Have you ever held an earthworm in your hand? The worm will hang briefly from your fingertips, dirt still clinging to its sides. Slowly its body twists upward towards your finger. Its body will begin to twist and turn as it wraps around your finger, your hand, your wrist. You transfer its undulating body to your palm and cup your fingers closer. Increasingly agitated, the worm now wriggles and writhes, lashing back and forth struggling to get away as you cup both hands around the captive to keep it contained. You carry it carefully over to a pile of rich, dark earth and lay it gently down. Seemingly in shock, the earthworm hesitates slightly before once again wriggling and twisting, but this time its motions move it back down into the earth from which it came.
Hope can seem like that earthworm. It can be silent and secretive lurking just under the surface, avoiding the brightness of day and the illumination it can bring. You reach for it, you struggle to pull it up, but it resists. When you finally latch onto one part of it and pull it into the light, it twists, it turns, it lashes back and forth striving ever to be free, ever to be released, as you vainly try to hold on, to grab hold of something, anything to give you hope.
On your brightest days, life seems good, and hope is not really thought of. You don’t see it, but you know it is there just as the worm is there under the surface living as a worm lives. Hope is something tucked away in a safe place where you believe it will be when you need it. But as the worm keeps moving in its underground home, so too does the hope you secreted away. You think it is safe, you know where it is, you can get it whenever you need it.
Then comes a day when all is not well, when all you can do is crawl slowly and painstakingly to your secret place, your place of hope. You reach it, you look in. Nothing. It isn’t where you left it, or so you think. Frantically, you search, you toss things left and right, you look up and down. Nothing. Your spirit dips even farther down then it was previously. It must be here. It has to be for it is all you have left. Hope.
As the earthworm pokes its head out of the earth just slightly, hope sends out one small beacon of light. It glitters ever so faintly on the surface of your secret place. It catches your eye and you gasp and look closer. Was it really there, or was it just a trick of the light? Closer and closer you look, deep down into your very being, deep in the earth’s richness and bounty. There! You see it more clearly, and you grab it.
It slides easily out of the earth, it hesitates; dare you think it will stay, will give you the comfort you need? Suddenly, it leaps into action, twisting, lashing, flipping violently from side to side. You struggle to hold on, you will not let go; you cannot let go, you must hold on or all will be lost. Its motions slow, its violence abated. You slowly open your hand to see your prize. It glistens in the sun, it illuminates your face, your soul. Gasping breaths slow, heart pounding eases, and muscles relax.
Hope has been regained. Your struggle is finished . . . this time. Hope is as elusive as a secretive earthworm in the depths of the soil and as slippery as a gyrating worm, but it is a grand prize, a trophy of the highest degree. The prize is not easily attained, but oh, so, vital to us all.
Without hope there is no life. Without hope all is lost. Hope gives us strength to continue in the face of extreme odds. Hope is the brightest beacon of all but also the faintest. Its light pulsates, shines, as the beam from a lighthouse illuminates; bright then dark, bright then dark. It cannot be tamed only nurtured and cared for. It can slip away so easily, and it can hold on when nothing else does.
The world is desperate for hope. It is desperate for people who can help them win their struggle to find and contain hope. We are not meant to hoard hope for ourselves; it is a gift meant to be shared, to be spread to all we meet. When our battle is won, we move to another and assist them in their fight.
Faith, hope, love. The greatest of these is love, but without hope, love is just an empty feeling and faith is an ethereal dream. Hope is the cord which binds them together, gives them strength, and extends them to the world.
It is snowing today. Not that that is unusual in my neck of the woods at this time of year. As I write this, the snow is falling faster and heavier. The flakes are big, fluffy even. They don't fall so much as drift down, gently, methodically. Snow is quiet, heavy, it weighs down tree branches till they bend to the ground in forced obeisance. It's beauty is captivating but harsh. It forces you to slow down, to take care, to notice. The world is changed until the land you knew so well is covered, masked. Details fade, and only the observant remembers how it was.
The weather is matching my mood lately. Downcast, melancholy even, I have wandered through the past few days not really knowing why I feel as I do. Problems on my mind tug and pull me this way and that without any real solution at hand. I feel weighted down as the trees under their heavy snow load. But I don't want to give obeisance to any, even to whom I should. I am tossed about as the flakes twirling in the wind. I land, but then, unlike the snow, I lift up again and am on my relentless way, never ceasing, never stopping, searching for . . . what?
The world as it now stands has gone mad, in my opinion. There is no more sanity, no more thinking rationally, no more thinking at all. It is a huge lab experiment gone terribly wrong. React first, think later, if at all. No wonder I am troubled. We should all be troubled. But . . . we must also remember, we must also realize Who is actually in control.
Yes, there is much to be concerned over. There is much I cannot control nor can you. But if I allow myself to be encumbered and weighted down by all I can't control, I forget Who can. God is in complete control of all that is happening. My job is not to worry, but to praise; not to fret, but to trust; not to be frozen in terror, but to live boldly and joyfully in spite of all the despair.
Right now there maybe a suffocating blanket of dark and despair draped over our world, but it won't be there forever. Everything is in a state of flux, of change. It always has been and always will be until God ceases to end it all. The blanket will be lifted, and we are the ones to lift it.
All of nature sings, shouts, dances before the Lord of all. God's very creation testifies to His care, His love. The earth is His dominion, and all exist by His grace. People included. Nothing that happens is out of His control or His concern.
I want to live every day excited about what will unfold. I want to soar with the eagles against a deep azure sky with the wind in my feathers. I desire to swoop and dive and play as the swallows do on a warm summer morning. I choose to sing with careless abandon as the meadowlark perched on a fence post in the midst of a verdant pasture.
I need to sing and praise. I need to trust God's guidance. He has not abandoned us, and we shouldn't abandon Him. Jesus is still on the throne. I will serve Him with gladness, hope, and trust.
So this day, despite the snow piling higher and higher, despite dire predictions of epic proportions, despite my own melancholic take on my existence, I choose to dance wild and free before my God. I choose to live in complete abandon to His will. I choose to trust no matter what. I will sing, I will fly, I will help lift the oppressive blanket of darkness that seeks to overcome all in this day and age.
May voices all over the world rise together in praise, in joy, in belief, in hope, and watch the dark slip away.
This is a real picture of a real place in real time. It has not been photo enhanced, it has not been altered in any way. It is a trail we walk down a lot. It is a place for me to reconnect with what is important – what is real in a world that prides itself on fake. I need some real right now. Something to ground me and tell me realness still has meaning, importance.
I have been spending a lot of time on Instagram trying to find a place for me and my thoughts. Turns out not too many people seem to care for what I care about. Instagram, and most social media from what I can tell, consists of perfect people, perfect photos, perfect homes, perfect lives. It oozes fake with every page, every picture, every text. Where are all the people like me? Are there people who aren’t perfect, who don’t have it all together, who are barely making it in a world gone mad most days?
My home is a mess. It has no magazine worthy spaces, heck, it barely has company worthy spaces, but we manage to live here anyway, and we are quite happy. My photos are of things I love, I find pretty, I attempt to capture on film (digital film). I like to enhance my photos sometimes too. Photoshop is fun and can create some beautiful images, but what about creating beautiful images through your own skill (something I am striving to achieve in my own photography though not there by any means!). I most certainly am not “picture worthy” like so many on social media. I always think I look like a dork in pictures—not like all the beautiful people I see on Instagram.
Apparently, on social media, anyone can become what they are not just through the magic of technology. Not the most photo worthy? Enhance how you look on Photoshop—cut out what you don’t like and put in what you do. Can’t take great photos? Hire a professional photographer who will make your stuff look awesome. Your house isn’t the greatest? Feature someone else’s house instead and talk about that.
Where is the REAL? Where are the people like me who just want to connect with others and communicate with them about real things, real issues, real life. Feel good quotes and uplifting texts are important at the right times, but life doesn’t always cooperate and sometimes these “feel good “statements do everything but make you feel good.
Are there people who struggle to just make it through another day? Are there any people who see the world in all its reality and want to do something to change it not sugar coat it with fancy words and pretty pictures? Are you out there? Do you feel like I do? Are you struggling to find a place for yourself as well? Do you feel as if there is no place for you because you aren’t good enough or perfect enough? Do we need to be perfect and just like everyone else to make a difference?
I don’t think so. In fact, I am counting on it because those are the people who I want to encourage to be Shieldmaidens. Those are the future of this country, this world, if there is any hope of fixing the mess we are all in.
While we sit in our pretty homes eating our fake lab food and watching our fake reality shows on TV, the world around us is being looted, pillaged and destroyed just to satisfy our incessant need for MORE. Never is it enough. Never are we satisfied. If we destroy the very earth we live on we are good as long as we have what we want. Our perfect lives in our perfect world – a perfect world that only exists in our imagination.
To my dismay, some of the worst offenders of this attitude are Christians. I am a Christian, and I try every day to follow Jesus. I struggle to do what is right even when I feel as if none of it matters. I want my life to matter for Jesus so I keep going. I fail more than I succeed, but God knows I am trying, and He keeps me going no matter how hard the road is—and it has been pretty hard.
Unfortunately, many Christians instead choose the easy way. They hang out with their Christian friends in their large warehouse churches eating donuts and drinking coffee and fellowshipping. They don’t even attend worship services anymore, it is all fellowship services. Is it all about the friendships? Is it all about us and our comfort? What about God????
I know there are many Christians who do care. Those are the ladies who need to learn to be Shieldmaidens. Those are the people who I want to attract to my social media posts. And I want them to share their life with me too.
I want my feed to reflect my life, my thoughts, my dreams in their imperfect, messy, and random way, even if no one else seems to care. Maybe what I say doesn’t have any purpose or any significance but I say it anyway because I care, and I believe God has given me something to say. Someone, somewhere may benefit from it somehow, even though it is far from perfect and maybe it isn’t even any good. But when it is placed on my heart I must speak from the heart to those who care to listen.
Real can be very difficult to handle. It causes pain, grief, and suffering, but the striving to overcome, the relief once you have passed the crisis, and the triumphs you have achieved will be worth it in the end. God created real—real food, real earth, real people. We are his creation, and we are to care for it. We can’t do it living in a fake world. At some point we crossed the line between embracing reality in all its rawness and accepting fakeness as an easy substitute. It is time we went back to the other side.
Either that or watch the world crumble around us and realize we helped in its downfall.
Words . . . words are a very simple concept. They are made up of letters which have no significance in and of themselves, but, when strung together in a particular format that is understood by many, they are transformed. These insignificant squiggles, lines, and shapes become words—words with significance, meaning, and power.
Words make up language, language is the basis for any culture. Cultures are formed, strengthened, and elevated by the use of words. Think of what your culture, your world would look like without words. There would be no written works, no internet, no electronic entertainment (or any entertainment, for that matter), no cookbooks, no way to tell someone you love them, no way to tell anyone anything. I don’t know about you, but I would have a really hard time trying to communicate with grunts, screams, or yells, though sometimes family gatherings can seem to be nothing but such sounds – or watching sports. . . now those are the basis for some interesting yelling and grunting going on! But. . . I digress.
Words are powerful. Words can be kind, loving, and helpful. Words can lift others’ spirits. They can bring hope and peace. Words chosen carefully can pave the way for reconciliation. Words can be a balm to a hurting soul and as soothing as a gentle rain.
The power of words can also bring hurt, pain, and anger. They can be used as weapons to manipulate, regulate, and destroy. They can be twisted to fit our agenda, our desires, our wants at the expense of anyone who sees, feels, or acts differently than us. Wars are begun from harsh words. Families are devastated by uncaring words. Lives are torn apart by simple words chosen in anger, chosen to intentionally hurt, chosen by those who really don’t care what or how they say anything.
Simple as they are, words are the foundation of any culture, any community, any family. Words have value because they allow communication and communication allows us to understand others. The value of words can be transferred to the value of the people speaking and listening to the words. When we value the person in front of us, we value the words they are saying, and we respond in kind. If we don’t value the person, their words will have no value either.
Putting letters together and speaking words, written or oral, is not a very hard thing to do (now that we actually have languages—much harder for the ones who had to create language in the first place, of course!). What is difficult is choosing the right words to say or write. If we were to consider the people who could be affected by the words we choose, would we choose more carefully? Would we consider the power we wield every time we open our mouths to speak? Our words are weapons, weapons of the most destructive kind. And yet we toss them here and there never caring where those little bombs could explode and who might be in their path.
Words are things of great importance to all people. We are the only things in God’s creation that can actually use voices to speak out words not just sounds. We have been blessed by God in this way, yet how often is this blessing truly used to bless others. How often does it seem to be more of a curse?
Did you always want to be a person with magical powers or a great warrior brandishing a mighty sword? Well, I am here to tell you that you do have a great sword, and you do have powers of great magical qualities. . . WORDS. Swords are used to protect but also destroy. Magical powers can be used for good and evil. As both of these have a bright side and a dark one, so do words. Words should be chosen wisely with the knowledge of the power they wield. You are the keeper of your words, the caretaker of your words, and the one who brandishes them for good or ill.
May our word swords always be used to protect and never destroy. May our magic be magic of renewal and encouragement. May we be known for our words of life and hope, and never for words of death and discouragement. It is our choice what we do with our words, our power. Make it a good choice.
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds at meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you have learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies.
Proudly powered by Weebly