The Present

Pictured here is a torii gate that the local arboretum has in its Japanese garden near the tea house. The arboretum is very peaceful with its winding paths, rocks, flowers, trees and shrubs. Traditionally, the torii gate is at the entrance of a sacred space.

This sprawling garden fits my definition of a sacred space.

It is a refuge. It is a place I can go and quietly sit beside the pond and watch the branches of the willow tree sweep into the water and watch the koi fish swim between the willow trees’ delicate, sweeping branches.

The pale blue sky above me and the chilly January breezes remind me of the simple beauty of this life. This life is such a priceless jewel and God has blessed each of us with this day to just bask in the sunlight and to breathe in the sacredness of this moment.

For the next couple of weeks, I am unplugging social media. I do not want to know about those things that trouble me. Yes, I am going to stick my head in the sand and look away.

Only God can change this trajectory of chaos and mayhem.

I can choose to take a deep breath, stay in the moment, go for a peaceful stroll among the ancient oak, pause beneath the red torii gate and consider the sacredness of this space in time.

God has blessed us with so much that we as a society have taken for granted.

I am thankful to God for the beauty of this day.

I am thankful and I give praise to my God for this gift of sacredness.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

Psalm 91 for Protection

Everywhere we turn there is the proliferation of fear, chaos and mayhem.

Truth is, God is in control. He loves His children and protects His children.

I am His child and I turn completely to Him for my protection, peace and safety.

Psalm 91: 1 states: He that dwellest in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (2) I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (3) Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. (4) He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (5) thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor the arrow that flieth by day; (6) Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

No matter what tomorrow or the day after brings, God will protect me.

He will protect you.

Trust in God completely for your peace.

Read His word.

Pray to Him for divine protection.

Please join me in this prayer:

Almighty Father God,

Please protect me, heal me, and surround me with your angels. I trust in you with all my heart, soul and mind. Please grant me peace. Please quiet my fearful heart. Remind me of your eternal promise to always protect your children. I am your child, and Father I beg your protection from evil. Surround me and surround those whom I love most with your angels.

Thank you for your protection.

In Christ Jesus’s Holy name I pray.

Amen

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

Escaping to Paradise: A Dream

To say this year has gotten off to a very rocky start is an understatement of epic proportions.

As if 2020 wasn’t horrible enough, well. . . .it appears that this year isn’t heading in a very promising direction.

I am an optimist by nature and I firmly trust in my Lord Jesus Christ for protection. He tells us not to fear and to trust in Him. I absolutely trust in Him.

However, as of late I have been envisioning myself sailing away to a tropical island somewhere where there is absolutely no internet connection, where there is nothing except a beautiful sandy beach and glorious sunrise to greet me each morning and a glorious sunset to relax me in the evening.

God has given us ungrateful humans a fascinatingly beautiful world, yet we create ways to destroy it. We obsessively fixate on the glass being half empty rather than filled to the brim with overflowing joy, bountifulness and awe-inspiring beauty.

I don’t want to be a person who gives into the fear-mongering. I don’t want to be a person who surrenders to this joy depleting agenda that has taken hold of this world.

I want to escape to a more gentler place. I want to unplug. I want to spend my hours filled with joy and not spend my hours being afraid of illness, terror, and death.

To be honest, I truly want to escape this modern life that has become a fiasco of epic proportions.

I want to actually see peoples’ faces again so that I can see their smiles.

I miss seeing smiles.

I want to speak truthfully what is on my mind without fear of censorship.

I want to be the free soul that God created me to be.

In this current state of the world I do not believe that this is possible.

Yes, I want to escape and unplug.

I want to be Free. Free. Free.

The art work here is the ship in my imagination that I would use to just sail away.

It is my original artwork.

I could spend endless hours in my imagined paradise painting and writing.

An island paradise. . . .

This is what I would like to find. . . .

Just sail away into a beautiful sunset.

And into freedom.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2021

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