Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Still Blooming



My hibiscus has been brought indoors for the winter, and it's still blooming. Seems like it only gets at most one to three flowers open at a time, but then they are so pretty each bloom can be thoroughly appreciated that way. This photo was taken by a different camera than the first I shared here.

Just wanted to clarify that when I write about negative thinking, depression, anxiety, and so on, that doesn't mean I'm presently having big problems with any of those. They come and go, but mostly I'm fairly content these days. But at times my thoughts are too many to put in a short comment or email, so they become blog posts! :O)

From This Day is the Lord's by Corrie ten Boom:

Faith is an activity; it is something that has to be applied. 

Absolute dependence is the essence of the faith of the angels; it should also be ours. 

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may ... find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 (as found in the above book)

Keep blooming ... wherever you're planted!
Bess

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thoughts on Anxiety, Especially Job Anxiety


A jigsaw puzzle my dad and I put together. He put a backing on and preserved it.

I'm no expert, and my thoughts in this post are based on my personal experience, but I don't think too many people will argue with me when I say anxiety is no good. It's about as much fun as getting a root canal all day, every day.


My dad holds me, and my mom holds my older brother.
Aren't I a chunk?! Talk about fat cells! ;O}

Anxiety differs from depression in that it's being in a state of relentless agitation (a lack of peace). Often it's mercifully understated, but it's there nonetheless. Left unattended, the tension spring winds tighter and tighter. Sometimes it screams to be sure we're paying attention. "Do something!" it demands. What it means is "Do something different!" because the same-o, same-o isn't soothing the anxiety beast and releasing any pressure build-up. Years ago I had to leave a job because my extreme anxiety and stress didn't subside one whit over evenings or weekends (vacation was non-existent); it just kept building. The workload was utterly impossible. When it gets like that, Friends, it could very well be time to get out while you can walk out and not wait until "the big one" sends you out the door on a stretcher.

A watercolor done by a classmate of my grandfather.

However, anxiety is like depression in that if one needs medical treatment, one best seek it out asap. For instance, mitral valve prolapse has a strong connection with anxiety. I'm sure an online search would turn up many more medical connections. (So if you're experiencing anxiety, please be sure to talk to your doctor about it.)

And being that these are anxious times we live in doesn't help matters. If we think we're not anxious about anything, ever, we'd better pinch ourselves to make sure we're alive. 

An unfinished painting in acrylics done by my mother.
The kitty was named Holly because she was a Christmas present.

I wonder how much anxiety folks of old felt ... in fact, folks clear up to just before the information age maybe. I mean sure, if we're being chased by a bear, we're terrified until said bear lumbers off. But constant anxiety? I think in part it's so bad now because we've been robbed. Well, that's my theory anyway. Robbed by the busyness in this day and age of precious time and quiet to pursue activities that produce tangible results. Results we can look at as often as we like and say to ourselves: "I made this."

A sweetie, even with her unfinished face.

It seems to me we need an outlet that's a good distraction, something totally different from our job, that will "take us away" from our work and daily stress (no, not even Calgon is enough help!). I'm liking the visual arts because then I have something tangible to keep and show for my time. And there are soooo many options. Once we find the one or two or maybe three hands-on activities that are so enjoyable to us we lose track of time and our anxiety, we don't feel so "defined" (or pressured) by our jobs, but defined more so by the wonderful things we enjoy doing and look forward to doing in our free time. (I guess if one is fortunate to find "the one thing," that makes it a passion, and a couple things can become our bliss. I've never been able to whittle it down to one or two things, but I've come to accept that about myself!)


My beautiful mother (and handsome father and younger brother) at my 4th birthday celebration: 1956!

There are always going to be deadlines and stressful days at work, concerns for loved ones, snarled traffic jams, crummy weather, financial and health challenges ....  IMHO, the best tranquilizer is to be crazy-in-love with Jesus (whether one is male or female because it's a pure, chaste, "brotherly" love; also I'm not the least bit against tranquilizers if one needs them and takes them appropriately). But maybe the next best tranquilizer is finding a creative outlet that makes you feel on top of the world! Trying out the possibilities is part of the fun! 


A little woodworking.

Please tell us about your hobby or passion in a comment. 


From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward.
Proverbs 12:14


My love to all, especially my precious family!
Bess

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some Wise and Encouraging Words

She looks like she could use some encouragement. Painted by my grandfather.

Even when life seems hard we still must carry on, and eventually we will reap the benefits of doing so. For example, Corrie ten Boom, in her book This Day is the Lord's spoke of experiencing illness and suffering as being in training for higher service. She also warns:

"Giving too much attention to little symptoms is playing into the hands of the enemy. He uses illness to depress us, until we see things out of all proportion to their real value."

That's something to watch out for. And sometimes we just need a reminder that life doesn't have to be all bad. Here is the great Tony Bennett singing the standards "Put on a Happy Face" with James Taylor, and then "Smile" with Barbra Streisand. There's just a bit of talking on the first one, but it's still a joy to hear. If you haven't heard these wonderful songs for awhile, indulge and enjoy and take note of their wisdom!

From Winston Churchill:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

From Harriet Beecher Stowe:

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."

And from Corrie:

"Suffering is God's thorny but blessed road to wonderful victory. We must learn to remain faithful."

A watercolor by my grandfather, with a glimpse of a pencil sketch by my great aunt.

You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him,
for you are his personal concern.
1 Peter 5:7  Phillips

Enjoy your weekend,
Bess

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Old Rose, Pleasure Stations, & The Middle TV Show



While perusing my old Victoria magazines, I came upon an article entitled "In Search of the Quiet Center of Our Lives" in the September 1995 issue. It was "A Victoria Tea and Conversation" with Francine Prose, Judith Thurman, Carol De Chellis Hill, and Susan Minot, all who had written articles for Victoria. The following snippet is taken from Judith Thurman's portion:

"A Danish friend of mind ... told me that she has pleasure stations that mark her day. She chooses a record with great care and plays it for herself at three o'clock. Writing is a pleasure station for her, so is the bath. I like the idea of thinking of writing as one of the pleasures to be had in a life filled with other commitments."

Oh my. Aren't those "pleasure stations," or breaks in our routine during which we pamper our souls, so important?! Personally, I don't think I could exist without them. They lower my blood pressure and my pulse, calm my nerves, delight my senses, and strengthen me for the journey of life.

Dessert Plate


Cup front















Cup back


Saucer

Reading Victoria is one of my pleasure stations, along with reading books, trips to the library only one mile away, checking favorite blogs for a few minutes, knitting a couple rows, sipping a cup of hot water with lemon and honey ... so many sweet blessings to occupy myself with. I have to agree with Thurman that writing is one of the pleasures to be had. How fun to hit "Publish" and to be read by my few loyal visitors and followers. A satisfaction but for Blogger I would never have experienced. (And I so appreciate your kind comments.)

Older photo of the teapot and friends














Another of my pleasure stations has to be the ABC sitcom The Middle. I only discovered this out of desperation after cutting back on my cable channels. I'm so glad I did because it's become my favorite TV show. (Well, not that I watch a whole lot of TV, but still ...) I can't imagine a better cast anywhere. Sue Sue Heck (not a mistake) is a gem with her positive approach to life (most of the time). There's an old episode where she's trying out for the track team that's positively inspiring. And the roles of Axl and Brick, her brothers, couldn't be written or played any better than they are. And though some of the Heck family's problems might be a little over the top, the show does an excellent job depicting life for your average, nondescript Middle America family just trying to get through. And it's clean- a true rarity these days. Bravo! Well done! If you haven't seen it, it starts up again this Wednesday, Sept 24. You may just find yourself wanting to watch the old episodes!

I'm not being compensated for the above paragraph, of course. But having grown up the female child between two brothers, I get such a kick out of the family dynamics on this show (even though not overly similar to mine).

The very fallish September '95 Victoria is an excellent issue overall, with a lovely watercolorist, a memoir about a favorite teacher, and pretty autumn clothes in photo settings only the old Victoria knew how to do well. Hope you can find your copy and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee! 

Sometimes I enjoy just a simple treat of a dark chocolate bar and peanut butter on graham crackers:



What are your favorite pleasure stations throughout your day or week?

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:10

Linking up to Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage and Martha at Martha's Favorites and Ruth at Antiques and Teacups. Please be sure to pay them a visit!

Have a sweet weekend,
Bess
PS: The tea set was my mother's, is showing its age, and every single cup is chipped. I still adore it! The stamp is below:

Old Rose by John Maddock & Sons


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Choices and Revisiting Corrie ten Boom


I must choose a notecard for a special note to a dear friend.


























During World War II, Corrie ten Boom was imprisoned by the Nazis, at Ravensbruck and other camps, for harboring Jews in Holland.

I read her books The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord years ago, but want to reread them. Just lately I've read Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle and Not I, but Christ. Her books are amazing lessons on getting through whatever life hands us. Her choice was to do so with an attitude well-pleasing to God, through Christ.

I purchased both of these pretty Hallmark cards on sale.
























Corrie died on April 15, 1983, her 91st birthday. She had finally ceased being a "tramp for the Lord" in 1977, making her home in California. In August 1978, she suffered a terrible stroke, leaving her mute. Subsequent strokes left her with paralysis, still unable to speak, read or write, and bedridden. Until the end, she "drew her strength from the Word of God, and from the Lord Himself, with whom she still constantly communed."

"He [Jesus] will come, and there will be a moment that everyone will bow before Him, everyone. Then the matter will be whether you will bow your knees before your Savior or before your Judge." (From Not I, but Christ)

It's our choice.

I think I'll choose this one.

"I once heard that a person gave the advice that we as Christians should learn Morse code. Then, if we were imprisoned it would be very useful. Well, I cannot agree. When during the war I was in prison, I knew the Morse code, but it did not help me very much. What was valuable to me was every Bible text and every hymn I knew by heart. Learning these by heart is a preparation we can all have." (Ibid)

I also have found memorizing Scripture and singing hymns and praise and worship songs an invaluable choice. What a comfort during the dark nights of the soul, during medical tests and hospitalizations, and during those hours and days we wait for answers for loved ones or ourselves.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 2:28


Abiding in Him is the most important choice we make! Hope you are enjoying a
splendid  weekend,
Bess
PS: I did have to break down and turn on my heat! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On the Fly


That's what this post is! The above demitasse cup was my mother's. It says "R/Y Hohenberg, Bavaria, Germany" on the bottom, and it has a crown, if that means anything. It's one of my more autumnal-looking cups.

Here are a couple quotes from Corrie ten Boom in her 1978 book Don't Wrestle, Just Nestle:

"Prayer changes our attention from the problem to the Power, from anxiety to the Almighty."

"There is only one force more powerful than fear, and that is faith. Does your need seem big to you? Then make sure that God knows how big it looks to your eyes, and He will treat it as such. He will never belittle it, however trivial. He will not laugh at it, or at us. He never forgets how large our problems look to us."

We're headed for a big change in the weather, which we could use. I just hope we don't have to turn on the heat in September. (I refuse to!)  :O)

Thanks for visiting, and have a wonderful day! Off to work I go,
Bess