Nature Soothes the Soul

As early as I can remember, nature was a solace to my soul. There was always something that drew my heart in and calmed me. Even before I appreciated the Creator of it all.

When I couldn’t be outdoors, photos of nature drew me in. As a child, I loved a large nature scene in our living room. I remember it had trees and water. It was such a calm scene, far from all the evil and pain in this world. When my thoughts were jumbled, troubled, and confused, I loved to imagine myself sitting on the bank feeling the coolness of the water on my feet.

I’m now 66, but I still imagine myself sitting or walking in calm nature scenes. 🙂 When the cold winters keep me housebound, I sometimes search out old photos, including the one above from one of my favorite nature retreats. Now wouldn’t it be lovely to sit on one of those rocks and soak in the sights and sounds?

Here are a few more pics from this soul-soothing retreat:

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” – St. Augustine

I am always delighted when my brother in Arizona shares photos with me. They always refresh my heart. He graciously allows me to share them with you.

Monsoon Season
Double Rainbow!
Isn’t this breath-taking? A rainbow of hope!
Mountain Pygmy-Owl
Northern Cardinal (Molting Juvenile)
Green Kingfisher
American Coot
Clark’s Grebe
Clark’s Spiny Lizard
Chipmunk
Cicada

March Hope Whispers

Truths That Breathe Hope

❤️ God’s Love Faithfully Remains With Us ❤️

“Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

❤️ God’s Love Graciously Forgives Us ❤️

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, 
the forgiveness of sins,
in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
Ephesians 1:7 NIV

❤️ God’s Love Fully Frees Us ❤️

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah,
His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross,
we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments
chalked up by all our misdeeds.
And not just barely free, either.
Abundantly free!”
Ephesians 1:7 The Message

“When I’m kicking and screaming
When I struggle believing
God, You are always faithful
No matter what
When my eyes cannot see it
And my heart doesn’t feel it
God, You are always faithful
No matter what
No matter what…”

Spring Breathes Hope

The robins are here! Yes! Even though we’re still having cold days, it’s a sign that breathes life and hope. We so need that in these troubling times, don’t we? What part of spring breathes hope in your heart?

🦋 “And springtime rallies at the touch of the breath of God.” – Unknown

🦋 “Spring is far more than just a changing of seasons; it’s a rebirth of the spirit.” – Toni Sorenson

🦋 “A life without love is like a year without spring.” – Octavian Paler

Our Suffering Matters to God

All the violence, abuse of power, and painful losses in this troubling world is devastating. So many are suffering loss and pain at home and abroad. Because of this, we may tend to beat ourselves up when we murmur over our own troubles and struggles.

Do you ever minimize your own troubles because others have it worse? Do you ever feel selfish when you feel complaints in your heart over your own suffering? This month God used this blog post to remind me our struggles are always valid to Him. And it’s both necessary and healthy to acknowledge and grieve our own suffering. – Your Suffering Is Valid, Even When Others Have It Worse by Shannon.

“I understand what we are trying to do when we play down our troubles because they are small in comparison to what others are experiencing. We’re trying to put things in perspective so we can be grateful, avoid feeling sorry for ourselves, and be compassionate to others. However, I think minimizing our troubles can sometimes be harmful. It leads us to ignore our feelings, which can increase our stress, cause feelings of self-doubt, harm our self-esteem, and heighten our anxiety.”

“We’re not required to choose between acknowledging either our suffering or their suffering; we can acknowledge both our suffering and their suffering.”

Shannon from Of The Hearth

Nature Retreat

“Perhaps the butterfly is proof
that you can go through a great deal of darkness
yet become something beautiful.”
– Beau Taplin –

“Just when the caterpillar
thought the world was over,
it became a butterfly.”
– Chang Tzu –

I’ve been thinking lately of how a butterfly must struggle first to become beautiful and freed to fly. So this month my heart feels nudged to share some of the butterfly photos I took in 2012 at the butterfly house and to remember why I named this site Freed to Fly.

When Shame Condemns Us

“What is wrong with me? Nothing I think, feel, say, or write is right. I am a mistake. I’m such a bad person.”

Do you ever feel this way? Deeply rooted shame from abuse (whether sexual, physical, verbal, mental, or spiritual) can consciously or subconsciously debilitate us and sink us into self-destructive behavior and/or self-condemnation.

Traumatic attacks on our minds, hearts, and bodies gouge a gaping wound within us, and it takes time to process the deep pain and root out the resulting shame. It can be a life-long process to acknowledge our pain, grieve what we lost, and work through all the deep emotions. 

God hasn’t created us to struggle alone. We need others, even if it’s one person, to listen to our stories, to believe us, and to support us. To listen and encourage without judgment or condescension. To remind us it’s not our fault. To tell us it’s ok to feel the way we do and to talk about it.  

Non-supportive and judgmental words, actions, and attitudes or the lack of supportive ones can hinder our healing, make us feel victimized all over again, and cause us to retreat into our own pain and throw up thicker walls around our hearts and lives.

Maybe you’ve heard some people dismiss or minimize abuse or assault? Maybe even blame the victim, ourselves included, instead of the abuser? Or mock and condemn the victim when he or she finally gained the courage to tell? It hurts deep within our souls, doesn’t it?

Has anyone ever told you,”You must not have enough faith or you would be healed by now.”? Or “Let it go. The past is past. Move on with your life.”? Or “You shouldn’t bring these things up. You’re supposed to forgive and forget.”? It’s like they’re saying “SHAME ON YOU!” while at the same time shooting an arrow into your heart.

My only hope to get through these times
is to pour out my heart to Jesus.
He cares and understands,
and He never shames or condemns us.

Perhaps you have been told it’s wrong to go to a therapist or to take anti-depressants? That it’s a sin because you’re trusting people rather than God to help you?

God created our entire beings, not just our bodies. He created our emotions, too. Just as we may need doctors and medicines as means blessed by God to heal us or to better cope with chronic illness, we may need a learned therapist and/or depression or anxiety medications to guide us through the healing of our emotional health.

I have come a long way through years of these means, because God blessed them. Other supportive people have also been used to strengthen and encourage me through this continuing, difficult journey, including many of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I have learned to better process my emotions, but I still avoid certain people or situations that I know hinder further healing, and I still get triggered from condemning remarks or attitudes thrown at victims of abuse. Then shame rears its ugly head again, and I am thrown back to painful memories. All the negative voices and insecurities flood my soul again.

I have to desperately cry out to Jesus
to rescue me and other victims.
I could never have gotten
to this point without Him.

We  have a Savior who has suffered the depths of shame to make it possible for us to heal from it. With open arms, He invites us to open our hearts to His comfort and healing grace. He desires for us to pour out all our hurts and needs to Him, even if they’re only wordless cries and sighs. And He never condemns us. He cries with us and helps us to grieve, to function, and to heal ever deeper.

Jesus says,
“The thief approaches with malicious intent,
looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy;
I came to give life with joy and abundance.”
John 10:10 The Voice

“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.”
Psalm 10:17-18

“He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1

“Even If”
by Mercy Me

“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone…”