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“Bloom where you are planted.” – Mary Englebreight

Recently, I have been pondering the mystery of healing, both of body and in spirit.  As sentient beings we seem to be affected deeply by our own thoughts, by the messages we receive from others, and by our surroundings.  All three elements appear to work together as heavy weights, dragging us under, or as updrafts, lifting us closer to warmth and light. The early arrival of spring here reinforces the relationship between light, warmth, and beautiful, flowering renewal.  So, thinking about and tending to our own minds, our relationships with those close to us, and our home life vitally influence the quality of our lives and, if we foster these elements properly, cause us and our family members to unfurl and reach skyward.

We need to be careful with one another, and demonstrate the love we have in our hearts.  After all, love is a verb, something we do, not just something we feel, which means we must take action.  Also, other people’s emotions and perceptions can influence us if we let them.  Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard neuroanatomist, exhorts us to be responsible for the energy we bring into a room because others feel that energy, and it affects them.

My beloved hubby and I have been reading aloud together from Pastor Joel Osteen’s book, written to help support people through the recession, called It’s Your Time.  In it,  Pastor Joel says a study “found that we can catch each other’s good and bad emotions just like we catch a cold. This study at Harvard followed nearly five thousand people for more than twenty years. The researchers found that happy people pass on their good moods to others they don’t even know. And those good feelings can last as long as a year.

“The same study found that unhappiness can be passed on, too, but that sort of ‘infection’ seems to be weaker than the happy version.  The scientists said that a friend’s happy face has more positive influence on you than a $5,000 raise.  The message is that even in tough economic times, hanging out with happy friends and family members can keep your spirits high.”

Recently I have seen this phenomenon first hand and watched kindness, love, and good cheer have actually helped to heal my dear auntie who has been in the hospital and subacute rehab for several weeks now.  She arrived not only physically ill, but despondent and dirty with matted hair.  The health care staff in charge of her care keep upbeat attitudes, smile constantly, and treat everyone with respect.  First, they bathed her. Then, they dressed her in her new clothes, which I and other family members purchased and brought over, in beautiful colors (either vibrant or soothing), that are soft against her skin, and that flow enough for her to wear in therapy.  Her grandson treated her to a trip to the in house salon to get her hair done. Those of us who love her visit regularly and talk about pleasant memories or share new lovely experiences we’ve had.  Her bedside table is stacked high with interesting books, positive magazines, and Christian meditation books.  The rehabilitation staff fill her days not only with physical therapy but also with engaging activities like bingo, Las Vegas Night, or live music.  My aunt’s heart has been warmed (as we let the doctors care for her body), and her spirits have recovered so much that she asked her grandaughter to bring shiny bangles and earrings from her home to wear with her new workout clothes, though she remains confined to a wheelchair, recovering her strength. And, her laugh has returned as has the light in her eyes.

As women, we create the atmospheres in our own homes, and we can do so for good or for ill.  As Elizabeth George explains in her book, A Woman after God’s Heart,

“Who is responsible for the quality of life in that place where the family lives?  The woman! She sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere inside the home.  In fact, this proverb [The wise woman builds her house] teaches that if the woman is wise, she diligently and purposefully creates that atmosphere.  She doesn’t just hope it will happen.”

She goes on the explain how a woman determines the atmosphere:

Well, I’ve discovered that in my home I am the thermostat.  I want the atmosphere inside our house to be warm, cheerful, loving, positive, and constructive.  So I try to go to God’s Word each morning and pray, giving Him the opportunity to set the temperature of my heart to match His.  Then I go to work to maintain the comfort of my home.  If things start to get hot (hot words, hot tempers, hot emotion), I set about to bring in cooling, soothing words (“a soft answer turns away wrath- Proverbs 15:1) and words of peace (“the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” – James 3:18).

Likewise, if things start to cool off (cold hearts, cold feet, cold shoulders), I go to work giving a good word that makes hearts glad (Proverbs 12:25), remembering that “a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance” (Proverbs 15:13) and that “he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15).  Such times are a challenge, but as I seek to live God’s way and look to Him for the grace to do so, He gives me the heart, the wisdom, and the words to create a healthy atmosphere.  He will do the same for you as you build your home.                                                         P. 157-158

I found more specific advice and wise counsel inside a book I bought to help plan our wedding by Martha Williamson, Executive Producer of Touched by an Angel, called Inviting God to Your Wedding.  Since Della Reese starred in that TV series, she gave Martha Williamson advice which has given me great insight into how to show my love to my husband and to try to make sure he feels it, every day, while at home.  Williamson says:

My second piece of good advice came from Della Reese.  She…said, ‘It’s a new day, every day. Wake up and thank God for your wonderful man and ask God what you can do to make your husband happy.’ It was a simple yet priceless gift. It’s not about sacrifice or subservience. It’s about power. I have been entrusted by God with the power to be the one person in the world who can make my husband really happy day after day after day. And when I do that, I am happy, too. A note, a phone call, coffee brewing in the kitchen, a song he loves to hear, his favorite meal, a good conversation. These little daily gifts are the evidence of our respect for each other as well as our love.

When I was growing up, my father always rose very early and had breakfast before my mother was awake. Every morning, for nearly fifty years, he would make coffee and read the newspaper quietly in the kitchen, waiting for her to awaken. Often I would sit with him before I walked to school. Only years later did I realize that Daddy never just poured a cup of coffee for himself; there was always another empty cup and saucer sitting beside the coffee pot, set for my mother.  Every day, in a simple, quiet act, he found a way to say, ‘I’m here. I’m thinking of you. I love you.’ Surely there were days of frustration or disagreement.  But never once was that cup absent from the kitchen counter.  No matter what the current challenge, love was always waiting there. – Martha Williamson

In our house, we nurture each other with these kinds of small acts: a gentle smile; a spontaneous hug; a hand brushing the hair off your face as you sleep; a kiss first thing in the morning; unexpected words of appreciation; a thank you for doing daily chores; recognition of an inner character trait, like goodness or sweetness; expressed pride in each others accomplishments.  All of them say, “I see you. I know you. I love all of you.”Compassion, respect, kindness, affection, laughter combine into a healing balm. We all grow in warmth and light.  Light penetrates the hidden depth, into the darkness.  Our hearts awaken and our spirits stir.  We open into the surrounding warmth which stimulates and encourages growth.  Unfurling from a protective crouch we reach outward and upward.  If we work at it, with God’s help, we can create this healthy atmosphere at home for ourselves and our families. Safe, cherished, nurtured.  Our responses to such love is an amazing gift we can give to one another.

So each Sunday in church I fervently pray, “Lord fill me with your light.  Let it radiate through me and out to those around me. Make me your vessel. Use me. Let your Holy Spirit flow through me to love those around me. May your light shine through me.”

Wishing you every blessing,