Lessons from a canyon

As so often is the case, nature teaches us valuable lessons about ourselves and life. When I witness the awesomeness of nature….from grand to minuscule, I seem to always look for how this impacts my life. And, I cannot look at anything in nature and not see the Creator’s hand at work.

Recently, Entrepreneur and I visited the Grand Canyon. You may have seen some of the photos I took HERE.

The canyon hold more than just a view of a hole carved into the landscape. What struck me most about it was the stillness amidst the strength. Away from the Oooos and Awwwws of the tourists’ reactions, there is no noise. The canyon meets you in silence. It doesn’t care what your reaction is to its majesty. It forces you to remove yourself from the center of attention and focus on the connection. And that connection is to be still. Let go of the anxiety and business of life. Be still. Mindless distractions fade away. Feel the peacefulness. Be still.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
~Psalm 46:10

When I think about the violent, destructive forces that formed this beautiful scene, my mind is overwhelmed. The raging force of the Colorado River carving its way through solid rock is a visual that instills both terror and respect. So too, violent forces shape our lives in ways we may or may not realize. The solid rock was not able to stop the inevitable reshaping of its appearance. Once finished, true colors were revealed and a different kind of beauty emerged. Beauty that includes jagged, scared surfaces as well as those worn smooth by the relentless elements of nature. Beauty that changes as the sun and shadows wash over its surface. Much like us, the canyon’s beauty lies in its past experiences. Challenges, turmoil and struggle make the canyon what it is today. Our struggles, tragedies and challenges have created who we are. We should wear our scars as a sign of strength.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2  Corinthians 12:9-11

When the violent waters receded, it appears to have left an empty gorge. Negative space. But that space is there for a reason. Often, we feel empty, like something or someone has carved out a gaping hole in our lives. While there is beauty in that negative space, it can now be filled with something else. Gaping holes don’t need to remain empty.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

And there within our gaping holes and jagged edges, opportunities begin.  Opportunities to make life sweeter and more beautiful. Yes, it will be hard and it will seem like the odds are stacked against us to prevail. But we must always try.

As with so many other things in life, I’m thankful nature seems to always meet me in the voids of life with so much wisdom. Playing along with Thankful Thursday over at Brian’s Home.

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The music of open windows

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
~Matthew 6:28-29

It’s finally here. Even though Mother Nature is still throwing the occasional  hissy fit, I think Old Man Winter has finally left middle Missouri. My redbud tree was lovely this year, as well as the neighbor’s redbud, which I can see from my back patio. I was excited to find a volunteer redbud tree growing among my lilies. I’ll nurse that one along until it’s old enough to make it’s debut in the yard.

We are in the throws of last-minute preparations for The Golfer’s wedding in Florida….which is also why I’ve been MIA lately in posting and visiting. She’s done the lion’s share of getting everything together. My primary responsibilities were creating the invitation package and making the flower girl dresses. Of course, I added other things to my to-do list plus the sheer amount of packing for 10 days.

It feels nice to have the windows open again. I put up with the pollen dusting on the tables and floors. Since I don’t have seasonal allergies, cleaning it off seems a small price to pay for the fresh air and nature sounds.

Spring
the music of open windows.
~Terri Guillemets

Playing along with PeaBea’s Sunday scripture.

Awwww Monday: Twix and Papa

The very old and the very young have something in common that makes it right that they should be left alone together. Dawn and sunset see stars shining in a blue sky; but morning and midday and afternoon do not, poor things. 
~Elizabeth Goudge

Papa (aka: Entrepreneur) had his second immunotherapy session on February 20th. We had five-year-old Twix with us that day so she got to come along to the infusion room at the cancer center. Needless to say, she was a welcome distraction for some of the patients who smiled from across the room. As Papa sat tethered to his IV, she went to the kitchen with me to get him a drink and snack, and held his hand in quiet support.

They’re best buds.

Blog hopping today for Awww Monday, hosted by Comedy Plus.

The weight of expectations

Ecclesiastes. I will venture a bet it’s not a book in the Old Testament too many of you have read. I know I haven’t. But, it’s quickly moving up the list. And, believe it or not, it does tie into Thankful Thursday.

The Old Testament book doesn’t dance around the hard questions of life, but doesn’t provide easy answers either. In many ways, the author (believed to be King Solomon) takes on a viewpoint about the meaninglessness of life. The author of the book believes life is temporary and fleeting like a breath, smoke or vapor….and it’s meaningless in the end to spend our time in search of the temporary. That the pleasures of this world are not supposed to be the “it” that fills our lives with meaning or purpose.

His point? In the end, everything in life vanishes when the dust of death blows through our lives. We need to learn how to appreciate the NOW of our lives NOW because it will all be taken from us in the end.

Life is unpredictable. Entrepreneur and I are keenly aware of this. The pressures we put on ourselves in this life, like the heavy snow we had in January, can weigh us down to the point where it’s hard to appreciate and enjoy our temporary and fleeting life. Like heavy snow, we pile on expectation after expectation of what we think life should be like….what we want life to be like…what we think we need in order to make us happy. All the time chasing after the next shiny new thing  in hopes IT will make a difference in our how happy and content we are with life.

And then, when we least expect it, a storm blows in, we’re flung into a snowbank, and everything changes.

We break. Our expectation that the universe owes us a happy life, filled with all things wonderful is suddenly shattered. Those tertiary things we were chasing after, thinking we were somehow owed them, disappear in a vapor of disappointment. And what’s left is the wreckage. Sometimes major wreckage.

We all have our breaking point. Many of our trees found their breaking point under the heavy snow layered on their branches. And the extent of the damage was really only seen in full after the initial assault had passed. When we try to carry the weight of unrealistic expectations, there will be a point in time where we break as well. Whether it’s expectations about relationships, job success, accomplishments or finances, we all fall into the trap of comparing our lives to others and wishing for more. And when it doesn’t happen, we break just like that weakened tree limb heavy-laden with snow.

Depressing stuff, huh?  But the author of Ecclesiastes doesn’t let us wallow in despair for long. He offers wisdom that encourages us to understand the temperance of this human life, and not obsess over unrealistic expectations. We should accept our human condition has its limitations, but fully enjoy the gifts given to us while we’re here. To be content with gratitude for what we have; tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life…understanding the things of this world are temporary.

Ecclesiastes teaches us how to live meaningfully, purposefully and joyfully, thanking God for the gifts he’s given us while we’re on this earth….knowing there is so much more waiting for us after this life. We should stop chasing the wind for our happiness and be content in God’s providence. What is does not mean is we shouldn’t explore and discover new things about ourselves and our world. This is not a blind acceptance of the status quo or an excuse not to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. It’s a heart issue about realizing this life is not the IT we’re yearning for.

Interwoven through the book is a balance between our expectations of this unpredictable life and God’s promise of life eternal for those who put their faith in him.

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. ~Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

Blog hopping with Thankful Thursday, hosted by Brian’s Home and a late link up with Pictorial Tuesday, hosted by Peabea Scribbles. 

 

Thankful Thursday: An anniversary

Happy Heart Day. Valentine’s Day. Appropriate for me that it lands on a day to play along with Thankful Thursday at Brian’s Home.

But not for the usual reasons. It was two years ago this morning that Entrepreneur was wheeled into an operating room for brain surgery. On Valentine’s Day.

We’ve come a long way in two years, but not without the scars…both physical and emotional. The surgery successfully removed an almost 2 inch tumor. But renal cell cancer is a relentless adversary. Even after a year and half of oral chemo, it’s trying to reclaim territory. Same war, new battle. 

But today we celebrate. Celebrate two years post surgery, thanking God for the tender mercies of the past and for extending his life. We have gratitude for experiencing the good and bad that intertwines itself throughout our story. Our faith has grown deeper despite the uncertainty of the future. Relationships have grown deeper despite past differences. The keen realization of how fleeting this life is on earth has grown painfully sharp.

But today we celebrate love and caring for special people in our lives. Whether you buy into the Hallmark hype of the holiday or not, I’m sure there are special people in your life. Be sure to share with them how much you care….don’t wait for a specially designated day to show your appreciation for them. You may not be offered another chance.

Today we celebrate.

Blog hopping today with Thankful Thursday hosted by Brian’s Home.

Awww Monday: Five year old spitfire

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
~Dr. Seuss

In a few weeks, this little spitfire of a grand girl will celebrate her fifth birthday. It’s really hard to wrap my head around that fact. With a style all her own, she’ll take on kindergarten later this year and, no doubt, dazzle all her teachers. 🙂 No, I’m not the least bit biased.

She began a preschool program last fall and I must admit, it’s very quiet here every day without her. She is so far ahead of the rest of her class and the curriculum that Mama is thinking about pulling her out and giving her back to us for the rest of the school year. I suppose she could “graduate” from Nana and Papa Preschool in May. We’ll see. While we do miss her, Nana and Papa sort of like not being tied down to a preschool schedule!

One thing is for sure….there is definitely  no one else like her!

Linking up a bit late today for Awww Monday over at Comedy Plus.