On this blog page, author Mary C. Woolling posts an ongoing series of her essays showcasing the positives of life.

New essays are added often. You are cordially invited to become a regular reader. Also, please feel free to share this site with your family and friends via the “Tell a Friend” link, located in the right-hand column below.

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If you'd like to contact Mary, you may do so at mary@herestolife.us

Friday, April 26, 2019

Today

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

-Robert Frost (1874-1963)
American poet and playwright

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday, and all is well,” my grandfather used to say. In his long lifetime, he’d learned that most of what we fret about never comes to pass. We waste so much time and wear ourselves out fearing the worst, instead of enjoying the present moment and trusting in God for the future. It behooves us all to keep in mind that we’re not in control; our loving Heavenly Father is. And to remember that, in any trouble we encounter, He is with us, ready and willing to lead us through. The trick is learning to let go and allow Him to do so.

The Reverend Robert H. Schuller, famous televangelist and pastor, once spoke of an experience he had that clearly illustrated the reward to be gained in letting go of worries. As I recall his story, one day while traveling, he found himself lugging two heavy suitcases through a huge airport, as he rushed to his departure gate. The distance to the gate was very long, and the time allowed for traversing it very short. On finally reaching the far-off gate and putting down the suitcases, he exclaimed to the agent, “Wow! What a relief! I didn’t realize how heavy my burden was until I set it down.” When we can set down our burdens, confidently leaving them in God’s hands, we, too, are rewarded with the welcome feeling of a huge weight lifted from our shoulders, a sweet release from our heavy load.

I’m a master worrier. I admit it, and I venture to say many of you, Dear Readers, worry, too. I stew about my problems and I pray about my problems, offering them up to God. But after completing my prayers, it seems, I often take back my concerns and worry some more. Sound familiar? The other day I was speaking with a friend about this ongoing challenge of mine. She offered this suggestion: “Mary, instead of you being a master of your worries, why not give your worries to the Master?”

Sound advice, with which the American poet Robert Frost would have undoubtedly agreed. In his A Prayer in Spring, printed above, Mr. Frost encouraged us not to project ourselves into that “uncertain harvest” of the future but instead to focus fully on today with all of its many pleasures, assured in the knowledge that God has every one of our tomorrows safely in His hands.

“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” wrote the Psalmist. And what a glorious April day in which to be joyful and glad! The sources of happiness are all around us. Feel the warmth of the sunshine on your upturned face. Can you spy the emerging, tiny buds on the limbs of the trees? See the gently-opening petals of the beautiful flowers that have surfaced once again. Take a look at the grass underfoot. Overnight, as if by magic, it has suddenly turned to a lush, verdant green. Hush! Listen to the cheerful singing of the happy birds.

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday, and all is well, for all is in God’s hands. Let us rejoice in the moments of today and trust in Him for all of our tomorrows!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Divine Assignment

You go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God puts you there.
He has a purpose in your life.
Christ Who indwells you has something He wants to do through you where you are.
Believe this.
Trust this.
Go, in His grace and love and power.

~ A benediction by Dr. Richard C. Halverson, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1994

Simon did not go to Jerusalem that day by accident. Though he did not realize it at the time, God had sent the strong and able Simon on a special assignment.

As far as Simon knew, he had simply traveled to the Holy City from his hometown of Cyrene on the African coast to attend the Passover. But on that pivotal Friday, he suddenly found himself placed at the forefront of a momentous event – an event that not only changed him forever but also forever changed the world.

Entering the city, Simon observed an angry, jeering mob, encircled by Roman soldiers, on its way to a public execution. In the center of the crowd was a Man carrying a large, heavy, wooden cross. Jesus, exhausted from scourging and beatings and weighed down by His cumbersome burden, suddenly stumbled and fell to the ground. The Scriptures tell us that the Roman soldiers, irritated by this delay, “compelled Simon, a Cyrenian, who passed by . . . to bear His cross” (Mark 15:21).

As Simon reached out his massive, muscular arms and large, capable hands to take up Jesus’ burden, the Lord looked into Simon’s eyes and into his heart. In an instant, the Cyrenian was transformed. No longer a lone and detached bystander but now a committed and compassionate helper, Simon proceeded to carry the cross, with Jesus walking along beside him.

From that moment on, Simon became a faithful follower of Christ, as did his family. Indeed, Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, were later recognized as leaders of the early church.

Like Simon, we never know when we, too, may unexpectedly be thrust to the forefront of situations for God’s purposes. How many times have we all had experiences in which we suddenly were called upon to do something to help another, and our efforts turned out to be just what that person needed at that particular time? And when we look back on the episode, we marvel at how differently things could have worked out, if we had not been right there . . . in that place . . . at that very moment . . . to act.

In his benediction, printed above, former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Dr. Richard Halverson seems to agree with my belief, saying no matter where we are in life or where we go, there’s a reason we are there. There’s a purpose. God’s purpose. And when the time is right, that purpose is made evident to us. We are given a divine assignment.

This assignment might be as simple as helping a next-door neighbor who is ill or frightened, by providing an encouraging note, a nutritious meal, or an uplifting book. Or, it might mean giving up a planned evening of fun activities and, instead, spending time with a lonely co-worker, struggling with a problem and in need of someone to listen. Or, it might even mean stepping into a daunting, new world of endeavor, one that carries with it much uncertainty, perhaps great risk, yet at the same time tremendous potential for good.

God has placed you where you are for a reason. He has a special assignment just for you, right where you are.

It’s reassuring to remember that, should we hear God’s call and accept our assignments, we will never go alone. As with the cross-bearing Simon of old, who bravely answered God’s call, Jesus will always be there, walking along beside us.

Here’s to Life!
Mary

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Winging Into Spring

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds has come…”
Song of Solomon 2: 11-12

In her 1962 bestseller, Silent Spring, gifted writer, biologist, and early environmentalist Rachel Carson foretold of a world without birds and other wonders of nature as a result of the widespread use of pesticides, specifically DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane). She claimed that these chemicals would cause the deaths of untold numbers of animals, especially birds, and even humans.

Her writing engendered much discussion and study of the use of biocides and their potentially lethal effects. As a result, in May, 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee determined that pesticides should be used to maintain the quality of our food and health, but not indiscriminately, in which case it might jeopardize the balance of nature. Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner, the committee chairman, stated that their routine usage posed “potentially a much greater hazard” than the deleterious effects of uncontrolled radiation.

We owe a great debt to Miss Carson for alerting the country to the danger of this potential catastrophe before it occurred. Her efforts ultimately led, in 1972, to the ban of the usage of DDT in the U.S.

The idea of a spring without the familiar sound of birdcalls is inconceivable. Along with the blossoming of crocuses, tulips, and hyacinths, the sight and sound of birds is part and parcel of the season. They portend the end of a long winter and promise of beautiful weather days ahead. Spring just wouldn’t be spring without the birds.

We derive such pleasure from our feathered friends. No matter where we are outdoors, they appear in wide variety, brightly-colored, active, and entertaining to watch. They sing their hearts out for us, providing delightful music to enjoy. Bird watching is said to be the most rapidly growing hobby in America today, with almost 70 million individuals avid backyard birders.

Some species of birds are prevalent in all areas of the country, while others are specific to certain regions. Each in its own way enriches our lives. We can easily invite these feathered songsters into our world through the simple provision of birdhouses, birdbaths, and bird feeders with seed blends, suet, table scraps, or bread crumbs. Feeders and houses come in many types, including those placed on poles, hanging from tree branches, and attaching to the outside of windows. All allow for close-up observation of the lovely winged creatures.

Once we begin to pay attention, it’s not long before we come to recognize certain birds by their distinctive markings, habits, and individual songs. The soft gray Mourning Dove is known for its haunting four or five note cooing sound. The Robin Redbreast is perhaps the best recognized of all North American birds, with its characteristic gait of hop, skip and head-tilt and “cheerily carol.” Then there is the Song Sparrow, aptly named for its unique trilling call, and the unmistakable Woodpecker, with its red head, solid black back, white underfeathers and familiar rat-tat-tapping of its beak on tree trunks. And let’s not forget the brilliant scarlet-colored Cardinal, better known as the Redbird, with its joyful “purty! purty! purty!”

The world is full of intriguing delights–some, like the birds, quite literally right outside the window. It’s Spring! The time of the singing of birds has come once again.

Take a look and a listen. Purty! purty! purty!

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