Shana Tova!

Yes, Shana Tova — “a good year” — to you! And may it be a sweet one. And blessed and magnificent. I like this idea of having a separate new year. I like it a lot.

Lately, I’ve been in a “newness” frame of mind, letting go of toxins and disappointments, ready for this new season of autumn. I didn’t realize until earlier this morning that today at sundown started Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

But it all blends together perfectly. And it makes me wonder if, during genealogy research, I really do have Jewish blood. : ) (I found a link to our family, generations ago, that claimed they were Jewish and came from Jerusalem, then settled in England, but they had no proof, just stories handed down to them. It would be wonderful to find out that this was true. I’d be a Messianic Jew then.

Have always been drawn to Jewish culture and traditions, as that helps me understand more of the world of Jesus. It can get dangerous sometimes to interpret Scripture based on your knowledge only of the time you live in.

For example, I once heard someone say how they were going to “put coals on the heads of their enemies,” figuratively, of course, based on a piece of Scripture they read. Well, that’s certainly not God’s heart — and little did they realize that that was a blessing — because baskets were often carried on the head, and if you gave someone coals on the head, it would be in a basket and they could use the coals to keep warm. (And I can’t remember where I heard that, but I do remember it was from a source I trusted.) But anyway. I digress. Again.

Along with letting go, I just started working on my dream-casting collage. It’s a creative way for me to remember God’s promises, along with what He’s put in my heart, the desires there. So far, I’ve found pictures of trips to Europe and Australia and New Zealand, along with some of gardens and catching fireflies and peanut butter and banana sandwiches on whole-wheat bread. (Hey, I’m just getting started. ; )

I’m basing this artistic endeavor on Habakkuk 2:2, when God says to write down the vision. Instead of stone tablets, I’m using poster board. Instead of words, I’m using pictures. And maybe if they’d had magazines back then, He would’ve told them about setting it down in a collage. He might’ve. ; ) Also, Romans 4:17 describes God as “the one Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed” (Amplified). I love that. For those promises that seem unfulfilled as yet or completely gone, there is still hope. And it’s always better to hope than to give in to despair.

Just this evening, I read that one tradition of Rosh Hashana was to go to an ocean, river, or lake, and reflect on the times during this past year that you didn’t do very well, times when you messed up, and then to symbolically throw all that “into the sea,” based on Scripture.

That reminds me of a friend of mine who was going through quite a bit in life, and rented a beach house to get away from everything for a while. She told me that one night she sat on the beach and had a long talk with God. Curiously, she felt Him ask her to go get a piece of paper and something to write with. So she just went with what she was feeling and did it.

There she now sat with her paper and pen. And she waited. She felt she was supposed to write down everything that bothered her, all the times she messed up, all the things she had against some people in her life, everything little thing that was worrying her. So she did. She tore that page into little strips of paper and wrote everything down. And she waited.

Then she felt Him ask her to go find rocks and twine — and, yes, she felt she was supposed to tie each of her problems to a rock.

Now she was having fun. She knew what would be next. And sure enough, yes, she felt instructed to throw them all into the ocean. She told me she had fun with this. Yelling, laughing, throwing those darn rocks as far out as she could. And then she turned happily around, feeling so much better, and headed back to the beach house, ready for, hopefully, a good night’s rest.

But then she heard His voice again.

She stopped suddenly.

“Now go get them.”

She didn’t move. She was stunned. “What do you mean, ‘Go get them’?!

Silence.

So she argued. She argued with God telling Him how ridiculous and horrible and what an awful trick — and then she burst into tears. “NO! I can’t do that!” she yelled at Him, and sunk down to the sand.

Silence. Complete silence. For a moment. Enough to make her listen again. Enough to reassure her that God doesn’t play tricks, that He loves her with an undying, forever kind of Love. That there are always reasons to what He says. Good reasons.

And then she heard His voice once more: “Exactly. You can’t. They aren’t there anymore.” She said immediately Psalm 103:12 came to her mind: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

What a great time to do “housecleaning,” isn’t it? : )

Shana Tova! And now go eat a slice of apple dipped in honey … symbolic of the sweetness the Lord has in store for you in this brand-new year…

The Wonders of Baking Soda, Vinegar, Lemons…

I really like this link: http://www.ecologycenter.org/factsheets/cleaning.html. Since I’m not fond of cleaning with chemicals, this offers many natural “recipes” — like using baking soda, vinegar, and hot water to unclog a drain, which I just did this evening. Fun when you can do what needs to be done in relatively safe ways and that aren’t expensive. And fun to watch the vinegar and soda fizzle like a volcano. ; ) So many uses for these products, and for lemons and limes and other household items, like toothpaste.

The 10th Anniversary of 9/11


Even 10 years later, a part of me remains numb, cut off from comprehending it all, as if that were possible at all … comprehending…

When tragedies of this scale happen, a part of me freezes. It’s not that I don’t feel anything; I do. Last night, while watching documentaries about September 11, 2001, it hit me all over again, like a wound that hadn’t healed all the way, one that had a scab ripped off once more, and the tears flowed yet again.

Remembering back, I had been home less than a week, after a month-long screenwriting program in L.A., a year before I moved there. I was back in grad school and had just been cast in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.” We were scheduled to have a rehearsal that night. I remember sleeping in that day, and getting a phone call from my mom to turn on the television. She had gone into work early, for a meeting I think, and heard about it there. The first tower had already been hit. It was surreal and nightmarish to watch it all unfold … in New York, in D.C., in Pennsylvania…

I didn’t know anyone personally who died or survived those direct attacks, but several friends did. The grandson of one of my mom’s best friends was one of the heroes. He worked in one of the Twin Towers and helped rescue a woman in a wheelchair, getting out just in time before the collapse. Another friend, a flight attendant, knew one of the flight attendants who was killed. Friends in the military and those living next to bases shared what they witnessed. Other friends lived in Manhattan and saw firsthand the devastation. And reading all the tributes and remembrances by friends on Facebook today, so many other friends too … all painting vivid pictures of where they were when it happened, and how it affected them, with some telling about those they knew and loved who had died or been rescued or had escaped, or of what they witnessed in person.

It’s not that we’re trying to stir up old emotions, as some people have suggested. Yes, life goes on. But this is the 10th anniversary of a national tragedy. Some have said it’s this generation’s Pearl Harbor. I understand that you might want to to stay away from all the death, as a family member told me. Sometimes there’s just too much heaviness to bear it all, and that’s okay too… The world keeps moving, life continues without those who have gone ahead of us… People did laundry today, went to church, ran to the store, fixed dinner, watched rugby or movies, comedies — while others visited family in hospitals, dealt with the illness of a pet, fixed a broken-down washing machine or air-conditioner, cut the grass, went to work, or looked for work…

It’s a Sunday, but it’s hardly ever one of rest these days for many of us … and for that we can count our blessings… Because there are thousands, who were just like us, who did the same things the day before …and they are at rest now… Life is so short here on this side of Heaven and so precious and priceless … I hope we breathe in all the moments and relish and appreciate all of life, even during our own personal trying times… We’re still here… We still have life to do…

Remember, too, that everyone handles tragedy in different ways. We all process it differently, even those who seem indifferent. Realize that you may not see the tears they cry before they fall asleep at night…

As Americans and as human beings, we were all affected that day … and we will never forget … because we can’t … and shouldn’t.

I’ve been spending this 10th anniversary in reflection and a bit of prayer. I watched the Memorial Service this morning and have read some accounts and watched more documentaries today, listening to stories I hadn’t heard before, including amazing, miraculous ones in the middle of anathema.

One of the stories (and I can’t remember now which article it was in…) told of a priest who was stopped by a journalist outside the collapsed towers. The priest was asked where God was, how He could’ve allowed it all… The article stated that as the priest placed his hand on this man’s shoulder to comfort him, firefighters exited the building behind them, carrying someone who was injured. And then he assured the reporter that God had nothing to do with the devastation. Pointing to the firefighters and the rescued person, he said that that’s where God was … and is … And the reporter began to weep…

Two hopeful symbols from that day are a cross and a tree. When you have time, you might like to copy and paste these video links from the History Channel into your Web browser. They’re very short pieces that lift my spirit, and I hope they do the same for yours…

Ground Zero Cross
http://www.history.com/videos/ground-zero-cross#ground-zero-cross

Survivor Tree
http://www.history.com/videos/making-the-911-memorial-survivor-tree#making-the-911-memorial-survivor-tree

Finally, I keep coming back to the words of Jesus: “But I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” He wasn’t saying that what they did was right. He wasn’t saying that it’s not okay to be angry, as even He had/has righteous anger. But, in part, maybe He was telling us that to do anything else would infect us, would breed hatred, which would put us on the same level as those who struck us. Love is not always easy, and it’s often not possible in certain situations without His Divine assistance. And neither is forgiveness. But Love and prayer help free us from all remnants of hate, eventually… And His Love is the most powerful weapon, as it has the power to change hearts, even hearts that currently choose evil over good…

Well, I’m no preacher, and I don’t ever mean to sound preachy… It’s just that God’s Love is the only thing I’m positive of in this life… I’m a fellow wanderer, in process, trying to sort out life as I go along, just like you, trying to process this and other events we simply have no adequate words for…

We Will Never Forget…


My friends Wes and Amanda Llewellyn created this very moving tribute after 9/11…

Although painful, it’s important to never forget…

We can work on loving our enemies and praying for our persecutors, like Jesus commanded, and pray for peace everywhere, but we’d be foolish not to remember…

It doesn’t seem like 10 years have passed already…

Remembrance and reflection … combined with prayer…

We may be divided on various issues of the day, but we all stand together — strong, one nation, under God…

And we will never forget…

P.S. — Here’s a link to good article every American should consider reading:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904836104576558933073846412.html?fb_ref=wsj_share_FB_bot&fb_source=home_oneline

Always a Perfect Season for Everything


This is what this little cucumber looked like on August 15. And it still looks like that. Not even as long as my thumb. Yeah, I planted them too late in the season.

The gardening-center specialist assured me it wasn’t too late for starting cucumbers from seeds, and she was probably correct — so maybe I just didn’t plant them in the right place where they’d get enough sun for this time of year. I watered them, and there are more blossoms, so I’m not giving up on them… We’ll just have to see what happens.

Isn’t that like all of life though? There’s always a perfect season for everything. Everything under the sun has its special time and length of days. And if you miss that time, then you have to wait ’til the next growing season or start something else that is in season.

Everything good takes time and nurturing… The right conditions produce so much in all aspects of life… A tomato plant can’t grow outside in a cold climate during winter. And kale doesn’t like the summer. But plant them in the seasons they were meant for, and in the right type of soil, with the right amount of water and fertilizer, and watch them flourish. Sometimes those plants might do really well with composting or worm composting too.

We grow best in the right conditions also — even with unwanted “compost” mixed into our lives now and then…

I know I often talk about using our gifts. And maybe that’s because I see many people doing what someone else expected of them, or doing what they expected of themselves, when they didn’t expect much of themselves at all, and now they’re restless or bored or depressed. Or chasing another person’s gift and not their own — like someone who wants to be a singer and pursues it with passion … but they’re tone-deaf… For whatever reason, they didn’t or couldn’t see their unique gifts that are equally as wonderful as those in others.

But sometimes, maybe people aren’t using their gifts yet because the timing isn’t right. Maybe it’s just that the gifts aren’t ready for harvest… You could be 20 or 80, but if the timing isn’t right, the harvest won’t be good. Every now and then, you’ll hear in the news about someone who’s been on this planet for many decades — and is just finding their passion, like getting a degree or publishing a book or recording an album. That was their special season.

Maybe part of their gifts were to show us that it’s never too late to step out in faith and develop what’s in our hearts. Maybe all the seeming delays and seeming setbacks that some people experience are only growth stages… Maybe the gifts that some people thought weren’t there or thought were dormant and dead are just about ready to push through. Perhaps they’ve been growing deep and strong roots all this time — and now is the time for discovery, to see what those gifts are clearly. Discovery is an ongoing process, so there’s always hope. And each person’s time of discovery is each person’s perfect time.

I heard someone say once that you can’t make sense of your life until you’re at the end of it, but maybe along the way, you can look back and see how some of the pieces fit together. Just when you think nothing adds up to anything, you get inspired again. We all have different growing times and harvest times, and it’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s beautiful…

I like when God uses nature to encourage us. I like when He gives us all the opportunity to learn and grow and discover what’s good at the right time… And when He sometimes steps in to surprise us with what we would call a miracle (like the azaleas that bloomed when they shouldn’t have this past spring — see “The Miracle of the Azaleas” from April 8).

More lessons and reminders from nature… So much still to learn… All under the sun… Completely wonderful…

And, as a side note, I know this post could stand some editing… But I’m too tired tonight, so will let it go, maybe come back to it another time and clean it up a bit…

Now go use your gifts! OR keep your eyes open — because if you don’t know what your gifts are yet, it’s just a matter of time… And what fun you’re going to have! Doesn’t it make sense that the One who created you would want you to use what He’s placed inside you? And, yes, each person has something — because we’re all reflections of Him… : )

A Moth at Rest


Saw this pretty moth resting on the outside door.

From the smallest and seemingly insignificant to the most majestic of God’s creations, we’re all loved by Him and are precious. Nobody escapes His eye.

And just when you think you’re not seen and are overlooked by Him, He causes light to brighten in our lives. Even a little speck of it.

And like a moth, we are attracted… So beautiful how He does that…

And how, ever so gently, He brings in more and more light to illuminate us better, to show us the brilliant design that’s in us, the unique accents and patterns and rhythms … and the scars and the torn places and the fresh wounds … and as He then He turns the light up more … and we watch … as the scars fade and the torn places are repaired and the fresh wounds are healed … ’til the pattern comes together again and we see the beauty in ourselves too … then lift our eyes to our Father God … not a representative of our earthly fathers, even if our earthly fathers were good, but of One who is our earthly fathers’ Father too …

Pure Love … aching to hold His babies again … longing to help and heal and love us forever … hoping to be known also … and noticed in a world He created … even through a moth at rest …