The Snow Blanket

  • Mark 4:27 Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.
  • Ephesians 3  ….20 Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

More snow. A beautiful thick blanket of white tucks in the Earth below every night now. As my feet touch the ground a soft crunch radiates up from my boots to my ears. Icy cold too. As I struggle to focus through glasses fogged with breath, evergreens gradually appear to my right standing tall and strong with snow heavily resting on their branches. An occasional bird and squirrel peek out from under the green cover.

Close by, the empty bird feeder glass shows hunger of the wildlife. Time to feed again. The chill blazes down through my nose as I breathe in the winter air. As I move to get the mail and garbage container, the deep silence resonates a loud chill into my soul.  Next week is Ash Wednesday.

With measured steps I make my way to my destination. Quietly I move as the earth rests preparing itself after a very long year open to all that came seeking. I see no one which seems so much a part of last year. Separation from those of us that are dear to us. Not able to see the vibrancy of their lives close up, their breath, touch and dear faces within an arm’s reach. Yet. Hope sustains.

I see a small bit of earth peeking out where the plow has dug deep down, bleeding the life underneath. I remember the lesson that resonates throughout the Gospels. Infinite Beauty calls us to stop, rise above the noise to listen and feel the warm embrace that surrounds all life everywhere. The quiet growing of Life beneath the Earth seems to shout “I Love you. You are mine. I forgive you and you will be with me forever.”

Scratching the ground for a bit of food and chattering to himself, an impatient squirrel hears me bringing the empty garbage can up to the house. Ralph, as we call him, scampers up the tree. Hurry up human, I am hungry. “Patience,” I say under my breath. I observe that I feel a lot like Ralph sometimes. Just digging and searching impatiently for quick wisdom and reassurance of what I think I need.

How will we approach Lent this year, as we are rooted and grounded in Christ, to proclaim our beautiful connection to all that exists in this world? Deep inside the seed that grows within …Jesus shows us how as we listen, observe, participate fully in life.  I wish to grow, to learn as I push upward through the snow with Christ as my closest friend and guide through in whatever “weather” I find myself.

And, as Ralph reminds me so lovingly, don’t forget along the way to feed the animals and all creation, including yourself. Nourish tenderly with kindness, service, joy from deep within your beautiful self that God created. Live in the moment and perhaps, hug a tree…

Takeaways: Stop and warm yourself with the joy of Life. Listen with your heart to the message of the following beautiful old hymn of faith and trust.   Listen as the Spirit leads you to grow…to push upward through whatever “weather” you find yourself. Find the Light in others.

Begone, unbelief, My Savior is near
Author: John Newton

Begone unbelief,
My Savior is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear:
By prayer let me wrestle,
And he will perform,
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Prayer: Jeremiah 15:16 When I received your words, I ate them. They filled me with joy. My heart took delight in them. Lord God who rules over all, I belong to you. Amen

© 2021 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

Whom do we Love?

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

“ Rockie Raccoon really does not live at our house, but seems like he wants to. He loves to come up to the back-porch door and beg for food. He stands up on his back legs and scratches at the door. Scrapper, will calmly explain in his best growl that isn’t the appropriate thing to do, but this doesn’t faze the raccoon who loves people food. Eventually, Rockie gives up and goes next door and climbs in their attic. Only dog bones and water and a few other treats in our yard*. No Light of Love shining from Scrapper in this story.

Granted, dogs are territorial and are very careful in choosing to be open to letting in. Yet, Scrapper shared space with Tomcat living in the same house. Tomcat even crawled under the door to get to his doggie friend so he wouldn’t be alone.

Human behavior sometimes can be like their animal friends cohabiting this beautiful world. For example, we are conditioned this past year by the pandemic to just keep a safe distance when needed. But, still, we have our “pods” of people we trust and let into our space. Other than medically, given that situations do exist where people come “together”, how do you decide whom you will reach out to “through the glass door” into your space?  

Take this hypothetical example. Roberta notices and walks up on a cold day as a hardworking team of church community members are outdoors serving a long line of cars with people in need. “May I help?” she said. Roberta had not come before, but saw the long line of cars to get needed supplies and opened her heart to join in. She may need assistance herself, but she reaches out. How would you respond to this need? Or, as a member of the team serving?

Thought questions: Starting this new year, think of Matthew 22 verse 39 which says to love thy neighbor as thyself. Do we actually listen to or are aware of their need?  How do you shine the Light of Christ in your life?

*illustration by HannaRose Illiff, story by Bonnie Smith-Davis, 2021, Tales of our Boys.

© 2021 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

The Rusty Shed and God’s Transforming Love 2021

Rusty shed
The rusty shed in my back yard

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

What do you see when you look at this shed in this picture? On first glance you may see an old, well weathered, square steel structure with its white sides, corroding a little bit more each day. Recently, one sliding green panel door twisted and nearly came off in a violent wind storm. My husband had to hammer the panel to protect its contents. But, despite his best efforts, a space in the door could not be repaired and allows in light and weather. The open places outside of the shed’s floor, covered by bricks, have expanded to allow determined little furry little creatures enough access to bury themselves under the shed for protection from cold, rain and snow.

Through the door panel space, you see the shed’s “treasures”. The light reveals the lawnmower, the gardening tools, the chairs and table to sit comfortably on the outside patio. Assorted nutrients and other lawn machines are nestled in their places. All of the treasures are now vulnerable to what the outside world may bring.

Today I feel a kinship to our shed with my “rusty” spots. Some outside, some inside. It can be hard to get out of bed and get my energy up and going. Titanium body parts let me know now and again that they are not original parts of God’s gift to house my soul. The tennis game that once took me to a championship falters as I push to make moves that I once felt mimicked the best in the game. My fibromyalgia that once wracked my body with pain, now chooses to push my brain to forget things and makes finding an antibiotic that I’m not sensitive to in my system a real challenge. My eyes work extra hard to see past cataracts, and night driving is out of the question.

I will turn 70 soon. Under my somewhat “rusty” belt of experience, I have lived with my generation through three national wars with family members called to active participation, September 11 Tower attack, 15 Presidential elections, a Presidential assassination, assassination of national leaders as Martin Luther King, recession, disease and virus isolation and death, campus riots, introduction of television, computers and cell phones, disappearance of typewriters and carbon paper and the nearly lost personal art of beautiful cursive letter and card writing to name a few things. These “weathering” experiences have helped me explore my beliefs, courage, compassion and love of God more deeply.

And, unlike the rusty steel sided shed, the Light that shines within us (me) continually renews, nourishes and transforms the amazing treasures God created inside each of us because we are His beloved children. With gratitude I feel the Breath of life that starts and threads each day with prayer and praise.

For example, after prayer and Scripture, I often feel led to often follow my dog outside in our yard while he runs after and plays with the squirrels. I look toward our dying backyard elderly trees and wrap my arms around them. This will be their last winter. After the run I often end up in the living room where I am immersed in practicing my piano, letting the Joy-filled praise of God release from my heart and my fingers into all that is around me. I find that I often can lose track of time when I play.

Like the shed and all the other things of this world that may disappear, we all have our “rusty” spots. But we have God’s unending Love to connect and hold us all as the Light transforms the inner treasures just as God plans for us. All is well and all will be well in 2021 because of the One who truly leads us forward. This I believe. Peace, Joy and Love be yours.

Challenges for you today: What do you see are “treasures” in your shed? Let God’s Love flow through you, seeing the Love of Christ that is in everyone and everything. These moments, perfectly planned by God, won’t come again but the memories and love will regenerate throughout time and space. Joy without end. Amen.

© 2021 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

Christmas Trials

Guest Blog

Nativity

By Laurie Jane Stawicki

It was Christmas break, and I was home from college. I attended the University of Northern Iowa. The big white farmhouse with green shutters housed my two younger brothers, who were 16 and 18 and my sister who was 18 months older than I. Her boyfriend was visiting from Germany, and we were having our common teenage times of visiting with friends, and doing our regular things, however, all was not well.

As we watched our mom go from a bright-eyed perky person to a depressed, zombie-like state, we worried and wondered and hoped.

Christmas that year was strange without Dad, who had left us to go with another. But what was stranger was that Mom’s brother Uncle D. came and helped Mom shop for gifts for us. The usual lights and brights of Christmases past were not to visit us that year. Christmas morning was solemn and somber as mom sat in a catatonic state on the couch and we took turns opening our gifts and thanking her. We had gifts for her too but she seemed vacant and foggy.

Later that day, preparing to go to my Grandmother’s house in town, my brothers and sister and I snapped a picture of ourselves out in the snow by our cars.  Someone had lobbed a snowball at someone else so there were a few smiles, but in the photo, the strain and worry and somberness of that particular season showed up on our faces.

I am not telling this to depress you. I am sharing this because not everyone around us is having a merry Christmas.  Although we all have so much to be thankful for, even for breath, food, clothes, life, and whatever family and friends remain in our lives, we can be thankful! Even if loved ones are no longer in your life, it is great to remember them with gratitude; the opportunity to have known them and to share some part of your life enriched or taught you or brought understanding that we may not have had any other way.

I have often said that people need to have grace on others while in the grocery line and while driving. I think it’s important to be polite and give others the benefit of the doubt. You never know what news they just received from the doctor, or what family member had a difficult thing to share on the phone that morning. We need to not take everything personally but give our brothers and sisters on the earth grace for whatever may be happening in their lives.

How about you? Can you relate to a joyous occasion turning out less than joyous? Or a season of loss and grief in life that seems to be accentuated by the expectations that there should be joy and peace?

What would you say if I told you that there can be joy and peace no matter what has happened, and no matter what is going on in your life? When we look up to the cross and to Christ and see the sorrows that he endured in order to make sure we had a way to have access to his most loving, holy, heavenly Father for eternity, we can focus on the blessing of Christmas; the fact that because Jesus Christ the Messiah came to earth, we can see through any trial, looking forward to the end result, the salvation of our souls.

© 2020 Laurie Jane Stawicki

Laurie Stawicki, singer/song-writer, poet and writer, lives, loves and creates in Iowa where she is mom to five children (and others by association) and a labradoodle dog.  Raised in a Christian home, yet marked by abuse, she has spent her time praying, journaling, reading and singing all the while learning more and more about the healing God offers through his Son Jesus Christ. It is her hope that her upcoming book, “Sacrifice of Tears,” will be a blessing to others by showing them the possibility of redemption even through family tragedy, and the hope we all can have in the Lord.

She can be reached at Laurie.Jane1 at yahoo.com and www.LaurieStawicki.com.

No Conditions. Just Love.

Advent wreath and candles

1 John 3:1. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so, we are.

Despite our best efforts, we just lose control of the situation involving our kids, our co-workers, our family and friends, our health, whatever is precious. How do we get through?

       The peaceful glow of the white Christmas tree lights and flickering Advent wreath candles lull me into a curled-up position on the couch.  I pull out my Light upon Light Advent book with my soft purple macramé quilt draped over me. It is so good to be back home. Our Benji-dog Rascal snuggles into position by my stomach and sighs contentedly.  I adjust my head on the pillow and turn over for better light. Unfortunately, a small turkey dinner leads me into deep dreamy slumber, the book falling silently onto the carpet. So tired.

The dream began with a loud buzz that startled me, felt a blast of cold air and a railing. I looked over to see the bedside monitor by the empty fluid bag. My heart rate slowed a bit as I deep breathe as I focused on how I got to where I was.  It had started as a simple doctor visit. The doctor came in with the test results. I twisted my wedding ring from habit and look at my husband as we focused on the doctor’s face as he gave us his diagnosis. “You need to go to the hospital. We will call the ambulance for you.”

 “No other choice?”  My husband of 31 years Roger and I looked wordlessly at each other and touched hands. We knew that I must get effective treatment soon.

“This is very serious, Bonnie. You need hospitalization, now.” 

So, in what seemed like slow motion the doctor, efficient, gentle EMTs and nurses got me to the hospital emergency room. My IV embedded into my skin and fluids attached. Test after test, question after question. Blessedly no Co-vid, but now I would be in a solitary room for 3 ½ days with a condition that can turn deadly.

My attention came back with soft footfalls of the caring nurse who quietly shut off the buzzer, checked my vitals and set to work. As I heard her gentle, quieting words as she changed the bag, I reflected on the hands and feet of Christ Jesus. These amazing, dedicated and caring front liners helped me with tests, blood draws, consultations and so much more, even sitting with me holding my hand during difficult times. All of these moments led up to the new cool liquid antibiotics flowing through my veins to effectively start the process of killing off the advanced kidney infection in my bloodstream.

In this darkness after she left, the One Light deep in my heart and loving prayers enveloped me, raining down loving comfort of my Healer Who was holding my hand. A peaceful sleep covered me. So tired.

Ka thump! Seventeen pounds of furry reality lands on my chest with a soft wet, pink tongue licking my face. My eyes pop open to see big dark brown eyes in the darkness peering down at me as if to say, “It’s okay, Mom. I am here for you.” I smile and snuggle close to the warm furry body. The brilliant white star from the tree echoes the loving response back to my heart. I am here with you now and always.

© 2020 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

God’s Plans for Your Holidays

Guest Blog

By Laurie Jane Stawicki

The holidays are upon us. But they look different now. The frenzied fun of yesteryear involving grandparents, aunts and relatives around a loaded Christmas tree is now a more sedate occasion. I miss the happy shouts of glee as fun toys are uncovered from under shiny wrapping paper. And I haven’t felt very festive for years.

As my toddlers turned into kids, and then teenagers and young adults, the gift giving scenario changed. Now as my twenty-something son sits at my table sipping hot chocolate, I decide to share a nugget of wisdom.

“Son,” I say, “If you ever have a family, sit down with your wife two months before Christmas and decide on a budget, pray about the budget and what God would have you do for Christmas. It could be different than you expect. Maybe it would be a trip or a visit to family.”

I don’t want my kids to feel they have to spend a lot of money for Christmas.  I add, “Or it may be small gifts for each family member and people that God has placed around you at work or in the neighborhood.”

I go on. “You should be OK to give a four-dollar box of cookies to each person and not be ashamed. If money is the thing we are comparing then that’s not really the Christmas spirit. We should be able to give as we wish, without compulsion or shame, and just enjoy the fellowship and the fun.”

I think about the stress I have felt over the years as I tried to make a nice Christmas for my family, often with little money.

“The pressure of buying and giving should not be what marks the holidays,” I comment, “and it’s totally ungodly to go into debt to buy things people don’t need to impress whom?”

He smiles at me and nods. “If I get married, I’ll let you know,” he says drolly. We both laugh.

I smack his arm and give him “the look.” “I better be invited to the wedding,” I exclaim.

“You will be,” he says, munching on a cracker.

I go in my office and pray. “Lord, what is on your mind for the holidays here this year?” We may have a daughter’s boyfriend for Thanksgiving, but no grandparents or aunts or uncles because of COVID-19.

“I want you to have fun,” is what I hear Him say. Board games come to mind. Maybe charades or a nerf gun war. Yes, that would be fun! We also could play instruments and have a jam session with everyone.

I cheer up a little. It should be OK. Maybe even the hassle of making the food could be divvied up as well. Each person could be responsible for an item. Or we could get carry out!

As I try to bypass the stress of the expectations from each of my children and myself to have a happy holiday, and how I always try to create a Norman Rockwell kind of homey photo op, I decide I need to re-frame the holiday to the kids.

Maybe it would be appropriate to talk about our feelings of sadness over the changes we are experiencing due to COVID-19, and just growing older. And then we could talk about what things we can still enjoy and for what we are grateful.  We can still create good memories within our new boundaries. We are still family and still together even though some of us will be missing.

Thank you, Lord, for the thoughts. I lift up our prayers to you for blessings this holiday season. I also ask you to open my eyes to any in need around me for an encouraging word, a batch of cookies, or a prayer. Please help us as a family to be givers into your treasure trove of heavenly stores.

This week: As you make plans for the holidays, consider stopping to pray about what God would have for your family this year: who you can be a blessing to as well as how to celebrate within your family. Maybe he will surprise you with some fresh ideas! I pray you have a lovely holiday season filled with God’s love. He is the reason for the seasons. He gives us hope for the future. He gives us all we need for the present. And now I think I’ll sit and sip some hot cider while I compose a new family email, and hum the doxology.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

© 2020 Laurie Jane Stawicki

Laurie Jane Stawicki is a Christian mother of five, a poet, singer/songwriter and author. She started writing as a child to hang onto sanity in a troubled household. Her writing mission statement verse is Luke 2:35, when the angel says to Mary, “A sword shall pierce through your own soul also that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Laurie Jane believes that her writings could be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and she’d like to inspire others to trust more in God. She would like to encourage people to bring their experiences to God’s presence for healing.

Reflections of Love

Note from Author:  I miss you, my dear readers. My long absence has been due to my recovering from hospitalization and my current healing during a long recovery. Never have I felt so enveloped by prayer and God’s Love as through that experience. To be held. To receive unequivocal, pure Love throughout my being. I will share more on that experience next blog. The current blog is a familiar one…  Being alone, yet how our dear Lord’s Love can enfold us in Nature and ripple through us if we just stop long enough to reflect in each moment and breathe the Joy.

Lake surrounded by trees. Leaves are turning.
Balsam Lake Wisconsin

Would you please put that phone away, Bonnie? I looked up into the descending sunlight on each side of Southern Wisconsin’s highway to our secluded cabin. Deep forested territory lined the hilly landscape. I cracked open a window to get the fragrance of the woods as it started to enfold us into the night sky. The cell phone found its home on the electronic charge pad in between the two seats.

As we found the cabin, a thump of ‘what are we doing here’ took over. We could be in a cozy hotel someplace or in our own home. We were “nowhere” and yet, it seemed warmly familiar. We pulled out our cell flashlights which barely scratched the surface of the dark.

All alone here. We said a prayer and carefully maneuvered along somehow familiar markers to the right pathway by familiar chairs, buildings, and scenery. The moon now lit up the porch area of this pine lodge where we looked for the key. My heart pounded. What if this was someone else’s house and not our rental cabin? We went to the other entrance and, blessed be, we found the hidden entrance key. I said a silent prayer of gratitude as we went in and shut the cold night air behind us.

This welcoming atmosphere soon led us to a cozy bed to collapse. A few days to relax by the lake which we hoped to see for the first time the next morning. Toward morning, I felt a very strange interior “whirlwind” of Peace relax my and fill my soul. Taking deep breathes helped a little, but I felt the restless draw of tranquil water lapping at the shore. So, I reached for my camera and padded quietly down to see the sunrise. Perhaps take a picture or two.

My camera in hand, I carefully made my way in the pre-dawning light to the mid-level deck area where I could pray and await the rising sun fill the lake. Vivid autumn colored trees of yellows, reds, oranges and browns across the lake filled my eyes. God’s beauty. I sat back in the Adirondack chair and closed my eyes and went into prayer for a while. Something pulled me out of prayer, perhaps a squirrel, bird, or the fresh smells of the woodland. As I opened my eyes, a mirroring of color started to extend out into the lake from the far shore. The sun was starting to rise, water rippling from quiet early canoeists, and my camera came off the arm of the chair, seemingly on its own to start reflecting the day into my memory.

As God’s light radiated into the water, I felt this warmth of interior power rise in me as it had earlier. The strength of God’s glory in Nature filled my soul and focused my mind on what was here. Now. In this moment. Time stood still and I with it. Mesmerized by the growing reflection of God’s beauty, I became one with it. Just rising and glowing with the power of the Sun. I remember taking pictures, but the lake drew me in. I padded down to the lake in my slippers, took off my shoes, and walked out onto the dock between the two docked boats, I lay on my stomach at the edge of the water and reached in. Cool, gentle ripples touched me and revived my heart. I pulled my hands back up and put them under my head as I lay there soaking up bird song, quiet rustle of trees, warmth of the radiate beams carries me away.

How can all that electronic noise fill my days? The Spirit touched my heart and brought me back to connections with every other human, rock, and the remaining stars. “See the Beauty in the moment, my Child, I heard in the wind. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I thanked the Lord for this moment, and I wondered though if I really needed to be in this place to feel this deep peace. Wasn’t it possible to just belong along with the rest of life in our own yard? God is everywhere. Give Glory to God even when it seems like there is no Earthly reason…wars, diseases, famine, elections, natural disasters, unkindness and cruelty. Because overriding it all is the One true Creator… who proclaimed it all Good. When you get right down to it all is well when you turn the day over to God.

Today:  Try one of these ways to be: Find five reasons to be grateful and write them down in a journal and tell God how much you Love Him because He Loves you without question. Put down your electronic devices for an hour or two. You will survive.  Take a walk around the neighborhood. Call a friend just because you can.

© 2020 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

What Nature Brings

Humility… comes with what Nature brings.  Beautiful sunshine gently kisses my eyes open seconds before my alarm.  Momentarily stunned by the “lots to do” bug, I pause. Just for the moment… breathe deeply and hear the music of the outside day beginning out to watch the sun fill in the shadows of our quiet room.  God’s immense plan will fill up with Beauty that day…despite the disappearing thoughts of “must do” plans that await.  

As I stir, a rippling cascade follows…Rascal lands 17 lbs. of loving terrier on my stomach and licks me right on the mouth til I opened my eyes, husband Roger snorts, (a cute snort😊) and cat leaps over everyone bounding to the floor. Nature calls…Walking down the hallway I step on something squishy. Afraid to look down, I hear a soft confirming purr right behind me.  Yep. Blake, our 16-year-old cat had left a message and follows the purr with a sharp nip to the leg. Breakfast, please. ME-Ow. Now.

As I dodge the cat under my feet, I glance into my office. Well laid out plans now lie wet under the cat’s new play toy…the tipped over once yummy banana smoothie drips onto my rolltop desk. The cat must have been hungry to go after that. Okay. This is what You’ve got in mind. Reminding me once again Who is in control, I see God’s wonderful sense of humor starting to shape the day.  Fun… I have to laugh. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Our patriotic red, white and blue beta Fred sulks in his house located on top of the file cabinet by the office desk. Somehow, inside his tank, he knows he is the last to be fed. Our life sometimes seems like that fish tank… As I reach inside to put in his food, Fred makes a beeline for my hand. I get the strangest feeling this little beta would just love to chomp on my hand for being a little tardy. Agendas are made, but God has Work for us to do through our day, and we don’t stop to see nourishing life-giving Beauty hidden inside the endless things to do in the tank, uh, Life. That is, until we are given a Nudge. The Sun shines its rays of Beauty.

While my boys eat, I visit our backyard to enjoy Solitude of prayer. I turn on the bubbling rock fountain, settle in the comfy deck chair, and close my eyes to hear to Grand Nature’s music rise in my heart. The sweet song from our new “renters” of our old wren house fills my ears. Freshly mowed grass and soft breezes tickling the wind chimes rest in my senses. All Nature is flowing together…rabbits “social distance” from each other chowing on the fresh clover…squirrels fill up on leftovers from the birds, sun flowing through all the yard resting on the garden yet to be weeded…a tomato plant hints at birth of a green fruit on its lower limbs. I close my eyes to be with the Maker of this amazing day to come.

All is well. All will be well. God is in control. Awaken to the light, weeds co-exist with the roses. Our plans are not His. Praise God.

Today: listen quietly to the joyous music of the awakening day. Be still. Remember that whatever is in your world from child to grandparent, rock to planet, every bit of existence has the Christ in it. God created it. You can enjoy each and every bit of each moment.

© 2020 Bonnie L Smith-Davis

Tale of Twin Trees

The lemonade quenches my thirst after a hard day.  A squirrel catches my eye while gracefully jumping across the chasm between neighboring trees in our backyard. I strain to focus on the little acrobat as the Sun radiantly peers down between our dear old trees which struggle to thrive.

Their leafy branches protect me and contain the strong fire of the Sun while a deep gurgling reminds me of the “swamp” sump pump runoff that saps away some of their strength.  The Sun slides down into the honey locust as the yellow fireball steadily moves across the yard. My eyes travel down its trunk as a glint of Light gently caresses its rough bark scorched with dryness from lack of nourishment to its roots.

To the left of my chair, its roots reach up to the surface of the grass, as if pleading for nourishment from the Earth. More than once I have mowed over one of the roots as it reaches out to get something, anything to grow. Its very life threatened by the sandy soil it was growing in and the swamp tearing away life-giving nourishment.

As the Sun moves across the yard, its light holds for a moment where the honey oak’s branches seem to grasp its neighboring ash tree gently with its leafy limbs as if for help…as they seem to be giving strength to each other. The ash has required a lot of love this year, but it refuses to give in and reaches up to the sky with fresh new leaves. I admire its strength and will to focus on surviving. The borer will not claim this one despite years of damaging storms tearing its limbs and insects crawling all over it … all wounds that our arborist said could eventually kill it. Yet, they both hold on. They remain strong fed by the Love that have helped them grow to magnificent height.

Gentle reader, how do we get fed? Do we reach out as these magnificent trees? Each form of life has its own needs, just like each person. All interconnected to the rest of the world and universe, dependent on each other – overcoming, surviving the cracking, hurting, being fed. When we look at each being, do we see Christ’s face?  Do we reach out to assist or turn away? Do we shine the Love indwelling in us?

A simple takeaway: find one thing in this moment you are grateful for in your life and reach out with Joy and Love to someone or something else. Perhaps share a smile or an encouragement to a dear one, a stranger, a struggling friend, or just someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or, volunteer to help victims of a storm when headlines disappear, while hurt and destruction remain. Listen quietly to the Spirit inside and be there as the One who is always there for you. Love will return to you as surely as the Sun consistently rises and sets each day.

Reach out to quench the thirst with Love.

© Bonnie L. Smith-Davis 2020

Who are you? Mary or Martha…or both?

My head tries to keep filling up with “stuff”, dreams and lists of what to do. Does yours?  If you make a list, won’t your day go better?

Whether it be in the garden or the house, plan ahead…then execute…in the office or in school…plan, plan, plan like Martha. Jesus was at the home of Martha and Mary in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42). Martha kept herself busy doing so many things, but did not make time to rest. To sit and be. When all else fails, do you reach for more information, from the internet? Or, do you sit and just be with the Lord in the world? I have been told I am a little of both.

During this past week, Midwesterners had a really disastrous storm, a derecho much like a hurricane, hit our cities. Once more, God caught our attention by saying…stop. Take notice of what is important here. Stop the attention on the material world… fighting, the internet, zooming, the business of the day…I was forced along with the rest of the Midwest to notice my world. At first, I was irked when the power went out during our Rotary meeting….it was a great program on how Scouts are adapting in the zoom world when the screen went blank and sound stopped.

Poor me. I had all this planned to do that day when all at once, in the blink of an eye, things changed. Oh, well. I needed to check the plants outside, perhaps move some things indoors. As I kept busy, I watched my neighbors to see what was going on with them. Thoughts ran through my brain. Was their power out too? Call the power company. Check with husband…on and on.

As the evening came, power did not come back and my heart started to beat faster. Plans for tomorrow, what about the zoom meeting tomorrow? Oh, man. More changes. Then I started hearing stories about how the storm wasn’t just an ordinary storm.  The August storm was turning into a derecho. Ripping and tearing through Nebraska, central Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

I felt a shock run through my body and sat down in my porch chair to calm my mind in prayer. I realized how caught up I had been in that day…With Martha, it took a reminder from Jesus to see what is important. With Martha, she wanted everything to be just right for Jesus. .What was getting our attention? As the day ended and days passed, I started to slow down again like I had during a 10-day silent retreat in March. No internet there either. We didn’t know what was happening to others. Lost without communication.  I awakened to possibility that perhaps, we were each being forced to awaken to God’s world again, as we were forced to do during earlier months of the pandemic. Paying attention to each other, the world around us, the electronic world of zoom had burgeoned to sweep us into it. Zoom is a wonderful way for people to meet when they can’t meet in person, but you can become numbed into its’ world…focused on it, too. Now, the beautiful quiet world seemed to engulf the cozy electronic nest some had built.

God swept us up in his arms again as if to say, Come together, my children, and awaken to what is important in life. Be together, rest. Sit at Jesus’ feet. Have faith that things that need to be done, will be done. In My time.

Endless plans, viruses, disasters, and myriads of other “stuff” will be a part of human life. But Beauty and Love is infinitely stronger and will prevail. Let the Light infuse you, warm you, hold onto Jesus’ strong right hand and listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart in the midst of the storm. Jesus will get you through. Mary knew it…Do you?

A simple word of wisdom from Carl Jung to carry into your day: Who looks outside dreams. who looks inside, awakens. All is well and all will be well.

© Bonnie L Smith-Davis 2020