There are times it sometimes feels like God is very far away. Or at least that my prayers are going unheard, unanswered. Last year around this same time, I had a couple very clear signs that God hears me – oh the prayers aren’t always answered the way I want, or when I want, but He hears and answers. And yet, like the people of Israel in the dessert, I grumble and complain and forget the marvels of the Lord. So he reminds me.
It is no secret that February (and winter in general) is hard for me. I’m sure I have some low grade Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and some high grade “I hate being cooped up” disorder. Add into that normal seasonal blahs, the fact that work has been insane and exhausting and you’ve got a perfect storm of tired, cranky, wants-to-hibernate-Reenie. Not awesome folks, not awesome at all. On Friday when I finally extricated myself from the office I was bone tired. Not just kind of glad it was Friday but exhausted to my core. I got home and actually said, out loud, to my dogs “We have got to get some flowers for this place.” The $1 potted primrose I bought on a whim at Home Depot last week wasn’t enough.
Saturday morning I roused myself, made coffee, and got Suzie out the door for a vet appointment. When I got home there was a box on my porch. Huh. I don’t
think I ordered anything. I opened it up and to my great surprise and delight there were two dozen gorgeous roses from a dear friend who thought I needed flowers to make February suck less. I actually teared up. I am so incredibly blessed to have friends who know and love me that well. What a gift. And the flowers are breathtaking!! They are going to make my life happier for at least the next week or two (maybe even until I get on a plane and head to visit some other sunshiney people in Phoenix for a long weekend).
That same night I went to a dinner auction with friends. At the end of the evening, we all took home flowers from the table. So exactly one day after I was majorly funked out and recognized my desperate need for flowers – God provided three gorgeous bouquets. Amazing. He hears. And this isn’t like one of those life changing “Please heal so and so of this terrible disease” prayers – the prayers I consider “important”. Nope, this was a little thing (and I didn’t even ask): flowers. And maybe, more importantly, what they symbolize for me: hope. And God’s abundant faithfulness.
So wherever you are and whatever little thing you need right now to give you that little push, ask God for it. He hears and provides with abundance! And then look around and take note of the things He provides – because it is incredible what we find when we take the time to notice the gifts He gives. And if He is nudging you to send flowers to someone, go for it – flowers are never a bad idea.
And in the answered prayers department: I’ve been praying for a small health issue for a young godson and it cleared up and they were able to cancel the surgery. Hooray! God is good!
Now if you could all join me in praying for a couple miraculous healings: a friend of mine undergoing chemo for his brain tumor and for a friend struggling with addiction and mental illness. Thank you!
I think we can probably go back for as long as I’ve had this blog and read the same post about my vacation week with the extended family, so I’m sorry for the monotony, but here it goes: I LOVE VACATION WITH MY EXTENDED FAM.
In the interest of finishing some plumbing and about a dozen other things, I went up Sunday night instead of Saturday afternoon. It was the right decision but of course hard to miss even a day with this crowd.
My uncle reminded me while we were up there that it was the 15th anniversary of my grandmother’s death. It is hard to believe it has been that long. And yet whenever we are together as a family, I can sense her there with us. Sometimes I can hear her laugh. I can see her twinkling blue eyes. I remember her sense of fun and adventure. Her love for family. Her absolute delight in being surrounded by her people. I always remember her laughing in delight at some silly antic or a story or when someone comes to show her something brilliant they did (and let’s face it, she thought we were all brilliant and told us so). I still miss that wonderful lady, but it is an honor to be part of her legacy and to share that with each other.
We were overdue for a Jane and Aunt Reenie adventure. I’d planned to be in town for a baseball game and figured I’d bring the puppy and snag the niece to accompany me. When the door opened, she handed me this little square she had embroidered for me. Obviously this is Daisy. As it happened, torrential downpours cancelled the game (much to Jane’s delight) and the three of us made our way to a cute cafe for ice cream and puppy time, hoping the rain would let up so we could take the pup for a walk afterward.
I love having my nieces and nephews over in a crowd and it happens fairly often. But I do love some one on one time with these awesome little people. You get to really know them one on one in a way it is hard to do as part of a pack. At the coffee shop, over ice cream, Jane and I discussed their recent trip and the museums she saw, I teased her about being able to finish that huge ice cream cone, we played a game of Sorry, and I found out she is a dark chocolate girl like me.
The rain finally let up so we took Daisy to Millpond Park, a big park along the river (which gets very swampy after a big rain), and there’s a dog park there so you can let the pup run free. Jane was SO excited. I mean, Daisy is her favorite dog (poor Suzie has been bumped I’m afraid). Jane was the first person I told when I got Daisy and she believes she named Daisy so they have a very special bond. As I handed Jane the leash (a bit nervous because Daisy isn’t very good at the leash yet), she looked up at me, eyes sparkling with delight. “Reenie, this is the best day ever. This is my very first time walking a puppy!” She and Daisy took off across the field, flitting to and fro, splashing through the puddles and delighted with life. So stinking cute.
We practiced some finer points of dog training (practicing Come, Sit, and Down). I explained to Jane some techniques like “If she is hurting you or jumping on you, don’t be afraid to push her off. She needs to learn.” Jane was in heaven and so was I. Such a nice evening spent with one of my favorite kids and my favorite puppy too.
As we flitted back to the car after a lot of park fun,Jane turns and said to me “Reenie, Daisy would be the PERFECT dog for me!”
Reenie: “What do you mean ‘would be’? Daisy IS the perfect dog for you! All the fun and none of the work!”
When I got to her house to deliver Jane back to her family, the other kids wanted to play with Daisy. So they took her for a short walk around the block and Jane was clearly the dog expert. “Lucy, if Daisy is hurting you or jumping on you, don’t be afraid to push her off. She needs to learn.” “I know Jane.” “Geno, here’s how you hold the leash – hand in the loop and then hold the leash like this.” “I know Jane!” It was pretty awesome.
I am so thankful for the wonderful little people God has put into my life and for moments like this to just be together. Life is good.
My friend coined the term “joy hoarding” when her cat would gather all of her favorite toys: string, feather, catnip mouse, etc and bring them all to the middle of the floor and then lay among them, tail twitching in delight as she purred and encouraged my friend to play with her.
This image often comes to mind because I realize that I do quite a bit of joy hoarding myself. Like that huge party I had a few weeks ago. Sure, it was a lot of work getting ready and as the hostess, I felt like I barely got to really visit with anyone. But there I was, in my gorgeous yard, surrounded by most of my favorite people, drinking good beer, enjoying the beautiful summer weather… joy hoarding.
Last week felt like a joy hoarding week for me as I got to spend time with a lot of friends all in one short week. Tuesday with my grandparents, Wednesday with a couple girlfriends, Thursday a couple other girlfriends, Friday catching up with a friend, Saturday working at my house on the fence with my brother and his wife, dinner out with a friend, Sunday brunch with friends, some quiet down time, softball (my teams playing each other which is always my favorite), and then friends over afterward. A very full week of joy hoarding!!
Last night I had an unexpected weeknight off (I should have known it was coming but forgot to take my regular appointment off my calendar). I call those bonus nights. Because to have an unexpected evening free feels like winning the lottery. BONUS!!! It was hot and humid, and somehow I still love it. I pulled out the cabinet I’ve been stripping for weeks and dragged it onto the patio. I removed the back and doors and did a lot more sanding. And then painted the first coat of paint on it. So there I was, on my own patio, enjoying my gorgeous yard, the birds singing, pigeons flying overhead, the dogs lounging on the patio nearby, lime in my ice water, a soft breeze on the humid air, some much needed alone time after all the socializing in the last week– joy hoarding.
Sometimes I hesitate to write stuff like this because I feel that it makes my life look unrealistically charmed. It isn’t. There are hard things, heartbreak. There’s that empty bank account and relationships that need work. There’s the loneliness of the single life, the exhaustion from my job, my house, my life. There are days I just cannot get my act together (in countless ways) and those two baskets of unfolded laundry wrinkling as we speak. There is frustration of constantly running headlong into my own weakness and limitations. So I’m not saying that I live some kind of charmed, idyllic life. Far from it.
What I am saying is that there is joy to be found every time I look. So I am intentionally looking and finding the many, many blessings in my life and thanking the Father who loves me with such abundance.
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:9-11
What are you joy hoarding today?
Sometimes in the midst of the push to get things done, I forget to stop and take in the beauty all around me. Or while I’m out there pruning (can you tell I’ve been doing a lot of pruning?) I keep thinking I should take a break and take some photos of all the loveliness. So here’s a few shots from my photo walk the other evening. I am determined to take the occasional break and share some of the loveliness. It really is breathtaking. I am so blessed.