Last week, I had a one hour facial at the hotel spa while my hubby was at an annual conference. What a luxurious treat! My technician massaged an aromatic lotion gently over my face, neck and shoulders. Then, there was the hot towel, this was repeated two more times with an arm and hand massage between each application. The exfoliation process was tingly and refreshing, and my favorite was a final scalp massage. I nearly drifted to sleep under the last hot towel. That night a dinner, several people asked if I had spent the afternoon at the spa, because they said my face was glowing. This reminded me of the story of Stephen the martyr in the book of Acts. People noticed as he looked to heaven, his face shone like a light. Jack Graham discusses this in his book titles, “Angels”. People who do God’s work have a radiant face. He says:
“They watch for needs around them and joyfully meet the ones they can meet. They speak the love of God often to those living far from him. They keep short accounts when misunderstandings occur and beg forgiveness when they are to blame. They love well. They serve well. They speak well. They live well. They are light in a very dark world.
They have faces like those of the angels, you might say: holy, righteous, and bright.
You and I can be angel-faced too, no expensive face creams required. We can pulsate with the light of our Lord and Savior simply by residing in his presence day by day. We can choose victory over defeat. We can choose compassion over judgment. We can choose kindness over revenge. We can choose understanding over fits of rage. We can reflect the peace and joy of the angels, bright beings who themselves reflect the glory of God. And the world will take notice! You can’t conceal those who glow.”
This excerpt says exactly what I desire to do. To love well and choose the positive course of action. This takes a conscious effort because it is not our human nature to think of others before our selves. When getting a facial I did not think about anything while the healing touch of Marie allowed me to forget all my struggles of the month before. It may not take face cream to achieve an inner glow, but a face massage was so relaxing and a beautiful expression of tender care. We are given the ability to change how people feel with just a touch and should not ignore that gift. I believe more arguments would end quickly if we said, “Sit back, I giving you a facial.” That would look pretty funny in a courtroom or a classroom. My new mantra will be prayer instead of protests, facials instead of fighting. I might even start carrying a bottle of lavender lotion for emergencies. If you see people around you with a “glow”, it may be they have been to the spa, or they may indeed be angels. Keep in touch.
Yesterday, I packed my suitcase and the zipper broke! It was NOT over stuffed. I pack light because I do not want to agitate the carpal tunnels on my wrists or the rotator cuffs on my shoulders. I only know those words because several family members have had surgery on those body parts. My first suitcase was a Samsonite. Actually, it was my mother’s little white overnight case. Just the right size for a visit to grandma’s house, or the one time I thought I could set off on my own with my Barbie dolls at age seven; and never have my mother boss me around again. My mother kept a little bar of Camay soap in the case to keep it smelling fresh. It had a burgundy satin lining and elastic bands to hold things in place. She explained to me that it was her wedding gift, and I would have to find something else if I was running away from home. My second suitcase was an American Tourister. It took me all over South America, to college, on my honeymoon, and now carries what is left of my Barbie dolls. My daughter’s Barbies are in there too, along with several handmade outfits that my mother expertly designed and sewed on her Singer Sewing Machine in the Sixties. In the last thirty years we have had dozens of suitcases. There was the beige canvas from Land’s End, and then four other brands and colors of luggage that have been abused and broken by various airlines, or permanently borrowed by our children. It is a little ridiculous how quickly they fall apart- usually the zippers. I have been very good at fixing zippers in the past, even when it has taken hours of patience. These bigger zippers are beyond my expertise and a professional fixer would cost more than the case. Sadly, this incompetent case is going to the Goodwill, and I shall fill it with clothing that no longer fits. My hubby always says it is worth paying the price for quality items that will last far beyond what is fashionable. I will go shopping and find the best case, hopefully on sale. The little lesson here is not to keep so much baggage. We can try to store them in our attic, but soon they become a nagging problem. We don’t need to remember all the disconcerting events of our past and load up with woes and regrets. Clear out the storage units and make room for fresh ideas and joyful perspectives. If the old baggage is no longer useful, it is taking up valuable space in our lives and minds. It is no wonder why we walk in a room and have forgotten what we needed there, if we are ruminating about something in the past. I am not ready to be called an old bag, so I will zip a lip to the overstuffed baggage in the past. Often we over pack just to be prepared for what might come. Packing light requires just the necessaries that are versatile and practical. Now, off to the store to find a four wheeler suitcase that practically rolls itself. It is time to look to the future with a solid case and renewed excitement.
Yesterday, we stayed up until midnight to watch the fourth game of the NBA finals. This is not good for my mental health or my beauty sleep. After the first three losses, we had a fitful sleep and dark circles under the eyes in the morning. My skin is starting to resemble the surface of a basketball and I am now trying to throw garbage away from the three point line – unsuccessfully. It is the third straight year for the match up of our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors. There are excellent athletes on both teams that provide worthy rivals and unpredictable results. Last year, the Cavs did not look to be of the same caliber as the Warriors, but emerged victorious after seven games and lucky last minute shots. I seriously wondered if there were powerful prayers being said all over Ohio and bargains being made with God to have such an unbelievable comeback. My hubby and I were among those in Believeland who were on their feet, jumping up and down and willing every shot to go into the basket. It is interesting that we feel such spirited kinship with strangers. Most of the athletes are not from Ohio, where the team calls home, except for Lebron James of course. Why do we let our blood pressure spike when the outcome of the game does not really impact our lives? We watch because it is entertainment, but we may be trying to relive our old glory days when we were athletes. Are we wired to relish competition against a rival, and live vicariously through our sports teams? I personally like to cheer for the underdogs (yes, I am a Browns fan) and I love the feeling of joy when I am with a crowd of people and our team scores or makes a great play. The playoffs cause more adrenaline surge and excitement than I am used to. It is a marvelous victory for a city to win a Championship because there is renewed faith and pride that spills over into an increase in positive attitudes and economic prosperity. Perhaps this is similar to the way a town felt in ancient civilization when their soldiers fought battles against a fortified city and the walls came tumbling down. We feel like we have been part of the challenge and contribute to the success by being loyal fans and supporting the team. We love our schools, our cities, and our country when we are winners. How we react when we are losers is equally important, and it says a whole lot more about our character. Life is full of losses that could break us. This is when a team or a community should work even harder together to support each other and find a new strategy. Wallowing never works. Gloating is no good either. The Warriors were set to make history with a 16 game run undefeated in the playoffs. Instead, the Cavaliers broke records last night and won the game. We know they could make another miracle comeback, so there may be some restless nights ahead. The miracles I am praying for have been for the many loved ones who have been battling cancer. For those who are losing that battle but remain strong in their faith in the risen Christ, you are an inspiration and victory is yours. I will never stop cheering for the team that follows Jesus.
This one is for you Kelsey Walters.
Last week, I was on high intensity whimsical mode. I suggested to my hubby that I had an idea he would love, even though I was sure he would not. “Let’s decorate what is left of the old apple tree!” I suggested. “I will construct the Japanese lanterns from our daughter’s wedding, and you can hang them from the naked branches.” He said, “Yes!” We are both reluctant to say goodbye to the tree that has produced maiden blush apples to make hundreds of pies, cobblers, sauces and cakes for four generations. Sadly, the tree has lost all of the original branches and has a hollow trunk. It is amazing that it lasted through another winter. Two small remaining sucker branches are producing some bitty apples, so we decided to give her one more summer before we let her topple and become part of the compost over the bank of our back yard. How do you say good-bye to a cherished object, a family tradition, a love? It will be like losing a part of ourselves. Forty years ago, Ada Warren walked next door to meet my family when we moved in. She brought us a pie she made from the tree. Twenty years ago our children helped to prepare the apples for their grandparents, Barb and Jim Cordell, to make sauce. Now my sweet hubby cranks out fifty pints a year with my help, and sometimes on his own. This is a labor of love. His mama was wise to have two more trees planted from grafts. Actually, four were grafted, and the other two are at our Aunt and Uncle’s house – apparently loved by their deer population. Good-bye does not seem like an option, but we can’t hold on to everything we love forever. People, pets, and even plants are gone before we are ready. So, my thought is to celebrate those we love while they are with us. Instead of discounting what is old and bedraggled and of little use; honor it in a creative and special way. And so, our tree that gave its bounty to many people in the family and neighborhood, shall be decorated and adored in its very last year in our front yard by the fence. Those who pass by may snicker or wonder. The apple tree will know that it did its best every year to bring goodness and beauty and comfort to all these who would partake. Perhaps when I am very old, my grandchildren will find a whimsical way to decorate my days and reflect on the memories of love that we will share. For today, the lanterns on the tree represent a favorite verse, “Thy light is a lamp unto my feet”. I will follow the light of love, celebrate the givers, and say, “Good bye, and thank you for sharing your bounty, and blessing us with your presence.” To the next generation of apple trees and the children who will pick from them, “Be of good cheer and excellent health”.