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Breaking Bud – A Roguish Spring

KATHY JOY, AUTHOR, EDITOR, MESSIAH COLLEGE ALUMNI

You’re likely familiar with “Breaking Bad”, the TV series about a chemistry teacher desperate to secure his family’s financial future, after his devastating cancer diagnosis. Facing the reality of death does funny things to people.

Find a Singing Spring Gift Book here. A Breath of Joy

Even if you’ve never watched Breaking Bad, apparently most of America has. The series quickly became a national sensation and rendered a new buzzword, “breaking bad” for when someone good suddenly changed character.

If “breaking bad” is slang for “defying expectations” then “breaking bud” is a crisp turnofphrase for “just kidding, the weather has a mind of its own”. Out of the brown and crinkled tan shades of left-over winter, buds are due. The milk of flowers is already rising through pale green rose stems.

Fine, with this springtime tease, we’ll don a warm jacket today, a light sweater tomorrow, carry a pair of boots in the car for just–in–case.

Spring waltzes in sideways, full of bluster and drizzle, followed by little sunny intervals of calm. Throw in a late snow squall for good measure, and you have springtime in Northwest Pennsylvania: Unpredictable, moody, playful, and perplexing. But we always tolerate the irregularities of spring because it holds promises: Birds returning, leaves unfurling, windows are thrown open to let in the breeze.

We’re starting to hear the spring peepers, those tiny chorus frogs that give us loud concerts every night for a fortnight. The early flowers are already pushing through soil, declaring forgiveness for winter’s icy grip. Something shifts in the air. There’s a mix of earthy smells, a giddy kick of anticipation.In spite of all the challenges we’ve endured, there is this one thing: Spring is “breaking bud”.

I had the honor of proofreading the book, BEING CREATIVE, by Laura Bartnick this spring. Her thoughts on creativity simply jibe with my feelings about springtime’s empowerment. I’m declaring new explorations this year. Did you know. . .

God calls all of His creation His servants, because He has a purpose for our existence. He is the Re-namer, and Redeemer, and Re-purposer. When we walk with the LORD, the possibilities are endless. We can search for Him—though He is not far from any of us. Coming closer to our Creator, we can accept His call to be cunning and skillful. We can even become His friend.

“Anything can become the next exploration. Even those creatives who want nothing to do with being a child of God often find their best material in Scripture and in the church. God can use the imagination of anyone to teach us.

“Your own skill is a learned thing. Wisdom takes time. You may not yet understand this when you begin to write about a tragedy causing a family to become displaced, all their treasures to be lost. What you are really going to discover and write about is the greater gift of creativity from loss, the value of new relationships, and community—finding other treasures in hidden places. This story may require much prayer, wrestling with God for the blessing, and many edits to test and strengthen the wings.”

Spring is going forward and gathering steam, hurtling headlong into backyard picnics, flip-flops, beach time and road trips.

There are ten little rules of creativity listed at the end of each chapter in BEING CREATIVE. There is also the suggestion to keep a journal nearby.  I have practiced this invitation of capturing the wonder of my days, of God’s creative invitations to life in my own way. This is where the gift book series, BREATH OF JOY, was budded and flounced. SINGING SPRING announces this season of life burgeoning from death. It celebrates wonder with yellow daffodils, with purple lilacs, and with perfuming pink hyacinths.

Crops are going in this spring, and before we know it there will be rows and rows of sweet corn. That’s what I love about seasons. They simply show up. Regular as a heartbeat, as welcome as the friend you haven’t seen in quite a long time. Springtime is roguish, breaking bud and being mischievous in all the best ways.

I found one of my favorite quotes in chapter four of BEING CREATIVE:

Experience allows us to follow the dots into the unknown. We learn from intersecting paths along the way. We learn to improvise.”

I just love this! I want to lift it out, highlight it, then repeat it for emphasis!

Unconcerned about vaccines, politics or March Madness, the season is a joyful riot of mud puddles and sudden bursts of color, chasing away the landscape’s last edges of grays and browns.

Happy Spring, ya’ll !

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Is Heaven in the Yellow Pages?

By Tonya Jewel Blessing from the Bible study, Soothing Rain

Some of us are preserved from the experience of dealing with death or the question of heaven when we are young. Other’s lives are forever affected by the tragic death of a parent still needed for a child’s safety and comfort.

While doing some research recently on the internet, I came across this very moving poem:

“Mommy went to Heaven, but I need her here today. My tummy hurts and I fell
down; I need her right away.

Operator, can you tell me how to find her in this
book? Is heaven in the yellow part? I don’t know where to look. Maybe if I call
her, she will hurry home to me. Is heaven very far away; is it across the sea? Help
me find the number please; is it listed under ‘Heaven’?

I can’t read these big, big
words. I am only seven. I’m sorry, operator. I didn’t mean to make you cry. Is your
tummy hurting too, or is there something in your eye? If I call my church, maybe
they will know. Mommy said when we need help, that’s where we should go.”
(author unknown)

I know some of the poem’s phrases are outdated. Most people don’t use the Yellow Pages these days, and, with computerized services, operators are a rare commodity. Yet the yearning of a young child for his or her mother moves my heart. All kinds of thoughts and images of the child came to mind.

  • How long has his or her mother been gone?
  • Who is taking care of the child?
  • What does he or she look like? Who is reading this seven-year-old bedtime stories and rubbing noses for Eskimo kisses?

When I read the last stanza, I am brought to tears, “If I call my church, maybe they will know. Mommy said when we need help, that’s where we should go.”

There are churches all over our cities that are resourceful and safe places for grieving families to go. But the church is more than a name, a building, or even the pastor. According to Scripture, believers in Jesus are the Church.

As women who know Jesus, we’re the mothers to those who have no moms. We’re the ones who tend to tummy aches and bandage scraped knees. We read stories and place gentle kisses on the tear-stained cheeks of the hurting.

We give voice to the struggling, abused, and bruised.

We dig wells, feed the malnourished, and find jobs and homes for struggling young adults.

We know the secrets of heaven, and hold keys that help others who are caught in grief and uncertainty find a place of rest and peace.

ISBN 13: 9780997897630 ASIN: B074F2C8SV
Soothing Rain is a women’s crowd breaking system of stories and discussion questions (a global interchange). https://www.amazon.com/Soothing-Rain-Living-Water-Refresh-ebook/dp/B074F2C8SV/

Most of us have never worked as a telephone operator. But we have worked and will continue to work in sharing our time, resources, and the truths of eternity with those struggling in our communities and around the world.

If you know of a child who could use some comforting wisdom, I’d like to introduce you to a debut author in our publishing group.  Jenny Fulton’s story, Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye is precious, a valuable book in the library of any teacher, parent, or grief counselor.

 

Indian woman an angel and a child
Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, children’s book

Watch a scene from Tonya Blessing’ Appalachian novel, The Melody of the Mulberries set during the early American Spanish Flu epidemic.

 

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What’s in a Name?

By Tonya Jewel Blessing from the Bible study, Soothing Rain

I married into a family having the last name, Blessing. As Christians, we are commanded by God to share our faith and to be a blessing.

I believe we share the love of God both with our service and with our speech.

As a child, I remember singing, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus.” The lyrics still ring true today,

Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart
every word. Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.

Fances J. Crosby

My husband and I recently met a man. He appeared to be a Zimbabwean refugee, but we’re not sure. We had some communication issues.

He didn’t speak English or Afrikaans (except to say “dankie” which means “thank you”). He was extremely thin and not very tall. He was perhaps 14 or 15 years of age. A number of his teeth were missing. His eyes and cheeks were sunken in, and his skin had a grayish tint from malnourishment. His clothes were ragged and torn, and he desperately needed a bath.

Here’s what happened

Chris and I were visiting a crafters mart in the town of Bela Bela, which is located about an hour and a half from our home. I use the words “crafters mart” loosely. The artisans display wares in a long tin-roofed shack with mostly open sides. The stalls are separated by faded cloths of varying colors.

Our new friend was working there as a “car watcher” of sorts. He didn’t seem to have the energy to solicit his services but made an attempt at directing us from our parking space. Chris held up his index finger motioning for the young man to stay put while we went and purchased some food for him. The love of Christ was shared through the nourishment we gave him, and our hand gestures: Chris pointed toward heaven and I placed my right hand over my heart.

The first several verses of Proverbs 30 describe the author’s search for God.

“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His hands?
Who has bound up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is the name of His Son—if you know?
Proverbs 30:4 (HCSB)

The author of this proverb understands that God is very powerful. He talks about the LORD holding the wind and wrapping the ocean in His cloak, but the writer wants to know God’s name and the name of His Son.

The name “Bela Bela” means “beautiful”.

Who have you shared His beautiful name with today?

Are you willing to share His name each and every day?

Soothing Rain is a devotional written by Tonya Blessing and Sue Summers

Today, I’d like to recommend a fellow author’s book for the Easter season.

I found this Goodread’s review of The Zealots by G.K. Johnson and thought, I’d post it here.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Best Read for Spring Break! Two teen boys, seemingly innocuous, ramble around the hillsides of Judea until tragedy strikes. The incident begins to work on them, like a wedge inserted between them.

We are wooed into the kind of social pressures that turn young men into thugs. And, into these pressures, come temptations to right a wrong.

What I love about this book: Vivid scenes, accurately portrayed passion, the power of atoning actions to drain fierce guilt and replace it solidly with purpose. Not Sunday school.<br />This book is meant for teen boys, but I loved it. As much as I recall reading The Robe and The Silver Chalice in highschool.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56498830-the-zealots

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Lending to God

By Tonya Jewel Blessing from the Bible study, Soothing Rain

My husband and I used to live on a rutted, dirt road east of Denver. Our home rested on the south side of the road. During springtime, the black and white cattle with their yearlings grazed on the north side.

One morning late in May, a woman from the city decided to go for a ride in the peaceful, quiet country. When a semi-truck hauling grain passed her compact car on the narrow road, she panicked, oversteered, and rolled her vehicle into the grassy field across the street from our home.

The heifers and calves gathered round to stare at their mutual predicament.

We decided to become a little more welcoming than the heifers and calves. A glass of water, a gentle embrace, and kind words provided the environment for her to share her struggles with divorce, depression, loneliness, finances, and health concerns.

The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17 (NIV) that when we show kindness to the poor we are lending to God.

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

We weren’t lending to our friend.  We were lending to the Lord.

Our new friend wasn’t “poor” in the physical sense, but she was certainly poor in spirit. God has a heart for those living in poverty – whether they are struggling for physical or spiritual nutrition. The Bible defines the poor as people who are weak, deprived, needy, empty, and withered. In the original text of this verse showing kindness meant bending down, or stooping over; sitting face to face with someone in need; looking them in the eyes with the love of Christ; offering friendship; uniting our lives with their lives for the purpose of easing
their burden. In fact, the word “lending” means to weave together.

When we “lend” our kindness to others, the LORD becomes involved in our efforts. He aids us in our service to those in need. The Bible says that He even rewards us. He brings restoration, peace, and safety to our lives. He gives us strength to finish our spiritual race.

May the LORD continue to use us both as individuals and collectively, to lend to those in need both physically and spiritually.

Learn more on Goodreads about Soothing Rain.

Find also, a Goodreads review of Tonya Blessing’s Melody of the Mulberries.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2967511185 

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Excerpt from a Shotgun Proposal