topsy turvy

We live in troubled times. From the pandemic to the recent murder of a man in Portland who simply wanted to pray, things have gone nuts. Even in our small town, people have done strange things that reflect stress and anger channeled in unhealthy ways. Dwelling on all of that makes us sad. Instead, I want to focus on some of the wonderful things I see, too. Succulents continue to grow and bloom. A friend helped me begin creating a website today. (Thank you, Fiona). When my wheelchair died today while out and about, my friend Laura helped me push it into their garage and her daughter gave me a ride home. A new baby arrived safely into this world to a loving family who delight in her already. The sun rose this morning. The sun set this evening again, too, just like clockwork. God sees you. He knows the world we live in is topsy turvy and He isn’t panicky or stressed. God is in control and ultimately He will set all things right. Rest in His love and sovereignty. Trust in Jesus. He will sustain you as you abide in Him. Go to sleep tonight safe and secure in His arms.

a monster emerges

I noticed a monstrous veggie, emerging as a major surprise from the dark shade of the zucchini plant leaves, looking more like the loch ness monster than something for dinner. No wonder not many nice dinner-sized veggies have appeared on our plates lately from that plant. So much energy went into producing this HUGE zucchini that will likely need to be fed to my friend’s chickens. As a result, the plant didn’t have a lot left to pour into smaller veggies for my stir fry. Similarly, sometimes our energy gets consumed by the big stressors of life…a challenging relationship, or a major illness that results in months of rehab appointments to try to stay upright as we recover from a fall or other mishaps. Life is hard. But I love fresh zucchini. Tomorrow I will flex my biceps and lift that mammoth zucchini off of the plant. I’ll lighten her load so she can keep producing lots of good eating for our dinners this fall. God, please help me keep on top of the things that steal my energy, committing those unproductive things to your care. Worries, conflict, or anything that robs me of fruit or veggies that can be nourishing to mind, body and spirit…I commit all of this to You, Father. Thank you that from a few seeds, this veggie plant emerged, but not before the seed died as it germinated under the dark soil. Help me to die to myself and emerge transformed and made new in Your love.

tolerating abuse no more

We learn eventually that we don’t have to tolerate abuse of any kind, from any person. Then we learn to set boundaries, and firmly enforce those boundaries. This may take courage and grace. In reality, we teach people how to treat us. When we tolerate abuse, we are allowing others to dishonor God, and while they are accountable before God for their actions and behavior, we aren’t doing them any favors if we tolerate abuse. Ironically, the schools talk about zero tolerance for bullies. But these days adults behave like bullies far too often. Our culture has really lost touch with manners and treating others with grace and dignity. Be the exception. Treat others with love, dignity and grace. Build trust. Gain trust by keeping your word and being consistent and acting like yourself in every situation (this is a sign of real maturity). Live from the heart Jesus gave you. Grow. Be transformed. If you are His child, remember that He never condones abuse. He desires us to have healthy relationships and to live in peace with others as much as it depends on us.

one day

I am thankful that God cares about our most difficult moments, even when others don’t seem to care. I am thankful that He sees us. He hears us. He understands. He is glad to be with us and treats our weaknesses tenderly. He can do something about what we are going through. This world can be so harsh. But God’s tender love meets us in those moments when we feel anguish. He knows us intimately and still loves us. He doesn’t condemn or hurt us when we are already hurting. He welcomes us into His embrace. He loves us with an everlasting love. He soothes us and helps us gather up the courage to continue on. One day, I’ll see Him face to face. One day, He will wipe away every tear from my eyes. One day.

a battle for our nation’s soul

Tonight I watched the sun set across the corn fields on a gorgeous farm near home. Driving home, the peppermint fields lay in win rows, and the minty smell permeated the night air, delighting my senses. I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy, His steadfast covenant love for His children. We live in perilous times. Our nation is in a battle for the very soul of our land. Anarchists and some politicians would like things to descend into compete chaos and they’d love to see our nation gutted and destroyed. But the salt of the earth, the backbone of our nation remains. Farmers and blue collar workers who earn an honest living every day, who nurture the land and livestock and pray and worship the living God…well, we’re all still here. The city folks who think protesting by destroying property and selling our souls to the Marxists is the answer, well, they won’t endure. The Bible warns us about this time in history. Men will be lovers of self. Anxiety will wear people down. Lawlessness and evil will seem to triumph. But in the end, our Father in heaven will set all things right. 

He is the only righteous Judge. He will bring about His loving eternal purposes despite all who oppose Him. The lukewarm followers are distasteful to a Holy God. The wheat and the chaff will be separated. The goats and sheep, too…one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. Those who accepted the gift of His grace will spend eternity worshipping and enjoying the splendor He has in store. Those who reject His freely offered gift of love and grace will know suffering intensely. It’s okay if you don’t agree with this, and if you don’t like me mentioning it. My peace comes from the LORD. The joy of the LORD is my strength. He is my anchor, my refuge and my hope. The grass wilts, the flower fades, but the WORD of God endures forever.

Operation Mobility Dog – ways to help

Good Morning. Thanks to my friend and Pacific University roommate, Cathy A. Doyle, I now know how to accept payment via PayPal. You can instant message me for information if you’d like. Some friends asked how to donate towards the Operation Mobility Dog fund for my service dog that I am saving up for. I can send you a link if you’d like to donate in that way. I’d be very glad to send you some of my photography greeting cards if you live far away (and we can also try to mail succulents as requested, but I’m less experienced in that) to thank you for your donation. I also have a few really cute macrame hangers for succulents in small pots and know a woman who can make those for you if interested.

I am sorry that recent weeks have been really overwhelmingly full for me,  so I haven’t had much time.  Now I will be able to catch up on this sort of thing. I have a lot of great succulents potted and ready for those who live close enough to come and take a look. You can see updates on my @SusieSucculent FB page, too.

God is leading and guiding. We may go with a different breed of dog than I first researched. Depends on what very special dog God has in mind to share our lives. Thanks again for your support. We are gradually getting the house set up for my power chair. We need a safer ramp in the garage. I crashed on ours yesterday, and thankfully I wasn’t hurt, but Jerry did sustain an injury in all of that excitement. He wants me to get a safer ramp for the garage, and I agree. We are saving up for a wheelchair ramp van, too, and will sell our Mazda 6 before we buy that. Quite a process.

So thankful for a loving God who sees us, hears us and is always glad to be with us. He knows. He loves you more than you could even fathom and He delights in you. Zephaniah 3:17

Coming Home

On this cool morning, I’m sitting on my friends’ porch. The sound of birds and farm equipment during harvest soothe my soul. The blueberry fields across the road form lovely lines and in the distance the swathed grass seed awaits the combine. I hear the mourning doves and maybe some pigeons, along with a choir of other birds. Maisy hasn’t discovered that I’m here yet. She’s a happy Swiss Bernese Mountain Dog that I have enjoyed since she was just a puppy. Now she’s a very large one year old. Bumblebees enjoy the salvia in front of me. The long porch with white wooden rocking chairs feels so inviting. I feel incredibly blessed.
Just after sunrise this morning, I checked on Jackie and Ken. He’s settling in since arriving back home from the care facility yesterday. This wonderful couple is adapting so well already. She lovingly guides him and he manages to get up and around with the right equipment. Delighted at being reunited, they smile a lot, and their good humor and obvious love for each other touches my heart. Married almost as long as I’ve been alive, they have a wonderful partnership. I think she said they’ve lived in the same house for 50 years now. The only time they’d been apart, except for during COVID after his health crisis, was when he biked across the entire US, and another time when he biked from Canada to Mexico. This couple knows how to live! At the care facility, they were only allowed to see each other through a little window, and that felt like torture. Their obviously close friendship inspires me.
I hope Jerry and I continue to cultivate such a vibrant relationship that endures for decades. When we’re old, I hope we’ll care for one another joyfully, sharing our sorrows and challenges with grace and humor. Sometimes we do well at that. Sometimes we don’t. We’re human.
We already have plenty of physical limitations and conditions to overcome together. We grieve inwardly, and outwardly that grief shows up in various ways.  Sometimes I need to remember that anger is a dimension of grief, and if not expressed in healthy ways, it will show up in strange ways.  More on that in another blog. We’ve made it through a lot in these five years. I love Romans 8 where it talks about how nothing can separate us from His love, and how God causes all things to work together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Somehow our love grows stronger as we endure various trials. Somehow, by God’s infinite grace, we grow closer to the LORD and as a result we learn about His Hesed. God’s steadfast, enduring devotion, His covenant love…we get to experience these things in our marriage. We get to experience hanging in there when things are challenging. We learn about loving each other when love doesn’t come naturally. We find a way to forgive each other when we fail miserably. We carry on and we forgive one another because He first forgave us, even when we were hostile to Him. He loves us with a steadfast love. Marriage is a wonderful classroom.  A living laboratory. A chance to fail, to grow, to persevere. To reach the end of ourselves, and allow Him to heal and transform the broken places that painful times reveal.
I call marriage the Beautiful Struggle.

what if…

What if serving God includes responding to others in healthy ways, even when it’s not easy for either party? What if peace is possible by abiding in Christ? I am enjoying the peace that passes understanding. When God imparts peace, no one can disturb it. When our identity and hope is found in Him, it doesn’t matter so much any more what others say, do, or believe about us.