Here Comes the Judge

#inspiration, juddddgments, lessonA heavily tattooed man walked past.  Our topic of conversation changed as one woman told us of an experience she had several years ago.

She was a teacher and the mother of one of her students had multiple tattoos. At first glance, judgments were made about this woman’s lifestyle and character.

The teacher learned a lesson when she actually got to know the student’s mother. She said, “This woman was gentle, kind and highly educated. She was totally opposite to what I expected and I knew how wrong my initial impression had been. Since then I do my best not to judge anyone based on appearance.”

I know someone who had a medical condition that caused her to gain a lot of weight. This, in itself, was difficult enough. She told me that people no longer looked her in the eye when they passed on the sidewalk. It was if she no longer existed. Did others judge her as unworthy of respect due to the extra weight she carried? Her story caused me to reevaluate the way I experience strangers. There is so much more to someone than how they look.

As an extremely shy teenager, I overheard a conversation referring to me as stuck-up. It was actually the opposite. Instead of thinking I was better than the others; I didn’t think I was good enough to speak to them. I remained in the shadows, wishing for the confidence to tell them the truth. These judgments defined me for many years.

I wish I could say I am free from judgments. That would be a lie. I’m working on it and getting much better, but they still slip in. Remembering they are usually wrong helps. With this in mind, I know most of my harshest judgments are against me.

“Judgment means that you view the world as you are, rather than as it is.” Wayne Dyer

For the Birds

#inspiration, God, care, provision, love
Hummingbirds at our neighbours feeder

My childhood home had honeysuckle vines that wound their way up and around a large trellis. In the summer these vines were covered by an abundance of fragrant flowers. These blossoms attracted hummingbirds.

From our dining room window, I had an unobstructed view of them hovering to feed on the sweet nectar before darting to another blossom. My fascination for these, one of the smallest species of birds, started those many years ago.

Even today I will stop to marvel at these tiny birds that appear to suspend in mid-air. Their wings beat so rapidly the movement is difficult to detect. Flitting from flower to flower appears effortless.

In fact, they flap their wings about eighty times a second and require an enormous amount of food to keep their tiny bodies fueled. I am amazed by these diminutive creatures and what they accomplish.

They remind me of a song from my childhood. One of the lines says, “God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view. If God so loves the little birds, I know He loves me too.”

Hummingbirds aren’t specifically mentioned in the Bible but birds in general are. Scripture tells us that not a single one can fall to the ground without God knowing it.

As much as God loves the birds, we are also told that we are His greatest creation. It gives me comfort to witness the marvel of a hummingbird and know that if God provides for them He will surely provide for me, too.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26 NIV)

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. (Matthew 10:29 NLT)

What Sign?

#inspiration, signs, lost, walkingA friend confessed he’d gotten lost recently. It was a nice day and he decided to walk to an appointment several kilometers away. To avoid busy streets he’d cut through a few neighbourhoods and should be there in twenty to thirty minutes.

He set off and twenty minutes later was surprised to discover he was back near his starting point. It hadn’t seemed like he was going in circles, but that must have been the case. Frustrated, he went home and got the car. The destination was much easier to reach when driving.

Later, this friend asked his wife to accompany him so they could figure out where he’d gone wrong. The route confused her, too. Then she saw a sign that would have pointed him in the right direction. “Did you see this sign?” she asked. “It would have helped you”. “I noticed there were signs but didn’t bother to read them,” he replied.

This was more than an amusing story. It was also an example of how easy it is to go astray when I don’t pay attention.

Signs to point me in the right direction are often all around me. The question is, do I pay attention or ignore them, assuming I know how best to reach my destination? Maybe the detours and stumbling blocks are there for a reason.

Even when I have confidence in where I’m going and how to get there sometimes the route is unfamiliar causing confusion. It’s easy to get disoriented and go in circles. The result is a lot of time and effort spent to get nowhere!

The only solution is to pay attention. This is easier said than done, but I have learned it’s the only way to keep on track.

To the Rescue

#inspiration, #Jesus, saves, rescue, distress
100 year old fire truck

My attention was diverted from the exercise instructor when I saw the flashing lights. Two fire trucks pulled up and stopped not far from the floor to ceiling windows.

Curiosity got the best of me as I watched what was going on outside. I went through the motions of exercise but my focus was definitely not on what I was doing.

One of the trucks extended and turned its ladder. I could see it reach the roof of the building. For a brief moment, a firefighter was visible on the roof before moving out of sight. I wondered what was going on.

After some time the ladder swung away from the roof. Two fire crew and a stretcher were visible at the top of the ladder. As it descended, this portion of the ladder was blocked from view and I was once again left to speculate. A short time later both fire trucks pulled out of the parking lot.

I don’t know the situation that unfolded that morning. What I do know is the brave members of fire departments do not hesitate to rush in, lights flashing, sirens blaring, to rescue us from harm. When we call on them for help we know they will respond.

They are always looking to update their equipment so they can reach us faster and serve us more efficiently. They risk their lives in order to protect ours. Why do they do this? Because it is what they are called to do.

I know someone else who rushes to help me when I call out in distress. Jesus is always available to come to my rescue.

He didn’t just risk his life; he freely gave it up in order for me to have eternal life. He paid a debt he didn’t owe to provide me with a gift I didn’t deserve.

Lights and sirens aren’t required. His methods never become outdated. I know that when I call, nothing will get in the way of Jesus rushing to my rescue.

“During times of trouble I called on the Lord. The Lord answered me and set me free from all of them.” (Psalm 118:5 GWT)

Tribute to Mom

#Inspiration, mom, mothers dayMother’s Day is a bittersweet time for me. Twenty years ago, on Mother’s Day weekend, my mom went to her eternal home. After all these years, I still miss her. If I concentrate hard enough, I can almost hear her voice.

No longer can I share my life, ask for advice and learn from her quiet wisdom. She gave me all she could when she was with me. Now I draw on those memories as I navigate my life.

Recently I was told my mom would have been proud of me. Oh, how I cherished those words.

Mom loved me enough to ensure I learned what was needed to have a fulfilling life. This was much more than separating the whites from bright colours when I did the laundry, or not letting the potatoes boil dry!

She taught me to be polite and respectful.

Her example showed me the value of service to others. I learned giving is receiving. To this day volunteering is still one of the most rewarding parts of my life.

Although I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, she helped me learn appropriate discipline is a form of love. I learned to be honest and responsible.

When I did something wrong, she was forgiving. This taught me to be honest about my failures. I also learned the freeing power of forgiving others.

The twinkle in her eyes and quick wit ensured I would appreciate fun and laughter. Her ability to laugh at herself helped me learn not to take myself too seriously.

Mom’s deep love of family helped me see the beauty in committed relationships. She loved and accepted each of us despite our flaws and weaknesses.

I know my mom was proud of me because she told me so in her final days. I like to think she’d be proud of the woman I’ve become today.

The best way to honour mom’s memory is to pass her wisdom and love on to the young women who follow behind me, so they, in turn, may pass it on. I look at my daughter, my daughter-in-law and my granddaughters and know she’d be as proud of them as I am.

No Complaining

#Inspiration, #God, #Monday MusingsI know complaining doesn’t accomplish anything positive, yet there are times I struggle with this vice. Snow in May qualifies!

The calendar tells me it’s been spring for over a month. The weather seems to be on a different schedule.

We left home early Saturday morning for a city several hours away. The grey sky soon showered us with snow and freezing rain. Slippery road conditions meant reduced speed and extra caution for the next ninety minutes. We finally passed through the weather system and breathed a sigh of relief.

The remaining hours of our drive were pleasant, as was most of our drive home that evening. Close to home we were taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of snow and icy roads. An immediate adjustment to this new situation was required.

We’d gone through both easy and challenging during this trip and said a prayer of gratitude for our safe arrival home.

There was an accumulation of snow on the ground when we went to church Sunday morning. The pastor started by saying, “We won’t complain about the weather. The farmers need the moisture for their land.”

His comment caused me to stop and re-evaluate my thinking. Fields that produce abundant crops benefit many. Value from the weather situation was created. My temporary discomfort was insignificant in the light of the greater good.

Later in the day we travelled the same highway. The clear, dry road that would normally be taken for granted was now appreciated.

Maybe that is one of the reasons God allows storms in my life. They force me to slow down and rely on Him. Once they have passed I reflect on God’s protection and provision through all seasons of life. Instead of complaining about the storms I must look for the lessons in them and give thanks.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT)

 

The Eyes Have It

#inspiration, eyes, observation,It was an interesting discovery. While sorting through a drawer full of papers I came across one that had been tucked away several years ago and forgotten.

At the end of a seminar, each of us was presented with a unique gift to commemorate our days together. On a large piece of paper, someone had sketched the eyes of over sixty participants. The name of each person was printed neatly above one eyebrow.

I was fascinated to see the numerous shapes of eyes. Some were almond shaped while others were wide and round. The eyebrows were even more diverse. From delicately shaped to thick and bushy, the brows framed the facial features. No two sets of eyes were exactly alike.

The artistic ability required to create these realistic images was impressive. Even more so was the power of observation needed to capture the small details that helped identify each person.

I read somewhere that observation has less to do with the things you see than the way you see them. This is true for more than artists. It applies to each of us.

Many years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal. Each night I write down five things I was grateful for that day. Focusing on the positive has changed my perspective and my life. When I look for the beauty in my surroundings, the goodness in people and the life lessons that present themselves, that is what my eyes see. The minor irritations fade into the background.

My goal is to create value in all things. It doesn’t always happen but I am getting better at it. I have learned if I want to create a positive life my eyes need to be looking for the right things.