Rainy autumn days arrived in the Pacific Northwest with bluster. With them, they brought winds that tossed colorful leaves everywhere. Our maple tree left our driveway looking like a leaf mosaic. Bob took the photo above on one of his daily trips to our mailbox last week.
With the change in our weather, the last weekend in November upon us, and new COVID restrictions on Oregon activities, it must be Thanksgiving. Things have tightened up with regard to social gatherings as the number of new cases and deaths have increased here. It is hard to celebrate while so many others are grieving, are houseless and hungry, and struggling economically to keep businesses afloat.
Watching for signs of spring can reveal miracles happening around us. The helleborus shown above is a miracle. The plant lives through the coldest and darkest nights of winter. Survives the winter rains and often hail and freezing rain. And still near Christmas you’ll find buds forming. Now, as we are in the middle of February, they are blooming. Our plants are full of blossoms! These plants and their blooms represent a miracle in my mind.
They could have succumbed to the harsh winter weather. The cold east wind bringing a tinge of iciness with it. At some elevations, these plants might have received a covering of snow. Yet, they bloom away. Miraculous in their survival.
On December 31st, I met with my pain management physician. He advised I had reached the end of free hemp and would need to buy it on my own. My first order of three 30 mL bottles (a mere 30-day supply) cost me approximately $200.
My husband pointed out the hemp didn’t appear to diminish my pain level. A grocery shopping trip would find me lasting between 15 and 20 minutes on my feet. Then I had to give up and sit it out until Bob finished on his own. I couldn’t stand long enough to make a meal. I’d pull up my mother-in-law’s kitchen stool to the counter after 15 minutes or so. So many things I haven’t been able to do, and most of it because of pain from a bone harvest in 2001 during my first fusion.
After some discussion and prayer, Bob and I decided I should stop taking the hemp. After all, at that price, why should we buy it if it wasn’t working? So I did. Early in February, I took my last dose of hemp. It was an emotional decision because the hemp seemed to help at first. But, increasing doses didn’t seem to increase the hemp’s effectiveness against pain.
I confess if I leave home I do take a small dose of a prescription pain reliever as a precaution. After spending a couple of hours visiting friends in their home last week, we stopped at the grocery. I actually made it through the store without stopping to sit at all!!!
Yes, I can say I am pain-free now. Since the late 1990s, I have struggled with some kind of back pain. Most have increased in intensity over time. Between spinal fusions, I would have relief and often for long periods of time. Yet, the pain was never totally gone.
Please don’t ask me what caused this tremendous turnaround. Neither Bob nor I can answer that question. We accept it as a miracle. The Bible tells us that miracles are born of prayer and faith:
Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
(Mark 5:34, The Message)
Your comments and thoughts are welcome. If you have stories of miracles, I would love to hear them. If you have stories of those who haven’t received a miracle and you wonder why, feel free to share those as well. Sharing stories is important in building community as well as spreading God’s love.
Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt–HOSPITALITY–leads me.
Growing up in the south, I developed an understanding, at least my own childlike version, of hospitality. Every time a new family moved into the neighborhood my mom would bake cookies or cake and, depending on the weather, carry along a pitcher of iced water or tea. To my mind, this was hospitality.
As time went by, my belief changed and hospitality became a party, hosted by me with a tidy house, lots of food, and me scrambling at the last minute to make sure everything was as it should be. Everyone else had a great time. I ended up collapsing in a chair or across my bed when everything was said and done.
Now I’m in my retirement years and all that hustle and bustle has gone by the wayside. What is hospitality in my life now? Reaching out in my community to foster a good understanding of what hospitality should be is what we should place as a priority. True hospitality is what we find in the story of Mary and Martha.
When Jesus happens upon the village where Mary and Martha live, Martha is eager to invite him into their home. Mary takes a place at the feet of Jesus and listens to him. Martha, on the other hand, is distracted by many tasks and chores, so much so she asks Jesus to tell Mary to come and help her. To this request, Jesus responds with “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, The Message)
To clarify, Jesus isn’t saying one of the women is wrong while the other is right, or vice versa. They are each serving up their hospitality in different ways. Martha extended the hand of welcome to Jesus and invited him into her home, while Mary sat down to listen and give her attention to Jesus’s words. Mary and Martha have chosen different paths of ministry.
(Time used to confirm Scripture citation and to select images was not included in the 5 minutes.)
Whisper is an intriguing word. It’s a word that can mean more than the soft, hushed undertones of the voice. For example, the dahlia above is faintly colored, somewhat hushed and faded, with a whisper of pink.
On Sunday, a guest pastor shared the morning’s message of Pentecost with our children. She asked a couple of questions, both answered by the same little girl. Margo is about four, one of three children in a family where both parents are teachers. Needless to say, a lot of learning goes on in her home.
As I listened, it was difficult to hear Margo’s soft, quiet tones as she answered the questions. I listened with the power of intention to grasp what she was saying. My determination was rooted in the expression on the face of the young woman pastor. A look which denoted something profound had been said.
When the pastor turned to the morning’s adult message, the theme was the same. In so doing, she also asked the adults questions.
One of the questions was to think of one thing that stood out in the morning’s Scriptures, the sermon, the hymns. Like an epiphany, I was suddenly struck with the image of Margo and her quiet, tiny voice. And by my need to listen intently to what she said.
I was reminded of how important it is to listen the same way to what God has to say to me in my daily life. By listening to the still, small voice of God enriches my relationship with Him. It will also broaden my understanding of what He expects of me.
The words “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 NKJV) come to mind. A reminder that even the littlest among us may be wise in ways we don’t understand.