Tuesday, May 10, 2022

One Day at a Time


We said goodbye to a dear one recently—one that had suffered greatly in her lifetime, but somehow always managed to hold on to joy.

We never asked her how she was doing that she didn’t quote the title of the 1970’s Kris Kristofferson, Marijohn Wilkin song.

“One Day at a Time,” she’d respond.

When the song came out decades ago, the phrase, “One day at a time,” became cliché in the culture, but as the years went on, its usage began to fade.

But for our friend, it was never a cliché’—it’s how she lived. And I mean lived. Family explained that as an infant she faced life-threatening challenges, but by the grace of God, she survived. But her developmental process did not follow any expected path, so the stage was set for lifelong issues.

She responded to those issues by seizing each moment for joy and proclaiming Jesus at every opportunity.

She was adored by family and friends and left in her passing at close to ninety a legacy of perseverance amid great difficulties and the memory of a smile that would light up a room.

I was reading this week the Exodus story of the feeding of the Israelites after they had been delivered from Egypt. When the bread from heaven came down, they were instructed to only gather enough for one day except for the sixth day when they would gather enough for that day and the Sabbath.

The Israelites had trouble trusting God with this direction. It was quite a learning curve and not without derailments on their part. The reason for that is it takes a great faith to believe God for the duration of even one trip of the earth around the sun.

But our friend had that kind of faith. She believed through suffering that God would never let her down no matter what day it was.

I’ll never hear the song, “One Day at a Time” or hear the phrase, that I don’t think of her. I’ll remember that these are words God intended for us to live by and that you can live an entire lifetime on them.

When troubles threaten to overwhelm, let’s whisper this phrase in prayer, “One day at a time,” and have the faith that God will grant us the grace to live them.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

When you're still looking for a breakthrough

It was during an oboe solo at the Pops Concert last week that an idea came to me for a creative project—a concept I've not thought of before.

That’s how it works. One person’s creativity sparks the imagination of another. And it just goes on in ripples from there. The whole experience made me think of this post from a few years back. Happy creating, friends!!



Dear friend,


I know. You’ve worked a long time and you’ve tried to put in those 10,000 hours this man says you need in order to perfect your craft. You’ve lived on hope, and following a dream, and yet, up ahead, you only see more of the overgrown, and hard to navigate road that you’ve traveled so far. And you’re thinking, what difference does it make if I quit? What difference do I make?

Here, it’s important to remember those first few words in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created . . . “ You were created in the image of God, and you were created to create. Those gifts and talents are part of your DNA and by using them, you continue His artistry in the world. By the beauty of what you do, you make pliable the hard surfaces of life for others, you give people a place for their own emotions and feelings to resonate. “I’m not alone,” they think because of what you do, because of your honesty, and they find encouragement in the heartfelt renderings of your life.

God could have given us a soundless, black and white world, but He chose to give us one teaming with sensory beauty. In the same way, you spin delight with your offerings.



 
 



When we heard about the butterfly effect, we wondered, but he says it’s true Those butterfly wings flapping on the other side of the world can affect what happens on this side of the planet. The same is true for you. What you do not only affects you, and the people you touch, but the people they touch and on, and on in ripples ad infinitum. Your work matters in this generation, and the next, and the next, and the next. Truly, a “people yet unborn” may praise him because of your efforts today. And it’s not just the big things that matter, but the small things, too. Even those works unseen by others right now have import in ways we cannot imagine. Perhaps, tomorrow, in a dark recess half a world away, another finds hope because you persevered. 
When you are tempted to minimize the value of your efforts, remember, the God of the universe leans forward to take in your painting, your singing, your writing, and all your other talents and gifts. These were his idea, and He has chosen you. Sift critiques for what can make your work stronger and use them for transformation, but don’t allow rejections or negative comments to summarize the worth of your work. 
Do not confuse what you do with who you are. You belong to God, and you are highly esteemed. Your value is not wrapped up in what you do. And if you seemingly fail in your efforts, it does not mean you are a failure. Just use those detours as a segue for what comes next.

No matter the means of expression, whether you tool belts, fashion jewelry, design greeting cards, paint landscapes, write screenplays, novels, or devotions, pen lyrics, sculpt clay, construct tables, draw cartoons, play an instrument, develop lessons for adults or children, etch woodblocks, create culinary delights, or anything else where creativity is involved, "Let every detail in your lives, words, actions, whatever, be done in the name of the Master, Jesus . . . " (Colossians 3:17 The Message).

Let Him make His mark through you.

In a week or so, I start a new Bible study on Gideon. In preparation for that, a friend also in the study, sent me this scripture from Judges 6. "But God faced him (Gideon) directly: 'Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?'” In the face of overwhelming odds, long lines of closed doors, and feelings of inadequacy, we go in the strength we have, even if it seems little, because God has called us. God has sent us. And God only knows how He will capitalize on our weaknesses as well as our strengths to fulfill His purpose.
Friends, be encouraged to continue. You are not alone. We are on this journey together. Don’t let discouragement shut up your heart.
Please know, in this dimly lit world, the shimmering jewel of your creativity shines forth and brings glory to Him, and He smiles.

Many blessings,

 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The outer fringe


An article released this month by the Natural History Museum in the UK, reported scientists have discovered the most distant object ever seen from earth. This possible galaxy is 13.3 billion years away. Additionally, this galaxy may be giving birth to stars at the rate of one hundred stars every year.

I was reading Job about the same time I read the article and had come to his response to his so called “friends” in chapter 26. He makes many declarations about God. Among them, “He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing . . .. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters . . .. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke . . . “

And then Job writes, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works . . . “

I’ve been thinking about “the outer fringe of his works” in relation to the new space discovery. When I visit the coastal shore as the tide is receding, small ebbs of water follow the tide out. These tiny laps of foam are hardly anything compared to the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean beyond which holds 187 quintillion gallons of water—quintillion with fifteen zeroes after it—a billion billions. Now, that’s a number that boggles the brain. It is almost incomprehensible. That is the best analogy I can devise to illustrate this new space discovery compared to the vastness of all God has done and is doing. And yet the analogy breaks down because the ocean still has a limit, and God is limitless.

All that we see and know is only “the outer fringe.”

When we are confronted with seemingly irresolvable problems, whether in the world beyond or in our personal lives, it’s good to reflect on God’s greatness. God and his works are vast and even more incomprehensible than a number with fifteen zeroes after it. And yet, he knows, he sees, even to numbering the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30). In fact, we are so valuable to him, He calls us His children. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .” (John 1:12).

In these uncertain times, I find great comfort in this.

I hope you do, too.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Grace and negative dysphotopsia

I have now joined the ranks of many my age in having my first cataract surgery. The surgery itself was without incident but I have developed a condition called negative dysphotopsia. It is a black arc in my peripheral vision. No one knows for sure what causes it—could have something to do with the new lens or the optic nerve. Hopefully, it will resolve in time, but it may be months before it does so. For those of you considering cataract surgery, this complication is rare. From what I can tell, the numbers are from one to fifteen percent of patients deal with it. I also have had flashing lights in that eye which is common but that has changed to pulsing which is irritated by fluorescent light even with sunglasses. Again, this should disappear after a time.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have the surgery? Oh, yes. My eyesight was failing at an alarming rate. Most people describe the transition after surgery as everything being brighter. For me, it’s as if the world was lit by a warm led before and very blurry, and then someone changed the bulb to a cool led, which brought with it great clarity. The doctor said the eye lens begins to yellow around age forty and it is replaced with a clear lens which would be in keeping of my perception of the color temperature change. It turns out the world is a much cooler place than I realized.

One article I read indicated that negative dysphotopsia led to great patient discomfort. Well, yeah. It’s something to get used to, for sure. It’s like having a border that never goes away around the eye. And yes, I know it could have been something much worse like a retina tear. 

Ragamuffin Gospel author, Brennan Manning wrote, “The conversion from mistrust to trust is a confident quest seeking the spiritual meaning of human existence. Grace abounds and walks around the edges of our everyday experience.”

When I read these words, I sensed God saying that grace is walking around the edges of my vision—that in the periphery, God’s divine influence is being exerted.

Maybe, you too have a borderland that seems disturbed, but keep in mind, God is at work. Grace is at work. 

So, we trust. I am thankful for my doctor and all the medical technology, because again, my eyesight was in a downward spiral. And now, at least out of one eye, I have a picture of the leaves on the trees again . . . and they already have a frame around them.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Where to build our nests

I’ve been getting ready for our Easter meal and toward that end, I’m making nests.

I decided to do a repeat of last year and pull out my mother’s Desert Rose china for Easter, but this year instead of using the white chocolate rabbits on the plates, I’m making nests of chow mein noodles, marshmallows, and butter.

Last Year's Table

While shaping these, I kept thinking of a quote in my book, Give My Love to the Chestnut, which was set on Saint Simons Island and included references to the vast marshes surrounding the island. The poet Sydney Lanier wrote, “As the marsh hen builds her nest on the watery sod, I will build me a nest on the greatness of God.”

This Holy week leading up to Easter is a time to think on the greatness of God, for it is God’s great purpose to save the world that culminates in Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning. Revelation says Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world.” From the beginning God had this plan.

Even this past week, I was reading in Genesis, and these words leaped out at me—when Jacob was blessing his sons, he came to Judah and said, “The scepter will not depart form Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he to whom it belongs shall come and obedience of the nations shall be his”(Genesis 49:10). This, of course, refers to Jesus and it would take pages to note the additional Biblical references pointing to the Savior long before he made his appearance on earth.

So, when we speak of building our nests on the greatness of God, I believe it means we have to establish our foundations on the truth that God is everything. David once prayed, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all . . . “(I Chronicles 29:11).

This thought is echoed by Sydney Lanier who went on to say, “Like to the greatness of God is the greatness within the range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn.” Those vast marshes only hint at how big and how magnificent our God is.

It is humbling and should make us drop to our knees in praise and adoration.

Yes, I am building my little chow mein nests, but I am also thinking of my spiritual nest and being made into someone who can be used by this One who has sacrificed His only Son for me.

During this Holy week, I pray for each of us time to reflect on the greatness of God, and where we are building our nests,

May each of you have a blessed Easter.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Here’s a link for those little nests. 

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Inspiration from the 1950 census

As some of you may have seen, the National Archives has just posted records from the 1950 census. Census record information is held in secret for seventy-two years before it is released, so every 10 years, we get a window into another era.

As a writer, this sort of thing is fascinating. I sifted through the forms online looking for records for members of my own family. I didn’t find my parents or maternal grandparents, but I did find a few aunts, uncles, cousins, and great aunts and uncles. Then while investigating an incomplete notation, I came upon the names of my paternal grandparents, Silas and Sadie. I imagined them standing on the porch of a house on highway 59 on that Tuesday in May as the census worker, Kathleen Jackson, asked them questions.“What is your occupation?”

My grandfather responded, “Farmer.”

“Hours worked?”

 “Sixty.”

Ten hours a day, six days a week. And that was probably an underestimate. He was in his fifties at that point. It would be reasonable to assume that my grandmother matched his workload at least equally. When my dad was asked to describe my grandfather, he simply said, “Hard worker.” The agrarian culture demanded so much. My grandmother died when I was five, so I have only one clear memory of her. My grandfather lived a few years longer but also passed when I was a child. These notations about them on a seventy-year-old form help me feel as if I know them a little better.

One thing is for sure though, at that point in history in my grandparents’ world of not having a telephone, indoor plumbing, much less a television, they could not foresee their granddaughter would in seventy years be examining these records on a computer one could hold in their hand. Or that this device would also serve as a camera, telephone, music player, calendar, and so much more. It would have been unimaginable for them.

This brings me to the spiritual point for this week’s post.

In a much, much greater way, it is hard for us to understand what God has prepared for us in our eternal future. We’ve read. We’ve studied. Still, it is difficult for us to grasp. Jesus tried to bring heaven’s glory to us in a way we could understand by using words like house and rooms. (The King James uses the word "mansions." I like that a lot). 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).

John also tried to describe heaven’s glory. A couple of my favorite descriptions in the closing chapter of Revelation are the crystal river of life flowing from the throne and that there will be no need for lamps because the Lord God will give us light.  

It is hard for the finite mind to comprehend what the infinite has for us. Still, we try. When the brokenness of this life threatens to overwhelm, it’s good to remember that heaven is a real, unimaginably beautiful place. It keeps us looking forward and looking up.

Listed in those 1950 census records are people like my grandparents who are now enjoying their reward in heaven. Seeing their names again serves as a reminder to be faithful, even as they were.

The words of an old gospel song say, “When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” Yes, when the census is taken in heaven one day, I definitely want to be there.

So, here’s the LINK for the National Archives and the 1950 census. Hope you find inspiration in looking up your people, too.  (Make sure you click on population schedules to see the actual forms).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Those big piles and new life

The big pile gets bigger and we’re asking, “When does this end?"

A whole bunch of stuff, one thing after another as my mother used to say. It’s happening with world events but add to that what may also be happening in our personal lives, and all this piling on can be enough to leave us gasping for air.

But could it be that in the middle of that big pile may be something that bears the promise of new life? 

Reminds me of the time that stone got rolled over the tomb—just a pile of rocks and the one we’d counted on was dead.

The days tick off and we come up with our plans B, C, D, and Z because plan A is buried so deep, we’ll never see it again.

Or so it seems.

But plan A is about to electrify that dark hole with the blaze of life and fill the empty tomb with an echoing, “He is risen. He is risen.”

And if God can do that, then when we look at our big piles, we have to ask ourselves what would be impossible?

Didn’t God ask this same question of Abraham way back in Genesis? “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).

Two thousand years later, Jesus said this as if in answer, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27).

Those big piles in our lives want to convince us there’s no hope for things to change, but as we look toward Easter, we keep our eyes fixed on the One that has the power to change everything.

So, we stay close to Jesus and continue to believe God for the promise of new life in all those big piles.

 Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Consider This

We made another trip to the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia on Saturday. We had gone a couple of weeks ago and found a few tulips blooming, but this week our timing was perfect.

The tulips were on full display and made the whole place a wonderland. From the entrance to the back beds of the garden, the flowers had burst forth in layer on layer of pink, orange, yellow, and red. Just when we thought we’d seen them all, we’d spot another area shouting for our attention.  

When we returned home that afternoon, I sifted through my photographs from that morning, and began another painting.

E.M. Forster observed, “Tulips were a tray of jewels.” That’s what they seem like to me, too. We want to hold the beauty close, and painting is a way of doing that for me.

Tulips are in the lily family, and I’m remembering Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

I’m considering the lilies once again as I dip a brush into a hue just shy of red. In the Greek, a shade of “consider” is learn thoroughly. It has been a lifelong quest for me to do so. Especially in light of the next words Jesus speaks about how even Solomon was not clothed like the flowers, and how if our maker clothes the grass, he’ll certainly take care of us who are of much more value. I’m reminded our questions about how we will find provision for our lives point to a lack of trust in God’s faithfulness.

Then we come to the verse that has been one of the bricks in my own foundation. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Because you see, I am tempted to fret about provision. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. But Matthew 6:33 keeps pulling me back to the truth of seeking Him and His righteousness first, and everything else follows. This is what I and all of us must learn thoroughly.

In these days of uncertainty, it’s a timely reminder of what to put first and what to keep first.

I have many photos from my botanical gardens trip from which to paint, and that should give me quite a while to do some considering.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

We look up

In the woods behind our church, a pair of hawks have built a nest high in a cradle of oak tree limbs. For those of us who are crazy about such things, it has caused quite a stir. We stand back there straining to see what’s going on until our necks ache from craning them backward, and we’re nearly blinded from squinting into the sun.


We can’t see inside the nest, so we ask ourselves questions like: Is there a clutch of eggs yet? When will they hatch? How are our raptors doing compared to the ones at Cornell University where we’ve been watching the live cam?  The Cornell hawk, Big Red, tends to lay hers in March, so we’re hoping we might have eggs, now, or perhaps soon.

You see what I mean about being crazy over such things?

We’ve been looking up in the spirit, too. To quote much beloved Dr. Mark Rutland, who once said something like, “God is up, but He’s not up.” We look up knowing God is not sitting on a compass point as we understand directions, but still, we do it.

We stand with expectancy, eyes turned heavenward, even while our hearts sag with grief, praying that God would work a new thing on this tattered planet.  We long to see a great deliverance, a rescue of Biblical proportions, a stop-the-clock, stand up and notice work that only God could do.

We look up for a people under siege, in trenches, in former subway tunnels turned underground bunkers, trying to survive in cities stripped of normalcy, and ask for God to soon intervene and stop the aggression.

Images of war sear into our brains the enormity of the brokenness, but we continue to look up. The Psalmist wrote, “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven . . . Have mercy, have mercy upon us . . . “(Psalm 123: 1, 3).

We echo the psalmist who perhaps was also a person in captivity or under siege, “Have mercy.”

We have many questions about this situation, but we will not stop turning our eyes heavenward, because we believe nothing is impossible for God.

When we gaze at the hawks, we ‘re reminded to look beyond to a God who sees their perilous nest of straw and sticks and who sees the calamity in Ukraine, and we remember the words of the apostle Paul, “. . . in Him all things hold together.”

We pray, "Hold this old world together, Lord." We continue to look up. (Colossians 1:17).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

When what's old as the hills really matters

A thousand years before Jesus’s birth, David penned Psalm 18 in response to God’s deliverance from Saul and other enemies. A week ago, I opened to that Psalm as the scheduled reading for the day in a yearlong Bible reading plan. It seems written for this exact moment in history, which speaks to the transcendent power of God’s word.

Every day since, I have turned to it as a prayer for a people under siege in Ukraine.

I share a few verses here:

2. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


6. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple he heard my voice . . .

14. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.

18-19. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

29.With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

32. It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.

33. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.

35. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.

40. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight . . .

These words winging their way to us from three thousand years ago echo with the message that the apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews, which the amplified version renders, “The word of God is living and active and full of power . . . “(Hebrews 4:12). When we pray His word, we come to know God and His will in a greater way. Through the ages, many have found comfort, strength, and direction in doing so.

Though these expressions are to use a cliché' as "old as the hills," they matter immensely because their power is unchanged and up to the minute. David offered them in gratitude for what God had done, but I'm reminded thanksgiving often precedes the miracle, so perhaps we could offer them in faith for what God will do. Only God knows the full extent of what He may accomplish. In these days, let’s not forget to use our sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

Friends, continuing in prayer with you for Ukraine.

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available as well as her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

A cold war kid, ashes, and our response

I grew up a cold war kid. The “What will happen?” icy tension the Cuban Missile Crisis brought to our home is still unforgettable. The threat of war hung heavy over us for days.

But in Ukraine, war is no longer a threat, but reality.

We have all read the stories rising out of  brave souls intent on holding on to their freedom—pastors and church workers who refused to leave and have turned their churches into sanctuaries for refuge and hospitals for hurting—the video Priscilla Shirer posted of people praying and singing in the subway as the battle raged above them—grandmothers armed and in street clothes ready to fight for what is precious. They follow the lead of a president who when offered a way out said, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

It is humbling. It is inspiring. And it should move us to fall on our knees in prayer for these people.

Tomorrow, on the first day of Lent, we will have an Ash Wednesday service at our church. We are not normally a liturgical church, but on several days a year, we turn to words spoken through the ages and articulated in churches around the world. On Ash Wednesday, it is about repentance, and the need we all have to renew our faith.

After scripture readings and singing verses from that old hymn, “Have Thine Own Way,” we will gather at the altar as Jerry, the pastor, calls us to “repent and believe the gospel,” and he may remind us that we are dust and that to dust we will return. Then he will take the ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms and make the sign of a cross on our forehead which symbolizes repentance.

This service always strikes a deep chord within me. But this year I am especially thinking of and sorry for the times I have taken God’s gracious gifts for granted and how sisters and brothers in the faith at this very moment are contending for the gospel in ways that put their lives at risk. When I look back through the years to those dark days in my childhood, I am grateful this country suffered no attack during that time and realize that as a child, I, and many of you, could have experienced what the children of Ukraine are going through at this time.

The final blessing on Ash Wednesday moves me to tears, “Go forth into the world in the strength of God’s mercy to live and to serve in newness of life. May Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, bless and keep you. May the Lamb of God who laid down his life for all, graciously smile upon you. May the Lord God order all your days and deeds in peace.”

I am praying for these ones on the other side of the planet that God would order their days and deeds in peace, that their sacrifices would not be in vain, that with God as the one who strengthens them, they would indeed rise to live and serve.

And as we bear those ashes on our foreheads, may the Lamb of God who died for us guide us to acts of love and compassion to help them in their plight. 

Praying for Ukraine.

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love . . . “(Joel 2:13).

Samaritan's Purse-Crisis in Ukraine Response HERE (Unsponsored link).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is also available.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Think on these things . . .

This is part two of last week’s post, so if you missed, “When you feel anxious,” find it HERE.

Today—four more tips to help us with anxious feelings. As I wrote last week, I am not a therapist, but these are some of the things I found helpful when I dealt with this challenge.

1.       Diet and exercise. First, and I’m sure this is obvious—watch the caffeine. If we’re already feeling jittery, pumping ourselves with coffee is not a good idea. This would be the season to back off anything with high amounts of coffee and sugar which can put us in a crash mode.

Also, regular exercise is great for working off excess energy and we can get those endorphins going. 

2.      Avoid sentences that begin with “What if . . . “This is the express train ticket to accelerate anxiety because we’re borrowing all that imagined trouble from tomorrow. This quote attributed to Winston Churchill is helpful, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” We have enough trouble without suffering the things that never happen. Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re doing the “what if” thing until we stop and pay attention to what we’re thinking. Notice the times you think or say, ‘what if’ and try the next tip instead.

3.      “Think on these things . . . “One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). When I was trying to stop the “what if” thinking, sometimes I would break this verse down and began listing either in my mind or on paper what is true, then move on to noble, right, etc. Meditating on scripture and putting it into action is powerful and helps us refocus our thoughts and attention.

4.       Prayer Spending time with the Lord in prayer is life-giving. The old Gospel song said, “I must tell Jesus all of my troubles, I cannot bear my burden alone.” None of us can bear our burdens alone. Pouring out our hearts to the Lord is such a privilege. As we do, we’ll find we want to spend more time listening to what He might say to us as we sit before him, and as we read His word.

If you are suffering from anxiety, you are not alone. Many are going through the same thing, but God has a way for you. Seek the Lord. Find a therapist who can journey with you. I pray you would find the healing you so earnestly seek, friends. Blessings.



Over on my Etsy store BeverlyVarnadoArt, you'll find a little book called Gifts of Hope. It's a forty-seven day devotional that I originally wrote for Lent during the time I dealt with PTSD. Perhaps, you will find it helpful. 

 

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