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I Hear the Ice Cream Truck!

#inspiration, #Jesus, refreshmentOne of the signs of summer is the distinctive music of an ice cream truck as it slowly winds its way through the neighbourhoods. The sound can be heard several blocks away which gives children a chance to race to their parents and beg for money to pay for a treat.

I don’t know of another sound in the summer that brings people running. Thoughts of enjoying ice cream treats delivered right to your neighbourhood, are enough to send many searching for their wallets!

Even if I don’t want to indulge in the offerings, the music brings pleasant memories of summers past, when I had young children excited to hear the sound of the ice cream truck approaching. If they were fast enough, they could wait at the end of the driveway and the truck would stop. If not, they would need to chase it down the street and maybe wait in line for their favourite treat.

Most of the offerings from the ice cream truck are available at local stores but people are still willing to pay a premium price to the ice cream man. There must be something in the simple melody the truck plays that draws people in.

I think of this attraction and wonder how many people are drawn to Jesus in the same excited way. The bounties he brings are too numerous to be listed on the side of a truck. There is no premium price involved; no need to chase him down the street, money in hand.

When I’m open to what Jesus has to offer, he delivers directly to me, no lineups involved. And, best of all, there’s no need to wait for summer to receive the refreshment he brings.

Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. (James 1:17 GWT)

Oops, That Shouldn’t be Showing

#inspiration, weeds, rootsI did a double-take. What I was seeing didn’t seem right, but there it was. A weed was poking up in the middle of some artificial grass!

The turf had an open weave backing to allowing moisture to drain through. The weed took advantage of an area it could work its way through and was now in plain view. I wonder how long it persevered, working its way towards the light of day.

I saw this weed as an analogy of the bad habits in my life. They may be hidden from view for quite some time, but eventually, will work their way to the surface. Without warning, they will break through and become visible for all to see.

My intention is to keep you from seeing these. That’s why I covered the unflattering things with an artificial layer in the first place. Although I pretend what is hidden doesn’t exist, I know that sooner or later the truth will come to light and I’ll have to deal with it.

When it does, will I quickly cover it up to keep growing or will I remove the problem at its root? The first option is a temporary solution. It may seem easier to start with but I’ll always be wondering where and when those nasty weeds will pop up again.

The second option takes more work initially. I need to be willing to peel back the perfect looking surface and do some hard digging. Only then can I get to the root of the problem. If it’s more than I can deal with on my own, I may even need to enlist some help.

My peace of mind won’t return until the weed is eliminated. It’s time for me to get my hands dirty and start digging. How do you deal with the weeds in your life?

“I don’t want to be overdramatic about it, but I’m starting to see a lot of my bad habits get the best of me.” Ben Gibbard

Music to My Ears

#God, #inspiration, prayer, music to my earsIn the pre-dawn hours, I awakened to the music of birdsong. I’m used to hearing birds in the daylight but the night time melody caught me by surprise.
Once the sun rose, the distinctive sound heard hours earlier was no longer evident.

I soon discovered that this was not a one-time occurrence but one repeated nightly during the late spring and early summer.

As I enjoy the happy sound of this nocturnal chorus I wonder if God gets the same pleasure from hearing my voice when I call out to him. Is it like music to his ears?

In some ways, I’m similar to the night time warblers. I call out to God in my darkest hours but, sadly, my voice can become silent when the light returns to my life.

God wants to hear from me in good times as well as bad. I must remember to let my words of praise and thankfulness be every bit as evident as those of my petitions for help. Maybe the music to my ears in the night is a reminder to let my words be constant music to the Lord.

“Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT)

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV)

The 7% Rule

#inspiration, communication, non-verbalMy back went up immediately when I read the email. Here was the judgment I’d been expecting since being vulnerable and admitting my problem.

I’d been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming support and encouragement I’d received. Now, this one negative came along and was having a much bigger effect on me than it should. I was upset with myself and the person who sent the message.

Upon reading the email again, I discovered the comment made was neither negative nor positive. It was simply a neutral statement. Since this was a sensitive topic for me my interpretation was negative and I took offense.

The fact is only 7% of communication is non-verbal. I was not getting the 38% that is made up of the tone of voice, inflection and volume. Also missing was the 55% that facial expression and body language represent.

When I read something I need to take into consideration how I’m feeling at the time. My emotions can change the tone of what I read and turn an innocent statement into something offensive.

The same hold true with my communication with others. Sometimes, even with more than the 7%, my intentions are misunderstood. I need to take responsibility for my words and also for how I react to those directed to me.

How about you? Do you also get caught up in the words and your emotions and forget the 7% rule?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw

I May Never See You Again

family, memories, tribute, auntMy beloved Aunt Evelyn passed away a few days ago. She would have been 98 in December and lived a long, full life.

To celebrate her life and the legacy of love and wisdom she passed on to me I’d like to share a couple of stories with you.

I clearly remember a conversation I had with Evelyn when I was a young mother. My ten-year high school reunion was approaching and I told her I was embarrassed to go. You see, many of my friends had gone on to higher education and were now nurses, teachers and lawyers. I’d married young and was a stay at home mom with two children. Would I be looked upon as unsuccessful?

My aunt pointed out the importance of my role as a mother who was involved in her children’s lives. She reminded me that as a Brownie leader, I was also building into other lives. By the end of our talk, I saw the value in who I was instead of thinking about who I wasn’t. One of my goals in life now is to help people believe in themselves. I wonder if it stems back to the encouragement I received that day.

Twelve years ago I moved to a different province and was no longer able to see Evelyn on a regular basis. Once a year I would make the trip back to visit. Although her health had declined in the past few years, her mind remained sharp. We enjoyed good talks and lots of laughter. At the end of one visit, she looked me in the eyes and said, “I may never see you again, but today has been nice, hasn’t it?”

It was a bittersweet moment with a wonderful lesson on enjoying the time we have today. Right now is all we can be certain of and we need to make the most of it. Give the hugs; pay the compliments, say, “I love you.”

This is how I choose to remember my Aunt Evelyn. I know that every time I practice living in the moment I will be honouring the memory a wonderful woman who freely shared her love and wisdom with me.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)

You Can’t Be Serious!

#inspiration, seriious, humour,lifeI was standing in chest deep water holding a pool noodle. We were instructed to hold the noodle with one hand on either side and skip forward and back over it. As you can imagine, this was a bit of a challenge!

Just as I was feeling quite proud of myself for accomplishing this, everything changed. One heel caught on the noodle and the tug caused me to release my grip. The noodle shot up into the air, causing much laughter from those around me.

There was a time when the embarrassment from an incident like this would have had me wanting to disappear. In this case, I made fun of myself and joined in the laughter. Then I was able to carry on and enjoy the rest of the class.

What caused the change in my reaction? I have learned to believe five simple words that have the power to change my outlook. They are, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.”

When I practice this behaviour I am happier. Actually, so are those around me. Life is a lot more fun when I can laugh at myself. I figure as long as I can laugh at my mistakes I’ll never run out of things to laugh about!

What about you? Do you take life too seriously or can find humour in situations?

“Celebrate your success and find humour in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everyone around you will loosen up. Have fun and always show enthusiasm. When all else fails, put on a costume and sing a silly song.” Sam Walton

My Dish Soap Life

#God, #inspiration, effective, lifeHave you ever noticed the difference between brands of dish soap? I’ve discovered that the name brands are more effective than the generic ones I’ve tried.

As there are only two of us in our home we generally wash our dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher. The generic brands are less expensive so we decided to try one. I wasn’t impressed with the results so tried another.

In both cases, I had to use more than double the amount of our previous brand in order to produce suds and to get the dishes clean. My conclusion is that a diluted product is false economy.

The same can be said for my life. I have the choice to concentrate my efforts or to dilute them by adding unnecessary ingredients. It’s not hard to figure out which option is the most effective in achieving my goals and dreams. The more I add to my day, the less chance I have of accomplishing what is most important.

The trouble can come in deciding which elements strengthen my life and which ones will only water it down. That is when I turn to God. He is always available to direct me. When I follow his advice my life will be strong and effective, rather than mixed with worthless things that dilute it.

Once like sterling silver; now mixed with worthless alloy! Once so pure, but now diluted like watered-down wine! (Isaiah 1:22 TLB)

Many plans are in the human heart, but the advice of the Lord will endure. (Proverbs 19:21 GWT)

Admitting My Addiction

questions, gaming, inspirationWe have three frog ornaments sitting on our front porch. One has its hands over the eyes, the next over the ears and the last over the mouth.

After a wind storm, I found one frog had been blown over and was now face down while covering his ears. As I went to take a picture I realized this was a representation of my own recent behaviour. I thought if I could look away and refuse to listen; maybe the problem being pointed out to me wouldn’t really exist.

My husband had gently but firmly asked me some tough questions. One of them was to confront the issue I may have an addiction. To me, this was a ridiculous thought, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

After wrestling with this for several days I had some questions for myself. Could the computer games I play be an addiction? I sit down at the computer to write and think, “I’ll just play a game or two before I start.” After writing a little I reward myself with a few more games. Sometimes I’m on the computer for hours with little to show for my time.

I can quickly switch screens when I hear someone approaching. The fact I don’t want to get caught means I know what I’m doing is wrong. Is it an addiction when this activity robs me of valuable time with loved ones?

The more I thought about it, the more I saw my addictive behaviour. Am I committing the ultimate self-sabotage, keeping myself from having what I most want? I deleted the games from my devices and was surprised by how difficult it was to get rid of them. That left little doubt the problem was bigger than I realized.

My next step was to go to my husband and admit to my addiction. I apologized for the time I had wasted and thanked him for loving me enough to point out my problem. I then asked for his help in keeping me accountable.

I come to you in complete vulnerability to publically admit to my addiction. Now that I have acknowledged it, I am able to work on changing my behaviour. The first step is always the hardest and I’ve already taken it.

I cannot change or heal what I do not acknowledge.”

Undeserved Favour

#God, #Jesus, undeserved, blessingsMy husband Brian, and I recently went for dinner at our favourite little Vietnamese restaurant where we enjoyed a tasty meal and good conversation.

When we were finished Brian went to pay our bill and was told someone had already paid it. This was nothing we expected or deserved. It was the random kindness of a stranger, who left before we could express our appreciation.

The undeserved favour we received that evening reminded us of the way God treats us. There is nothing I could ever do to earn or deserve the blessings he has given me.

God sent his son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my sins. Because Jesus paid my debt, I am free to come to God and talk to him at any time.

Imagine that, I can have conversations with the King of the Universe. He knows and loves me and invites me to come to him at any time. Not only that, but he has prepared a place for me so I may spend eternity with him.

That, my friends, is the ultimate undeserved favour.

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” ( John 14:2-3 NIV)

Good Days vs. Bad Days

#inspiration, challenges, good days, bad daysA few groans were heard as the instructor introduced a difficult new exercise. She responded with, “If you want to have more good days than bad days, you need to do things that challenge you.”

She went on to tell us that improving our core strength would promote better balance which would, in turn, help to prevent injury from falls. It would also keep us healthier and that alone would make the difference between good and bad days.

My mind took in the physical benefits before it quickly moved on to other aspects of my life where this declaration is also true. The thought was simple but also quite profound. When I do things that challenge me, I’ll have more good days than bad.

I need to remember this when I’m tempted to take the easy route rather than stretch myself to see what I can achieve. By thinking I can’t do something just because I’ve never done it before, I am actually ensuring more bad days than good. Instead of having the thrill of new accomplishments, my life will become boring and routine.

My goal is to create the best life possible. In order to do so, I will need to be open to new possibilities and keep challenging myself. My life will become more fulfilled and I can then look forward to having many more good days than bad ones.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.” unknown