The Sweet Buds of July

By Mary Cates ©

Shall I dare to compare the days of summer to those of the past, when I breathed without a filtering mask and stood fearlessly with strangers in Macy’s customer lines, and ate at Apple Bee’s with no thought of who was in front and behind my booth – and sat close to friends at church? Indeed, rough winds are shaking the darling buds of July, and I find a baby rabbit eating my prized peonies as though it is his last meal. This summer is much too hot and the eye of heaven shines down making my freckles pop out like popcorn exploding in the microwave. But dare I complain?

Sometimes the beautiful complexion of God dims as I watch the news each day and learn of the hatred in the hearts of so many young adults who are roaming the streets and causing mass confusion. I choke back tears at the panoramic view of major cities maimed by senseless behavior. The disgusting ruin lies bare in plain sight for the world to see, and I repeat the words on the sign in the photo: “We are better than this!”

In the face of all that troubles me, the Corona Virus drags its shadow everywhere as it steals more of the peace I once knew. I wonder if the eternal lines of time and mankind are approaching the final climax. Could this be the beginning of sorrows?

But oh, when sweet birds sing and I see the beautiful glory of twilight after the sun fades in the west, and I sink comfortably in my bed, I rest from worry, knowing there is Someone greater than all that troubles me. He is in control – and I sleep.

Awakening to the brilliance of dawn I sense the “love” that controls all things beyond the ruin I went to bed with. Earth appears in pure fullness of beauty, surrounded in a showcase of spectacular control far beyond human reason. I would be so dull to pass this by. For in my brooding moods and fearful trembling, the complexion of God shines through like a flash in my eye, reminding me that though the world is far too much for me, it remains the footstool of God, and He is in command.



So, I say to the rough winds of July – go ahead and shake the buds. And to you, my sweet baby rabbit — eat to your heart’s content. For all is well with my soul, and that is what really counts.

This is the promise of today: “God will supply all your needs according to His riches and glory – through His Son Christ Jesus.

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The Little Woman

With just ten dollars in her pocket, Gladys courageously took the challenge to embark on a long trip by train from England to Yangcheng, China.

I just finished reading the life story of Gladys Aylward…a fantastic “little” lady who gave twenty years of her life, from 1934 to 1954, to help the Chinese people live better lives, and to know the true God. If I had read only the first chapters of her long journey, twisting and turning through Germany and Russia to finally reach China, it would have been enough to fill my spirit with excitement and the courage that we human beings are capable of just about anything. I couldn’t put the book down.

I read through, reliving her joys and sorrows. I read of 100 young Christian converts standing their ground against a gang of brute atheist Communists. The young converts were lined up and forced to watch as one by one each were beheaded. They had a chance to save their lives by denouncing their faith in Jesus, but they stood strong and unmovable. I read of beautiful Chinese ladies and wonderful men, with hearts of charity, helping Gladys when she didn’t know which turn to take, or how to feed the hungry children who came to her Inn.

I closed the book thinking that I have a soft life here in America, while at the same time realizing that there is plenty to do in my own nation to help the poor and heal the divisions. Doing so might be as difficult a challenge as Gladys had, because of the many changes that have taken place in just the last five months.

This was no rinky-dink book. The story was captured in a Hollywood movie starring Ingrid Bergman – “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” – 1958. Widely entertaining, it depicts the power of God that strengthens a person to do impossible things …..even in a poor city in China.

I know of many who are going through difficult situations. Some are ill. Some are awaiting surgery. Some have broken families. Some have lost their jobs. Some are like Gladys, hoping that someone will come and lend a hand, or just give them a word of encouragement. What is the personal challenge in our little corner of the world? Hopefully we are meeting it.

Gladys brought to China the word that God loves us all, and that His Son, Jesus brings salvation and peace. This message of love saved thousands in China and brought salvation to many in the US through her book and the movie.

Feel free to leave a comment or briefly tell your story.

Yesterday I Saw A Miracle

Mary Cates
By Mary Cates

No names are mentioned in this article, but many readers will know of whom I write…

As the hours went by, breathing was getting more difficult. Hope hung in the air that soon the stress and pain of COVID-19 would subside and things would get better. But days later his oxygen level dropped to a critical low. Immediately he was whisked away in an ambulance and rushed into ICU.

The ventilator quickly assisted his lungs while plastic tubes were hooked into various veins, carrying hopeful liquids that would help support life. There was no miracle cure. Putting him into a highly sedated state, it was his body and God that would make the decision one way or another.

No family or visitors were allowed to see him. His wife and daughter were kept at home by strict government mandates and hospital quarantine procedures. Telephone reports from the nurses and doctors were all that was allowed to his wife. No one who loved him was there to comfort him.

This man and his family are not blood-related kin to me, but they are like my “family”. God put them in my life, and my husband’s life years ago. With each year our friendship has grown into something warm and wonderful. They have filled many sorrowful holes in our life. It was heart-wrenching for us to not be with this man and his wife and daughter during this crisis time.

And then, without mercy COVID-19 found its way to his wife. The picture seemed to be changing daily.

My husband and I had experienced many permanent goodbyes in our marriage – both in death and in hurtful shunning. Too many had already gone out of our lives. And now facing the horror of COVID-19 and it’s deadly power, one question kept coming to me again and again, would another be taken from us?

The days went by and the fight for his life kept on. We could do nothing but pray and wait. His wife was thankfully managing the virus at home, isolated from everyone except her loving daughter. The lock-down on all sides was like being in prison.

Where was God? Why was He allowing this pandemic and the nightmare that was following it?

Everyone that knew this family could only do one thing……trust God. That’s all we have sometimes – just to “trust”…..the best we know how to do.

Yesterday I saw two miracles sitting in front of me, as my husband and I sat around a patio able set with snacks and pizza, with this man and his wife sitting appropriately spaced from us. Everyone very much alive and laughing and enjoying each other again. The moments of fear and doubt behind us. The joy of life and living still ahead of us.

Trusting the best we knew how was all that was needed. God took care of the rest.

The Birds Keep Singing, My Heart’s At Their Sweet Song

It is “May 2020”. There will be no dancing around the maypole at school or the folklore of celebrating spring — well, not unless we put on our face mask and keep 6 feet away. Who would have guessed this terrible pandemic would come to steal our peace, our contacts of love and fellowship, and worst – the health of those we love!

Yet, in the sadness and our efforts to stay safe I see the robins on my lawn and hear the geese honking in the pond. Some have little babies already!

The animals as well as the birds are frolicking and performing as always. They know nothing of COVID-19. Tenderly I am reminded that not one sparrow falls to the ground without God’s care (Matthew 10:29). But still, I worry every time I pick up groceries that COVID-19 will float into my nostrils. I wear my mask with hopeful confidence that it will keep me safe. And while I slip the elastic around my ears, I am reminded again that we are more valued than many sparrows (verse 31).

In a world of almost 8 billion people, it is hard to fathom God knowing and watching over everyone – but He does! If even the hairs of our heads are numbered by God (verse 30), then everything about us is observed, and is cared for by Him. He is in control and we must trust Him with our lives. We are much more than many sparrows. No matter what comes, we must trust him. (See page 13 of my book: Take Charge of Your Destiny” – the story of my brother Robert.)

God bless and keep you!

Plants, Pets, and Vidalia Onions

There have been some interesting studies on pets and plants and the effect they have on their owners. Things like stress reduction, lowering blood pressure and in some cases, thought to lengthen life.

I think of my wonderful Jack Russel Terriers that were with me for 16 years. (Pictured) They were a handful. My husband and I were forced to rule them with an iron fist because they fought. I honestly believe they were by-polar – if dogs can have psychological problems. One day they loved each other and would cuddle in the same bed, the next day they were growling and fighting. The best thing about them was their loyalty and unconditional love toward us. Believe it or not, they were so smart we often spelled words so they wouldn’t know what we were up to.

As for plants… I love to work in my patio garden, but the green thumb belongs to my husband. He knows how to groom a lawn to perfection, and grow scrumptious vegetables. When we lived for a short while in the south, he grew the most delicious turnip greens and the sweetest Vidalia onions I’ve ever tasted.

Speaking of plants, my neighbor is on a cruise in the Mediterranean. She asked if I would take care of her Peace Lily for three weeks. Sure! No problem. So her husband brought it over just before the uber driver pulled onto their driveway. The pot was so heavy I had to ask him to come in and set it down for me. I was shocked! All along I had been expecting something small, like a little African Violet. After he left, I realized I was in charge of a prized plant. After all, nothing that large could be trivial! Oh gosh, what would I do if it died while they were enjoying Rome and Israel? It’s like babysitting a child — hoping while it’s in your care they don’t get hurt or sick.

Okay, I can do this  — two thirds of water a day. Maybe talk to it a little too.

Say Hello!

I’ve learned a lot in my lifetime….still need to learn more, but one thing that comes back to me time and time again is our mortality. What I’ve understood most in that area of thought is that only acceptance of our mortality makes us free to live and appreciate the wonder of life. After all, it is death that reminds us that we don’t have forever. So the point in this conversation is that if you and I are going to make our “statement” toward some worthy purpose or express our love for another person, or accomplish anything, we must do it now.

So many times I’ve sadly learned that there’s no holding back, because when I’ve done that – I lose. We must let go. Saying “hello” to something or someone will most often lead to a “goodbye” but the journey with the project or the person is what we call “life”. And in that “life” the light of you and I is brought forward in wonderful ways.

Never sit back thinking that you haven’t got what it takes. Grab today with all you’ve got! Say hello! Let God handle the goodbyes.

Love is Worth the Effort

To love is the greatest of human experiences and sooner or later we all realize that without it life is empty and meaningless. Love generally never disappoints, even if it seems refused and not worth our effort. Even if it brings uncertainties and confusion. Yes, even if we never get a response, because God sees our effort if no one else does.

Humans are such strange creatures at times. We want to be loved, but sometimes we get into a mood that reeks of emotional detachment. I’ve been there, where I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or to show love toward me. It’s that: “leave me alone” mood. In this mood we consciously mute our emotions to protect ourselves.

In my book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” I encourage the thought that it’s never too late for anything.  Never too late to grab a dream and run with it. Never too late to hope for something that seems impossible.

Most of all, it’s never too late to love.

Never too early to love.

Even when things get so messed up that we don’t know where to begin or where to end, it is love that eventually conquers it all.

I hope your bathroom never looks like this!

Let me share with you what I wrote in my book  “Take Charge of Your Destiny”: “Beautifully painted in all creation and nature we see God’s love. It is evident in the first cry of a newborn baby. It is there at the dinner table where our children and grandchildren gather like beautiful olive plants around our table. It is there when healing comes from the hands of a surgeon. It is there when restitution is made after years of shunning.”  It is there…….”  !!!!

Poet Annie Hall says it well in her poem “Through Thick and Thin”:

I don’t have to be with you to know you’re there.
We don’t have to see each other to know that we care.
We could be apart for years upon end
and still remain the best of friends.

Love is the most wonderful experience of all emotions.

****

Just 20+ days before Christmas. For that person you wonder what to give, consider giving one or both of my books.

The Novel: The Secret Hideaway on Bridgeton Hill.  Mystery, suspense, and romance throughout the pages. Special price: $10. Includes shipping.  Email me at:  macprod4@gmail.com

This non-fiction book is aggressively encouraging and spiritually inspirational:  Take Charge of Your Destiny, by Mary Cates. Get it on http://amazon.com

Just click into Amazon above and ask for Mary Cates Books.

Can You Hear The Opera in The Streets?

When you and I were babies there was undoubtedly someone declaring that we had our mother’s eyes, or our father’s determination, or Aunt Maggie’s dimples. Even so, there we lay with a face like none other, a voice that brought a brand new sound into the world, and a mind that would be our most unique contribution to the world.  The ogling and classified resemblances goes on, and without notice people create the first sign of “conformity” in our lives.

When we get right down to it, our individual value lies in the fact that we are, first of all, who we are…..even if others might struggle to make us something different.

I truly believe if people succumb to allowing others to put them into a mold, or we ourselves put people into our molds, we end up with no wonderful surprises. The laughter gets stifled. The joy of individual creativity is over-looked. There is no opera in the street. There is no wonder – no imagination.

We can’t deny that we live in a world that requires a measure of conformity in order to be popular or to simply survive. I’ll be honest – I concede to fashion, to buzz words, and to certain behaviors. And not without saying, there are customs to be respected, precedents to guide us, and rules we must follow.  But in all of this conformity there is plenty enough left for us to be the individual we were born to be, and to make our mark whatever it’s yet to be. And I encourage this for all of us, no matter what age!

A fascinating observance I’ve come across is that it takes less effort to know people in groups than it takes to know a person individually. Nothing wrong with that, but on the flip side, when we make an effort to get to know someone and we seek out their “special qualities”, the opera begins – the music starts. How many times have you casually known someone, and when suddenly it happens that you get to know them better, you are delighted? It’s happened to me many times. Suddenly the person comes out of the mold I have put them in and I’m astonished at how wonderful it is to know them. How beautiful they really are!

The opera is there. Music is in the street if we look for it and listen for it. In many ways we can be the “song” in someone’s life.  

 

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Isn’t it Interesting

In view of the division Americans are witnessing in our Government and how it is affecting our daily lives — meaning, the negative influences in our own spirits — I find it difficult to write about anything else.  But knowing that there is Someone Higher than problems or people creating problems, has inspired me to blog a narrative on “warm hugs” and happy faces.

Isn’t it interesting how we often reserve our embraces for intense emotional occasions of extreme happiness, tragedy or catastrophe?

Some people, and families, are natural huggie-bear, kissie-face people, but for most of us, we wait for the security of another’s arms after an earthquake, flood, accidents or death.

I know a few macho men who never hug or kiss a friend or relative because they think it’s trite to do this. However, they pat another’s back or slam a bear hug on someone over a “hail-Mary” win at a sports game.

In my opinion there’s no big deal to showing affection. I see it as human affirmation. It says I value you, and I cherish our friendship.

Some medical researchers have written articles confirming that a warm hug can be good for your health. I believe this, because I know how I feel when someone initiates a hug. I remember my mother, twenty years after my father passed away, standing in the middle of the greeting room at an Assisted Living facility with her arms held out to me, saying: “I need a hug…..I need to feel someone holding me.”

Hugs cost nothing, yet they are priceless to those who receive them.

Have fun today. Give a hug. Steel a kiss if you can!

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The non-fiction, inspirational book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” is available on http://Amazon.com Request Mary Cates Books.

It’s Pure Magic

I believe there is something good, something beautiful, something positive in everyone. I recently heard of a man who saw an elderly lady with a saucy hat perched on her gorgeous gray hair. Her face was buried in a newspaper while she waited at the doctor’s office for her name to be called. The man decided to respond to his instinct and said to her, “You look lovely in that hat.” She put down the newspaper, smiled and said: “Women have lost the art and joy of wearing hats these days. I love them! Thank you for noticing.” And that was the start of a long animated conversation in which she became more radiant and even more lovely.

It cost the man nothing, and ended up  making a long wait for the doctor very pleasant.

This story makes me think of my sister-in-law, Barbara, who lives in Illinois. When we have the pleasure of shopping together at a mall, we never meet a stranger. She and I are “people persons”. We also respond to our instincts and never meet a stranger when we’re together. We’ve had so much fun meeting and talking to people we will never see again.

It really takes so little time and energy to do something like this. There’s pure magic in friendly words.

Check out another website: Terry Overton, Author

Terry Overton, author and friend.

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