There is nothing more spectacular than a sunset in September. Colors become more brilliant as the air begins to cool. Every season has its own beauty, but fall is a time when I see God most clearly. I know many hate to see the summer fade, but my heart dances with joy when sweet September makes her glorious entrance 💕
A little negativity is like a little kudzu; there’s no such thing!
A little negativity is like a little kudzu; there’s no such thing! If you don’t know about kudzu, let me introduce you. The plant is also known as Japanese arrowroot and was brought to the mountains of western North Carolina decades ago in hopes of controlling erosion. Its rapid growth controls erosion very effectively, but it destroys everything in its path in the process. Negativity does the same if allowed to propagate.
Here are a few pictures of the kudzu in my neighborhood:
Once it takes root, kudzu is virtually impossible to stop. Stolons (runners) form new plants faster than its seeds. It kills all existing vegetation by blocking light. Covered vegetation and buildings lose their identities and become grotesque caricatures of other-worldly creatures.
Negativity spreads in the same manner. A little seed or runner seems harmless enough at first; but if left unchecked, it will block the light and alter the landscape of my heart.
Both negativity and kudzu require fertile ground to grow; so the next time negativity shows up at your door, remember these images of kudzu and ignore the knock!
Joy has been the subject of God’s lessons all week, so I wasn’t surprised that the service at The River of Life this morning was about just that.
I’ve been reading “Daring Greatly” this week and was taken aback by the notion of foreboding joy being a common shield against vulnerability.
Brene Brown describes her findings in Chapter 4.
“…having spent several years studying what it means to feel joyful, I’d argue that joy is probably the most difficult emotion to really feel. Why? Because when we lose the ability or willingness to be vulnerable, joy becomes something we approach with deep foreboding. This shift from our younger self’s greeting of joy with unalloyed delight happens slowly and outside of our awareness.”
I completely connected to the notion of foreboding joy as she described her own experiences and the experiences of the people she interviewed. When something wonderful happens or all is going very well, I begin to think something bad is getting ready to happen. It’s a ridiculous notion, but I was clearly guilty of putting up the foreboding joy shield to protect myself from vulnerability.
The good news is that hearing her describe her struggles helped me see my struggles in a new light. She goes on to give hope to those of us who are guilty of worrying that the other shoe is about to drop.
“Once we make the connection between vulnerability and joy, the answer is pretty straightforward: We’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. We don’t want to be blindsided by hurt. We don’t want to be caught off-guard, so we literally practice being devastated or never move from self-elected disappointment.”
She goes on to say that our culture assists in the doom and gloom scenarios we rehearse. Awareness is the first step to change, so I was overjoyed this morning as I sat by the river and had a sweet talk with God about my foreboding joy shield.
He has always known about it, and He and I both know it’s forged in fear. We both know that fear doesn’t feed on the vulnerable; it feeds on those who think they need a shield. It was freeing to let the river sweep away my shield this morning as I thanked God for lessons learned.
Brene Brown says, “While I was initially taken aback by the relationship between joy and vulnerability, it now makes perfect sense to me, and I can see why gratitude would be the antidote to foreboding joy.”
So do I! I plan to practice gratitude and embrace all the joy that comes into my life 🦋
On a cool evening back in March 2015, I captured three beautiful images of the same sunset. I love the views from my new apartment in town, but I miss the sunsets from the home I shared with my son and his family. Every evening was a breathtaking performance, and every day was a sweet adventure with my little granddaughters. I’m only two miles away now and see the girls often, but I treasure the moments we shared on the mountaintop.
There is nothing more peaceful than a river. The rushing water drowns out the noisy world and fills my heart to overflowing. I first face downstream so the river can carry away any clinging negative energy. When I feel sweet emptiness, I turn and face the flow. The filling I receive is better than any drug or food this world has to offer.
The Nantahala River runs near my home in Bryson City, North Carolina. It is filled with adventurous kayakers, squealing rafters, relaxed tubers, or folks just looking for a peaceful spot to sit by the shore.
My home church has a ministry called The River of Life that offers music, praise, and worship by the water. They raise money to help build wells in Haiti, so it’s the perfect setting for worship. My favorite part of the service is taking time to sit by the river and reflect on the message and how we can carry it out into the world. When we connect to the Source of all Love, we cannot help but pass it along to all those who share the path ♥️
Topsail Island, North Carolina is famous for its amazing sunrises. There is something majestic about the sun rising over the ocean. Like a pampered queen, she takes her time appearing before her adoring audience. She never wears the same gown twice, so those in attendance are never bored.
I marvel at how anyone cannot be stunned into silence by such a show; but then I remember how much beauty I miss each and every day as I scurry about in a mad dash to get somewhere or do something. The journey is so much better when I slow down and take in all the wonders in my path.