In Praise of Fathers

It has been almost thirty-two years since my son was born.

This is a photo of my infant son and his father.

This photo brings back a lot of memories, some good, some not so good.

Time passed way too quickly.

I look at this photo and recall so many emotions and I at times wish I could go back to that moment and start all over again. But, with more wisdom.

Sadly, fathers are often pushed aside as if they do not matter.

But, they do.

Their presence in a child’s life is immensely necessary. A strong father can change a child’s life for the better. A strong father is a hero upon whom his family can depend.

Recently, I saw a quote that said the “future is female.” While I kind of understand the essence of this quote, I think it can serve to disparage young men.

Truth is that men and women are both equally important in the family and for the future of this world. To say “the future is female” implies that males have no place in the future, that they are not needed.

Males are needed to help nurture and protect future generations. They are of equal importance to females.

Fathers are irreplaceable in the hearts of their children.

Nothing quite stings like the absence of a strong father in the home.

While it is not yet Father’s Day, I would like to send a heart-felt thank you to all the strong fathers who stayed with their children and nurtured them rather than abandoning them.

Your courage and strength are needed more now than ever in this volatile world.

Sending much love and thanks to all the fathers who had/have the courage to protect their families.

Your love is irreplaceable.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

May God Have Mercy on the USA

This is the flag of my country, the United States of America.

I love it because of the freedoms that have been guaranteed to me as expressed in the United States Constitution.

Most importantly, this country is my home. It is in my blood. For hundreds of years and through different wars, my people have fought and spilled blood for the freedoms that I enjoy in this land.

I am an American. I have no other country that I can call home nor did my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, great-great-great grandparents, have any other land they could call home. This land is all that I have. It is woven into the very tapestry of my blood, soul and self-identity. I am an American.

I am very saddened by the state of my beloved land at this moment.

I am urgently requesting that we all turn our eyes toward God and beg Him to heal our wounds, to give us the wisdom to remember that we are a human family that should work together rather than fight and destroy each other.

At the end of this life, we all must stand before God’s throne and give an accounting of our actions. All kingdoms pass away; all people leave this earthly life.

Nothing is forever.

Nothing except God and His kingdom and His judgement.

Peace only comes when a people walk right with God and obey His laws.

There can never be peace without God.

God is love.

Love is kind; love is patient; love reaches across the aisle and sees the humanity in all God’s children.

Please pray for peace and healing for my beloved country, the United States of America, my home.

My home, sweet home.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

Art for Fun: Mountains

I love mountains, especially the way the early morning sunlight paints the ridges in soft hues of sienna, sepia, and copper, awash in golden shadows.

The skies are ever changing in shades of lavender, pearl, and rose.

Looking into the mountains, the magnificence of earth and sky is breathtaking.

I cannot imagine a place that is more peaceful.

The mountains hold a certain sacredness. The face of eternity is reflected in every mountain ridge. Tranquility is a mountain. High above the earth. Just peace, the nearness of the sky, and the face of eternity.

Mountains are ancient, sacred spaces.

Just for fun, I’ve drawn what I see when I see mountains.

I see beauty and peace.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Favorite Quote: Dreams

BUILD YOUR OWN DREAMS, OR SOMEONE WILL HIRE YOU TO BUILD THEIRS“- Farrah Gray

Dreams. We all have them. Those things we can only dream about, such as retiring on an island in paradise or getting that book published, et cetera and so forth.

Dreams are defined differently by each individual.

Regardless of your dreams, they will never come true if you do not take that first step and establish actionable steps to achieve them.

Fear is what holds most of us back, unfortunately. Fear of failure. Fear of criticism.

But.

Our individual lives are on a limited timeline. We only have a little time in this big, beautiful world when you look at things from the wide scope of the centuries that have come and gone on either side of 2020.

Why let fear rob you of your dreams?

As Farrah Gray said in the above quote, if you do not build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs.

In other words, we have to focus on our own dreams and consider how we can implement those dreams. We have to be in control of our own lives rather than giving our power over to others who have their own agenda.

I actually prefer the word “goals” rather than dreams.

To me a dream is something you eventually wake up from and it fades away.

Goals are something concrete that you can identify and work towards achieving.

“Dreams” sounds more poetical. I get that.

But, it doesn’t matter whether you call them dreams or goals.

What matters most is that you identify what it is that you yearn to achieve in the depths of your soul. Then, identify actionable steps to achieve that dream/goal.

2021 is just a matter of weeks away.

What is it that you want to have accomplished by this time next year?

How are you going to achieve it?

Don’t waste one second of this precious, fleeting life worrying about other people’s opinions or giving into any other fears you might have.

Reach for your dreams/goals.

One hundred years from now, what will be remembered of this day, of this hour?

All we have is this very second.

Set your goals/dreams and work towards achieving each one of them.

Don’t let fear stop you.

Step out on faith and change your life.

Build your own dreams/goals.

Happy 2021!

Get started on a better tomorrow!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Beauty of an Evening

I took this photo in spring 2017 while I strolled along my town’s riverfront. I remember the songbirds high in the branches of the oak trees behind me. The beauty of their songs filled that late evening moment just before nightfall.

Beauty of a moment.

Peacefulness.

Looking back at this photo, I feel happiness deep in my soul.

I would rather spend my time strolling along the riverfront, listening to birdsongs, and marveling at the beauty of this life than waste my life’s precious moments glued to a computer screen and worrying about what else could possibly go wrong in this world.

Sure, social media has its advantages in that it does connect people and it does give us the opportunity be more aware of the world around us.

But.

But, I never want to take for granted and miss the beauty of an evening stroll along the riverfront.

Lately, I have seen an increased in people staring into the screens of their I-phones while walking along without any concern about the beauty of nature around them.

Lately, I have seen people in groups, not talking, but staring into the screens of their I-phones while sitting together.

What is this about?

I say put the I-phones away for at least a few hours and actually look at the beauty of nature that surrounds you.

I say actually talk to those around you, rather than stare into a computer screen.

Stop and look at the beauty of a sunset.

And be thankful that you have been blessed with this beautiful, beautiful world.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Happiness is a Sugar Cookie

I love hot tea. I love sugar cookies.

To me, food heaven would be a cup of hot tea that tastes like a sugar cookie.

Well, the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company has actually made my dream of food heaven a reality.

This afternoon, I was grocery shopping and to my surprise there it was, my dream come true- “Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride” tea.

I blinked several times. This, after all, has not been a very good year, so I considered that my imagination might have been running wild on me since I was wearing my mask snugly (maybe my oxygen level had dropped).

I carefully snatched up a box and examined it, read the ingredients, zoned in on the “natural sugar cookie flavor” and immediately put two boxes in my cart.

At home, I brewed up a cup and, yes, it does indeed taste like a warm sugar cookie!

Joy! Happiness! Peace!

While sipping my sugar cookie tea, I read the little note on the side of the box that gave the history of sugar cookies.

Apparently, sugar cookies were introduced to North America by a group of 18th century German immigrants who settled near Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

Also, noted on the box was a Norwegian Proverb: Cookies are made with butter and love.

I absolutely agree with this Norwegian Proverb.

Nothing says love better than a cookie, especially a cookie that is as buttery as a warm sugar cookie.

There is a cup of hot tea that tastes like sugar cookies at the end of this dark tunnel known as 2020.

In this Christmas season, I plan to daily enjoy a cup of hot sugar cookie sleigh ride tea and give thanks for the small things that can give incredible joy in the midst of this difficult year.

I feel better already!

Blessings to everyone. Merry Christmas!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Favorite Quote to Encourage

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength- Charles Spurgeon

In these anxious times, it is so essential for our mental health to remember that worrying and obsessing about what could possibly go wrong will only rob us of our strength.

It is best to focus on the here and now and on those things we can control for rather than imagining worst case scenarios.

Staying in the moment by slowing down to enjoy a sunrise and a cup of hot tea, staying in the moment by playing with a beloved pet, or staying in the moment by actually talking in person with a friend can be mentally healthy strategies for warding off apocalyptical thinking. Stay in the moment; refocus your fear into actionable tasks, such as talking and sharing your feelings with loved ones or enjoying an activity, such as walking or watching a comedy show.

Truth is that we can only do so much in this life. We cannot control for everything. Control those things that are within your power. The rest give to God and rest in his assurance of peace and comfort.

We are quickly approaching a new year and with it will come new challenges.

Rather than give into fear of the unknown, commit to trusting in God’s power to give you strength to face those challenges which may impact you.

In those weak places, God gives us strength.

Don’t give into anxiety. Just as Spurgeon said, anxiety robs you of your strength.

Be strong. Be courageous. Trust in God for all things. Be still in this moment and know that you are safe and God is in control.

Blessings to all.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

It Was Never about the Turkey

This Thanksgiving Day instead of remembering the past I focused on the future.

In the back of my mind, memories from Thanksgiving Day’s past quietly paraded by. Mama standing in the kitchen with that perfectly browned turkey in the middle of the kitchen table, her pretty dark eyes turning towards me, will always be present in the fabric of this day. Her passing still stings me; the memory of her on Thanksgiving morning all busy and focused makes me laugh. Joy. Mama was joy to me.

My first Thanksgiving as a young wife, in-laws who could never be satisfied, a husband who tried to encourage me in my imagined failings, at once makes me laugh and makes me cry.

Time can be cruel in its passing and its sweeping away from us those whom we loved the most. Holidays have a way of slapping us squarely in the face with regrets at what we may have failed to say and/or do.

Love. That is what I remember most about Thanksgiving. Love. Looking across the table at those whom I loved most. My husband didn’t seem to mind that I had overcooked the turkey (if he did notice, he didn’t mention it).

Love. Remembering Mama. My perfect Mama.

Love. Remembering that husband from so long ago.

Thanksgiving is about love, about gathering to thank God for another year to share the table with those whom we love the most.

Time is cruel in its taking from us those whom we have loved the most.

In this holiday season, I have been reminded of the rapid, cruel passage of time.

But, rather than be sad, rather than give into the darkness of depression, rather than giving into the despair, I ask God to give me the courage to just simply be thankful for the love that I had been blessed with those many years ago.

Thankful for love.

Thankful for those November memories.

Thankful for those memories I will always cherish regardless of the pain of loss they sometimes bring.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020

Giving Thanks Daily

This year hasn’t been easy for any of us.

2020 has been a year of shocking ugliness and profound fear.

We can only pray that 2021 will be an extreme improvement.

Still, I give thanks daily for so many personal blessings.

God is still in control. God is still faithful. God is still with us. No matter how dark the road or how heavy the burden, God will never abandon his children.

I am God’s child and I firmly believe that he will never forsake me nor abandon me. This is his promise. God always keeps his promises.

Thanksgiving day is on this Thursday. Please make a concerted effort to reach out to a person who might be suffering alone due to this Covid-19 isolation. Pick up the phone and actually talk rather than text. Make that human connection.

We all yearn for that human connection. We are hardwired for human connection.

Community is absolutely essential for mental, spiritual and emotional health. Pick up that phone and call someone you know that might be depressed, lonely or frustrated.

If you are depressed, lonely or just having a difficult time, reach out. Reach out to God. Know that he loves you; know that you are never alone.

Pray for healing. Pray for tomorrow to be better than today.

There is always tomorrow to try again.

Thank God daily for the gift of life. Thank God daily for the chance to try again.

May God bless each of you this Thanksgiving.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2020