve.
Below of are some of the highlights:No win this weekend for Titans fans, but a funnel cake took some of the sting away.The sunrises were amazing. Every morning. Inspiring.We walk the boardwalk daily, and sometimes twice daily. King Neptune’s status keeps watch as do the jet pilots of the Oceana Naval Air Station. The Virginia Aquarium was a sweet delight.The seafood…was excellent.The company was the best.
These were my Friday Faves for this week. It’s been a long, long day so will leave you with this: thanks so much for reading. I can’t tell you how much that encourages this woman at this stage of my life. Enjoy the weekend and be gentle with yourself and each other.
Friday! Yes…the weekend is upon us and the start of Fall. Hope you’ve had a week full of grace. What a season of hurricanes and earthquakes and wars and rumors of war! We hold onto God and each other, and perspective comes much more readily.
Here are five of my favorite discoveries this week, as well as a few bonuses at the end. Hope you’re encouraged and positively emboldened in the reading below.
1) Braveheart and Classical Guitar – The 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart moved the hearts of all who saw it. Braveheart was an epic telling of Scotland’s fight for freedom from England into the 13th century. Historical accuracy wasn’t a goal of the filmmakers, but grandeur of the clashing battlefronts was riveting.I couldn’t watch every frame because of the medieval war violence and the grisly execution of William Wallace (played by Gibson). Photo Credit: Fanpop
My family is Scottish with both Wallace and Bruce in our family tree. When son Nathan of Beyond the Guitar arranged a medley of the beautiful James Horner soundtrack, I told him he should wear a kilt for the video… No kilt, but gorgeous themes bringing back the intense emotion of the film. Made me want to see Braveheart all over again. Photo Credit: YouTube, Beyond the Guitar
Here’s the YouTube video of Beyond the Guitar’s Braveheart. Lovely.
2) Inheriting Our Parents’ Traits and Trauma – My whole life people have told me, “You look just like your mother.” That was fine by me because I loved her deeply and thought she was beautiful.
As I’ve grown older, it’s not just looks but actions that also are a part of my link with my mom. Even though she is no longer with us, I will do things or react in certain ways that remind me of Mom.
Dembosky writes about a Vietnamese family immigrating to the US after enduring war trauma. She described vividly how the struggles a parent endures can be transferred to the children in the ways they also react to adverse situations and their coping mechanisms.
Understanding the possibility of intergenerational transfer of trauma is not to make victims of a future generation. Understanding allows us to recognize if we have vulnerability and to set in place healthy barriers against the impact of our parents’ trauma.
My mom grew up with an alcoholic father who vented his frustrations about life on his wife and children. Mom stood against his abuse of her own mother and brothers. Her fighter responses were tempered as an adult when she became a believer (follower of Christ). Still that quickness to take offense and wariness of mean-spiritedness were reactions she had to fight. I see that also in myself.
3) Destination Addiction – No it’s not about our next vacation, but destination addiction is very much about whether or not we can find contentment in our day-to-day life. Robert Holden, a British psychologist, writes and speaks about the pursuit of happiness.
To be honest, I’m not taken with all Holden says about happiness or contentment, but destination addiction is something to avoid, for sure. When we long for that next thing…whether it is the vacation, or next job, or next house, or even next relationship…we cease to live in the present. This addiction, like all others, is never satisfied.Photo Credit: AZ Quotes
If this is a struggle for you, and it sure has been for me at various seasons of my life, recognize it and deal with it. Sure, we can look forward to the “something new’s” in our life, but not to the exclusion of what is real and valuable and not-to-be-missed right now.
The links below are quick reads and excellent helps.
4) Confederate Monuments – Richmond, Virginia is a city steeped in American Civil War history…a history that has come sharply under fire recently. There has been a clarion call to take down the monuments to the Confederacy. Whether those monuments come down or not in the days ahead, the conversation spurred across cultural lines is crucial. The voices of those most marginalized by present-day racism must be heard. Five Richmond young people visited Monument Ave. recently, and their response might surprise you.Photo Credit: Richmond Cycling Corps, Facebook
Reporter Matthew Chaney‘s post revisted a Facebook post by Richmond Cycling Corps. Daquan, one of the five teenagers, wrote brilliantly their collective response on seeing the statues of Confederate generals displayed on Monument Ave.
“Everybody’s pointing blame at Monument Avenue and the statues that reside there, but those statues never did anything to me or people that I care about,” he wrote. “The only thing that ever harmed people in low-income areas is the violence that resides there.”
“Instead of using money to knock down statues that most people in low-income areas never even seen, how about using that money to improve schools, fix up the community that we see every day, or why not protest in our neighborhoods where we see violence and hate the most.”
Read the entire post as Daquan raises the more crucial issues of violence, hunger, poor schooling, and hopelessness they see every day in their Richmond community.
The monuments may still come down in the attempt to deal with the racism in this city. What is needed more is this 17y/o man’s counsel.
5) Lunch with Seniors – This is not about taking high school or college students to lunch. That would be much appreciated, I’m sure…but this is about going to lunch with those older ones in our lives. It’s what neighbor friends of ours did earlier this week, taking a 91 y/o widower out to lunch at his favorite restaurant.
It doesn’t take much sorting out to see the value in such an interruption to our day. Thankfully those older than us also understand the value of such times together…for them and for us. All we have to do is make that phone call…stepping out of the comfort zone of texting. So worth it.
That’s my five. How about you? Please share in the Comments something you’ve gleaned from this week. Have a weekend that replenishes your soul. Be kind to yourself and those around you.
Weeks never seem to drag anymore. Friday has come again with lightning speed, forcing a break in our routine. In Virginia, today marks the last school day of the year for public schools. Summer has officially begun.
It’s not my favorite season of the year (OK…I know I’m in a minority here but heat and bugs come with summer, not just the beach). Having the kids home for the summer was always a joy so I will take that part anytime.
We have a big gathering of family coming up soon which is being made possible through Airbnb. That part of summer which does include the beach and baby snuggles along with late nights of laughter and games and movies with the babies in bed is a delight.
So without further ado, here are this week’s Friday Faves:
1) Seasonal Favorites – I’ve sung the praises of fruit in season once before. Orchard-fresh fruit and vegetables right out of the garden are so good. You just slice up summer squash and zucchini, lightly olive-oil spray it and roast in a hot oven and you can almost forget the cheesy casserole you were going to make out of it. Such sweetness in summer vegetables.
Dave’s favorite Honeycrisp apples are hard to find in the US summer – when found they often taste like last year’s harvest or are prohibitively expensive.
When the apples fade, we have watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries…and peaches!!! Glory!
Finally, I want to celebrate the small family businesses just open for the summer (and sometimes closed on Sundays) that bring all kinds of sweetness our way. Less than an hour away, we find Sno-To-Go. The weighty decision of whether to cool down with a cup of ice cream or a sno-cone is over. Stuffed snoballs are the perfect combo.
What’s your favorite summer to-go place for treats like these?
2) Beyond the Guitar – Classical Guitar Video – Here’s Nathan Mills‘ latest arrangement posted to YouTube. It is Japanese composer Yasunori Mitsuda‘s Frog’s Theme from the video game Chrono Trigger. For many of you gamers out there, this will be another musical delight. For us non-gamers, it is also an incredibly lovely melody, especially rendered on classical guitar. Enjoy the video below:
3) Scruffy Hospitality – [MEN – don’t pass this by – you are part of this.] What a gift to lavish hospitality on those you love or hope to know better. Too often we hesitate because the thought of getting the house ready, putting together just the right menu, and aiming for a “Pinterest-perfect” presentation exhausts us before we even make the invitation. Two articles I found this week gives freedom and empowerment to us all to extend hospitality – and scruffy is so much better than no hospitality. Robin Shreeves wrote a great piece on this, as a woman who threw off her need to have everything perfect. Photo Credit: Jason Lander, Flickr
Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together. – Jack King
I’m so glad he wrote about hospitality. Our hesitancy as both women and men can be conquered…especially if we help and encourage each other.
4) Hilarious Commercial – Commercials are fascinating to me – when they are done well. So many are just silly. In fact, in the days when our kids were small, and we would fast-forward through the commercials on homemade videotapes, our little Daniel would say, “No! I care about that!” Me, too, Daniel. A young businessman in Colorado Springs, Co., Joe McCloskey, Jr. , is an agent with Farmers Insurance. I don’t know who advised him or he is this creative, but he has put up several homemade video commercials on YouTube. The one below is the most recent and the most professional. It is hilarious. Don’t just scroll through. You will send your endorphins out the roof. I don’t think you can watch with out laughing out loud. Oh, and notice “Call Me For A Quote – 719-237-9455”. So creative.
5) Father’s Day – We all have fathers – whether very present or long-time absent. Some of you may be fathers. Some of you may have wanted to be fathers but are not able to be…for whatever reasons. This day of commemoration usually means a good meal and some sort of gifting or pampering for you fathers. For all of you, with or without children, you can be influencers…and we need you. My biological father was absent long before my parents divorced. Thankfully I have had a rich heritage of good fathers through the rest of my life – my step-dad, brothers, uncles, husband, father-in-law, son/son-in-law, and good and strong male friends – most of whom were spiritual fathers only…but fathers nonetheless.
A friend asked me yesterday about what I like to do around Richmond….this small city big on events, restaurants, and natural beauty. I had trouble coming up with things. Not because I never get out…but just don’t think in terms of stuff I like to do. It made me realize that my life these days is more reactive/responsive than intentional and proactive. Really got me thinking…
Here are 5 favorite things I like to do…not bound to location…
1) Team/Family Activities – As much of my life is spent in solitary endeavors, creating, serving, and playing as a team energizes me. I love to learn from others and the momentum and synergy of a group work inspire me to push through. This isn’t just doing sometime collectively as a group of people…not really invested in each other. This is working together as a team!It’s serving a great purpose…together, not just alongside other people. Love that process. Also in play, game nights are special fun for the chatter and laughter around the table as much as for the adventure of the gaming itself.
2) Being Able to Support and/or Encourage Our Adult Children – There’s a strange tension in this. We are glad for our children to launch as adults and they are glad to be on their own and pursuing their own careers and interests. Still, after so many years of being under the same roof and intimately in each others’ lives, I’m glad for touch-points. Praying for them always (my privilege and special responsibility). Babysitting for a grandchild. Listening to their hopes and dreams. Offering counsel on a struggle (when asked…and sometimes not even). Supporting financially within healthy and honoring bounds. You hear a lot about Nathan in here. I long to be able to support him in his musical career…but didn’t really know how. Just this week, he made that easier by affiliating with Patreon. Now we’re a part of his small but growing community of patrons.
3) Travel and the People We Travel To and With – I’m not an experience or destination collector, so travel to tick off a bucket list isn’t a motivation. However, it’s possible that’s because we have had the great fortune of travel as a normal part of our lives over the years. We have lived in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Dave and I spent our 25th wedding anniversary in Paris, France. As a family, we’ve shared incredible destinations…from the Red Sea to the Sahara Desert, from trips in Europe and to Africa. My international travel has been curbed a bit, but there is still tremendous joy in trips to Laurel, Delaware and Hoschton, Georgia (to see family) and to such places as Midland, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee to see friends. Etc., etc., etc. It’s less the destination…as what the travel brings in times together.
4) Food Events – It’s my birthday today, and there will definitely be food events. Food itself is a delight, of course. The sweet side-benefit of food events is that person sitting across from me. Or the children and adults gathered close around the long family table. Or the folks cozied on couches around the room. Or even (gasp) the long-legged obstacle course of men filling the floor space in front of a televised football game. What food does to draw out conversation or bond people together is a marvelous thing. I have favorite restaurants, like you…but it’s the event itself that blesses the heart (less the work of it, more the people of it).
5) Divine Appointments – Okay…these are not within our control, really…so they can’t be scheduled into one’s happy life. Or, maybe they can. We can definitely grease the tracks to experience them. How? I know my whole day can be altered – both in awareness and experience – if studying Scripture and praying is part of my early morning routine. “Bible before breakfast” was a routine, growing up, of a friend of mine. Not in any kind of legalistic or ritualistic sense… as much as spiritual habit that can change a person’s thinking, choices, and engagement with God and others. That early morning time with God sets the tone for my day. His activity in my life and that of others around me becomes more obvious. God is a good and active agent in His creation and among his people. All we have to do is tune our minds to see Him…and He is there. Even when my early morning quiet time is on the lean side…or neglected altogether, it’s still possible to reset our sights on Him through the day and experience wonders. I just hate to miss Him from early on…because I’ve chosen other lesser activities…like even sitting down and writing…
There are my five favorites… They didn’t include writing…which is sort of a given (as in this blog). They didn’t include photography – also a given (in my desire to document everything). They didn’t include movie and popcorn nights which I actually LOVE as well….that will definitely happen on my birthday. Thanks, Friend, for stirring my thinking yesterday. Being more proactive in pursuing these five is now on my list! Do you have a list of favorite things you fill your life with? Please comment below. If you live in Richmond, maybe you could also share your favorites about this city. It’s possible I need to get out more.
It’s Friday, and tomorrow Hurricane Matthew is supposed to move into Virginia. Wind and rain. Hopefully we won’t lose power, but over a million folks in Florida did, so we wait and see.
Here are my favorite finds of this week. Two are actually blogs by the same writer, Carey Nieuwhof. He is a wise leader and gives excellent counsel to those of us who also want to lead well.
Hurricane Matthew – The Caribbean and Florida have been hit hard by this week’s hurricane. A Category 4 storm through the Caribbean and now Category 3, passing through Florida and into Georgia tonight. Hundreds of deaths and the storm devastation is massive. I am so thankful for disaster response agencies who take definitive action quickly in times like this. Baptist Global Response (BGR) is that kind of organization, working with local partners to help in the life-saving areas of clean water, food security, shelter and supplies and general health of the peoples most hard-hit. Because of the work of other NGO’s already in Haiti, BGR is targeting its disaster relief efforts on Cuba.Photo Credit: Common Dreams; WTVR
Not that older adults don’t deserve vacations after so many years in the work force and serving in their churches and families. Still, Nieuwhof makes a serious case for mobilizing seniors back into service where they are needed to mentor, model, guide, and cast vision for the next generations. The Fall Leaf bus tours are upon us, but we also need these valuable men and women among us as well.
3) Life After Downton – What to Watch Now – I do miss Downton Abbey, but fortunately we do have other viewing options. Amazon Screening Room lists out lovely period pieces that can scratch our itch for Downton. Two I’ve already watched are Doctor Thorne and Grantchester. Would love to hear some of your recommendations!Photo Credit: Screening Room
4) Leading Change – Canadian pastor, Carey Nieuwhof, is also a writer and speaker on leadership. Photo Credit: Carey Nieuwhof
People aren’t opposed to change nearly as much as they are opposed to change they didn’t think of.
Usually no more than 10% of the people you lead are opposed to change.
Fear of opposition derails more leaders than actual opposition.
Buy-in happens most fully when people understand why, rather than what or how.
5) Firepit on a Fall Evening with S’Mores – This week marks the true arrival of Fall here with temperatures dropping and leaves just beginning to turn colors. We had our first marshmallow roast on an outdoor fire. Making S’mores – that camping treat of graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, and melted marshmallows. Thus marking the start of my favorite season. Lots of pics to follow of brilliant Fall leaves and fun times outside without the heat of summer.
Be safe out there. Hope you East Coasters in the States are not too troubled by Hurricane Matthew. Have a restful weekend. Leave us your favorite finds of the week in the Comments below. Thanks.
Monday morning emails can be treacherous… This morning when I woke, my husband told me he’d just heard from a valued colleague that he had secured another job. Dave was expecting this because of previous communications they’ve had with each other. Through an organizational re-structuring, there are many whose jobs are changing. This email was good news because this person will be a tremendous addition to any team – good news and sad news. We will miss this man on our team but we celebrate a great job match.
Then another email came in. It was from the person who will be his new supervisor. It was full of respect and regard – a courtesy email that is not necessarily company culture these days but an email that shows understanding and empathy. When change comes, even good change, there is still that adjustment, that grieving of the good that was. Those two emails speak volume about emotional intelligence or relational wisdom…and that’s something we always need in the workplace…and at home.
The holidays and summer vacations have a particular call for wisdom to soften difficult expectations, disarm family conflicts, and personalize interactions to fit the needs of those nearest to us.
I attended Dr. Sande’s Peacemaker course years ago during a challenging work season, and what I learned then continues to be a tremendous help to me today. If your work or family situation is somewhat intimidating, don’t despair. There are those in our lives (Ken Sande is one) who will come alongside and help/mentor us, if we’re willing to take care of our own hearts and minds.Photo Credit: coldspringcenter.org
As summer hums along and return to school looms ahead, I hope you are savoring happily memorable times together with family. As far as work goes, just like with the emails above, we can do our part to make our workplace a kind and honoring experience – our part (not someone else’s) in making it the way it could be…the way it should be…Photo Credit: GoodWorksBracelet.com
What helps you thrive in stressful situations at work? What has made a difference in bringing peace and joy to your summer vacations and holiday celebrations? Please comment and share with those searching for that wisdom.
I visited a Gilded Age mansion this summer. Here, in Richmond, Virginia. Maymont is a 100-acre estate owned by James and Sallie Dooley. When they died, in the 1920’s, they bequeathed it to Richmond as a park and museum. Within six months, it was opened to the public to is easily enjoyed by all of us.
Until this summer, it was an unexplored treasure. My only visits to Maymont were for picnics on the grassy knoll in front of the mansion. That in itself is a relaxing, restoring experience, just basking in the lovely green sun and shade of the grounds.
This summer, I got to know Maymont as it should be known…through the happy association with a family, new to Richmond. Through a staycation, , and deliberate fascination, they have explored the area to really know their new city. I got to come along for some of those outings and this is my favorite so far.
The grounds were designed by Mrs. Dooley. There are several specialty gardens. Two in particular stand out: The Italian garden with its columned and stony walkways, roses, and waterfalls make it a familiar photo spot for engagement pictures.
Then down the stone steps of the Italian garden, and beside its waterfall, you will find the tucked-away Japanese Garden. Truly serene in its design and simplicity.
In previous visits to Maymont, just staying on the edge of the park, on that grassy knoll with friends and family, was sweet in itself. It is a lesson for me, though, how much we miss if we don’t dive deeper into the treasure of such a place.
Then we toured the Victorian country estate home of Mr. and Mrs. Dooley. Although much smaller in scale than the post-Edwardian home seen in the PBS series Downton Abbey, it reminded me of that era. To enter the Dooley mansion, you enter through the servants’ quarters below. The contrast of post-Civil War servants’ life and that of Mr. and Mrs. Dooley and their guests was remarkable. Yet in both, you see touches of beauty and utility, with glimpses into the loves and habits of these who shared life together. The furnishings are all original, the house left intact to the City of Richmond.
You just need to see it. I’ll share a few pictures, but the tour, with knowledgeable and accommodating guide, was fascinating.
Mr. Dooley’s Study
Mrs. Dooley’s Sitting Room
The Dining Areas of the Servants (l) and the Dooley’s (r)
Mrs. Dooley’s BedroomOne of the Servants’ quarters and work area
So there you go…just a taste of Maymont. Hope you can include this in your waning summer plans. Or a weekend in the Fall.
What a gift, among so many others, Mr. and Mrs. Dooley, true benefactors and patrons, gave to all who came after them.
As part of a “staycation”, some new-to-Richmond friends and I spent a morning last week at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. With three daughters-in-tow, we lingered at the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit. It’s an incredible indoor “habitat” for tropical butterflies.
If you have the patience to be still and butterfly-friendly, the butterflies may come close to you as you come close to them.
I’ve been several times and never tire of the marvel of these creatures. My daughter once said how curious it is with butterflies that as big as they are we are drawn to them where we would be repelled by insects of another kind, that large.
On this particular day, we saw something I had only read about in the past, and hadn’t really considered deeply until that moment. The metamorphosis of the butterfly.
One of the girls and I stood enrapt watching a caterpillar fix itself upside-down on the edge of the “Monarch nursery” (photo above, creature on right). It was a caterpillar moving and being all caterpillar-like…and then it wasn’t. I’m not really much of a naturalist. Yet, it was impossible to draw away from this seemingly sacred movement.
The caterpillar made these shuddering movements and its skin literally popped open slowly from the back of its head up its body until all that was left was the chrysalis. The skin fell off, and after a bit more shudders, the chrysalis went still. It would hang still like that for 10-14 days until the Monarch butterfly emerges.
As we stood there watching that process, literally transfixed, I couldn’t help being reminded of the Apostle Paul’s description of what happens when people become believers in Christ. He spoke from transforming experience of going from a murderous persecutor of the church to an all-out follower of Christ.
Believers may look the same on the outside – but a spiritual process occurs in the inside where we come alive, with new hearts because of Him. The wretched “old” is gone; all things have become new.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
This was that sacred moment that day for me…in front of the Monarch Nursery, standing beside my new young friend.
Post-script: We left the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit shortly after and entered into the Garden proper to enjoy the flowers. There on one of the flower displays was a butterfly! My first thought was that it had escaped the exhibit! Sigh….
Ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not now that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. – Job 12:7-10
Sometimes, we all just need to get away. To hear quiet again; to see green and rocks and wild creatures; to refresh our senses and regain perspective. My husband was, in years past, an avid outdoorsman – fishing, hunting, hiking, biking all reset his week as a younger man. I myself can do all that inside my house, with a book, a look outside, a cup of coffee, and maybe a phone call with a friend.
This week we took a couple of days and got out of town. Not deep into the mountains. No equipment needed. Just a couple of days out the door with our sneakers on. It’s been a week of sorting through life – and our minds were tired. We have had a lot of work stuff going on and just lost a dear friend to cancer this week…clearing our heads seemed a good idea…and it was.
We walked in the woods. Sometimes by a stream. Cool beneath the trees on a hot summer day. The sun’s light pushing through in places.
There’s a sweet mystery in hiking…even with well-marked trails, you don’t know what you’ll find exactly, at the turn ahead, around the bend. In the quiet and the green, there’s room to think.Of course, I didn’t just think about God and His amazing world He’s given us to steward. I thought of deer ticks, and bears, and snakes. Hard to keep an “indoorsy” gal’s mind from hopping over those possibilities. Especially when the trail marking also pointed to which direction went nearest the local hospital. We went that way…also because, in truth, it was marked “extreme difficulty” rather than “most difficult”.
No worries. We walked a long way without any of the crittery wildness of nature imposing itself on us. In fact, the biggest danger was my own propensity for falling down – which I’ve done in major cities around the world, and sometimes on hiking trails. This was a bitty bit of our walk in the wild that day – tripping on a rock and rolling into the bushes beside the path, uninjured, thankfully. I thought of the kids who would always say, “Mom, don’t run. Mom, be careful.” It made me smile as I picked myself up out of the briars, with Dave’s help. And on we went. Glad for a walking partner and no twisted ankles.
It was a sweet day, and a much-needed time away…a healing time.
The next morning, we needed to get back early. There were budget meetings and other commitments. It was all we needed this one full day…and still the Lord, in His generosity gave us this sunrise to go.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4
I hope you get a walk in the wild this summer…or even a walk in the park (or backyard) near the main road. God is there to meet us, as He is with our cup of coffee and book. It seems we sometimes stop short of worshipping God in His creation. We soak in the gift without acknowledging the Giver. This time away, processing the great gift of our friend, and the great gift of nature, gave sweet clarity…to the other of life before us.