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As August ends

The month of August signals the end of summer, and it brought a mixture of emotions. Its ending marks eight months of 2020 in past tense, over half of it spent in quarantine, covered faces, and rising discord.

It will not be so different tomorrow when September begins new and fresh. Still, I will greet the new month with gladness, anticipating grace from a loving Savior and His peace in the midst of this storm.

The gardens flourish and bring me pleasure, unlike 2019. Last year’s journal records the yard out of control, driving me to despair. While I categorize my gardening style as somewhat wild and slightly unruly, like my messy hairstyle, it is agreeable enough and satisfying this year.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”The Nester, Myquillyn Smith

Surprisingly, all my zinnias bloomed pink until yesterday when an orange one opened. It stands out different, reaffirming the uniqueness of all God’s creations. The variety and colors on the deck, by the sidewalk, and on the front porch remind me why I wear myself out with yard work.

For eight months I’ve listened to Daily Audio Bible, beginning January 1, a year-long program taking me through the entire Bible. I’ve made progress by simply tuning in each day. The rewards are more than I expected, hearing the ancient words read to me, noticing details I’ve skimmed over in years past.

A week ago, the reading was in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul expounding on the resurrection. I listened to the comparison of a body to a seed buried in the ground that will rise from the earth amazingly transformed. I pictured a small sunflower seed changed into the grandest of flowers, an astonishing transfiguration. As a sower of seeds, I witness the change every summer, the death of the seeds resulting in extraordinary arrays of color and shape in my garden. How much more remarkable will our glorified bodies be?

I’ve read a lot of books this year, because, well, that’s one thing we’ve not been advised to stop doing. This month I finished Brain Wash by David and Austin Perlmutter, father and son and both medical doctors. The message seeks to direct us toward good brain health through “clearer thinking, deeper relationships, and lasting happiness.”

The chapters encouraged disconnecting from so much technology, practicing gratitude, spending time in nature, eating natural food versus processed, getting exercise, being mindful, and strengthening relational bonds. All of this with the goal of a healthier brain.

I read with rapt interest, since keeping my brain strong and vital is a real concern. One concept worth mentioning is the isolation and loneliness we experience in a society so easily and quickly connected through technology. Apparently, this is not sufficient for the human need for relationship.

The 2020 pandemic has divided us further from personal encounters. As I enter the grocery store, masked for protection, I avoid people and don’t make much eye contact. I self-check out so I am the one handling my purchases.

As I slowly began mingling with people again, piano students, friends, church, there is the hesitation to shake hands or give a hug, what was natural as rain last year and done without a second thought. Now, seeing someone to our door after a visit, we stand awkwardly, wondering if it’s safe to wrap an arm around each other. This is heartbreaking to me.

We are missing the “power of interpersonal relationships and all the benefits they confer. . . . [T]hese ties to our friends, families, and society as a whole are essential for everything,” according the Drs. Perlmutter.

It makes me wonder if the greatest threat to our world is not coronavirus, but the separateness we are experiencing because of fear, anxiety and anger. Those things register high on our emotional thermometer these days.

Our Creator is relational to the core of His being. He created us for relationship, first with Himself and then with each other. Sin brought disconnection, brokenness, and we are lost with our wounded hearts.

Jesus offers us Himself completely, openly, without reservations. He invites us to come. No reservations. No pretense. No mask. We are welcomed just like we are. He restores the fragmented pieces. He puts His love inside and we are made whole again. Whole to live and love like Him.

I am weary of the world as it is. I long for something else, for the transformation of my earthly seed into the extravagance of the incorruptible.

Until then, I am called to live my one wonderful life on this earth following God where He leads me, loving the people He puts in my path, and pointing them to Jesus, the healer of broken hearts.

Tuesday thoughts

August is a different month. It is the only one in the year with no legal/religious holidays, although I found a list for some that are bizarre and unique.

In fact, today is “Sneak Some Zucchini onto your Neighbor’s Porch Day.” Hum. I’ve already missed National Chocolate Chip Day and National Watermelon Day. But I could still celebrate both if I choose.

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School buses will begin running this week, the children waiting with new backpacks and supplies. Teachers will anticipate a little chaos and parents are hoping to get back to a regular schedule so “things settle down.” I’m not sure that ever happens in our rushed, over-committed kind of living.

The Kentucky State Fair begins August 17. When I was a youngster, the fair was our last hooray before school started in September. Our family always went on a Saturday. My parents, my aunt and my cousins piled into the car, arriving early and planning to stay all day.

 

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Dad liked the army displays. I liked all the farm animals. We ate corn dogs and drank the fresh squeezed lemonade. It was a fun, family activity, and we were worn out at day’s end.

One exciting event in August this year is the total solar eclipse visible in the United States, and I am looking forward to the 21st. Nothing will be on my calendar except to experience it. I’ll probably brew a pot of afternoon coffee and take my seat outdoors. The free glasses I got from my library are supposed to be a safe way to observe this phenomenon.

The eclipse and the wonder of our world brings a verse in Job 26:14 to mind,

And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

Though August has no holidays, there are reasons to celebrate. In fact, every day is a reason to celebrate. It is the day God has made and handed to us as a gift. We should rejoice and be glad.

I acknowledge that there are problems and heartaches, and some days we can only put one foot in front of the other. But there is a God in heaven who sees the earth He created. He is not too busy or distracted to care about each person individually.  He is involved in our daily lives and is always working out His purpose for us and through us. It’s an amazing thought and something upon which to meditate.

If we only hear God’s faint whisper, perhaps the thunder of His power is His everlasting, unchangeable, inexplicable love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son . . . ”

Something to consider. Something to celebrate.

And those are my Tuesday thoughts.

 

August ending

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August is winding down, and for me it is really the last month of summer.  While we may still have some warm days next month, I begin to think about snugly clothes and fires on the hearth and shorter days that signal the end of harvest season.

Each season presents its own glories.  I want to enjoy each one in the beauty it offers.

Summer gave me fruits and flowers from the garden, the smell of fresh-cut grass, birds galore on the back deck, and butterflies hovering over blooms.  It gave long, lingering days and time to visit with friends.  And it gave Sweet William and me five wonderful weeks with our three grandchildren who live away.  For five weeks they were here, running the lane with cousins, visiting former school friends and present relatives.  We had fun together, drank pots of coffee, played games, watched movies all snuggled on the couch, and time was precious.  Too quickly they are gone.

I’ve learned some things during the summer or perhaps rediscovered them.

One is this.  When life feels like it is spiraling wildly on its own orbit and I can’t stop the madness, I start cleaning out.  If my emotions are in a tornado, I will organize the desk drawer, sort paper clips by size, and put pencils and pens in separate slots.  I see all the superfluous items that take up too much room in my house and my life, and in a frenzy I start making a pile to discard.

I talk to myself through the process with such comments as: “Why do I have so much stuff?”  What in the world am I saving this for?”  What is wrong with me that I can’t let go of these collections?”  And most importantly of all, “Why do I keep accumulating more?”

With my emotional roller coaster rides, I should have the tidiest house in the world.

The stacks of discards get bigger as I look into hidden places.  The Goodwill box in the garage has filled and I really need to make another car run there.  I just realized I’ve been saving tax returns for way too many years and that the files in drawers full to the brim can actually be shredded.  Why didn’t I know that?

A couple of days after I began my frenzy, something clicked in my mind.  I organize when I am feeling stressed and out of control.  When I cannot do anything about that which troubles me, I side track and start taking control of something I can.  I’m not yet sure if this is a healthy, if it is a good coping mechanism or not.

Is it OK to focus on something within my power to do while I release my brain, even for just a little while, from the concerns that I am powerless to do anything about?

I’m still working on that quandary.

In this season of life, the Lord is teaching me to trust Him when I can’t see past today or tomorrow.  And haven’t I been around this curve before?  Of course I have.  Sometimes, I slip into forgetfulness that God is the only One in control, and that I am definitely not.  Patiently, He teaches me again.

He has reminded me through so many different avenues recently that He is big and He is strong and He is able to handle what seems insurmountable to me.  That the concerns of my heart are also a concern of His.  That the ones I hold so dear and love so deeply are the ones He loves most and gave His life for.

While I am so limited in what I can do (cleaning out a closet), He is limitless in power and wisdom, and He will do whatever it takes to accomplish His purpose in the lives of those I love and care so much about.

He is God Almighty.  His promises are sure.  He will not fail.

So as I prepare to enter the next season, I am looking into the face of He who planned seasons, controls them, and fulfills His divine purpose through them.  He loves me.  He loves them.  My prayers are heard.

And I am learning to trust Him even more.

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