cats · Christianity · Spirituality

The Mighty Hunter

The Mighty Hunter

“There’s a chipmunk in the house!” This was not something I wanted to hear at 6 am as I was getting ready for work. “Where’s Nellie?” Keith asked breathlessly, referring to our sweet lap kitty, who is also a mean hunter. “Right there,” I said, as I suddenly saw Nellie, crouched in the corner of the bedroom, the unfortunate chipmunk dangling from his mouth in a death grip. Keith came in with the fishing net, which we keep handy for emergencies such as this, and we approached Nellie and the chipmunk. But Nellie looked at us with fierce eyes and started growling down deep in his throat, clearly letting us know that it was his catch and he was not about to let us have it. “We’re just going to have to take Nellie outside,” I said, so with Keith holding the net under the chipmunk in case Nellie decided to release the jaws of death, I picked Nellie up and we safely deposited him and his prey onto the back porch. Sadly, the chipmunk was not seen again, so we can only hope that he escaped – but Nellie had a satisfied look when he returned to the house later!

I have laughed over this episode, and Nellie’s determination to hold on to his prize (how excited he must have been to have a small animal run right under his nose in the house!) I wonder at times if God looks down on me the way I look at Nellie. How often does God look at me and see me holding on tightly to earthly things just as Nellie possessively held on to the chipmunk? I growl and holler “Mine!” when it comes to my belongings and money. And I also don’t want to let go of my hurt feelings, my jealousies and envy of others, my anger over past events, my critical comments, my prejudices. Just as Nellie dared us to take what he had worked for, I feel that I have a right to all of these!

Certainly I go about my life much like Nellie, expecting that my needs will be taken care of. Nellie often sits in front of his food bowl, waiting for it to be miraculously filled. He has trained us to let him in when he “knocks” on the back door by pushing on the broken screen. If he gets left outside in the cold while we go out to eat, he meets us at the car with irritable meows. He is the center of his universe! But despite his idiosyncrasies, we still love our kitty. After all, he is just being a cat and I believe God looks down at me in all my mess and says, “Well, she’s just being a human.” I do hope that sometimes God sees me showing Him the affection I receive from Nellie. He often crawls right up to lie on my chest, with his paws under my chin, and then just relaxes, purring contentedly. I want to rest in God’s arms in the same way, knowing I am safe and secure.

Christianity · Christmas · Spirituality · Uncategorized

The Post Christmas Blahs

I have the post-Christmas blahs.

I’m not talking the ‘sit in the corner and cry‘ type of depression or the ‘stay in bed with the covers over your head’  kind – I just have the lethargy that comes when it is cold and wet and dreary and the excitement of getting ready for the big day is over, and I know that now I have to put all these decorations up and start straightening the house and thinking about eating better and getting up early to go back to work in another week. Adam and his dog Molly left yesterday, so no happy jingle of Molly’s collar greeted me as she bounded out of the bedroom, and even though I am going to see Adam on Tuesday, after that it will be weeks until I see him again and I miss him already.  Everything is sopping wet and gray outside and I know this will be our weather off and on for at least the next two months. I’m just in a funk.

Wet and dreary yard! 

Surprisingly, I found a light at the end of the tunnel through science – more specifically, in a time and date chart showing the sunrise and sunsets for the upcoming months. It started in our current Sunday School class book, Not a Silent Night, by Adam Hamilton. This small book looks at the Christmas story through Mary’s eyes and has many thought provoking ideas. Hamilton reminds us that Jesus came to this world to bring light –

“In Him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overome it” (John 1:4-5)

The early Christians put so much weight on this idea of Christ coming to bring light to the world that they probably set December 25th as His birthday to coincide with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  Hamilton says that this is “literally the night when darkness is defeated.” (page 121) 

After the solstice the days begin to get longer. I usually think of Christmas as starting the winter, and even though we do get the majority of our bad weather in January – March, the short days are actually getting longer from here on out. Looking at the chart is fascinating – our solstice here in Georgia was December 21st, when we had 9 hours, 52 minutes and 58 seconds of daylight. On December 22, that daylight increased by one second – but it increased! And if you look at the chart, you can see that each day keeps getting a few seconds more of daylight as our earth goes through its rotation around the sun, so imperceptibly that we don’t even notice until about March or April when we say – Hey, the days are longer.

So Christmas comes at our darkest time.

In 2002, my father passed away a few days before Christmas. Less than two months later, in February, my mother in law Robbie, died suddenly. It was a bleak time for me. I felt a certain measure of guilt over Robbie’s death because she thought she had a stomach virus and insisted she didn’t need to go to the doctor, so I didn’t take her and then she had an aneurysm and died. I kept thinking at that time that I just wanted to get through to the spring – I felt I could make it if I could see the flowers and feel the warm sun. The spring did come that year, as it does each year, and the hard time passed.

My funk will be improved with some sunshine, but I know people right now who are going to have a long, dark winter. They have been through life changing losses and some are struggling with aging parents, problems with their children and health issues. But as Paul says – “We do not lose heart! Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16) Just as the sunlight is getting slightly more each day, we are getting closer to the true light each day even if we are not aware of it. By praying, reading and persevering in our desire to know God, we are being renewed and changed. And that gives me hope.

 

 

health · Menopause · Running · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Still outrunning old age

I’m sure those of you who read my last blog about my elevated cholesterol levels have been anxiously waiting to hear about my doctor appointment this week (please hear the sarcasm in this!) I met on Thursday with sweet Dr. Wood who let me know  that my cholesterol was up because my good HDL was high – as predicted by Dr. Laura Lomax. She also was not overly concerned about my bone density, unlike the bone scan technician who had me feeling like I was one stumble away from a wheelchair. 

As Dr. Wood and I finished our discussion, she showed me a computer program that she used to calculate my chances of having a broken bone in the next 35 years. Right now I have a .2 chance of having a hip fracture and 7.7 chance of another type of break. When I am 90, that number goes up to 20% for the hip and 35% for the rest of my bones. She passed this information on to me with a smile and a reassurance that all was well. 

Those graphs have been on my mind since then – my future fractures measured out in nice neat numbers and scientific predictions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had graphical predictions for everything that is going to happen in the future? Maybe a graph to let me know when I am going to become widowed? Or one to tell me when to expect cancer to sneak up on me? How about one that shows me how Adam’s life is going to play out over the next 35 years?

I recently finished a Young Adult trilogy called Matched by Ally Conde, set in a future world where the government controls every aspect of life in order to ensure a safe and happy life for its citizens. The “Society’ determines what each person eats and how much they exercise and has eradicated cancer and other life threatening diseases so that everyone lives into their 80’s, when they are euthanized at a special ceremony. The government chooses each person’s vocation and life mate – everything is well ordered, predictable and comfortable. 

As with all utopian societies, an element of unrest is percolating beneath the surface. Conde’s theme throughout the book is that people need choice in their lives, from their life’s mate to the books they read. Her characters risk their lives for a life that is more than just safe and secure. If I could get a printout of my next 35 years, would I want it? I don’t think so. 

I heard again today of another man dying too young, the friend of my cousin Garner who left behind a wife and 10 year old son, a triathlete with no family history of heart disease. Would a graph of his life have predicted this outcome? Probably not. The graph from my doctor assumes I will not trip on a curb on an early morning run or fall over my cat getting up from the couch. Like it or not, life is unpredictable.

But that is what we have, and I have decided to quit worrying. Each run is a gift, a thanksgiving to God for my healthy body and all that is good in my life. Today I gloried in the sunny day, the bright red of the fuschia bushes in front of the house, and  the mountain views at the top of the hill. 

My reward for making it up the hill

 As the Psalmist says, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I thank God each day for this healthy body He has given me and for the life I have. During this Thanksgiving season, be sure to give Him praise for what He has given you.

Christianity · Spirituality · Uncategorized

Our summer garden

Summer 2014 has been the year of the garden for Keith and me out here in Sugar Valley. The rain and sun have worked perfectly together for us to have our best garden in years. Our cup runneth over with tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and green beans, with corn coming soon. It is the richest feeling in the world. 

Each morning is a treasure hunt as I go out to see what the day’s harvest will bring. I pull back vines and leaves in search of the crisp cucumbers and squash, then move onto the tomato plants which are straining at the twine we wrapped around them in June. I love finding the green beans hanging at the bottom of the plants, just waiting to be pulled off. The okra is not as much fun, requiring long sleeves and a certain bravery to head into the heavy foliage, which makes me itch.  I leave that to Keith as much as possible.  

 

I was raised in the suburbs, but I was always attracted to the country life and I am blessed to live here. I love the simplicity of picking food from a plant in my yard and eating it. Working in the garden gives me such a connection to people from the past. We don’t plow with a mule and I don’t wear a bonnet and long dress, but otherwise not much has changed with growing vegetables in a hundred years. Fortunately though, I am not dependent on our garden for food over the winter. If the early frost comes or the rains don’t fall, I know that I will be able to buy what I need at the store. I can’t imagine how stressful life was in the days when the garden meant life or death.  

Canning our tomatoes

 

Working in the garden makes me feel close to my family. Both of my granddaddies put in big gardens and loved to watch things grow and I think about them when I am out pulling weeds or checking the beans. My 85 year old aunt Mary Frances once stayed up all night with my mother in the hospital, then went home and planted tomatoes. My uncle Maynard loved his big garden, and was working there one March day when he fell over and died from a heart attack. Daddy loved to garden but by the time he was retired, he and Mama were living in a neighborhood with big shade trees which were not very good for vegetables. He filled his yard with impatience and azaleas instead.

 

In a few short weeks, I will be back to school, getting up before dark, wearing my long pants and nice shirts in place of shorts and tshirts, and being forced to be inside. I will miss the peace and quiet of my garden, the hawk who calls each morning, and the dew on my shoes as I hunt for cucumbers. The plants will soon start to shrivel up and quit bearing their treasures. As the days shorten and a few cool breezes start to blow, we will pull them up and plow them under and the fall will be here. Gardening teaches me to enjoy the bounty I have right now, because tomorrow it can be gone. 

 

One of my favorite things from my parents’ house is a metal sign Mama gave Daddy to put out in his flower bed. It reads: “The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth,  one is closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth.”  I have it by my flowers at the back steps and look at it every day. I think about my daddy filling his backyard with flowers, my granddadies bringing in bushels of butterbeans and corn, and all the ones who tilled this garden before me. We are all connected by our love of getting our hands dirty and watching things grow. Just as Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the morning, I hear Him rustling in the leaves and we enjoy our time together.