Five minutes into the exercise class our instructor said, “We need to warm up your hearts.”
I turned to my friend and told her I didn’t think I was cold-hearted to start with.
We laughed but I knew there have been circumstances in my life when my heart definitely needed warming.
It wasn’t cold to everyone, just those who had hurt me by what they had said or done – or maybe it was something not said or done.
I hung onto bitterness and anger like it was a prize. I knew I had every right to be upset and was exercising that right to the fullest.
It didn’t matter if the offending party was even aware of the issue. I had been wronged and a sincere apology had not been offered. Forgiveness was out of the question.
I thought forgiveness meant I was saying the offence was acceptable. It took me many years to understand the one suffering from my unforgiveness was me. I heard someone say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Only then did I see how cold and hard my heart had become.
Since then I have been learning to keep short accounts. Some transgressions require a continuous effort to forgive. It is not a one-time thing but something to be repeated over and over until I can look at the situation and not have any negative emotion.
Forgiving others allows me to let go of the negative thoughts I’ve been holding onto. This is what sets me free from the past so I can fully embrace the life before me. Only then will my cold heart become warm and loving again.
We have an area set aside in our backyard for a vegetable garden. Every year we look forward to the harvest of fresh produce to come.
Before seeds can be sown, the soil must be prepared. If the dirt is hard and compact, it needs to be broken up and turned over. The soil also needs to be fertile enough to sustain the growth we hope to achieve. The task of a gardener is ongoing throughout the season and I’m grateful my husband has taken this on.
He knows that hard, unyielding soil will not allow roots to push through and grow. Stones and undesirable roots left in the soil can hamper the growth of seeds planted.
If we are not careful weeds will quickly grow and choke the life from the seedlings. One of the roles of a gardener is to tend the plants, removing anything that will impede their growth. Without proper care, they will be unable to reach their full potential.
I think of myself as one of these seeds. Sometimes I put myself in situations that hamper my growth. God wants me to have deep roots so I can reach my full potential. When I am hard and unyielding He may need to do some digging into my life and break up the clumps of stubbornness and rebellion. The weeds of my wrong attitudes need to be removed.
This process can be quite uncomfortable but the results are worth it. The thought of being a seed, planted by the loving hands of my Heavenly Father is reassuring. There is no better gardener to nourish and care for me. His love and protection will help me reach my full potential.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1 ERV)
We spent the long weekend in our RV. Despite summer-like temperatures and a peaceful, beautiful setting, our enjoyment was hampered by mosquitoes.
Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me but I don’t remember these annoying insects being as troublesome in previous years.
Let me paint you a picture. I sat at a picnic table under a bright blue sky; pen in hand ready to do some writing. Slightly behind me, a bug zapper was plugged in. A citronella candle burned within an arm’s length. And yet, mosquitoes continued to land on me.
I would swat them away and return to my writing, determined not to let these pests cause me to retreat indoors. Moments later, they would be back again. Sometimes I wasn’t aware of one landing until it had already done its damage. These tiny insects were destroying my peace of mind. The only solution was to go back inside and apply the insect repellent I should have used before coming outside.
I wonder if these pesky, blood-sucking insects are like the negative thoughts that swarm in my mind. I swat just as ineffectively at them. These thoughts keep coming back, sucking away my confidence. Soon they have me convinced I shouldn’t be out among all you ‘perfect’ people and I retreat into myself. My time becomes spent looking out longingly, wishing I could join in with everyone else.
Instead of living like this, there is a powerful repellent I can use. Repeating affirmations such as, I am strong, I am confident, I am valuable, I am worthy, I am loved have proven to be effective in fighting off negative thoughts. The more often I say these words with conviction, the more powerful they become.
When I believe the positive words, I am free to step out into a world of possibilities.
For many, the handwritten note or letter is a thing of the past. Why would we take the time to sit down with pen and paper when it’s much quicker to log onto the computer?
However, I enjoy giving handwritten notes of encouragement and support. The feedback I receive tells me the personal touch is appreciated.
Mistakes made with ink on paper are not easily erased and corrections made on the page can look messy. In these cases, I turn to a solution made popular in the last century!
It is called whiteout. The fluid comes in a small bottle with a brush and all I have to do is cover over the error with the liquid and wait for a few seconds for it to dry. Then I can carry on as if the mistake never happened.
That might be the idea but often I either apply either too little, leaving the mistake to show through, or too much, leaving a bumpy surface that’s difficult to write on. This magic eraser also comes in a tape form which I have never been able to master. The result is my mistakes don’t always disappear as I’d like them to.
I know of something that completely blots out the big mistakes in my life. It leaves me fresh and clean and able to start over again. What is this magic formula? It is called forgiveness of my sins. I don’t have to shop for this in the store or wonder how to apply it properly. All I need is to sincerely come to God in prayer, confess my sins, and repent. God promises to forgive and give me a fresh start. I can think of no better way to get rid of my mistakes.
God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong, (1 John 1:9 GWT)
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word cactus? For me, it is the thorns. These spiky protrusions keep me from wanting to get too close for risk of injury.
There is much more to these plants than I was aware of. Most of the time their appearance, although interesting, is not terribly appealing. Found in extremely dry climates, cacti are often covered in spikes, thorns and needles. During the proper season, a cactus can produce some of the most beautiful flowers seen in nature. The big, showy blossoms were a complete surprise to me.
My life can be like that of the cacti. When I am left in very dry conditions for extended periods I become prickly too! You won’t want to get too close for fear of being attacked by one of my barbs. They are there for my protection and have a tendency to injure those who come in contact with me when I feel threatened.
When conditions are favourable I may blossom in unexpected ways. If you judge me as unapproachable and keep your distance, you will miss out on the beauty my life has to offer. It was there all along, waiting just below the surface.
So, when you see my prickly side, please don’t walk away. Look at me for the potential I have and appreciate me for who I am. You may be the one who encourages me to show the world the beauty that lies within.
He who wants a rose must respect the thorn. – Persian Proverb
Mother’s Day has come and gone for another year. How did you celebrate it? It is about so much more than flowers, meals out or extravagant gifts. As a mother, these were not my focus.
Instead, I spent time remembering and appreciating my mom. She went to be with Jesus nineteen years ago and I still miss her. I am aware not everyone had a mother who loved them unconditionally and was their biggest supporter. I am grateful for mine and thank the Lord on a regular basis for my upbringing.
I also celebrated the privilege of being a mother. Among other things, my children have taught me patience and how fierce and protective love can be. They are an incredible gift and have helped mould me into the woman I am today. Again, I thank the Lord daily for my family.
Being a grandmother is another reason to rejoice. The only way I can describe the relationship with my grandchildren is to say it is a whole new level of love. I willingly accept the challenge to support each of their unique personalities in the way they need. My grandchildren are the treasures who make my life rich.
Mothers play an important role but so do many other nurturing women who are not called mom. I see many women loving and supporting children who are not their own. They also deserve to be celebrated on an ongoing basis.
To all the mothers, step-mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and loving friends, may God bless you richly for the role you play in building up the next generation. Who you are and what you do makes a difference.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)
The germ of an idea had come to me and I was determined to write about it. Words didn’t flow as I had hoped so I put it aside for the morning.
The next day I spent several hours at the keyboard and was making progress. When my attention started to drift I decided it must be time to take a break. I checked my email and social media but that didn’t help me focus. Maybe I needed to get away from the keyboard and screen.
Exercise was the last thing on my mind but it was a nice day so I laced up my shoes, grabbed my house keys and went out for a walk. The sun felt good on my back and the breeze blew away the cobwebs in my mind. I headed to a paved path alongside a nearby creek.
Up ahead, I saw two boys with fishing nets, bending down over the water. Two women sat on the grass, chatting and watching their sons. They called me over and showed me a bucket containing some crayfish the boys caught. I hadn’t known those could be found locally.
A few minutes later I continued my walk. Lots people were outside enjoying the beautiful spring day. Children pedalled past on their bicycles. Adults smiled and commented on the lovely weather. I heard singing coming from two girls on the bridge that crossed the creek. Happiness was all around.
Signs of new life surrounded me. Leaves were bursting out on the trees and flower stalks were emerging from the earth.
I returned home rejuvenated and grateful to experience how much life there is to live when I venture beyond the keyboard.
Charles Swindoll, in his book The Finishing Touch, recalled starting his ministry in California.
After many years of pastoring in a small town, he suddenly faced a city teeming with people. As he thought about the enormity of the task ahead, God reminded him that it was impossible to reach everyone. His responsibility was to make a difference in the lives of those he came in contact with.
In his words, “I stopped paying attention to the enormity of the impossible and started pouring my time and energy into the possible.” This made all the difference for him.
I don’t know about you, but I relate to this story. Often I have been faced with seemingly impossible tasks. Something big becomes overwhelming and I don’t know how to cope. That’s when I need to focus on the next possible step. God will direct me to achieve what is needed.
Another quote I like is by Lysa Terkeurst, from her book Embraced. “Even if you don’t know all the details of your calling quite yet, thank God for making you perfectly equipped for your assignment ahead. And when insecurities start to make you doubt, flip it around and say, “God, I may doubt myself, But I will not doubt You. So, I will let Your perfection override my feelings of imperfection and do what You instruct me.”
The lesson for me is to trust God and not to rely on my own strength. Each morning He provides me with what I need in order to accomplish his plan for that day. The perfection of God will always override my imperfection and turn the enormity of the impossible into something possible.
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:23 NLT)
Over the past year or so I’ve been hearing quite a bit about a sport called pickleball. Some of you may be familiar with it but until recently it was new to me.
I was intrigued to hear this promoted as a game for all ages and fitness levels and wanted to learn more.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. It can be played as singles or doubles. I was never good at tennis but enjoyed badminton and table tennis so this may be a possibility for me. When I learned the court is half the size of a tennis court, I was even more interested.
My husband and I went to watch someone we knew play in a tournament. A game or two stretched into several hours as we enjoyed observing and learning from this game.
Some of what I saw on the court would serve me well in life. While each team wanted to win, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. We would hear joking and encouragement and not criticism when someone made a mistake. A positive attitude and support for their partner made the difference between stress and enjoyment. I know this in my head, but the visual reminder was appreciated.
The players were scrupulously honest. They would call errors on themselves, even though it meant a point for the other team or loss of the game. It didn’t matter if anyone else had seen the fault or not. Integrity such as this is something I strive to be known for.
During the tournament, we saw teams that had been eliminated now cheering for the team that had defeated them. The sportsmanship and values portrayed convinced me that no matter my athletic ability, being in this kind of a pickle is a very positive thing.