2 Timothy 1:7

So much of our world is absolutely drenched in fear and negativity. At every turn, we are inundated with news stories of the most heinous debauchery that humanity can possibly participate in. It would appear that we should hide away and allow ourselves to be cowered into despair.

For believers in Christ this should not be the case. We should not cower in the darkness and allow ourselves to be immobilized by fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

This verse should encourage us to trust that Christ is with us, that we should not be afraid, and that we should live our lives as an example of his love. We should have a sound mind in that we do not let this world control us; we trust that God is in control. We should not fear. We should be strong in Christ.

When I consider what it means to have a sound mind, I consider what elements in our society that could negatively impact the soundness of our minds. Too much consumption of pessimistic news can negatively impact us.

Taking a break from social media and taking a break from watching the news are effective ways to refresh your mind.

I actually found a news site that only has positive news stories. I like to read it because it shows that the world is not all doom and gloom. There are actually good people in the world doing good things. I have included the link to Goodnews Network. The stories are inspiring.

This is God’s world and, of course, there are good people doing good things. We just need to focus our minds on this goodness. We need to be fearless and trust in God’s protection. As it says in 2 Timothy 2:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Here is the link to

Value of a Silver Star: A Short Story

Cecelia scattered yellow, crimson, and orange leaves into the Pohantas River below the frozen banks. All night, she had huddled inside the abandoned brick electric company station. Pleasantville, ironically named, had been abandoned after all the factories had closed and relocated to third world countries where labor was cheap and easily exploited.

She drew her U.S. Army jacket closer to her sides. Ten years earlier, as an eighteen year old, she had escaped the humdrum existence of her hometown. Now, she yearned for that existence, but nothing except abandoned store fronts and burned-out factories remained.

Grandma and Grandpa Hutchinson’s gravestones marked the end of her family’s bloodline. They had raised her to be patriotic, to love God, and to love family. And, she did. Her Silver Star for Bravery in Battle had floated down the cold Pohantas River and careened over a rotted log. Her frost-bitten fingers, the night before, had struggled to hold onto that one concrete vestige of the person she had been at twenty-two.

Squatting down on a tree log, she watched rays of sunlight scatter along the tree line in the far distance, just beyond the hills. How had her life come to this? She rolled the question around in her head. Hadn’t she done everything right? Hadn’t she bravely served her country?

Her stomach ached from hunger pangs. She no longer felt her toes inside her wet tennis shoes. Ice had formed a layer over them. Inside her left hand, she held onto a yellow leaf, unable to toss it. Numbness had finally claimed her hands.

Lying back against a tree trunk, she pulled the U.S. Army jacket closer around herself. Frozen raindrops turned to snowflakes. Above her, a nightingale tweeted its song, fluttered its brown wings, and hopped to the lower branch. A blanket of snow laid itself across her.

Her final thought was of living in a musical snow globe. “Thank you for your service. . .” played inside her head.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Note: In my community, I have noticed an increase in homelessness. I have noticed an uptick in the number of homeless people holding signs noting that they are homeless veterans. Of course, I have no way of verifying the truthfulness of their veteran status one way or the other. I found a website which I am including here. According to their website, an estimated 40,056 veterans are homeless in the United States each night. This statistic was cited from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. On the website, there are statistics about the root cause of homelessness among veterans. There is also a toll free number provided for veterans who need help.

My short story is written to put a face on homelessness. I tried to envision how a homeless veteran would feel returning home to a small town that had been essentially abandoned due to outsourcing of jobs. Driving through small towns in the United States there are a lot of abandoned towns with boarded up buildings. This is unfortunately the case for many urban areas, as well.

Ask yourself how you can help the homeless population in your community. Ask yourself how you can advocate for our veterans who gave so much for us and our freedom.

Thank you for reading. Please reach out to veterans in your own families and your communities. Leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

God’s blessings to all.

Quoting Kafka

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old-” Franz Kafka

Beauty. What is beauty? Beauty is timeless. Like Kafka said, the ability to see beauty keeps us young. That ability to be optimistic, to see the sunlight even when the gray sky blocks the sun. The sunshine is still there.

A few years back my dear friend Maria and her husband Abraham were blessed with their precious son. There is nothing more beautiful than a newborn’s smile. It confirms the timelessness of this existence; it is a promise of hope. It is the promise that yes there is a tomorrow and there are endless possibilities. That smile connects us to something far greater than ourselves; it connects us to something spiritual beyond our own comprehension. It reminds us that this life is so much more than we have the human ability to comprehend. That little newborn nestled in my arms confirmed for me that yes God does indeed create miracles. Life is a miracle.

Life is a beautiful miracle. Our souls are timeless. To see that, to have the ability to see that beauty is to remain young, to never give up on hope for tomorrow.

This little newborn nestled in my arms smiled at me and I knew that yes miracles happen, that yes tomorrow is full of hope.

May God bless us all and keep us all and give us the ability to recognize the beauty that is in this life.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Last Stand

Daisies poke through the broken asphalt, rage against their dying.

Great-Grandpa Hamp’s farm tumbled down and drowned in the sadness of Georgia red clay.

Two centuries later, developers desecrated the land and built a mixed-use development (that nobody needed) there.

Me, a lone descendant, stand, and from the edge of the road throw stones at the realization that nobody thought to find me, that nobody thought. . .anyone would care.

At the corner of a cotton field I feel like a cliché of a prodigal child.

Came back way too late to take a stand.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Last Shabbat

Rabbi waves good-bye; street lights, like halos, cast sidelong shadows against the Spanish moss swaying in warm evening of late July.

Voices fall away; moonlight lingers, follows me down the broken cobblestone path.

Last Shabbat; shadows cast against my face. I turn and wave good-bye.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

This poem is from my poetry book “Spaces Between the Pause.” It is available on Amazon Books. I haven’t yet put it on Kindle.

Thanks for reading.

Heading Home: A Poem

Along a road that curves, jostles, jolts, unfurling like a rolling coil,

down paths laden with forgetfulness.

Toward remembrance; the glare of sunlight sparkles like a yellow jewel.

What do I forget? That I want to remember? Now, of all times? Why does it matter now?

Going back towards that place.

Bumpy South Carolina roads cross the Pocotaligo River: Manning in the rearview.

Strewn along the highway like aerial trash, road signs for McDonald’s and Waffle House litter and obscure the blue sky like an insult.

Santee-Cooper Lakes; Lake Marion Bridge. Ninety-five miles outside Savannah, Purple Heart Memorial Highway.

Coosawatchie, Yamassee, Port Royal, Tullifinny Bridge. Savannah in the distance looms like an awkward pause.

Barn with green ivy in the middle of an overgrown field; broken marble tombstones tumble and tilt, victims to time’s abandonment.

Clay, the color of blood, spins beneath my car’s tires; my heart trembles at the remembrance of all that I had lost so very long ago along this road leading back to the land of my people.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

This poem is from my poetry book “Spaces Between The Pause.” It is available on Amazon Books. I haven’t yet put it on Kindle. I am considering putting in on Kindle.

Time passes very quickly in this life. My poetry is a reflection of my life’s journey.

As time passes, I feel the urgency to get my words out and to tell my story. Thank you for reading.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Thanks.

Money, Happiness, Humor

It is an amazingly beautiful Saturday morning. The temperature is just right; the sunshine is bright and the sky is a clear blue with cottony white clouds. The jasmine outside my window has wrapped around the thin bark of my young oak tree; the sweet scent of tiny, delicate jasmine flowers reminds me of just how perfectly God has balanced this life. In this moment, cool breezes scented with sweet jasmine, song of birds serenading from the high branches of oak and pine, my books lined up on my bookshelves next to my desk in my room, remind me of thankfulness; I remember darker days before now. I remember days I never thought I would find peace; but now, I have peace. I have happiness. It has taken decades to get to this peaceful space.

Throughout the ages, the question of what brings happiness has been hotly debated.

Is it money that brings happiness? Is it inner acceptance of God’s will in a person’s life? Is it environment? Is it the connection to family and friends? Is it. . .? Is it. . .?

Is a person’s level of happiness impacted by genetically-based tendencies towards biochemical changes in the brain that makes their moods fluctuate beyond their control?

Is personality quite simply the major factor?

Honestly, I think it is a combination of factors; I don’t think it is just one factor.

I can say for sure that I found peace in my soul when I became honest with myself, when I stopped looking over my shoulder in anticipation of whether I had made someone else happy. My happiness increased when I learned to say “no” and to set boundaries, when I learned that it is not selfish to defend my own personal space. I found happiness when I learned that I am valuable quite simply because I am God’s child and that I do not need anyone else’s approval.

Happiness means different things for different people, of course. We have all read about the massively rich who are miserably unhappy. Yet, we have all met people who live in poverty who radiate contentment.

I live near the ocean; while I don’t have a yacht, I do have the opportunity to rent a kayak. Well, I know it’s not the same thing, but. . .Happiness is joy of living; Happiness is laughter at the peculiarities of life.

I like brainyquotes and I often look for interesting quotes there. I would like to share some humorous quotes regarding happiness that I found on that website. I hope you get a few laughs from the quotes. Have a beautiful and joy-filled Saturday.

Here are the quotes:

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable-” Clare Boothe Luce

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it-” David Lee Roth

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory-” Ingrid Bergman

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city-” George Burns

Please leave a comment and share your definition of happiness.

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022

Art for Fun

“Artist are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.”- Al Hirschfeld (Brainyquotes)

Okay.

I would never be delusional enough to think that I am Picasso or Dali (then again, on second thought, maybe a delusion is in order considering how disordered our world can be at any given time in history).

I have a huge box of crayons, watercolor pencils, calligraphy pens, stacks of coloring books, canvases, water colors, paint brushes, and sketch pads.

When I am not crafting the next greatest novel of the 21st Century (I am beginning to enjoy this delusion thing) I knock myself out like a kindergartener with crayons, sketchpads, canvases, et cetera, to quite simply create joy in my life. I love colors, bright colors. I love to turn up my music and just immerse myself in art, in the creation of beauty.

It is healing to switch off the distortion and fear mongering that is the day to day loop on the news stations. It is healing to just remind myself that I can control my environment by creating beauty, by sitting in the sunshine in my garden and just simply be. Art, music, and writing are the three soul-healing activities that nourish me.

The next time you feel yourself feeling down, grab a box of colorful pencils or a paint brush and become a kindergartener again. Don’t worry about whether you’ve colored within the lines.

Just enjoy the absolute freedom of art, of writing, of music.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Jenny W. Andrews copyright 2022