The Porch Light

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I passed by the house everyday on my way to work. It is a twenty minute drive down several country roads. I could take the highway but the country roads are more scenic.  There are the wide expanses of fields, trees, occasional horses in their pasture. Corn fields for miles with a few houses in between. The view of the sky during a sunrise or sunset is unobstructed by buildings unlike the city.

Close to my destination, there is a two story green wooden house on the side of the road surrounded by cornfields. For some reason I always glanced at the front porch when I drove by. The porch had a welcoming feeling that made you want to come in. There was a wreath on the door and an old treadle sewing machine, rocking chair, and some baskets.  On the sewing machine sat a small table lamp always lit. Odd, I thought, to have an electric lamp outside.

Every day when I drove by the house, I noticed the lamp was on, even though it was daylight. Did the owners forget to turn it off?  I got used to seeing it on in the morning on the way to work and when I left and passed by it on the way home. It was always on, something I could count on.

One night, there was a thunder storm with strong winds and hail. That next morning when I drove by the house, I saw the lamp on the floor of the porch. The following day the lamp was gone.

I missed that lamp when I drove by as somehow it made a difference in my life. The welcoming feeling was gone. The porch seemed empty now. It was if all the country decorations and accessories had no meaning without that lamp on.

January passed with cold winter days then soon gave way to the up and down temperatures of February. My usual worries and anxieties plagued me but I tried to ignore them. As I drove by the farmhouse, what do I see? A new table lamp sat on the porch on top of the sewing machine.  The light was on !

Now I see it on day and night as I pass by that house to and from work. The light welcomes me in the morning and is a beacon for me at night when I drive home, something I can count on. My symbol of hope returned.

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The Perfect Christmas Tree

img_4947I decided on an artificial Christmas tree this year after buying a freshly cut one every December for the past several years. Prior to that, I had bought artificial ones once or twice but they didn’t’ last after after a few years after being in storage. The pre-lit white tree with gold Italian lights looked beautiful that first year but somehow, the red and green ornaments I had saved over the years clashed with that color, so I bought new gold and silver ones. I hung them carefully around the branches and friends said “How beautiful your tree looks! but something was missing. Those new ornaments had no memories of the past.
My Christmas trees never looked like the ones at the stores with theme ornaments arranged in perfect order. I did a children’s theme tree for years when my daughter was young, with Santas, garland, red and gold balls, miniature rocking horse, tiny toy box, various angels at the top of the tree. She made the play dough stars, pipe cleaner candy canes, but when it came to decorating , I wanted to do it all myself. I wanted to be in charge of where each ornament went. I only let her put a few on the tree.
To save money, I went to the local Goodwill store to get an artificial tree. The few in the middle of the store were too tall, too thin, and some looked so unnatural with different shades of needles, that I gave up. As I started walking toward the exit, my eye caught a tree in the corner window behind some life size inflatable polar bear. Could that be the one? There was no price tag, so I asked the clerk, “How much is that tree?”
“$20.00,” she replied. The clerk moved the polar bear , found an outlet and plugged in the tree’s lights. “Voila!” Multi colored lights came on. Excited, I said, “I’ll take it.”
After it was loaded into my car, I drove home, and dragged it in the living room. It was the perfect height, with just enough room for the angel at the top. When I plugged in the cord, the red, green and gold lights came on. An extra surprise was the gold lights twinkled every few seconds.
My three granddaughters came over the next day and I did something I never did with my daughter. I decided to let them decorate my tree. Nervously, I handed them only the plastic and non -breakable ornaments and they had a ball! Julie, age six, Lauren, age four, and Katie, almost two, anxiously picked out ornaments to hang. I let them put up whatever they found in the box wherever they could reach. They got so excited as they placed the gold tassels, the wire deer, the little bells, the plastic balls, that I just stood back and watched, amazed. Six year old Julie stood on the piano bench next to the tree to hang the angels. “Angels go at the top of the tree, because they watch over us.” I said.
Now after years of having decorated Christmas trees myself, I found the solution for making the perfect tree. Let my grandchildren start a new tradition and help me decorate it. Although I may have moved a few ornaments after they left, the excitement and joy they had was a gift and lesson I will never forget.

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When To Slow Down

When accidents happen, do you think that there is a reason for them? There is no such thing as chance or coincidence, only Divine Providence, some Hebrew scholars believe. What do you believe? David Sachs, the writer, once said, “we know what to do the next time a coincidence happens. Pray.”
When I fell on ice and broke my wrist two years ago, I realized I had to slow down. I had to learn how to do things with one hand. A friend said “God was shouting at you to slow down!” For six weeks I had to limit myself as to what housework I could do, what errands I could run, and appreciate what I could do.
Divine Providence and God’s intervention in nature are certainly widely accepted tenets of Jewish faith, according to David Glasner, the economist. My experiences teach me time and again that there may be a Divine plan and I sometimes try to do too much so have to slow down.
For example, while working in my daughter’s garden a few weeks ago, I transplanted some iris. When I went to wash the spade, I unknowingly disturbed an underground beehive. They attacked me and I received over a dozen bites on my arms and legs. I did not have my Epipen with me but my husband drove me to the ER. There, I got the Benedryl to reduce the swelling and an epinephrine shot.
I still didn’t get the message to slow down and was back in my yard the next day trimming a bush with my electric shears. As I reached to hold out a branch, I cut my finger and had to go back to the hospital for stitches. It was only then I realized I had to slow down!
I told myself at the beginning of the year that this was “my year to relax” but somehow forgot.
As a part time teacher, writer, (and part time caregiver for my three grandchildren), I need to keep relearning the lesson of when to slow down and when to pray….
As one of my friends once said, It’s not a sin to take care of yourself…so let those “coincidences” keep coming and maybe eventually I will learn my lesson!

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Gardening with Feng Shui

Gardening is my passion! I love to work in my yard, weed, plant flowers, trim trees and shrubs, and yes, even cut the grass. I sometimes garden with Feng Shui, the design philosophy that brings balance and positive energy in one’s home or living space. As a certified Feng Shui designer, I have used it in my home or client’s homes for several years. Every time I organize or clear clutter and move furniture, I feel the change in the energy of the house. Feng Shui uses the Bagua, a diagram of life areas such as career, health, prosperity, relationships, creativity, etc. Feng Shui can be used in a garden as well. When I weed an area or plant new flowers in a section of the backyard that corresponds to that life area, I sometimes feel I am working on improving that part of my life.
When we remove weeds and plant flowers, we are making space for beautiful things to grow. We are all co-creators with God, especially when we recognize the cycle of life and how we only have so much control. The weeds and dying plants could symbolize negative thoughts or patterns we can remove to improve the relationships in our life. (If only it were that easy!)
I took down a tree today in my relationship area of the Bagua. I had planted an ornamental pear in the back yard several years ago, but didn’t realize the space it would need to grow. It was too close to the other trees. Over time, it grew straight up, but when its blossoms came out in the spring, there were very few and only at the top of the tree. I waited patiently for it to improve but it couldn’t. It was only a foot away from the neighbor’s yard, and several branches hung on their side of the fence. The large elm tree in my yard shaded this tree so it never had a chance to grow properly. I even had the elm limbed up a few years ago to bring in more light.
Yesterday, I felt it was time to let it go. I took my pruning saw to one of the three main branches. Then after ten minutes of sawing away, the wood started to creak and bend. “Crack”! Down went one of the large branches. The fence caught it and I had to pull and lift it over to my yard. Again I sawed another branch, trying different angles to get it to fall only in my yard. Slowly, the twenty foot branch fell on the fence. Luckily, the wood fence held and I lifted and dragged the large branch to the ground. Finally, all three main branches were down. The trunk remained but when I took the chainsaw to it, it didn’t seem to make a dent. The next day I took my pruning saw and slowly cut at the base of the tree. After ten minutes, it became loose and I was able to push it down. I tied up branches to set out on the curb, bagged smaller ones to be picked up and raked the ground around the tree stump
Now the space is open and bright. The sun shines in this corner of the yard and there is new space for growth, not just in my yard but in my life.
If you can relate to my gardening philosophy or practice gardening with Feng Shui, I would like to hear from you. Feel free to share your success stories with me and happy gardening!

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Lauren and God

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Lauren, my three year old granddaughter, is my inspiration and her faith in God amazes me. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” Anyone who is around young children who have a … Continue reading

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Clearing the Clutter

As a former interior designer who specialized in Feng Shui, one of the most common problems I saw in a client’s home was clutter. We all have some clutter but too much and certain kinds of clutter represent negative energy. Clearing clutter removes not only unwanted items from your home but transforms your space to bring new energy into your life. If you are ready for change and want to become empowered to let go of the past, clearing major areas of clutter will help you move on with your life. You can become more productive in your business, finish projects and develop new relationships.
How do you know when you have too much clutter and it is affecting your life? Ask yourself this question:
What feeling or mood do you have when you enter your –
Kitchen…Dining Room… Living Room… Family Room… Bedroom …Garage… or Basement? If you find yourself feeling stuck or avoid the room altogether, (or in the case of your bedroom, have trouble sleeping), it is time to examine the kinds of clutter in that room.
There are different kinds of clutter and clutter that represents the past is the most difficult to control. Do you keep your bills, payments, or miscellaneous statements organized by date? If so, only keep the current year’s statements in a file drawer near your desk. Move bills or statements over 2 years old to another storage area and out of your daily work space. Do keep what is needed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in a file drawer near your desk or work area.
Clothes that don’t fit or are out of style are another common type of clutter. Anything over two years old you have not worn, donate. Stop and think how keeping them only brings negative feelings of guilt that you don’t fit in them. Think of the people who could use them. Magazines or books you think you will read but have not made the time could be donate.( You think you going to make time for reading then but don’t so again comes the negative thinking) How can you make time for yourself in another positive way? Cancel the subscriptions if you have too many. Some types of clutter represent past relationships such as furniture or gifts from former spouses, relatives or friends. If it brings negative feelings to you when you see it, put it on consignment or donate it. Give yourself permission to let go of your past.
Start with the room that you avoid in your home and make a plan; set a timer for 20 minutes and clean out a shelf or drawer. Aim to clear a small area at a time. As you progress, watch what happens in your life. When I decided to donate books I had in my basement had not read in years, new relationships came into my life. I symbolically made space in my home (which translates to space in my life.)I made a career change and didn’t look back. See what’s in store for you. Start the process and let me know how it goes.

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Pets as Healers

In a recent issue of the magazine “Guideposts”, there is a story about a cat who lives in a church and interacts with the people who attend service there. On the surface it may not seem like an unusual situation but as you read further into it, you realize the cat seeks out certain people. He follows the priest during the service but makes the time to visit certain people who come to the church. How does he choose those people and why? In each case, that individual is touched in a way that no person can explain.
One man who came to the church for the first time, found this furry stranger in his lap, and was so moved he sat through the entire Mass, not wanting to disturb the cat. At the end, he explained how he was cruel to animals as a child and felt this cat was a sign from God, that he was forgiven.
Animals have an intuition that connects to humans beyond our understanding. When my father entered a nursing home several years ago, the one saving grace that calmed him was the resident cat. He would wander in and out of other residents ‘ rooms but seemed to take a liking to my dad’s room. He jumped up on my father’s lap and let him stroke his fur, finally settling in and took a nap. It gave me peace of mind to see the small joy an animal could bring to my father. When dad was transferred to a different location of the same nursing home, another cat also found him. That cat used to greet me at the front door of the home and wandered in and out of the building whenever someone opened the door.
Finally, after several years, my father succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. In his final days, he had stopped eating and was put on hospice. During his last few days, we came to visit him. Sure enough, a cat came into the room and stayed the entire week we visited. He would sit on a bed or chair near us as if to keep us company and comfort us. It gave me some small hope that there is a higher power watching over us and sometimes sends his animal friends to give us some comfort.

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