Serenity in the Midst of Turmoil

There is a lot of unrest in America following the recent election.  So many are worried about the future of our country.  Social media is full of opinions on both sides of the fence.   It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil.  And yet, we must remember that our God is in control.  He holds us in the palm of His hand.  He watches over us and our country.  He offers peace and rest free for the asking.

One of my favorite activities is to go out for a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature.  In this way, I reconnect with God and refresh my spirit.  I see the incredible world that God has made and I am at peace.  I enjoy fresh air, beautiful vistas, a bit of exercise, and photo ops.  Hope you will enjoy these pics from a later afternoon hike in the woods near our home.

Ridley Creek
This old stone wall (maybe a damn) is in the middle of the woods

As you contemplate natural beauty, allow your soul to be at rest and allow peace to invade your spirit.  Take time to enjoy the world around you.

Gordon Moments

I attended Homecoming at my alma mater last weekend.  It was wonderful to be back on campus and see how much the college has grown.  There was a vibrancy on campus – an excitement for all that God is doing in and through the college.  There are many new buildings since I was there and the facilities are quite impressive.  The college has kept up with education trends and the needs of the student population.  At the same time, they have kept the natural beauty of the campus intact and there are beautiful places to walk both on the perimeter of the campus and in the heart of it.  The sense of place and of mission is very strong on this college campus.  Even the older buildings are filled with the energy of staff who are enthused about the direction and goals of the college.

We walked through the woods to the large pond and I remembered walking and cross-country skiing on these paths as well as canoeing and swimming in the pond.  I saw a few old friends and met several new ones.  The college motto is “Lives Worth Leading” and they are intentionally shaping students to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Natural Beauty on Campus

Island Adventures

Had a fantastic day trip to Block Island this past weekend.

North Lighthouse

We rented mopeds and rode, then walked out to the North Lighthouse,

Northern most point of Block Island
Northern most point of Block Island
Mohegan Bluffs
Mohegan Bluffs
Southeast Light
Southeast Light

swam, walked around the point, and then rode round to the Southeast Light and Mohegan Bluffs.  Went back into town for lunch and then another swim and some frisbee in the ocean.  A sun-filled, salty, sandy day was just what we all needed.  Refreshing to walk along the shore and see the ocean, which was very clear and a beautiful turquoise blue.

Serenity restored.

Spring = Serenity

fresh green leaves
fresh green leaves

I’d be hard-pressed to say which is my favorite season. I love them all! But today it is spring and so today that is my favorite season. And I think I have finally captured spring.

Although I love all of the flowering trees, the cherry blossoms particularly, my favorite are the pink dogwood. But the fresh new green of budding trees against a deep blue sky is something that speaks serenity to my soul.

What speaks serenity to your soul?

 

Jellyfish: Boys of War

CoastHad a lovely walk on the beach this week with our 21, almost 22, year old daughter.  We had to step carefully to avoid the man-o-war jellyfish that had blown up onto the sand in the stiff offshore breeze.  Gen was lamenting the poor creatures demise and particularly the bitty ones that she called ‘boys of war’ who did not even get to survive to adulthood.  They were about an inch in diameter and seemed so fragile, yet are so dangerous.  Her phrase and her empathy made me smile.  Life is precious – even a jellyfish!  This child of mine is passionate about life, about sustainability, about reducing homelessness, about many subjects.  What a joy to share this time by the ocean.  Another day at the beach we giggled uncontrollably as the wind pelted us with tiny stinging grains of sand.  At the pool, we lay in the sun and had a long heart-to-heart.  Connecting with this beautiful young woman who lives so far from us is a rare treat and I cherished our short time together.  Finding serenity together as we laughed, celebrated, reminisced and enjoyed time outdoors.

#optoutside #evenwithboysofwar

In Foul Weather and Fair

Marsh at High Tide
Marsh at High Tide

The town where I grew up is on the water and my dad has always been an amateur weather man as well as a sailor.  There was a peninsula in the town with a long harbor on one side and the sound on the other.  Whenever there was a storm, my dad would say, “let’s go down to the beach and see if the water is over the road yet.”  I remember the flooding being more common in winter storms. Dad and I, and my sister, would jump in the car, drive down to the beach, and plow through the water, first with the car and then on foot.  We would check out the water level around the buildings and look for waves and white caps.

Weather was exciting!  Rain and storms were to be EXPERIENCED.  As an adult, I try to recapture the joy of being outdoors in all weather, foul and fair.  And whenever dad calls, his first question is always, ‘how’s the weather?’  The stormier the better in his mind!

Opting Out – Outdoors That Is

Tonight I am meditating on:

  • Work
  • Play
  • Sabbath

and the connection to:

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Spirit

Are the short walks that I take a mini form of Sabbath?  Taking photographs, noticing the beauty of creation is similar for me.  Reading is at times also restful for me.  I was studying a bit more about StrengthsFinder tonight and noticed the connections between introspection and Intellection.  Reading is, at times, also restful for me.

I paused to read Michael Hyatt’s post:

Why Going Outdoors Makes You Smarter, Stronger, and More Spiritual

and was struck by the similarity of our thoughts.

Serene living-1

Are there practices that rejuvenate your spirit in a similar way?

Serene Living

Snowpocalypse 2016 is in progress as I write.  We’ve enjoyed a snow day here in Pennsylvania.  So far we have over 23” of snow in less than 24 hours.  It’s beautiful to look at.  This quiet Saturday has been spent reading, cooking, eating, and cross country skiing.  I love when I am home on a weekend with no particular agenda.  My favorite thing is to sit on the couch in my living room.  The sofas are old, but their blue, green, and white large floral pattern makes me happy, as does the design and architecture of this home.  From the couch, I can see the snow falling outside the four sliding glass doors and piling up on the back deck.  This quiet house in the woods is my respite.  I am so blessed to enjoy this beautiful home.

But it’s my attitude and my choices that make it a respite.  First, I try to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness every day.  In this I am encouraged by Ann Voskamp.  I believe in God and choose to give thanks for big and small things daily.  I’m still working on my list of 1000 Gifts and will continue – probably I’ll be making lists all my life.  But a thankful heart is a content heart.  Remembering that I have things to be thankful for helps me keep life in perspective.
Secondly, I choose to cultivate ‘down time’ – time for me, in the midst of a busy life, it is easy to be constantly on the go.  I am intentional in making time for quiet in my life.  I try to spend some time every day with a book or going for a walk or simply enjoying a cup of tea.  There are many ways to add serenity to your life.  Time outdoors, even in the middle of a blizzard, is always life-giving to me.  Something about fresh air, seeing the sky and trees, always perks me up.  I love to go for a ten minute walk first thing in the morning.  I am forever stopping to take pictures – the scenery is always changing – even if the walk is the same.  I take lots of pictures of clouds.  Clouds inspire me.
It was snowing hard when I took this picture
It was snowing hard when I took this picture
What brings you serenity?  Let me know in the comments.

My One Word

I remember where I was when I got my One Word.  It was early January of 2016 and I was just leaving the doctor’s office on a cold winter day, and I paused just outside the door to look at a bush.  There in the midst of winter was a tiny bit of green.  I was reminded to slow down and admire the beauty around me. And it came to me, Serenity is my word.  It defines me.  It is how I live my life.  And it is partly my temperament, but it’s also intentional.  Like the choice that I made to stop and admire the landscape, not just hurry on to the next thing (or back to work).  It’s about choosing to see and notice the beauty around you.  A life lived in a rush does not leave much room for serenity.  But slowing down can be hard.  Stick around, see how I cultivate Serenity.Winter Beauty