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

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.

Awareness

Tree and sunlight

My child, do you know who I am?
Be filled and listen deeply as I enfold you.
I am the joy of the bird floating gently on the depth of air
I am the song of the bird that sings its song to the heavens
I am the heart of the fish swimming in the sea searching for food
I am the soft breeze gently moving in the atmosphere
I am the radiant candle flame burning eternally

I am in the hope of a child gazing at his mother
I am in the deep trust of hearts entwined
I am in the heart of the mother gazing at her baby
I am in the heart of the parent nearing eternity
I am in the heart of the mother losing her child

I am within the swirls of air tantalizing and filling all that lives
I am within the ever growing dandelions through the rocky soil
I am within the growing of branches and budding leaves on trees
I am within the deep, searing warmth of the sun
I am within the powerfully life flowing waters of the river
I am within the star-filled darkness that encompasses the Earth

I am embedded in blueness of the sky
I am encrusted in the moist, constant warmth of Mother Earth

I am part of the glowing sunrise encompassing the Earth
I am part of the ever flowing thought that provide wisdom
I am part of the laughter, the smiles, the twinkling eyes
I am part of the soft, purring of the sleeping cat
I am part of the gentle yip of the dog that sees its best friend
I am part of the Essences of all that live, move and have being

I am one with the All in All.
I exist only because the One exists.
Now and forever.
Who am I? I am Love.

(C) 2020 Bonnie Louise Davis