Wednesday, February 7, 2018

NEW Spring Seasonal 2018











Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Ministering of Spiritual Letters

{Photo credit: Grace K. Dalton}

I leaned in the window of her suburban and listened as my good friend told me how she had read and read and read the Seasonal issue I had slipped into her hands even as she mourned the loss of her son.

She said she didn't know if she was reading it correctly or in any certain order and she suspected she would read it again as the season proceeded but, in the season of grieving she had unexpectedly found herself, it was enough to simply read and absorb the message that God wanted her to hear and hear what she needed to hear.

That's when I knew...that's when I knew what the purpose of the reflections and spiritual letters in The Seasonal was.

It's a ministry of outreach. A spiritual postal service, if you will. We write letters to one another. We exchange recipes. We share stories. We listen to each other. And we give advice. And through all this we pray for one another.

There are seasons when we are too weary---too weary to hear ourselves, too weary to do anything, to weary to help ourselves much less help others. During these times, we are often too weary to seek God, know God, feel God, hear God.

Those are the moments we need to just be still...and seek God.

The first thing for us to do is to trust that God reaches out to us through others who have walked the walk and talked the talk. He comes to us at all times of day...often when we least expect Him but also so near us that we often don't realize He is paying us a visit.

Spiritual letters are a way to invite Him to minister to another from the heart of our home to the tender heart of their home. Spiritual letters are a lost art form in today's technological world. Spiritual letters used to be the mainstay of Christian advice and contact. Zelie Martin wrote to her sister and sister-in-law faithfully. St. Francis de Sales maintained spiritual direction with St. Jane Frances de Chantal and these letters still benefit us today. Out there is a wealth of letters written by the hands of virtuous women such as Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day.

So why do we need to add any letters to this forest of wisdom? Because the heart of our homes is part of the fabric that defines the 21st century life and the life of the Church that finds itself in it but not of it.

These letters are an invitation for Him to visit our heart with the promise that we will be fully in-tune to His message for us during this time, this place, this season of life. In speaking to another heart, we often heal our own scars and anxieties. He does this through each one of us. We are the messengers. We are our sister's keeper and many of us are called to help work the domestic church...some to weed, some to thrash, some to cull, some to prune, some to harvest, some to plant, some to sow, some to furrow. But the ultimate goal is to produce a good harvest and produce it we must.

In opening our heart to another, we serve, we supply, we minister, we nurse, we heal.

Opening our door is the first step. Only then do we answer the call God has placed on our hearts and the circuit is no longer a dead-end communication but an open circuit through which we begin to understand the message.

* * * * *
Do you have a message you would like to share with other like-minded Christian women?
Do you have a story you would like to share?
Do you have thoughts you need to get on paper?
Do you feel called to share the Gospel message from your homefront?

We are opening up this seasonal ministry to letters as a creative outlet for Christian women to reach out to other Christian women. If you feel you have lived through a life-altering experience that could benefit other women or have a life-changing story you would like to share or have thoughts that are wanting to be written and read or if you feel called to share a Gospel message...we want to hear from you.

SPIRITUAL LETTERS: We are looking for "helpful" "uplifting" spiritual letters which will be addressed to "Dear Sister," and 400-500 words in length dealing with any topic that is of importance in the life of today's modern Christian women.

1) These letters may be emailed to:  caygibson AT gmail DOT com
2) Please put in SUBJECT LINE: SPIRITUAL LETTER: Title/Your Name
3) Attach (and include in body of email) your 400-500 word letter
4) Letters will be granted a one-time use in an issue of The Seasonal when subject matter is deemed appropriate for that issue.
5) Please include a brief bio (including any links to website/blog) with information you'd like people to know to go alongside your letter
6) include a clear head shot if you are able.

We look forward to hearing from you.
{Photo credit: Grace K. Dalton}

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

In Response to Small Town Texas

In her epic novel Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell used a phrase from the poem Cynara as the title:

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind ...

In Chapter 24 of the book, she wrote of the post-war plantation:

"Was Tara still standing? Or was Tara also gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia?" (GWTW, Chapter 24.)

The storms of life are ever upon us...all of matter where we live or when in time we live. We all have different winds and storms, but they exist. It's how we weather them that defines if we survive them.
{Shared on Social Media. Contributor Unknown.}
Dear Small Town Texas,

I'm truly sorry for this but (even though I don't know you) I hear you, and sympathize and, in 2005, I walked in your galoshes and this week I want Small Town Texas to know they are not alone.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, my small town was in the same boat as you are today, as was Biloxi, MS, and we were crippled by it all. Our New Orleans was your Houston. Even this year, with the same storm, we are still the small town in America. We are swept away with the wind. If we were in Texas, and Louisiana was not in the storm's path, our town would not even be a breath on the news media radar. Even this morning, because Harvey breezed alongside the Sabine River from which our town sits a mere 15 minutes from that swollen river, the attention is directed at Texas. And nothing we do or say is going to make it any different. That's how it was for us after Rita which followed a month after Katrina. That's how it was for Biloxi, MS during Katrina.

Don't let you life or your community be defined by how much attention...or get from the media, social or otherwise.

Big cities are where we go to be absorbed and consumed and forget ourselves. Yet the big cities define us on the map, don't they? We go to big cities to have an adventure and take on a new identity. Because big cities are loud, we believe that we can shout and be heard but, really, we aren't heard at all. We aren't even noticed above the roar. Just know that being smaller doesn't make you less. And remember that small town America is what made America great.

I know you're feeling swept under the rug, pushed aside. The wind blows and throws your world around and no one seems to know that you and all you care about are out in that wind. You're facing a destructive time in your life and you want the world to know it. Like the tiny people in the speck of  Horton Hears a Who, you're shouting, crying, pleading for someone to take notice of you, to recognize you are here...You Are Here...YOU ARE HERE! We all want to be seen, now so more than ever.

I can't help but think that's the reaction of our world at large today. Everyone shouting, crying, pleading I am here...I Am Herre...I AM HERE! Do you see me? Do I matter? #blacklivesmatter #bluelivesmatter #translivesmatter #gaylivesmatter #Republicansmatter #Democratsmatter #smalltownlivesmatter #bigtownlivesmatter #TXlivesmatter #LAlivesmatter #smalllivesmatter #biglivesmatter

And we keep burying ourselves further and further into the world's expectations of us and into the roar of the hurricane, of the city, of social media, beating each other up while battling whose lives matter more. It's getting a bit beyond ridiculous. Right? There's a true sense that no one is at peace with themselves and who they are. Know that there is good out in the world. And go find it! Don't live your life looking for attention...give it to others. Live your life as though others matter and make it count.

A strong wind has swept through your beloved Tara and national news takes no notice of you. But don't let that defeat you. Let it build you. Let your hurt and cadence become your rallying cry. Let it spark a desire in you to notice more closely, empathize more dearly, embrace more freely the hurt and neglect that is around you. Read the history, look for the history, listen to the history that is Small Town America around you. Find the courage that your tribe before you used in order to build that community in the first place. Then go pick up a shovel, pick up an ax, pick up a leaf blower, pick up a broken window, pick up a trash bag, pick up a newspaper, pick up a pen! And get to work.

Small town America is where we reunite with our past. Small town America is where we remember our roots. Small town America is where we can build a future. Small town America is where we go to remember who we were. Small town America is where we become a newer, a better version of ourselves. Small town America is where we can be noticed. Small town America is where we recover our sense of identity. Small town America is where we recover. Period.

I can't help but think of all the small town Americans who have gone away in search of ...what? Self? Greatness? Purpose? Doesn't that sense of self begin in our heart first? What are the reasons we move away? Disgusted with town, family, school, momentum, stagnant waters that run deep? We leave and sail our boats around the world and and into other storms. We find that some places have avalanches despite the crystal beauty and some places have tainted waters despite the icy stillness and some places have godless faith despite erupting mystery and some places have blizzards and tornadoes and the earth shifts beneath all our feet.

And we are all victims. Or we become victims.

Then in the harvest of our life when we are crippled to the point of having to bow low, we bend down to collect the pieces of our life's story. Often the grains of time shift through our fingers and many times a person stands beneath a tree looking out across a field, a pond, a woods, a yard, a memory that defined his first foot steps. And the one thing a servant and king both think as they look across time and space is how much they wish they could tell that little boy or that little girl they once were to just live and to be content for having lived.

By all means large, go and see and visit and learn, but at day's end know that this small town was what molded you into the person you became or gave you the strength to accept yourself. You did not create that place; it created you.

What is wrong with that story? Nothing. Nothing at all. It is meant to be lived. The sorrow is that we realize too late there was a message in the storm and we are where we are in order to make a difference.

There is nothing you can do about the lack of media coverage of your great small community, only remember that big cities do not define America. Seems there was even a recent election where small town America spoke very loudly and reminded the nation that they exist. They are what truly built America. Not Washington D.C., not Hollywood, not Broadway, not Big City U.S.A. The media may focus on them but you focus right there where you are planted. Live it. Breathe it. Applaud it. The treasure is in being grateful for that community. Be who you are, where you are and you will set the world on fire. And there is something you can do in remembrance of it. Be proud. Build your tomorrow so that you can own it. And carry that small town America out into the world.

We're praying for you and lifting you up.

Friday, June 30, 2017

She Walks in Darkness...and Chooses Light

This girl here has been my girl's bestie since they were giggly girls in pigtails reading Laura Ingalls Wilder side by side. This week we took it a step further; we headed into the frontier. We talked about Laura and her daughter as we hiked. We also talked about Indians, black bears, tornadoes, the differences of growing up in the 70s, 80's and 90s, and Monte Cristo sandwiches. And we checked for ticks in each other's unbraided hair.

Speaking of checking one's daughter's hair for ticks...Keisha will readily tell you she never wanted to be a mother and, as a millennial, tell you in the same breath: "Don't judge me!"  Yet here she is, pregnant with numbers three and four (five and six if you count her miscarriages).

And she is living between darkness and light. This trip was not only a Mother-Daughter vacation into the stillness, for her it was a chance to take her two baby boys on a little hiking adventure...together. Collin will not remember it but years from now he'll be able to point at these pictures of their momma with excitement and joy, and laugh at the wonder of it all. He'll be able to tell others that he got to go hiking in the woods with his brother while their momma watched for big black bears that could have gobbled them up and spit them the way little boys talk, you know. It's a memory planted in the stillness of a mother's life and in the deep recess of the beautiful Ozark woods. My daughter walked quietly next to her, silently supportive. Silently mapping out the journey. A silent witness.


I learned that walking and talking for miles in the woods beats social media spouting any day. I also learned that walking for miles in the woods with a girl who has been told her baby will die at birth offers more depth of soul and perspective of life's nectar than anything social media can offer. I watched how respectful listening does more healing and ministry than active talking and twittering and face-timing can ever do.

I also learned that, for the most part, when one's children reach adulthood, as mothers we must take a backseat (sometimes literally) and become silent witnesses. Learning to not insert ourselves into every conversation is difficult...especially for mothers. Our children are such a big part of us that it is really hard to not make it about us and insert ourselves into the story. But learning to watch the story and listen in stillness is its own reward. There is a tranquil peace found in the shade of the forest...even when we must helplessly watch and follow from a distance. Her mother, Margaret, is a true witness to this and I'm humbled for her teaching me this lesson.

And when we walk down those shady spots of observation...did you know that narrow trails laid out with wildflowers make the path less threatening to navigate? It makes the path almost tempting to wander. You don't know what's at the end of it but you know that beauty and life begets beauty and life. In fact, these wild things of the valley invite us to wander down to the edge. They lighten the way and the mood and make light the uncertainty of a distant cliff. It's a real thing. Really.

And often they lead us to the majesty of God...

The doctor offered to cut off baby Joseph's blood supply. Keisha made the decision, as a mother would, to defend, protect, and "embrace both my babies" (her words). She knows she can do nothing for her baby boy who will die at birth. He is only alive because of her, through her. One would think she is powerless. And yet...she knows God is more merciful than that.

She knows she is the lifeline to that little one and it is a line no one else can hold. She is life to Joseph...for a day, a week, a month, nine months!...she is life. And she embraces the power and exclusiveness of the mission only she can do. She gets to hold the wildflower before it fades. Grateful? She spoke of how much, in five short months Joseph has changed her. She is not made weak in her very vulnerable state. She is empowered. She said the thought of being able to keep him alive makes her feel like an warrior. I told her that's because she Amazon a very real way. She is defying the darkness, daring the looming shadow, standing up to a force she knows will threaten to engulf her little family. She faces the darkness while bearing a torch which God has given women for generations to carry to the next generation...the light of life. And she carries it so well.

And so the week passed with walking and talking...pretty much the things women are also good at. ;-) And Kei told us how her six-year-old daughter prayers over her baby brothers and "tells them secrets" and how these are the moments she lives for, the moments that make life breathable and endearing and precious. We spoke about what a privilege it is to prepare for this birth and have the waters of baptism refresh him in a way he is denied the life-giving water now due to his condition. She spoke of the kindness of others...the tiny name-knitted hats someone is making for the boys to wear, the offers from family and friends to watch their girls so they can focus on their boys, the beauty in having her wedding dress made into two tiny baptism outfits which Joseph will be buried in after his hospital baptism and Collin will wear as he is brought into God's family, and the five generous photographers (including my sweet daughter-in-law Tavyn) who called and offered to memorialize the twins' birth and wrap it up as a gift for the parents to treasure always. Kei spoke of how much they struggled with the privacy of it all yet how she wants people to know about her baby and how much she is really and truly (minus the times the darkness hangs like a shroud in the night) enjoying this time with both her baby boys. She isn't somber and sad, she's joyful and embracing this short time-warp. She wants it known how good a baby he is, giving her less trouble than the back kicks and pokes his brother enjoys giving her. She wants you to know how chill he is and how he pushes his little bootie into the air when his brother invades his space. She wants everyone to know his name: Joseph! She wants it known that...for today...both her boys, all four of her children, are alive and happy...and that makes her happy! She wants it known that she will have as many children in the bosom of Christ as she has in the bosom of her home. She speaks so joyfully of her two boys that her children will always know who Joseph is. Respect for life begins with these moments. She has embraced, not only her boys, but the gift of living in the moment and knowing that tomorrow is promised to none of us. The wisdom learned through this experience is a gift if one sees it as such.

She knows the storm will pass and the darkness will evaporate. And she will emerge from the woods, stronger and more life-giving and able to face the darkness and at every Eastertide will be able to say ...


We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O grave, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57

And who doesn't love a mystery!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Seasonal UPDATE

Almost two years ago I set out to create something that was family-friendly and mom-inspiring. I wanted something simple yet visually appealing. I aimed high...and had to step back a couple of times to create something I could manage. As someone who, through the years, has felt too boxed in by planners-at-large, I sought to create something more in the journaling style with inspirational articles and visually appealing lists.  I wasn't sure what to call it: journal, devotional, organizer??? 
I debated that simple issue and asked for suggestions. I'm pretty sure I over-thought this...over-asked...and over-analyzed.

Originally it was just the Seasonal Beehive, comparable to a beehive of goodness and inside workings. It consisted of a compilation of articles, ideas, lists, and note pages. It is not, never was, and never will be "just a calendar." But I was worried too much would paralyze people's use of it. Upon description, many people took to calling it a planner so it became a Seasonal Planner.

Still, many times I worried it was too much of too much. I didn't want anyone feeling like they had something more to check off in a sea of online and paper options that planned their days for them. We're all looking so hard for simplicity and, in doing so, we're adding so much to our lives in an attempt to condense. I didn't want to add to the buzzing busy-ness. This was to be...had to be.... a calming, reflective journaling...something to help them (YOU!) reflect seasonally on their (your) spiritual health, their (your) mental health, their (your) emotional health and...through that...their (your) physical health.

Two years worth of tweaking and adding and improving, I finally sat down and demanded of myself that if I stayed true to what this was intended to be,  it should be at home within your home as well as in mine.

So by now you probably know that there will not be a summer edition coming out. I want to get that out of the way.

There are plenty of things online I see coming out that could be a blessing to you this summer. Perhaps we can share things we're looking at over on our Facebook Page: The Seasonal

In the meantime, we are working on a graphically designed, prettier, and more eloquently simplified version now known simply as The Seasonal.

Our goal is to have it ready for this autumn season but we beg forgiveness in advance if it isn't ready until the winter season.

It will still be separated by seasons but a year's worth of seasons will be combined into one book, still sized to fit inside your purse or book bag, with a year's worth of liturgical grace and goodness because, while our seasons change and flux, faith is the one thing no season can be void of. There will be changes but the things we've found to be tried and true will remain, in a style easier to read, easier to navigate, and easier on the eyes.

For those of you who so generously ordered the year's worth of The Seasonal at our Etsy Shoppe and are now wondering what is going to happen to their worries. :-) You will receive a brand-new Seasonal at no additional charge...because you already paid and we want to make sure you get what you paid for.

I'm excited (and anxious) to get this back in circulation to you. I always want to make sure we are offering something that is not presently out there or presently in existence. It's hard to define and describe it but The Seasonal will continue to focus on the seasonal change within the home and the heart stirrings of faith within the home. It will continue to have liturgical faith overtures.
It will continue to layout your months and days with intentional ideas and tasks.

It's our prayer that it continues to bless you and build an awareness of what truly matters in your life and where your heart lies.

Please join our FB group to stay in touch with us and share the blessings of the seasons.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Defeatedness of Holy Week


33 years ago I moved from my parent's house into their sideyard apartment...FUNNEST move ever!

30 years ago I moved from that sideyard apartment into my first starter home as a newly married woman....most intentional, lovest, treasured time HAPPILY EVER had arrived.

26 years ago we moved into our new-to-us country home with two FOREVER had arrived.

13 years ago and 5 kiddos later life derailed us...we packed up and moved into my husband's CHILDHOOD home. Life has a way of recentering us.

For a year, with the help of family, we cared for a father who had always been there for us. I learned a thing or two about home and hearths and hearts and kitchen tables and living in a house with aging parents, toddlers and teenagers.

For a year we lived out of boxes stacked under the carport as family came and went, taking family items with them and I meshed my stuff alongside my mother-in-law's stuff. It was a year of STUFF. Medicine bottles were religiously locked up in a safe box and dispensed at night and in the morning. We never had a young one get a hold of a loose pill. Tonight I had a nine month old choke on a candy wrapper. Family, as a community of shuffling feet, is not for the faint of hospitality.

Then the year shifted. That father left a bedroom empty and our three girls who had slept together in the same room all their lives, three headboards back to foot, slept together one last time.

There is always one last time.

Then a few years later a son moved in the backyard mini-apartment and that helped with polar-opposite brothers who bunkered together long enough to rub off traits (both good and bad) onto each other.

Fast forward 13 years later...we're remodeling the last room of this old house...the KITCHEN. It's taking longer than when we remodeled with four kids under the age of 10 in our FOREVER home. I find myself no more at home fulltime than I was back then; I'm still chauffeuring kids to ball and dance and schooling opportunities and church work and doctor appointments and orthodontist appointments and grocery store runs.

Today three kids have gotten married and moved out and there is no new house to run away to or spacious carport to put boxes under. One would think I'd have already weeded out by now, but the past 13 years have been the toughest 13 years of living I've ever lived. I'm living in the middle of it. 

I've watched my parents declutter their lives and box themselves into our backyard apartment (about the size of the one they let me live in 30 years ago). In the decluttering and life transition they are perfectly content.

Perhaps when I'm their age I'll be content too; for today I write about the deep longing for contentment...yet being grateful to be living life in the middle. I have to find the balance, no one can find it but me. I have to be committed to finding it. I have to find it in the midst of the living. And I have to be grateful when I find it, even when it doesn't look like what I thought it would look like.

And so...why not start with an old homeschool cabinet since my last student is in high school and this cabinet has lived for years with conveniently closed doors.

This cabinet has too much of yesterday's junk in it. Today I went through piece by piece, enjoying yesterday's school work, reminiscing over unit studies and field trips, flipping through old nature notebooks, observing history notebooks, sorting and cleansing and boxing even more, bagging unused craft projects and puzzles. 

On days like today I'm not sentimental at all. I found it draining, mentally and emotionally draining. I also cursed the sum of money being thrown away or given away that could have been better used and I'm "as-God-is-my-witness" serious not to mis-spend or mis-use or mis-manage our funds to the point of cluttering our lives again.

And it was at that point... at my clearest point of discouragement today (because the cabinet is still a shelf full and nothing has a place to call home)...I realized (in a Scarlet O'Hara moment of defeat) that I still have two children living under this roof and I'm fighting a loosing battle called life. And life comes with STUFF. It's known logic. We create lives of stuff to fill up our existence.

The reality came as my girls beat egg whites and shifted flour to the beat of Disney's "Be Our Guest". Their attempt was to make birthday macaroons for me in a kitchen that had no sink, no plumbing, not stovetop vent, and countertops that are not fixed in place under the drawer slides can be attached. The initial onset was joyful and upbeat. I knew the reality. There would dishes to organize and a mess to clean. But they proceeded onward with the flair of youthful hope and dreamy buttercream on their lips. When I shared with a friend what my girls were doing she bravo-ed them with, "You will never forget this birthday or these memories with those girls! Remember that time we made mom macaroons for her birthday in the kitchen with no sink or countertops. What were we thinking."

Hearing my own ideals spoken through a friend's voice does not sound as peaceful as it does when I give a friend that same advice. But I decided it was in my best interest to cling to it today.

As almond flour dreams spun through my non-functioning kitchen and tasty sweet ideas of macroons deflated and got dumped into the trash can and life's vanilla sugar got repurposed, I realized that houses are only catatonic when they are unlived in. There comes a time in life you don't need stuff to make you content. Having good health as a birthday rolls around, holding a warm cup of coffee (with or without macaroons) in your hands and listening to the rain fall with a roof over your head are blessings of the fullest. The fact that this clutter and living aren't going away any time soon is as fine as almond powder...and perhaps just as heavy.

It's life...from dust you were made, to dust you shall return. There is no getting away from life's dust and clutter. Life brings it to us and settles it around us and coats us in it. It's a life my husband and I willing embraced and conceived and created and cultured. It surrounds us in a fine layer of clutter. I can't escape it, nor do I want to. Gaining control of it all is a different matter. At some point we realize that as Americans we have too much stuff. And too much is too much. It swallows us. It gnaws away our peace. My husband and I want to have days ahead of us to enjoy family and not work to accumulate stuff, nor clean up after the stuff. We don't want to constantly swim above the clutter. I certainly don't want to have to weed out life every 13 years. Macaroons are nice, but they are not necessary.

Still, for peace, I must find the gift that is in the clutter...

* The cake box my brother-in-law left in my kitchen with the half-eaten birthday cake in it is gift.
* The baking supplies found in boxes all over the house, then dirtied and cleaned in the bathroom sink and the evidence of forsaken macaroons treats is gift (though at one point I declared it a mess that best be cleaned up and not left on my watch).
* The stained coffee pot with constant coffee grounds is gift.
* The paper plates and plastic forks by the microwave are gift.
* The avalanche of stuff and junk in that cabinet, bought on a promise and a prayer, were gifts...some of it to be gifted to others.
* The macaroons were gift...the clean-up afterwards was an even bigger gift.

We are constantly trying to rise above everyone else's "stuff." It's engulfing and it's a brutal reality of how greedy we, as individuals, are; for, in complaining about everyone else's "stuff", we overlook the baggage that we carry into the kitchen.

Good stewardship then!

Yes, this Holy Week cries for me to declutter and dejunk. Holy Week brings me to my knees in contrition for all the times I've mis-spent, mis-used, mis-managed our household income. Holy Week whips me into addressing my sinful nature, my greed, my want, my wasted desires. Holy Week begs me to realize that I will never be satisfied this side of heaven; I will only desire more and my heart will be restless until it rests in Thee.  That is how God wants us: spent, used, deflated, raw, void...realizing that nothing on earth will grant us the peace and fullness that He alone can give. He is Gift. He alone. Do we come to the table with empty hands open wide? Thankful for the gifts but knowing we don't need them in our search towards contentment.

The gift I make to myself this Holy Week, even as I admit defeat, is to accept it all as gift and pray that I find the contentedness in life's messes and clutter as much as I find it in the peace and stillness..all the while knowing that everything I receive is His gift to me yet my emptying of self is my gift to Him.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Box of Hope that Women Hold

Like Eve of the Old Testament with a forbidden fruit, Pandora was curious and peeked inside a forbidden box of ills that allowed disease and illness, wounds and scars, hurt and pain to escape over the earth.

But, as a woman, she was able to capture one small thing that remained with that box.

The Gift of Hope.

Woman is her own worse enemy. We are tempted, and curious. We find fault, We stir up discussion and controvery. We gossip. We are prideful. We are painfully and collectively possessive of our own. We can be tyrants. We are bossy. We are guarded. We are suspicious of other women.

We are also soul bearers and gift bearers. We demand justice like no other and we deliver mercy like no other. We are community builders. We are the delivers of messages that are sent out to a time we will not live to see.

Today is International Woman Day and one website sells us quite a different image. It tells us that TODAY...

Paid jobs, Emotional Labor, Childcare, Diapers, Housework, Cooking, Sweeping, Laundry, Dishes, Errands, Groceries, Fake smiles, Flirting, Makeup, Laundry, Shaving."

And yet, as women, should we ever deny ourselves and others the opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves? A very strong feature that women possess is the power to make things right. And we must...WE MUST...remember that we are the life-bearers to the world. We hold the Gift of Hope within our hands.

My life is blessed with such women...women I am privileged to call family and friends and daughters.

And so...


In recognition of these women I love...

One of us is cleaning house, caring for her children and a sick husband, and praying for healthier days in order to enable her family to be the best they can be to a larger society. Goodness knows she's doing laundry! Yes! clean bedsheets in a sick house! The most necessary thing in the world TODAY! That is important. And, when she gets time to huddle low and breathe deep, in the mist of her sick household and all the worry that goes with that, she will take a moment to invite beauty and life into her home. She will edit light and ambience and prayer into bridal photos of another woman in order to make sure that lovely woman knows how truly beautiful she is. Her work is hidden behind the doors of her home, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a medicine box of Tamiflu, her camera, or her computer on her lap, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift on to another...

( T. Gibson Photography )


One of us is swabbing the mouths of other people's children, collecting urine samples from nervous mothers, and observing small drops of blood under a microscope in order to heal these children and empower other women to heal families. She wipes her hands clean and prays for her children and the good women who care for them. Her work is hidden behind the doors of a lab, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a urine cup over a sink or a vial over a slide, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift on to another.


One of us is entering the tomb doors of the oncology floor at the hospital where she works. She changes fluid bags and medicate wounds of another woman whose wounds run deep. She will give a soft smile to a worried relative and she will say quiet prayers that bleed real hope to the patients she serves. Her work is hidden behind tomb doors that others prayer they will never have to open nor walk through, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a box of bandaids or a potent bag of cancer-killing agents, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift of hope on to another.


Some women who are near and dear to me leave the quiet, peaceful reprieve of their retired lives and enter into a old building filled with almost 200 children ages K thru High School. They give freely and joyfully their time in running off papers, listening to problems, cutting and slicing art projects, passing out messages, typing and filing, and doing anything else they are asked to do for the good of families who, with expectant hope, drop off their children and pray that we can share with these innocent minds our love of something greater and more beautiful than what this world offers because, as parents, they have seen what the world has to offer and they know it is not good nor beautiful. There has to be something more. Their work is hidden behind the doors of an old-paneled, dusty supply room and humming copier machine, but they are making a difference in the lives of others. Whether they are transporting a box of crayons to a classroom or cutting laminated prayer cards or placing a bandaid on a hurt finger, they bear the Gift of Hope in their hands.


A number of women...too many to name...will walk through these same church doors for religious education. They will leave their regular school work, come off bus runs, leave doctor offices, find sitters for their own children at home or for the parent in their care, pay extra workers to replace them at their place of business, arrive still in their work clothes, ask their families to wait that extra hour for supper, and overcome their own health-riddled bodies to come and freely offer emotional and spiritual guidance and healing to a hurting world. I watch them come through those doors and hope they know how grateful we are for the smiles they offer all of us. Whether holding a prayer book or Bible or the hands of a child, they bear the Gift of Hope in their hands.


My husband, or my son or my daughter-in-law, will have supper waiting for me when I get home late tonight. This work is hidden as well, but not to me and I include my husband because without him I would not be the best version of myself...even though I could be...but I wouldn't be. My husband completes me, and that very language is what angers the cries of some who write websites as listed above. But I don't, for a second, believe I must annihilate the men in my life to prove my own value. In their hidden work they show me their support, their belief, their hope in and their love for me. They lift me up. That is what we should be doing for one another. They know that tonight I serve a greater community than just my family at home and they support me. In this small weekly offering, they offer me the Gift of Hope.

Going on strike does nothing but ferment self-righteous pride and anger. The Gift of Hope is in the hands of each other and we must assure ourselves that we hold it and keep it well-guarded and protectively within our hands. And then, in turn, offer it back to a hurting world who needs the nurturing force of women to remind us of who we are and who we serve and what we are capable of doing. Through the power of the second Eve, we have the power to make somethings right in this world despite the fall of the first Eve.

This small piece does not recognize all the women in my life who I admire and love and who are crashing the world TODAY with their productivity and positivity but I have work to do and I know you do as well. This sharing must end as we go forward to proudly show the world the boxes in our hands and share with them the Gift of Hope.

A Day Without Women?

Goodness, I hope not. I pray not. Serve others proudly and I'll see you on the streets. :-)

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