I learned a lot from watching grandchildren play checkers. Their game was an accurate depiction of life.
The first thing they did was to trade in the boring flat disks for the fun shapes of chess pieces. Why not choose pieces that make you happy?
There were no rules regarding what direction to travel in. Confidence allowed the pieces to move forward. Fear caused a retreat.
At times the entire focus was on one piece. This meant missed opportunities in other areas.
Does any of this ring true for you? It sure does for me! Played out before my eyes was an example of how behaviours learned in childhood are carried through into adult life.
They often pointed out their own weaknesses to the opposition. These would not have been noticed had attention not been drawn to them. I’ll admit I often do this as well.
The game was evenly matched for a long time. Then, one made a series of bad moves and was soon far behind. Discouragement set in and words like I’m not good at this game were spoken.
What happened next surprised me. The one in the lead sacrificed her certain win in order to make the other feel better. The unexpected winner received congratulations from the loser and the game ended with both players happy.
I looked on in awe and wondered if I would sacrifice a certain win in something in order to help another regain confidence.
These kids instinctively knew it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. This is a good reminder for me in the game of life.
During a walk on a frosty day, an unusual sight was seen. The pond was almost frozen over. Ice started around the shoreline and was reaching towards the centre. There, huddled together in the small area of remaining water, swam a few geese.
“Why hadn’t they flown south yet?” I wondered. It was only a matter of days before the ice would completely cover the pond. They were certainly leaving things until the last moment.
The scene made me think of the number of times I’ve acted like a silly goose. Signs of an impending freeze in my life have been ignored. If I don’t acknowledge what’s happening around me, maybe the trouble won’t materialize. After all, there’s no immediate danger so I may not have to take action.
This type of attitude has not served me well. Often the reason I put off making a decision is that I’m not sure which direction to take. What if I make the wrong choice? I fail to realize that making no decision is still making a decision!
I don’t know what the future holds but I do have a personal relationship with the One who does. God has promised to teach us what to do. I just need to call out to him in prayer and listen carefully for his response.
With this kind of power available to me, not to seek his guidance would make me as silly as those geese.
The Lord says, “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8 GWT)
Sometimes we happen to find the perfect gift for a loved one. That was the case with a birthday present for our nine-year-old granddaughter.
Part of her gift was a pillow. This was not your everyday pillow but a special one, with one side in a satin fabric and the other covered with sequins. I knew it would be a hit because what little girl doesn’t like sequins?
It got even better, though as these adornments were purple on one side and silver on the other. The colour changed depending on the direction you ran your hand over the surface. We watched her write and draw as she customized this special gift.
I understood why she liked the pillow because I enjoyed playing with it, too. There was no right or wrong way to make the designs. It could be predominantly purple, mostly silver or a blend of the two colours. I could draw straight lines or make random patterns.
If there was something I didn’t like I could erase it with a simple swipe of the hand. Starting over was not a failure but an opportunity to make something new.
I can create this feeling in other areas of my life. The pattern of my life is unique to me. There is no need to be the same as everyone else. If something isn’t working out for me I can embrace the opportunity to start again.
Somehow, playing with this pillow was freeing. I may just have to get one of my own!
This was the first major snowfall of the season. There had been a few that didn’t leave an accumulation, but this one was different.
I was attending a silent retreat and the blanket of snow seemed to also silence the land.
The sun appeared mid-afternoon, beckoning me to brave the cold and partake of the beautiful surroundings.
The only sound I could hear was the squeak of my boots on the snow. The pristine white surface sparkled with ice crystals looking like millions of pieces of glitter sprinkled before me.
I walked toward the evergreens dressed in their winter gowns.
The snow lay thick on the branches and I saw some weighed down by this heavy burden. Not only was this a photo op, it was also an analogy of life.
Too much of anything can weigh us down. A little guilt here, a touch of regret there and soon we are tired from our heavy load. We bow to the ground, unable to carry the burden. Without relief, we are in danger of breaking.
Jesus has promised to give us rest when we bring our burdens to him. First, we have to silence the noise in our minds. In the stillness will we be able to discern his voice and allow him to lighten our load.
When the sun shines on the tree branches the snow starts to fall away. In the same way, the Son of Man takes our worries, allowing us to stand straight and tall once again.
“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 GWT)
The aquafit instructor was adding a few new exercises for our class. At one point she told us, “Kick one leg up at a time. Pretend you are doing the can-can.”
I found it amusing to think of myself as a can-can girl. I’m a little – OK a lot – too old for that!
Then I remembered a magnet I have on my filing cabinet. It says Successful women come in cans not in can’ts.
Living this way is a choice. I can be committed, gentle, loyal, thoughtful, loving and kind. These are only a few of the positive traits I want to focus on.
The can’ts should be limited to the negative characteristics I sometimes struggle with. I imagine how much better life would be if the bad habits were eliminated. To lead a happy, productive life I can’t be harsh, critical, complaining, and uncaring. This can be a lot easier to follow through on with others than with me.
I can wish and want but until I am committed to change nothing is going to happen. My goal is to get the most out of life, and not merely exist. If I want to make a difference in the lives of others I first have to start with my own.
When my attitude changes so will my life. Who else wants to join me as a can-can gal or guy? Together we can change the world.
My chiropractor schedules regular progress exams with his patients. After a certain number of treatments, an assessment is done. I have completed three progress exams.
One part of checkup is having my photo taken while standing in front of a grid on the wall. This enables us to see if I am off centre. A thermal rolling scan was done as well as a questionnaire regarding my health
The purpose of all of this is to find out how my body is responding to treatment and if any changes are needed to make it more effective.
I think of other areas in life where it would be a good idea to get regular progress reports. I’ve been working on having more patience. How am I really doing with that? It seems to be going well until I’m in a stressful or frustrating situation. Those tests clearly show where I am off center. My calm, cool demeanour is shattered and my voice takes on a sharp edge. I’m not happy with the outcome of this testing but am now aware of changes that need to be made.
God allows us to be tested to teach us endurance. It is a way to train us to persist and not give up. The question I need to ask myself is how to make the necessary changes to improve my spiritual health.
I can start by spending more time in prayer and reading God’s instruction manual, the Bible. My time with Him will reveal the answers to my progress exams.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.” (James 1:12 NLT)
My latest book in progress was just returned by my editor. I was discouraged by all of the red marks and notations in the columns. I thought I’d sent some of my best work and still most pages required at least one revision.
It’s not easy to accept criticism, no matter how well-intentioned. Even when I hired someone to find and point out my mistakes, I didn’t like it.
My editor is positive and encouraging. She makes suggestions and leaves it up to me whether to implement them. Her role is to inform me of problems she sees and not to force me to make changes. My words shine brighter and have more clarity after following her suggestions. They are still my thoughts, just an improved version.
Can you think of a time you’ve been given helpful advice and took it as a personal attack? I certainly can. It hurt and I didn’t want to hear it. My first instinct was to put up a wall to block it out and protect myself.
Many times I’ve had to take a step back and seriously consider whether this feedback is valid. It is then up to me to decide if I want to discard or act upon it.
I am learning to appreciate those who act in my best interest by pointing out things I may not have been aware of. The process isn’t always pleasant but does have benefits. The revisions I choose to make because of the feedback can help me shine brighter and become an improved version of me.
My husband and I went to the mountains for a weekend escape. We arrived at night so weren’t able to take in the view until the next morning.
Our room promised a scenic vista and I was eager to check it out in the daylight. Although the mountains loomed close, they were shrouded in clouds so not as picturesque as I had hoped.
The next morning I saw an entirely different view. The mountains were the same but sun shining on the clearly defined peaks made them magnificent.
I took pictures at the same time each morning and they tell the story of the difference a day can make.
There are times in my life when the picture in front of me isn’t what I had hoped for. The days are gloomy and the future is anything but clear. It would be so easy to give in to despair.
Instead, I need to keep moving forward. My steps might not be as quick and lively as they once were but I can’t let that stop me.
I take comfort in a well-known Bible verse which says God will be with me as I walk through the dark valley. He doesn’t abandon me there. He is beside me every step of the way and will lead me to the bright sunshine once again. It may not be today or even tomorrow. All I need is the faith that a new day can make all the difference.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV)
I have a friend whose son has recently achieved his longtime dream of becoming a commercial pilot. She told me a story of one of his first flights and gave me permission to share.
Her son came home and said, “Mom, I was always the child that wanted to sit in an aisle seat with the hope of being able to see into the cockpit. I would lean into the aisle and watch for the cockpit door to be opened so I could get a glimpse inside. At the time I wondered if I would ever be able to fly an airplane.”
On one of his first flights, he looked back when a flight attendant opened the door to ask a question. There he saw people down the aisle of the plane, straining to get a look into the cockpit, where he now sat. This moment took him back to the childhood memory and reinforced that he has achieved his dream.
I loved this story and thought of how sometimes we need to look back to where we once were in order to see how much we’ve accomplished. I’ve been told there are only two good reasons for looking into the past; one is to learn from it and the other is to see how far we’ve come.
This is a good reminder for me. I can easily get frustrated because I haven’t achieved all that I hoped to. The next time this happens, I need to stop and think of the progress I have made. I may not be where I wanted to be but I am not where I once was.
Sometimes the only way to realize how far I’ve come is to remember where I started from. This is a good lesson for all of us.
We were on our way to visit friends living outside of the city. When the busy streets turned into quiet country roads the only illumination came from our headlights. The air was crisp and the sky clear enough to see a few twinkling stars. As more stars became visible a decision was made to pull over and get out of the car so we could have a better view.
What we saw when we stepped into the dark night was magnificent. The black velvet sky was filled with twinkling stars.
These celestial lights were there before we stopped but the distraction of streetlights, headlights and other man-made illumination kept us from seeing them. Closer lights with a much lower wattage kept us from seeing the brilliance in the heavens.
The analogy to life couldn’t have been clearer. It is so easy for me to be distracted by something close at hand. Often I’ve been drawn towards a glimmer of hope that has proven to be nothing more than a distraction from the light which is truly important.
To appreciate the light that was given to guide me, I need to look up. Not just up twenty feet to a street light, but way up to the one who created the stars.
The brightest hope and promise I will ever experience comes from a relationship with The Lord. Anything that keeps me from pursuing Him is an unwanted distraction.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105 NLT)