Sunday, March 07, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The need to keep our minds on that which is lovely

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

Recently I experienced one of those dreams that seemed so real.  It reminded me of a dystopian novel where something had occurred in the world and everyone had lost their own memories.  Scientists had developed a way of "rebooting" the ability to remember but could only input one person's real life memories into everyone else.

Somehow I knew they had carefully chosen memories from a person who had been a world traveler, had read great literature, and had visited great art galleries.  Even then, I thought how terrible that our own capacity to remember what we thought was important was gone forever.  

How would it be to not remember the wonderful things God has given to us, the people in our life, the books we have read, those events that brought us great joy?

My first thought upon waking was that I must stop watching The Alaskan Triangle before going to bed at night.  The dream was so real that it took awhile after I woke up to shake it off. Thankfully, I then thought of how different the dream was from the truth of the way God created humans with the gift of memory. 

I thought of how God breathed life into Adam so that he could see the world through the lens of Himself.  The same God who not only created mankind but the planets and the galaxies and the mountains and the oceans and flowers and colorful fish in the oceans and horses and kittens and cows and all kinds of beautiful places and things.

God not only provided food but created it to be delicious and beneficial to our bodies.  A god who created coffee beans and chocolate deserves our worship. He could have given us tasteless manna to sustain us three times a day but He is not that kind of Father.  I must admit that I have pondered more than once what the menu will be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Whether we live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere right now, we are in a season of change.  It is still a little too chilly for the daffodils to bloom where I live but the snow has finally all melted after a rough two months of winter storms.  It won't be too long before the leaves begin to bud and then fill out and I will no longer be able to see my neighbor's barn from my front porch.

Blog friends on the other side of the world are harvesting apples and cooking with many of my other favorite Autumn flavors while I purchased my first asparagus last week.  We are all experiencing the newness that arrives as we slip slowly from one season to another.  It will take awhile, so I will appreciate the hot chicken soup that is simmering on my stove at the moment to be finished for tomorrow evening's dinner.

It has been a year since COVID changed our world in ways even those of us who believed in preparing for the unthinkable ever considered.  I doubt even the people on those prepper shows that played on television before and during 2012 had an idea of just how much a pandemic would change their lives.  I watched a pandemic episode and they were prepping for staying inside a short while while the danger passed and life returned to normal.

I don't think we can ever return completely to the way things used to be.  It took one year of a pandemic and one election to change the way I view the world. I've noticed for months that I must force myself to keep my eyes on that which is lovely and peaceful and calm and true and just and pure at all times.

I'm not talking about burying my head in the sand or plugging my ears and humming Amazing Grace when the news is on the radio or television.  I have to keep up with what is happening in the world but I don't have to build a nest and take up residence in front of the television to hear every argument pro and con about what happened that day.

I don't think I have ever felt such a struggle to purposely keep my mind away from the negative around it.  Perhaps it is a spiritual thing, perhaps darkness is covering the earth in such a way that it settles on us as a mantle of shadows and sighs and yes, sometimes even fear.

It took awhile to be honest with myself on how I was feeling.  It goes against my normal nature to be sad or depressed, much less living as if I'm waiting for the next shoe to drop all the time.  I've felt like that off and on, especially after some kind of family emergency... but not every single day.

However, once I was honest about my feelings, then I could remember what I have done in the past that always brought peace.  See, having our own memories can be a very good thing.  Of course, the most important thing that I had to make certain I did every day... that which was foundational to everything else working... was to read the Word and talk to God.

I have carefully chosen some books that will inspire and books that will take me away from it all.  Recently, I took some favorite TV shows we have on DVD off the shelf to cheer us up on a dark day.  There are many episodes of Good Neighbors that always do the trick and take us back to the 1970s.   I even watched an episode of Perry Mason!

I bought daffodils at Kroger where they are once again too inexpensive to pass up.  I purchased the ingredients to make an attempt to recreate a favorite pie recipe from a restaurant for my husband this week.  I took the time to talk to Mouse on the porch and let Florentine curl up on my flannel housecoat as I sipped my first cup of coffee without rushing to start my day.

I have developed a habit over the years of thanking God for all kinds of things, it keeps my mind focused on the fact that all good gifts come from God.  I thank Him for my family and the friends He brought into my life. I thank Him for flannel sheets almost every night in the winter.  I thank Him for the lovely scent of Mrs. Meyers dish soap at least a couple times a day when I wash the dishes. I thank Him for the insulin I can get through the clinic.

I thank Him for the music that plays in the van when I have to run errands, and for lovely magazines, and favorite YouTube relaxing vlogs (a new thing for me).  I am always thanking Him for the kitties who have been a part of our lives (my husband says he will get his dog in Heaven someday). I thank Him that there are lots of photos of cows and horses on Instagram.

If we get in the habit of thanking God for the everyday gifts He provides, it has a way of helping us remember that life is good no matter what the world looks like around us.  It has had to be a deliberate decision to keep my eyes on that which is lovely and my thoughts on the good stuff.  Like a thousand little decisions a day to keep on the path that leads toward joy.  

It is kind of like walking on a path surrounded by darkness but by focusing on the light at the end of the path... that light being The Light... then the shadows have no affect on one, anymore.

Image: Coltswold Evening by Robert Duncan 


Kathy said...

Beautiful post! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Love the line, “A god who created coffee beans and chocolate deserves our worship”!! I laughed out loud!! Great post and such a good reminder to count our blessings and be thankful! I started another “blessings jar” this year and it prompts me to think of even little things each day to jot down that I’m thankful for! I have a little notepad with the saying, “There is Always something to be thankful for” on the cover! So True!
Laura C.(WA)

Deanna Rabe said...

It is by making deliberate choices of how to get information, but not be fixated on it, that has helped me to not be overwhelmed. I too, work to be thankful and to recognize the many ways God has blessed me.

Ann said...

A much needed reminder. I've been feeling much the same way as you and it can get overwhelming unless I bring it all to my Heavenly Father and ask Him to take care of it. Life must go on; we cannot come to a complete standstill because the world around us is falling apart. We still have our loves to care for, to pray for and to encourage -- and maybe we are the only ones who can do so for them. Thanks for reminding me to think on those things that are beautiful and lovely. Blessings to you and your family.

Linda Baker said...

I found your blog just by chance and am so glad I did. Everything you expressed I certainly relate to, and the reminder of our ever present hope in the Lord plus giving thanks to Him continually was greatly appreciated.
Blessings, Linda

Sherry said...

hmmm.. whole hearted. lovely. truth.

ellen said...

Not watching the news AT ALL for the last 2 months has helped me to focus on the good things in this world. Everything will be great again because God is in control. Sometimes, things have to fall apart so that they can be come back better and stronger. The best is yet to be.

Marie said...

Lovely post, as always. I keep a small journal next to my bed, and each night I write down one thing the Lord has given me that day. It may be "the bluebirds are back" or a sunset, or a temptation I avoided. It helps me pay attention throughout the day. He is worthy to be praised.

Kathy T. said...

So true and very well said!

Rebecca said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! So many things to say"yes" to...