Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Little Things

Sometimes it's a flower...a little hello...a quiet hallelujah...a gentle nudge to be grateful for small blessings.

It was just a little flower. Half the size of my usual hibiscus blooms. But I was so glad to see it since my plant hasn't been doing well lately. Half a bloom is better than none at all. And I saw in this small bloom a truth of life that has come even more clear in recent months. 

Be thankful for small blessings.

I've heard these words several times from my daughters. Both of them have amazing sons who have faced challenges in recent years.

As daughter Lyn mothers a 23-year-old son with Aspberger's Syndrome, the years have taught her to look for signs of progress—no matter how small—and be happy. She home-schooled Andrew until he completed his twelfth grade requirements. He is now taking classes at the community college.

"You have to learn to appreciate the little things...the small steps," she says.

Lyn's sister, Becky, is also well-acquainted with small victories. Her son, Nathaniel, is deaf and has two cochlear implants. We marvel at how well he has adapted to his challenge, but it surely hasn't been easy. Another road paved with little things...baby steps, often marked by steep learning curves as he adapts to the technology that gives him hearing. 

And grandmothers see these quiet hallelujahs in half a bloom of an ailing hibiscus plant. 

Because that's how Life works. 

However small it is, God's got it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Sharing the Happy

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
William Morris, artist and craftsman

My sister-in-law, Joy, can grow stuff. She doesn't have a garden per se, she just plants things around her house. There's lettuce here, tomatoes there, a batch of basil over here...I mean, some people just know how to do these things. I'm not one of those people, but she is really good at it. For example, this eggplant. I've never seen one in the grocery store this size. It certainly has put a smile on her grandson Ellis's face!

Ellis is happy. And I want to share his happy because there is enough unhappy in the world. Christian speaker and author Patsy Clairmont says we walk past good stories every day. I agree and this is one of the best. Mostly I'm happy that Ellis is here to take joy in an eggplant. Thanks to vigilant doctors who monitored his mother's pregnancy, Ellis had lifesaving laser surgery before he was born. He is now four years old, a smart, happy little boy with no sign of the issue that threatened him. He has spent the days of the pandemic romping with his baby brother, Emmett. Together, they're a tornado of laughter and squealing.

When you're four years old, happy can be defined in the moment you find a huge eggplant in your grandmother's yard. From the time he saw it, I understand that Ellis anticipated cooking it and tasting it. As often happens, it was a case of anticipation being better than reality. Once the eggplant was sliced and cooked on the grill, for him, the tasting wasn't what he wanted it to be. The adults, however, declared it delicious.

The true significance of this little story is that the happiness of our days lies in how much time we spend enjoying the simple pleasures. Some will be terrific, others just so-so. Joy takes her joy (it's almost a pun!) in things around her home...growing things, making things pretty, cooking things. Sharing those things with her grandchildren and others gives her immeasurable pleasure.

Enjoying the simple things in life - that's one big lesson many of us are taking away from this time of enforced solitude. The world is full of big concerns. We can face those as God calls us to and  still practice finding contentment in the things that are right at our feet.

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Crepe Myrtle is Blooming

The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof...

—Psalm 24:1

It was a down moment. Too much time in the house in the midst of home projects and books to read and things to write. I could hear thunder in the distance. Through the windows, I could see the storm clouds beginning to circle, just like the allergies in my head. My TV was dark because I'd had enough news about viruses and protesters and politics. Unrest in the atmosphere as well as in the culture is the formula for a full-blown headache! Escape...that's what I wanted.

I escaped to my yard and it was the best thing I could have done.

Breathing the fresh air, I let my eyes take in all the vivid colors that Florida offers...the lawn and the leaves so green, the flowers so red and yellow and orange. A brown squirrel fluffed his tail and sat up on his bottom as if offering me the acorn in his paws.

Somewhere in the distance, the thunder still rumbled. It seemed the storm was taking a path to the north of us giving me the pick-up my spirit craved. "Faith breezes," I chuckled to myself, as the comforting wind ruffled my hair. The birds in the trees above my head were loving it. Some were singing, some were chirping, some were sending happy caws to their buddies.

As I walked from front yard to side yard to back yard, I took note of the variety of activity right there in my yard. The marigolds and petunias Ed and I had so carefully potted for the front patio were in the throes of death, in spite of all I had been able to do. The kalanchoe, on the other hand, was thriving and grateful for the recent rains. The white bird of paradise, high above my head, sported two blooms—one at the end of its cycle and the other about to pop full out.

The azalea bushes, which just two weeks ago had a severe cutback, were already covered with healthy green leaves.

It was the back yard that gave me my messsage. I noticed, as if for the first time this year, that the crepe myrtles are blooming. How many times, I wondered, have I looked out the windows and barely noted the beautiful summertime blooms on these bushes. Today, they preached a sermon. There they were, blooming right on time, as if telling me "It is summer. We will bloom until fall." 

All kinds of things will happen on this Earth. There might be sickness and discord among the people, but the Lord says that the Earth is his. The things on it will come and go in My Time. I created this place and I will take care of it. 

 I created it for you, but it's not about you, dear girl. It's about Me.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven," says Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Back inside, I began the preparations for our supper and turned on the TV. The news was no better than it had been earlier, but I felt I should at least be aware. Outside, the storm winds were once again swirling rain against the windows...God's world in action. 

 The Earth is the Lord's.

And the crepe myrtle is blooming.

Monday, May 11, 2020

A New Book AND a Special Promotion!

"Mom has a new book!"

That's how my children announce my accomplishments to their friends.  I'll take it!  They know I've been telling them about Encounters for months and it's so good to have a project completed.  As always, so much thanks to my Book Lady, Suzanne Fox, for her untiring efforts to make this the lovely publication that it is.

So here are the facts for the launch of this work:

Encounters is now available on Amazon.com—you can find it by clicking here.

As a special Mother's Day promotion, purchase the book on Amazon by midnight on Wednesday, May 13 and you will receive a downloadable PDF of the first story from my next book free.

The next book is entitled Moments and the story I want to give you is "A Night With Naomi," which builds on the Scripture about two of the Bible's most memorable and inspiring women.

Once you have made your purchase, simply visit my author Facebook page (@sueholbrookauthor; click here to reach it) and private (direct)-message me the order number to me along with your preferred email address. 

On Thursday, I will be delighted to send you the special link from which you can download your copy of "A Night with Naomi."

Encounters is a work of Biblical fiction, a collection of short stories about people who may have crossed paths with Jesus as he went about his ministry. Maybe they saw him heal the woman with the issue of blood or perhaps they saw a crowd eating on a hillside or maybe they happened to be resting beside a tomb when they heard the words "Come out!"  Having no idea what they may have witnessed, many of them went on their way with their everyday lives.  But they wondered...and sometimes, they changed.

I hope you will allow my imagination to spark your own.  

The Bible is full of scenarios of people just like you and me who encountered The Master.  

May we see his presence anew today.