What I Leave Behind

#inspiration, nature, path, My husband and I were walking on a path through the woods when we saw some animal scat in front of us. I wondered what kind of animal had preceded us. I hoped it was from a deer and not something more dangerous. To confirm this, I took a picture for identification purposes. This would let me know if this path was a safe place for future walks.

Our initial guess turned out to be correct and my fear of a dangerous animal was alleviated.

The situation did produce some interesting questions though. I wondered if I could be identified by the crap I leave behind.

Do my fears and insecurities leave a trail of chaos in my wake? Do my frustrations and anger cause turmoil for others? Does the garbage left behind let you know I was there? Am I walking away and expecting others to clean up my mess?

If any of these are the case, I need to make some changes. None of them are ways I would like to be remembered.

Knowing I can be identified by what I leave behind, I want to leave a legacy of kind words and gestures that showed I cared. Smiles, laughter and stories of memories made together are the best evidence of my footprints in your life. My purpose is to inspire others by sharing from my heart to help them see their true value.#inspiration, value, beauty

I think I’ll keep that picture of deer scat on my phone as a reminder of what and what not to leave behind.

This story is from my book Another Perspective

Proud Citizens

#inspiration, #heaven, #Jesus, kindnessToday is Canada Day. My husband and I will soon be joining thousands of others in our city to watch the Canada Day parade. We have our red shirts and maple leaf insignia to wear and flags to wave. This is our way of showing our patriotism.

Festivities in honour of Canada’s 152nd birthday will take place all across our vast nation. In our city and many others, the celebrations will conclude with spectacular fireworks displays. These events enable us to come together and celebrate our citizenship in what we believe is one of the best countries in the world.

Across the world citizens of Canada have a reputation for being polite. Kindness and care for others is also an attribute of those with a heavenly citizenship.

A friend once told me that we often go through life like tourists. We gather souvenirs and mementos from places we’ve been and people we’ve met. What we are called to do as citizens of heaven is to leave little pieces of heaven wherever we go. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

No matter what country we live in, we are also citizens of heaven. One day we will all be reunited with our Lord, Jesus Christ. No citizenship can be better and that alone is reason for celebration.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20 NIV)

Stand Still

#inspiration, protection, nature, rabbitI turned the corner onto my street and saw one of our neighbourhood jackrabbits hopping across the road. When it heard my car approaching, the rabbit stopped right where it was – in the middle of the road. It held perfectly still as I slowly drove past.

Often I see one of these rabbits in my yard and instead of hopping away when I come close, it will freeze in position, as if to blend into the surroundings and become invisible. Some places are easier to blend into than others.

What is interesting to me is the rabbits hold still when they haven’t done anything wrong but if I come outside and see one doing something destructive in my garden it sure hops off in a hurry. I guess it all depends if it thinks I’ve seen it or not.

I didn’t see the rabbits eating my tulips this year, but the fact only one matured enough to flower gives me the impression the others became tasty meals.

My husband was wondering aloud one day about a sparse patch on our front lawn. He had re-seeded that area but hadn’t seen any new growth. “Maybe the birds ate the seeds,” he said. A few days later he looked outside early in the morning and saw two rabbits happily munching away in this area. It turns out they were eating the tender new shoots of grass before they matured enough for us to see them. Mystery solved!

To be fair, blending in with the surroundings can be an effective survival tactic. If the rabbit can’t be seen, there will be no danger of harm.

Although this may be useful for animals, the behaviour doesn’t work the same way for people. How do I know this for certain; because I’ve tried it?

Someone once told me she had observed me making myself invisible when I was out of my comfort zone. I was like the rabbit on the road. I thought no one could see me but I was wrong.

My desire is to feel like I belong, that I’m part of what is going on. When it feels like this is a bigger challenge than I can handle, I withdraw to protect myself from rejection. This makes me appear aloof and unapproachable. The result is I am not drawn into the group. Isn’t it ironic that I create the very situation I was afraid of?

 

This story was published in my book  Another Perspective.

Silence

#inspiration, #Jesus, silenceI was attending a silent retreat. While I was not speaking, things were far from silent. Sitting in the morning sunshine I was serenaded by the songs of various birds. Some I would have noticed before, but there are many I would have missed amid the sounds of human voices.

Even though I was not speaking aloud, the voices in my head continued. Random thoughts appear in my conscious mind, taking me back to the busy life I’d left behind. It was during these times that I realized how difficult it is to focus on only the present.

I gazed over an expanse of lawn, framed by towering evergreens. Off to one side, a river wound its way lazily through the property. I was surrounded by the beauty and majesty that God had created. In my mind, I heard the words “be still and know that I am God”.

It is in the stillness that God’s message for me becomes clear. For only when I block out the distractions of the world am I truly able to focus on the loving relationship that my Heavenly Father longs to have with me. There is peace, stillness for my mind and renewal for my soul to be found in the silence.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

This is found in my book Inspirations From the Everyday. This past weekend I once again attended this silent retreat and had the same profund experience.

 

Grasshoppers

#inspiration, nature, wonder, discoveriesI was standing in the grass on a highway median, doing my best to keep three little girls occupied while a tire on their parents’ vehicle was being changed. They were starting to get restless when I spotted movement in the tall grass.

Showing them the grasshopper was a wonderful distraction. Soon we were on the hunt for more of these insects.

Two of the girls excitedly spotted several more and delighted in watching them hop. The other one complained that she couldn’t see grasshoppers; all she could see were bugs. Explaining that they were the grasshoppers didn’t help. She wanted nothing to do with them.

Reflecting on this later, I wondered how often I’d missed the wonder of something new because I couldn’t see past my perception of what I thought it should be.

Life is full of exciting adventures, but only if I open my heart and mind to accept and receive them. Immediately deciding that I don’t want or like something means I’ll miss these discoveries. It’s when I forget my routine life and enter into the adventure that I can truly experience all the wonders in store for me.

This story was taken from my book Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake

Dandelions

#inspiration, #Jesus, seedsSpring takes a long time to arrive in Southern Alberta. When it finally arrives, it makes up for lost time. In the span of a week, the trees were full of leaves and brightly coloured blossoms. The lawn was lush and green and we could practically watch it grow. The other sure sign of spring is the profusion of dandelions.

The bright yellow flowers are a favourite for young children to pick. They look so pretty that it’s hard to remember that they are weeds. When the flower dies, the plant produces seeds. Dandelions can produce up to 20,000 seeds which are blown by the wind, landing somewhere they can germinate and grow. Left unchecked, a few dandelions can quickly spread.

I may follow all measures to rid my lawn of dandelions, but if my neighbours do not do the same, I will be faced with many more of these weeds in the future.

The same is true in my life. I know the things I need to do to keep my life running smoothly. Slowly I have let little weeds enter, feeling that they are small enough to not cause problems. Once I allow them to take hold, they put down roots, spread their seeds and multiply. Soon my life is overrun and I’m left wondering what happened.

Jesus plants only good, fruitful seeds in my life. My responsibility is to nurture these seeds and not to allow the weeds to choke them out. By walking closely with Jesus, I can eliminate the weeds and live the fruitful life that he has planned for me.

“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” Matthew 13:23 NKJV

This post first appeared on my blog in June 2014

Play Dates

#inspiration, play, have funWay back in time, when I was a child, play times with friends were not normally prearranged. We just headed outside and down the street until we found someone to play with.

Much was the same when my children were young. They went into the neighbourhood, connected with friends and came back home for dinner.

Today, between the busy work schedules of parents and extracurricular activities for kids, this is more challenging. Add in the media warnings not to leave children unattended and the kind of play other generations participated in is no longer commonplace.

The social interaction of play is important so play dates are arranged in order to make it happen.

If this is a good idea for children, it makes sense to me the same would hold true for adults. My friends and I may have good intentions but we can go months without actually seeing each other.

When it does happen it’s usually two of us meeting at a coffee shop or over lunch. After an hour or so, we are both on our way again.

I decided I wanted more than that so arranged a play date with three other friends. We met at the home studio of another friend and spent an entire afternoon talking and laughing as we stepped out of our comfort zone and learned to work with resin.

The afternoon was a success. Everyone agreed we should do it again next month. The projects we created were a bonus as the real prize was the time spent having fun together. My biggest take away from the day was that play dates are good for adults too!

Deep Hole

#inspiration,  #God, rescueRecently I told you about the small coloured flags scattered throughout my neighbourhood. Mine is one of the many yards to have another feature added.

Men arrived in my yard one day and dug a deep hole. It was fenced off by a piece of wood on four sides with orange reflective tape strung between them. A piece of plywood with the words Danger Deep Hole spray painted on the surface covered the hole.

Once the service work has been completed, the hole will be filled in and the wood and tape removed. In the meantime, these markings serve as a warning to keep me from falling into the pit.

Even though the area marked off in my yard is not as large as in some others, it could still be hazardous to stumble into.

I haven’t fallen into a physical hole but have slipped into pits of despair. My missteps led me onto unstable ground and I ended up in a deep, dark hole. There were probably warning signs but nothing as obvious as reflective tape and spray painted letters.

There seemed no way to climb out of the mud and mire. I wallowed in this despair until I called out to the one who could rescue me. The Lord heard my cry and lifted me up. He lovingly set my feet on solid ground. With Him walking beside me I am not concerned about falling into this pit again.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. (Psalm 40:2 NLT)

Who Are You?

#inspiration, children, introductionsMy husband was mowing the lawn at our son’s house when our granddaughters came home from school. Two came out to see him. One of the girls had a friend with her and hesitated before making an introduction. Then she turned to her friend and said, “This is the guy who comes to cut our grass.”

Brian choked back his laughter at the time but was still chuckling about it when he got home. We joked about this unusual introduction and knew it made a funny story to tell. It also made me stop and think.

We talked about the reasoning behind this. My husband was not there in his role as a grandfather; instead, he was in the back yard mowing the lawn. He was defined that day by what he was doing, not who he was.

How often do we describe ourselves by what we do? I know I’ve been guilty of this. When asked about myself I tend to tell you I’m a wife, mother and grandmother. You may learn about some of the jobs I’ve held, my volunteer activities or that I am now retired. You’ll definitely hear about my grandchildren!

These are all an important part of the woman I’ve become but they don’t define me. There is much more to me than that. I am an observer of life, a lover of nature and an encourager who is passionate about sharing from my heart.

Unless I communicate with you on a deeper level you will only know me by what I do and not who I am.

I’d like to know you better. What are your passions? Help me learn who you are.

 

Under Construction

#inspiration, blog,, writing, beginnings, #GodToday I am celebrating the seventh anniversary of this blog by sharing the first story I ever posted. ‘Under Construction’ also appears in my book Inspirations From the Everyday.

I had just returned from a road trip with a couple of friends. This seemed to be the time of year that there was a lot of road construction going on. Some roads had barriers blocking off one lane while the road was being improved.

Others were full of potholes that jarred the vehicle as we drove through them. One stretch of road had so many patches of fresh tar, that driving around them was like being on an obstacle course. A few times we travelled on gravel for several kilometers.

All of this reminded me of life. Our lives are constantly under construction. We’re jarred by the unexpected potholes we encounter. Lots of times we have problems that stick to us like tar. We don’t fully appreciate the smooth road of life until we have bumped along on the gravel for awhile.

Just like driving on roads under construction, things may be tougher to navigate but we can do it if we slow down and consider the situation we are travelling through.

God is working in us, reconstructing and repairing the damage that has been done. The process is not always pleasant, but it is necessary to enable us to travel the road that He has prepared for us.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)