“What an unusual cactus,” I said. “Look how soft and fuzzy it is at the top.”
Fortunately, I was given some interesting and extremely helpful information before I got too close.
This variety of cactus is known by more than one name. It’s called Teddy Bear cactus because of the appearance of fuzzy arms outstretched. The name Jumping Cholla gives me a less friendly impression.
I was informed the sharp barbs would actually jump onto me if I got too close. It seems the arms detach easily and attach to passersby. I wouldn’t even have to brush against it before I would experience a less than cuddly teddy bear.
This was all the warning needed for me to keep my distance. It was also a good reminder that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes the biggest danger is hidden behind an exterior that looks safe and welcoming.
Satan loves to tempt us with things that look innocent. When we express interest, sharp barbs get a grip on us. Before we know it we are ensnared in activities we have trouble detaching from.
When faced with temptation, my best course of action is always to talk to Jesus. He knows how to keep me from temptation and how to free me when my foolish actions place me in a dangerous situation.
Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18 GWT)
After what seemed like the winter that wouldn’t end, we are finally experiencing spring weather. The snow has melted in all but a few sheltered spots and the sunshine and warmer temperatures are drawing people out of their houses.
My husband and I decided to take advantage of this and go for a walk. We didn’t get far before we heard the voice of a child shouting, “Yaaaaaah!” over and over. This young boy was on a bicycle with training wheels and was peddling up and down the sidewalk, shouting with glee. We couldn’t help but be happy along with him.
Children weren’t the only ones wanting to express their delight on such a beautiful day. Judging by the smiles and friendly greetings, I’m guessing a lot of adults also felt like shouting for joy. The question is how often do we actually give voice to these thoughts and feelings?
If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t seem appropriate to make loud noises, even joyful ones. I wouldn’t want to cause a scene.
What if this is faulty thinking? Maybe our exuberance will cause others to feel free to express their delight. Wouldn’t it be amazing to start a ripple effect of happiness?
I’ve heard it said that laughter is the best medicine. So, go ahead and laugh, cheer and skip down the street. Have fun instead of being serious. Don’t worry about what others might think. You never know who may decide to join you!
“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Oscar Wilde
As a child, I loved to play outside with my friends. One of our favourite games was tag.
I would run and dodge, doing my best not to get caught. If tagged, I would become ‘it’ and have to chase the others until I got close enough to ‘catch’ someone.
It’s been a long time but I can still remember getting tired and needing a quick break to catch my breath. The only way to do this was to run to the willow tree in the front yard and have one hand touching the trunk. This was the designated safety zone.
The rules said I could only stop here for a few seconds, but that was enough to take some deep breaths in preparation for more running.
All these years later, I no longer play tag, but can still find myself running around and in need of a safe place to pause and regain my strength. Where can I find the renewal so badly needed?
My safety zone is found in the quiet time I spend with God. Rules of time don’t apply here. He provides me with what I need whether I ask a quick prayer for wisdom or spend extended time basking in his presence. However, the more time I spend with him, the more I find the rest, guidance and encouragement needed to step back into the race of life.
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)
“Next, we’re going to do something called the conga.” It didn’t take long before I figured out this wasn’t a fun dance the exercise instructor was referring to.
We were to do the same exercise for three minutes. It was broken into segments with the first twenty seconds being easy, the next twenty seconds being harder and the final twenty going full out. Then we would repeat the sequence.
We were to think of it as, life is good, life is not so good and yikes! It was the intervals of varying intensity that would give us the most benefit.
I can see how this cycle is repeated in everyday life. As much as I would like to stay in the life is good phase, this is a period of rest and not of personal growth.
When life is not so good, I need to work harder to keep a positive outlook. There are lessons to be learned if I take the time to look for them.
Then come the periods when I’ve been knocked down and don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get up again. Everything seems to be fighting against me. It takes every bit of energy I have just to put one foot in front of the other. It hurts to stay in this place and I have to find a way out. This is when I need to dig deep and find strength and courage to forge ahead.
Each cycle will eventually flow into the next and contribute to a higher purpose.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials.” – Chinese Proverb
We had no intention of singing. The visit to a Karaoke night was purely for entertainment purposes.
The range in vocal ability and style was vast. One woman was shy and faced away from the audience when she sang. Some were modest and sang from the heart. Others had fun and interacted with the audience. They all brought enjoyment to the evening.
We overheard conversations about practice and performance skills from a few. They took this very seriously.
I was fascinated to watch and listen as the singers took on a new persona when they picked up the microphone. Once the music started it seemed as if they thought they had become the original artists. Maybe the impersonation of someone they admire helped boost their self-esteem.
This is not a judgment, as I know I’ve done the same thing. When I see how popular and successful you are, it is only natural to want to duplicate this in my own life. The trouble is, I’m not you and never will be. Instead of striving to be like you, I need to be the best possible version of me.
Ironically, the way to do that is to model myself after a well-known figure. Jesus is the only one I should be striving to emulate. In fact, he wants me to mold my life after his. The more I am able to do this, the better my life will become.
I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. (Ephesians 1:17 GWT)
While in Arizona recently, I learned about a type of cactus called saguaro. While the name (pronounced Sah WAR oh) may not be familiar, its appearance certainly is.
Easily recognized for its height, which can be over twelve meters or forty feet tall, as well as the arms coming out of each side; this tree-like cactus is often depicted in artwork. Many years ago I purchased a wall hanging with a saguaro as part of the design.
I found it fascinating to learn it can take up to fifty years before the plant blossoms and approximately seventy-five years before appendages sprout. After the first one appears, there is no limit to the number it may produce. We counted twenty arms on one!
Looking at the plant, it appears to have accordion-type pleats. These expand as it stores water. This method of self-preservation is able to keep it alive for an incredible two years without moisture.
What have I learned from these facts to apply to my life?
I expect to achieve my goals in a minimal amount of time. In reality, it can take many years to blossom and grow into my full potential. Once I’m mature enough, there is no limit to how productive I can be.
If I store up things that nourish me, such as the beauty of nature, wisdom of those who have gone before me and encouragement from friends and family, I am able to draw on these to keep me going during the dry spells.
When I model my life after these truths I will be committed to do what is necessary to reach for my goals and dreams. Then I will be able to stand tall and proud with outstretched arms to welcome whatever comes my way.
I was excited. We were staying in an RV park in Arizona and every lot had a fruit tree in front. There was an assortment of orange, lemon and grapefruit trees.
I had never picked and eaten fresh citrus fruit before and could hardly wait.
Under one tree we saw a box labelled Help Yourself and chose a large lemon. That evening I placed a slice of lemon in a mug filled with hot water. One sip was all I needed before gagging. It was terrible.
Maybe I’d have better luck with an orange. The one I could easily reach looked good but didn’t feel quite ripe so I stretched my arm deeper into the tree. The jagged interior branches scratched me and drew blood. I thought my prize would be worth the sacrifice but was mistaken. This fruit was dry and tasteless.
Sometimes life is like this experience. I reach for something that looks appealing only to end up injured and disappointed. Things are not always what they appear on the surface.
For the fruit, I asked a neighbour what trees I should pick from. Seeking and following that advice made all the difference in being able to enjoy juicy oranges and grapefruit.
A myriad of choices are before me daily. Picking the right one can be a challenge. Outside appearance does not give me enough information. I can’t see into the heart of the situation but know someone who can. My best option is always to pray and ask God for wisdom. When I do, my life transforms from dry and bitter to one that is fresh and sweet.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5 NLT)
Do you ever feel like you’re barely holding on? If you relax just a little, an avalanche of trouble will descend on you?
That’s the image I had when I took the picture above. The snow hanging over the edge of the roof was fighting a losing battle and couldn’t hold on much longer.
Some of us are feeling like that right now with our endless winter weather, wondering if we can last until spring finally arrives.
In other cases, it may be health issues. Currently, I’m recovering from an injury. The first week I was content to wait for healing to take place. Now, almost four weeks later, I’m impatient to get back to my regular routine. It will happen, just not as quickly as I would like. Perhaps there is a lesson for me in the waiting.
This holds true in many areas of life. The big question is how do I know what to hold onto and what to let go?
Past hurts and regrets serve no useful purpose and should not be held onto. The belief that I must take care of every detail myself or life will come to a screeching halt must also be let go. These will leave me bitter and disillusioned. Been there, done that, don’t care to repeat it.
What I won’t let go of are my dreams, goals and the hope that my life can make a difference in that of another. Those are things worth holding on to.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. – Albert Einstein
The date was March 31st. The sun was shining and the sky a clear blue. Mid-Afternoon my husband and I decided to walk to a nearby coffee shop.
The temperature had been chilly lately so I put on a heavy jacket but because the sunshine was so inviting, didn’t bother with gloves or a hat. We hadn‘t gone far before I realized the crucial mistake I’d made.
The calendar may say it is spring and the sky appears to indicate warmer temperatures but that was definitely not the case. In fact, the cold air was stinging my cheeks! A quick check on my weather app showed -9°C with a real feel of -17°C.
Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. My rational mind knew there was snow on the ground but the optimistic part of me wanted to believe the air was warm.
This is not the first time I’ve believed in something that was not what it appeared On first glance, my mind tells me to believe the positive. This is not always in my best interest. More investigation is required before I make a commitment.
How do I determine what is true and what is not what it seems? I need to stop and pray about it. Then I have to wait for an answer. Jesus sees past the surface and knows what is best for me. He will direct me when I rely on his guidance.
Just as I should have checked the temperature before I headed out for a walk, I need to check in with Jesus before I make any big decisions. He is the one I can fully trust.
In him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:21NLT)