Tis the Season to be Challenged

Christmas time always challenges me. This year has been no exception as my borders greatly increased. I pursued a long time dream of becoming an author. I attended my first writing conference and published my first story. Along the way I’ve made quite a few new friends.

In addition to this dream, I have been seeking God’s heart for my little neck of the world. I have been involved with my church as it works to add an unique third service.

A couple of years ago before all this started, I had a vision or sense that God wanted this expansion. I do my best to follow His lead. It amazes me how many other people have had this same sense and are working to make it happen. It is a huge project in which I am only a small part in.

The growing and stretching of my being moves at a greater speed and intensity. I haven’t really been paying attention until recently. The farther I get on this journey of life, the harder the challenges get and the easier life becomes as I learn more things.

This all began for me in the year 2000 when Bruce Wilkinson published a little book about the Jabez prayer.

The Jabez prayer is hidden in 1 Chronicles, chapter 4 among a list of genealogical who’s who. The prayer goes something like this: “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”

I prayed this prayer along with many other believers. Our hope was to attempt something so large that failure would be guaranteed unless God stepped in. After a few months, I forgot about it because nothing seemed to be happening.

As I look back now, I can see where God was working behind the scene.

Christmas is always a busy time. This year has been busier than ever with my new friends and projects.

A calendar keeps track of where and when I need to be. Sometimes I have to decide between two events on the same day and time. I’m required to make more decisions than usual. Priorities have to be considered and constantly adjusted.

This is a rewrite because I lost the first one. Technology has terrorized me lately. Not just with this but in other areas also. The plus side is that it slowed me down.

This season has been a fast ride. Fast rides are fun but they can also be dangerous.

I am thankful for the obstacles that slowed me down. While reflecting on the frustration of losing the first draft, I realized there was a potential regret. My focus in parts faced the wrong direction. Words are powerful. They can lift up or tear down. Someone or something was watching over me.

The journey continues and I have many parties and celebrations to attend. Joy unspeakable awaits me.

Have a wonderful Christmas and be blessed. 💜🕊

My Thanksgiving

Billy and Charlie

My family celebration took place the Saturday before Thanksgiving Day. One granddaughter works retail and lives three hours from her parent’s home so Thanksgiving Day was not going to work for her. In addition she and my daughter had another family to consider besides ours. That’s what happens when you are partnered up with another. You have to figure out when and where you will celebrate with each family.

So Saturday worked for us. I would drive with my mother and brother a couple of hours west. My oldest granddaughter who is in college drove three hours from the southeastern portion of the state and the middle granddaughter traveled three hours from the eastern side of the state. We have become scattered about. At least we reside in the same state within a reasonable distance.

I assumed that we would have steaks because the girls don’t care for the traditional turkey. It is quite common for us to have steak.

This year my daughter and son-in-law decided to have ham and cheesy potatoes. When I mentioned it to my brother, he said, “What no steak! Well I guess I can eat before I go. I don’t like ham and cheesy potatoes.”

I’m thinking, Great. That’s going to be pleasant. Him not eating while the rest of us chow down. What should I do? I didn’t want to burden my daughter with this. She works and has a lot going on.

I asked her if I could bring anything. She said a dessert would be nice. I asked if it would be okay if I brought a small turkey dinner for about four people explaining that her uncle wouldn’t eat her ham and potatoes. She was fine with that and happy that she didn’t have to prepare it.

I also brought Billy, my toy goat that I had recently receive in the mail. Billy, a gift from my oldest granddaughter had caused quite a stir. He was my very first blog. I thought the family might enjoy seeing him in person. I sat him on the floor and one of my grandkitties took an interest in him. But not for long. He sniffed him and moved on.

My youngest granddaughter went in search of one of the other household cats to see what they thought. She took pictures of Charlie and Billy for me. Charlie tolerated him.

My daughter’s home looked absolutely gorgeous. They have been remodeling and have purchased some new things. I noticed the new built in fireplace and furniture first thing.

They got a new dining room set that accented the rest of the house. Her beautiful China from her wedding rested on the counter. I didn’t notice the two-sided cupboards over the counter were gone until I went to get into one for a bowl. It surprised me. I must have let out a squeal because everyone laughed.

It wasn’t the only surprise. My middle granddaughter was surprised when she found out we weren’t having steak. She was a tiny bit disappointed but she was so happy to be with family she didn’t care.

After dinner, my oldest and youngest granddaughters entertained us singing and acting out some musicals. My middle granddaughter can really sing too. She’s just not into musicals.

In addition to the entertainment, games were played. I didn’t participate because I needed to pay attention to mom and my brother.

I wanted to. I miss spending time with my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters.

Since mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer a little over a year ago, my life has changed dramatically. My brother and I are a team taking care of her. I think we do a great job. She is spoiled. The problem is we are nothing alike. The only thing we agree on is taking care of mom.

We have different political views. I’m a believer. He is not. I’m way more social than he is. He has a lot of factual knowledge that he loves to share. I’m usually not interested but do my best to listen. It is hard at times. We get on each other’s nerves and we are forced to spend a lot of time together because of mom. She is too much for either one of us to handle alone.

I am very thankful for all of my family. Do I wish life was a little different? Yes.

I wanted to share my Thanksgiving story because often we see pictures on facebook of families eating wonderful meals together but don’t know any of the details of the day. I love looking at the pictures. Everything looks so perfect. One friend assured me her Thanksgiving was perfect. Mine was nice, however I wouldn’t rate it perfect. There were a few glitches along the way and a bit of sadness.

I say that to say this. If you had a sad day, you are not alone. If you looked at some happy pictures and felt like you were missing out, you don’t know the details of other people’s lives. Life is not perfect. It is a mixture of good and bad. Focus on being thankful for the good things.

One of the things that I am most thankful for is my faith. Sometimes I just wouldn’t be able to get through the day without my constant companion, God. I talk to Him when I wake up, when I lie down at night, and throughout the day.

Be blessed.💜🕊

Outside In – Inside Out

If you turn a shirt inside out, then the outside is in. If you reverse your action you have outside out and inside in. Sort of a negative and positive or opposites and same. You could say one way is right and the other is wrong.

I was thinking about situations where people feel disconnected. I have no idea why the shirt thing popped into my mind. Maybe I just needed a visual.

There is the person that is on the outside looking in. They don’t feel a part of things. Perhaps they envy the person or people that they are viewing on the inside.

Then there is the person in a crowd that feels all alone. They withdraw within themselves viewing those outside of them from a distance.

I have experienced both cases a few times in my life and I can tell you it is not a great feeling. Here is what I have learned:

In the first case, get inside and join the crowd. Don’t compare yourself. If you aren’t allowed in, then find a similar group to join. Show up and participate. Be thankful, humble, and kind especially if you are learning a skill or craft. Be strong if you need to stand up for yourself and confront. Set boundaries with gates for yourself. You decide who or what is allowed into your private life. Respect other people’s boundaries. In time you will become known and you will know the people in the group. 

In the second case, venture out of yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Will you make mistakes? Probably, but don’t be discouraged. Making mistakes doesn’t make you a failure. If fact you can learn from your mistakes. Quitting and giving up on yourself will lead to failure. Success isn’t achieved on our own. We need people and they need us. If you have a fear of people, again learn to set boundaries with gates. Your sphere of influence can be as big or small as you choose. Take it slow if you need to. In fact it isn’t a good idea to move too fast. A good thing to consider is how you are influencing others and what effects are they having on you. You want the influence to be positive on both sides. You may have to let someone you love go because you are not good for them or they are not good for you. I know this can be hard but we weren’t made to live in a bubble.

Invest in yourself. Love yourself and take care of yourself. How can you give love if you don’t have it to begin with. Life can be hard and too easy at the same time. I believe this is what makes us go numb and causes us to seek destructive ways to feel. Life is full of paradoxes. It is also grand and wonderful when we have the right mixture of hard and easy.

When things are too easy, challenge yourself. Set goals. When things are too hard, take a breather. Reach out and ask a trusted friend for help. Pray and believe in the goodness of God.

Be all in and all out. Don’t be double minded.

Do you lack the confidence to join an unknown group and get involved?  Do you fear rejection? Rejection can be a positive thing. If someone isn’t interested in you or can’t see your value, then they are probably not a good influence. They will not help you grow and achieve your destiny. Do you fear hurting someone with your rejection? You are doing them a favor because you will not be good for them. Always seek kind ways to let others down. We are going to be hurt and hurt others. It is a given. What we don’t want to do is harm others. There is a difference between hurting and harming. 

When joining a new group, don’t go alone. Have a friend with you. If you don’t have any friends, consider God. Many times, for me, it has just been me and God. People seem to be amazed by my independence. They just don’t know how dependent I am.

If you don’t know God specifically as Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit then seek Him out. You can talk to Him like you would talk to a person. Believe that He hears you. Try it. See what happens.

When you develop a relationship with Him, He will come live in your heart ♥ and you will never feel alone if you believe that He is always with you.

In addition He will divinely connect you to others that He is in relationship with. These people will become family so you never have to be outside-in or inside-out. 

Seasons and Memories

I sat in my car at the park. The first snow had caused a vacancy. Only I occupied the place. The beauty of it saddened and delighted me at the same time. So strange to have opposing emotions taking up residency in my soul.

The thing that delighted me was the memories in the park on sunny days when it was full of people.

The time I helped a crew paint the play area made me smile when I thought about the comradery and the good feeling of doing something for the community.

Then there was the evening the praise band from church decided to hold a Wednesday night worship service there in the pavilion. We have a pavilion at our church and have used it often in the summer for this. We always enjoy these times however it was nice to have it in a different location with strangers. People were curious and some swayed and moved to the music as they listened. Cheerleaders practicing in the park took notice of us and it made us smile.

Memories are so wonderful. Do we take them for granted? My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer last year. Sometimes she cries when she realizes she is forgetting. Will I forget too someday? This makes me sad.

Seasons come and go. Memories shouldn’t. They are what connect us to one another.

The Wonders of Billy

The day before mid-elections a mysterious package arrived in the mail.  I wasn’t expecting anything because I hadn’t ordered anything. Who could it be from? I checked the return address which I didn’t recognize.

I don’t know why but suddenly I was paranoid about it. Maybe it was because I was tired with a busy day scheduled ahead. The atmosphere felt volatile with all the political mayhem revolving around the elections. This was the biggest war I have ever witnessed between the democrats and republicans. Recently, packages with bomb threats had been sent to well-known people, which I am not one of. So why was I worried?

I am a christian and I don’t hide the fact. I searched my mind to think if I might have offended an unbeliever. I couldn’t think of an incident, however it is possible to offend someone without trying. Especially, in these times in which we are living. Many people have been harmed by people professing to be Christians who may have been Christians or not. Christian are not flawless as many expect us to be. It can be dangerous to be known as a Christian.

IMG-1230I took the package into my tiny apartment and opened it carefully. Inside was a toy stuffed goat. I looked for a note telling me who sent it. I found the note. Whew! I opened it. It said, “Baaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

Was this some kind of joke? Was someone trying to tell me that I was an old goat? I kind of am, but I don’t want to hear that from anyone unless it’s a loved one just teasing me. I picked the toy up and gently felt for anything weird inside. I felt some wires but they appeared to be for the stability of the legs. I studied the eyes. Could there be a hidden camera in there? They make pretty small ones now days.

What should I do? It seemed harmless. Yet you never know. Should I take it to the police station? The package included a website that I’d never heard of. Maybe someone was trying to hack me. I was nervous about checking it out. Normally, I’m not this paranoid. However, I am cautious.

I decided to take it over to my brother’s and see what he thought. I entered the house with the package carrying it open so the goat was in view. My brother had this goofy look on his face that he gets when he is about to make a joke.

I said, “I got this package today and I don’t know who it’s from. Do you think I should take it to the police station?” His face changed to a look of surprise.

“Wow. I was just going to make a joke about that being a bomb that some gypsies sent you”, he said.

He inspected it and agreed that it seemed harmless. He looked up the website. It was a legit site. Someone had paid $25 to send me this goat to cheer me up. But who? The first people I thought of was my daughter and granddaughters. It didn’t seem likely that they would spend $25 for this little thing. All of their money situations were pretty tight. I have many friends but I couldn’t think of any that would have a reason to send me a gift. I hadn’t expressed a need to be cheered up.

What to do with this thing? I didn’t want it. I didn’t know who it was from. It had added more stress to an already stressful day. Should I just toss it?

I decided to keep it for a few days to see if the sender made herself/himself known. I put the package in the trunk of the car and forgot about it.

The next morning my daughter called me after I had hounded her for days to talk to me. It had been a long time since we last talked. I wanted to know how everyone was doing. We live two hours apart. My two oldest granddaughters had recently moved out leaving the youngest alone with her parents. I wanted to know how everyone was adjusting.

Once my daughter assured me everyone was doing well, she asked, “How are you? What have you been up to?”

I gave her the run down on my recent activities. Then, I remembered the package. “I got this package with a toy goat in it and I have no idea who it is from.” She made no comment. I proceeded to share my initial alarm over it and how I had thrown it in the trunk of the car and didn’t want it.

There was a pause. “I guess I should tell you Elizabeth sent it. She thought it was so funny and that you would be the perfect person to send it to.” (Elizabeth is my oldest granddaughter who is in college. How could she afford this?)

“I don’t understand what is funny about it,” I said.

“Well, you know how we tease you about being an undercover Disney princess because animals are always trying to get in your house?”

It took a minute to sink in. A smile spread across my face. Once I knew who the little goat was from, he took on a whole different meaning for me. I couldn’t wait to get him out of the trunk.

I had my brother snap a photo of me kissing my little goat and I sent it to my granddaughter. My daughter had shared my scare with her. She thought my story was funny. “I can just see the headlines now, Grandmother calls in the bomb squad after mistaking a gift of a stuffed goat for a bomb,” she said. She did feel bad about scaring me though.

Billy helping with bible study
Billy joining me in bible study

 

I decided to name my goat, “Billy .” It’s amazing how attached you can get to a stuffed toy sent from a loved one. Billy keeps me company. I look forward to seeing him when I get home. I told my granddaughter he is the perfect pet. I don’t have feed him or clean up after him. I’ve taken some cute pictures of Billy. For a second, I worried that I might be taken my little joke too far. I said, ” I feel like Tom Hank’s on that deserted island making friends with a basketball.” Loneliness is nothing to make fun of. My heart goes out to people suffering from this.

My family, especially my granddaughters, worry about me being alone. They don’t want me to be lonely. They have tried to talk me into getting a cat or dog numerous times. I like animals but I don’t want to be responsible for them. I’m hardly ever home so, it wouldn’t be fair to an animal. When I do get home, I like being alone. I have tried to reassure them that I never feel alone ever when I am alone. I feel so connected to many people.