My Grace is Sufficient

Last week my daughter and I took my two-year-old granddaughter Mia to an indoor super playground for kids called Jumpin’ n Jammin’. I’d planned to sit and watch Mia enjoy all the amazing twisty-turny tubular slides, toy airplanes hanging from the ceiling, and life-size climbing toys, but she wanted “Gramsey” to play too. Unable to resist, I crawled into a huge multi-colored inflatable jumper with Mia and my daughter. It was like being on a large trampoline, only a lot more fun. I soared and hopped and bounced — then, breathless, stopped to watch Mia and my daughter bounce and soar through the air like kangaroos. I held on to one of the inflatable corner “pillars” for a few minutes to soak in the joy of the moment — Mia’s squeals and giggles as she bounded higher and higher, my daughter’s playful antics as she entertained Mia with wobbles and bobbles, their voices blending together like music. (If mother-daughter love has a sound, I think that’s what it would be.)

I don’t think about my Parkinson’s diagnosis very often — at least, I don’t dwell on it — but as I bounced around with my granddaughter in the inflatable jumper, it struck me that in the not too distant future, I will be unable to jump and soar and hop with Mia or her little siblings that will surely follow. It made those few minutes even more precious. As I drove home that day, I reflected on other areas of my life that will someday be acutely affected by the disease — the walks I enjoy every morning, playing the piano, typing (a necessity for an author), photography . . . and the list goes on. Before I knew it I had worked myself into an award-winning pity party.

I had to stop (not literally — I was on the freeway!) and reassess what makes life precious. Is it only the physical movement I now enjoy? Or is it something deeper? When it comes to time with either of my daughters or my granddaughter, it’s just being with them that gives me the greatest joy. Yes, hopping around in the inflatable jumper was fun. But holding Mia after she fell asleep at lunch that day, planting a kiss on that sweet forehead, listening to her sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat after we were back in the car — those moments were even more precious. Unforgettable. And doable in my future.

It seems to me that when faced with a life-changing diagnosis — whether Parkinson’s or cancer — I have a choice. I can fret over what may come in the future. Or I can take delight in the gift of this day, this hour, this moment in time. I can dream those dreams about books I have yet to write; I can take delight in spending time with good friends, “Jeepin” through the desert with my adventurous hubby, and enjoying hot political debates with other rabelrousers. Life is full of wonder! If I’m so busy worrying about tomorrow, I’ll miss out on the wonders of today — treasured moments with my husband or friends, good books to read — or write (!), keeping in touch with the special people in my life with phone calls, letters, and e-mail.

My husband once bought me a license plate holder that stated: So Many Stories, So Little Time. We didn’t know then what we know now about my health. But shouldn’t we all feel that way about doing those things we love each day? Being with those people we love — or touching lives with a phone call or note — as if it’s the last time we can?

Can I trust God with my tomorrows? A dear minister, Pastor Earl Lee, years ago preached annually on Psalm 37. He called it the Cycle of Victorious Living. It’s remained one of my favorite passages of Scripture to this day:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,

And he shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in him,

And he shall bring it to pass.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.

Do not fret . . .

Psalm 37:3-5, 7 NKJV

Trust, delight, commit, and rest . . . and do not fret. Never have these words held greater meaning and comfort. No matter my tomorrows, no matter what challenges lie ahead, his grace is sufficient. And I can rest in that promise.

Posted in Blogroll, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Parkinson's | 3 Comments

Season’s of a Woman’s Life

The following is an excerpt from LETTERS FROM GOD FOR WOMEN, God’s Faithful Promises for You, Harvest House Publishers (a little book I wrote a few years ago).

I treasure you every day.

My precious one,

Consider the seasons. Winter, with its new-fallen snow, covers the seeds of new life in its frozen depths. Spring, with its blossoms and trees, soon turns into summer’s warm, long days. Then, before winter sets in again, autumn arrives with its dazzling show of color.

The rhythm of your life is like that, beloved. Your beauty in Me, your acts of love for others, your servant’s heart, and your sacrifice of prayer will grow and change with each season of your life. There is glorious expectancy in such a plan. No season is more beautiful than another, but each is part of the life cycle I designed.

With you in your tomorrows,

The Lord God

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NRSV

* * *

God makes everything happen at the right time.

Yet none of us can ever fully understand all He has done,

and He puts questions in our minds about the past and the future.

I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life,

because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink

and from the work we do.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12

 

Patterns. Rhythms. Seasons. None more beautiful than another — but each part of our Creator’s design. I don’t know about you, but I understand the glorious expectancy and comfort (!) that comes with belonging to the One who created us with a plan — no matter what season of life we’re in. There is nothing haphazard about his Creation, whether our seasons or the earth’s. There is nothing haphazard about our life journey when we walk beside him. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

 

 

Posted in Blogroll, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Thoughts on Writing and Life, Inspirational Writers, Parkinson's | 4 Comments

A Nap in the Spring Sunshine

This morning I walked my usual two miles in our 200 acre back yard. Also, as usual, I stopped to talk to the animals. Just call me Dr. Doolittle! I have my favorites. After the East African vultures hatched an egg last year then settled in to raise their chick, I talked to them about child rearing. And when the chick grew larger than his parents within just a few months (showing off a wing span of nine feet!), we chatted about the challenges of raising teenagers. Alas, the “chick” was shipped off to boarding school (another zoo) a few weeks ago, but Mom and Pop seen quite happy to have the nest to themselves again.

My other favorites are the warthogs, but they were sleeping in this morning, so we didn’t get to chat. Fenton, our 1000 lb male zebra, was quite talkative today. Actually, lately he’s found a lot to talk about in the wee dark hours of the morning, which always makes us laugh. His bray is much like a donkey’s, only ten times louder. We hear there’s a search on to find Fenton a girlfriend, and we suspect that’s what he’s talking about to the others we hear answering him — the crowned cranes and Ankole cattle.

Speaking of the crowned cranes, it’s almost time for them to start dancing again. At certain times of the year, these tall birds hop back and forth on their spindly legs, flap their wings and jut out their long necks in a rhythmic wobble — their reddish punk-rock coifs gleaming in the sun. The sight can’t help but make you smile. There’s only one sight more entertaining — the humans standing outside the crowned crane enclosure, hopping back and forth, flapping their elbows, trying to get the birds to dance. (I won’t mention how I know this is true.)

But a rare sight was mine this morning. One of our usually shy Cheetas was napping in the sun. I sat down on a bench in the shade of a desert willow, and watched this magnificent feline stretch and yawn, roll over, and rub his ears with his paws– just the way our cats do. For a while, his head was at an angle where his world must have appeared upside down — a feline behavior I’ve always found enviable. I’ve discovered you don’t talk to an animal like a Cheeta. There’s something about the wonder, the awe, the power, the silent and magnificent beauty such an animal elicits. So I sit and watch — and perhaps, even listen — when I’m lucky enough to see one. It’s a sacred moment, one that always makes me consider the God who created this animal.

A little strange, this early morning ritual. I talk to the warthogs, the zebras, and the vultures; I dance with the crowned cranes; and I meditate with the big cats. Then I put my ball cap back on — the one that proclaims, “Life is Good” — and I trot back home to begin another day of writing.
Napping Cheeta

Posted in Blogroll, Books by Diane Noble, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Thoughts on Writing and Life, Parkinson's | Leave a comment

Life Renewed

I love spring, and here in the desert it’s especially glorious. This year I’m enjoying it more than ever — the scent of our little lemon tree blossoms seems sweeter, the birdsong somehow more cheerful, the bursting forth of each new tender sprout of plant life more of a miracle. Brushes with mortality do that to a person. Seasons mirror life, or maybe I should say, life mirrors seasons. We may have summers of basking in the sun, everything right in our world, followed by autumns with beauty so spectacular it hurts our eyes — though there’s a chill that reminds us winter is coming. Then there are the winters of our lives when storms can blow out of unexpected places, so bleak and disturbing, that we are deceived into thinking spring will never come.

One winter nearly a decade ago, my husband and I lived in Salamanca, Spain. The winter was long, dreary, bitter cold, and seemingly endless. The winds blew across the plains, bringing blasts of horizontal frigid rain. We lived in center of the medieval section of the city, and the weather added a wonderful sense of “atmosphere” to the experience (especially because I was writing Distant Bells at the time, which is set in Salamanca), but winter seemed to have settled in to stay. One weekend, we rented a car and drove south a few hours to Carceres to visit some ancient ruins. The first morning, when I opened my window in the Parador — an ancient castle turned into a hotel — to peer out it was as if spring had arrived overnight! Birdsong filled the air. Flowers were blooming and the more glorious sight of all — storks were nesting in gigantic nests on the roofs of neighboring buildings! The air smelled of orange blossoms. We seemed to have magically stepped from winter into spring. It made me think of Narnia when Aslan returned.

Spring is a time of renewal. For me, it’s also a time to rejoice. Last year — after receiving two life-changing diagnoses, one life-threatening, the other neurologically progressive — it seemed that winter had settled in to stay. But spring is here! God’s love and grace and joy and peace seem somehow more precious with each passing day. He sees us through our winters. We may not always feel his presence, usually because we’re too busy worrying about the storm that whirls around us, but he is with us. In fact, he never left us — not for one “winter” moment.

There is a time for everything,

a season for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones

and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to lose.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT

Posted in Blogroll, Books by Diane Noble, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Writers, Parkinson's | 1 Comment

Sunrise on the Desert

Last summer — and I remember the exact date — I decided life was too short to keep putting off those things my husband and I had been talking about doing for years. Sitting in doctors offices awaiting test results does wonders for putting priorities in order. I thought about all those things we always meant to do but put off for one reason or another — usually because we didn’t think we had time. A plan was put in motion, and we carried it out as soon as I had recovered from surgery.

By early October there was an empty spot in the garage where my beautiful little Lexus sports car had been parked. In its place, came my kickin,’ revvin,’ rockin’ and rollin’ Jeep Wrangler. It wasn’t long after that we took off for our first camping trip. Make that, my first camping trip since I camped in the High Sierras with my Girl Scout troop when I was nine. Tom is an old pro at camping. He and his buddies have camped and river rafted in the most primitive of places for years. I don’t do primitive. I require gourmet food, a bathroom nearby, a tent that can zip out creepy-crawly critters, a night-light for reading, and a cushy bed.

Many of our friends can’t understand our fascination with the desert. They’re quick to point out its shortcomings: Too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. Harsh, windy, sandy, uncomfortable. I agree about the harsh conditions. But maybe that’s part of its draw — nature is in charge here. We are but sojourners, the most insignificant of visitors. Our only charge? To be committed to Creation care. And to breathe in its beauty — that rare beauty that not everyone sees.

One of the things I like best about the desert is how it constantly changes. I glory in the beauty of the rocky, jagged peaks, refined by centuries of earthquake upheaval and weathering; dunes, wind-rippled and sparkling in the sun; wildflowers with colors made more glorious because of their contrast with the soft hues of the landscape; oases surrounded by century-old palms and tiny blue pupfish in their ponds; streams that bubble and sing, framed by desert willows, their branches providing shade and shelter to the ever-present roadrunners and songbirds. There is no sweeter song than that of desert birds in the spring.

The most breathtaking beauty of all is the desert sunrise. To take photos, I was up by five, bundled from head to toe. I put on the coffee (Starbucks, of course) and waited with my camera for the first light of dawn. As the sun rose I thought back to the dark days of uncertainty in the summer, and with the Psalmist, I was able to say, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Amen!

diane-jeep.jpg

A happy camper on the old Butterfield Stage Route.

Posted in Blogroll, Books by Diane Noble, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Writers, Parkinson's | 2 Comments

Weathering

 

A friend recently sent me a favorite poem of hers, and it quickly became a favorite of mine as well. She couldn’t have sent it at a better time . . . just after a routine visit to my dermatologist. Here’s the poem:

WEATHERING
My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush
that will never wholly settle.
Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young
forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty
enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.

But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and the
years work all their usual changes.

If my face is to be weather beaten
as well, it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass makes me
indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.

~ Fleur Adcock ~

Back to my doctor’s office visit. We took care of the usual routine, uninteresting matters that prompted the appointment, then my doctor leaned over my face and squinted. “If you’d like,” he said, “I’ll have my assistant talk to you about your eyes–“

My eyes?

He zoomed in for a closer look at the rest of my face, then added, “I don’t see too many age spots but there are those pesky spider veins . . . “

A few minutes later I was undergoing more scrutiny, this time by his pretty assistant whose eyes were bruised from her own recent eye surgery. “Hmm, hmm,” she murmured, nodding. “You would be amazed at the difference you’d see if we removed those fat pads. You’ll look years younger.”

Fat pads? I didn’t know until this minute I had fat pads. “I’m a writer,” I said, feeling the need to defend my eyes. When I’m at the computer ten hours a day, my eyes tend to take a beating . . . especially when I’m on deadline. They swell, get teary, turn red . . .” I sighed and shrugged. “It’s just part of the writing process.”

She didn’t look impressed. She had now moved her magnifying light to the tiny veins around my nose. “Three laser treatments and we can get rid of those.”

“Foundation usually does the trick for me,” I said, quickly calculating the cost of a bottle of Lancome versus three laser treatments at $450 a pop.

She didn’t look impressed with that tidbit of information either. I politely took the brochures, thanked her for her time, and said I would think about it.

That afternoon the above poem landed in my mailbox and I had to chuckle. Weathered? Yes. And proud of it. Every laugh line, every vein (my dad had them too, which somehow pleases me), every freckle (I prefer the word to age spot) is part of my weathering. As the poet so eloquently says, “I am in love with a place that doesn’t care how I look . . . “

The place I love is internal; it’s the place where I celebrate who I am created to be, no matter my age, no matter the tattered-Skin-Horse kind of wear and tear, no matter the fat pads and spider veins or other signs of aging. It is the place that brings a smile as I drop the dermatologist’s brochures into the shredder, then turn once more to my writing deadline.

 

Posted in Blogroll, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Writers, Parkinson's | 2 Comments

Welcome to Diane’s online journal!

Yes, you’ve found the right spot. Bookmark this page in your browser and come back often! You will also be able to access it through my website – www.dianenoble.com. My journal has taken on a new design, but you’ll find the same thoughts and insights as before. If you would like to be notified whenever I post a new entry, you can sign up to do so. For those who signed up for notification on the previous blog site, you’ll need to sign up again on this site. (More about this in an upcoming post.)

I’ll post more later, but for now I’ll leave you with these thoughts from Letters from God for Women:

The Blessings of a Thankful Heart

Dearest Child,

I delight in your thankful heart, daughter, just as you rejoice when someone hugs you in a spirit of gratitude.

When you acknowledge My gifts and blessings, you experience a sense of contentment and awe. Your heart dances with joy.

Look around you; look into the faces of those you love. Rejoice in them. Rejoice in the security of your home. Rejoice in the competence you have in your career. Count your blessings. Take delight even in the small, simple things and know they are all from Me, my beloved.

With blessings and love,

Your Heavenly Father

What I want from you is your true thanks;

I want your promises fulfilled.

I want you to trust me in your times of trouble

so I can rescue you, and you can give me glory.

Psalm 50:14-15 TLB

Posted in Blogroll, Breast Cancer Survivors, Faith, Life, and Writing, Inspirational Writers, Parkinson's | 2 Comments