I’ve moved a lot in life. In fact, we’ve relocated again during this COVID-19 era. It’s not the woodsy rural environment I prefer, but more urban with constant buzz and people present. First time in the real burbs, but there are viable reasons for making this transition and, honestly, I look at it as temporary anyway. I’ve lived in exceptional situations, sucky ones, and in-betweeners. As far as materialism, I know what it is to have little, a lot, or thrive in moderation. I’ve gained and I’ve lost, so I don’t get too attached when I regain. Life can present us with all kinds of living situations and circumstances—sometimes changing on a dime. Some we bring on ourselves by choices we make; other times it’s circumstances beyond our control. But we have the means within us to adapt to life’s seesaw.
Life on earth is transitory. And because we are spiritual beings destined for eternal life, heaven is our true home. So in a big-picture sense, if you ever feel like a stranger in a strange land, it’s because we all kind of are. Strangers passing through in what is a privilege to live a purpose-filled, lungs' air-filled life… wherever we are… by mindset. We can bloom wherever we’re planted. It’s not where we are, but how we are.
We can bloom from whatever situation we’re handed, too, even the self-inflicted ones. Because no matter where we move, or how things pan out, what we do, or who moves in or out of our lives, the one constant is that Yeshua, Jesus, loves us unconditionally, as we are, where we are, without terms or conditions. By the time you reach a certain age in a fallen world full of broken people, you’ll have experienced friends who wound you, partners who break you, situations that hurt you and you hurt back. We are flawed, but God takes it all and loves us, as us, anyway, just like that.
The other day, I listened to an artist I admire, Kendall Payne, in a shuffle mix. I was on the treadmill maintaining my half-century-old body; I was also musing over blooming and belonging when her track “Belonging” played. Gah, if my heart didn’t ache to hear it just then. The timing, the bittersweet message of the song, the relatability, made me realize again how profound faith is and the absolute love God has for us as he waits for us on the other side (home, at last) with arms open wide.
Being human today means you can hardly do, speak, or blink anything without making waves. So the waves will come: small ones, large ones, and the inbetweeners. But one must persist, unwaveringly, in the turbulent surf by exhibiting kindness, love, and integrity. It’s hard being human. A gentle answer turns away wrath...? (Proverbs 15:1). Okay. But if somebody is especially wrathful, a tsunami, then maybe we just gently turn away. Find another spot in which to wade.
*Image by Patricia Alexandre from Pixabay
Some people know what’s behind reissuing of books and recovering of novels. But because I’ve been asked more than a few times, especially recently, I’ll briefly share with those who don’t know and are curious why an online search might churn up more than one version of a particular work by an author.
If an author is contracted with a publishing company for a particular title, the author sells their rights to that title. What this means in industry standard is that the author enters a partnership. The author still has a say, but ultimately must come to an agreement with editor(s) (new boss) and graphic artists before the work is released.
When the term of contract is up, which can be anywhere between two and seven years, give or take, the full rights of the work revert back to the author and then he/she is free to seek publication elsewhere or even recontract with same company for another term. The full rights meaning the initial written work at the time of submission—before it gets an overhaul by the boss and staff. They retain what they still own, which almost always includes their artists’ work (covers) as well as formatting.
That’s why when an author republishes with a different company or version, you’ll see a new or different cover pop up for the same book. That’s the latest edition, and it’s the one that’s readily available—or should be.
I appreciate the various publishing companies I’ve worked with in the past, their devotion to the art of books and to creators, work ethic, and great rapport with their writers. I’m grateful that I’ve had pleasant partnerships. Thus, the ending of a contractual term is often bittersweet. Happens that my six-year term for Ice Dancer’s Hold has recently ended and the novella is being rereleased this week and made available in bookstores once again. Same novella, just hosting a different cover—and the new formatting I have to say is da bomb. Check it out:
The wish to purge my life of anything unused seems to have grown. In fact, the older I get the stronger the desire. With a fresh new season finally here, so is my amped version of “spring cleaning.” Some might already call me a sort of minimalist. I dislike untidiness. I have but a few boxes of keepsakes. Mostly, I don’t like to hang onto things – unless they’re books – and I don’t care for storage. Yet I could stand to give away more: items that swallow up space and weigh a person down. I’m fond of space. Minimalism is not completely what I’m living, but it’s something I fancy.
These days I find I’m reflecting much about certain friends from way back when, a painter and a musician, each successful in their chosen field, who had married and chose an uncluttered life. Instead of getting swept up in accessible opulence they held simplicity in high esteem. I truly valued visits and dinners at their place, not only for their exuberant friendship but for their lifestyle that left an impression on me.
With unencumbered style, these friends of mine enjoyed a unique yet modest home, along with a small selection of fine things, each item carefully chosen and having its proper place. Everything had a purpose and if something lost its purpose they got rid of it. Even their studios accommodating artwork and instruments reflected organization and tidiness. I suppose the only lavishness rested in the privacy they held behind a tree-lined buffer. For other than a few rows of fruit trees, a path through the forest, and a small yet lush vegetable garden, the spread of acreage was untamed, tucked away from the public, and magnificent.
My mind churns today as I think about them, my minimalist friends. I should have followed their example a little more closely over the years. But, if I can start at one little corner and work my way out, perhaps I can achieve what’s true to my inner nature. The prime notion here is that bigger isn't better and accumulation of “stuff” isn't all that important. People are. Relationships, events, making memories…taking pleasure in the moment, in the satisfaction of just existing. Spring has arrived. Enjoy the simplicity.
A dog barked at my door one day. I poked my head out to see to the commotion. Compassion struck my heart. One glance into the creature’s dark, fearful eyes conveyed the kind of life it must have had. Starving, undernourished, scrapping for its next morsel. Its mangy pelt never saw a bath, brush, kind touch, or even a pat. Goaded by unfriendly neighbors, shooed away from passersby, and never accepted into a pack, it appeared lonely and untrusting. It didn’t help that it had only three legs. What terrible accident took the limb? How did it survive with no apparent care or concern reflected in its environment?
The creature snapped at me when I tried to handle it with utmost care. I desired to gain this canine’s confidence, to feed it, nurture it, show the dog that goodness subsisted in the world and kindness came through a courteous soul once in awhile.
When someone moves into your life for an unknown reason and the compassion you feel over his/her hardship propels you to befriend, feed. Take care not to get your feelings hurt when your hand gets bitten. For it’s learned behavior, acquired by frequent injustices. With continual empathy, patience, and a thick skin, in time a lovable, bouncing puppy will emerge from the downtrodden beast who discovers the genuine trust of a real friend.
While I could boast of having a lot of friendly acquaintances, I have far fewer of what I’d consider close friends. I’m quiet by nature and am guarded about my home life. In other words, I value maintaining a sort of reclusiveness. Some are “people persons,” some aren’t. I’ve never been drawn to social situations. You certainly won’t find me hosting or attending many parties. But this also means that loyal friends are hard to come by, relationships challenged in terms of development. Yet, those few close friends that have graced my life are nothing short of wonderful. In my good fortune, they fill my existence with gladness and a matchless sense of balance. I'm grateful.
It’s not easy for me to ask for help when needed. Equally so, it’s not easy for me to accept help when offered. These past ten days have produced scary moments between my son’s extended illness and my husband’s surgery and complications thereof. I’ve run on fumes. Even those fumes were dissipating fast. I couldn’t think beyond my dominating heart that seemed to pound right out of my chest.
I held a silent prayer in that beating heart. God heard. Two hours later, some dear friends insisted on stepping in so I could have a break. “Please, let us do this,” they offered. As I started to decline, I felt a divine nudge that said, “Now, now, you asked me and I’ve provided. You’d better say yes.” I did. In fact, I broke down and cried with a heart full of gratitude, rested, and got refueled, ready for anything. Today hasn’t provided much change from yesterday in circumstances, yet my spirit is renewed—thanks to dear ones who answered my private prayer, vessels of a miracle moment.