Frost Heaves of Life

frost-heaveThere is a creek close to my house with a paved path that runs alongside it. Many people enjoy walking and biking along this path.

This spring when the weather warmed, removing all traces of frost from the ground, a hole appeared in a low-lying area of the pavement. Over a period of several weeks the hole became so large that a portion of the path had to be closed.

My understanding is that the damage was the result of a frost heave. When the ice crystals in the ground melted, the ground became soft.  This undermined the surface, causing collapse.

My life has sometimes suffered this same kind of effect. There have been times when bitterness or hurt feelings have caused my heart to grow cold. This frostiness permeated my life and soon my demeanor was bleak and cold.

The act of forgiveness was able to melt the ice and warm my heart again. What I needed to remember was the damage the frost had done. It had undermined the loving kindness I wanted to exhibit. Repairs to relationships didn’t happen instantly.

Over time, as I let the light of Jesus shine in and through me, his radiance filled in the hollow spaces. What had once been undermined was now restored. The warmth of his love was then able to overflow and spread peace in my life and to those around me.

“‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

How to Pack Hand Luggage

hand-luggageIn my last attitude, negative thoughts, God, trustpost I told you about not wanting to miss the boat due to flight delays en-route a cruise vacation. My daughter and I managed to board the ship on time even though our delays put us eight hours behind schedule.

When we finally reached our destination we were dismayed to find our luggage had not arrived with us. After checking our claim tickets, we were told that our luggage was on the next flight and would be there in two hours. We were extremely relieved when we finally had suitcases in hand.

This experience caused me to re-evaluate what I pack in my hand luggage. Most of the bag was filled with snacks, although I also had a book or two, some paperwork and my sunglasses. What it lacked was a change of clothing and my swimsuit. If I had been forced to leave on the cruise without my luggage, how would I have coped?

Relating this to my life, I realize how often I pack around thoughts I don’t need at the expense of those that would be beneficial. Just like an overabundance of snacks for the flight, my attitude can be something that provides no provision for the future.

By putting my faith and trust in God, my negative thoughts will diminish. I will have the confidence to handle whatever comes my way. When he is with me, I have no concern about coping with the days to come.

The Lord will be your confidence. He will keep your foot from getting caught. (Proverbs 3:26 GWT)

Don’t Miss the Boat

trust, God, opportunities, adventureMy daughter and I were going on the trip of a lifetime. We were heading off on a Caribbean cruise. Neither of us had ever cruised before so this was an exciting new experience.

Our flights were booked to ensure we would arrive in plenty of time to board the ship. We would fly all night and arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico early the next morning. It looked like there would be time to do an island tour before going to the ship.

On departure day we arrived at the airport to discover that our flight was delayed. This meant that we couldn’t make our connecting flight. The solution offered to us would allow us to board the ship just before the deadline. I was concerned that this would be cutting things a little too close so asked the airline agent to look for a better alternative. She replied, “If you let them know you’ll be late, won’t they hold the ship for you?” We told her that this was just not done, and my daughter added, “I don’t want to miss the boat.”

Metaphorically, there have been times in my life that I have ‘missed the boat’. Sometimes I have taken so long to make a decision that the option I wanted was no longer available. Other times I didn’t believe in myself enough to go for the opportunity that was presented.

What I have learned is that I need to embrace each new day. The challenges and opportunities that I face are there for a reason. God is in control and wants me to trust in him and not my own limited understanding. By following him, even though I may not understand where he is leading or why, I won’t have to worry about ‘missing the boat’ for my life.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight(Proverbs 3:5,6 NIV)

It’s Called What?

Dragonflies, Snowdrifts, & Spice CakeMy second book, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake has just been released. Although I’m very happy with the title, it’s not the one I had originally chosen.

This collection of writings came about through reflecting on ordinary, everyday things and finding inspiration in them. For that reason I had decided on Moments of Reflection for the title.

While attending a conference I was telling a fellow writer about the book I was working on. She asked what I was going to call it and when I told her, the response was not what I expected. She said that title was too boring!

I could have been offended at her remark but chose instead to be grateful for her honesty. She suggested combining some of the story titles into the book title. It took months of brainstorming to come up with a combination I liked but the feedback I’ve received lets me know I made the right decision.

What I have learned from this is that when someone disagrees with me I have two options. I can take offense and feel rejected or I can listen to what they have to say and gain valuable insight.

By restraining my desire to defend my point of view I am able to keep silent and listen. This provides new possibilities for me to consider. I pray daily for wisdom and guidance and God may be using the words of someone else to bring that to me.

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:27-28 NIV)

How To View The Parade

God, life , beginning from the endGenerally when I watch a parade it is from a street level. I stand with the crowd of spectators and watch it go by. Although I have a view of what is in front of me, not much more than that can be seen.

A few times in my life I have actually been in a parade. The view that I get then is not of the parade itself, but of the spectators. It is a unique perspective.

Sometimes I’ve watched a parade on television. As well as close-ups of various parts of the parade, there is usually another angle shown. It is interesting to see from above with a birds-eye view. This gives a much broader scope. Occasionally from this vantage point the whole parade, from beginning to end, can be seen.

This is a good analogy for life. I can only see what is happening presently in my life. The whole picture is not available. There is no way for me to see my entire life.

God is the one who can see the beginning and the end. He knows the routes I need to take and has far more knowledge of my steps than I do. For this reason I need to give him control. This parade route called life will be so much better when the one who sees all is leading me.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.              (Psalm 32:8 NLT)

Not Easily Ruffled

harmony, Jesus, inspirationThree women were visiting and the conversation turned to summer clothing. We talked about shopping for sun dresses and the fact that many of them had ruffles.
We all agreed that this was not a style we felt comfortable in. As we parted ways, one turned and said, “I guess we’re just not easily ruffled!”

The play on words brought laughter but the phrase stuck in my mind.
If I am easily ruffled that means I get it doesn’t take much to get me upset. The definition for ruffle is to destroy the smoothness or evenness of …

When I take on too many things or don’t allow myself enough time the smoothness of my life becomes disturbed. In other words, I become ruffled. This is a position I find myself in more often that I like to admit.

The best way to combat this is to slow down and re-evaluate what is important in my life. I have found that I can achieve this by starting each day with Jesus. His love is at work in my life and when I am in harmony with him things flow much more smoothly. By letting him guide me I will not be easily ruffled.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Lessons From a Birthday Gift

God, life , beginning from the endI opened a small box and admired the lovely brooch inside. Many eyes were on me as I was asked if I knew why this design was chosen for me.

Our family has a Scottish heritage and the gift had come from Scotland but I figured there was more to it than that. Focusing on the design in the stone I struggled to see what images were there. My family laughed as I came up with some interesting interpretations.

After a few minutes my son-in-law took pity on me and asked how many thistles surrounded the stone. That was the clue I needed. There were eight, one for each of my grandchildren.

The stone itself was a Heathergem, made from the stems of the heather plant. Basically, the heather is picked, dried, died and then mixed together and compressed. Eighty tons of pressure is required to press the block of stems together. It was incredible to think this lovely stone was once the stems of a plant.

The first lesson I learned from this gift was that sometimes I look so hard to find a complicated solution that I overlook the answer that is right in front of me.

Lesson two was that pressure is not always a negative thing. It is not pleasant to go through times of intense pressure but this stone was evidence that the results can produce something of strength and beauty that would not otherwise be possible.
I need to remember that God can take any situation and produce something good from it. I only need to give it to him and allow him to do his work.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28 NLT)

Lessons From an Easter Egg Hunt

easter-egg-huntWe were holding our annual Easter egg hunt for the family. The grandkids were excited and couldn’t wait to get started. Once everyone had arrived, they were given some instructions and then we counted to three so all could head off at the same time.

We heard many squeals of delight as they discovered the hidden treats. There were always adults nearby to give assistance to whichever child needed it. Everyone had a good time and memories were made.

Our grandchildren know that we always have treats for them in our pantry. It would have been so much easier to gather goodies from there than search through the house for the unknown. There’s something exciting about the hunt
though.

This reminded me of my life. Many times I’ve set out searching for something even though I didn’t know what it was I was searching for. When I saw others finding what they wanted, I grew frustrated. Where was the treasure I needed to be fulfilled? If I couldn’t find it on my own, was there someone nearby to point me in the right direction?

What I discovered was that it was within my reach all along. I had been so focused on my search that I’d missed the treasure right before me. Jesus provided the answer to all of my needs. All I had to do was to put my life in His hands and trust Him for the outcome. He has led me on bigger adventures than I could have planned for myself. His faithfulness is so great that I am excited to see what treasures are in store for me as each day unfolds.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”  (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

Do You Wear a Mask?

authentic, Jesus, strength
My husband and I recently attended an event called Behind the Masque. It was mandatory for everyone attending to wear a mask. I had discovered that it wasn’t easy to fit a mask over my glasses so chose to have one painted on.

After I told the face painter that I liked turquoise and had a book coming out with the word Dragonflies in the title she came up with the amazing design you see pictured here. It was a work of art and seemed such a shame to have the canvas washed clean later that night.

Although people wore masks during the evening, we could usually tell who was behind them. This made me think of the masks I have hidden behind in my life. Maybe I haven’t hidden quite as well as I thought!

My struggle has been to be authentic. My ego doesn’t want to let people know that everything in my life isn’t perfect. They may not like me if they really know what’s behind this mask of confidence and self-assurance.

I was speaking to a friend about this and we agreed that wearing these masks is exhausting. She had recently taken hers off and was amazed at the new depth in her relationships.

In order to remove my mask I had to stop thinking I needed to do things on my own strength. Instead, I allow Jesus to take control. He has told us that he works best in our weakness. No I don’t see my weakness as a bad thing, but as an opportunity to let his strength work through me.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)