This and That

Blessed!

Last week found me a bit under the weather, which included a trip to see my cardiologist. A reminder of how precious life is and how blessed I am to have a device that keeps my heart beating as it should. So this week I’m listing the top three things I’m grateful for.

1.  Family–A husband who supports and encourages my faith and who stands by my side no matter what; Children who are so good to me and are truly good people; grandchildren who love unconditionally and remind me to live with the innocence and acceptance of a child; And parents who daily model true love.

2.  Medical professionals who are not only knowledgable, but kind and compassionate. And health insurance to afford their care. We are so blessed here in America.

3.  Life! Yup, all of it–the good, the bad, and the ugly. The bad and the ugly because they develop perseverance, patience, and strength and make me really appreciate the good. And the good not only for obvious reasons (we all like good, don’t we?), but it feeds my soul, helping me survive the bad and the ugly. The totality of life is such a gift. Every. Single. Breath.

Go out and live each moment of this day. Really live. And give thanks. For all of it.

living-in-the-moment.png

Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday Fun

I participated in a craft and vendor show this past weekend at Harvest Fellowship Church, manning a table with my books. A writer friend of mine was there as well, her table next to mine. I’d been waiting a long time for this event, as it always promises to be a wonderful time and sets the mood for the beginning of the holiday season, including Christmas.

IMG_32561

Christmas? you say? But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, I know. I, too, am not a fan of stores displaying their Christmas merchandise before Thanksgiving. It seems to be getting earlier every year, to the point that one of these days it will probably be in the stores year-round.

However, that being said, Christmas means different things to different people. For the world of retail it means money. It means starting sales as early as possible, taking advantage of the marketing opportunity to make as much money as possible. Christmas music pipes through the speakers in department stores, subconsciously inspiring people to buy, buy, buy.

For others, me included, celebrating the Christmas season in combination with Thanksgiving means something entirely different. I don’t believe it can ever be too early to celebrate the birth of Christ. To begin preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior. Thanksgiving isn’t only about remembering the Pilgrims, it’s about giving thanks to God for the thousands of blessings he gives me.

On October 3, 1863, in the third fall of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …

Giving thanks to the Father for the birth of His Son fits in nicely here. It’s never too early for that. So bring on the Thanksgiving holiday, complete with turkey, pumpkin pie, family, and football, while at the same time preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. And Christmas lights and music? When the heart is focused on Him, Christmas music isn’t about buying, it soothes and helps prepare. And lights? Who doesn’t love the beauty of lights.

Enjoy this holiday season, the entire season, for all it’s worth.

Wishing you a most blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. – E.P. Powell

A Rich Abundant Life

This past weekend I was fortunate to attend a women’s retreat through my church. Typically, when I get home from work in the evenings I long to stay in my home office with my computer, or at least within the walls of my home with my dogs and my husband. On weekends, I don’t venture too far from home, either. Being an introvert, and after spending so much time at a day job surrounded by co-workers and fielding phone calls and office visits from the outside, quiet time at home is heaven.

Since these kinds of activities are well out of my comfort zone, the fact that I’d signed up for the women’s retreat surprised me as well as my husband. I paid the fee the moment I signed up, knowing if I didn’t I would find an excuse to back out.

I’m filled with gratitude that I persevered and went. Not only was the scenery breathtaking, the experience taught me far more than anything has in a long time and has grown me in ways I desperately needed to grow.

IMG_3340

IMG_3381

At some point, I can’t remember exactly when, I closed myself off from relationship with others. And I found out I wasn’t the only one who did so. Playing it safe seems to be more popular that I’d imagined.

IMG_3345

IMG_3375

During the weekend, I remembered the joy of being connected to a larger group of women, especially Christian women, when my Christian self is the area in which I wish to grow. I remembered the fulfillment that comes with being open to relationships. For far too long, I had been weighing the joy of loving someone against the potential pain of loss. And the fear of loss had been greater.

It we’re not open to others, we’re not allowing ourselves to be available to those who need us. We’re not living to our full potential, living out our purpose to love one another. How can we make a difference in the world if we stick to ourselves, an army of one? How can we make a difference in the world if we’re closed to others? And being open to even one makes a difference in the world. One is all it takes to make a good start. Each one we make a difference to will make a difference to someone else.

The weekend refueled my energy tank. It opened my heart to a life of being open and available to others. God showed me where the fear was coming from and how I was living such a limited life.

Here’s my challenge to you. Search for an area of your life that feels comfortable. Too comfortable. An area in which you tend to fall into a rut because it’s the path of least resistance. Now take some time to explore that area. What if you stepped out of your comfort zone, tried something new, opened your heart to something more than comfortable? The more you resist, the more fear is probably ruling your life. Think of how your life could potentially grow more beautiful and meaningful if you stretch yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

Comfort is good, and it does have its place. But when it comes to living and loving, comfort holds us back from fully living and loving. And if we’re not living and loving fully, we’re only living half a life.

I choose to strive to live an abundant life rich with loving others and being loved.

After you are gone, people may forget most of what you have said and done. But they will remember that you loved them. 
― Steve Goodier

Finding Peace Through Gratitude

Finding Peace Through Gratitude

Writing fiction has always been my passion. Mysteries, cozy mysteries, suspense, contemporary fiction, it doesn’t matter. I love getting lost in the land of make believe, creating characters, settings, and stories, living vicariously through them. And when I read a story, it’s all about being transported into the world of which I’m reading, feeling like I know the characters. It’s that connection that’s critical. And it’s that connection that makes the end of a good book come too soon.

That being said, I’m dipping my toe into some non-fiction writing and working on a book titled Finding Peace Through Gratitude. Its pages are about the storms I’ve weathered in my life, coming out a better person on the other side, all credit given to the two “G” words – God and Gratitude. It’s an interactive book with a challenge for the reader at the end of each chapter. The projected publication date is January 1, 2018.

Hop on over to my non-fiction website if you’re so inclined. It’s a place I’m developing to be calm and peaceful, somewhere to escape the busyness and chaos of the world. A multi-vitamin of sorts. Posts will continue here, on my fiction website, on Wednesdays, and I’ll be posting about nature and gratitude on my non-fiction site on Fridays.

See you there in the quietness.Tranquility!

 

 

 

 

The Golden Rule

We’ve all heard of The Golden Rule:
e2809cdo-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you-e2809d.png
While the idea is good to shoot for, it may not be good enough.

Simply stated, we can be harder on ourselves than anyone else is. We’re often our own worst enemy, constantly reminding ourselves of where we fall short, where we fail. This, in turn, can cause us to be more intolerant of other’s shortcomings, because we expect from others what we, ourselves, cannot even do to our own standards. And yet, ironically, we treat others better than we treat ourselves.

  • Thin people sometimes see someone overweight looking back at them in the mirror.
  • We’re not smart enough or pretty enough. We don’t do enough or have enough. We’re simply not enough.
  • We say things we wish we wouldn’t have, do things we wish we could erase, and beat ourselves up when we can’t.
  • We feel we don’t deserve happiness, forgiveness, or peace, because of what we’ve done in the past.

The other day when I was driving home from work there was car in front of me going sooooo sllooowww. Not only was this person driving slowly, s/he stopped for yellow lights, then allowed not one car from an incoming street to go in front of him/her, but two. Impatient to get home, to put the work day behind me, I was having all kinds of negative conversations with myself about the driver of this vehicle.

When I was finally able to pull into the next lane, I drove up next to the car, wanting to see the driver, sure s/he was talking on a cell phone rather than pay attention to the road. To my surprise, it was an elderly woman. A slightly confused elderly woman. Thankfully, she was oblivious to my impatience.

I felt oh, so small. I would be heartbroken if that woman had been my mother and someone else was as impatient and intolerant as I had been. God taught me a lesson in judging and patience that day.

On another occasion this past week, a young man called me at work. He was confused about his legal situation and I had to repeat three times the process of what he needed to do. I found myself getting impatient, but God’s voice spoke above my impatience. A little voice in my head asked, “What if this was your son calling, needing help with a process that’s confusing to someone not in the justice system, even if he needed to hear it three times?” My heart softened and I found patience I didn’t know I had, as I had to repeat the process yet another two times, wanting to be sure he understood completely before we disconnected.

How people treat me doesn’t affect me as much as how they treat my loved ones. I want my loved ones treated with love, with respect, with patience. In fact, when I’m mistreated I get over it. But seeing my loved ones mistreated? Well, that breaks my heart in two.

God spoke to me in a way I could hear loud and clear.

The Golden Rule I now strive to live by has changed a bit. e2809cdo-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-your-loved-ones-e2809d.png

Faith in Humanity

Love One Another

As news channels cover the heartbreaking devastation that Hurricane Harvey left in its wake in Houston, Texas, followed closely by Hurricane Irma in Florida, there was a message that spoke louder than the news anchors I listened to.

That message?  How tragedy can bring a country together.

For far too long, anytime I turned on the news it spewed about all the hatred and divisiveness of our people. You name it, people were hating. Whether it be race, sexual orientation, gender identification, political beliefs, personal beliefs, job choice and the action it requires, misuse of power and those not allowed to use their power…well, I could go on and on. With each broadcast, the news seems to polarize our country with half-truths, pitting people against one another. It had gotten to a point where I was seriously wondering if we, as a country, could ever turn things around again. All the hatred was suffocating everything good.

Listening to the news about the hurricanes, I finally felt a glimmer of hope for our nation and the amazing people who live here. My faith in humanity has been restored. As I hear the countless stories of individuals sacrificing what they have for the needs of those who lost, companies offering time, money, and resources to help a fellow man/woman/child/city/state, and friends and family reaching out to their loved ones in the affected cities, I see God at work. In fact, it occurred to me that this is what Christianity looks like.

  • Unselfish acts of helping another.
  • Accepting and loving, rather than judging, regardless of whether you agree with someone or not.
  • Tolerating others’ views and opinions, different as they may be from yours, accepting that your way isn’t the only way. Even proclaimed Christians have destroyed one another due to intolerance.
  • Forgive even when you don’t “feel” like it. You’ll “feel” so much better after you do!
  • Being of service to others, whether it be time in your already busy life, money that you don’t have in excess, services that you can provide to those who can’t.
  • Being a prayer warrior for those who so desperately need it.
  • Taking just a moment to write a letter of encouragement to someone who feels hopeless and alone.
  • Bringing a meal to someone who doesn’t have the physical capability or the resources to make their own.
  • Putting others needs before your wants.
  • Spend time, even if just an hour, with someone who doesn’t have anyone.

Simply stated…

Love

Above all else, love. The rest will fall into place. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we turned on the news and we heard more stories of love and hope? Stories of  people pulling for each other instead of battling against each other. Stories of people loving one another rather than killing? Stories of people accepting one another’s differences rather than hating because of them?

It IS possible. It CAN be done. But only if we all do our part. Time is at our advantage if we start NOW.

What can YOU do, TODAY, to start a revolution of loving one another?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
― Desmond Tutu

▶ 4:42

 

 

 

Serenity Through Acceptance

Serenity Prayer

It never ceases to amaze me what circumstances God can–and does–use to speak to His children.  For instance, He spoke to me the other morning through my impatience with another’s lack of willingness to try to understand and accept yet another.  Confused?  Allow me to explain…

A dear friend has an ongoing internal struggle with what he feels is the absence of his parents’ acceptance.  It doesn’t matter what he does or what his children accomplish, he feels as though he’s always living in the shadow of his brother and his brother’s family.  Try as he may, and he tries desperately, he cannot get what he’s needing from them.  In fact, more than needing, but rather craving.

It wasn’t long ago that I felt like the black sheep of my family as well, and in fact, had for most of my life.  It wasn’t until I learned serenity and peace come through acceptance, that I was able to let go and see my role in the play.  In fact, it was the lead role.   While I spent endless years feeling sorry for myself because I was “misunderstood,” and “not accepted for who I was,” all it did was make the chip on my shoulder–and in my attitude– that much heavier, driving those who loved me further away while I acted unlovable.

God let me know that I wasn’t trying to understand and accept them as they were, either.  I was expecting from others what I wasn’t willing to give.  He taught me that I cannot change anyone else, but only accept and love them.  I can, however, change my attitude and perspective.  And He gave me the wisdom to know the difference.

When God gave me the wisdom and the strength to let go of that burden and give it to Him, I felt a freedom I had never known.

So I thought I had figured it out and I was good to go.  But God wasn’t done teaching me the full lesson yet.  Either that or I’m a slow learner. 🙂

The other morning, when I found myself frustrated yet again with my friend who continues to struggle for something he may likely never receive, God showed me I still wasn’t practicing acceptance.  I wanted my friend to feel something other than what he was feeling, and that wasn’t fair.  Who was I to expect him to feel what I thought he should be feeling?

God told me I don’t have a right to expect anyone to be anything other than who they are.

It’s better to lovingly meet people where they are, as they are, and pray for God to bring them peace how He sees fit.  After all, He is our Creator.  He knows what each of us needs better than any of us can begin to understand.

Since my friend’s parents haven’t always been this way, changing as they age, as we all will, I pray he can meet them where they are, as they are, realizing they aren’t the parents of his youth, and likely won’t ever be again.  I pray he can stop expecting what they cannot give, and appreciate what they can–and have given.

Serenity prayer?

I’ve learned that when I spend time with my heavenly Father, truly listening to Him rather than speaking at Him, is when I learn the greatest lessons.  I pray my friend can learn why he’s needing the acceptance and validation from outside, when he has everything he needs from the Father of all.

I’ve learned to try enjoy another in peace rather than struggle to change them, for it isn’t my place to change another or expect anything from another, but only to love. I pray he finds that same peace.

I wish I could say I’m successful all of the time, but that would be far from the truth.  But since God has shown me what is best for me to do, it’s my job to work at it.  As I once heard, God will move mountains, but he expects us to bring a shovel.

I pray God continues to use every opportunity to teach me lessons that lead me closer to Him.

We are all a gift and blessing to one another.  I pray we not be dissatisfied with the gifts He gives, but appreciate them.

All is Grace.