Have you ever had the sight or aroma of something familiar cause memories to flood over you?
I had passed by these lilac trees many times in the preceding weeks but this day I stopped to fully appreciate their beauty.
You see, the home I was raised in had several lilac trees in the backyard. I can picture them along one side fence, planted in alternating colours of purple and white. When in full bloom we would cut some to bring indoors and I remember their sweet fragrance filling the room.
Happy memories from my childhood washed over me as I gazed at the showy blossoms. Parents who loved me and older siblings who doted on me flashed through my mind. I was blessed to grow up in a place and time where it was safe to spend hours outdoors, running and playing with my friends.
Respect, good manners and helping others were not options; they were part of the fabric of life. Right and wrong were clearly defined and a strong conscience ensured I knew which one to follow.
The love I experienced and the lessons learned by example prepared me for life. I sometimes forget that not everyone had the advantages of a secure childhood. This was a gift I sought to pass on to my children and they, in turn, are passing on to the next generation.
The sight of lilacs brought back the sweet fragrance of youth and the legacy of family. Before I moved on, I said a prayer of gratitude for a life filled with joyful memories.
Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it. (Proverbs 22:6 GWT)
While driving in an unfamiliar area we saw a sign that said, Rough Road No Turn Around. I have encountered phases in my life where this could apply.
Maybe it was because I either missed or chose to ignore an earlier warning sign; the one that said Wrong Way. In some cases I wasn’t paying attention but in others I felt it didn’t apply to me. After all, I knew where I was going and this was a short cut to get there.
Except, this route lead me to the rough road I then had to travel. Once I realized my mistake, I was too far in to turn around. No matter how rough it got, I had to keep going. My errors in judgement couldn’t be erased. They had now become part of my story.
All I could do was put one foot in front of the other as I trudged forward, hoping to find the smooth road once again. Since turning back wasn’t an option, the only thing left was to find some value in this uncomfortable area I found myself in.
When I pay attention, there are lessons to be learned. I now know to watch for the signs and to heed the advice they give.
Time had slipped away and now I was in a rush to get to work. I quickly gathered my lunch and threw it in my tote bag before heading out the door.
Travelling a familiar route, I followed another vehicle without paying much attention to my surroundings.
Suddenly I became aware of being in a playground zone. The car in front had not decelerated and I was blindly following. My brakes were quickly applied as I slowed to the required speed. No flashing lights were behind me so the only penalty was self- imposed. I resolved to slow down and be more mindful of my actions.
After arriving at work I reached into my bag to remove my lunch and realized my water bottle had tipped onto my sandwich, crushing it. That’s what happens when I don’t take the time to place things properly in the bag, I thought. Little did I know things were about to get worse!
It seems in my haste to get out of the house, I hadn’t fastened the top of my water bottle properly. A squished sandwich was the least of my worries as I rescued my belongings from the now soggy bottom of the bag.
While drying the bag and its contents I thought about the lessons I’d just been given. Each instance occurred because I was in a hurry. If I had only slowed down and paid proper attention to what I was doing, none of this would have happened. The faster I tried to go, the more recovery had to be done later. In the future, I need to remember that I actually have more time when I don’t rush.
“Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed at how much more life she had time for.” Unknown
For the first time in the almost five years I’ve been writing this blog, I couldn’t get my post out on time.
The internet was down and there was nothing I could do about it.
Every hour or so I would check again, but had no success. For those of you who were looking for my post several hours ago, I apologize.
I have now located just enough of a signal to post from my phone. This isn’t the message I intended to send today but sometimes plans change!
For now, I have chosen to look for the value in the situation. There is always a lesson. Maybe I just needed to learn to go with the flow!
It happened again. I got distracted and lost track of time. Now I was running late.
I had just pulled out of my driveway when a woman started to cross the street in front of me. Instead of continuing to the sidewalk, she walked on the road, forcing me to slow to a crawl.
After passing her I hurried on, hoping I wouldn’t be late for my appointment. Soon I found myself stuck behind a slow moving car. My frustration started to build. I checked the speedometer and realized we were going the speed limit. If this vehicle hadn’t slowed me down I would have far exceeded the limit. I needed to be more mindful of what I was doing.
It would be nice to say that I got the message. In reality it took one more case of being forced to slow down. Since it happened three times in less than ten minutes I wondered if there was a lesson for me here.
Too often I’m either distracted or rushing. When this happens it’s easy to miss the blessings God has placed before me. He sprinkles treasures though the day to delight me and demonstrate his love. In my hurried state I am apt to pass them by without a second glance. What if I failed to notice the very thing he wanted me to experience today?
This lesson stayed with me for the rest of the day as I slowed down to pay attention to him. I know there will be struggles in my quest to stop speeding through life and am grateful God is patient to guide me through them.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 NLT)
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (James 4:8 NLT)
There it was; a lesson in tenacity right in front of me and I almost missed it.
I was walking along a paved path when my husband pointed out a slight eruption in the pavement. A few steps ahead we saw another bulge in the walkway, this time with a plant pushing through. After a few more steps we saw a plant that had fully broken through and appeared to be flourishing.
My husband commented on the incredible effort it took for this vegetation to push upwards and break through the solid paved pathway in order to reach the sunshine.
If a tiny seed can have the strength and perseverance to overcome such a huge obstacle, why do I give up so easily?
Challenges do not mean that I need to stop trying to reach my goals. The song Through it All by Andrae Crouch, has lyrics that remind me to trust in God no matter what I’m going through. One of my favourite lines is “For if I never had a problem I wouldn’t know that he could solve them.”
These are words I take to heart. There are lessons to be learned in every situation. When I remain open and teachable God will use my reliance on him to enable me to break free from my circumstances and flourish in the love and light his Son Jesus shines on each of us. The Bible says all I need is faith the size of a mustard seed.
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32 NIV
Freedom can mean different things to people. It all depends on your perspective.
In this country we have freedom of speech. We have the right to speak our mind without fear of persecution. In many countries this freedom is denied.
To those imprisoned, freedom means not being locked up. The wrongs committed have been pardoned. The slate has been wiped clean and they can start anew.
I have met numerous people who are locked up in self imposed prisons. They look at mistakes they’ve made in the past and decide they can’t risk loving, believing in themselves or having dreams for the future. Due to this they live in despair, loneliness and isolation. It is ironic to think they hold the key to unlock this prison but fail to recognize it.
A mistake doesn’t have to mean a life-sentence. I read a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that said, “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” The freedom to make and learn from mistakes can liberate us to move forward in life.
Jesus died in order that our sins may be forgiven. He wiped the slate clean for us. If I believe my mistakes or sins are unpardonable, then his sacrifice is meaningless. When I truly believe in Jesus I am set free and will embrace the life he’s given me – mistakes and all.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (.Ephesians 1:7 NLT)
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT)
Did you know that new vehicles no longer come equipped with a CD player? My husband found this out when renting a vehicle for a business trip. He’d taken some CD’s along to listen to when the radio reception was poor.
His disappointment was short-lived when he discovered the satellite radio. There were stations for every genre of music. What he enjoyed most were the stations dedicated to each decade.
As he listened to songs from the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and 60’s memories flooded his mind. Music is so much a part of our lives that favourite songs from each decade took him back to various moments in time.
Later he told me the good memories far outweighed the bad. We talked about our tendency to look back and dwell on things we wished we’d done differently. Those are minor compared to the positives we’ve experienced.
When going through trials we feel that they are insurmountable. When I look back on them I see the lessons learned and how far I’ve come. I heard a quote that said “We change for two reasons; either we learn enough that we want to or we hurt enough that we have to.” Either way, the experiences of the past are what has shaped us into who we are today. I’m happy to glance into the past and reminisce but have no desire to dwell there. I know my future lies before and not behind me.
It’s necessary to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and allow him to lead me into the bright future he has planned for me.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)
I’ve heard it said that expectations are premeditated resentments. Although the statement rang true, a recent experience took the meaning to a whole new level.
A situation I was in fell far short of my expectations. Going into it, I wasn’t consciously aware of the expectations I held. That’s how sneaky they can be!
Not only did I come away upset, there was also resentment towards the person that I felt was responsible for my disappointment. I’m ashamed to say that it took me several days of nursing my wounded feelings before I fully realized my part in this.
It’s impossible for another person to know my expectations. How can they when I am not fully aware of them? Even if I am able to vocalize what I expect, I’m sure there is more that I just assume. Variables and the unexpected come into play, throwing off even the best laid plans. The only thing I can be certain of is my inability to control the final outcome.
My life works much better when I put my complete faith and trust in Jesus. I have found that the fewer expectations I have, the more he is able to work. In essence I believe this is because I stop resisting the changes to my plans.
The only expectation that works for me is to know Jesus is able to handle anything that comes my way and to use it for his greater purpose.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ( Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Have you ever had low expectations for something but gone ahead with it anyway? That’s how I felt when I purchased a Christmas cactus in late May. It was blooming at the time and I was happy to pay the small asking price.
Prior experience with these plants had not been good. Previous ones had either never blossomed or had done so once and not again. Even though my hopes weren’t high, we continued to care for this plant after the flowers were finished.
Not long ago I noticed buds forming on a few of the leaves. Soon I was rewarded with one flower and the promise of more to follow. This plant that had appeared dormant for many months was showing its beauty once again.
I smiled as I gazed at the showy magenta flower and realized that I had just been presented with a good analogy for life.
After a period of productivity I have often fallen into what appears to be a dormant stage. No matter how much I struggled, it seemed that my life had been put on hold. I wondered what I was doing wrong.
What I need to remember is that God is always working in me. The periods that seem like inactivity are his way of caring for me as he prepares me for the next phase of my life. These periods of rest should be appreciated. There is more going on beneath the surface than I realize. No matter what the season, when God is working in my life, the results will be worth the wait.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14 NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)