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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)

Markers

#inspiration, flags, service providersSmall red, orange and yellow flags are scattered in front yards all along my street. They mark service lines for gas, electricity, cable and internet.

Fibre optic internet is being installed in our neighbourhood, and the markers are necessary to identify the various lines so none are compromised when the new cable is run from the street to the homes.
Someone came to my door and asked me to sign an agreement allowing the service line to be run to our house. I asked a few questions and was given some interesting information.

During the construction of new homes, service providers bury the lines about four feet deep. Over time frost heaves and other conditions move them upwards. Since they are hidden from view no one knows exactly how close to the surface they have become. That is why everything is marked and checked before any further work can be done.

The reason this conversation stuck in my mind had nothing to do with what was happening on our street. Instead, it had everything to do with unpleasant things from my past I attempt to bury and forget.

I thought the pain of these hurts was pushed so far down in my subconscious I’d never have to deal with it again. Sooner or later these issues make their way to the surface.

I attempt to push them back underground again knowing this is only a short term remedy. The markers are there, reminding me of what is just below the surface.

Experience has taught me that feelings buried alive never die. Only when I acknowledge the hurts and truly forgive myself or others, will I be set free.
Instead of markers to be concerned about, I plant the seeds of a bright future and watch expectantly as they bloom.

Follow the Leader

#inspiration, #Jesus, guidance, I put my hand on my husband’s arm to quietly stop him. “Look,” I whispered as I pointed to the yard we were passing by. At the side of the house were a mother duck with ten or twelve fluffy ducklings walking in a line behind her.

The previous week I enjoyed seeing this family in a nearby creek. Now I was concerned to see them three streets away and dangerously close to a busy street.

In the creek a week ago

“You’re going the wrong way,” we said. “There’s no water here.” I wished there was some way to redirect these waterfowl in order to keep them from harm.

The ducklings trusted their mother so obediently followed where she led. I’m fairly certain she had no intention of leading her babies into danger. She probably lost her way and was trying to find her way back.

Have you ever been led astray by a well-meaning person? Or, perhaps you’ve been the one who unintentionally led one or more in the wrong direction. No matter how well-intentioned, we all lose our way sometimes.

I know I have sometimes wondered how I ended up so far from where I wanted to be. Was I following blindly without paying attention?

To keep this from happening I’ve learned to pray and seek guidance from the Lord. He knows where I should be and how to get me there. Only one leader can be counted on to never lead me astray. That is why I choose to follow Jesus.

[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)

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)