Use the Good Stuff…

ice tea2 with text     Sipping iced tea from a wine glass makes it even better…

Recently I served tea to my girlfriend and I in wine glasses. She thought it was wonderful. It reminded me of something: my grandmother always ‘put away’ her nice things to use for ‘good’ – meaning she would only use them on special occasions. When she passed away all the pretty night gowns and bathrobes my mother had given her over the years were nice and neat in the bottom drawer, never worn.

It disappointed my mom – she loved using the good stuff all the time. I on the other hand have tended to be one who uses the good stuff only on special occasions. I thought how much it must disappoint God when He blesses us with all we have and we only use it on special occasions.

All the tucked away fine china, linens, jewelry, clothing, etc. We also tuck away our special gifts or talents. All these things only brought out for ‘special occasions’. Wouldn’t every day be special if we used the good stuff? Wouldn’t we reach more hearts if we used our talents for all and not just some?

I think I’ll serve oatmeal in the red garnet bowls tomorrow morning, use cloth napkins when we eat burgers, and send a just because poem or note to someone – just because! Wear your best jewelry to the grocery store sometime – use the good stuff! Enjoy today because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone

X Marks the Spot…

x in sand 2   We walked the beach at end of day – the time when light lingers long enough, but night is not too far.

Purposing to see everything the shore had to offer. Not to just walk and come back as though it were checked off a list. But to walk and return knowing we had witnessed the beauty and impressed it in our hearts.

Waves crashing, drowning out all else. A welcome breeze pushing humidity and cooling our skin. Pale crabs, nearly the color of sand, scurrying into holes. Sandpipers running as fast as their little legs can carry them. Still there was something more I was to see, keep walking…

Clicking pictures of everything I kept sensing Him. Feeling His nudging – look, look at all this, this small piece of life, this right now moment. It was this right now moment as I looked down into the sand – where little sandpiper tracks had crossed each other. Their pattern a perfect X in the sand…

Mark this memory, mark this time, this sharing of life with your friend, this breathing in of the salt air, this cacophony of sound. Mark it in your heart for though life is full, this moment, this time is now and you will only have it this once.

“…let all your words be good for benefiting others according to the need of the moment, so that they may be a means of blessing to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29 WNT

 

Love In The Cement…

Some ordinary days turn extraordinary – especially when you have a dust rag in your hand…

My afternoon was humming along, checking off the list: bathroom clean check box, floors vacuumed check box, laundry folded check box, dusting (underway). My hubby was being helpful by getting the black speckled walkways pressure washed after a hot, humid summer.

He came in and said “Taking a break, got a phone call.” I called out “Do they look any better?” “You tell me” he says. So we walk out and it’s looking good when we get to the driveway…

love in the cement

Love is truly blind because at first I didn’t see the artwork, I saw a particularly black area off to the side and commented. As my mouth finished my eyes caught sight of the important…

This man has put up with a lot and if you could have seen me in worn out shorts, old t-shirt, and unwashed hair, you would have asked, ‘What does the man see in her?’

I wish I could say at that moment that I acted like a teenager and threw down my dust rag and wrapped my arms around him in adoration. Instead I smiled and said “That’s too cute, are you going to leave it for my friends to see?” And that was it, back to check boxing off the boxes.

God gives brilliant blue sky sunrises, paints pinky orange sunsets, and sets the birds in formation across the horizon and we say ‘Isn’t that beautiful’ and drive on down the road. He gives us furry cat antics, wet dog kisses, and little mud pie hands and we say ‘These kids and pets are making a mess.’

Oh for a rewind button that we could see with eyes that acknowledge the gifts – and imprint them in our hearts and memories forever…

Tears & Terror

bunny1withtext      Daily the world sheds tears – it cowers in terror. It has been so since the beginning of time. Yet, in this day and in this time, it seems magnified. So much sorrow and pain, so much fear and anxiety.

Yet the bunny outside my window eats the grass in peace. The bird sings and builds her nest in peace. But we, God’s highest creation, wring our hands and despair.

“Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken… When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:26&28 NIV)

News tonight will tell of those who wreak terror, of security breaches, of Ebola, of volcanoes and earthquakes. It will tell of death and sadness.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NIV)

Our strength is not in man or medicine, in money or position, in government or armies… “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV) Rest in Him and find your strength. The tears and terrors of this world will only increase, but take heart He has overcome the world…

GLOVES…& Simpler Times

Gloves2   The year was 1963. Ladies never left home, to go shopping or anyplace in public, unless properly dressed, children included. Never mind it was the middle of summer in Florida. This five year old had to wear a dress, with a slip underneath, ankle socks with lace, and… gloves.

It was proper. It was how ladies, even at five, presented themselves. And, no, I wasn’t high society. We lived in a rented little house, in a little nowhere town on the Florida panhandle. We did laundry in the tub and hung it on the line and we thought chocolate milk was a special treat.

Buffalo nickels were something you put in your piggy bank. A Thumbelina doll who could move her head was all I could think about since I had seen her on our black and white TV. We didn’t have seatbelts or car seats and I stood in the seat next to my momma or daddy whenever we went into town.

That was a mere fifty-one years ago. Some things have improved or changed for the better, some definitely not so much. I think, looking back, there might be something to be said for caring about how we present ourselves in public. What do you think?

Will You Pass This Way Again…

will you pass this way again   A tree lined park, a shady path, a stream – things painters illustrate, writers help us imagine, and we often take for granted.

Winding our way along such a path my husband noticed the bark of certain trees was peeling off and laying in long coils on the ground. He handed one to me and I said “Hey, I could add this to my collection of cool things in the bowl at home.” He asked if I wanted more and I said “We’ll pick up more on our way back.” We didn’t go back the same way; we didn’t pass that way again.

My mother passed away a few years ago. The last time I visited, before the aneurism ruptured and she went into the hospital, I spent a couple of precious days with her. Yet I was anxious to get back because I had a business to run. How I wish I had spent a few more days, more lingering moments. I cannot pass that way again.

A chorus from an old song says:”We have this moment to hold in our hands ~ And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand; ~ Yesterday’s gone. And tomorrow may never come. ~ But we have this moment today.”

In the rush of our days let’s not take for granted those moments, people, sunsets that may not come our way again…

The Crab In the Pool

Crab1  This crab really is ‘pretty’. Definitely a female – she had on a blue mask, red lipstick, her larger claw was polished and white. But she found herself in a pool she didn’t bargain for…

At times I’ve found myself in pools like that. When I was younger I often jumped right in without weighing the outcomes: is the fun right now worth the pain/shame/guilt/whatever tomorrow (I didn’t always stop to ask).

As I began to mature, I occasionally ventured into a pool that didn’t quite suit me. I made friends that weren’t in a healthy place. I made buying choices that sometimes didn’t fit the budget. I watched movies not quite right for a Christian/wife/mom.

Like my new friend, the crab in the pool, I have sometimes spent more time on how I look on the outside than who I am on the inside. Then try as I might to get out of the slippery edged pool, I found myself stuck in the comparison pool.

Fortunately for the ‘pool crab’ I had a net handy. Even though she fought my attempts to rescue her, in the end I set her on dry ground and she ran for cover. How like us… We fight change, ignore sound advice, or get wrapped up in self. Our heavenly Father comes along with His net, precious forgiveness, and sets us on dry ground. Unlike the crab, we don’t need to run for cover, we can stand in the warmth of His light, a new creation…

I Want My Mommy…

I want my mommy  Children tell it like it is…

Like the little girl trying to keep up with her mom while she calls to her “Why can’t we go barefoot?” They were coming out the house, both in summer dresses – she didn’t understand why barefoot didn’t work. Being a Florida girl I don’t understand either – someday I think in eternity shoes will be optional.

How about the little boy riding in the car with his grandmother “Grandma, am I a handsome laddie?” “Yes, you are a handsome laddie” she tells him. “No I’m not, my hair is sticking up in back.” That’s what I think too: it’s hard to be handsome/pretty if your hair is sticking up, or your skin is breaking out, or your legs aren’t shaved. Yet our heavenly Father doesn’t look at the outward appearance, He sees beauty based on our hearts.

My favorite is this, and I’ve heard it everywhere from the preschool to the lost child in the grocery store “I WANT MY MOMMY!” Nothing else will do and until Mommy returns the tears will continue. Lots of days when things are tough and I don’t have the answers that’s what I say to myself ‘I want my mommy’ – my mother didn’t always have the answers but she was always there. Now she’s gone – but I know I’m not lost, I’m not alone because the One who does have all the answers is always there.

No wonder Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Sincerity, no pretenses, being real – receive the kingdom of God like a child…

7 Days to ‘Grate-Full’

TN Mountains Recently I attended a conference. Lots of exciting events and learning opportunities were available. At the beginning of the first day the speaker said “Good morning, Ya’ll are going to have a great, full day!” Immediately it struck me… “What if we had a grateful day as well?”

A great, full day could go something like this: wake up from a full night’s sleep, feel really good, have a great hair and make-up day, nobody says or does anything that bothers you, lots of reasons to smile, great meals, and on and on… That truly would be a great, full day.

Yet, I think we can all have ‘grate-full’ days. Think how different it would be if we were grateful at each turn in our day. “Thank you for a bed to sleep in, thank you for a healthy body, thank you for hair to make look decent, thank you for all the interruptions in my day, thank you for the smiles and frowns throughout, and so on.” I’m fairly certain we would begin to have a lot of great, full days along the way.

I tried it… (Now, I was on vacation in the Tennessee mountains, but vacations can have pitfalls too.) So as we drove around the curves, I thanked HIm for the road through such a beautiful place. I thanked Him when we pulled over on the lookout that beheld mountains as far as the eye could see. I thanked Him when the surprise of water rushing off the side of the rocks splashed our car. I thanked Him when we took a selfie in the most beautiful setting. The thanking, the being grateful made all of it even more special.

So I challenge each of us this week to daily have GRATEFUL days… (Record your 7 days in a journal – you’ll see God’s hand moving in your life.)

 

When Your Nice Runs Out…

Just the other day I was all out of nice, thank goodness no one was around. Then today I met the nicest 65 year young lady who said “When my husband gets home, he just wants a quiet place, because after his long days his nice has run out.” I thought ‘Oh good, it’s not just me’.

Nice is what we are at the beginning of the day. Nice is what we are when we meet someone new. Nice is what we are most times with most people. That’s a good thing; but sometimes, nice gets all used up.

Like the time we didn’t have much money when the kids were young. I had enough to buy a small roast and we each had a small piece and then went out to one of the children’s events. When we came back I went into the kitchen to clean up and slice the remaining roast for sandwiches. I couldn’t find that meat anywhere. I knew no one had broken in and stolen the roast. The only suspect? Our Black Labrador…and he did seem very content. He must have devoured that thing in a gulp or two because he didn’t even make a mess. My nice ran out…

Or the time my husband and I are making a three and one half hour drive home. A drive he’s made countless times. Suddenly I realize we’re a few miles beyond the exit we should have taken and I say “Are you going a new way?” He replies “What do you mean? Aren’t you paying attention so you can tell me which way to go?” We have to drive over seven miles to the next exit before we can turn around or ‘re-route’, he’s still miffed and thinks this is all my fault. My nice ran out…

Sometimes nice runs out in a hurry – over small things. Like making a special trip to the post office to mail a client something they said they needed. Then calling to let them know it’s on the way. They reply “Ok thanks, we’re going out of town for two weeks, there was no rush.”

Fortunately, I have people around me to remind me that often it’s not the other person who is making my nice disappear. It’s usually my expectations being out of line with reality. The dog was hungry, the meat smelled good, and no one was around. What’s a dog to do? The clients were interested but my sense of urgency wasn’t the same as theirs.

So when your nice runs out next, step back, and remember what your mother used to say: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I’ve noticed a lot less elevated anxiety when I choose to ‘treat others the way I want to be treated’. Even if I just painted my toenails and in my hurry to get to the phone I make a beeline through the deep pile rug…

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