My 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)
When I was a teenager, my mother wrote me a letter. I was confused. Why would she hand me written words instead of just talking to me? She smiled and said it was some thoughts she wanted to share and this way I could go back and reread them at any time.
I honoured her by taking and reading the letter but didn’t think the contents were valid. To my credit, I didn’t share those thoughts with her!
Looking back, I see the wisdom in her plan. I was nineteen, ready to leave home and thought I knew everything about life I needed to. Spoken words wouldn’t have been as effective as I probably would have disregarded them.
Basically, my mom told me that I was the only one responsible for me. People would come and go in my life and my self-worth couldn’t be based on the opinions of others. I was the only one who would always be with me. The lesson was to follow my conscience and do what I knew was right.
Sadly, I haven’t always followed this advice. There have been times I’ve tried to make someone else responsible for my happiness. I soon learned that is an unreasonable burden to place on anyone.
Blaming others for leading me astray was easy. Far more difficult was to admit, even to myself, that I had a choice as to my actions. When I chose poorly, it was my fault, not that of anyone else.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the simple wisdom of a mother who only wanted the best for me. I have learned over the years that I am responsible for my own experience. Thanks, mom.
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up”. John C. Maxwell
I was in the middle of an exercise class when the aroma of fresh coffee wafted in from a nearby kiosk. Not being a coffee drinker, it did little for me. Many others were impacted and soon were talking about their desire for this beverage.
The way the scent impacted most of the class made me think of the phrase, Wake up and smell the coffee. My interpretation of this phrase is to stop living in my own little world and to pay attention to what is going on around me.
It is very easy to become inwardly focused. Sometimes I get so caught up in what is happening in my own life that I fail to notice the struggles others are experiencing.
I need to remember life doesn’t revolve around me. This is when it’s time to stop and pray to the Lord for wisdom. He will give me an understanding of the needs around me and the guidance to know what I can do for others. When I follow his direction my life will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:5 NIV)
The recreation facility has side-by-side pools. In one was the aquafit class I attend. The other had children’s swimming lessons happening at the same time.
One morning I watched with amusement as a young boy was so interested in our class he couldn’t pay attention to his teacher. With great effort, she managed to get him to look at her. Seconds later he had turned to watch us again. Eventually, she moved him to the far side of the pool to minimize the distraction.
This would have been funny if it hadn’t been a reflection of my life. After all, I seemed to be paying more attention to him than my instructor! This brought to mind the times I’ve been equally distracted.
Just as the child was receiving lessons when his attention wandered, I have prayed for guidance and not held still long enough to receive it.
I want God’s direction in my life. He is more than willing to give it. When I ask and then get distracted and let my mind wander, it’s unlikely I will receive the wisdom God wants to impart. There may be snippets that register but much is lost due to my inattention.
The Lord has promised to instruct and teach me. His loving eyes see when I’m not paying attention. The Bible also says, “Come close to God, and he will come close to you.” In order to live the full life he has in store for me, I need to be looking at him.
Come close to God, and he will come close to you. (James 4:8 GWT)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8 NIV)
I was thoroughly entertained as I sat at the table eating breakfast. We have a small mountain ash tree in our backyard and I could see a bird feasting on the berries.
It should have been easy for this bird to sit on one branch and eat from one cluster of berries before moving to the next branch. Instead it flitted from branch to branch, sampling berries from many areas of the tree.
After eating from a few spots it would fly into a neighbouring yard only to return moments later. They had no trees with berries so it was back to feast on ours once again. This pattern was repeated numerous times.
As I watched in fascination I thought of how this related to my life. Many times what I need is right within my reach. Instead of enjoying this, I flit around needing to sample everything there is to offer. If I stay in one spot, I may miss something better in another.
At times like this I need to remember to place my life in the care of the Lord. The Bible promises that when I ask God, he will give me wisdom to know what to do. He knows what is best for me and is always there to offer guidance.
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)
My second book, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts and Spice Cake has just been released. Although I’m very happy with the title, it’s not the one I had originally chosen.
This collection of writings came about through reflecting on ordinary, everyday things and finding inspiration in them. For that reason I had decided on Moments of Reflection for the title.
While attending a conference I was telling a fellow writer about the book I was working on. She asked what I was going to call it and when I told her, the response was not what I expected. She said that title was too boring!
I could have been offended at her remark but chose instead to be grateful for her honesty. She suggested combining some of the story titles into the book title. It took months of brainstorming to come up with a combination I liked but the feedback I’ve received lets me know I made the right decision.
What I have learned from this is that when someone disagrees with me I have two options. I can take offense and feel rejected or I can listen to what they have to say and gain valuable insight.
By restraining my desire to defend my point of view I am able to keep silent and listen. This provides new possibilities for me to consider. I pray daily for wisdom and guidance and God may be using the words of someone else to bring that to me.
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:27-28 NIV)