Firsts

First impressions

First love

First day of

First born

First (fill in the blank)

What do you feel when you hear “the first?” What comes to your mind? Do you feel happy or maybe hopeful? Or can hearing this make you disappointed or depressed? I believe there are certain words that hold power and “the first” can be among them. If we think about it in terms of the calendar, well, today is May 1st.  The beginning of a new month. Then there is January first which is always celebrated and we even create pressure on ourselves to make resolutions – of which how many do we truly hold true to? I see both sides here. First, we can psychologically give ourselves permission to start over to begin anew with this date as a marker. Then there might be the melancholy of life marching on as the calendar ticks to another new year. We might feel the pressure to list those resolutions and depending on your state of mind, you may either be forgiving of yourself if you break them or let them go or you may beat yourself up and feel less than or worthless.

There are other “firsts” that we encounter too on our journey through life.  Our first lost tooth, our first haircut, our first love or kiss.  Maybe the first is not so gentle or kind; our first tumble off a bike, our first heartbreak or death, our first ticket.  Whatever the “first”, they are markers. We remember them and they live in our subconscious with feelings and emotions surrounding them.  Firsts change the course of our life. Firsts are something new, unique, out of the ordinary — that we have never experienced before.  Small or large, wonderful or painful, each of them has the potential for an equally large impact on your life.

Not only is today May Day, it is also the day my daughter is moving out again. This will not be the first time she has moved out of our home but is will be the first time she is leaving CLEAN.  She moved back in with us a year ago February and while it has not been easy to have her here, it has been comforting for me to see her. My emotions are mixed.  Happiness, worry, frustration are among some of my immediate feelings. I am happy she is making steps to be self sufficient.  I am worried about the added financial burden on us as she does not make enough money without our help.  I am also worried about her ability to function on her own as she has not done this successfully in the past. I am frustrated with myself for not working my own program to keep my boundaries clear and detaching the way I should for my own self-care.

So here is to another “first.” May God bless it.  And may you take time to think about the firsts in your life thus far and maybe what is to come. You know, those things you want to do or change or try. Maybe you can even try one today.

How many things do you think they’ve done for the first time?

Each of our firsts sets us on a different path. It opens our eyes to a new part of the world — or better yet — a new part of ourselves. When we experience something we’ve never experienced before, there is no predicting how it’s going to change us. There is no predicting what it’s going to make us realize that we do (or don’t) want. There is no predicting what direction it’s going to take our life in. So I need to embrace with hope and love and faith in God’s plan that she will move forward with the plan God has designed and so will I.

 

#Beautyfromashes

Last weekend I was in NYC with two long time girlfriends for some R&R.  I woke up early on Sunday morning, as I always do, even on vacation.  Lying in bed, I opened up my email on my phone and looked at an email time stamped at 5:40 am from my church.  Of course my first thought was maybe I was supposed to serve this morning and did not write it on my calendar and was getting some update on the service for the day.  I was briefly upset with myself that I was going to be a “no show” for communion which I try never to do!

Those thoughts came and went within seconds as I opened the email and began to read the news of our church fire.  I had to read the email a couple of times.  My brain was struggling with this.  Our church?  St. Andrew’s? I have read and seen photos of other churches but this can’t possibly have happened to our church! So once my denial subsided and I accepted that yes, this was indeed, our Ministry Center that had gone up in a blaze, I wept quietly and prayed.

The first photos I saw were of flames shooting up into the dark predawn sky.  It was hard to tell how much of the ministry center was engulfed but it did not look good.  In the light of day, this drone shot told the story.  When you look at this, multitudes of thoughts and feelings stirred within me. While our historic church was untouched by the fire, our ministry center is gone.  I thought about my journey at St Andrew’s over the past 15 years.  I flashed through memories of my son going to youth groups and confirmation. I was reminded of my service at the alter reading the word of God and administering communion.  Alpha and bible studies. Prayer I received over the years for myself and my family. Calling to mind my meetings with Steve Wood, my fearless pastor, who saw me through struggles with my daughter’s addiction and my husband’s alcohol abuse.  Moments in time, happy and difficult.  As Christians we are not promised an easy life when we accept Jesus’ invitation. We are called to serve and be uncomfortable some times.  It is with a heart full of the Fruit of the Spirit that make the times we are brought to our knees in discomfort, sadness and pain that make us warriors for the Cross of Christ.

So what I saw next affirmed that for me because what is NOT gone (as you can see) is so much bigger!  The Lord promised to bring beauty from ashes!  Our wooden cross still  stands untouched by the flames.  In my mind’s eye I can see the mighty host of angels surrounding and protecting it.  Perhaps it was so we could “SEE AND BELIEVE” to offer us a sign that we will be fine as a church and as a community of believers.

 

Isaiah 61:3 “To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

First Peter 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

This week we have been updated continuously.  I am grateful to everyone who has had a hand in the recovery this past week.  The firefighters who were quick to act, our vestry and clergy who are working tirelessly to get us up and running again.  Our congregation who stands ready to lend a hand and a home and anything else when needed.

And now with the cross wrapped like our Lord on the Cross, we live the Easter Story for we will rise as Jesus did on the glorious day!

“The Wonderful Cross”

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

See from his head, his hands, his feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

 

 

Lines – Photo Challenge

The Battery Spring 2018
Lea Austen Photography

While I was waiting for a client a few weeks ago I shot this photo of the beautiful park we were meeting in.  This is White Point Garden, or The Battery, located at the bottom of the Charleston Peninsula.  It is a graceful and welcoming place.  Families, tourists, photographers and clients, weddings and surprise proposals, along with the joggers, dog walkers and blanket sitters can be found here.

This week’s challenge had to do with lines.  Like Cheri, I chose a photo where you have the graceful almost whimsical curves of the live oaks nestled around the gazebo with its columns and octagonal shape.  I also love the way the four paths intersect creating the spaces of this garden.

If you ever come to this beautiful city, spending time here is well worth the sit!  If you close your eyes and breath in the sounds and smells you may even be transported to another time.

 

Practicing Non-Attachment

 

Practicing Non-Attachment


by Madisyn Taylor

 THIS IS FROM DAILY OM

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to allow our children to be who they want to be.

Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of non-attachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free.

Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing non-attachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what’s best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don’t respect, or don’t understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring –independence.

Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice non-attachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.

I so needed to read these words!  I hope they help you too

Peace!

What’s In Your Cup

I belong to an amazing group of entrepreneurs here in Charleston called Hatch Tribe (#girlboss).  We meet once or twice a month to discuss topics relevant to making our lives and our businesses more authentic and successful.  One of the writers for the blog shared this amazing thought and I just had to pass it on!

What is in your cup?

Imagine this: You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere.

Why did you spill the coffee?

…You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.

Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.

Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you, (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out.  It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.

So we have to ask ourselves…”what is in my cup?” When life gets tough, what spills over?

Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?

Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?

You choose!

Awakening – Photo Challenge

My husband and I recently took a trip to Tucson to visit family.  We chose to add a few days on to the trip to enjoy some time in Sedona by ourselves.  I have always loved Sedona.  Beyond the “mystical” fascination that draws so many to the area, I am in awe of the rock formations, their unique color and the way the landscape changes in every direction.  For this weeks photo, “Awakening“, I immediately thought of this trip and some of the incredible photos I shot.

This one of Cathedral Rock at sunrise gives me chill bumps each time I look at it.  It is like a painting and at the same time has movement and purpose somehow.  Sunrises always draw me in.  Living in coastal South Carolina, we have some amazing sunrises and I take advantage of them.

As you stand in darkness and watch the dawn there is not only a sense of the day awakening, but for me, my own awakening!  It is the spiritual permission to begin fresh and anew that draws me in and draws me to God.

How blessed are we.  There is so much magnificence in nature.  To be present.  To breathe and to awaken our body, mind and spirit each day!

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