Monday, March 17, 2014

Joy Within

A new day.  A new journal.  My previous journal sported a brown cover with a solitary lighthouse gracing the cover – a picture of loneliness.  I frowned a bit each time I reached for the repository of my inner thoughts and ideas.  Sadly, I judged the book by its cover.  And I judged it harshly.  I was more than pleased to fill the final page and set it aside for something different.

Today I begin a new journal.  This journal quips, “Joy Within” across a flower-bedecked cover.  Flowers, joy, color . . . “Whatever is lovely, think on these things”  These things of beauty delight me and bring a smile to my face each time I see the journal’s cheerful, or should I say joyful, cover.  It’s a small thing to note, but worth noting.  For, joy lies in small and unexpected places, in lowly places, in humble places.

I welcome any sense of joy these days.  The world news reeks of sorrow, war, imperial pressure, and defeat.  This Lenten path we call life wends through the Valley of the Shadow of Death . . . but wait!  Death has been defeated!  I know that full well.  I cannot forget that the victory has been won for tomorrow.  I live in a warring today, but I am destined for a peaceful place for all of my tomorrows throughout eternity.  The lonely lighthouse on a brown journal will be replaced with an abundance of flowers and joy within.

A smile creeps ‘cross my face.  I am surprised to be smiling.  I set out to fill the journal and find joy within.

* * * 

“Good morning,” chirps the first to ascend the stairs to greet me; following with another morning greeting, “What does your day hold?”

“Joy, I hope,” I respond brightly.  “I hope I am surprised by joy.”

* * * 

Of late, world issues, social pressures, and commonplace worries crowd into our daily arena with To Do Lists and expectations that trample the humble things beneath trudging feet.  Joy resides in the dust – choked.

Our family has bowed in prayer regularly for those oppressed in Ukraine.  We have watched anxiously for God’s fingerprints amidst the muscle flexes of bullies and the wagging jaws of man.  I have wept as I pleaded for peace, respect, and freedom.  At times, I wondered if God has heard.  And then . . . SURPRISE!  JOY!  Natalie forwarded this photo of peaceful protesters kneeling in prayer as they endure humiliation through invasion.   

A nation once ruled by Atheism has knelt in prayer in the main square of their endangered country as the whole world looks on.  A nation once ruled by an iron fist behind an iron curtain has chosen to kneel as God’s child, trusting Him for the outcome.  Surely He has heard.

God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
Matthew 5:5 NLT

 My worries and anxieties melt when I kneel down and pray with these faithful Ukrainian sisters and brothers.  I pray for peace alone.  My thoughts and fears about “right,” “wrong,” “precedent,” and “war” have buried my joy in the dust beneath pacing feet.  My prayers for peace bring me down to a humble place where joy lives.  I scoop it up hungrily.  I am starved for joy.  I am empty and He fills me.

Instead of filling with expectations, 
the joy-filled expect nothing – and are filled.   
This breath!  This oak tree!  This daisy!  This world!   
This sky!  These people!  This place!   
This day!  Surprise!

C. S. Lewis said he was “surprised by joy.”   
Perhaps there is no way to discover joy but as surprise?

~~ Ann Voskamp ~~
One Thousand Gifts Devotional

 * * *

So, what does my day hold, you may ask?  Peace and prayer and lots of joy.  I will be turning away from the global eye and the booming internet voice; I will be kneeling and resting in the quiet of God’s palm – right here, right now, this.  I will kneel often and rise up with a fair dusting of joy to be found right here on earth this very day amidst the cries of war and the shouts for freedom.  For, I have found joy within.

This is the day that the Lord hath made, 
I will rejoice and be glad in it.   
Psalm 118:24

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Wonder

Made me stop and wonder . . . and then smile.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Gift of Internet Silence

The sun shines brightly, calling, “Come!  Play with me!”  I turn around and survey the landscape (by which I mean, housescape) a-jumble in “must dos” and “should dos” and I resolve to dig deeper for the tenacity needed to stick to “the plan.”  But, alas, I am human and prone to focus on the wrong things even with the best of motives.  It just seems wrong to waste a perfectly sunny day when I know that rain will arrive next week.  Thus, I give you the gift of silence from this bloggy little place.   I am away at play in my garden or in my kitchen or in my Tiki room (jumping on a trampoline).  If you should happen to be in my vicinity, please stop in and play.  My silence upon this page echoes loudly with laughter in life beyond the page.  And since our life is held firmly and safely in the palm of God, I have no need to fret or worry or push.  I shall relax, be still, and send you most joyful wishes as I embark on a weekend of FUN and light and internet silence.   EnJOY the weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dining Caravanserai Style

“What’s for dinner,” he asked casually as we finished up our luncheon.

“What?” I managed to reply without extreme exasperation.

“Dinner?  What are you planning?” all innocence displayed.

“I don’t know . . . *sigh* . . . I will just look into the cave of wonders and find something fantastic.  We’ll have adventure for dinner.  It will be fun.” I left it at that, with only the faintest breath of sarcasm.

As the dining hour approached I did, indeed, set out in search of something full of wonder and nutrition to lay upon the table as we gathered at day’s end.  Hmmmmm . . . I scoured the fridge:  quart of broth, assorted veggies, an abundance of eggs, a bit of mayo (my own spicy concoction), sour cream . . . hmmmmm.  Minneolas rolled around the counter begging to be noticed in their vibrant orange-y peels.  Onward to the pantry:  a large golden portion of couscous shone brightly amongst the labor-intensive beans and such – no time for soaking and boiling and waiting – couscous it is, then!

I bundled the bits and pieces of produce and larder stock onto the counter like an ancient mosaic artist ready to begin to craft a gift from the broken pieces and fragments.  I rifled around in my spice cupboard pulling out cumin and coriander, garlic and garam masala.  I plundered the citrus basket for a lime or two – nearly too far gone, but still fragrant and pliable.  I poured and portioned, stirred and seasoned, filling the house with the earthy fragrance of a spice road caravanserai – those roadside inns of olden days inviting men to dismount camels, water and feed the beasts, then turn into the inn to find nourishment and rest for himself at day’s end.  A fitting place to serve a meal wrought from my culinary cave of wonders.

The cobalt-patterned bowls began filling with jewel-toned veggies and creamy sauces for drizzling.  The fragrant couscous soaked up the lime- and garlic-laced broth.  The abundance of eggs from our diligent hens became half-moons hard-cooked and filled with fluffed and spiced yolk creams.  A bit of Worcestershire, a hint of ginger, a zest of lime – ordinary no more!  The tangerine-skinned citrus over flowed the dish and spilled sticky-sweet nectar, daring us all to find room upon our already-laden plates for just one taste more. 

We carried the feast-filled receptacles to a table laid with numerous glinting candles.  We prayed; we lifted weary arms and forked down the first mouthfuls.  It had been a long and busy day with much labor in it.  Some studied, some cleaned closets; some laundered, some thought deeply for an answer not to be found just yet.  We all came to the table hungry for food, for rest, for the touch that says, “You are among family, and we are glad.” 

Slowly, laughter began to tinkle; words grew more rapid with lightness.  The heaviness of the day passed with each sip and bite.  Compliments flew my way and I smiled.  The cave of wonders had not failed me. 

As the candles burned low and the remaining morsels vanished, I signaled for the surprise ending to this exotic meal:  Strawberry-rosewater-almond ice cream that graced tiny dishes, far too rich for major scooping.  Inspired on my last trip to Disney’s Epcot, where Elizabeth and I enjoyed a lavish treat of perfumed ice creams in Morocco, I fired up my ice cream maker and let my imagination run wild.  It ran and played in a most delicious fashion.  Success never tasted so sweet.

All too soon the candles sputtered and the diners departed to close down their day.  I watched them go in satisfied fullness, knowing that soon they will again be weary and hungry, and I will once again dig deep into that cave of wonders I lovingly stock with odd bits of taste and spice alongside the staples known throughout the world since that very first meal in Eden. We will pass this way again, but never in the exact same step.  The gift we shared tonight will never happen again in just this way. I wash the last dish, pondering this meal, storing its recipe in my heart:  Welcome the weary ones with fragrance and sweetness that draws them in from across the vast desert of the daily walk.  Feed them and entreat them to rest.  Dine Caravanserai style in this oasis of life – soothe each hunger pang in our home, sweet, home.  Repeat as often as needed, or once a day (whichever comes first).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Choosing Joy

"...believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without ever realizing it. I don’t want to wait anymore.
I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting."

~~ Shauna Niequiest's ~~ 

Today I am off on an adventure wrapped in ordinariness and daily doings, like dropping a friend off at the airport, visiting Costco, coming home to tea and bookclubMy travels won't make the news, nor change the course of mankind's grind, but I will breathe in and out the most wonderful freshness and joy, if I so choose.

 graphic shared by from Sue Fitzmaurice, Author on FB