My husband and I recently attended a performance in an outdoor amphitheatre. We were searching for our seats when a helpful usher said, “Do you know where you’re going? Can I help?”
I thought we were close to our seats so wasn’t sure we needed assistance. Her guidance, however, proved to be very helpful.
We were seated close to the main walkway and observed this scene repeated numerous times as other struggled to figure out the seating arrangement.
Many patrons gratefully accepted assistance. A few surprised me by snapping, “I’ve got no idea.” as they carried on, not stopping to receive directions. Help was there and they refused it, preferring to keep walking in frustration.
I wondered how often foolish pride has kept me from accepting help when I needed it. Sometimes I just need to be pointed in the right direction. Other times I require more guidance. Either way, I won’t get the help I need unless I stop and ask.
There is one who always knows in which direction I should be headed. Not only does God know where I’m going, he is willing to show me the best way to get there. Sometimes he does this by sending someone to walk beside me. Other times he gives me the wisdom needed to find my way.
All I need to do is pray and then stop long enough to listen to the answer.
Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5 NIV)
Three young girls spent time with us recently. At some point during the day each did something silly and wanted their picture taken. Looking at the pictures later, I saw that each was a representation of the faces I show to the world.
Miss H. appeared before me in disguise. She wore a bright red wig, flashing glasses and other costume items. We laughed at how funny she looked but I was reminded of the times I’ve gone out of my way to hide who I was. In an attempt to mask my insecurity, I have disguised who I really am. This gets uncomfortable and can’t be maintained.
Miss S. said, “Look at me” as she sucked on a lemon. Although she made a face and removed it from her mouth, she soon put right back in there again. I wondered how often I look like I’ve been sucking on a lemon. Do I acknowledge what is unpleasant and then keep revisiting what it is that gives me a sour face?
Miss K. was photographed smiling, dancing and being her joyful self. She was totally comfortable with who she was and radiated happiness. I aspire to me more like this; free to embrace life without concern of what others may be thinking.
So, which face do I show you? I can hide behind a disguise and not let you see who I really am. I can choose bitterness or I can look for the positive and choose happiness. Thanks to the visual my granddaughters expressed, the choice is obvious!
Face.— The silent echo of the heart. ~”Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words,” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824
Music has much to teach us about life. I didn’t realize how much until I heard a wise woman say that the rests in a piece of music don’t contain music themselves but are an important part of the complete piece. She went on to say the melody doesn’t end when you come to the pause; instead, you take the rest, carry on as if it hadn’t happened and hit the next note with confidence.
My life contains many similarities to music. I have times when all is smooth and steady, reminiscent of the whole notes. Then, there are the times when the tempo quickens like that of quarter and eighth notes.
The most interesting music has a combination of notes as well as sharps and flats. How I put these together in my life can create harmony or discord.
The part of the musical score I hadn’t thought about was the pauses.
Sometimes I have planned these into my life as a time of refreshment and renewal. Other times they are forced on me through illness, injury, or loss.
I had always thought of the unexpected rests in my life as interruptions. Now, I see they are not wasted time but actually help to make me who I am. It all depends on what I do with them.
Jesus was a perfect example of enjoying times of rest in the middle of the stress and demands of his busy life. He offers the same opportunity to me. I need to accept the full notes and the pauses.
When I spend quiet time with him I will be able to learn the melody he has set out for my life and hit the next note with confidence.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)
Have you ever tucked away mementos for safe-keeping and then forgotten about them? I have. Recently I opened a drawer to place something else inside and knew it was time to sort through the over-stuffed contents.
Everything was removed as I considered whether to keep or discard the items. A large stack of cards from a milestone birthday took up half the drawer. I enjoyed reading them before they went to recycling. Assorted family photos brought back many happy memories. Those went back in the drawer.
Photo ID cards for my husband and me from Expo 86 in Vancouver showed that time hasn’t been standing still. In my mind, I look the same, but the mirror tells a different story!
Most of the items were familiar but one caught me by surprise. I don’t remember it and have no idea who gave it to me. Since it was with items more than ten years old, I’m assuming this bookmark has been tucked away quite some time.
The words You Are a Lover of Words . . . One Day, You Will Write a Book” are printed at the top. A lovely sentiment is below. Today you know me as a writer, but what you may not know, is I only started writing five years ago. Three years ago, my first book was released.
Someone saw a gift in me many years before I had the confidence to believe in myself. Now, reading this bookmark brings tears to my eyes. I was meant to be a writer. Pretending it wasn’t possible didn’t stop the process, only delayed it. The voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough was lying.
I’m telling you this because I believe many of you have also let this critical voice stop you from going after your dreams. Don’t believe the lies. Tell it to STOP and then go and do what you were born to do.
It was an interesting sensation. The sand was damp and jiggled under my feet as though I was walking on a bed of gelatin.
My beach shoes had been torn a few days earlier when I tripped over some wood stuck in the sand. The holes were getting larger and wet sand was oozing in around my toes.
It was unpleasant and I decided to turn back. The squishing as I walked was uncomfortable and I stepped into the water to clean my feet. As I stood, watching the clear water of the waves wash over my feet, removing the dirt, I had a revelation.
It was as though I felt the Holy Spirit telling me this was how my sins were washed away. All I needed to do was to be willing to step out and invite the cleansing flow to wash over me. When I confess my sins to the Lord, he is faithful and just to forgive them and to cleanse me.
Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 GWT)
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us, (1 John 1:9 GWT)
Early on a Saturday morning, I was on the highway heading to an appointment an hour from home. Although I’d allowed extra time, it looked like the slowdowns for road repair would eat up every minute of it.
I hate to be late and it looked to me as if that was going to be the case. The tension was starting to build.
Near the end of a lengthy slowdown, was a flag person holding a sign reminding us to proceed slowly. What made her memorable was the big smile and friendly wave she gave to the passing vehicles.
I couldn’t help but smile and wave back. Her simple gesture of kindness relaxed me. When I arrived at my destination (right on time) my stress had dissolved and I was in a positive state of mind.
This woman understood the pressure drivers feel when forced to add extra time to their commute and did something to break the negativity. The effect of this would have reached more than the motorists she encountered. When I’m in a better state of mind I treat those I come in contact with in a more positive manner. They, in turn, pass along positive rather than negative emotions to those they interact with. The ripple effect of one act of kindness can be staggering.
A friendly smile, a sincere compliment, holding a door open for the person behind me; these cost only a minute of my time but have the potential of changing someone’s outlook that day. The more I practice random acts of kindness, the more opportunity I have to change the world. What an exciting concept!
“Kindness carries no price tag neither does it require making a purchase. A random act of kindness can change someone’s life…choose to be kind always.” ― Kemi Sogunle
On a recent trip through the mountains, we were slowed down several times for road construction. In one area we came to a complete stop.
Lines of vehicles snaked in both directions and no one was getting through. Up ahead and around a bend, huge clouds of dust billowed into the sky. This was no ordinary roadwork.
Once traffic resumed we were able to see the cause of the delay. Boulders scattered along one lane of the road were being loaded into massive dump trucks.
The area we were driving through is known for rockslides. Blasting had been done to remove loose rock and reduce hazards for motorists.
Our delay may have been an inconvenience to us, but it was caused in order to keep us safe. For that, I was grateful.
I thought of the times I’ve been racing along to reach a destination and have come to a sudden stop. My self-imposed timeline could no longer be met. Not able to see what was ahead, I was frustrated and wondered what had caused this road block.
Looking back, I’ve been able to see I’d been heading into a potentially harmful situation. The Lord stopped me in my tracks to keep me safe. While I was impatiently waiting to move forward, he was blasting away the danger ahead. I’m sure truckloads of problems have been taken away and dumped where I need never concern myself with them again.
The next time my plans come to an unexpected halt, I need to remember the rockslide prevention and stop to thank the Lord for keeping me from harm.
The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalm 121:7-8 NLT)
The Irish Setter was standing perfectly still while his owner carefully groomed him. She ran a brush through the long hair that was now free of mats and tangles. Loose hair had been removed and the dog’s coat was now smooth and shiny.
My husband commented to the owner that it must feel good for the dog to be brushed. She told us her dog didn’t like it. We laughed and said, “If only he knew how good it was for him.”
As we walked away, I started thinking of things in my life I don’t enjoy but actually can prove to be beneficial.
Constructive criticism may not be pleasant to receive but can be helpful. It all depends on how I receive it. Instead of an attack, I can choose to look at it as helping me remove some of the tangles hindering my progress. The benefit is seeing my situation from a perspective I may not have thought of. There is also the possibility my life will run smoother.
What other areas can I use this in? Maybe with my exercise class that starts an hour earlier in the summer months. I can complain about the early hour because I’d rather still be sleeping. Or, I can choose to get out of bed and go to my class for the benefit of keeping my body fit and healthy.
I wonder how much happier I could be if I replaced, “I don’t want to” with “I choose to for the benefit of” in all areas of my life.
“When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.” – unknown
My friend and I entered unknown territory when we arrived at a paint night. I am definitely not an artist but looked forward to a new experience.
The instructor was someone I knew so I felt comfortable she’d be supportive and encouraging and not critical of my lack of ability.
When the class started we were given basic instructions and options to choose the type of painting we wanted to complete. What? I thought we’d be told what to do and how to do it and wasn’t prepared to make decisions.
We were told not to worry about our mistakes; they could always be painted over. I did this several times.
At one point I ended up with a big blob of paint on the canvas. My attempts to fix it just made things worse. I thought my picture was ruined. The instructor showed me how to remove the unwanted paint. I was surprised that such a big mistake could be redeemed.
The paint night experience was a good analogy of my life with God. Every day I wake up with a clean canvas. The Lord provides the paint and brushes and sends me out into the world to make a masterpiece for him. He doesn’t force me to make certain brush strokes but grants me the freedom to choose what I will create.
The Lord redeems my mistakes by showing me how to paint over them with something better. With the creator of the word instructing me, my life can become a masterpiece.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 NIV)