Island Plans: Looking to the Future

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This morning, I sat down under an oak tree in my back yard and watched a squirrel skitter high up in the branches to its nest. A green lizard puffed himself up and dashed along the length of the fence before disappearing on the other side. My beagle ran across the yard and burrowed his nose into the rich dark earth in search of something that must have burrowed itself there.

Warm sunshine,  birds in song, and the absolute calmness of this Sunday morning reminded me of thankfulness. I am thankful for another day to sit under this oak tree, to listen to the birds, to watch squirrels and lizards and my beagle playing in the beauty of the morning.

I drew this picture with water color pencils and thought about an island with flowers and calm blue water. I reminded myself that it is necessary to the happiness of my soul to be forward thinking, to plan for my future, to not give into momentary despair and fear.

I refuse to listen to the news anymore. I refuse to be paralyze by the incessant bombardment of the worst case scenarios. I will change those things that I have power to change. I will ask Jesus to hold my hand; his is the only hand I need. I will let go of those things I am powerless to change.

Yes, I will stick my  head in the sand (well, not literally). Let me rethink that-I will stick my toes in the sand on  a beautiful island. I have a few years yet before retirement, but I am planning for it.

I have even drawn this picture. I want to have lots and lots of flowers around it. I want a hacienda style house with telavera tile throughout the kitchen. I want a massive flower garden with Calla lilies, roses, irises, sunflowers, and fruit trees and a vegetable garden.

Here’s looking towards the future and thankfulness to my Lord Jesus Christ through whom all things are possible.

Jenny W. Andrews Copyright 2020

 

Surviving Cancer: My Brother

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Many of you might remember that last fall I posted that my brother Harold had been diagnosed with Stage Three lung cancer. He underwent chemo and radiation which was, of course, not easy. My brother is twenty-one years older than I am. I am the seventh and final child in my family and interestingly I was born on my parents’ twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. My brother has always been a second father to me. I have depended on him throughout my life; the thought of losing him last year was devastating to me. I begged God not to take him from me.

Today, my brother celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday. For this birthday blessing, I praise God. Each day is a blessing because none of us are promised tomorrow. Each day is God’s gift to us. Cancer makes that fact abundantly clear.

My cousin Libby, pictured between my brother and me, is also a cancer survivor. She had a rare form of uterine cancer when she was twenty-eight years old; she just turned seventy-six in November.  Birthdays are blessings, indeed.

Of course, one day we all leave this earth and go back to God from whence we came. That is inevitable. It is just the cycle of life. This reality should motivate us rather than depress us. In the limited time that we have on this earth, we should be motivated to do good, show compassion, love fully, forgive, and be thankful for the gifts and the life that God has blessed each of us with. It is not easy, of course, to always feel happiness. Sometimes the darkness falls heavily on each us and we dwell in a dank and bottomless abyss from which we fear that we will never escape. But, we will because there is God who loves us and is never far from us. God is with us in our struggles; God is with us when we are down in the abyss. He is with us in the sunlight and in the dark of night.

My mother Gracie Lee died of spinal cancer in 1993 at seventy-two years old and my sister Sara Jo died of brain cancer in 1991 at forty-nine years old. Trust me with I say that those were the darkest days of my life losing my precious mother and my beautifully amazing sister. Cancer is cruel; it is ugly and it is unrelenting in its devastation. I begged God back then to spare my mother and my sister. I blamed God when they died. I told Him that I wasn’t going to speak to Him ever again. Like a good father, God  let me rant and He waited with open arms when I ran back to Him. His love is unfathomable, it knows no boundaries. His love and His forgiveness is all-encompassing.

Today, I sat across the table from brother at his favorite restaurant and watched him enjoy his Chicken Tortilla soup. I remember him when his hair was black and now it is white like snow. I remember when he used to drop me off at my elementary school over fifty years ago, now. Time doesn’t wait for any us. Today, I lingered in the precious moments of this day, my brother’s seventy-ninth birthday, and thought just how blessed we are on this earth to have life, to be able to survive the suffering, to be able to laugh in spite of the pain.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. There will always be that inevitable ending looming in the distance. I choose to let that fact motivate me to celebrate each rising sun as a blessing.

I turn my heart toward God, lift up hands, bow my head and praise Him for this day and for all the days to come. I give Him my fears and my hopes and trust that no matter what is to come He will be with me, that He will lead me and those whom I love Home to that place where there will no longer be any suffering. I believe that one day I will see my family again in that place beyond this plane of existence.

My heart is filled with thankfulness.

 

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews

 

 

Thanksgiving, Everyday

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Outside my window,  leaves of the pear trees and the oak trees have changed to brilliant hues of orange, gold, and crimson. Robin’s egg blue skies streaked with cottony white clouds remind me of the absolute beauty and wonder of this life. God has made us a perfect world with splendor beyond our comprehension if only we would take the time to just be still and open our eyes and look at what He has created. From the ancient oak branches in my back yard, red cardinals, eastern bluebirds, and clay colored sparrows alight and then wing across the vast expanse of this late November horizon. Cool winds waft through my open window, I watch a gray squirrel scurry down the gray bark of the water oak. The squirrel, like a chameleon, blended almost perfectly with the shades and shadows of the water oak’s bark. Such beauty! Such splendor on this calm morning. For too many years, I failed to take the time to just rest and to just be.

Life presents us with a myriad of twists and turns, wounds and sorrows, joys and victories. A truth that I have learned is that there will always be sorrow, there will always be wounds, but time moves forward and if I just keep moving along with my eyes firmly fixed toward God I will have victory and I will have joy. I have accepted the truth that the world is already perfect; I have accepted the truth that God in His infinite wisdom has placed me exactly where I am supposed to be. I am His child and I am perfect just as I am.

On this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful for another day to sit at my window and watch the splendor and majesty of God’s world unfurl in crimson, gold, and robin’s egg blue. I am thankful that I can feel the sunshine on my skin and that I can feel the coolness of the November winds wafting through my open window. I am thankful that God loves me and that I am never alone.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and it is a disturbing fact that the holidays are a time of sadness and depression for many people. There is an unrealistic expectation that everyone will be seated around the dinner table with family and friends. Unfortunately this is not always the case. There are plenty of people for whom  the holidays are just a reminder of bad memories. Not everyone has joyous memories of “family.” This is a sad fact, but it is a true one.

This holiday season if you are feeling depressed, please trust that God is forever with you. If your sadness is overwhelming, please reach out to others. Other people do care. Family isn’t necessarily those with whom you share a bloodline. Take a walk in nature. Look up at the blueness of the sky, listen to the song of birds in the tree branches, write down your feelings. Remember that God loves you beyond measure and that you are never alone. You are here in this world for a purpose that God has designed. You are valuable; you are God’s child.

I am thankful everyday for another day to see the beauty of the world around me.

It is a beautiful day.

Copyright 2019, Jenny W. Andrews