Today was one of those milestone moments. Two words kept coming to mind throughout the day: ‘passages’ and ‘seasons’. Different words but similar in that they both represent change.
I’m old enough now to be more aware of ‘being old’ and what that really means; not that I feel I’m old and creaky but I have friends who I met when they were around my age or older but now they are 70s and 80s; some are doing really well, but others are using walkers, canes, wheelchairs, sporting new knees, in assisted living, having memory issues, etc. I recently moved my own father into an assisted living facility. That whole process has struck a place in my heart that had been untouched until now. Having never married, no children, no nieces and nephews, I realized, in a stark reality kind of way, that my parents are my immediate ‘family’ and to see them move into the next stage of life, likely the final stage, is somewhat alarming and frankly a bit frightening. It has made me look at my own life in a different, more tangible, way I suppose. I remember when they were my age; and it wasn’t that long ago.
I looked out my window the other day and saw the tiny black kitten that has chosen my yard as a respite just sitting on the corner. I stood there watching it wondering what it would do. It did nothing. It sat there for the longest time. I understood. Sometimes, you just have to stop and in the middle of all the madness and wait until clarity comes… then move on and handle the situations.
I didn’t really have 55 candles; I need to conserve my breath😉. I have, however, been seriously thinking about how I want the next season of my life to play out if I have a choice.
At the end of last year, I thought I’d be deeply entrenched in working on a PhD in 2019. It didn’t work out like that, and I glad. This year has turned out to be very difficult; no way could I have been in an academic program, but I’ve been thinking about life, and the future a lot.
Sitting in front of a TV every evening after working all day is NOT on the agenda. Traveling the country, seeing new things, meeting new people, blogging, art, IS on the agenda. Planning for this new adventure, whether is happens or not, simply gives me something to look forward to. Pouring through endless YouTube videos has been like a RV-ing , road-tripping education. I’ve learned so much.
There are so many things I like about my life right now; I have a great job and one of the best boss’ ever, I have a great hobby as an artist, I have terrific friends, a wonderful church I attend. Life is good…and life is also very challenging at times. I have a lot of responsibilities, but I don’t mind it so much. I make the decisions I need to make, as I need to make them, and move on, through sleepless nights, laughter, tears and all. Thankfully, I’m good at decision making.
Not really much else to say here; just pondering on the gift of life, and how quickly it slowly rolls by, and how a lot of it is affected by the decisions we make and also how much of it happens in spite of us. We have to be ready for it all. That’s just life.
My prayer for this time and forward is that God helps me to age gracefully, not hating old age, not complaining about it, not wishing it was other than what is, just living each day as it shows itself; full of gray hair, groaning flesh, and hopefully with His unlimited grace.
Peace and love to you😘 … I’m headed off to find senior discounts. 😜
When I started this blog, a couple of years ago, I primarily did so to share experiences during my personal journey to health and weight loss. It was mostly about food; what I ate, tips, struggles, etc. After a few months I started sharing other various life events. More recently I decided I wanted to, in addition, share more about the side of life that, in reality, is the most important; that on which all other parts depend.
It’s already mid-January 2019, and honestly, it has not been the blast off that I’d hoped it would be. I actually wish I could get a restart, a trial month, or a do-over. I’ve just been feeling a bit ‘slumpish’, kind of discouraged, sometimes sad, wondering if I was getting depressed.. who knows why? Just a series of little things pecking at my ‘stabilities’; you know relationship issues, life issues, day-to-day issues, just managing life. There is just so much going on with so many people every day it seems – bad health diagnoses, sickness, financial crises, deaths, national/government situations, it just becomes overload sometimes. However, the magnitude of what others are going through makes my little bouts of ‘blue days’ seem not worth mentioning to anyone, so I tend not to.
This is how I felt this Sunday morning. I’m gonna be real with you.
Getting up and going to church, literally less than a mile away, seemed it wasn’t going to happen. I stayed in bed longer than usual and just thought about life, people, house repairs needed, friends, … you know, ‘thangs’ that keep you up in the night and in bed in the morning; processing all the good, bad and ugly news I’d processed in past days. Somehow, I managed to find the wherewithal to get up and get rolling.
I’m a Christian from the get-go; was a pew-baby and still ‘churching’ now. I love Jesus, I love church, I love the body of Christ. No shame in it for me, so that had nothing to do with my not wanting to go.
Anyway, I get to my Connections class (a.k.a Sunday School for us oldies) as usual. It’s a class called the Encouragers, with about 25 or so regular attendees who are mostly a generation older than I am, which is fine because I like the wisdom of people older that I am; especially in the things of God. I have a buddy who sits near me each week now. His name is Solomon. Solomon is 89 years ‘young’. He has dropped all sorts of wisdom tidbits in my ear for the past couple years; from concoctions to knock out cold symptoms to handling life problems.
I don’t know what your religious beliefs are, or how you feel about such but when you meet someone like Solomon, who has walked with the Lord for nearly 90 years, there is much wisdom to be gleaned.
Today, Solomon taught our class from the Bible in Psalm 1. It’s a short chapter, but powerful, direct, simple to grasp but listening to Solomon speak in his Jamaican accent about the wonders of God’s Word in this chapter transported me out of the ‘ gloomy space’ in my head by the end of class.
I’m not planning to turn this blog into a straight up Bible study but I do plan to share how God’s Word is so relevant, timely and needed. Here is the New International Version of the chapter:
Psalm 1 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Solomon started by reading the Psalm. Now, I have to stop and say, whenever Solomon prays aloud in class, his choice of words, and phrases, along with his accent, often makes me think to myself, “He prays in King James Version”. 😍 I sometimes wish I could record it.
Anyway, in a nutshell, we discussed each of the verses. Fascinating! In case you aren’t a Christian, or haven’t studied this before, here is my one-minute summary of what Solomon taught.
God blesses those believers who while being a light in a dark world do not make it a habit to intimately mingle with those whose heart is not towards living a Christian life; only because doing so will likely sway/seduce you away from the heart of God.
For those who are delighted to tuck God’s work in their heart, who long for God’s word and who think on the things of God day and night.; they will be like a tree that is deep-rooted, well nourished, and well watered by a river. They are full of sap and produce good fruit. I loved Solomon’s exposition on this part of the Psalm. He referenced it to Psalm 92:12 (The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.) He then told of how there is a country (I don’t remember which one) where their entire economy is based on the Palm tree. All parts of the palm tree is used; the wood for homes, the leaves, for roofs, the seed for food, the oil for other things, etc. I’m a visual person so I could so easily picture this, and how God can use his righteous ones.
But, for those who choose to do otherwise (keyword: choose) they are blown away like chaff in the wind; not able/allowed to stand before the righteous Judge in the end. Solomon explained how chaff is the trash that is left over after the winnowing process.
One of the things that stood out the most was in his closing he mentioned that those who have made the decision to live for Christ have been ‘Registered in Heaven’.
Those simple words seemed to stick in all the cracks, crevices, holes, and dents in my spirit today. They made me happy inside. All those things that were weighing on me could not stand against the thought, the reassurance that I am Registered in Heaven. Needless to say, much of the ‘blue and bleakness’ was lifted as I drove home, and the words ‘Registered in Heaven’ have rang in my ears all day today. I love that I, as a human being, was given this choice to be, and instructions on how to be, Registered in Heaven. This wasn’t a matter of not knowing this passage, but of the healing effect like balm on a wound, of God’s living Word on a soul.
I write all this not to preach and/or proselytize but rather to encourage and to give hope in Jesus. Life is hard. You see and know that. Things are getting more and more difficult each day. I was with a friend the other day whose father-in-law is 96 years old. He was telling her how he’d gone out to buy a new tablecloth for his home; not only 1, but 3! He said he’d use one but maybe the others could be used later :)…. he’s 96 people! Later??? What is ‘later’ to a 96 year old??
That got me to thinking, you know what that is called… HOPE! Even at 96 years old, he had hope that he might still be able to use those tablecloths one day. That also got me to thinking about those who have no hope. Suicide is on the rise as we can see in our country; these are those who have lost all hope. Even in the deepest, darkest days of life, it is HOPE, that clears a way to see vision for the future.
I have decided to cling to HOPE for the my future; to my Hope in Jesus. I will pray that if you are reading this blog, and you do not have HOPE, that the Lord of heaven will show and send his HOPE your way. It is real, is it stable, it sure, it is free, it is everlasting.
May the peace of God reign in your hearts always! 😘
P.S. Let me know if you’d like to be Registered in Heaven. 🙏🏽
I’m sitting here thinking about the past year. So many changes yet a lot has stayed mostly the same. I lost a lot of extended family, close and distant friends, and friends who were as close as family; I mean lots, more than a dozen. It seems I’ve said, “Sorry for your loss” at least monthly this year. Just odd, but it really caused me to think about my own life a lot. I felt more conscious of time. I remembered my dad, now in his 80s, always saying when in his 50s, “I have more years behind me than I do in front of me.” I was in my 20s then, now I’m in my 50s. I can sincerely say I have more years behind me than in front of me; the death of so many friends and acquaintances this year brings those words to the forefront more than ever.
So, what does that mean for my life decisions? In short, it means I want to focus on the things that are important to me. What are those things?
In no particular order:
Portraiture / Art – For most of this year, I contemplated returning to school to obtain a doctorate degree. It was just a matter of nailing down what I wanted to study and where. I reviewed/applied to a few schools and interviewed with one, in the Technology field. In the end, I decided to pit it on hold, if not nix it. Why? Because as a middle-aged woman I discovered I had a talent for art, specifically, drawing portraits. It has changed my focus more than I thought. I like my job a lot, it suit my skill set, and personality. … but I love drawing! At this point in life, I need to focus on what I love. None of the schools I reviewed sparked my heart; I was not wanting to do it even before I took the first course. Apparently, getting a doctorate was a goal, but not a heart’s desire; if that makes sense. Nope, I don’t plan to go to art school, I just plan to use my years left doing something that makes my heart happy and makes others smile! Simple. 🎨
Family/Friends – I have a small immediate family but a pretty large extended one. Thanks to social media I can keep in contact with many of them much easier than I probably would have otherwise. I also have many friends from all the schools and churches I’ve attended, and neighborhoods I’ve lived in. I’ve been thinking about the friends who are like family a lot… because I lost some this year. I have a very small group of friends who are like family to me. They know me more than anyone else really. It is important to me to work hard to maintain these friendships, keeping the air clear between us, sharing time together, and making memories.
God and His Son Jesus…and children and widows. – I would have said ‘religion’ but I’m lowly interested in religion actually. … but boy, what a bone of contention the name of Jesus has become in the past few years?! My belief has been a foundation for my life though – there is no shame in that for me. I will not disparage you for what you believe but I want to be a light, a reflection of Jesus, in a dark world.
The Bible says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
Health/Wellness: If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I strive to be as healthy as I can. This year was a challenge after losing a significant amount of weight, but I plan to keep working at it. I want to be strong in my mind, body and spirit in order to face life boldly.
This also includes keeping an orderly physical space. I don’t know about you but clutter around my house, also clutters my mind and thought processes. For some it doesn’t matter I know but I want to minimize where necessary keeping “junk” outnof my space.
You might want to call these four things New Year resolutions, but I don’t. I like ro call them Life Discoveries. One of the best things about being an adult is that you can make your own decisions about your life and you can live out the consequences; good or bad.
Hello 2019! Thank you Lord for breath, life, peace, salvation and hope!
It’s a joyous time of the year for the most part …but for some it will be a difficult time. Many people have lost loved ones this year.
I know of a wonderful family who recently lost their father/son/husband, late 50s, diagnosed with a rare cancer just a few weeks ago. I was reminded again how life is so fragile and is but a vapor. Psalm 144:4 tells us this… “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”
I am often at a loss for words during difficult times; in spite of deep feelings I have. I am thankful for an outlet in art to express myself and share my heart.
I saw this sweet, special moment in a photo of the gentleman who passed with his only grandson and wanted to do something with it for his wife. As I studied it, I felt I wanted to convey the time, place, mood, feeling, and memory of this photo rather than the exact replication of the faces. So, I attempted to do a pen and watercolor wash to capture all the things the photo revealed to me. When I presented it to his wife, she immediately recalled the week the family was together at the time this photo was taken. It’s just a quick sketch, not my typical style, but I think it fulfilled what I’d hoped to accomplish.
Say a prayer for those who are hurting this season… and go hug your people! ❤️
Earlier this year I decided I was going to write more about life in my blog posts. Vessels and Vittles started as a way to share my food-diet-health adventures, which are ongoing but as we all know… life is more than food.
Only problem, my life feels pretty nondescript, and rather average most days; I have a basic cycle of eat, sleep, work, church, draw, fixing stuff… lol… not necessarily in that order always…so I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about…. until now.
“Come and listen to my story ’bout girl named Jan…” [Sung to one of my fave oldie shows… the Beverly Hillbillies… lol…. for you youngsters.]
So, a few years ago, what attracted me to the little foreclosed white house on the corner with the overgrown trees and shrubs, was the 4′ white picket fence. For some reason, it gave me feelings of nostalgia; which is weird because I’ve never lived in a house with a white picket fence. I guess I had sweet visions about a little white house on the corner with the white picket fence and all the wonderful things that would happen inside; like a tv family or something.
Well, I now live in this house that I saw … except, over the years, the white picket fence had become mulchy, wobbly, and Picket Patrol was my newly acquired role …. counting how many pickets had just fallen off as I drove to and from home each day. With any bit of rain, or wind, I could be assured that at least some were hanging, dangling or flat-out on the ground.
One Sunday in December, out of sheer frustration, I took a quick picture of fallen pickets and when I got to my Connections class (a.k.a Sunday School) I asked the class teacher if he had ideas of how I could keep these pickets in place until Spring when I’d planned to have the entire fence rebuilt.
Stan, the teacher, had some ideas, he then asked another couple of guys in the class and before I knew it, they had decided to set up a time in the Spring to come rebuild the fence! Yes, rebuild the fence for me. I know… I was sort of stunned too. Really? OK. Since it was December, it wasn’t on the top of my list of things to do at the moment.
Let me stop here to tell you about this Connections class before I finish the story. Anyone who knows me, knows I am an Artist, a bit of a Writer, I like to dabble in computer technology a bit, and more than all I am a Christ follower. These days, that is enough to gain much slander and disdain, but that is not my concern. Anyway, a little over a year ago, after visiting/attending several churches in the area, I decided one Sunday morning to just go to one that was closer to my house than the others I’d attended… that happened to be Summit Baptist.
Honestly, I had all kinds of preconceived notions about its size, cultural make-up, preaching, etc. etc. but when I walked in there and sat down, I immediately knew something was different. My strategy when going to a new church was to get their much earlier than the service start time so I could go into the sanctuary, before the buzz of members, while it was quiet. I’d go and sit, and pray, and basically see how things seemed, spiritually. I’d say within 5 minutes, something in me just said this is where you belong. Seriously, I hadn’t felt that in a long time. As people started arriving, I waited to see what kind of response I’d get. I was shocked. Not only were they nice, but also friendly! There is a difference you know.
By the end of the service I’d met a lot of people, and as I drove home I thought I really like it here…. but I hadn’t planned to go again right way. There were other churches near me as well. Then, I thought about this lady I met that morning with a bright smile and a kind face (my now dear friend, Mary Ann) who greeted me, asked about me, and invited me to her Connections class – they are called the Encouragers. Long story short (too late, I know)…. I went back the next looking for Mary Ann and that class and that was it. I’ll blog more about this group and the church on another blog.
Back to the fence. A little more than a year later, this fence party is being planned. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d learned that several of the people in the class were participants in an organization called Builders for Christ where they go all over the country (and maybe world) helping to build buildings for churches and individuals in need of a structure. That was cool… I had no concern of their skill level or ability to do this project. I figured if they could build a church building then a fence should be a piece of cake. It was a relief for me… as I had run into several ill-equipped contractors in my day.
Step 1: I purchased all the pickets and my friends Mary Ann and Corky met me at the retailer and hauled all the pickets to my house, then they came a few weeks later and brought a friend, Sarah, and they painted all the pickets ( I pitched in when I could… I was working that day). I was amazed by how they did that… .still amazed.
Step 2: Cliff, Corky, Lewis, Clark and Lynn showed up a couple of weeks later and they started building sections of the fence. I was still amazed when I looked out there and saw the set up, and the precision. I still couldn’t believe they were all putting in time, effort, and sweat to do this for me.
Step 3: This was fence building day. Early Saturday morning… trucks and cars started arriving at my house. I could tell, these were people on a mission, for real. Folks, I can do a LOT of things but building a fence ain’t one of them. I felt so inadequate; I really wanted to know what I was doing and chip in but no skills here…so I provided the Chick-Fil-A mini-chicken biscuits. 😎
Neighbors stopped by, and even Quincy the dog came to see me.. along with is owner of course.. It was a great time for my neighborhood to meet some of the wonderful friends and see the Encouragers in ACTION.
Well, let me tell ya’ … about 3.5 hours later, the new fence was complete …. and it is beautiful (and sturdy) as ever.
Now, I mentioned Summit and the Encouragers class previously because as I watched this team of people working in my yard (from 9 years old to 80 years old) I almost felt like it was a dream. I mean, who does that for you? Really?
I can almost say, this is a life-changing experience. I know, it’s only a fence, but in a world, where division, altercations, hatred, negativity, racism, etc. is rising, I stood amazed by the amount of love that was being poured out that morning. It reiterated and reinforced my belief that family isn’t only the ones who share your physical bloodline, but it is also those who share the bloodline of Christ, which causes once complete strangers to not only worship together, but to share, work, serve, eat, weep, laugh, agree and disagree together in a broken world. These wonderful people are not only ‘the people I attend church with’ but they are brothers and sisters in Christ, these are people I serve alongside to minister and be a witness in a tough world.
Yes, I am a changed person because…. after all the hard work my brothers and sisters put in this past weekend, I can only say one thing….it looked liked a fence but it felt like LOVE. ❤️