Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's Most Important?

I keep asking myself that question -- "What's most important?" Life is so full of options, and many of them very time consuming. It's easy to get lost in the sea of them, too. Where are you in asking that question (and finding answers)?

My husband and I both lost our jobs at the same time (we were laid off) the end of July. What seemed like a fairly straight path we were on is now full of curves, hills and valleys. I don't often share how my faith is currently impacting my life -- but I thought I would take time to give you a little insight into how we are "handling" this difficult time in our lives on the off chance it might encourage you too.

You may have noticed my last post on this blog was a relatively short time after the death of my father. Right after that, one of my aunts passed away, and within the past month, an uncle also left this earth. Due to the financial difficulties imposed by losing both our jobs on top of the emotional rawness of loss of family members, I have experienced what some call a "dark night." To have so many challenges to one's faith in a row has certainly not been easy! I have a life verse from the Bible that guides me:

Jeremiah 6:16 says "Look and see, and ask for the Old Paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls."

That passage doesn't say the way will be easy. It doesn't promise anything other than "rest for your souls." That, I have discovered, is what is MOST important -- soul rest. Everything else can be in a turmoil, but focusing on God's deep and abiding love for me (those old paths found in scripture), make a huge difference. To give you an example . . . . I was struggling to sleep a few nights ago. I asked the Lord Jesus to help me sleep and words to an old hymn floated across my mind. I couldn't even remember the title nor all the words. There were just enough from those "old paths" to calm my spirit and bring me sleep. In the morning, I hunted up the hymn and here are the precious words that encouraged me:

"Like a river glorious, is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest."

What sustains you in difficult times? What's MOST important then? I can't answer for you, but I hope my own struggle and story might encourage you that you don't walk alone.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reminders -- Savor Every Moment!

You may be wondering why you have not seen any new posts? I've been taking a little time to prioritize. As you can see, my last post was on February 1st -- with all the best intention of regular blogging throughout Valentines Day. On February 2nd, my father went into the ER and that began a spiraling journey of daily treks to the hospital and supporting my mother through surgeries and his eventual passing away on February 20th.

While going through all the funeral arrangements with family, I realized just how unprepared I was for that monumental task, let alone my Mom's readiness. My parents had a pre-paid funeral plan which most definitely helped -- but there were still so many decisions to be made.

While all this has been difficult -- especially the aftermath of the grieving that catches you unaware at the strangest moments, it has also been a great reminder! Savor every moment of every day -- even the difficult ones. I am so glad I was able to take almost a month and a half to fully be there -- first with my Dad, and the family, and then in supporting my Mom. I still call her every day -- I don't want to miss out on a single precious moment of chatting about the little blessings. My Dad learned that lesson well and I know that is what he would tell me now if he could.

I read something today that really struck me -- in fact, I have made a copy of it to post on the wall by my desk:  "Beware of spending too much time on matters of too little importance!" Time just flits by all too quickly on butterfly wings!

So, I have been making time to create jewelry and have tea parties with my 6 year old granddaughter. My fingers have gotten dirty while digging in the dirt planting vegetables for my kitchen garden. I've been visiting with my elderly neighbors, and walking with a friend. I've been clipping a few grape hyacinths for a tiny crystal vase to encourage my delight in the outdoors even when I cannot get there. I have been really listening when someone talks to me -- trying to hear their heart, not just their words.

I will be sharing more of the ways I am working on savoring moments in the days to come -- including sharing a project step-by-step to inspire your own creativity and savoring moments. Hope you will follow along on this journey with me!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentine, Won't You Be Mine?

Valentines Day is just around the corner. Since Saint Valentine became known as the patron saint of lovers and the day became a special opportunity for exchanging love messages, lovers have shared symbols of their love or words of endearment on February 14th. I thought it would be fun to share some of my own collection of vintage Valentines, along with some trivia about the holiday over the course of the next two weeks.

Love tokens have been exchanged far longer throughout history than merely one day of the year! Certainly as long as there has been courtship, there have been special tokens exchanged to woo and share depth of feeling. One early symbol of love in the eighteenth century was the gift of gloves. They became such a popular love token during that time, that a heavy tax was imposed on gloves. A little poem might have been offered with the gift of a pair of gloves to a lady of that day: "If that from glove you take the letter 'G', Then glove is LOVE, and that I give to thee."

Flowers have been a love token over time -- but they also came to symbolize sentiment spoken secretly with the type of flower in an arrangement. It was necessary to know what each flower spoke in order to convey the right message. Tiny volumes of poetry complete with dictionaries sharing each floral meaning were written and kept at hand to enable one to share those secret messages. One such volume is a tiny treasure in my collection. It measures just 4-1/2" x 3" -- perfect for carrying in a gent's pocket or a lady's reticule. This special little gilt edged volume was published in 1846. It's title:  "The Bouquet: Containing the Poetry and Language of Flowers" by A Lady.

In it's introduction quotes a poem by L.A. Twamley, part of which I will share here to give a sample:
"Are not flowers the earliest gift of love?
Do they not, mutely eloquent, oft speak
For absent or for trembling hearts, and bear
Kisses and sighs on their perfumed lips,
And worlds of thoughts and fancies in their tears,
Touched by the rainbow's dyes?"

The author of the first written Valentine is disputed. Charles, Duc d'Orleans has often been credited with being one of its first creators. He sent his wife love letters penned in rhyme. John Lydgate, an early English poet also wrote a lovely Valentine praising Catherine, the wife of King Henry V of England. Whoever started the tradition matters little. By the early nineteenth century, the Valentine card was clearly the most popular love token eagerly bestowed and awaited. I have several early Valentines handed down in my family to me. This little treasure is one of the folded cards that could be sent flat and then opened to reveal a pop-up of fuller dimension. It's sweet sentiment says,

"Cupid has no time to waste
So he flies in urgent haste
What he means to whisper low
Is, 'Sweetheart I love you so.'"
When the greeting is opened, you discover a more fanciful set of die cut figures, along with a fancy tissue paper flower.

This little one, from the late 1800s is more simple in its folded state -- actually very little ornamentation on the card stock itself. But, when it is opened, it really has some fun secrets to share! The little pop-up heart says,
"Never! Oh Never!
Another can be;
So gentle, so kind
And so smiling as thee!"
Although another relative has the original, one of my favorite early Valentines was done in "cobweb" style. It dates to the 1820s, and has a secret message that can only be revealed when a tiny thread loop is pulled to enable the cut work picture on top to open and show what is beneath. I spent some time this year making several of these to include in one of my shops on Etsy. Here are two of them.

Come back and visit again this week. I will share more of my vintage Valentines and some of their unique and fun sentiments with you. I have lots -- so we will take a look at more from the 19th and 20th century along with other historical tidbits on love. Oh, and if you like the Valentines, I have a little contest going on my other blog you won't want to miss out on! You can win one!              


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