sheep on a mountainside, old age, Jonah

Getting Old; Sigh. And, Jonah on the Art Loeb Trail

I decided to hike today.

I did the Art Loeb trail in the Pisgah National Forest, about two seconds from my house. It’s a 30 mile trail that mostly winds up ridges and peaks, but I only did an hour of it. I have no clue how far I hiked. I was having a massive, peak-10 panic attack, and I was walking it off, as they say.

I did that trail (pretty much straight up) instead of the old people’s trail (pretty much not-straight up) that follows the Davidson River. That’s what I call it, the “old people’s trail,” because it’s easy. Gentle incline. Nice views of the river. Kids riding bikes. Elderly couples walking side-by-side, doing their daily walk.

But, let’s stop there. With the elderly couples doing their daily walk. Because that’s when my panic attack started.

See, to get to the Art Loeb trail, I have to walk a ways on the old people’s trail. So, I was passing elderly couples in jogging suits right and dang left.

Elderly couples look like elderly toddlers to me.

Passing them, I could hear the doctor’s voice in the background. “I want you to walk every day, and do it outside, so you’ll get some fresh air. And, don’t forget to eat your heart healthy diet.” Like talking to children. With a sing-song-y voice.

That’s when the panic happened, because I am not so far away from the jogging suits, daily walks, and soft foods, myself. I’m getting old.

With the panic at mock-10, I took my right up the Art Loeb trail, telling myself, “You’re not old, yet. You don’t have to stick with the old people’s trail. You can do this trail.” Which is so much cooler than a jogging suit. Talking to yourself as you’re panting your way up a mountain.

What happened next, I’m blaming on Aggie, not the fact that I’ll soon be buying jogging suits. I fell across a tree-root. I’d probably walked about 25 minutes, and Aggie pulled too hard on the leash, and the tree root jumped out at me, and down I went. I was out cold, and when I came too, Aggie’s nose was touching my nose. I thought we were on the floor at home. Except we weren’t. We were on the cold, very hard ground of the forest. The movie, Into the Woods, came to mind. I had no clue where I was.

Still lying on the ground, I grabbed my phone to check the time and my compass, because knowing if I was north or south was so going to help me. And, because I am getting old, and my head was throbbing, I could barely make out the time. I had to ask Siri, who replied, “It’s 1:34 p.m. Cinthia.” (Thank the Lord for Siri.)

Good. I had time to figure out where I was before it got dark. I stood up. Everything seemed fine. Nothing major but a bump on my head. Then I remembered why I was on the Art Loeb trail, and promptly repented because being face down on a trail in the middle of a National Forest with no clue which direction you came from is a real reason to panic. The jogging suits were looking pretty good.

The good news is, Aggie was sick of hiking (it wasn’t the sort of outing she’d hoped for), and wanted to head home. She’s got good direction sense, so I followed her, my own sense returning as we hiked. Pretty soon, I remembered where we were and I said, out loud, “Oh yeah, we’re on the Art Loeb trail.” Which again, is so much cooler than the old folks in their jogging suits on the easy trail, if anyone heard me.

Then I got to thinking about some advice I got from a friend once I started living alone. He said, “You need a 2 a.m. person.”

That got me to wondering, if I had hurt myself, and couldn’t walk back to my car, who would I call? I checked my phone. Yes, I had full bars, but the battery was almost dead. So, who would I text?

My list was super picky. It went like this: My ex is the best choice because he’s a forester, would know where I was if I texted him, and would know what to do. He’s got com-MAN sense. But, who knows? If he read my text, he might think, oh good, no more alimony. So, he was out. Next, I considered my boss who lives just a few minutes away, and knows the area because he’s that rare bird, a native. But, because I text him all the time, there was the chance he’d figure it was a work thing, and decide to wait till Monday to read it, thinking, I’ll see what she wants later. Then he’d go eat sushi at the new sushi bar in town, and I’d die from exposure while waiting for him to finish.

My sisters were out, because they’re too far away, and besides none of them could hike up that trail even if they knew where it was. And, they’d think I had butt-texted them, and skip the whole text entirely.

A couple of my girlfriends were possibilities, but they all had family in town, and well, we have rules regarding family being in town. Don’t bother us while they’re here. So, they were out.

Finally, I remembered a guy I used to work with. He’s a bit like my ex. Knows the area. He and his wife are hikers. So, there’s a good chance he’d know the trail I was on. He lives close by. Perfect! And, since I never text him, unlike my boss, he’d probably read my text, which I envisioned as only saying, “Art Loeb trail.” (I am nothing if not dramatic.) I figured he would figure out my cryptic message, tell his wife, and the two of them would come find me. I think she went to medical school, so bonus! He was fast becoming my guy if I ever fell in the woods again, and ended up with a broken leg or some such.

Except, no, not really. Because after running the whole scenario through my head, I had to ask myself this very real question: Would I text him? And, then suffer the utter humiliation I would feel because I had to ask for help, or would I die on that mountain-top to avoid embarrassment.

Pride reared its head a second time in less than 24 hours. I don’t like asking for help, and maybe that’s one reason I don’t like the thought of getting old: What if I need help? What if I need to ask for help?

Here’s where the Jonah part comes in. If you’ve ever read the story of Jonah, you know he’s a big, whiny baby who sits on a hillside overlooking Nineveh, refusing God’s help. God just saved an entire city of evil people, but God can’t save Jonah because Jonah won’t let God. So, not only is he on a mountaintop, hot and miserable, he is helpless while refusing help. I’m going to call that pride, and sit down beside Jonah on the mountaintop to die.

I made my way back down the mountain (cautiously), while thinking that if pride hadn’t taken hold, and caused me to panic, I could have skipped the whole Art Loeb thing, and enjoyed a leisurely hike along the river, without the knot on my head. Which is the moral of this little tale. Don’t be a knot-head. When the time comes, buy the jogging suit, and enjoy the fresh air.

Winter Window, Hut in Winter

(Not) Pulling Weeds in January

The garden has weeds, even on this blustery 29° day. I know because while the dishwasher maintenance guy was scraping ick out of my dishwasher, I went outside to answer a phone call, and pulled a few random weeds from my picket-fence garden. They were growing on top of the landscape fabric (I did not put it down, but I am steadily pulling it up–how I loathe that stuff), and in the midst of my cedar-chip mulch that serves as a path beside the roses. I am missing my roses. My heart aches for them.

But, I do not want that ache resolved with spring’s early arrival. I want winter to finish its cold work. I want the icy fingertips of winter to rid my garden and myself of the weeds that have taken root. Those weeds that take up critical space where more fruitful or beautiful things could grow.

Let winter kill the bugs, the pests, the rotten things that creep quietly beyond my garden fence, and please, kill the busyness, distractions, worries, hurry, hurry, hurry and rush, rush, rush that blooms in me all growing season. While my clients discover that gardening can be a meditative element in their light-speed universes, I go at warp speed, because their garden is my job, and like everybody else, I do my job like it all has to be done in a day.

If I lived in California or Florida, I would work all year long. Instead, I work mid-March to mid-December. For 3 months I am unemployed, and no, I don’t collect unemployment. I must plan for the time off.

My roommate from college, who spent her child-rearing years in Florida, bemoans the growing season here in our zones 7a-8a gardens. What does a gardener do in winter, she asks?

Sleep, I reply.

And, catch up with myself.

Gladly, I don’t live in Florida or California. I live in the mountains of North Carolina where the growing season stops due to winter’s frigid temperature, and to my thinking, that is as it should be. Because today, with a winter storm warning on the horizon, I am sitting by my fire, listening to Ed Sheeran’s, Thinking Out Loud, a song the College Son downloaded onto my IPhone  before he left for a semester in Costa Rica. (My kids have never quit thinking that my phone is also their phone.)

I also do my taxes, and open mail I didn’t even know I had, and call up friends who have written me off, and go out to eat with them, and go out to eat by myself. I walk the dog without being in a hurry, watch the same movie 20 times, and sit a spell.

I work very hard, many weeks 7 days a week, for 9 months, and then, I rest. It’s probably not the most balanced way to approach day-to-day living, but as a gardener, I seem to have taken on the same cycle as the garden.

I do have the general panic over this 3-month work hiatus, but I am learning to let it go. I am learning that God provides, and my days don’t need to be guilt-ridden while calling myself lazy. I’m not advocating to quit your day job, and sit by the fire but, I am advocating that while hard work is necessary, so is rest. So is remembering who we are every once in awhile.

The College Son tells me that the Costa Ricans would consider me rich. Me, with my 1300 square foot home, complete with (now functioning again) dishwasher. He told me that many of the Costa Ricans are poor, but despite their poverty, they live life Pura Vida! It means pure life. I thought he meant they all had one big Jimmy Buffet experience. He said, “No mom, Jimmy Buffet is about escaping life. Pura vida is about living life, letting life seep in–whether you’re in the best circumstances or the worst.”  Ah, well then, pura vida, indeed.

Let life seep in.

I woke up this morning and finally, thankfully, I did not feel rushed (it takes a bit), and the voice that likes to shame me (You’re surely not going to waste your day away doing nothing again, are you?) was silent. My mind was a blank, and then, I thought of allium. I thought of tall, purple, globe shaped allium next to my white picket fence. What better way to say hello to my neighbors as they take their morning jogs or their evening strolls? What better way to say hello to myself? Did I remember to purchase any when I bought the spring bulbs? A quick trip to the garage in my pjs and robe answered that. Yes, I did! Perfect. So, I planted allium today, and it felt good. It felt creative and simple and worthy.  (And no, it’s not too late. The bulbs have been in my cellar since September. They’ve had their cold.)

allium not pulling weeds in January

Just in case, you’re wondering. This is an allium.

 

My mind made room for creativity today, and my garden made space for beauty. Weeds were pulled, if not by me. Winter is doing its work. I’m going to sit a spell and let it. Pura vida.

 

 

 

 

BatWoman, Cinthia Milner,

To My Granddaughters: Go Be BatWoman!

My darling grandgirls: Go be BatWoman.

Let’s start with boys. It ain’t about the boys.

We live in an age where women have more freedom than they likely have ever had, and sadly, I’m watching girls (ages 18-21), make idiots of themselves over your uncle. These are college girls that are old enough to know better. I asked one girl if she’d ever heard of feminism. And, I don’t mean the kind of feminism that promotes freedom of sex for everybody and their brother.

I mean feminism where women learn to treat themselves with respect, and to invest in themselves.

I’ll quote my dad (your Biggie) here: “Don’t worry if the boy is going to choose you. Are you going to choose him?”

Your personalities are developing, and I’m watching you become these ultra-cool girls (one day women) with specific characteristics that make you, you. But, I’ve seen it happen a billion times. Around age 12, you’ll disappear, and what will take your place is a boy-crazed girl who will do whatever it takes to get the boys to notice her. That disappearing act, it lasts a really long time. Sometimes a few years, sometimes decades, sometimes forever. And, it’s hard to make a comeback from that. So, fight for yourself. Fight for your quirky, smart, silly, lovely selves to stay present and open to the world.

Don’t disappear.

You’re beautiful, smart, amazing and wonderfully made girls. Go be BatWoman!

That’s enough about the men.

go be batwoman

 

Now for the women in your lives. Pick great women to follow as role models and keep good girlfriends close.

Preferably women who have suffered and survived. Because you will suffer yourselves, that’s a given, and you’ll need the inspiration to keep going. But more importantly, pick women who are humble. Arrogance, pride, haughtiness–the whole diva mentality our culture promotes–it suits no one. Skip the Kardashians, and look to women like your mom, or my mom (Maurme).  Aim to be like them. Aim high.

I chose a woman at my church. She decided she would be silent no more. Women would participate in church. The pastor (male) agreed. They chose a Sunday and she served communion that day. Almost all the men ignored her. They would not receive communion from her–a woman. Twenty years later, I serve communion hand-in-hand with the men in my church, thanks to her. I never forget the road she forged for women in my tiny church.

See, that church is tiny. That community is tiny. That meant her friends and neighbors shunned her. But, she stood up anyway.

It isn’t always on a world level. It’s generally in your small world of friends and family, and girls that is hard.

And since I brought up Maurme, follow her example and cultivate good friends. She had such wonderful friends, and her life was so full because of them. Follow her example, and be a good friend. Choose your friends wisely. Don’t go for popularity, go for sincere. Go for the girl who’s got your back. Go for the girl you can call at 2 a.m. Go for the girl who doesn’t ditch you because she has a date. Go for the girl who would never utter the words, “I don’t have a lot of girlfriends because I really prefer a man’s company.” That girl. That girl is poison. Translated, all that means is, I like to flirt with men and prefer their attentions over trying to be a real friend. Avoid her. She’s the one who will seduce your boyfriend or husband. If you find a real friend, be a real friend to her. Be known for being a good friend.

You will need your girlfriends. Keep them close. Keep each other close. Never abandon your sisters.

go be batwoman

Find your passion.

Find something you love, and let that be your work. God created us for work. God gave us talents and skills. So, discover your’s, develop them, and use them. And, do not let dream-dashers destroy your dreams. There are so many dream-dashers in the world. Mostly, they’re people whose own dreams were dashed, and so now, they dash other’s dreams. Just skip telling those people anything about your dreams. You’ll end up second-guessing yourself. Instead surround yourself with cheerleaders. And, don’t forget to be a cheerleader for somebody. There is a center in the universe, and as much as you are the center of my universe, you are not the center of THE universe. Remember that.

You have an obligation that is hand-in-hand with your dreams. To help others.

There is a world out there, with women who don’t have what you have. They can’t study, drive, vote, own property, they are property. Remember while pursuing your dreams to find a way to help them pursue their’s.

And by the way, it’s okay to fail at your dreams, but it is not okay to never try.

Go be BatWoman.

Okay, I did a little man bashing, but really let’s do some real talk about men.

Let’s talk about the ones who are already a part of your life. How fortunate are you to have your dad? He adores you. He will protect you and guide you. Let him while he can. And, don’t forget the other men who love you, and will always be there to support you. Your uncles, your grandpas. Our society likes to make men look pretty stupid. Any sitcom will teach you that, but the men in your lives are awesome. You’ve been blessed with some of the best. Call on them for help when you need it. Anything from fixing your car, to making you laugh. They love you so dearly.

And then, when and if you’re ready for a relationship, remember how they treated you and expect no less.

BatWoman, Uncle and Niece, Cinthia Milner

Uncle and Niece

Finally, hold tight to Jesus. People will tell you he’s not real. But, your YaYa has been holding tight to him since she was 32, and she knows, he is real. Listen, sweeties. Life won’t be all candy and sisters, and Frozen and Star Wars and all the things you love. You will suffer and be broken.

Remember this, my darlings, your YaYa prayed for that very day when your suffering comes. She prayed that you would stand firm, and stand up under it. She prayed for that day while you were still in your Mama’s womb. Not that you would be protected from suffering, but that you would be fierce under it. You have strength you do not yet know about it, but it is there. Access it, and then give the glory to God. He has promised never to leave you, never to forsake you. Believe it.

Now go be BatWoman.

YaYa

 

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming tea cup on wooden table studying scripture

How to Do Your Own Bible Study

Every morning it’s the same. Well, pretty much. Some mornings, life interferes.

But, mostly, I wake up, let the dog out, open the blinds, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down to do my Bible Study. I’ve wondered if I do this every morning because of my really cool journal. My College Son’s girlfriend and I have the same obsession: new pencils, fresh paper, pretty pens. All the fun things needed to organize a project, but not always the follow through. For reasons I can only attribute to God, and his kindness toward me, I have followed through on this since I was 32.

Soon after becoming a Christian, I started doing a Bible study on Wednesdays with a group called Bible Study Fellowship International, an organization that developed a daily discipline in me to study Scripture, and gave me the tools to do it with. I truly believe most of us believers want to study Scripture, but it’s a bit like joining CrossFit. It sounds good, but it’s expensive, and you could end up looking really stupid.

Studying Scripture can seem very intimidating.

But, I promise, this method is easy, so I’ll share.

And this way, if Beth Moore ever gets slack on writing Bible Studies, you still have an option. Pull out your Bible, and do your own Bible Study.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • A journal. I use this one because it’s the same size as my Bible and refillable.
  • Pens.
  • I use a lap board desk because I sit in a chair not at a table.
  • I have a billion Bible translations downloaded onto my IPad, so I can cross-reference between Bible translations. I use the Bible Gateway app for all the translations. (This is not NECESSARY for any of you who just panicked, thinking, BUT I DON’T HAVE AN IPAD, AND I HATE TECHNOLOGY.)
  • No commentaries please.
  • A Bible. (Don’t get too picky about the translation, just get one you like, and in follow-up to  the Bible Gateway app above, one translation is truly plenty.)
  • Grab some hot coffee (or beverage of your choice).
  • Put it all in one spot where it will live. Now, you’re prepared for each day. I have a chair in my bedroom with a small table beside it, and my stuff stacked there. The only time I sit in the chair is to do my Bible study. It’s a cozy spot.

Mornings are best for my Bible Study. If I wait, or decide to throw in a load of laundry, I get busy with a billion things, and it doesn’t happen. So, I do it before anyone or anything can really mess with me. (Time frame: 6-6:45)

Here’s how it works:

I put my OCD-get-an-A-in-the-class self on the shelf because I’m not tearing through Scripture. I’m not trying to do it in a year, or on any kind of a deadline. My goal is to spend time with God in his word daily. So, I do one small paragraph a day, out of one book of the Bible. (I generally work through one book at a time, and it takes me months.) I don’t do more than 5-8 verses a day, because otherwise I feel rushed, and I forget what I’ve studied.

Here’s what I do:

  • Read God’s Word
  • List the facts. (What does God’s Word say?)
  • Learn the Lessons. (What does God’s Word mean?)
  • Listen to His Voice. (What does God’s Word mean to me? Asked in question format to myself.)

Here’s an example using one verse from today’s a.m. study. Today, I did 1 Corinthians 14:26-31 but, we’re only going to look at verse 31 for this exercise. Here goes.

Read God’s Word

For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. NIV 1 Corinthians 14:31 (For those who aren’t sure, NIV stands for New International Version translation.)

List the facts (What does God’s Word say?)

Each person can take a turn speaking (prophesying), so that all are instructed and encouraged.

Learn the lessons (What does God’s Word mean?)

Instruction, encouragement and order are appropriate when we gather to worship.

Listen to His voice (What does God’s Word mean to me? Asked in question format to myself.)

Am I helpful in creating order in worship or am I disruptive with my attitude?

You can stop here, but I find it cements the day’s verses in my mind if I summarize my morning’s study with two more steps. Here they are.

Listening in Response: Application (This is a small paragraph on the application of all the verses I studied. Again, this is from this morning, 1 Corinthians 14:26-33.)

Encouraging, Instruction and Order. God desires this when his people gather. Worship is not a one-man show, or a chaotic-filled drama event. It is a time to teach, encourage and build each other up in an orderly fashion. Communication, inclusion and order are key. No one left out, no one dominating. 

How Will I Respond: Obedience (I keep this to one sentence.)

I will participate in worship to encourage and instruct, not lecture, gossip or shame. Jan 22, 2015

That’s it. It takes me about 30-40 minutes depending on the time I have, whether I can be leisurely, or it’s a work morning and I need to stay on schedule.

A Reminder: I pray asking for God to reveal himself to me through his word. He always does.

Okay, talk to me. Is this hard? Do-able for you? Do you have a method you use that you’d like to share? (Because we all need some help here, please.) Do you have questions regarding this method? Is this the worst possible time in your life to even consider doing Bible study? (Work, life, spouses, children, aging parents, and on and on.) Talk and share away. I’d love to hear what you do. Or don’t. This isn’t about frustrating people, this is about encouraging, instructing and instituting some order. (Yeah, right.:)

Cinthia

P.S I didn’t invent this method, lest you think me so clever. I learned at it Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF for short), and Anne Graham Lotz teaches it to me again when I go to her conferences, which I do once a year at The Cove, with my darling roommate from college. The refresher is always good. (FYI: AGL used to be a teaching leader for BSF, hence her using the same method.) I’m actually using AGL’s outline here.

 

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming aggie lives next door to a hot dog truck

Aggie Lives Next Door to a Hot Dog Truck

My dog, Aggie, loves me more than any dog loves any pet owner, ever.

Because we live next door to a hot dog truck.

And, she thinks I moved here for her.

My neighbors own a hot dog truck. They used to own a hot dog restaurant. Just a little shack on the side of the road that made the most amazing hot dogs. They sold it for a small pull-along hot dog truck. And, I do mean, pull-along. It travels behind their Honda CRV with no trouble.

It has two windows for those wishing to purchase a hot dog, a small hot dog oven, a bun warmer and a tiny drink machine. Honestly, it reminds me of the Easy Bake Oven I got for Christmas when I was six, which made miniature brownies. They were darn good brownies, maybe not as fabulous as the neighbor’s hot dogs, but for an Easy Bake Oven that ran on a light bulb, they weren’t bad.

My neighbors and their hot dog wagon are on the road 24/7. They have kids in college, and while the college kids are home fairly frequently, the parents seem to spend their time peddling dogs. I’m assuming to pay tuition fees, which seems backward to me, but who I am to judge? My own College Son is currently enjoying sub-tropical weather while attending college classes in Costa Rica, and I’ve noticed, that while the college refuses to send me his grades, they have no qualms about sending me the bill. Woe is me. The worst of it is, I still haven’t gotten a hot dog, and I feel I should, since we are neighbors and all.

But, after the “Aggie incident,” I don’t think I’ll be partaking of the warm, mustard-y delicacy anytime soon.

It goes like this: I was ready for work, which means Aggie gets in the car for a quick trip to doggie day care, and Little Kitty goes outside (kitty door left open so she can come and go). Then, off I go. It was a Monday.

Only my tire was flat. Since I don’t change flat tires, I called Triple A, and began the hour wait. Back inside for Aggie and me, but I forgot something: the open kitty door, which Aggie fits through. Thirty minutes later, Aggie is not at my feet (her usual spot), and I hear a ruckus that sounds like a small earthquake next door. I panicked, thinking Aggie had gone outside, and was trapped in a neighbor’s garage, and being the diva she is, was tearing up heaven and earth to get out.

If only.

Aggie had found the hot dog truck with the hot dog warmer wide open, and full of hot dogs. The little pull-along hot dog truck was bouncing on all four wheels.

I found her with, like, ten hot dogs in her mouth, and hot dogs on the floor, the counters, the driveway, the shrubs, up a tree. Hot dogs were scattered for miles. Aggie was sprawled in the middle of it, looking at me with pure adoration. Truly, how could she have landed a better home? She started howling with satisfaction, alerting all the neighborhood dogs about the dogs.

I tried picking them up, and wiping them off with my shirt, which only made the grass and gravel stuck to them worse. So, I went with option two: leave the scene of the crime quickly. I decided to get Aggie out of there, and hightail it through the hemlocks, back to my side of the brick wall, but Aggie was having none of it. Finally, grabbing her collar, and pulling her with yelps and squeals and clawing at the metal floor to stay where she was, I managed with brute force to pull her away from the truck. Just in time for Triple A to drive up.

I’m going to confess. I acted 0h-so-innocent to the neighbors. What? Hot dogs everywhere? My goodness what do you think happened? Aggie was already in the car, crafting her story for her doggie friends at day care. All about her morning in the hot dog truck. It wasn’t the idea of repaying them for the hot dogs. (How much can a box of hot dogs cost?) It’s them, my neighbors. They’ve intimidated me ever since I accidentally cut down their tree (so another story for another time). After the tree incident, I just couldn’t own up to the hot dog incident. Plus, I was already late for work due to my tire, and I saw no reason to compound the stress of the day (it’s called justification).

I climbed into the car and found this face waiting on me. Miss Innocent. The duck looks way better than the hot dog truck.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, aggie lives next door to a hot dog truck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming God

How to Pick a God

1. Make sure the god is real.

2. Make sure the god is smart.

3. Make sure the god is good.

4. Make sure the god is loving.

5. Make sure the god is not destructive.

6. Make sure the god cares about you, and isn’t just using you.

7. Make sure the god does not want all your money.

8. Make sure the god is not a myth.

9. Make sure the god is not a celebrity.

10. Make sure the god is not yourself.

11. Make sure the god understands you.

12. Make sure the god doesn’t die.

13. Make sure the god doesn’t isolate you.

14. Make sure the god isn’t about the drugs, booze or party.

15. Make sure the god doesn’t look like a friend.

16. Make sure the god doesn’t look like a spouse, lover, child or parent.

17. Make sure the god doesn’t look like your therapist.

18. Make sure the god knows you’ve got to have fun too, and not just work.

19. Make sure the god likes you when no one else does.

20. Make sure the god isn’t being discussed on CNN, MSN, Yahoo, or Fox.

21. Make sure the god can hear and answer your prayers.

22. Make sure the god is the most powerful god in all the world.

23. Make sure the god is creative.

24. Make sure the god is holy.

25. Make sure the god can forgive sins.

Make sure your god is God.

Thoughts? Please comment below with your own “make sure.” Blessings, Cinthia

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, crocus rose david austin english roses

Dream of David Austin English Roses

If you’re my College Son you’re currently enjoying 72° days with 66° nights in Costa Rica. If you live on the East Coast, you’re currently enjoying a blast of Arctic air. The lovely rose pictures below are for those huddled by fireplaces and wood stoves, not those donning sunglasses and snapping selfies with the word “Epic” tagged on them. So make a cup of tea, sit back, feet up, in your favorite chair, near the heat, and relish the pictures while dreaming of summertime and roses.

This first one is so lovely it makes my heart hurt. It is The Lady Gardener, a David Austin English rose released for 2015. I think its petals look like paper mâché, and its color like a creamsicle.

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming lady gardener david austin rose

David Austin English Rose | The Lady Gardener | Shrub rose | 3 1/2′ to 4′ tall, 2 1/2′ wide | blooms 4″ across | Tea fragrance with hints of cedar and vanilla

The Lady Gardener was named to raise awareness for Plant Heritage, a national council for the conservation of plants and gardens in England. David Austin maintains the national collection of English roses in their rose garden, located at their Plant Centre in Albrighton, Shropshire, England. The Lady Gardener makes its stunning debut this year, after 8 years of trials, prior. It is so worth the wait.

I spoke with Michael Marriott, the company’s senior rosarian and technical manager this week, not in person, but via phone. He in England at his desk, and I in my car, hoping my cell phone signal would not die, or the heat in the car quit, since it was a whopping 10° outside. In my warm, fireplace-roaring, toasty-comfy house, I can lose cell signal, and while friends and family generally just let the line go dead, and catch up with me later, Mr. Marriott scheduled an hour of his time to answer my questions about the beautiful David Austin English roses. I really didn’t want to see the dreaded “call failed” notification on my IPhone.

My fascination with David Austin (the breeder), and his English roses began at South Turkey Creek with my purchase of Constance Spry, a climbing rose that I used as a climber/shrub over the vegetable garden fence (literally over it, the one rose sprawled up and over both sides). In the world of it-must-repeat-bloom, this rose wouldn’t make it with today’s garden center customers. It blooms only once a year, but that “only” time is perfect, making it more than worthy of the garden space. Besides, I have made my views known on the whole bloom-all-dang-summer topic.  Luckily, most of David Austin roses are repeat bloomers (in my Brevard, NC zone 7a garden, generally 3x a growing season, each time pretty spectacularly), and so folks can have their cake and eat it too.

Mr. Marriott answered a ton of questions for me, but my favorite answer was to this question, “What characteristic are you primarily breeding for?”

“The rose must be beautiful,” he said. “If a plant isn’t beautiful, then there’s really no reason to have it in your garden, is there?”

Absolutely agree.

I’ll share more of the interview with Mr. Marriott later, but for now, while the Arctic air keeps the doors barred, enjoy these lovely beauties, and dream of David Austin English roses.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming david austin english roses constance spry

Constance Spry doing her one-time blooming pretty fabulously.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, maid marion

Maid Marion | Another 2015 release | Fragrant (myrrh, fruity) | 3′ x 3′ shrub | Repeat bloomer

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, Susan Williams-Ellis

‘Susan Williams-Ellis’ | 135 petals per bloom | Blooms May to frost (pretty much non-stop) | Fragrant | 4′ x 3′ | Very winter hardy | Really, are you still going to get a Knock-Out Rose?

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, heathcliff, thomas a becket,

En masse ‘Heathcliff’, ‘Thomas a Becket’, ‘Jubilee Celebration’

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, lady of shallot

‘Lady of Shallot’ a favorite in my small, picket-fence rose garden | Can be a climber (6-10′ tall) or shrub 4′ x 3 1/2′ | Fragrance (spiced apples) | Super disease resistance in my garden that gets 66″ of rain annually

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, 'tess of the d;urbervilles'

‘Tess of the d’Ubervilles’ | Blooms summer to frost | Crimson color | Climbs to 6′ or shrub of 4′ x 3′ | Old Rose fragrance.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, david austin english roses, wisley 2008

‘Wisley 2008’ paired with asters. Blues and purples make good companion plants for roses that have no blue.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking, yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re roses. So much trouble, so much headache. Stop. Just keep dreaming and determining the perfect spot for your rose, and I’ll get on that subject later. Head’s up: its good news for you and your future roses.

(If you’re wondering about the header, it is Crocus Rose.)

So, find a favorite? Have other roses you love? Or are you terrified/exasperated by roses and refuse to plant them? Please share with me below, and let’s chat. Garden chats are always good for the soul.

cinthia milner transplanted and still blooming justbow

#JustBow

I’ve been attending a somewhat unusual Bible Study recently (which I’ll describe in next week’s post).  We worked through Jesus’ parables in the fall, and then finished up with the Christmas story this week. Here’s what we learned from our study together (about 15 of us). #JustBow

I didn’t come up with the clever #hashtag idea. A guy in our group did. But it represents the group consensus. Many in our group had never gotten on their knees before. Not for prayer or worship. Though they believed, they weren’t kneel-ers.

I am a kneel-er during my prayer time (though not always). I am one to get on my knees to petition God especially when I am desperate, which is most of the time. Scripture instructs us to petition God, to ask him for what we need, knowing that he hears us, and will respond.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 #JustBow

But, do you see the key word in those verses? Peace. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds. That’s the answer to the prayer, really. We get on our knees, we petition for our troubles, and we rise in peace. God may answer our petitions in all sorts of ways, giving us jobs, loved ones, health, or not–as he deems best–but the first answer to our prayer is peace. Not worldly peace. but God’s peace. Worldly peace is the lack of conflict. God’s peace is peace in the conflict.

But, that is only the beginning of kneeling. Of #JustBow.

The second part, the part I’ve learned through my Tuesday night Bible Study, is bowing in reverence, and in awe with no petition on my lips. No words at all. So no pouring out of my heart, though many tears are shed in that position, but just quiet bowing before God. Scripture says that the day is coming when every knee will bow in praise and honor of Jesus, even those who don’t want too will.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 #JustBow

That verse speaks of a future day, but I wonder if it doesn’t speak of a present day too. At least my fellow Bible Study mates might concur, as each of us slowly moves from a position of pride or control or even rebellion to one of submission and acknowledgment. Are we prophesying this day or are we already there?

I’m at a time in my life when being anxious for nothing is truly impossible. It would be easier to list what I am not anxious about. That list would have about two things on it. The anxious list has so many it’s hard to keep up. And, there are no worldly answers to my situation. My brain cannot figure things out. A therapist isn’t going to get me through this particular valley. Work isn’t the answer. Manipulation is useless. But I can bow. And, when I do, peace is waiting there. Every single time.

I get out of my bed, or out of my chair, and onto my knees or flat on my face, and I stay there. And, when I stand up, I stand taller, more confident, clearer in my thinking, less afraid. That’s a big one, isn’t it? Less afraid? Because there is no way to live in this world and not be afraid. If this world is all we have, then we really have nothing, and fear reigns. But God gives us another verse, one about perfect love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 #JustBow

To bow is to be perfected in love. Not your ability to love, but your ability to be loved by God. You kneel expecting, really, what is deserved, a punishment. You rise, fully loved, fully redeemed, fully at peace. #JustBow

 

It’s Called Empty Nest & it is a Syndrome

  1. A syndrome, in medicine and psychology, is the collection of signs and symptoms that are observed in, and characteristic of, a single condition.

No wonder we have so many syndromes. Somebody is collecting signs and symptoms and giving that a name.

  1. Empty Nest Syndrome refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes. (Psychology Today)

Note, it does not say feelings of exuberance, joy, relief or downright giddiness. This surprises me. I totally expected to just jump right into this empty nest thing, and soak it up. It has been 25 years since I was alone, as in, all by myself.

So okay, it’s been a DAY since the College Son departed for Costa Rica to do the student exchange thing, and I can officially claim the syndrome of an empty nest. “Hi, my name is Cinthia, and I have Empty Nest Syndrome.”

I realize, for those returning from Afghanistan with PTSD, it just loses something when said out loud. But, this dang house is too quiet. And, I swear, not making it up, someone just tried to open my back door, but they did not because it was locked, and I was screaming. So, instead they ran off, and are presently telling the neighbors, “Um, yeah, don’t try making friends with the lady in the house on the corner. She’s cr-ra-azy.”

Well, I feel a tad crazy. I mean, all the hubbub that goes into getting your 20-soon-to-be-21-year-old son ready to live in a foreign country is crazy making. (As in, in two weeks he’ll turn 21 in Costa Rica. He’ll have his 21st birthday in San Jose. I feel so good about that.) It was/is an emotional roller coaster for this family whose favorite place to travel is Jekyll Island for a two-week stay at the Hacienda where we speak English, and sleep on the beach all day. Adding stress to our lives by experiencing “another culture” is typically not our M.O. because life is stressful enough in this culture, why go looking for it in another one? A real global girl, here.

At any rate, I expect the College Son to come back all tanned, 21, immortal, and ready for the next big challenge. Because he is almost 21. But, me? Well, the Psychology Today newsletter that gives us the Empty Nest Syndrome low-down, says part of the dilemma for we women (and men) whose children are leaving home is that we are also facing  “so many other life challenges.” Like caring for a parent, or losing a parent, menopause (I cannot believe I just wrote that word in public), looming retirement or disabilities. Disabilities? I should be offended. But, as I type, I have my foot propped up because I am in pain equal to childbirth, and assume amputation awaits me. Adding insult to injury, this is not the result of an injury, so clearly, old age has arrived along with my empty nest.

Just a quick note: Let’s catch Psychology Today up with the times. Right after Empty Nest Syndrome is the now popular, I’m Never Retiring Syndrome, shortened to the Remember-When Syndrome.

All in all, first empty-nest-day down, put me down for a no. I preferred my children at age 3. They hadn’t learned the word no yet, were still in my constant care, and loved to snuggle. The problem? It seems that’s about the age I should have started the letting go process. Susan Newman, Ph.D., says in her article on the topic, that the first step into the kindergarten classroom is a benchmark for the first day of pulling back, preparing both child and parents for final departure day.  Okay, so I am WAY behind. Typical me. Now, it’s about the cram.

But, alas, I have no choice. The baby literally flew the coop, and the eagle has landed in a sunny, tropical spot, no less. So, what’s a mom to do? Costa Rica sounds like a nice place. I hear it is a great place to retire. If such a thing existed, I mean. Psychology Today also said I should embrace new adventures at this juncture of my life. So who knows? Maybe I could be a global girl.

cinthia milner, transplanted and still blooming, empty nest syndrome

The eagle in a tropical paradise. (Photo courtesy of SnapChat. Yeah, like those things work.)

FYI: this is a fun blog for empty nesters: Adventures of Empty Nesters

The Definition of Success and the Top 5 Posts of 2014

This is my definition of success: doing what I love.

If my life adds up to a combination of the work and people I love, then I consider that a successful life. So far, so good.

Here’s a few pictures of that success to date.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--definition of success

My “boys” over the holidays

 

I’m guessing every mother would start with her kids, and rightly so. These are mine, two awesome men. My main goal as a parent was that we’d all survive it, and come out on the other side still liking each other. Again, so far, so good. (I’m leaving the reflected light from the Christmas lights in this picture because the oldest thinks it looks like a light saber that he’s about to kill his brother with. Men and their Star Wars.)

 

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--definition of success

YaYa’s 2 favs

Here, I claim nothing. I did nothing to deserve these darlings. This is an example of life throwing you a freebie every once in awhile. Another precious girl is coming in May, expected to arrive on the 4th. (As the eldest son and father of this soon-to-be-child says, “May the 4th be with you.” Again, men and their Star Wars.)

So, if you live long enough, I do wish grandchildren for you.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--defintion of success

A duaghter-in-law helps keep the testosterone level.

 

My daughter-in-law is an inspiration to me. I read this quote once and thought of her. It speaks to success, so it fits here. “Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” —Diane Sawyer That sums up my d-i-l perfectly.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--defintion of success

I’m a gardener, a horticulturist. a blue collar girl. I am proud of these titles. and I never get over the excitement I feel when I tell someone what I do. The awe-factor is still there for me.

As I evaluated 2014 today, it had its ups (a precious granddaughter born in Feb., a fun plant trip in Jan.), and horrific downs (my mother unexpectedly passing away on July 28, too soon for her to leave us), but I am still on course, which for me means staying forward. It also means a Goliath-sized perseverance, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Nothing happens easily. Success is hard work made to look easy. That’s my quote. Feel free to use it.

On that note, my top five blog posts from 2014 are listed here if you want to re-read them, or perhaps read them. These are the posts that seemed to resonate with folks the most. Thank you for reading my scribbles here. I love you muchly.

#1 Advice from a Blue Collar Girl 

#2 One Good Mama and One Bad Mama

#3 Why You Need a Landscape Designer

#4 Getting Off the Treadmill Without Going Off the Grid

#5 Why I Hate Encore Azaleas

Happy New Year, and may what’s looking for you in 2015 find you. 🙂