Nature’s Voice

On a morning run recently I was running behind a squirrel who had a large plastic wrapper in its mouth. The wrapper blocked his view, so he was running in a zig zag fashion trying to get away, failing at his endeavor. As I got closer, he ditched the wrapper (literally) and bee-lined in a straight line climbing a pole to safety.

On my cool down walk, I got to thinking about the squirrel. He reminded me of how we oftentimes get so caught up in what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go that we can’t see where it is we actually need to go. We take off running helter skelter on a course we’ve designed for ourselves rather than ask Him to guide us. We pick up garbage along the way and it blocks us from seeing and following the One who can get us where we need to go safely. We let the garbage in life prevent us from tasting life’s goodness. Take the following, for instance:

  • We allow the judgements of others to dictate who we are.
  • We compare ourselves to others, blinding ourselves to our unique goodness.
  • We believe we don’t deserve goodness because of what we’ve done in the past. (ie: I’m an alcoholic/addict/thief/liar–or whatever your vice may have been–and have hurt people in the past. I don’t deserve forgiveness.)

When the truth is:

  • We are each and every one unique and equal.
  • Despite the fact we may make poor choices, it doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human. Humans are fallible.
  • Whether a stay-at-home mom or a high paid executive, you are exactly where you need to be at that very moment in time. Bloom where you’re planted, learn as you grow. And just my humble opinion, stay-at-home mom’s are priceless. 🙂

At the end of my cool-down walk, nature spoke to me yet again. I passed a pavilion in the park, under from which came swallows diving at me from every angle trying to divert me from my path. Satan’s fiery darts attempt to do the same thing. The question is, are we going to let them? Or are we going to stand firm in our beliefs and values?  Are we going to succumb to those who attempt to thwart our successes and goodness, or are we going to rise above it and prevail?

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” ~George Washington Carver

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“F” is for…

Faithful

So I couldn’t decide to post on forgiveness or faithfulness, because both are critical for me to live a joyful, successful life.  Faithful, however, seems to jive with my theme a little better for the A to Zing fun, so Faithful it is.

Dictionary.com defines “Faithful” as such:

faith·ful

[feyth-fuhl] Show IPA

adjective

1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker.
2. true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.
3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends.
4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
“Faith” is a trust or belief in something that is not based on proof. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 (NIV), “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
I think it would be fair to say that most people connect faith with Christianity.  In that way, faith is what I live by.  It is of all-importance to me.  Without faith, I would have nothing.
But “Faithfulness” encompasses such a wider breadth of meaning.
Being faithful to someone is what makes a successful relationship.
Being faithful to one’s beliefs is what gives life its meaning.
Being faithful to my writing is what makes me so incredibly happy and feel successful.  Writing is what sets my mind and heart free to explore the unknown.  It’s what sorts out the complications life brings, helping them to make sense.  Or at the very least, to better cope with them.  It’s sticking with it, through good times and bad, in sickness and in health…
And it’s believing that after the storm of rejections and insecurities will come the calm and serenity that can only be felt by weathering the storm and not quitting.
Being faithful is not giving up. Ever. No matter what.
Today I will strive to be faithful to my loved ones, my God, and my writing.
Peace.

“A” is for…

Attitude in Adversity

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   Galatians 5:22-23

When someone cuts me off in traffic I can allow a flash of anger to take root and explode into road rage or give the culprit the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe s/he didn’t see me, especially if I was in that darn blind spot.  Or maybe s/he had an emergency of some sort that it’s of utmost importance that s/he get there quickly.

When I smile at someone and they scowl in return, I can allow it to change my attitude and feel resentment or I can, again, give her/him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe s/he was so burdened by something heavy that s/he didn’t notice the smile from a stranger.  Maybe her/his world doesn’t revolve around the smile from this woman.  Really? Someone’s world not revolving around me?  🙂 And how many times have I been in that situation where the roles were reversed.

When someone says something unflattering about me in the office, do I get spiteful and begin to form that nasty grudge, or do I brave to look inward. Were my behavior or words harsh and unloving? Did I act in an ungodly manner?  If yes, then I need to take responsibility for my poor judgment and make amends.  If not, then there’s nothing I can do except be sure and act in a loving, godly manner, lifting that person up in prayer.

Attitude in adversity, or when our back is against the wall, reveals our true character.  Impossible to shine in tarnished situations? No. Difficult? Yes! But with practice comes improvement.  Today, I will practice that my character reflect Christ’s light within me.

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Peace to you.

What Do You Mean It’s Not About Me?

“You’re needlessly beating yourself up and trying too hard to find an answer that isn’t there.”

My husband.  A wise man with such wise words.

We had gone on a long, peaceful bike ride this morning, surrounded by nature’s beauty.  At one point we stopped and were sitting in a park as I was filling him in on a text message I had received that hurt a bit.  Actually, “hurt” is a bit too gentle of a word.  It stung.  And the sting persisted stubbornly, intensifying as my mind imagined all kinds of reasons why what was said was actually said at all.

Texting on a qwerty keypad phone

My husband’s words, few in number, quality far surpassing quantity, stopped that sting dead in its tracks.  It all started making sense. All because of a few words.

And as we once again hopped upon our bikes and began riding, it began making even more sense.

When I’m riding my bike, surrounded by birds–both those flying above me and the ducks and geese swimming in the river below the bank–little critters scampering across the trail and in the woods that borders the opposite side of the trail as the river, the green of the trees, the silence…well, I’m able to piece together, and even make sense of, pieces of my life that I had been unable to understand prior to that moment.photo-7[1]

If someone says something hurtful to me, it’s not about me.  Unless I’ve done or said something to earn that arrow, alerting me to the fact that I had acted less than acceptable, it’s not my business to get upset.

What other people do or say isn’t about me.  In fact, the world isn’t about me at all.  Now isn’t that a wake-up call?  But immensely freeing, nonetheless.

It’s not my business to criticize, condemn, nor judge anyone else’s words or actions.

What is my business is to simply treat others with love, kindness, and compassion.  To forgive.  No matter what.  Usually easier said than done, but a work in progress is better than no progress at all.

Whether they return those blessings, or accept an apology I’ve made, isn’t in my control.  I can’t force anyone else to act or speak in love, or to forgive.  God can, and doesn’t.  Rather He allows us free-will.

My husband is a man of few words, but sometimes the words he says are like God speaking through him to me.  Knowing me well enough to know what–and how–I will truly hear.

It only takes a few simple words, spoken with kindness and love, to make a dramatic difference.

Grace to You.

Forgiveness and Consequences

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

When her child is hurting, why does a mom take it upon herself to want to strip away the pain, rescuing her child, his immediate happiness trumping an opportunity to pray he use that moment of adversity and trial to grow closer to God.

At least that’s what this mom tends to do.

When my child, even my adult child, chooses to live life separate and apart from his mom, breaking my heart wide open, exposing the rawness, the very nerve endings throbbing red with pain as when a hammer hits a thumb, why does it cause this mom to feel overwhelming guilt for something I may not have done? 

Or perhaps even worse, something I may have done very wrong.

Why must I reduce it to be the result of something I did or didn’t do, rather than a sign of his growing independence as he grows a family of his own? 

It was once told to me that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them how to live without us.  So why must I look at it as a weakness on my part rather than a strength?

Could it be the fact that I still hold myself guilty for something that happened long ago? And why is it so much easier to  grant others forgiveness and grace that we oftentimes cannot extend to ourselves?

Could it be one can’t actually forgive oneself, but only simply give it to God, to be rid of it once and for all? Could something I’ve been making so hard really be that simple? 

Christ has forgiven me for something that happened over a decade ago as many times as I have sought His forgiveness. And that has been a million times. Or so it seems.  

How many times must I ask His forgiveness before it becomes a lack of faith on my part? An unbelief that He forgave me the very first time I fell on my knees, tear-stained, heart broken, still breaking, asking Him to forgive my selfishness and waywardness.  

What if He’s teaching me lessons in forgiveness, trust and consequences?

What if He is teaching me that when my child does something that may cause me heart-wrenching, raw pain, such as turning a back, spouting hurtful words, that that is how my own behavior, as His child,  pains Him?

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

A pain that is wild beyond description or comprehension.What if He is teaching me the depth of His love and forgiveness? That just because there is forgiveness, does not mean there are no consequences.

Teaching me that even though He has truly forgiven me, unpleasant and painful results from sin long ago can still appear in my life. Like a volcano a decade old, the gray ashes still falling, spiraling down ever so faintly around shoulders who long ago caused the eruption. A reminder.

Teaching me that not only does forgiveness not mean there are no consequences, but that consequences may be part of the forgiveness? In order to teach me a lesson that will last, to prevent further pain. That the price we pay is something to consider a gift.

What if He is teaching me that because He has forgiven, I can rest in Him while I pay that price? That He is with me on the journey, rather than facing the bare, cold bones of that reality alone.

In my child’s worst moments, even my adult child, I would never withhold forgiveness from him, but extend even more love. More grace. More compassion. Walking with him, holding him every step of the way, no matter how rocky or how long the journey. 

What if He is teaching me the reality and depth of His love and forgiveness, knowing that what I am capable of feeling is only a fraction of His love for us. For my son.

That is something to be eternally grateful for. A lesson worth the pain to learn. To remember always.

That I can walk the road of my life,  rocky with debris from my choices and sinfulness, God’s outstretched hand helping me up each and every time I trip because I looked away from Him.  That He watches over my children, His children, better than this mom could ever imagine.

Consequences. Forgiveness. Intertwined to perfection.

Grace to You.