Living Life, Uncategorized

Should I or Shouldn’t I

I am not a risk-taker. There are pros and cons to that. pexels-photo-555709

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Growing up, I did have a few moments of carefree adventure. For instance, I spent many, many hours riding our horses, galloping down the dirt roads in the middle of hop fields and orchards, and setting up small obstacles, which my horse and I would fly over.

 

 

I drove my Chevy Nova much too fast down the back county roads, while I’m certain my guardian angels were busy trying to keep up.

 

I will end my confessions of reckless behavior right there!

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There is one phobia which kept my feet on the ground for most of my adult life: the fear of flying. A time or two, I would try to imagine myself getting on an airplane and going to my dream destination, but the thought of boarding and taking off on that plane, would cause anxiety to rise up in the pit of my stomach. However, I’ve always said I would do it if it was for one of my children.

 

The point came in my life where it was time to face that fear head-on and conquer new experiences!

 

At the time, I was working for a small but dedicated and growing non-profit organization in my community. As part of the staff, I was to be included in the trip to the annual conference, held on the eastern side of the United States. Although my initial thoughts were filled with apprehension, I was also excited for this opportunity to grow in my job skills, to be part of the growth of this wonderful organization, and yes, I was also ready to conquer the fear that had kept me secluded in my little corner of the country.

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As I prepared for this new experience, I did not allow myself to dwell on fear. I would be in the company of several co-workers, experienced flyers, and the excitement felt really  good!

 

The most difficult moments of the entire adventure were walking onto that first airplane, and the first take-off!

 

As I walked down the corridor towards the plane and it hit me that I was really doing this, I just kept silently talking to myself, “Just breath…Just slow down the breathing, just breath…. Just walk and breath“.

 

Once seated, I was still having that conversation with myself, as my co-worker, who was seated next to me and knew this was a first for me, reassured me and engaged me in light conversation.

I might have appeared to have it all together, but inside, the dialog continued. I did not want to be one of those people who faint. Oh! I could have easily been THAT person!

No, just breath. Slow, steady, intentional… just breath!” And I prayed a lot!

 

The surging power of the airplane during take-off was also cause for my apprehension and calculated breathing efforts, but once in the air, and as I peered out the window, the sight of the earth at that altitude replaced my anxiety with wonder and awe. Once the plane ascended above the clouds, I was certain we weren’t far from heaven itself, as I had never before seen such a thing of beauty as the brilliant sunbeams, shining across the great expanse of clouds, highlighted the texture and depth of each one, and they glowed brilliant white! It was so beautiful!

 

The next challenge involved my short legs moving as fast as they possibly could in order to keep up with my seasoned-flyer co-workers, as they nearly sprinted to the next gate, through these small cities they call terminals, so as not to miss the next flight!

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I’ll never forget it, or all the wonderful experiences as I took in new sights, tastes, and met so many kind and interesting people! This one was worth the risk!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Risky

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Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Some Days Are Just Like That

Writing has alluded me as of late. In light of all the major disasters taking place across this country, anything I had thought about writing seemed quite insignificant in comparison.

 

When I began this blog, my desire was, and still is, to leave my readers with hope, inspiration, and smiles. 

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Well, life isn’t always that easy, is it? Mixed in with those good days of joy and laughter, rainbows and sunshine smiles, there are a few cloudy days, mumble-jumbled emotions and uncertainties. I get it.

 

Some days, it takes more strength than what we currently possess to stand up straight and tall and to find that signature smile. I get that, too.

 

Just being real here, I’ve had more of those kind of days in the last couple of weeks than I have in quite a while. It’s been a struggle, which I’ve kept secretly hidden deep within myself. Many people don’t want to hear about those kinds of days, and to share that with you… is scary. But you know what? I know that you, my fellow travelers in this messy, human journey of life, get it. 

 

So, in keeping with my initial objective, this post will not end without hope. Just know, that on those difficult days, when you are feeling alone in your struggle, that you are NOT alone at all. You can remember that at least one person completely understands and can relate. That would be me. 

 

On those days, be kind to yourself, sip on a hot cup of soothing coffee, or tea. Pray, and be a couch-potato if you need to. Go to bed early and rest well, my friend.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

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Living Life, Uncategorized

That’s Not Who I Am

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My husband and I took our teenage son for a dental check-up, and at the same time, my daughter was to be seen for the tooth pain which remained since her prior appointment, at which time she had some fillings done.

 

That prior appointment, which my husband took her to, was uncharacteristically  difficult and very painful. The cavity was deep, requiring two numbing injections, which still did not deaden all the pain. But she just layed there and tried to get it through it, while squirming and with tears running down the side of her face. You would think the hygienist would have known she was having difficulty and tried to help.

 

When she got home, she was very upset and never wanted to go back. This is the dental office she has been going to since she was 4 years old. So as her parent, I felt it was important to let them know what she had experienced, because it had never happened before. Not to speak badly about anyone, not to get anyone in trouble, and not in anger.

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Fast forward to our appointment yesterday. I am speaking for my daughter, because that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? Advocate for them when needed? Be their voice?

 

We are escorted to a room by a young woman, and Andy and I mentioned to her about Meg’s previous difficult appointment and that she experienced a lot of pain.

 

 

The woman begins talking about their pain management… sometimes there is pain… they do what they can, etc…… never taking a breath, never pausing to allow me to speak, just continuing on and on…. Not showing any concern, no interest in my daughter’s experience, not one word or facial expression of sympathy or empathy. I had not even begun to speak yet. Honestly, I was waiting for a chance to jump in at the slightest pause in her run-on sentences.

 

She then asked what my daughter was here today for. But because I had not been able to speak yet, I back-tracked and tried to tell her about that difficult appointment, not just the pain, but that it was so bad she didn’t want to come back. The woman interrupted me and didn’t allow me to speak. (I have been sitting down this whole time, my husband and my two kids are standing there listening)

 

 

So I held up my hands to gesture for her to wait, and I said, “Listen…”, never raising the tone of my voice.

 

 

She looks at me and says, “I feel like you are being aggressive with me, so I’m going to go get my manager.” And she walks out the door, as I find myself almost speechless, and words fumble out of my mouth as I try to tell her that I am not trying to be aggressive.

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We are all in shock, and I was torn between wanting to laugh and being in total disbelief! What? What just happened? I barely even got to speak. We couldn’t believe what just happened!

 

Let me tell you right now. I HATE confrontation! I hate it with a passion! I don’t do confrontation well at all! I am a peace-lover! I never speak up for myself, and I rarely share any opinion which I think might cause controversy or debate. I rarely speak up about anything!

 

I don’t like feeling like I don’t have the freedom to use my voice like others do, but that’s how I’ve always been. And because I avoid conflict, when it happens it takes a while for me to process it, and it upsets me.

 

 

Another thing I don’t like about my temperament is that when I get angry or upset, eventually, it escapes my body through tears. Just the way I process the adrenalin rush of emotion I guess. And I hate it, because I cannot say what I need to say in the way I want to say it, and the other person just gives me that look, and doesn’t take me seriously.

 

 

So here I go, I advocate for my child, I speak up for her, and this is what happens! 

 

 

Praise God, the manager and the dental tech who came to help were super nice and were receptive and accepting when I apologized that the other woman interpreted what I said as aggressive, and assured them that I did not behave in that manner. And she listened when I explained why I was trying to speak for my daughter. She apologized for the incident.

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But I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with it, even though I don’t feel that I was in the wrong, and Andy assures me that I was not being rude whatsoever. I told my sister I would let it go, and I’m trying.

 

But it hit me on a personal level and has made me question who I am as a person. Is that really how I come across? Is that how other people perceive me as well? I’m not perfect, I get attitudes and have bad moods, too. I get irritated, frustrated, and impatient just like every other living, breathing human being. But aggressive? Really? Is that the impression I leave on people? Am I that horrible?

 

I know where those questions are coming from. They come from my spiritual enemy, the one who knows the things that will knock the wind out of my sails, and rob me of any confidence or joy which abides in my spirit.

 

But here’s what I do know. I know that is not how I’m wired, though I may have moments that I’m not proud of, just like everyone else. God wired me for peace and simplicity, it’s where I’m most happy and content. I like kindness, civility, pleasant exchanges of words even if they are of a more serious nature, hearing others’ ideas, opinions and viewpoints with mutual respect and intentional listening.

 

 

So this is me, shaking this off, not excepting the self-loathing view of myself this has threatened to darken my spirit with. Although I’m certain I will have my share of less-than-amicable moments in my lifetime, I know that is not my true nature, that those who truly know me understand who I am, and the only good thing to come of this situation is that I can be more careful that my words and actions reflect who God created me to be.

 

 

family, Living Life, Uncategorized

If Wishes Came True…

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As a majority of Americans prepare to capture a glimpse of the eclipse about to take place above our beloved country, I find mixed feelings stirring inside me.

 

I am excited about taking part in this rare occasion with my children. It brings back fond memories from my high school years, when my entire school stood on the front lawn as we experienced an eclipse. I want my kids to carry these memories with them and excitedly tell their own children about it someday.

 

And I want it to remind them of the wonders of creation, fashioned and set in motion by God’s very own hands, and I want them to feel in awe at His majesty!

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On the other hand, the more recent conflicts that have taken place in America and across the world leaves me with sadness and a feeling of helplessness. In my tiny, little niche of the world, I don’t know what else to do but to pray, make sure I am guarding my own heart from the darkness of contention and division, keep hope alive, and, if nothing else, wish.

So, if wishes really can come true, here are mine:

 

*That as the shadow of the moon completes its covering of the sun and the new light begins to peek through in beautiful rays, may it also awaken a new heart in those who, today, carry an oppression of hatred which has darkened their humanity, and our homeland.

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*That as the path of the eclipse completes its course, mankind would suddenly see clearly the destructive direction in which it is headed.

 

 

*That empathy would take precedence over coarse speech, the need to express oneself through violence, or the need to shout out in contempt at all. Instead, human beings would see one another not just with their eyes, but with their hearts. And as their brothers or sisters speak those things which weigh heavily on their souls, they would find an audience in our ears and compassion in our hearts.

 

Then, it would be the other person’s turn to share, and they, in turn, would feel heard. 

 

*That, the crest of the moon shadow which cuts away the sun’s rays, would also cut away from every human being the callous, hardened shell of hate, and reveal the vulnerable  heart of mankind. Hearts which all have the same basic needs: to be loved… to be heard… to be valued…

Faith, Living Life

Come & Rest

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I offer these well-known and comforting words spoken by Jesus as He beckoned those who were weary to come and rest in Him.

Days become weary… we robotically replay daily routines until they morph into one big blur. Some days are just like that, and we feel the need to take a break and rest.

Do you ever feel the need to lean against someone and just release all that heaviness you’ve been carrying around?

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I remember, as a small child, laying against my step-dad’s chest, listening to his long, heavy breaths going in and out, while feeling his firm chest rising and lowering beneath me. Though not soft and pillow-like as a mother’s embrace, that strength and rhythm felt strong, yet soothing.

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As you become relaxed and still in quiet commune with God, feel His strength. Let His Spirit wash through your soul and sooth, as you are renewed and restored. Lay your head on the bosom of His majestic strength and feel the rhythm of His unfailing love for you.  Listen for His quiet, soothing voice saying, “Come, just rest”.

 

Here are some songs that bring me much comfort when I need to put everything else aside and just bask in who Jesus is and His love for me.

 

Enjoy

 

MercyMe- I Can Only Imagine

Kari Jobe- Be Still My Soul

Kari Jobe- Fall Afresh

Playlist Simply Worship #1

 

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Until Then Dear Friend-Yet Will I Praise 2

 

Today, I learned that my sweet friend left this earth last week, while I was out of town. I am so thankful that I was able to stop by and see her last Sunday. I knew her time here was short, and though she could not respond, I was glad to see her one last time.

 

It was this dear friend who inspired one of my writings just a few weeks ago, as seeing her firmly rooted in her faith in God inspired me so much.

 

So to honor her, I am reposting this previous entry. Perhaps you will remember it, or are reading it for the first time. Either way, may you find hope and encouragement as you read of her courage and resolve.

 

Rest in peace, my friend.

 

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Yet Will I Praise

 

 

I was visiting an older, dear friend today who recently suffered a stroke and is experiencing significant physical effects, as well as having to leave her home and she is in the middle of trying to adjust to this huge change in her circumstances.

 

She expressed her unhappiness at her situation, understandably. Who would ever plan for something like that? Who would ever wake up in the morning and think that by the end of the day, life was going to look entirely different?  Nobody, of course.

 

As several women today gathered around her to offer encouragement and prayer, even in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and unanswered whys, she firmly proclaimed her trust in the God she serves. Her body is not cooperating in the things she wants to do, but her voice is giving her Lord Jesus sacrifices of praise!

 

Being unsure or apprehensive isn’t a lack of faith. It affords an opportunity to face the circumstance, and then look up to the heavens and confirm who God says He is. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest! That’s when we lean on His strength, and we persevere and trust in His steadfastness! That’s not always easy to do!  Seeing that resolve in this dear woman is truly encouraging!

 

So all I could think of was this assuring passage in my favorite chapter in God’s Word.

 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12

 

 

My sweet friend, while in the center of this chaos, though the fight ahead is daunting and unsure, is finding strength and hope in this truth, that the God she loves will never leave her side.

 

That is the hope that every human life needs. In God, there is hope.

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PenguinPrompt-Persevere

 

family, Living Life, Uncategorized

Once Upon A Time….

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Our love story began long before we ever said “I do” .

 

Once upon a time, there was a 17-year-old young man, handsome, charming, already entering his adulthood. Already full of life experiences, living life to the full, sowing his wild oats, the good and the bad.

 

He and his family were acquaintances and friends with a nice family in the community, a young mother raising her 8 children. His siblings would hang out with the kids of this family, going to school together, going to church together.

 

This young man also knew the family, from the oldest to the youngest, a little, brown-eyed baby girl.

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He grew into a strong, hard-working man, becoming highly skilled in his trade over the course of the next several years, becoming a husband and a dad, and growing grounded in his relationship with Christ.

 

 

In the mean time, that little baby girl was growing up into a young woman in a loving family, with happy childhood days, learning what life was all about, making some mistakes along the way, and growing to love the Lord.

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As a young teenager, she prayed to the Lord about the kind of man she wanted to marry someday. He should be tall, handsome, hard-working, and most importantly, a Christian man.  He would treat her good, and be kind.

 

 
Ironically, or perhaps revelatory of the future, they both happened to attend a Halloween party when she was about 16. It just so happened that she arrived dressed as a man, and he wore a full, womanly costume, complete with a long, blue dress (generously stuffed!), dark wig, and heels. He was quite attractive, actually!

 

One of the party games was The Newlywed Game. Don’t ask me how this fit with a Halloween party, but at that time, it was quite popular and well-known.

 

Guess who was paired up as a couple? And guess who won the whole game? Yep!

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Fast forward a couple more years……

 

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She was now 18, mature, getting ready to graduate from high school, and full of anticipation and dreams about life.

 

 

 

 

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He was now 35 and single.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in town visiting his family in the early 80’s, he went to church with them one Sunday, and she, being a member of the congregation, was also there. Through their friendly conversation, she shared about some minor struggles in her life. He offered a listening ear and a friendship blossomed.

 

A drive to get a soda… good conversation… a friendly game of bowling… soon, their mutual feelings of affection grew undeniably.

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The difference in their years was a clear consideration for both of them. One evening after church, he said to her, “I sure wish you were ten years older.”, to which she replied, “I sure wish you were ten years younger.”

 

Somehow, the vast span of their ages became less significant, as their love changed the perception of time.

 

In the end, they couldn’t deny their love for one another, and as the old cliché goes, “it was meant to be”. A few months later, they were married in that same small church, surrounded by their loving families.

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This love story is my own, and that handsome young man, my husband. No one could have predicted that one day, that young man and that little girl would fall in love and merge their very different lives into one.

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Yet, now, an unbelievable 34 years later, we continue our paths together, the good times and the hard times, going through life’s changes while holding onto each other.

 

As we celebrate our 34th anniversary, I dedicate this post to my wonderful husband, my friend, the one I love.

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Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Simmer Down Mama Bear

Sometimes, I get a little stinky.

 

My attitude, that is.

 

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Sometimes, my mama-bear claws come out and I want to start growling in defense of my young one. I don’t want to use the nice words and have a heart-to-heart talk laden with honey and sweetness. I just want to roar, “Hey! That’s my baby, and knock it off!”

 

 

But, nothing good is going to come from that approach. (I tried already, to no avail.)  I know my only choice is to bite my tongue, breath and simmer down, lest I make the situation worse. You mama’s and papa’s know, when it comes to our babies, that’s not easy to do!

 

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But when the choices made by another person are beyond my own control, what other solutions are left? It leaves me angry, frustrated, and feeling helpless.

 

So, I mentally give it to my Lord, take some deep breaths, and try to, as that infamous song says, “Let it go!, Let it go!”

 

I also want my child to learn a better way to manage these situations in life, being careful not to adopt the characteristics being exhibited by this other person.

 

I don’t want to harbor bitterness or contempt in my heart. It almost literally hurts in my gut. It’s not good for me.

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So I pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

 

 

 

For I cannot change that other person, I am not responsible for their actions and stinky attitudes. But I am responsible for my own.

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So even though that circumstance has not resolved yet and I see no signs that it will be in the near future, I will pray for my child and for that person who can’t see beyond her own self at the present time.

 

 

Lord, I give this circumstance to you. I trust you.

Living Life, Uncategorized

Laugh Out LOUD

What kind of laugh do you have?

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Is it more of a little giggle? Do you suppress it, maybe covering your mouth so as not to show your grin? Maybe it escapes in little snorts, or chuckles.
Does it come out in loud, short bursts? Or does each round of laughter take you to the very end of your breath, your face turning beet red until you use up every bit of oxygen left in your lungs and you are forced to pause and breathe?
With social media now such an integral part of our communication with others, a lot of our laughter can only be expressed by using the appropriate acronyms: LOL, haha, or ROTFL! They just can’t always convey the intensity of our laughter.

 

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When my sweet granddaughter laughs, she goes all in! No holding back, letting it all out, laughing with every muscle in her face, and full of volume!
She can’t help it and she can’t contain it. She just feels it fully.
I have a niece whose laugh is so contagious, there’s no way you can witness it without being drawn into it, if for no other reason but by just watching her. Full out, mouth wide with joy and sincere delight, spreading into the very sparkle in her eyes! Ya, my family knows who I’m talking about here!

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What makes you laugh? A good comedy or comedian? Hanging out with your friends?
Whatever it may be, indulge as often as possible, for life is indeed too short and the cares and weights of it all become way too heavy.
Laughter is good, and we should do it often!

 

The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed. ~Bennett Cerf

Carry laughter with you wherever you go. ~Hugh Sidey

Living Life, Uncategorized

Volunteering

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The year I turned 40, I began to examine my life. By that time, we had celebrated 22 years of marriage, and I had been a stay-at-home Mom for about 18 years and counting, and I was feeling like I hadn’t done anything of great significance with my life.

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So I began to search for a way to fill the void which I felt was present in my life.

 

 

 

God led me to an opportunity to volunteer at a place in our small community which served people during times of crisis. It was, and still is, an amazing organization. During the seven years in which I was involved, I learned many new skills, grew as a Christ-follower, and just as a human being. The education I received in this field taught me how to see people in a different, better perspective, with less judgement and more kindness and compassion.

 

I became involved to make a difference in some way, to someone, and I left feeling that, as much as I may have contributed to that, I received so much in return.

 

My more recent volunteer position has allowed me to gain more work skills and a sense of belonging to my small community. This organization helps those in need through a food bank & thrift store. It was more of a behind-the-scenes role in providing services to the community.

 

I say all this because I want to encourage others to get out there and volunteer.

 

It’s a way to give back, to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, and to take a break from the day-to-day busy-ness of life which seems to cause the days to all blur together in a rush.  Giving away a small part of our own existence to benefit another human being adds lasting value and meaning to life.

 

As a former volunteer coordinator, here are some important things to consider:

  • Many non-profit organizations, especially those which receive no federal or state support, can only function because of their dedicated, reliable volunteers!
  • If you only have 2-3 hours per week or even per month to give, it is valuable.
  • No matter the amount of time one has to volunteer, it is important to be consistent and dependable.
  • Volunteers learn valuable work skills which can be beneficial in future employment.
  • Every community has opportunities to volunteer: schools, local food banks, non-profit thrift stores and organizations, parks & recreation departments, the possibilities are many.

 

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Studies have shown that volunteering not only benefits those who are served, but also those who volunteer.

 

 

 

To learn more about it, and lots of other information about volunteering, here is a link:

 

Corporation for National & Community Service

 

There are many in the world dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.
– Mother Teresa