Nature’s Delights

I have always been a nature buff.

As a child, growing up in a somewhat rural area in New England, I was outdoors as much as possible, soaking up the sun, reveling in the wind in my face, delighting in the sights and sounds of nature: birds, squirrels, bunnies, flowers, trees, and even bugs.

It’s probably what saved me in some ways, immersed as I was in a rather joyless environment otherwise. Nature constantly regulated my otherwise chronically disregulated nervous system.

This morning I was again immersed in many of nature’s delights, and I thought I’d pass on some of the joy.

In the warmer weather, I like to stand outside first thing in the morning in the sun, doing a grounding exercise I learned from Dr. Elizabeth Stanley.

This morning as I stood there in “mountain pose,” I was distracted by four squirrels racing around the yard, up and down our magnificent red maple tree, and then in the driveway, heading straight for—me! I thought one would crash into my leg, but it abruptly sensed me and turned around. I watched their antics as they got their morning exercise/play time, chasing each other all over the place.

Then I saw my bunny.

I normally love bunnies, but this pair that is probably nesting under our big pine tree–these bunnies have chomped down to the soil all my parsley plants, and even my petunias! I didn’t know they ate petunias. I had to put cayenne pepper on the soil and plant leaves to try to deter them.

view from my porch chair

Today, “my bunny,” (whom I’ve dubbed “Patty Bunny,” because somehow she seems female), came almost up to me as I sat on my porch among the flowers, writing my morning pages.

I was curious whether she would dare approach the petunias in my containers.

She did not. Still too shy. Maybe she picked up on my mental signals: Don’t you dare!

Then I saw a chipmunk on the bush near the porch. Yesterday from my window, my friend saw probably the same chipmunk fall from a branch to the ground, upside down!

After morning pages and breakfast, it was time for my walk. I had just discovered a new bird identification app, Merlin, that allows you to record the surrounding sounds, and it will pop up a picture of the bird making the sounds the app picks up. I learned today to identify a cedar waxwing, house sparrow, house wren, and swallow.

I had been trying to identify the birdsong that I now know was the cedar waxwing for some time. Its song is very melodious.

Then there are the cicadas. Oh my, the cicadas!

Here in the Midwest, especially in Illinois, we are witnessing a once-in-several-lifetimes phenomenon: two broods of periodical cicadas, the 17-year and the 13-year, have all hatched at the same time.

My state, Illinois, marks the boundary between the two broods, so it’s even more of a phenomenon. These two brood hatchings only coincide once every 221 years! I am in the midst of an extremely rare biological event!

These cicadas are big, beautiful, harmless, and LOUD! Their noise hits about 90 decibels, roughly equivalent to the volume of a lawn mower or motorcycle. They are deafening!

Since I’m into sound healing and frequency, I can’t help but wonder: how is the constant vibration of this natural phenomenon affecting my body and the rest of nature? (Actually, it’s not constant. The bugs are quiet at night, and slowly “tune up” as the day progresses. Thank God!)

And why now?

I learned that “late spring and early summer in the forests of the eastern half of the U.S. have been eerily quiet for the past two years. In most years, long-lived periodical cicadas thrum through the region, but a quirk of timing means these insects have been sparse since 2021. This year, though, they’re roaring back.” Is there some purpose of God for having this rare occurrence happen now?

Who knows?

From what I witnessed this morning, it seems like nature is happy. I suspect the birds at least are very happy by the unusual bountiful feast of cicadas.

At any rate, this is an abundant gift that I will take deeply into my highly sensitive soul.

May you also be blessed and your nervous system regulated by nature’s delights.

This is an experience I will definitely add to my Gifts Journal. Recording the delights of the day at the end of the day puts me in a state of gratitude, joy, and a sense of being loved by a God who loves to give good gifts. If you haven’t taken up this practice, I encourage you to start. Here’s how.

Delightful Mystery Gift

I had a rather complicated surgery on May 1, 2023, which would be right around the time I usually planted my little container “stoop garden”: petunias, geraniums, coleus, begonias, impatiens, a hanging vinca plant, all surrounding the little chair on my front stoop.

 

I loved to sit there in the mornings, writing my “morning pages,” taking in the beauty of the sunshine, clouds, and flowers.

This year, after the surgery, I was in no shape to plant the garden. No one else could, either, for various reasons.

On top of that, there was a severe drought here in the Midwest until late July or so, and a lot of my neighbors’ gardens weren’t looking like much, either.

I sorely missed my flowers. Something about their colorful, happy, oh-so-different shapes and leaves just makes me happy.

My friend Louise and I were able to visit the one day the Ball Seed Company opened its local gardens to the public. I enjoyed the flowers and plants, but there was also a stab of grief again that I didn’t have my garden this year.

God knew, and God did something wonderful and totally unexpected.

It’s not only the garden that was neglected this year. Our whole landscape has been sadly neglected. Neither my husband nor I was able to keep up with it. I needed to hire a landscaping service, but we weren’t even up to that. Too many other pressing things demanded our immediate and ongoing attention.

So under an ailing pine tree near our driveway, there is a tangle of ground cover. I had a few pots amid the tangle from last year, in which I would put colorful annuals, usually petunias. But not this year.

The petunias GOD planted.

One morning as I returned from my morning walk, I noticed a spot of white amid the tangled greenery. Closer inspection revealed that one of those pots had petunias growing in it! White and pink, perfectly placed in the pot so there would be room to grow.

I was amazed. Apparently the petunias from last year had reseeded and grown, all on their own. I’ve never had petunias reseed and grow on their own.

As I looked even closer, I saw that there were another couple of small petunia plants also in the pot. The next day, one of them yielded a red petunia.

I put the petunia pot next to my chair on the stoop. Now I had one hanging plant on my right (the one my son got me for Mother’s Day), and one pot on my left.

 

 

 

 

 

But that’s not all!

The icing on the cake came when I spied a tiny coleus plant coming up next to the concrete stoop. I had weeded there just the week before, but hadn’t seen anything then. Now this tiny, perfect coleus had somehow popped up, nowhere near where I had planted coleus before.

I carefully dug it up and put it in my flower pot.

I also added a couple of other plants I had kept and rooted over the winter: begonias. I thought they would not make it in the new pot, but now they are thriving and about to bloom. I’m curious what colors will show forth.

But wait—there’s still more!!

Just this week, about a month after I’d first spotted my new “garden,” I spied yet another plant growing up next to the stoop. I might have missed it, but for the one tiny flower that bloomed.

This time it’s an impatiens, same color as last year. 

At the top: my latest “surprise” plant!

For the time being, I’m leaving it there. I want to see what happens when I let it “bloom where God planted it.”

This is the “garden” God gave me this year. This is about all I can handle tending.

It is enough. It is a delight. I receive it as a gift from a God who knows me all too well, and tenderly gives me just what I can handle.

I’m thrilled not only with my surprise garden that God planted, not me. But also with how it’s grown in just one month.

The whole experience makes me feel known, loved, tended to, cared for, joyful and hopeful.

An “abundant gift” from the God who knows me, indeed.

One month later: “My, how you’ve grown!”

Would you like to be able to notice and receive more of the gifts God has for you?

Download my free Abundant Gifts Journal and start looking for, and jotting down, the things that feel like “gifts” (such as what you just read), every day. You will be amazed at how much you notice and the healing and shifts that will happen effortlessly in you, when you begin to focus on the gifts I’m convinced God is always strewing on our path . . . if only we will stop to look for them. For inspiration, read the Abundant Gifts blog or my book, Abundant Gifts.

 

 

Christ—or Atlas?

Today God spoke to me so clearly about a key heart issue I have, that I just had to share it.

First off was an email devotional by Ray Stedman I subscribe to, which focused on the story of Abram and Sarai, described in Genesis 16. God had promised Abram a son (though he and Sarai were very old, well past childbearing). But after 10 years of no children, Sarai decided to take matters into her own hands and gave Abram her servant Hagar, to beget a child. Which she did: Ishmael.

The title of the devotional was “It All Depends on Me” and Ray Stedman pointed out that so often, we feel we have to do things in our own strength. God tells us to do something, and we set about doing it, without consulting Him as to how to do it and/or depending on Him to give us the power to do it. That really struck me.

Then, on a whim, I looked at my Nextdoor notifications (a local neighborhood network). Someone shared this amazing photograph, taken by a Brazilian photographer after trying for three years to capture a picture of Christ the Redeemer appearing to “hold” the moon. This viral photo shows the 98-foot high monument atop the Corcovado mountain in the Tujuca National Part with the moon right above it!

I love this image.

But someone else added to the post, which dovetailed right into today’s devotional in an almost humorous—but pointed—depiction of the two choices God was trying to show me.

The question: Will I choose to be Atlas, trying to hold the whole world on my shoulders, or will I rest in the fact that Jesus the Redeemer is already holding up the moon and the whole universe (including my own small life)?

A Poem for Spring

Spring is such a wonderful time, isn’t it?

This spring, somehow the phrase “the leaping greenly spirits of trees” from the E. E. Cummings’ poem, “i thank You God for most this amazing” has come to mind every time I take my daily walk.

So, in celebration of spring, and a poet who “got it,” I post this poem, and below, a video recording of the poet himself reading it.

 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

 

“i thank You God for most this amazing” by E.E. Cummings, from 100 Selected Poems. © Grove Press, 1994.

What is God’s Dream for Your New Year?

‘There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.’ C.S. Lewis

I love this time between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when everything slows down and there’s time for reflection.

I’ve seen some excellent suggestions for reviewing the past year/decade and welcoming the new, such as this “Simple Guide to Reviewing 2019 and Creating Your Dream 2020.”

But as I was thinking through my own answers, I realized that one of the things I want to focus on this next year is simplifying my life.

One of the ways I feel led to do that is to seek God in everything, big or little. I want to align myself with His plan, His purposes. I can discern that in my own spirit, as informed by prayer and His Word, as well as my past experiences with God. I can also ask my body, through the subtle energy testing I’ve learned to do.  The spirit and the body tap into an intelligence that goes beyond consciousness, I believe.

So, this year I’ll not only be asking myself questions like “what am I most proud of?” but also, “God, what are you most pleased with from what I did this year?”

Not only, “What have I learned?” but “what lessons do you think were most important, Lord, for me to carry into the new year?”

Not only, “What do I want to create?” but “What do you, Jesus, want to create and do through me?”

These questions excite me. I plan to spend New Year’s Eve and/or Day reflecting in my journal on these, and talking to my husband about them.

I think I already have hints of what God intends for me.

Once in Immanuel Prayer, I got the image of Jesus and me sitting on a potter’s bench. He was behind me, his arms around me, his hands on mine guiding my hands on the lump of clay. I know nothing about making pottery, which is just where Jesus wanted me: totally dependent on his guiding me. At the time, I had no idea what we were making. I was to just yield to the process, to his guiding me. Yield to the intimacy of his closeness, arms around me, hands on mine.

A few days later, he did reveal what we were making: “A vase for flowers (beauty). Two mugs–one for just being present and enjoying a hot drink, one for holding your pencils and pens, because you are a writer. And a bowl for fruit–I intend you to be fruitful. Finally, a pitcher for water–to offer a cool drink to those who are thirsty.”

I look forward to finding out in the coming year all the ways these symbols will be manifested.

Update on “Perfect Dog”

Yesterday, I wrote about how God restored my joy through giving our family Perfect Dog, Chester.

Chester had a trauma on the day I published that, and I thought you’d like a little update.

Our Perfect Dog was bitten by a Rottweiler. He is on the mend now, after getting two staples put into the wound in his back. I am spritzing Halo water on it, as well as the warm Espom Salt compresses (when he’ll let me).

Interestingly, though he was very touchy and in obvious pain, once I did a custom Healing Code for him he was much better. We even went for a walk and he was fine. I was concerned that the collar was so near his wound, but he seemed fine on our walk.

I think the trauma of being bitten and then going to the vet is also what needs to be healed, besides the physical wound itself. When I approach him with the warm compress, he shies away, as if remembering the vet or some other trauma. When I actually put the compress on, he’s OK. I think The Healing Code is addressing the main problem–whatever trauma he harbors.

I’m trusting God to heal Chester quickly. Taking care of him, and watching my son tenderly care for him, is yet another joy through a painful experience.

The gifts keep coming … if we are open to them. What God is showing me again and again is this: Painful things happen in this world where the kingdom is already here, yet not yet fully realized.

The sure hope is that God can bring good out of any evil.

Restored Joy in an Unexpected Form

A few weeks ago, in one weekend, two terrible blows came upon me.

The first one had to do with my business, and I was very distressed about it. It was about the worst thing that could happen to a business like mine. It happened on a Friday night, it was a tech issue, and I knew I wouldn’t get any answers until Monday morning.

I said to God sometime Saturday, after I’d done all I could do to salvage the situation, “Lord, I’m giving this to you. But I have lost my joy and my peace over the past three years, and I don’t know how to get them back.”

God knew how.

That weekend, God brought Joy back in the form of a dog.

God's gift of joy--"perfect dog" Chester
“Perfect Dog” Chester

To understand this, you need to know that while I love dogs, and still missed my Bishon, Millie, I had decided not to get a dog “unless God dropped Perfect Dog into our lap.”

That weekend–enter Chester the Cairn terrier.

My adult son, David, was staying in a cabin with his buddies that weekend, and this dog was hanging around the whole weekend, outside in the rain, apparently abandoned.

David called me Saturday morning. “Mom, would you consider having a dog?” (Since he lives with us at the moment, he needed our permission to bring the dog home.)

“Absolutely not!” I quickly said. “I don’t need any more complications in my life. Especially now.”

On Sunday, David called on his way home and said, “Mom, I couldn’t leave him. I’ll find another home for him if he doesn’t work out.”

Fair enough. I told David, “OK, if he isn’t Perfect Dog, you can find a home for him.”

Well, Chester is Perfect Dog.

It’s like God hand-picked him. He is very well-trained. Playful. Doesn’t bark indoors. (That one’s for my husband, who jumps out of his skin at unexpected loud noises–like dogs barking.) Chester loves to walk. (That’s for me. He even loves walking in the rain–like me.)

Chester and Joey during my prayer time

Even our cat, Joey, has taken to him (though he hides it from us and is still dealing with some jealousy). This is miraculous for Joey. He’s only tolerated some of our other animals, and we even had to separate him from our last cat.

Chester is one bundle of joy, and he sparks joy in me. (Did you know we have a Joy Center in our brain that literally lights up when someone is “happy to see us, happy to be with us”?)

God knew just how to put Joy back into our lives.

And He knew how much we needed it, because the very next day, our family experienced a very traumatic loss. As I told David, “This dog is God’s constant reminder that just as terrible things can just happen out of the blue, so can good things, like Chester being dropped into our laps out of nowhere.”

God used Chester to restore my joy. In a few days, He would also restore my peace in an unusual way. But that’s another story….

 

Partnering with God for Healing

I was thanking God for showing me a new heart issue that needed to be healed, when these words landed in my heart:

I reveal it so we can heal it.

Dr. Mark Virkler says we hear God’s voice as “spontaneous thoughts that alight upon our minds.” That’s a pretty good definition, but I would amend it a little. Because when I hear from God, it’s more like “spontaneous messages that get impressed upon my heart.” There is a knowingness, a feeling about it, that is deeper than emotion.

So it was with this.

I noticed something about the words: It wasn’t “I reveal it so I can heal it” or “I reveal it so you can heal it.”

It was, “I reveal so we can heal it.”

Healing is a partnership.

My part is to be open to the revealing. Sometimes it’s downright painful to have something revealed. This issue certainly was. It went very deep.

But I have found in my Healing Code work that when something is revealed, it is ready to be healed. Things may take years to show up, as this issue did—because I had to heal a lot of other things before I was ready to heal this.

So my part is to be open to the revealing, and then to do the Healing Codes and to pray.

God’s part is to actually do the healing.

I have to show up for it, ready. Only then can he do his work. That’s how God chooses to work in our lives—through this partnership.

Because what he’s always after is a relationship with us. A relationship where we can hear his voice, know it’s him, marvel that he deigns to speak to our hearts and to heal.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

The Gift of Giving

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

This is often taken to mean, “Only give, don’t ever receive.” But I think Jesus is just describing the beginning of the giving and receiving cycle. It is more blessed to give than to receive because giving is how everything starts.

Dr. Tony Evans says, “Whatever you want to receive, start giving that.” It’s the principle of sowing and reaping. What you sow, you will reap. And the amount you reap will depend on your sparingly or generously you sow.

A few experiences brought these lessons home for me several years ago.

My husband and I were always faithful tithers, but some years ago we went through a very financially lean time and I just couldn’t see how we could give the full tithe. Around that time two things happened to cause me to commit to tithing, no matter what. Continue reading “The Gift of Giving”

When The Gift Is YOU

The one kind of “abundant gift” I most resist, yet often becomes the most precious, is what I call “disguised gifts.”

These are the things in our lives that we don’t welcome because they involve suffering of some kind, but afterward when we look back, we see that in fact, it was a gift.

Such was the case for Dr. David Wolf, a prominent doctor whose life was dramatically altered from an accident as he was indulging his passionate hobby, adult go-cart racing.

The story of the many ways that accident became a “disguised abundant gift” will inspire you.

I also believe it will open up your own heart to allowing God to take whatever “hard stuff” is in your life and turn it into something beautiful.

Please click the book cover or http://abundantgiftsblog.com/giftisyou today and order a copy from Amazon.com. Read it, and pass it on to a friend who also needs encouragement and inspiration. Or get one or more for other loved ones.

The way God worked in Dr. Wolf’s life is unique, but that God can do the same kind of amazing things through your troubles is certain.

Whether your “disguised gift” is a financial issue, a relationship issue, a work problem, or a health challenge, God is able to use it in such a way that you can look back and say, “Wow, look what God did with THAT trial!” But that transformation from trial to gift is not automatic.

This book will show you how that transformation can happen. Read it and live into your own version of it. When you do that, the gift will be YOU.