Teach your moods

Orchids bloom beautifully at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, March 2012

Orchids bloom beautifully at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, March 2012

“Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes…This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.”C. S. Lewis

The exquisite blooms pictured above are made possible by a carefully controlled environment, and skilled horticulturists who gently train them to grow along much stronger stakes fastened to the stems.  As wondrous as nature can be when left undisturbed, there is a place for the patient cultivation, informed by science, that enables us to enjoy flowers from other climates and regions that we may be unable to visit on our own.

This is a parallel to what I now seek to do with my mind, heart and imagination in an emotional climate that is currently rife with potentially destructive storms and intolerable extremes of temperature.  I try not to be unforgiving of my own moods, especially under the circumstances.  But from a strictly practical point of view, if I am to survive and be helpful to others, I absolutely must learn to teach my moods “where they get off,” to quote Lewis.  You, dear readers, are helping me to do just that, with your supportive comments, kind thoughts and faithful prayers for us.  May your kindness return to you in beautiful blooms from new and unexpected directions.


  1. Dearest Julia — You address us with the words:
    “You, dear readers. . .” Personally, though I mounted the pulpit twice, yesterday, and delivered sermons intended to strengthen a “weaker stemmed” congregation of mountain folk; doubt that I rise to the “stronger stakes” metaphor you so ably employed in today’s blog entry. Old Clive Staples Lewis was right about moods, as he was right about many things. It is hard to believe that on November 22nd of this year, he will have passed on to his reward a half-century ago. Yes, the exact date of his death coincides with that of the young president, across the Atlantic. A fiftieth anniversary is coming up, for two men so very different in make-up and faithfulness.

    • Eric, when I visited the old church in Haddington Quarry where Lewis is buried, I was surprised how difficult it was to find his modest grave among the others; the way to his grave is almost unmarked, with only a tiny sign to indicate he is buried within that graveyard, and a flat memorial stone that cannot be seen from a distance. Engraved on his memorial stone beneath the date of his death were the words “Men must endure their going hence.” While that epitaph is said to have originated much earlier in his life, I could not help but connect the words “their going hence” to the coincidence that C. S. (“Jack”) Lewis and J. F. (“Jack”) Kennedy both died on the same day.

  2. Thanks Julia. This morning I really need those inspirational words. Your writings are a sanctuary of hope! Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it but God will never leave you nor forsake you! That’s right–just like you commented today, it’s all about faith!

    • Renee, I am so happy to visit with you here; we missed seeing you on Sunday since we were in NoVa and went to church up here. I needed YOUR words this morning! Thanks for reminding me. I pray you will have a week filled with blessings.

  3. I adore orchids as they are fragile and yet they bloom for such a long time. Perhaps you are like them as well ~ beautiful, fragile and yet with an inner strength which continues to allow you to blossom for a long time! Hugs to you xo

    • I appreciate your beautiful words, and your visiting here. I had never thought about the fact that orchid blooms do last much longer than many other flowers. I am encouraged by your words today; thanks so much!

  4. You, dear kind and beautiful Julia, present daily riches to us through your images and thought-provoking prose. Your honesty gently reminds us to be grateful for small gifts and for large ones – and to remember if we (and our loved ones) have our health, we should embrace it and send big Thanks. You are also teaching us creative and spiritual ways to tackle Life’s disappointments while never losing sight of the Light.

    Thank you for sharing that Light with us.

    • Z, your kind words are such a gift this morning, as I have been feeling quite blue the past few days. I am always delighted to learn that compassionate and talented people such as you are enjoying what I post. I really appreciate your visits here.

  5. Mood swings affect me a lot, but these days I am able to analyse them and keep them under control before it starts to affect those around me.

    • Bindu, that is a very important ability to develop and I’m working on such right now. Sometimes it’s hard to step back and see myself and my circumstances objectively, but I often remember some of my father’s favorite words: “nothing is ever as good or as bad as it may seem at the time.” When I feel elated, I try to be grateful for my excitement and realize it is a temporary state; when despondent, I try to remember “this too shall pass.” Thanks for being here!

      • Great words to remember!

        • Thanks so much, I need to remind myself of this so often!

  6. Excellent! Great quote and terrific commentary! Hits home!!

    • Barb, I’m so glad you like it! As moms we have to keep going under all circumstances, so prevailing over our moods is sometimes a crucial part of getting through the day. I appreciate the honest sharing in your blog.

  7. Carlyle

    C.S. Lewis thoughts on using faith to train your moods I may modestly relate to my oft repeated admonition: ” On the path to inner peace, the studied ability to adapt to change is vital.”

    • Daddy, I agree! In fact, the older we get, the more crucial it is to be able to adapt. As Ashleigh has said, “Constant change is here to stay.” 🙂

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    Thanks Julia. I actually visited the Botanical garden in 2007 visiting my son there in Marietta. It is probably the best display of orchids I have ever seen.
    Someone said our moods are like the weather; ever changing and unpredictable. Yes faith is much deeper.

    • I grew up in Atlanta but had never visited the Botanical garden before the day I took that photo, as far as I can remember. They do have an impressive orchid display. I’m sure more photos of them will show up on this blog eventually. My moods really do change as often as the weather, and frequently coincide with it! Sunshine makes me feel sunnier.

  9. Mike Bertoglio

    Of course in nature many orchids are up in the crooks of tree limbs- epiphytes?- living off nutrients and being “staked” to something much stronger. That might say something about faith; remembering to stake ourselves to a Higher Power.

    • Mike, that’s a very good observation, one for me to remember right now. I didn’t realize orchids grew in trees. I have just added a new word to my vocabulary notebook! Yes, I really do keep one, just for fun. I love learning new words. Thanks!

      • Carolyn

        Hi Julia, the flowers are beautiful. I wish I could grow some but I don’t have a green thumb. I do pretty good with flowers outside but not inside. Take care and have a good day. Carolyn

        • Carolyn, I’m the same way, and I don’t always do good with them outside either! To me they are like children; you can never tell how they will turn out! Some thrive and some struggle, even in the same spot with the same care. When we first moved to California in 1990 (on the central coast) I had fabulous results with gardening and thought, “Hey, I’m pretty good at this.” Then we moved to Hawaii and that illusion was shattered, especially when I put great time and effort into trying to grow anthuriums, with only minimal success. I finally realized that the central coast climate — fog/mist in the morning and bright sunshine every afternoon, followed by cool, misty evenings — is a pretty foolproof gardening environment! Thanks for visiting us here!

  10. I seem to have a constant need to kill all and every house plant I bring home. I’ve really just given in to the kitties. They are relentless about chewing and or digging till the poor plants sends up the white flag and gives up the battle entirely. I’ve never tried to grow Orchids as I’ve heard they are tricky. I do love the look of them so much. In the way of moods and faith, I do my best to carry on even when things are bringing me down. It’s not too often that I get the blues, but everyones life will challenge them at times. That’s what makes all the wonderful days so enjoyable and special.

    • If I had kitties in the house that chewed plants, I’d be so scared because I hear so much about some of the plants being poisonous, and often the information is conflicting. So maybe it’s good your kitties are winning. I have the impression that you’re a pretty happy person, just based on your beautiful crafts and fun blog. But as you say, everyone has low points and it’s helpful to remind ourselves that better times will surely be coming soon, even when it seems impossible to believe that. At such times, I find that pretty photos, pets, crafts and music help me immeasurably. OK, and sometimes chocolate too! Thanks for being here!

  11. Sheila

    Julia, I feel really special this evening, thanks to you! My note came, with the two tea bags and such lovely presentation, that I know it’s a reflection of the lovely lady that sent it. I so look forward to trying it with a merry heart as I think of you. I will write more later but wanted to acknowledge receipt of this. Today of all days…. Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila, I’m so glad you got my little note. I had such a fun time sending out the tea to everyone who requested it. Hope you enjoy it and pretend we are there having a tea party together! I am also hoping that Bill is doing OK today. I know you must be feeling exhausted as we always do on chemo days. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  12. MaryAnn

    My Dear Julia: You have made me feel at peace & filled w/ gratitude to our God!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful insight! I WILL “teach my moods”!
    I love you & pray often for you, Jeff & Matt…

    • Thank you Mary Ann, you are one of the most cheerful people I know! I can’t remember ever seeing you in a bad mood, so you have clearly already done a lot of “teaching.” We really appreciate the prayers!

  13. Kathy

    Thanks Julia, This is an area that I really struggle with. I will practice your advice. I’m never sure which I enjoy more – your insightful words or your beautiful photography. Then I realized it’s the combination of the two – the amazing tapestry that you weave with both!!! What a gift!!

    • Kathy, thanks so much for your kind words. I suppose that I am coaching myself with these messages, so it makes me very happy if others can enjoy or benefit from them. I appreciate your visits here!

  14. HI Julia…just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Inspiring Blog Award. You can check it out on my blog.

    • Thanks very much Katie! I appreciate the encouragement and I’m so happy you like the blog.

  15. Susan

    Beautiful, thank you so much. May God continue to be with you and your family through the storms, sun and gentle rains.

    • Thank you Susan, I appreciate your visiting my blog and your comment!


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