Perfect Peace


Last weekend we took a drive out to my brother’s home in Winchester, VA. The ride in itself is peaceful, and I always enjoy seeing the hillsides dotted with dairy cows and sheep along the way. As we crossed  over the Shenandoah River, the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains came into view, revealing the slightest hint of fall colors beginning to show along their peaks.

Hidden Treasure

The highlight of my visit is a short walk down the winding path to a hidden gem, a treasure tucked behind a grove of hickory trees. I’ve named it Peaceful Pond, because that is what it is to me. Tranquility. Serenity. Peace-filled.

It is a tiny farm pond, probably only 6 feet deep at its center, and less than an acre in size, but it has abundant life within it and along the muddy banks.

What I most treasure is the sound of the pond . . . a beautiful melodic blend of birdsong and leaves fluttering in the fall breeze. It is the very sound of nature.

And there is an abundance of colorful wildflowers and weeds rimming the pond’s edge, with pink, purple and yellow petals, and plenty of cattails.

We’ve seen turtles and frogs, geese and Red-Winged Blackbirds. The pond is teaming with Largemouth Bass and Bluegill. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon casting and reeling to your heart’s content. And if you take time to look for them, you will also see the tracks of raccoon, squirrel and deer left in the mud where they stopped for a drink.

We all need a spot like this . . . a place for peace, a getaway when life becomes overwhelming, as it seems to be most days of late. It serves as a reminder that there is peace in the simplicity and perfection of God’s creation.

☁️🌥⛅️🌤☀️

Yes, these are unsettling times. There is so much uncertainty, so much anxiety and so much stress. Behind our masks, there is fear and anguish. We have lost our way and we each need to find a place of peace.

I am reminded of a verse from the prophet Isaiah:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” — Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭

Where can we find “perfect peace”? Is there such a thing?

When I find myself lately being drawn into despair, I turn my thoughts back to Jesus, my Rock and the source of all peace. It is a peace found not only beside quiet ponds in the woods, but in the midst of the chaos around us. His peace is steadfast and ever-present. Be still and trust that God remains in control.

A Deliberate December

 

Thank Heavens for Bob Evans

How is it December already? There are still Thanksgiving leftovers in our refrigerator!

As in past years, it was a laid-back holiday, right up until the meal was served. The turkey was carved, and then there was the usual mad dash trying to get all the dishes onto the table while they were still hot. After years of serving cold mashed potatoes, Bob Evans made his inaugural appearance last Thanksgiving. Problem solved. He’s been a frequent dinner guest ever since.

Finally the candles were lit, the blessing was shared, and the long-awaited meal was before us. I looked around the table and my heart was full. My husband and children were beside me, and my brother was with us too. He stopped to visit Mom on his way to our house. Her absence was on our hearts, but we knew she was safe and warm and where she needed to be.

God has blessed my family in so many ways. His grace is sufficient for me.

🕊🕊🕊

Advent Arrives

Today we begin the Season of Advent, in watchful anticipation of our Savior’s birth. Immanuel . . . God with us.

Each year I vow to slow down and be part of the season, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the stress of it all. That’s no easy task. Amen?

It’s a rainy First Sunday in Advent, and I am quietly sipping my coffee while admiring our Christmas tree. It has become a family tradition to decorate the tree after Thanksgiving dinner, simply because we’re all together. And knowing that my brother might be tempted to not have a Christmas tree this year, I drove to his house yesterday and we decorated together. As we unpacked his ornaments, we talked about past holidays, and happy childhood memories when life was simpler — and slower.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down the month of December to a more leisurely pace? It would be fun to attend every tree lighting ceremony, Nutcracker performance and choral concert I could squeeze onto my calendar. I’d like to have several weeks to decorate my home too, instead of an hour here and there. And I would love to wrap my gifts long before the task becomes completely overwhelming.

“But,” I remind myself, “it’s only the First of December!” For a moment I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge when he realizes that he didn’t miss Christmas after all — there’s still time!   

After church today, I intentionally planned my afternoon to include a little shopping, a little decorating, and a few more leftovers. I have a new devotional to read and ponder each day during Advent, and at the end of the coming week, we will once again be participating in One Starry Night in Bethlehem at my church. Now in its fifth year, there truly is no better way to share the joy of Christmas!

How will you slow down and enjoy the coming week?  How will you celebrate this wonderful Season of Advent? I’d love to hear all about your plans!