TGIF – Gratitude Friday

Top three things I’m especially grateful for this past week:

1.)    God speaking to me through a devotional of the danger of falling into the pit of self-pity at the exact moment I needed to hear those exact words.

2.)    Taking my precious granddaughter, Zoey, to church, and sharing such an amazing time with such an amazing little person.

3.)    Touching base with my husband and each of my children, knowing they are safe, healthy, and happy, letting each know I love them more than anything, after an emotionally difficult day of losing two people in my life – an aunt and a co-worker.

God is so good!

I would love to read what you’re grateful for this week.

Peace.

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Bucket List

bucket list

It’s never too late to start. Anything. And everything.

Start to achieve dreams.

Start to really live.

Start to love more.

Start to let go and forgive.

And to start that bucket list that has up until now only been a passing thought. Maybe passing through a few times.

I’ve thought about what my bucket list might include–if I had started one. However, if it wasn’t in writing it was simply that, a passing thought. And passing thoughts typically don’t result in action.

So I’m starting a bucket list, and when something to add passes through my mind, that, too, will be written on the list. Something concrete is more likely to be achieved than something floating aimlessly around one’s mind.

My Bucket List includes:
1.)   Travel to Scotland and Ireland

2.)   Learn how to play the piano

3.)   Become friends with ten people from different countries

4.)   Publish a novel, self-publish and traditional

5.)   Perform a random act of kindness every day for a month

6.)   Ride in a hot air balloon

7.)   Ride on a train (preferably not hobo style)

8.)   Pray for a stranger every day for a month

9.)   Take part in a silence retreat

10.) Travel to Ireland

11.)  Learn to flyfish

12.) Go deep-sea fishing

13.) Visit my Compassion sponsored kids in Africa

14.) Make a conscious effort to live life to the fullest–every day.

I would love to read what would be on the bucket list of those reading this.

Peace.

TGIF – Gratitude Friday

So I’ve decided to add a new weekly gratitude post on Fridays, naming the top three things I’m incredibly grateful for from the week. There are so many things to be grateful for, but the top three are what I plan to mention.  I would love for anyone who reads this to add your top three as well. Let’s get the gratitude meter skyrocketing. 🙂

I’m grateful for:

1. The all around freedom we have in our country and for the men and women who have, and continue to, fight for us that we are able to keep that freedom.

2. My 21-year-old son meeting me at home for lunch, sitting at the kitchen table with me while we eat, talking to me so openly and so filled with joy and enthusiasm, revealing what’s in that beautiful 21-year-old mind.

3. The joy and freedom I feel while running outside in the sunshine on a beautiful, warm day. My mind is the most creative then and I can come up with so many ideas for stories, or simply pray.

Wishing you a Beautiful Weekend.

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#SOSVENEZUELA Please Read

In Her Words Avenue

I write with tears in my eyes, tightness in my chest and fire in my fingers. I speak to you who are reading this, to help me pray and support my beautiful country Venezuela during these difficult times.

Students are fighting for their rights to speak up against the government system and express their freedom of speech. Why are they assaulted, harmed and killed by the authorities that are supposed to protect them? Why parents, single mothers and elders are made to wait in long lines to find the most essential things to live like toothpaste, paper toilet, soap, milk, rice and medicine to say the least? The TV channels are censured to only show what the president has to say? Why does the social media completely shut down when exposing reality? Why do the people have to live in constant fear? Why can’t my generation and the next one…

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He Sees – And Still He Loves

Matthew 28-20

Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
(b) “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Sometimes when I read the Bible a verse that I’ve read a dozen or more times will jump out at me with a whole new meaning. This is one of those verses. So many times I have read this and found comfort without giving it a whole lot of thought.

Today I thought about it.

And not only did it bring the usual comfort, but discomfort as well. Or maybe it was conviction. Do I live my life as though He is with me always? Would I be okay with Him seeing how I live each day? I have to admit most days that would be a big resounding “No!” Rather, I would be ashamed if He saw me:

Exhibit that eye roll at someone’s suggestion.

Firing off that angry email in response to another’s.

Cheating the system, just this once.

Offering harsh criticism and judgment instead of acceptance.

Exhibiting contempt rather than love.

Feeling entitled rather than grateful.

That all-to-quick sharp human retort.

Turning a blind eye to someone in need because I don’t have the time to be inconvenienced.

Hoping not to get caught because no one is around to see? Busted!

Psalm 73:23 (NKJV)
“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand.”

And though I may think at times, “Well, I’m not so bad, because at least I haven’t been as bad as so-and-so.” I don’t believe God measures in degrees. Rather, I believe He sees it simply for what it is–the condition of the heart.

He is with me always, to the very end of age.

Reading and meditating on this verse today has led me to a desire to want to live my life more intentionally. To be more aware of my words and actions, and to be proactive rather than reactive. To extend love in all circumstances, and to live my life in a way that shows gratitude and honor at being the daughter of a King. To love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, extend grace, as He extends grace.

To bring Him joy as He is always with me. To the very end of age.

Electronic Disconnection

Cell Phone

I’ve blogged about this exact thing once before, and as much peace as it brings when I do it, I still don’t seem to practice it nearly enough. Electronics can pull more energy from relationships than they add.

It makes me sad when I see a young child talking to mom or dad who is more connected with their cell phone than with the child.  Does that parent know that they can never get that moment back again?

My heart bleeds when I’m at the coffee shop and see a child with mom or dad, the child a happy chatterbox, full of animation, trying to get the attention of the one they look up to and love so much, but mom or dad is too connected to their open laptop to notice.

Or the couple at the table next to me in a restaurant, no conversation to be seen or heard, while one–or both–of them are texting, surfing the Internet on a cell phone, or watching the game on the TV hanging near their table.

And then there’s the occupants of the car next to me at a stoplight, each texting away on their respective cell phones, frequently even the driver.

And what makes my heart bleed even more is the frequency of which I’ve done those things myself without even realizing it.

It’s easy to see more clearly when we’re disconnected from a situation, so to think how much clearer I could see what’s right in front of my own face when I’m disconnected from electronics seems like it should be a no-brainer.  And yet, how much time has slipped through my fingers like a fist full of sand, as I fall into the habit of blocking out everything but the empty entertainment of the screen in front of me.

imagesSMV38ILU

If I could go back and have a “do-over” I would:

Leave the cell phone at home when taking my kids on an outing.  I would watch them take in their surroundings, watching as they see things for the first time, rather than see something on the screen of my cell phone for the umpteenth time.

I would sit on the floor playing with my children, rather than sit there watching a television program while they played around me.

I would read a book to them, engaging them in the story, rather than let them live their story without me present to watch.

I would listen intently to how their day was, their experiences, hopes and dreams, rather than listen to how the world was on the news, letting them know they are my world.

I would let them know that what they said truly mattered, more than anything in the world, as I gave them my undivided attention, listening to what they had to say rather than say “I’m busy. Can we talk later?”  Later may not come.

I would stop cleaning, cooking, playing a game on the computer or watching TV to simply be with them, 100% present.

If the phone was ringing, or beeping with an incoming text message, during a conversation with a loved one, or while spending quiet time together, I would let it ring without answering it, or even a sneak peak at the text message, letting my loved one know their presence is more important to me than the phone.

Rather than run back in the house two seconds after leaving to get the forgotten cell phone, I would run back in to give the forgotten hug or say the forgotten “I Love You” to the loved one remaining behind.

When I’m on a date with my husband, I would leave my phone at home, or tucked away in my purse, letting him know the time I spend with him is valuable to me.

And while I can’t go back and start over, getting back time that has past, it’s never too late to start over.  Right.  Now.   While I can’t start the day over, I can start over anytime during the day.  And that is a blessing I intend to take advantage of, practicing until it becomes more the norm than not.

No electronics

Books, Books, and More Books

Today I got to thinking about how far back my love of reading and books really goes, and discovered it goes back to when I was about five years old and my mom used to read stories out of the Children’s Highlights Magazine to my sisters and me every night before bed. The stories and the hidden pictures in the puzzles had me hooked and waiting for bedtime so I could get my “fix.” However, my mom would tell you my love of writing actually goes back to that same time when she caught me writing on the walls with my crayons. But in my defense, what a huge, open slate for a child to express and share her wild imagination. 🙂

Highlights Magazine
From Highlights, I graduated to reading the Dick and Jane books, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and any and all of Dr. Seuss books.
My top five favorites that got cemented into the foundation of my reading development during each stage of life from that point on include:

During my later elementary and early Jr. High years:
1)    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
2.)   Sunshine by Norma Klein
3.)   Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4.)   Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
5.)   Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down

High School Years:
1.)   To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2.)   1984 by George Orwell
3.)   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
4.)   Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
5.)   The S.E. Hinton novels, That was Then, This is Now; Rumble Fish; The Outsiders

When I became a mom, I wanted to be sure to pass on my love of reading to my kids, so when I was pregnant, my unborn children had story time while they were still in the womb, as I would rock and read books aloud so they could “hear” my voice. When they were toddlers and early elementary age, I, as my mother did, read stories to them every evening at bedtime, often from Highlights Magazine. The other books they consistently wanted read to them, sometimes more than ten times a day, include:
1.) Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
2.) Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Love You Forever
3.) Corduroy by Don Freeman
4.) If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
5.) Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

And whether it was the first, tenth, or twentieth time reading those books, I cannot honestly say who enjoyed them more–my boys or me. 🙂
I encourage you to check these out, whether you read them for yourself or suggest them to your children. They shaped my life, encouraged and grew my love of reading, and gave me an amazing life that I couldn’t have had without them.
Thank goodness for books and the talented and imaginative authors who write them. I hope to be counted as one of them very soon.