Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Tea

 "Choose for yourself whom you will serve... 
but as for me and my house, 
we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

We're back to normal temperatures for a few days, which feels so much colder... but welcome.  I like the seasons in order and the weather to have some kind of a pattern.  That is difficult enough in a normal year but everything is absolutely upside down this year.  What is that old commercial... it isn't nice to fool Mother Nature?  Uh, huh...

When I look out the french doors of the family room, the small bushes are beginning to lose their purplish-ness but the dogwood is blossoming.  It takes my breath away each spring, especially when in full bloom and the sun is rising behind it at dawn. 

The very tall trees are just beginning to show their leaves but the smaller trees in the forest (viewed from my front window) are all fully nice and green... a variety of shades from lime green to chartreuse to a shade I would call "Irish" green. All the lighter shades of new life.

I've been pondering the title of a book recently... Happiness is a Choice.  The book was popular many years ago (perhaps the 1980s?) but the title has stuck with me over the years.  Actually, what I was thinking about this past week was... in the world which we find ourselves living now... we've gone beyond having to choose happiness but the necessity of embracing joy.

Joy can be hard to come by these days for many people and happiness is fleeting at best.  Cable and satellite TV makes it possible for us to receive bad news 24/7... and there is plenty of bad news.  Not only is a volcano affecting Europe but the planet continues to shake (I saw an interview with a scientist this week who was very worried about all the recent major earthquakes) and our financial system is on its' own fault line.

We feel helpless as we see men and women walk in arrogance and greed making decisions affecting our daily existence which make them richer and more powerful... and many of us facing more lack and helplessness than we ever imagined.  That's all on top of the usual stresses of everyday living normal to life.

All of this coming at me this week as I'm making time and energy (or at least attempting) to plant a garden in addition to the usual gotta-do's of life.  Why bother?  I mean, really... given limited energy and plenty to do each day as it is... why add the burden of planting and weeding and watering and keeping chippy-munkies out of the fence as well as the neighbor's dog and cat?

Because I not only need to make a choice of happiness, I must embrace joy with every part of me.  I choose life!  There is something about planting and harvesting which takes me back to what is important in life.  As I plant seed as men and women have done for millennia before me, I am making a statement of hope and faith... that the seed will flourish and bring a harvest in due season.

Of course, I feel something quite similar when walking through the farmer's market early on a Saturday morning as an abundance of colors and fragrances (and often sounds) bring joy to my soul and a smile to the face.

Choosing life also means (to me) making the decision to pull the weeds of the negative out of my life.  I have chosen be more careful about tuning into the 24/7 news channels.  I have been monitoring what comes into my ears and eyes... which affects my thinking.  Not that I'm playing the ostrich and sticking my head in the sand... no, I still take in news and even some debate but it is no longer a steady diet.

Choosing life has meant carefully choosing what books to read and music to listen to and magazines to peruse and people to include in my circle of influence.  While the world appears to be unstable... there is much I can do to bring stability in my little part of the planet... as well as beauty and peace and faith.

I choose to read my Bible (which brings strength as well as faith).  I choose to take the time to really look at the dogwood blooms and sit long enough for a Maine Coon kitty to snooze on my flannel housecoat.  I choose to enjoy the first cup of morning coffee and to take the time to brew tea in a pretty teapot and sip it from fine English china.  I choose to enjoy a feast of homemade bread and real butter with strawberry jam.

I choose to chat with my favorite people in the whole world... my family... whether in person or on the phone.  I choose to talk throughout the day with He Who Created Me as I give Him my burdens and share my joys with a thankful heart... and to listen.

Choosing life and embracing joy rather than going with the flow and tumbling head first into the turmoil and trouble of the modern world.  Joshua had to choose life, forsaking the false Gods of those around him and embracing the One True God... some things have never changed.  :)


Vee said...

We must have gone through a "____ is a choice" phase back in the 80s as I recall "Love is a Choice" among others.

This post was wonderfully calming on a day when I need calming. Well, I need calming every day lately. So I've been up cleaning this coffee. I think I'm off to brew a pot and find a cat who'll sit with me while I read my morning devotions. Because I choose to...

Suze said...

Beautiful as always - and so pertinent. Oftentimes I am buffeted - and allow myself to be buffeted - by my own feelings, instead of CHOOSING happiness and joy. It is good to be reminded - thanks, Brenda~!!

Lisa in Texas = ) said...

What a great post. Thanks for the reminder.
Lisa :o)

scrappy quilter said...

Oh how I love this post. This morning at church, our pastor was talking about the joy we will know when we reach heaven. Yet like you I want to choose happiness and joy down here on this earth too. Like you we have really monitored what news we listen to and read. I love to sit in quiet peace and enjoy each moment. It's taken time to get to that point however it's so worth it. Hugs

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. I choose not to watch too much television news anymore, or to read the celebrity- focused junk on the internet. It all disgusts me. I am curious about the interview you spoke of-with the scientist who's concerned about all the recent earthquakes. I'm curious because I find nature fascinating. It reminds us we can not control everything no matter how much we'd like to.

I am making crystallized violets and dandelion wine today. If you can't beat'em, eat 'em. And I am very glad I didn't plant my tomatoes yet, (my neighbors did). It got chilly again here.

Catsngrams said...

Yes we need to keep our knowedge of how to primed so when we really need them we have them. To plant a garden is so wonderful to work and watch and reap the rewards. We have downsized our garden to a few raised beds this year as we are getting older but we still feel the need to have our own little plot to reap the goodness the the earth gives us.

carla said...

A peaceful life is something that I've been contemplating a lot lately. We gave up television about 18 months ago and I'm not sorry a bit. It's absolutely amazing at how much more peaceful our home is. Over the last 2 months we've had to go to the hospital admitting area. They installed 3 televisions in the waiting area - you can't get away from them. After not being around it, it's a little shocking how intrusive tv is.

Marge said...

Joshua 24:15 was our chosen wedding text. It was also my parents' and our daughter and son-in-law's purposely chosen text. I love those words.....As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

barbara said...

I loved your post today about choosing life and embracing joy despite these troubled times.

A well known newscaster here in Canada used to read all of the awful news. Then he'd tell one small upbeat story (maybe about a teen volunteer project) adding the remark. "That's not news but that too is reality."

mom2six said...

Choose life, embrace joy...good words! I'm going to write them in bold letters in my journal now. You always encourage - thanks!

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

This was such an excellent post. It gives me comfort knowing you are up there getting ready for your garden. It may sound funny, but I think it would be great to have a garden and eat the food you have grown, but right now at this season of my life I'm not really able to do that. I enjoy reading about your adventures with the garden and the crops you get from it. I, too, have stopped listening to much news. It is so depressing. I must focus more on the positive.My job is so much about death that I have to try and look at the joy we are given. I have missed communicating with you, but I am back in the saddle again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This was exactly what I needed tonight.


matty said...


Thank you for this lovely post! We often forget that life is full of choices from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them at night.

Have a sunshiney day!

Kel said...

I choose too :-)

~God bless bunches,
Kelly Lynn in Texas

Anonymous said...

Great post,Brenda!
I just finished reading 8 weeks to optimum health by andrew weil, m.d. and he has you doing news fasts among other things. It really is eye opening how bad news affects us in our mind, moods, and attitudes when we constantly watch this.It seems the world is crumbling all around us, yet God above is holding us steady. We once again are right in tune with each other. How does that happen? :)

Jeanie in KY

Mrs. Staggs said...

I think, we may not share the same religious beliefs Brenda, but boy do we ever think so very much about so many other things in life. Perhaps, it is simply the words that we use to express our thoughts, that are different. This morning, I was thinking aobut buying a new Thesaurus. I sent mine off to school with my son. My vocabulary isn't great. You write so beautifully. I know there are online Thesaurus', but nothing really takes the place of that book sitting right by your side.

Take care,

I've written aobut this very subject before. About making a choice to put the focus on the best parts of life. I do try very hard to do that, and like you, I try to stay informed, but there is much in the world of media that I don't want to bring into my days. Balance in all things, is what I'm striving for right now.

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Friend Debra