I always understood it to mean someone was selfish or cheap or mean, who tight-fisted their money, and kept everything for themselves. Big brother used to do that with treats. Whenever we were given a gift of candy or other treats, he would hold onto his until little brother and I had eaten all of ours. Then he would take his out and begin to eat it with great gusto, refusing to share even a crumb.
Today I was cleaning out a drawer (I call it the scary drawer because it’s been so long since I’ve cleaned it). I found a handwritten note in there. Something I’d jotted down a long, long time ago.
Form a tight fist and hold it under running water. Watch the water cascade over your fist.
Now open your hand and cup your palm. Place it under the water. What happens?
It holds water. My point? Let go of what you’re holding onto so tightly, whether it’s pain or hard feelings or past regrets. Forgive the ones who have hurt you. Forgive yourself for past failures. Open your heart. Because an open heart holds more than a tightly closed one.
It kind of sounds like a Sunday School lesson, doesn’t it? Maybe it was. I’ve long since forgotten. But the message, though simple is still true.
This has been an interesting year for all of us and it ain’t over yet. 🙂
My advice to you is to greet life with an open heart and open hand. Readily forgive so that you will also be forgiven. Be kind whenever possible and speak the truth in love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Hello, Thursday Morning readers. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll join me in a cup of coffee (or whatever you prefer). I am feeling thankful today.
A couple of weeks ago, several members of my family came down with “the virus.” I have to tell you, I was afraid. Mostly because of all I’d heard.
I prayed for them, but it was difficult not to worry, especially when I couldn’t be there. I’m really good at wringing my hands and pacing the floor. Does God hear?
I’m often like the father of a child who answered Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24). I used to think that was funny. Now I know it’s honest. I do believe, but sometimes I doubt. Help me, Jesus, when I doubt.
I trust Him, but I’ve been through losses, too. Fear is our greatest enemy and the media is feeding the fear.
I was in the midst of this when on a Tuesday morning before I went to work, I heard a bird hit the French doors. It happens all the time. I hated to look out there, afraid I’d see it dead.
It was a sparrow. There it was, sitting on the patio, its little head lolled to the side. Poor little thing had most likely broken its neck. I knew it would probably die.
And then, I remembered…
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. – Luke 12:6 ESV
God knows when every sparrow falls, so I reached my hand out and prayed, “Father, I know you saw that. Please heal this little bird, or set it free so it will not suffer.”
I checked on it several times and it was still sitting there. I had my back to the door when I heard a tiny noise and turned around to look. That bird was sitting on the wood base of the door, pecking at the glass!
I went over and knelt down on the floor, shaking my head. “Hi precious,” I spoke from my side of the window. It perched there, looking at me for a few more seconds and then flew away.
Tears stung my eyes. I really believe God healed the sparrow, and that little bird wanted to let me know it was all right.
This was an important and relevant message for me at a time when fear gripped my heart. I wondered if God heard my prayers.
He does hear when we pray and He let me know that day, through a tiny sparrow.
Slowing down has given me time to read. I’ve enjoyed reading a couple of good books lately. Haven’t done that in a while.
I’ve also had time to take advantage of some great online courses via the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference.
I took part in the conference and contrary to my preconceived notions about online conferences, enjoyed it very much. I recognized familiar faces. I heard every moment of each session. If I missed something, I knew I could go back and listen to it again.
So, in the last few days, I’ve been writing again. I have to confess, I had almost lost heart.
There is so much going on in the world right now to distract me.
Then I discovered a beautiful truth buried among all the distractions. A TV remote with a red “off” button. I pressed it. Voila!
However, I also found that my heart and soul had been injured by what my eyes had seen and my ears had heard, so I took refuge in the Word of God. I studied the first epistle of John, so pertinent right now.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. – 1 John 3:11
Was I playing the ostrich, head-in-the-sand, avoiding the world’s troubles?
I think not. I was giving myself the chance to grow stronger so that whatever lies ahead, I can face it from a position of strength.
And maybe I can do something to help.
Sometimes the best way I can help is to be kind. Show love. I have to confess, I am not colorblind, neither do I want to be. I love all the different shades. Each one has beauty and purpose (Read Acts 17:26-28). We won’t always understand. We can’t possibly walk in someone else’s skin. What we can do is acknowledge, appreciate, and love them for who they are.
This is the message of 1 John: Perfect love originates with the Creator, Who asks only that we believe and love what He has created.
Times are changing, so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Many of us are fearful and wondering what the future holds. Trust, in times like these, is difficult but not impossible. John talked about that, too. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.
The only perfect love comes from God. He loved us so much, he gave the greatest gift of all—His Son. He laid down His life for us.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. – 1 John 3:16-18
In my world, everyone is a writer. Or so it seems. My life before writing…hmm, I’m not sure I remember that.
A writer’s life can easily become consumed by writing. Real-life beckons. I raise my bloodshot eyes from the computer screen as my child wails about something.
“No milk for your cereal? Sorry, mommy has a deadline. Eat it dry.”
“What? Charlie’s mom cooks breakfast every morning?” For a moment, I hesitate, my fingers poised above the keyboard. “Ah, that would make a great addition to this story–a supermom character who becomes the victim of a serial killer. Thanks, love. Now, eat your dry cereal.”
I’m being silly, but if you’re a writer, you may recognize this scene. We do tend to get lost in our stories, whether we’re writing true life or making stuff up. Life is what happens all around us and those experiences end up in our prose. We hope our readers will love it. If they don’t, oh well. Can’t stop writing!
I don’t have children at home anymore, so I’m not ignoring anyone as I write. I’m following the muse in my head and trying to stay somewhere close to my original plot. My little interruptions tend to be the dryer buzzer or the oven timer or a bird hitting the window (that one happens more often than I’d like).
These days, sunshine streaming through the window teases me until I give it my total attention and wander out into the beautiful day. You have to experience it because summer ends, the flowers fade and winter descends. All too soon.
Outside, birds sing a jubilant song. That warm summer breeze plays with a tendril of my hair, inviting me to remember the long summer days of my childhood. Days spent on adventures, discovering creeks filled with pollywogs and crawdad holes, and salamanders.
These fleeting memories add color to my story world but they also make me wonder. What would it be like to live a life free of creating stories? No more typing for hours, or laboring over proper word use or straightening out crooked storylines.
I toy with the idea for a moment. And then I chuckle because I know that a writer must write. Stories must be told.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you will never see the shadows. – Helen Keller
Writing in a time of uncertainty can be therapeutic. Finding ways to express our deepest fears, our repressed sorrows, can heal us from the inside out.
I think of the stories, poetry, and songs written during the great wars, pandemics, and struggles of our past. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, is one of those, among many. I know my readers could name more.
“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!”
– from the poem, Sympathy by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the inspiration for Maya Angelou’s biographical novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – one of my favorite books.
I was thinking the other day of all the things my mother’s eyes have seen. She was born in the dust bowl, in the midst of the Great Depression. Her parents moved to Seattle where rain fell often enough to dispel the dust. Her mother could breathe again.
Mom was seven years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Fear hung over them as their society changed. Suddenly, their safe harbor seemed threatened. Would the enemy attack here, too? The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard scrambled to protect the vulnerable West coast.
The fear was real. Around her, the Japanese nationals were herded into internment camps to protect the general population. New words entered their vocabulary. Words like rationing and shortages. The face of the nation changed almost overnight. The sleeping giant had awakened.
And then Hiroshima.
Fast-forward to 1950 when the U.S. sent soldiers to help defend South Korea from North Korea. Mom gave birth to two children before the Korean War ended. I was the second born.
War, pestilence (polio and influenza), more wars and upheaval, happened over the next few decades. Our nation suffered a collective shock as we watched the scenes from Texas on television: our president was shot. We suffered a great loss that day.
I remember Vietnam. Many of my classmates were drafted or joined to avoid the draft. All the young men had draft cards. Some left, never to return. College campuses erupted in riots, protesting a war they felt we didn’t need to be involved in.
And then, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis. Another great loss amidst national shock. Riots erupted. Two months later, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Rioting continued.
What kind of world was this?
What kind of world is this now? What does our future hold?
Will normal ever return? This is the question Mom recently asked me. I saw the weariness in her eyes. She’s tired. Sometimes, I am too.
It is becoming all too clear that many of our children and our children’s children know very little about the history of their nation. Is it not important to teach them these things? To help them understand why?
My son, if you receive my wordsand treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdomand inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insightand raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silverand search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5
Knowledge. Understanding. Wisdom.
Ask and it will be given.The best place to start is here, in the Word of God. This is the most important history lesson of all.
I encourage you to consider teaching your children and grandchildren. Read them stories from our history. Help them gain an understanding of what is happening all around them. Help them find their footing in this sideways world.
Teach them the most important commandments: to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It’s a start, a new beginning. Baby steps? Perhaps, but moving forward. Our future depends on moving forward.
Will normalreturn? Yes, but it may not look like the old normal.
See the need and become part of the answer.
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. – Jeremiah 29:11 ESV