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Peace in the Haze

  • sharonstults

Peace No Matter What

Understanding God’s Ways for Keeping that Divine Chill Within You

My grandmother, Charlotte Skinkle, lived in a state of calm, divine chill, as her default setting. Married in her teens, mother of four by her young twenties and keeping family and home together during America’s Great Depression, created life experiences that could have caused anxiety and depression in her. But they didn’t.

When my dad and his siblings were young children, my grandfather, Ellery Skinkle, and his best buddy Frankie Stringham decided to build greenhouses as a hobby. They constructed them on my grandparents’ land next door to my grandparents’ house. Ellery worked in an automotive factory during the day, but he entrusted all the care of the greenhouses and the floral design business that grew out of them, to Charlotte.

I know women, (I might be one of them) who might have pitched a fit under such circumstances. All the pressure of a small business added to an already full mothering and homemaking schedule during a time of scarcity and poverty would break some people. Not my grandma.

When I turned thirteen, we moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan to live next door to my grandparents’ home and the greenhouses and floral shop that became known as Skinkle’s flowers. I worked there steadily until I married and made my own home at age 21. For the seven years I lived and worked with my grandma as an apprentice floral designer, I rarely saw her lose her cool about anything even though the floral design business is filled with drama.

There’s the ebb and flow of flowers that customers want that are sometimes available and then sometimes unavailable. Pests and diseases can destroy entire crops of your own homegrown flowers and plants. And then there’s all the intensity of working under the pressure of people who are planning funerals and weddings. Lots of stuff happens that can create tension between designer and customer.

I worked at two other floral shops, much larger than my own family’s business, yet to this day, I’ve still never met a designer who could handle a Bridezilla like Charlotte Skinkle. I remember a time she kept her divine inner chill even when a stressed-out bride was screaming at her about the ivory-colored roses being “too off white.” Charlotte didn’t panic when a customer added more bouquets to their order after we’d already placed our wholesale order for that wedding. I saw her stand peacefully amidst crazy behavior and unreasonable expectations many times without even getting a snarky tone in her voice.

My grandma lived Isaiah 26:3. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. That was the thing about Charlotte Skinkle. There was no one she thought about and talked about more than Jesus, not even her own family. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone since her whose mind was so totally focused on Christ and his Word.

When we worked side by side in the floral design room, the great majority of our conversation centered around the Word.

I shared all my teenage angst and anxiety with Grandma. She sympathized and then spoke scripture to me that fit my needs and confusion. She taught me by example that fear, and anxiety are always optional, not inevitable. I loved being around her. Often, I’d spend more time at her house outside of our work hours, just to be around the peace and calmness I felt in her presence.

Charlotte Skinkle practiced spiritual disciplines faithfully which the Bible recommends for all believers. God has a lot to say about how to maintain our own inner peace and create peace with others.

When I think about the years I struggled for my own peace, I can see now that some of that grew out of my ignorance of the Word. Part of it also came from knowing what scripture said about Christlike behavior but not doing it.

Over the summer months, I’ll be releasing a series of devotionals on this theme, of keeping your divine inner chill. I hope they can encourage you and help you to move closer to the level of inner peace I think every human soul desires.

Until then, try incorporating Isaiah 26:3 into your life as a reality. Take notice of what your mind is tempted to obsess about or worry about or overthink. In those moments, try to refocus and recall good things God has done in the past for you. Move your thoughts towards God’s character qualities of goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and love until you feel that inner hamster wheel slowing down and quieting.

God sent Jesus to make a way for us to live in His presence, in peace. Why aren’t we taking better advantage of that?





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