The Gift of the Insect Kingdom

I have been greatly missing my cat, Fergie, who is now waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge. I miss the way she snuggled up to me as we sat on the couch together. I miss just her presence here. However, a small blessing has come out of my grief. My eyes have been opened to the comforting reassurance of the insect kingdom. 

I have never been one to like bugs and really don’t want them in my home. Yet, shortly after Fergie died I found a spider contentedly hanging out in his web on my bathroom sink counter. When I have found spiders in the house before, I have said, “I’m sorry,” but proceeded to end their lives for my own peace and well-being. 

However, something is different about this spider. He is always there day after day and night after night in his web which hangs from my lotion bottle dispenser. I finally named him Harry. I say good morning and goodnight to Harry. I greet him when I get home from work. I know it’s silly, but it helps me to feel like he is there for me in my time of need. Sometimes when he isn’t moving, I fear he has died and blow lightly on his web. Then he moves a little to let me know he’s quite alive, but stays in the same area by the lotion bottle. He seems to not fear me at all. I tell him not to be afraid…that I won’t hurt him. I don’t know how long Harry will stay with me, but I am grateful for his companionship. 

Meanwhile, other insects have come near me as well. A blue dragonfly flew all around me when I was outside in my yard. A bee hitched a ride to work with me for awhile, flying alongside the driver’s side window and then traveling safely in the crevice of the window. When I arrived at work that day, a huge yellow and black butterfly flew outside a glass window right when I walked into the office.

I have appreciated the generosity of the insects during my time of grief. It reminds me that God’s Spirit is with me and that those who have died are still alive in spirit waiting for us until we are called home to heaven. Join me in giving thanks to God for the Gift of the Insect Kingdom on the Journey!

The Gift of Grief

It is difficult to lose loved ones, whether they be humans or furry companions. I lost my beautiful Fergie two days ago. I just realized that her name includes the letters in the word grief. She gave me so much love and comfort during our six and a half years together. 

I remember finding her at Bishop Animal Shelter where she “chose” me by rubbing up against my back. She was so beautiful that I almost felt guilty adopting her. I didn’t want to be prejudiced against the less lovely cats who shared her cage. However, she soon showed me her inner qualities were just as beautiful and I knew she was the one.

Fergie was special. She was friendly to everyone and so gentle. Everyone who came into contact with her commented on her sweetness. Yet, she eventually became very sick and I knew her time with me was coming to an end. I gazed at her, trying to memorize every detail of her appearance. Once recently we stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like forever. 

Making the decision to let her go was excruciating, but I didn’t want her to suffer and I could tell she was dying. I came home from work early that day so I could spend as much time with her as possible. However, she kept hiding and I knew she needed to be alone.

Although I hadn’t cried in a long time, as I held her in my arms at the vet’s office, my tears flowed like a river. Waves of grief washed over me and I kept telling Fergie how much I loved her. Afterwards, I felt spent and sadly left for home.

At home that night it was so quiet. Fergie was a talker. The house seemed empty despite the presence of my fiance and our dog, Ace. As I rested on the couch in the stillness, I suddenly heard a cat’s meow. I looked outside to see if there was a stray cat around, but found none. I felt comforted that it could be Fergie’s spirit letting me know she’s still with me.

Despite the pain, grief can feel like a healing release, leaving us with a calm sense of peace. Let’s thank God for love-filled memories and for the Gift of Grief on the Journey.

 

 

The Gift of an Eagle

On March 31st of this year, I had an awesome unexpected blessing while leaving my parents’ condominium complex. My fiance was driving and out of his window I suddenly spotted a majestic sight beyond my wildest dreams! A huge eagle was leisurely filling his belly with road kill while several black vultures waited patiently for him to finish.

I shouted for Jim to stop and we were able to watch this amazing display for probably 5-10 minutes as the eagle glanced at us nonchalantly and continued his meal. Jim took videos and I shot picture after picture on my cell phone. I was star struck that we could be only around 6 feet away from a wild eagle. What are the chances of that? I kept repeating comments about how incredible it was that we were there to witness this wonder of nature. The eagle didn’t fly away until another car eventually came up behind us to turn onto the main road, allowing the regal looking vultures to finish the scraps.

I had read that an eagle symbolizes spirituality and the ability to view your life from a higher perspective. Had the eagle come to teach me this lesson? I am very detail-oriented. It has been a plus in my jobs, but not necessarily when determining my progress in life. I can get so bogged down with my day to day challenges that I miss the big picture. Viewing my life as a whole from where I originally started, perhaps I have progressed more than I think. 

How about you? Can you see how far you’ve come or do you get lost in the details of your current circumstances? Be like the eagle and see your life through his eyes. Maybe the eagle has shown up here today to remind you that you are making steady progress in all areas of your life when seen from a higher perspective. 

Join me in giving thanks to God for our lives and this beautiful Gift of an Eagle on the Journey!

 

 

 

The Gift of Sobriety

Today is my 26th sober anniversary. It was a joy to celebrate with my parents who remember what my life was like back then. They brought me 26 carnations, which are my favorite flowers.

I have so much to be thankful for on this day. I’ve thought about how different my life would have been had I continued drinking. It’s a road that I’m glad was not taken. It’s likely that I would not even be alive today.

I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous and Gateway Rehabilitation Center for teaching me how to achieve and maintain sobriety. I’m grateful to my friends in recovery who encouraged me and helped me in so many ways. I’m thankful for my therapists who led me in dealing with the issues behind my drinking. I’m especially thankful for my family’s prayers and support.

Sobriety has enabled me to have a meaningful life with real relationships. It has been the foundation of my personal and spiritual growth. It has enabled me to feel my feelings instead of burying them or covering them up.

I have learned that God really does want the best for me even when life is hard and that He never gives me more than I can handle. I have watched Him work many miracles over the years.

Please join me as I thank God and celebrate the amazing Gift of Sobriety on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Boundaries

Sometimes fences are necessary…to keep something protected and closed in and to keep potential dangers out. We can think of personal boundaries as fences around ourselves, letting us and others know where we end and they begin. This protects against codependency. We can have physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, mental and spiritual boundaries.

How do you know where yours are? Your feelings and intuition can help you to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. It helps to think about this and decide for yourself where they are instead of waiting for someone to step over them and leaving yourself overly vulnerable.

It took me most of my life to develop clear boundaries. I am still working on this issue in my relationships. However, it is becoming more natural for me to communicate this essential information to others in my life.

Do you know what your boundaries are in different kinds of relationships and situations? This is a key element of personal growth. For example, how much personal space do you need to feel comfortable and safe? What information are you willing to share with others and what topics are off limits for you?

Because they are meant to protect me and others, I am very thankful for the Gift of Boundaries on the Journey.

The Gift of Beauty Products

Can beauty products be spiritual? I love this picture of a woman with both make-up and an angel wing. Since beauty products enable me to feel better about myself and present myself to the world in a way that honors me, I believe they can be considered spiritual.

Beauty products allow me to look as young and beautiful as I feel on the inside…on a good day. Ha! They create the magic of bringing the inside out. I colored my hair today, because it reflects how I see myself inside. I put on make-up today, because it makes me look more vibrant and alive.

I have a friend who does not need these tools. Her cheeks are naturally rosy and her gray hair looks great on her. However, when I go without makeup, I look pale and ill. Also, my grays and natural hair do not blend well together. Therefore, my beauty routine is part of my self care. I am so grateful that there are products available to help me look my best.

I know that this is not all there is to looking and feeling my best. There is also drinking enough water, eating right, and exercising. I’m trying to work on those as well. I also have an accountability partner who asks me how I did at the end of each day. That helps to provide more motivation.

I am very grateful today for the Gift of Beauty Products on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Loving Ourselves

Today is Valentine’s Day. It is mostly celebrated as a day for lovers. However, whether or not you are in a relationship, it is also a good day to ask yourself, “Do I really love myself?”

Several years ago when I was in an unhappy marriage that was detrimental to my self-worth, I decided to give myself the love that my husband was incapable of giving me. I bought a red, heart-shaped music box that said “I love you” inside. Whenever I needed a reminder, I could open it up and receive that love.

Women tend to do a lot for others, especially spiritual women. However, we need to treat ourselves at times to the kind of care we shower on others. Valentine’s Day will be over by the time I post this, but please continue to celebrate yourself for the beautiful being you are.

I needed some help from a friend tonight and I accepted her offer to listen to me and provide me with feedback. The conversation was very healing for me and encouraged me to take better care of myself–body, mind, and soul. In accepting this help, I was loving myself and reminding myself that self care needs to be a priority in order to have the health and energy available to give to others.

I encourage you to take excellent care of yourself and know that this is actually a gift to your loved ones and everyone you hope to help. Let’s give thanks for and celebrate the Gift of Loving Ourselves on the Journey.

 

The Gift of a Sister’s Heart

I had the pleasure of seeing my sister, Kristi, last night and attending a concert with her and my mom. It was an especially meaningful time together since one of the music groups sang a song about the cross that she co-wrote. We didn’t know if they would sing it or not, so I prayed to Jesus over and over, asking him that they would perform Kristi’s song. When the music started, she and my mom motioned to me that this was the one. We sat in awe listening to her precious lyrics being sung so beautifully. I will never forget that moment.

There is another moment I will never forget. It was Fall of 1989 in the late evening and I had just hastily arrived at my favorite bar after experiencing a flat tire. I ended up depressed and crying in my drink, wondering if this was all there was to life. I had been drinking heavily for six years. At first, alcohol had made me feel better and more sociable. However, now it just made me more depressed.

Unbeknownst to me, my sister’s heart had felt heavily burdened for me a couple months prior to this, like she needed to save me. She had attended a revival service at her church and taken my picture up to the altar, where the evangelist and other attendees laid their hands on her and prayed for me.

After my emotional night at the bar, those prayers were answered. I decided I needed to stop drinking and shortly afterward, entered a rehabilitation center. Although I relapsed after that before finally getting sober on March 10, 1992, I credit my sister’s beautiful gesture for touching God’s heart. Through her prayers, along with those of other family members and several church groups, God helped me achieve and maintain sobriety and a renewed relationship with him. I now, thankfully, have almost 26 years of sobriety.

My sister has written hundreds of songs, but she eventually wrote one describing this story and told me it was my song. Last night at intermission, I also got to meet the man who wrote the music to my sister’s lyrics of my song. He thanked me for sharing my life story through Kristi’s song and said it was an honor to meet me.

What a triumphant night, full of blessings! Please join me in giving thanks for the loving Gift of a Sister’s Heart on the Journey.

The Gift of Connection to Jesus

I am feeling so connected to Jesus that I can’t help but write about him. He is making himself so real to me. I know the picture above may not be how Jesus actually looks, but pictures like this sometimes speak to me and his eyes seem to look deep within me…into my very soul. I just feel love flowing from him.

While meditating tonight, I asked Jesus who he was and I heard in my spirit, “I am love.” I thought of the Bible verse I John 4:7 that says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.” Jesus is love incarnate.

I may not understand the mysteries of God, but I know what I experience and that is a connection to Jesus that no one can ever take away. I know that focusing on him makes me want to be a better person, to love God and to love others as myself.

There is a knowledge that we can have of Jesus from the Bible. That is one type of knowing. However, there is a knowing within that is not just facts about Jesus, but results from truly having a relationship with him. I want to share Jesus with you, not necessarily so you can be saved from a future hell, but so you can know deep inside how loved you are right now. He is the best confidant and guide that you can have on the road of life.

Let’s give thanks to God for the incredible Gift of Connection to Jesus on the Journey.

 

The Gift of Relaxation

I chose a picture of a peaceful setting for tonight’s blog. I don’t know about you, but I need to pause and relax for awhile. I want to quiet my mind and just let the words flow.

My parents’ condo complex has a beautiful lake and it always feels so peaceful there. That is one of the reasons I moved to Florida over 6 years ago. Interestingly, I had to go through a long period of anxiety here before returning to a place of peace. Now I really appreciate moments like this.

My cat, Fergie, certainly has no problem relaxing. In fact, she’s right beside me showing off her ability. She is a great teacher. I can rest my mind while watching her body gently rise and fall with her breath. I think we all probably need this…a few minutes of quiet rest each day. Another way to relax is to meditate. It helps me to meditate with a friend. We set a timer for 5 minutes and silently focus on a passage of Scripture or a phrase.

If you have trouble relaxing, try looking at a peaceful picture, gazing at a body of water, watching your pet, or meditating with a friend. You owe this to yourself. It’s part of taking care of yourself and your health. Let’s thank God for the Gift of Relaxation on the Journey.