Heart Rot

February…the month we think a lot about hearts.

Usually not too much about a condition called “Heart Rot”….

I shared this post last year…but it was a great reminder to me, so I thought I would share it again.

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Several years ago when our middle daughter was 2 years-old

she was playing in a spot on the driveway …. under the largest,

prettiest oak tree in our yard.

I called her inside and a couple of minutes later Handsome came home

and parked in the spot that she had been playing.

Five minutes later we heard an awful sound….

like a huge explosion.

When we looked outside the large, beautiful oak tree had dropped one of its

largest branches onto Handsome’s car…..completely crushing it flat.

Just minutes earlier that would have been our little one.

We cleaned up the mess…it took days; and then had some

tree experts look at the tree.

On the outside the tree was absolutely beautiful…the picture of perfect health.

The loveliest in the yard….our favorite.

But inside it suffered from a condition called ‘heart rot’.

In other words…..the entire heart of the tree was completely rotten.

We had to take down this lovely creature. We were sad.

Here are some pictures I took during our autumn trip to Monticello in Virginia….

the home of Thomas Jefferson.

This is what heart rot looks like in a tree.

These lovely trees were gorgeous and appeared very prolific and healthy,

but when a storm came, they crumbled.

Heart Rot.

Trees are not the only living things that can get heart rot.

We can, too.

We can look and appear wonderful on the outside,

when on the inside {our heart} is rotting away.

When our hearts are left unchecked, untended….

or filled with what they were not intended to hold….

heart rot sets in.

Maybe it is past wounds that have been stuffed,

bitterness, unforgiveness, lies, answer envy…

{You know, when you feel like you are seeing everyone else’s prayers, dreams, etc. being answered and fulfilled and it seems yours are unheard and ignored….yep,

that’s answer envy…and it will easily lead to heart rot.}

A myriad of things can contribute to human heart rot.

In trees….there is no cure. The tree must be taken down. But, for us there is hope!

We can change course, perspective, choose to begin filling our hearts with truth,

and the rot can be turned into a thriving, lush heart again.

It takes work…but so worth it.

Several times in my life I’ve experienced heart rot try to set in.

It’s not pretty…and I don’t want it.

It will take diligence and intention to steer clear.

Have you checked yourself lately for heart rot?

This month of hearts is a great time to do it.

 Blessings~

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Finding the Lovely {Week 1}

Last year for the month of February I had fun with a weekly post called ‘Finding the Lovely’. You can check out last year’s Finding the Lovely posts here.

It was part of being intentional about finding and SEEING the loveliness each week and capturing it spontaneously….on my phone’s camera. To stop and SEE all the fun, lovely things that happen each week. It’s fun…why don’t you join me!? I lt was great at the end of the week to look back over what I’d quickly documented…..and have proof of all the wonderful, lovely blessings that have happened throughout the week. Even if I feel like it’s been a rough or ‘bad’ week…..when I look back over what I’ve documented, it’s proof that even rough weeks are full of loveliness.  And at the end of weeks that I think have been wonderful….I get to look back over and remember. There is always loveliness to be noticed…it’s everywhere.

I challenge you to try it. As you go through your day capture things on your phone’s camera….anything that makes you smile or that you think is lovely, fun, etc. At the end of the week go back and look through all those things. Focus on the lovely. The gifts. The blessings that find you each day.

For the next several Fridays I thought I would share my Finding the Lovely right here.

For this week…….

Finding the Lovely - Week 1

Art brushes….they make my heart sing!

Getting the first spoonful of peanut butter =)

A little spring on the table on a super cold day….

Words of comfort and encouragement

A gorgeous sky on my early morning run

Getting to do some mini art with my new art pencils for someone that needed encouraging

A wonderful gift of 48 vintage, wooden, folding chairs….have always wanted some of these!

A barn full of treasures…waiting to be loved again

A daughter’s beautiful music….it always ministers to me

Belgian waffles for dinner

A fun daughter….love spending time with her

Having a frappuccino girls’ afternoon date!

A fun game of Chinese checkers with the whole family

Ice crystals sparkling

Chinese delivery in front of the fire during an ice storm

Daffodils saved from the ice and sitting on the sill

May you have a weekend full of finding the lovely~

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Silent and Listen……

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working on listening better. Letting there be silence. It’s not my forte…..so I have to really work hard at it.

As Handsome and I have been working on regrouping….and getting excited about what that may bring……I’ve really tried to be silent. To hear God’s voice better. For things to be more clear…..and several days ago as I wrote in my journal I realized something:

Silent and Listen have the exact same letters.

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I’ve always enjoyed having solitude…getting away from all the hustle, bustle, demands, noise, etc. But if I’m not intentional….I can’t ever get away from the noise in my head—the ramblings, ideas, plans, what ifs…….even in solitude there can be distractions and noise. We may think it’s hard to get away from others….but it’s even harder to get away from ourselves……and be silent……and listen. Rest. Trust.

Trying to be silent and listen~

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It’s My Favorite When……

I love to see people operating in their gifts. It comes with such ease….even though I know there has been lots of hard work. They are in their sweet spot…their element.

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It blesses me and ministers to me profoundly when I am around people that are using their talents fully. Just a few months ago I was at one of my children’s concerts…and after they performed there was a lovely lady that sang a beautiful Italian song with the orchestra backing her up. Her talent was astounding! Many people can sing..and sing well….but when you experience someone that is truly gifted…it affects you. She did not strive. She did not boast or work to get the audience’s attention. When she opened her mouth…..attention was immediate. Sure, she trained at a conservatory and practices hard…..she gave up her professional career to start and raise her family. But, no amount of training could produce the sound that came from her being. She was in her sweet spot…..sharing a God-given talent. Her eyes sparkled.

You can tell when someone is operating in their gifts…..it brings them so much joy. Joy that spills out to all those that are around.  What is your sweet spot? Do you love hospitality and opening your home to others? Are you happiest when you paint or sew……or organize? Are you a performer {sing, dance, act, play a musical instrument} or an administrator that can get the job done? Do you have a special way with encouraging others or lighting fires under them? Are you a teacher or speaker?  Do you love to throw parties or brew a great cup of coffee and sit down with people as a mentor? Do you love science or math? Do you like to walk beside people through life’s ups and downs?

What is your sweet spot? What makes your heart sing? What is it that when given the opportunity to do it your eyes sparkle?

I’d love to know…..

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Turning Toward the Light…..

I don’t know about you…but I sometimes focus on the things that aren’t really important. I can get caught up in circumstances and how things seem….and trying to do things through my own strength. On my own. Focusing on my abilities and weaknesses…and letting them determine the success or failures of my days or weeks.

I lose perspective.

I get off track.

And I wear myself out.

Those of you that have been with me for a while know how much I LOVE hydrangeas.  Our garden is full of all kinds…. and when they are in bloom our cottage is filled with them.

Several weeks ago I had them in every room …. and they were all so pretty.  Big, beautiful blooms standing tall and brightening every spot that they graced.

But there was this little one. It was a bit different. It was just as beautiful as all the others…but it didn’t seem to be trying to impress anyone or show off its beauty.

No matter where I put it, it turned toward the light. I would turn it around and by the end of the day it had craned its beautiful neck to turn back to wherever the strongest amount of light was.

After a week or so all the other hydrangeas around the house had dried or wilted…they were spent and needed to be replaced. They had been beautiful, and strived and toiled each day to appear so.

But this little one….that turned toward the light? Well, it stayed fresh and beautiful for over 6 weeks! It never wilted. When it did dry…..it kept its full color and was still standing tall.

I learned a lot from this little hydrangea. I need to be like this little hydrangea. I need to keep my focus on the Light {God} and not on what is going on around me. If I keep my focus on Him no matter what the circumstances……I won’t wilt. I won’t lose my color. I will keep the right perspective through all situations.

I don’t need to try to figure everything out. I just need to stay focused on the One that already has it figured out.

As stubborn and hard-headed as I am……this little hydrangea got through to me. 😉

Refocusing~

Training is the Opposite of Hoping……

I saw this phrase quite a while ago….I think it is one of Nike’s new slogans. I absolutely love it. Thinking through it….it’s quite a powerful phrase.

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Training is not only having intention…it’s having a plan and working through it. It’s painful sometimes…but has big payoffs. Good ones. God ones. My word for this year is Intentional. I shared about it here. Intention is only the beginning of training.

We can train for life….or we can sit around and hope. Hope is wonderful…and definitely necessary on our journey; but it sits in the passenger seat and is passive. Training sits in the driver’s seat and does something about what hope got started.

Training for life is not for wimps…it’s tough. Life is so very daily. But I want to rise to the occasion and take all those hopes I have…..and intentionally train for them.

{Even on days like today when I’m in the driver’s seat training and I would like to have a Chinese fire drill and become a passenger for a bit of a break! ha!}

How’s your life training going? Training? Or just hoping?

Sweaty~

“The Walk” {A Post by Handsome}

Handsome is a great writer…….and he wrote this special ‘allegory’ several years ago. I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed the others that it has been shared with.

A great reminder of staying close to our Father…and how patient He is with us. Something to ponder for you weekend………

fathers and sons

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The Walk

copyright 2004, Keith Pitman

I can remember early in life when I went for a walk with my Dad.  We walked and talked, sang and laughed, and played—and had lots of fun.  My Dad was bigger than anybody and could do anything.
My Dad was never in a hurry, he walked at my pace.  When I slowed down, so did he.  When I went fast, there he was beside me. I remember times when I would turn circles on our walk.
Sometimes I would do so many I would fall down.  But whenever I did, if I lost site of my Dad, he would be right there beside me; and in his still soft voice say “Here I am”.  Smiling, he would help me up and we would continue our walk.
It was on this walk that all of a sudden I stepped right into a puddle.  Now this was something new. Water splashed up, my feet got wet.  It was a strange feeling—frightening and exciting at the same time.  Whatever the feeling was…I decided I liked it.
I remember looking up and seeing puddles everywhere.  Some big, some small, some clear, some muddy.  It was at this moment that I knew this was going to be fun.  As we continued walking I would step into these puddles on purpose.  Then, the next thing I knew I found myself walking aimlessly along that path being sure not to miss a puddle.
 I shuffled my feet through them, stomped in them, marched in them, baby stepped, ran, hopping, jumping… and any other way I could to pass through them.
AND THEN. There it was…the biggest and muddiest puddle yet seen on that walk.  And without hesitation I jumped right in, sat down, and had a good time.  I splashed and threw mud then I laid down and rolled around.
After a while I remembered that I was on a walk with my Dad.  I stood up and looked the way we had come and didn’t see him.  I guess my Dad knew I was looking for him and in his still soft voice said, “Here I am.” There he was on the other side of that puddle waiting to continue our walk.
I jumped out of the puddle and remember looking in his eyes and seeing disappointment.  Suddenly I was ashamed at what I had done, and could not look at him.  But I remember him wiping me off and cleaning me up.  And when I looked at his face again, there was that smile.
We started walking again and before I knew it I was on the ground.  I had stepped into a hole.  This was something new.  I remember holding my Dad’s hand and jumping over these holes.  Some little, some bigger, some shallow, and some deep.  I jumped over and over these holes.
I had, at sometime during this jump fest, let go of my Dad’s hand.  Not bothered by this I continued jumping over these holes…but now they seemed to get harder to jump over.  I wasn’t sure if Dad had been helping me or was I just getting tired and couldn’t jump as hard.  But whatever the case I had just gotten into a GIANT hole.
I was determined to jump it on my own.  I’d jump and miss, so went back and jumped again.  And I missed again.  Over and over I tried to jump that hole…but could never manage.  I was going to try one more time—and get a running start.  I jumped higher and farther and harder than before; and when I came down I landed flat on my face…not any closer to the other side than any other time.  It was then that I realized that it was my Dad who had been helping jump these holes.  Then I heard it! “Here I am..”  I looked up and there was my Dad ready to help me up, and waiting to continue our walk.
As we started walking again I looked around and saw the most interesting things on both sides of the path.  Beautiful things…natural things like flowers and trees and rocks and animals.  Things I had never, or thought I had never, seen before.  I became distracted and wanted to get a closer look at these things; I went from one side of the path to the other to get a better look.
They were so beautiful that I wondered what I had missed along the way; so I thought I’d go back to make sure I hadn’t missed anything really interesting.  After a while, I remembered that I was on a walk with Dad.  How selfish of me to go back to see the things I didn’t see before…and leave my Dad while I did this.  It was at that moment that I heard these still soft words,  “Here I am”.  I turned around and there was my Dad right there beside me—still ready to walk.
After I turned around, and we started to walk again, I looked around me and saw all the obstacles—the puddles, the potholes, and the distractions.  They all had been there all along…the whole time on the whole walk.  And then I realized that at the beginning of my walk, when all my attention had been on my Dad…the talking, laughing, singing, and playing…all my focus on him, I missed every one of them.  More importantly, I recognized that as long as I’m paying attention to my Dad we seem to miss all the obstacles.
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Enjoy your walk~

Through the Storms…..

For your weekend I wanted to share an amazing picture with you. I just love it.  It was sent to me and I don’t know who the photographer is or how to credit it. {If it is you or you know who to credit..please let me know.}

Psalm 91:4

It reminds me of Psalm 91:4…..

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

We don’t need to fear about tomorrow…because God is already there. Storms may be raging, but we are tucked up under His wing.

I don’t know about you…but I need to be reminded of that. Often.

I have times of feeling like I’ve fallen off the branch, and I’m flailing toward the ground.

But I’m not…it’s just the wind blowing around me. I just need to sit tight.

Anyone else need to be reminded of this?

In the feathers~

Briars {In the Garden and Life}

I don’t like to wear gloves when I garden.

But we have these pesky briars that grow in many places throughout our garden.

I tried and tried to figure out how to pull them up without having to put on my gloves and I was pricked every time.

Then I starting thinking….I wonder if the briars go all the way down to the roots???? So, I dug a little around the root and realized that there were none once you reached down under all the soil….all the way to the root. But you had to get dirty.

God has always used nature, gardening, art….to speak to me and teach me lessons. As I was pulling several briars up a while ago I realized that there is such a wonderful parallel in life…something that I need to be reminded of often.

People can have briars just like these pesky weeds. You know, they are the ones you don’t enjoy being around, that get on your nerves, that are always grumpy……

You feel like you have to ‘put on your gloves’ to deal with them….or stay far away.

It seems as if they are weeds in the garden of life.

But the truth is…..way down by the root, there are no briars….usually just some soft wounds.  The briars are their protection…or what they THINK is their protection.

If we are willing to get dirty….and get below the briars we can see a whole different ‘plant’.

One that was very different when it started growing.

This perspective has helped me a lot when dealing with the ‘briars’ that cross my path….in life and in the garden.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend~

Just Like Air….God is There.

I do not know why…but lately I have really been struggling with anxiety.

It’s strange…because it is not normal for me. You know, Miss Independent, strong-willed, conquerer, stubborn, take the bull by the horns, not afraid of anything {except clowns and formerly pumpkins}, hard-headed, *ahem* motivated trail blazer me. I’ve just never really been anxious. It’s new territory for me.

Today has really been a horribly anxious day….feeling overwhelmed with so many things!

So I sat my little self down in the porch swing…..and worked on quieting myself. You know..the many voices in my head *ahem* the many thoughts running through my mind.

This is what I saw straight ahead….

….the flag gently blowing in the breeze down at the other end of the porch.

I longed to be like that flag….moving gently with the tossing of winds…riding the very thing that topples and destroys others.

Watching the flag move gently with each breeze I noticed that even when the wind whipped up….it didn’t get all tied or knotted up….it continued to keep its rhythm and grace. It used the wind to contribute to its beauty.

It also reminded me that ‘Just Like Air…God is There…’ Even when I can’t feel Him or see Him…..He is there for me.  When the winds blow and I’m being tossed about…if I will rest in Him I, too, can be as graceful as the flag on my porch even in the biggest of winds.

I’ll keep working on this anxiety that has come upon me lately…..and when I need to I’ll go out to the porch and let the flag remind me that

the winds are for riding…not succumbing to.

I hope your weekend is full of relaxing moments on the porch..with a big glass of lemonade or Sweet Tea {we capitalize that here in the South…it’s a proper noun}.

In the porch swing~