Putting it Together

#inspiration,  puzzles, TetrisHave you ever played Tetris? This video game has various shaped tiles which descend on your screen and you need to manipulate them so they fit together. That’s a very simple explanation, but I’m sure many of you have played or know of this game.

I am a fan on hands-on rather than computer games so was pleased to find a wooden version of this puzzle.

My eleven-year-old grandson was happy to be the first to sit down with the challenge. Before long he had successfully completed the puzzle. I was impressed when twice more he fit random pieces together with the same positive result.

Each time he finished, the design of the coloured blocks was different. This gave me hope that since there was obviously more than one solution, I might be able to put it together as well.

Then the scene in front of me changed. Rather than going by instinct, my grandson studied the pieces and created intricate patterns. When he was left with one or two pieces that didn’t fit, he was confused and frustrated. The first few times had been so easy that he couldn’t understand what had gone wrong.
This boy is a thinker so started over again, carefully planning each piece of the puzzle. It still didn’t work. Unfortunately, this was repeated again and again, becoming more difficult each time.

The lesson I learned from watching him is not to over think a situation. My initial instincts are usually correct. When I constantly second guess myself I end up unable to complete even a simple task.

Paralysis by analysis never works out to my benefit.

A Teacher’s Impact

#Jesus, #inspiration, grace, teacherThe radio announcer posed an interesting question. He asked if there was anything we learned from a teacher that still had an impact on us today.

Although it’s been many years since I was in school, it wasn’t difficult for me to think of something.

In high school, I was fortunate to have the same English teacher two years in a row. He was widely respected as being firm but fair. At the beginning of my second year with him, I turned in an essay that received a much higher mark than I expected. At the end of the class I was called aside and told this essay didn’t deserve the grade I’d received but he knew I was capable of high-quality work so had marked this one with my potential in mind. I was given grace I didn’t deserve.

This teacher’s faith in my ability gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I worked hard to affirm his decision and reach the high standard he envisioned.

Since that time I have had many teachers or mentors in my life. Some have taught me work-related skills while others have taught me compassion and resilience. All have helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Jesus is the greatest teacher of all. He taught not only with words but with example. The lessons he taught over two thousand years ago are still impacting people today. The model given through his life inspires all of us to be better people. He gave us grace we didn’t deserve and I, for one, want to live up to the potential he entrusted me with.

I am convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 GWT)

Fragrant Memories

#inspiration, memories, childhoodHave 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)

Road Sign Advice

inspiration, signs, lessonsWhile 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.

No Need For Speed

lessons, #inspiration, timeTime 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

Go With the Flow

IMG_2114For 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!

Speeding Through Life

#God, #inspiration, lesson, blessingsIt 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)

Break Through

#God, #Jesus, #inspiration, lessons, trustThere 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 break through2out 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.

break through3If 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

Do You Have Freedom?

freedom, Jesus, inspirationFreedom 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)

What – No CD Player?

trials, past, lessons, inspiration, JesusDid 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)