Morning walks are great. The reflection of the bridge in the water demonstrates simple beauty created in stillness. In this post I want to explore how science and faith complement each other.
First, what causes a mirror image?
Reflection happens when light bounces off an object. If the surface is smooth and shiny, the light will bounce back at the same angle it hits the surface. The Latin root, reflectere refers to bending back. We see a mirror image.
The word reflection also means careful consideration or meditation. When I reflect, I allow my mind to think before I act. I hold my tongue before speaking. I seek wisdom before deciding which path to take.
Stillness is essential to receiving wisdom. Job was a man of God who experienced many trials. When trouble abounds, as it did in Job’s life, his friend told him to “Stop and consider the wonders of God.” (Job 36:14) NIV
When we pause long enough to see the wonders of God around us, we get a new perspective on our troubles. We stand face to face with someone bigger than ourselves, our creator. It’s only when we see ourselves in relation to him that we can be free from our misperceptions. God is God and I am not. The water reflects the bridge. It is not the bridge.
Are you tired of sitting at home because of COVID-19? Are you ready to travel somewhere, anywhere?
Come with me on a journey. Although I’ve lived in my neighborhood for sixteen years, I didn’t really become acquainted with this pond until last week.
Beautiful, isn’t it? This view is very near my front door. On previous occasions, I was usually too busy to notice. Maybe I was walking Buddy, or riding my bike. Maybe I was getting the mail. I have to say, COVID-19 has forced me to pause and consider my immediate surroundings.
Our local stay-at-home order permits walking outdoors, but I wanted to keep my walk short (since I am recovering from a back injury). I discovered it takes twenty minutes to circle the pond. So let’s get started.
These bald cypress knees aren’t always visible. During the summer rainy season the roots of the tree are under water.
The shallow water provides an ideal feeding ground for the white ibis. These birds use their long beaks to probe the soft mud in search of insects.
This spring the water is so low, little islands are rising. They make me think of continents pushing up out of the ocean. The islands attract snapping turtles who are eager to warm themselves in the sun. Soon after I took this photo, the egret perched itself upon the sandy mound to scan the water for its next meal.
This is the view from the western end of the pond. There have been years when the water recedes even more and the island becomes a land bridge.
Here is one of my favorite views. Standing in this spot I feel like I could be on a trail in some remote area, away from the confines of our Orlando neighborhood.
Unfortunately, my desire to walk closer to the water resulted in disaster. I picked up some dog poo-lution on my shoe. Lucky for you, a virtual trip doesn’t include this hazard of the trail.
As we near our starting point, we are delighted by the stately blue heron. During moments like these, I realize how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful place. My walks have provided me the opportunity to thank God for his love and care, even during this time of despair.
I hope our journey around the pond has helped you relax a little. True, the pandemic has taken much from our lives. I trust that in this season of loss, something will be gained. My walks around the pond have inspired me to remember how God still provides for each of us.
Have you experienced God’s provision during this season of loss? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
We all have times when inspiration ignites. At five a.m. this morning I felt the burning desire to write a post. In my in-between state of wakefulness, with my head still on the pillow I wondered…Why have I only posted one time this month?
I did a little mind traveling, remembering the events of the past three weeks. The words floated through my imagination in the form of a poem.
Maybe it was the broken dryer
and the mountains of laundry
that made it difficult to walk through the bedroom
after our anniversary hiatus to the Florida Keys.
it was the weeds in my garden
their ugly heads raised in defiance
and gnarly fists fastened
around the marigold stems
gasping for air
Maybe it was the hurricane which by-passed my state
but demanded my attention
with weather channel theatrics.
Maybe it was the sick dog
and the never ending schedule of medication
which made him pee on the floor.
Inspiration is as fragile and illusive as a butterfly. The flutter of the butterfly’s wings can be heard any time of the day or night. (Some writers keep paper and pencil on their nightstands.) I know I’ve been all over the map with my posts this summer. I’ve learned I cannot force my writing into a schedule. That’s the beauty of creativity.
Balanced Rock is a great example of equilibrium in nature. The boulder looks like it could fall at any moment, and someday erosion will force it to topple. Until then, it stands as a scenic wonder located in Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. Balanced Rock required perfect geologic and weather conditions to achieve its balance. In the same way, people often go to great lengths to achieve balance in their lives. We try to balance our finances, our diets, and the never ending work-play struggle. But is balance ever possible? And beyond that, is balance necessary to our happiness?
I’ve thought a lot about balance lately. After my foot surgery five weeks ago, my activities drastically changed. My doctor ordered me to not put any weight on the ball of my left foot for three weeks. I used a walker and managed to balance on my right foot to walk to the bathroom. I spent most of my days and nights on the sofa.
Resting was difficult. I’m not by any means a “couch potato.” At first I dreaded so much inactivity. Then I began to see what a wonderful opportunity this time of recovery brought me. How often have I wished for more time to pursue my passions? I passed the hours by reading, writing, and praying. I was completely out of balance, yet completely happy.
Our desire for balance comes from our desire to control our lives.
Are you a time management freak? We all have twenty-four hours in our day, and follow some kind of routine. We can make plans, but interruptions arise, throwing us off balance. These interruptions remind us we don’t have control of our time after all. I admire people who can go with the flow of events. They are usually calmer, happier people.
Instead of desiring balance, identify personal priorities.
Do you exhaust yourself trying to balance your own needs and the needs of others? Narrow your demands on yourself and your time. Pray and make a list of your priorities. God knows you. He knows your abilities, and he knows the needs of those in your sphere of influence. Before you commit to anything new, evaluate it according to your priorities. Be accepting of what you can and cannot do. Be accepting of other people and their priorities. You will be a lot happier.
Re-think the social media energy drain.
When I made a list of my priorities, I reflected upon the amount of time I spend on social media sites. I realized I have an addiction. Any time I have a few spare minutes at my disposal, I start logging onto facebook, twitter, or instagram. Beginning writers are told they must increase their online presence in order to succeed. Spending time interacting on social media is a never ending cycle that always demands more energy. Energy that might be better spent in face to face relationships.
Respect life’s seasons.
Nature’s four seasons were created for the purpose of growth and rest. All of us have seasons in our life when we are more focused on one goal or another. It’s important to recognize when one season ends and a new one begins. Each season brings new opportunities for growth, outwardly and inwardly. When we relax and submit to God’s will for the season we’re in, all striving ceases. For writers, there are times of creativity, and other times to seek inspiration. You might feel like you’re out of balance, but you’re right where you need to be.
The Book of Ecclesiastes offers wisdom about life and balance.
“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That every man can eat and drink and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.” —King Solomon
What are your thoughts on balance and happiness? Does happiness depend upon achieving balance? Leave a comment.
Hope is one of the principal springs that keeps mankind in motion.—Thomas Fuller
Take a close look at these blooms. What do you see? Three colors of flowers on the same shrub? Is that possible?
I met the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow plant at Leu Gardens in Orlando last week. I’d never seen this shrub before and I couldn’t believe it produced violet, lavender, and white blooms. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
What’s the deal?
My research led me to the following information about this romantic plant.
Native to the Brazilian rainforest.
Grows well in tropical climates with filtered shade.
So, it’s beautiful, yet dangerous and one plant I will never grow in my backyard garden. But let’s not discount the philosophical side of the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow shrub.
I love it’s name.
What could be a more appropriate name than Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow? For you see, each flower goes through three stages. On the first day the flower is violet, by the second day it fades to lavender, and finally changes to white on the third day. Everyday this shrub contains flowers in different stages. Wow! As far as which day represents which color, I think that’s open to interpretation.
So now for my philosophical take away… The three colors are a visual about life. Violet represents yesterday’s memories. Lavender expresses today’s challenges, and white tomorrow’s hope. Here’s a great quote:
“Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day you get to start over in the morning.” —Barbara Kingsolver
The Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow shrub starts over every morning in a constant cycle of perpetual change. Likewise no matter what stage we are in the journey of life, we still have hope that tomorrow will be better. The challenges of today become hope for tomorrow.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post. You might have a different take-away about the blooms. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
I’ve learned a lot from following my dog around. Whenever Buddy picks up an interesting scent… he walks faster and faster with his nose to the ground. Buddy will not stop until he tracks the scent to its source. It might be as small as one goldfish cracker, but he will not give up until he gets what he’s after. I must admit I admire his persistance.
I’ve discovered I need to apply a few of Buddy’s good qualities to my writing life. Although Buddy is directed by his sense of smell, I’m directed by what I see. My focus determines the direction I will go. I’m trying to direct my focus and be more productive by thinking like a dog.
Keep Looking Forward
Buddy never looks back, but continues to forge strait ahead when he’s on a mission. Sometimes I think fondly of the past and wish I could go back. That happens a lot when I look in the mirror and see how I’ve aged. Allowing my age to stop me from pursuing my dreams as a writer is a non-starter and robs me of my motivation. I need to remember and be thankful I’m retired. My age gives me more time to spend on my craft.
Look Beyond The Obstacles
Buddy never lets anything get in his way. When his back legs were paralyzed, he used his front paws to pull himself forward while dragging his back feet behind him. Wherever he wanted to go, he went. If I had focused on my inexperience as a writer, I would have never moved forward. My husband believed I could write a children’s book before I did. With his support, the fact that I’d never written a book, didn’t stop me.
Stay Alert for Opportunities
Buddy can be on the other side of the room but the sound of chopping vegetables or rustling cellophane signals his attention. He trots over to assume his position at my feet, keeping watch for any crumbs I drop on the floor.
Ideas for writing pop up on my radar just like those noises in the kitchen. Good ideas can fall to floor as quick as kernel of popcorn. I need to keep a notebook, or my phone handy to capture them. If I’m stuck without an idea for a blog, poem, or plot, I can always consult my notes.
Take Time To Rest
I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a workaholic. It’s important to realize whether I’m being productive, or spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Busy work saps creativity. As I write this, Buddy is curled up sleeping. He doesn’t have a care in the world. He knows he can trust me to meet his needs. In the same way I need to remember everything doesn’t depend on me. Rest can be achieved in many ways, physically and spiritually. I rest physically when I stop hitting the keys. I rest spiritually by remembering that ultimately God is in control.
On that note, I’m thrilled to announce the release of my first children’s book, Buddy theBeagle on Blueberry Street March 21, 2019! Click on the link to read more on the specifics of my book at Elk Lake Publishing.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”
The words of Jesus from John 14:1 remind me I have a choice every day. I can decide to trouble my heart, or trust in God. I trouble my heart when I continue to play negative tapes in my mind. These tapes often include fears about the future.
Worry robs today of creative energy.
Sometimes people feel obligated to worry. As if worrying is necessary baggage to carry along on the journey of life. Some carry their worries in a briefcase, others drag an oversized suitcase behind them everywhere they go. I’m kind of in the middle. My worries fit neatly in a backpack but it’s heavy and the load keeps me from climbing the high places.
Stop and think about the mental energy we use when we worry. Couldn’t that energy be spent writing, painting, or gardening? What could we accomplish if we set our suitcase to the side and refused to open it?
Worry robs today of it’s joy.
When we live in the present we start to be more aware of our surroundings. We hear a bird chirping outside our window. We smell the coffee brewing in the kitchen. Put your hand over your heart. Feel your pulse and rejoice because you are alive!
Most of the time the exercise of “troubling our hearts” doesn’t solve whatever problem we’re dwelling upon. It only makes us feel anxious. So how do we put a lock on our luggage?
Present your requests to God.
Once you’ve prayed about your concern, imagine tucking it away and locking it up. Allow the peace of God to fill your mind. Remember, God wants the best for you. He will be with you in all of your tomorrows.
“You’ve got to get busy living or get busy dying.”
The quote from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption offers good advice. We can choose how to occupy our time. Each day is a gift. We can waste it by rearranging the worries in our luggage, or lock it up and set it aside.
What does being busy living look like to you? Let’s not waste the gift of today. Take a walk. Read a good book. Bake cookies. Take a friend to coffee. Make a list of all the the things in your life you are thankful for. Enjoy today. Sleep well tonight. Enjoy tomorrow.
“Whatever is lovely, think about such things. And may the God of peace be with you.” Phillippians 4:8,9
Writers are always looking for inspiration. Like many people, I find inspiration in Scripture and nature. This month I decided to read a psalm every day and journal a few notes about each one. If I continue this habit I’ll finish the book of Psalms by the end of March. The chapters are short, poetic, and emotional. In many of the passages, David despairs about his enemies, but closes with a proclamation of faith in the power of God to help him. He thanks God for protection and provision. David often thanks God for simply being God.
Psalm 19 is one of my favorites. Here are the first several verses from the NIV:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run its course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul.”
Wow! I hope this psalm blesses you as much it has blessed me. The heavens do declare the glory of God. The stars do sing of his beauty and authority. The universal language spoken by his creation can be understood no matter what language someone speaks. I am humbled when I look at the work of his hands. It’s then that I’m reminded of how small I am and how much I need him.
The word holiday derives from “holy day.” A day set apart, not for the anticipation of Black Friday, but to give thanks to the one who set the planets in motion. Let’s remember to seek the giver of all things good.
The phrase “Happy Thanksgiving” is kind of an oxymoron. How can anyone give thanks and not be happy?
May your joy be full as you celebrate God’s goodness with loved ones this Thanksgiving.