Manna from God

Guest blog by Laurie Stawicki

Video of me singing and playing the guitar to a song I wrote called “Manna.”

Today, I looked at Facebook. On it I saw the daughter of an old friend. It looked like she was having a great time! She had a beautiful house, a fun business that she enjoys and that she works hard at, and she had a husband and a couple of good-looking children. Not only that, she was beautiful too! Like a model.

While part of me is telling me that she had help from her parents and maybe she married a rich husband to have such a wonderful house, I must remind myself that my destiny, to some degree, is in my own hands. What are some steps I can take to make a life that I feel good about?

First of all, are there things (or people) in my life that need to go to free up space for the new and the beautiful? Objects, clothes, certain acquaintances, time wasters and poor habits could be cleared to make way for the best.

What are the things I could change in my life to create a more wonderful life for myself and my family? Am I living where I want to live? Am I working at what I love? Am I living this week, month, year vibrantly, as if it were my last?

Some people, me included, have wondered where the line is drawn with how much God wants us to take care of ourselves, versus how much time we are caring for others. And most of us who are mothers or caregivers have experienced fairly long periods of time where we barely had any time for ourselves. I think this is normal. However, the question is, at what point does God want us to take more time for ourselves and the gifts and talents he has given us?

Jesus told us to love others AS we love ourselves. Some would say that I need to love myself a little bit more. It may be hard to find the line between service, sacrifice and what we do for ourselves, but here are some questions that could help us gauge the time commitments that some might to expect of us.

We could ask ourselves for instance,

  1. What is my mission from God? Do I know what my life mission is?  Am I doing it?

The good Samaritan did not abort his mission. He stopped and helped the person by the roadside and took him to the Inn he was going to stay at. He went on his journey and paid the inn keeper to look after the person, continuing on his own mission.

  • In any situation that arises, one could ask themselves, “Am I the good Samaritan, or the Inn Keeper?” In other words, when I come across a person in need, is it my job to take this person to the next station? Or is it my job to stay with them and help them. Knowing one’s boundaries is good, but trusting that God will lead you and guide you in each situation is better. Some people or situations we are only called upon to help for a little while until the long-term helper is available. And with some situations, God surprises us with the duration of what we think is a detour.
  • Do I have a clear vision for the details of my life? Prayerfully write the vision for each

category of your journey (Habakkuk 2:2). For instance, when shopping for a house, make a list of the “must haves”, the “would like to haves”, and the “optional” characteristics. Then when a house pops up (or a job, spouse, vacation) exhibiting all of the things on your list, you can know that most likely it is the right one. It saves a lot of time if you know what you want. Psalm 37:4 says that God gives us the desires of our heart.

  • Am I taking care of myself with proper sleep, healthy food, fun, fellowship, reasonable work load, family time, church, and exercise? Am I growing in my skills, and enjoying my day with a relaxed attitude? Am I spending time with God?

These, and more, are questions we can ask ourselves when we are wondering if we are on the right track with taking care of ourselves and our own mission on earth. Loving ourself means loving who we were meant to be, and living our life feeling good about our decisions.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meets.” Fredrick Buechner

Ephesians 2:10 says,” We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Each one of us has a purpose, and it’s up to us to find it and to discover what God has written into our DNA that will delight us and serve the world in a powerful way at the same time.

What’s in your heart? Write it down and make a plan. If you miss when shooting for the moon, you will at least land among the stars. Happy trails!

© 2021 Laurie Stawicki

Laurie Stawicki is a singer-songwriter, poet, and author of the upcoming memoir, “Sacrifice of Tears.” She is mother of five and lives in Iowa.

Choose to See God

Hands

Question. Where do you see God?

Answer: everywhere and in everything. In every molecule of water, every blade of grass, all animal life, every living, breathing human on the planet, every star in the sky, every breath we breathe.

Alive and well. All is well.

But how can we say that all is well when a loved one passes, friends argue, a job is lost, an illness arises, crimes are committed, COVID-19 continues, hunger and homelessness live on, forests are burned, and smog fills the air? Anger arises and trials run on and on….

Above all, be aware, choose joy and love, patience and kindness, acceptance, and hope. We can choose to love because God loves us without reservation— just as we are.

We can choose to see God through a beautiful phrase I heard the other day…

Life events happen for us, not to us. The more difficult the day, the more we can choose to rise to meet it with God’s help. God is in every crack and cranny of this world and beyond.  We can choose to see with the eyes of faith and be made stronger when we recognize our dependence on God to help us through each circumstance.

Last year, I experienced what doctors labeled a deadly serious illness in my digestive tract and ended up “alone” in the hospital because of COVID-19, with technicians and doctors working hard to get me through. Throughout this time, I felt so close to God, just depending on him. My husband and I trusted God’s plan. I prayed that God hold Roger and the rest of the family close if I didn’t make it.

Through this struggle, I learned to have more patience and acceptance, among so many other things. Prayer and love held us together. Throughout my life, God has continued to provide people—just the ones I need—to be there for me. As God is for you. God loves us. Each one of us.

Recently my husband underwent an MRI. He had gone through an ultrasound that did not show any conclusive reasons for a problem that was becoming an enigma. He had been experiencing dizziness and had previously had a mild mini-stroke that left him with difficulty speaking and in need of medical treatment for a long time.

God chose to let him stay with me and healed him. The current MRI showed residual effects. Perhaps this dizziness was a wake up blessing, spurring us to take needed measures.

We will continue to search for answers, but will continue with trust, knowing peace and having hope, for this situation has been given to God. The unbreakable thread of Christ’s Love holds strong in our lives. We will keep praying, believing, and doing all we can.

We feel a wellspring of gratitude for the breath of life and the opportunity to love and serve as we are able. Not that we do not grumble or complain at all, because we do. But life events happen. How we take those moments is up to us.

We can choose to see Son shine in each moment, whether breaking a garage door, cooking a meal, doing the dishes, walking the dog, changing a tire, serving at church, praying with others, or sharing a celebration – endless circumstances in which we can grow more like Christ.

Intentionally, we can choose to see and be Christ’s presence as we are called. We can know God is in us and completely with us… working in our lives. We know this is true in the depths of our being. In our heart.

We may spiral down but come back up through the power of Christ’s Love.

Alive and well. All is well.

Where are you seeing God working in your life today? No way is too small. Praise God!

© 2021 Bonnie Smith-Davis

The Dandelion, the Rose and the Watering Can

Beautiful.  As I reached down to pluck another dandelion this July day from my garden, I thought about why am I taking this bright, happily colored life form and putting it into the blue yard waste can? My intention is to make my garden “look good” and to “give space” for the “beautiful” to grow. 

As water spurts out, partly on me giving me an early shower, into the banana plant which seems to try to die daily, I persevere in my “wisdom” to reach out and water it to give it life. Several leaves are drooping. Why save one and not the other?

As I look through the yard, rabbits busily munch on the clover, birds have a family “discussion” about something important. As I move down the garden, they take their business of life elsewhere. Life continues. Other birds don’t seem unconcerned with the two-legged watering can walking down the row, but just dip their beaks into the flower-petal fountain that is well out of the reach of Ralph the squirrel.

Life continues through the commitment of the dandelion population to push up through the cement, its sister and brother weed plants finding a home in my bushes, trying to claim new territory.  Reflections on how we plant our feet and make decisions affecting other living things comes to mind.

The sun plants a kiss on my cheek and makes me look up. The Power that controls what we do comes from beyond our senses, yet reminds us that we are all equal under the Son. We choose to nourish or rip another out of the ground at will. Jesus will always love dandelions and roses. He perceives the good in each of us, listens for our call, ready to help us in our struggles with our imperfections to grow and flourish with Love.

Both, as all of us, perceive our place and grow with God’s grace to produce in this imperfect world.  Once there was nothing. Now, can we see commitment flowing and entwining one with the other? Do all the seeds have “our approval” to be what they were created to be in harmony with the other? Think where your intention lies. Does it depend on to-do lists, the newest self-help plan? Does the dandelion need a plan?

Each life growing and occupying its place has a purpose. What is your place in the flow of life?  Where does the harmony come from in our lives?  Each and every creature in Nature flows in harmony with another. Where a Child sees a beautiful yellow flower, what do you see? What does a dandelion look like? Are they all yellow? Are they green? How do I judge? Or should I?

No one is perfect in this world, but can we see the Beauty? Work with patience and carry the watering can to nourish each other.  I don’t have blinders on, like the old milk wagon horse, I imperfectly try to deeply listen to perceive differences.  “Bloom” or stay stagnant at our own will? Deep inside our souls is the joy of simply being.

There is only one Gardener. I trust His Words and pray. Christ’s hands and feet nourish the world.  Myself, I am an imperfect gardener who makes plenty of mistakes. Witness my tomato plants hidden under the overgrown mint and the unseen need of a dear one hidden in my own heart.  But I have my watering can, the ever flowing still small voice of the Spirit, in my heart and I try to focus on Jesus. I nourish myself daily, through practices and routines to help love grow.

Perhaps be the resilient caterpillar who resides in the unknown, trusting, hoping if he just keeps on growing, he will one day be a beautiful Dandelion? Butterfly?  Just choose to grow.  Resilient with faith, God’s Love in your soul deepens awareness of how to listen and perceive with your heart. Carry your watering can and use it wisely.

© 2020 Bonnie L. Smith Davis