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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