A few years ago, I shared the vulnerable reflections below. My health was in jeopardy, I was experiencing painful pancreatic attacks daily, and it was difficult to smile. So many folks are suffering with various hurts (physical and otherwise) in 2021 and don’t know what to do with their pain. So we’ll revisit the journey, and I’ll also share a peek at my summer in a video I made just for you. While I’ve grown over the years and my courage has increased, my faith in humanity and the eternal is often shaky at best. Our global crisis has ushered in a tough season for too many families around the world. I’m aware you are fighting a battle. I hope French Pictures: Euro Country Photos & Faithful Reflections reveals something new to you. If it doesn’t, please know I am grateful for your faithfulness in reading me.
French Pictures: Euro Country Photos & Faithful Reflections
Summer 2021: Peaceful Moments Mostly at Home
October 7, 2018: It’s a weary time for our divided country and culture as so many powerful shifts in consciousness, hierarchies, and values throw us off kilter and threaten to steal our joy.
No easy answers hide here within this sanctuary where I try to bring peace and inspiration.
How could there ever be answers when the friend typing these words is so deeply in love with: the questions, the Mystery, the heartful-ness, and the wisdom to humbly juggle so much paradox?
Surrendering to Mystery
Yesterday morning upon awakening, my soul felt shrouded in darkness. Was it residue from social media yesterday? Poor sleep? Random chemicals interacting in the brain? A God who moves as He pleases and works within the nights of souls?
I need not understand the precise mechanics of how or why blessed assurance departs.
If I could trust my medical team last week to anesthetize me and with scalpels and robots extract a digestive organ from my flesh WITHOUT MY UNDERSTANDING, AWARENESS, OR HELP IN THE MATTER, surely I can walk in faith on a dark day.
About the Darkness
My melancholy felt like cynicism, sadness, hopelessness, and negative self-talk of the variety:
“Is personal transformation even possible? Is higher consciousness born of Great Love and Fierce Grace truly attainable? We’re all so inconsistent and sucky at it…where are the models and mature ones to model for us with integrity how to transcend, how to make it stick?”
And also this.
“Why all the unhealed pain and stone throwing? Do people even care about preserving relationships anymore? There’s too much fear everywhere. Too many pointing fingers.”
We all have such days. Our emotions, moods, and energy levels dip low in stressful seasons.
Here’s the thing.
We are not those emotions. Not our moods. We are not our opinions. Not our thoughts, not our darkness, not our wounds, not our disease. We’re not our income, not our addiction, not our occupation, not our political party or tax bracket. We are not our religion, not our good intentions, not our reputation, not our victimhood, not our work ethic, not our track record, not our productivity, not our past.
WE ARE BELOVED SOULS
The other day, I shared what has helped me forgive myself in my physical weakness (my painful condition has kept me irritable for weeks). Maybe this will help you too.
After my grey day yesterday, I was reminded of Henri Nouwen’s thoughts on identity and shifting moods. He writes:
“It is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our moods, God’s beloved children.” -Henri Nouwen
As I marinated in a mixture of hopelessness and cynicism – I began to respond to the angsty funk in a less reactive way. I began to look for the INVITATION from God as one of his beloved children.
An invitation…to surrender, to daily transform, to experience resistance as a force to prosper me, and primarily to SEE the path leading to deeper FAITHFULNESS.
When Light Comes
The invitation did not arise from sitting alone in despair, venting on the phone, or interacting online. It only became clear when my husband suggested a car ride into the countryside just before dusk.
We discovered new wide open spaces neither of us had ever seen, and as the sun set, he made space for me to safely lament.
It was his loving presence, nature, and relationship that helped me seek the grace to put on a new mind. The darkness did not budge, but the invitation shimmered like a full harvest moon in the night sky.
What a blessing that relationship so beautifully creates light where there was none! Light that feels so much like healing and wholemaking that I am convinced it IS indeed healing.
The invitation set before us is always there like the moon.
When I choose to seek it and respond, I can release my mind’s duality and need to judge, dissect, find meaning, or decide. I can let go of my body’s desire for restoration and comfort.
And I can surrender my heart’s longing for emotional harmony.
Only then is my SPIRIT free to align with God (who is closer than breath and embedded in everything in this expanding universe including the beautiful moon).
To respond with my YES to the invitation to deepen is to be ushered into the warm embrace of what is True, Real, Everlasting, Timeless, Beautiful, Holy, Sacred, Eternal, and Mysterious.
With my whole heart, I am sending you the peacefulness of a soul whispering
French Countryside Goodness to Uplift
What do French pictures of countryside and rustically elegant yet unfussy interiors have to do with any of these reflections anyway?
I’m not sure I really understand the intricacies of the connection.
That’s mystery for you!
French Country Decor Inspiration
However, I understand a little bit of the deeper meaning.
After all, what you are observing here is history, age, timelessness, imperfection, weathering, and patina.
Such beauty takes time!
Encouraging Words to Lift Our Gaze
And we are so often in a rush for comfort and healing, yes?
Perhaps the distressed finishes, wear from age, and even the maturity of the trees open the eyes of my soul.
The daily grind and modern cultural woes can draw our attention away from timeless beauty.
So I gaze, not so much with a hunger to acquire or even experience, but with a reverence for things aging gracefully.
Let’s face it. We’re all aging with different perspectives and mindsets.
I’m no longer interested in making it look easy or glamorous. What feels more authentically true to me is that aging demands a new reliance upon fierce grace.
Such grace does not arrive in pretty packages with tidy bows on top.
In fact, so often I don’t even recognize grace as it arrives. It is only with a bit of distance, I can see that what I pointed to as a curse, was in fact, a gift of grace.
Words of Hope & Direction
Here’s the thing about getting centered in goodness: it can begin with the small things.
Noticing the goodness of a blooming flower or the attractive developing patina of an aged pot can be a starting point.
The sparkling wonder in a child’s eyes can be a starting point.
The way the breeze blows your hair just before the rain comes can be the start too.
When Shadows Come
Collecting goodness can bloom into quite a flourishing bouquet.
Because when we begin to sense there is a common thread running through it and even holding it all together, something remarkable happens.
Grace helps us to see that we too are a part of such goodness.
We’re made of it; we hail from it, and we are journeying closer to it each day.
French Country Design Loveliness
Living in a spirit of unknowing is not for the fearful or the certain.
I’m afraid the most religious people I know also seem to be the most fearful.
Unknowing requires an uncommon openness to all of reality and deep humility.
Because without such childlike humility, our hearts grow hardened and easily offended.
Nature’s Wisdom in Full Bloom
The French countryside invites me into a more relaxed milieu.
Beautiful gardens do this too. We slow down and remember there is a world of beauty right under our noses.
We remember how life is truly a gift, however fleeting.
And we soften into a more surrendered posture, mirroring what the earth teaches.
Lovely French Farmhouse Decor Finds
Of course what I’m describing (and describing imperfectly!) about personal connections between French country beauty and spirit may be how you feel in the presence of a particular art form.
Listening to a particular passage of music may do it for you. Sometimes I describe it as ‘getting my soul set free.’ There are just too many distractions in modern life where the soul gets bound.
Fantasy Country French Dining Room
While my own sensibilities lean toward neutral interiors, I admire the way others use color as mood enhancement.
Can you imagine what buoyancy this green dining space must evoke?
Thank you for sharing all these colors with me. For reading these stream of consciousness thoughts with such tenderness.
As I sit here, my fingers typing, my eyes often closing, I never know just where the words will land.
So I open myself to a trustworthy energy and do my best to get out of their way.
It’s maybe more like being a window than an unchanging, finished painting.
I invite you to allow yourself to glimpse the unnamable goodness in the beauty you see here and around you on your daily journey.
And I invite you to begin to see that you are a part of the beauty; made of the same divine stuff.
Because you are.
And if you admire timeless beauty as I do, maybe you will begin to recognize the ways in which time lovingly enhances a thing. How moving backwards would surely subtract a layer of evolved loveliness since “fresh” is a relative term.
For evolution is always a gateway to the new and the fresh.
So we can welcome it without fear.
French Country Decor Inspiration
I wish you hope if your days are less than hopeful.
And I wish you endurance as you move through problems and fresh trials.
I wish you eyes to see the beauty all around, and…
Peace to you right where you are.
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Wishing you a speedy recovery. Bon courage.
I hope the beautiful photos you collected made you feel as zen as they made me feel.
Merci, friend. While delicious food cannot yet soothe me, dreamy countryside zen will do. 🙂
What beautiful pictures to calm an anxious mind. It has been one year to the day that we escaped a California wildfire with just our dogs. We lost everything of 50 years of marriage. We are very thankful but have had many anxious moments. We have resettled near our daughter and grandchildren. We are only looking forward.
Looking forward is such an important reminder to us – and what a journey you have been on this year. With so much loss, I can imagine the heartache and uncertainties you have navigated. Escaping fire with only each other and managing to recover gratitude is surely transforming – I am so grateful you have made this space more beautiful by blessing it with your story of hope. Peace to you as you continue to heal and grow.
God is in control! Romans 13:1
Peace to you this morning, friend. xox
Highly inspiring on a very dreary day in my little corner of the world. It brings much needed sunshine! 🙂
Thank you for sharing the beauty with me – the sun is peeking through my clouds this very moment and your light is coming. xox
Thank you! It’s the positive thoughts that fill us with hope. I always feel invigorated when I click on Hello Lovely to read your words and take in the beauty of the scenes of life.
God bless you, dear
It’s lovely to have you here, T. xox
The images are beautiful and your words leave me speechless. I will read them again and again!
Peace to you, Michele!
I’ll take speechless – thanks for the encouragement and for reading, friend.
Michele, your resolve and words of faith and encouragement are helping me right now as we all struggle with a relative’s serious illness.
You are truly inspiring. Peace to you everyday. Love your blog.
It is a great encouragement to hear this, and I am thinking of you and yours navigate this difficult time together. Thank you for the peace, don’t we all need it with each new day and the new cares which arise? Sending you light from my happy heart. xox
That was so beautifully written! What an incredible perspective you have shared. It makes me more grateful for challenges we face! Thank you for being that positive light!
I appreciate the kind words – thank you for reading and peace to you.
Another post full of Grace & encouraging words of truth…soothing to the soul as we can all relate to suffering of some sort in our lives. Amen to your words that faith is not a feeling…such a great reminder! There’s a word picture I heard before that illustrates your point so well: picture a train & the engine is God’s word, the caboose is your feelings and the coal car in the middle is our faith. We must CHOOSE to put our faith in God’s word(the engine) and not in our feelings which are so often not true(the caboose)- in order for the train to run correctly. You can’t run the train by the caboose, baby!! As we place our faith in God’s Word (the truth) then our feelings will fall in line in time like the caboose. Loved your summer video & seeing your grands & the foxes again…I spied Meomi which is our fav wine! Thx for sharing The Flying Dutchwoman & Haven In…I got lost in their photos. Praying you are experiencing relief in your health situation and that it will continue indefinitely, friend!
What a gift to be joined on this journey by you. Your faithfulness to the blog and friendship is such a lovely layer of beauty for someone like me who is often lonely and lost within a competitive web. Thank you for this picture of the train and giving us rich food for thought. Oh that I might grow in wisdom and be given fresh eyes to see the caboose for what it is and isn’t. Peace to you, Amy. xox
Hey Amy – I noticed someone has a question for you in the comments in this post: https://www.hellolovelystudio.com/2021/02/white-house-exterior-paint-colors.html
Michelle, I’m a little late catching up here but I have to say…Inspiring! Thank you for making my nights when I get to visit Hello Lovely. And Thank You…for being you. For being so courageous. For being inspiring. For keeping the faith.
Thank you for paying it forward and making my night, friend! Peace to you and thank you for the kind words. 🙂
Beautiful photos and lovely inspiring phrases to help us through our days. We in Australia are heading towards summer and our bushfire season so we have sympathy and understanding of Linda’s and others loss. I loved the saying from Audrey Hepburn and “keep the faith” . God’s blessings to you all.
Thanks so much for reading with tenderness and for the blessings – wishing you grace and peace as you head into summer. Best to you and yours in Australia, Carryn. 🙂
Thank you for your deep, meaningful and inspiring thoughts. Lovely photos from a truly lovely woman. Wishing you lots of happiness and sunny days ahead.
So grateful for your visit today and the kind uplifting words. Peace to you, friend. Right where you are.
such a long time has passed since you wrote those amazing & lovely words. I pray that this now finds you healed in body & spirit. God Bless You. Several years ago I went through a deeply traumatic episode in my life when I thought I never wanted to wake again. I would love to have read your comforting words then, however, I did survive…a little tattered on the edges perhaps & a different person to before….but your words have encouraged me now & I will certainly not forget them. Thank you
Sending peace and warm thoughts and gratitude for your kind words. I’m so happy to hear about the healing which came to you. My body has not healed, and my circumstances are not rosy. The future remains unclear, but my heart is at peace, my soul rests in the mystery which I have come to trust and love. xox