When Our Hearts Long for Reminders of God’s Faithfulness In Days of Uncertainty

“I hope it gives you joy,” she said.

I found a terrarium kit and a Green Bean Peperomia plant at a nursery. The clerk’s comment still warms my heart, and I thank God for people like her.

So what really is joy? I used to criticize myself more for not feeling “joy,” because I thought of it more as exuberance. But I know now that in a spiritual sense, it is more a deeply-rooted, inspired happiness within us. A depth of contentment in Christ.

“The word that describes happiness, joy, well-being in the Bible, is shalom. And it’s a term that covers all the different parts of who we are. Emotional, psychological, spiritual, relational. It’s really what we crave when we are talking about truly being happy with that sense of deep well-being.” ~ Holley Gerth course of 7 Ways to Thrive as an Introvert

So in that sense, plants do give me joy. 🙂 They bring life into our home. When colder weather settles into my bones and winter weariness drains my limited energy supply, they warm and rejuvenate my heart. They are visible testimonies that the life of every living thing is in God’s hand. They are beacons of hope and light, reminding me that our Life-Giver also has our every breath in His hand.

© The Lovely Scribe
My Little Terrarium
Above our kitchen sink, live plants brighten my day throughout every season. Did you know that live plants can energize a home by filtering air and increasing oxygen inflow?
My Fairy Garden

Reminders of God’s faithfulness revitalize me. Birds remind me of God’s faithful loving care. And you know how much I love butterflies. 🙂 My sister once surprised me with some flowers, and she had asked the floral shop to include a butterfly. After the flowers died, I slipped the butterfly into my cactus pot.

FROG – Reminder to Fully Rely On God.  BUTTERFLY – Reminder of God’s faithfulness and His power to break our chains and to free us to fly.

It seems these uncertain days and the increasing troubles in life require us more and more to open our eyes to beauty, to wonder, to what reminds us there is still hope. To refresh, refuel, and revitalize our sinking spirits.

What gives you joy? What refreshes your heart? Do you take time for it? Or do you think it’s a waste of time to pause in life to do something that revives your spirit? Maybe an uncompleted to-do list weighs you down? Perhaps depression has smothered the longing even to look up and search for joy?

“You know what makes your heart refreshed,
the things that make you come alive.
We need to drink in beauty wherever we can get it—
in music, in nature, in art, in a great meal shared.
These are all gifts to us from God’s generous heart.
Friends, those things are not
decorations to a life, they bring life.”
John Eldredge

In the way God has designed you, what makes you come alive? What gift from God’s heart especially enlivens your spirit and helps you to remember God’s truth and faithfulness?

Faithfulness
by Hillsong

August Hope Whispers

Messages and chalk creations on lawns and sidewalks or in windows breathe hope as they encourage love and kindness.

Every seed of kindness we plant,

However small, noticed or unnoticed,

Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,

A soul aching to be loved and cared about.

Every tiny seed planted will grow

And sprinkle seeds to others,

Making a difference in the lives of many.

Lessons from Charlotte’s Web

Recently Charlotte’s Web was on TV, not the animated one, but the one with real life people and animals who talk. It brought back such fond memories. I loved that book as a child!

The right words can change someone’s world for the better.

Kindness unrecognized doesn’t make it any less of a kindness. (When Wilbur was taken back from the fair to the farm, Charlotte died alone at the fairgrounds. She showed kindness from her loving heart, not for recognition.)

Having a true friend is a tremendous thing. (Charlotte had saved Wilbur’s life, and Wilbur wondered what he could do for her. Charlotte told him he has been a friend.)

Acts of kindness have a ripple effect in many lives. (After Charlotte’s kindness to Wilbur, many people started acting kinder to each other.)

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All God’s creatures are a unique expression of life,
whether on earth for 100 days or 100 years.”
Anthony Douglas 

Thank you to my brother John for these stunning photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Couch’s Spadefoot – Did you know they spend up to 10 months buried underground and come out during the monsoon season to breed?
My, what big ears you have! “The better to hear you with, my dear!” 🙂
Big feet for balancing 🙂

Here in SD, I have only seen one Dove species, the Mourning Dove, but John was able to capture photos of the five main dove species in his area of Arizona.

Common Ground Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Inca Dove
Mourning Dove
White-Winged Dove

 

Learning to “Try Softer” and Grow in Self-Compassion (Aundi Kolber)

Do you have trouble showing yourself compassion like Jesus does to you?  Are you your greatest critic? Do you feel like you’re being selfish or wasting time and energy to be kind to yourself? Do you live from the template that you’re not enough and you’re unlovable? Do you acknowledge your experiences are valid or do you minimize or numb the pain?

When I first read about a book called Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, I knew I needed to read it, especially when I read:

“I want you to begin to develop a new awareness of your story and your wounds so you can attend to your pain with the same tenderness God does.”

To be honest, I don’t treat myself with the tenderness and compassion God does. Do you?

Aundi Kolber, a trauma therapist, discovered she never really learned how to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, because she had never really processed her own trauma. She just kept white-knuckling her way through, leaving herself exhausted and overwhelmed.

Trying softer means to become more attentive to our bodies, minds, and spirits so we can give each of these parts what it needs to heal. Trying hard to dismiss or deny our trauma will only have detrimental effects to ourselves and others. It’s in acknowledging the reality of our pain and learning to process our stories that we become more of who God designed us to be.

Aundi helps us to understand the complexity of our God-created brains and how God designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories. She equips, empowers, and encourages us to connect to our truest self, to move out of anxiety, stress, and survival mode into a life of connection and joy.

“In Try Softer, you’ll learn how to:

  • Know and set emotional and relational boundaries
  • Make sense of the difficult experiences you’ve had
  • Identify your attachment style―and how that affects your relationships today
  • Move through emotions rather than get stuck by them
  • Grow in self-compassion and talk back to your inner critic

Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.”

I’m only into the fourth chapter of this book as I have to take it slowly, so I can process all I’m learning. And sometimes I need to put it aside for a while, because it’s not always easy to discover deep, buried layers that still need more healing. At the same time, I am fascinated by how God has wired our brains to process trauma.

Some of my favorite quotes so far are:

“There are truly times when the best, healthiest, most productive thing we can do is not to try harder, but rather to try softer: to compassionately listen to our needs so we can move through pain – and ultimately life – with more gentleness and resilience.”

“Like the ever-elusive quick fix, ignoring, pretending, or numbing something doesn’t usually resolve our pain.”

“When we deny the reality of our experiences, we don’t become more of who God designed us to be, but less.”

“When I understand why my brain is reacting the way it is, I become empowered to validate the underlying need and then work on changing the situation.”

“We are not defined by our best days or our worst days. We are His beloved.”

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

He Knows My Name
by The McRaes