I Can’t Reach

#inspiration, Father, heavenly,A friend told me a story about an outing with her family. At the end of a busy day, she was walking back to the vehicles with her son and young granddaughter. It was a clear night and the sky was filled with twinkling stars.

The little girl looked up in awe and then stretched her arms up high to touch them. They weren’t as close as she thought so she reached even higher. When she couldn’t come close to grasping one, she looked at her daddy and said, “Can’t reach.” The loving father picked up his little girl and placed her on his shoulders so she could be closer.

The image of a child being lifted by her daddy to reach for the stars was a powerful one for me. I can think of many times in my life when I have reached for the stars and fallen short. It was unrealistic to think I could achieve something so unattainable.

There came a time when I knew I couldn’t reach high enough and gave up trying. My dreams became more down to earth. They were no longer big dreams but now I had a chance of reaching them.

Then came the day I was asked to reach for something far beyond my limited abilities. Tearfully I replied, “I can’t – it’s too big and too far.” My heavenly father smiled and lifted me on his shoulders. He lovingly held my arms up and told me that together we could reach anything.

Entrust your efforts to the Lord and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 GWT)

I Changed My Mind

#inspiration, decisions, exercise, mind“Squat down like you’re going to sit in a chair,” the exercise instructor told us. “When you are almost there, change your mind and stand up again. Now repeat, and again.”

The exercise was effective but I couldn’t help laughing at the thought that came to mind. If changing my mind is exercise, I should be way more fit for all the years of practice I’ve had!

Do you ever second-guess your decisions and keep changing your mind? Questions such as; What if I made a mistake? Why did I agree to do something so challenging? Will I look like a fool? go through my mind.

These would either paralyze me or turn me into someone who only made decisions to please others. It all came down to a lack of confidence. I wanted you to like me and thought I had to be and say who you wanted me to be in order for that to happen. In other words, I didn’t believe in myself.

Moments like this still occur in my life, but not to the same extent. It wasn’t easy but I have learned to voice my opinions. Just because someone doesn’t agree with me doesn’t mean they reject me. The more I practice this, the more confidence I gain.

This allows me to make a decision and stick with it. It looks like changing my mind will no longer be enough exercise for me!

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)

What Did You Leave Behind?

#inspiration, legacy, identifyMy husband and I were walking on a path through the woods when we saw some animal scat in front of us. I wondered what kind of animal had preceded us. I hoped it was from a deer and not something more dangerous. In order to confirm this, I took a picture for identification purposes. I needed to know if this was a safe place for future walks.

Our initial guess turned out to be correct and my fears of a dangerous animal were alleviated.

The situation did produce some interesting questions, though. I wondered if I could be identified by the crap I leave behind.

Do my fears and insecurities leave a trail of chaos in my wake? Do my frustrations and anger cause turmoil for others? Does the garbage left behind let you know I was there? Am I walking away and expecting others to clean up my mess?

If that is the case, I need to make some changes. These are not ways I would like to be remembered.

Knowing I can be identified by what I leave behind, I want to leave a legacy of kind words and gestures that showed I cared. Smiles, laughter and stories of memories made together are the best evidence of my footprints in your life. My purpose is to inspire others by sharing from my heart to help them see their true value.

I think I’ll keep that picture of deer scat on my phone as a reminder of what and what not to leave behind.

Shining a Light

#inspiration, #Jesus, #God, light, leadingLate one evening my husband and I drove through dark mountain passes. There were no streetlights and the high beam setting on our headlights was used and appreciated. Without them, we couldn’t find our way through the darkness.

When another vehicle approached us, we would dim our lights. It was surprising how many of these vehicles did not return the favour. We would be blinded by the brightness of their lights which made it difficult to see.

I thought about this and wondered if it could be related to life. When I use my talents and abilities, I am, in effect, shining my light. The purpose is to brighten the way for others.

If I stand before you saying, “Look at me” I am using my light to draw attention to myself and not for the benefit of others. In this way, I could be blinding you from seeing what you need to see.

Jesus was the light of the world but never blinded people with his light. Instead, he used it to lead people out of the darkness.

Like the moon reflects the light of the sun, my life should be a reflection of the light and love and Jesus. Only then, can I point people to the everlasting light found in the Son of God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT)

Cold Hearted

#inspiration, forgiveness, emotions, heartFive minutes into the exercise class our instructor said, “We need to warm up your hearts.”

I turned to my friend and told her I didn’t think I was cold-hearted to start with.

We laughed but I knew there have been circumstances in my life when my heart definitely needed warming.

It wasn’t cold to everyone, just those who had hurt me by what they had said or done – or maybe it was something not said or done.

I hung onto bitterness and anger like it was a prize. I knew I had every right to be upset and was exercising that right to the fullest.

It didn’t matter if the offending party was even aware of the issue. I had been wronged and a sincere apology had not been offered. Forgiveness was out of the question.

I thought forgiveness meant I was saying the offence was acceptable. It took me many years to understand the one suffering from my unforgiveness was me. I heard someone say that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Only then did I see how cold and hard my heart had become.

Since then I have been learning to keep short accounts. Some transgressions require a continuous effort to forgive. It is not a one-time thing but something to be repeated over and over until I can look at the situation and not have any negative emotion.

Forgiving others allows me to let go of the negative thoughts I’ve been holding onto. This is what sets me free from the past so I can fully embrace the life before me. Only then will my cold heart become warm and loving again.

Planting the Garden

#inspiration, God, Heavenly Father, nurtureWe have an area set aside in our backyard for a vegetable garden. Every year we look forward to the harvest of fresh produce to come.

Before seeds can be sown, the soil must be prepared. If the dirt is hard and compact, it needs to be broken up and turned over. The soil also needs to be fertile enough to sustain the growth we hope to achieve. The task of a gardener is ongoing throughout the season and I’m grateful my husband has taken this on.

He knows that hard, unyielding soil will not allow roots to push through and grow. Stones and undesirable roots left in the soil can hamper the growth of seeds planted.

If we are not careful weeds will quickly grow and choke the life from the seedlings. One of the roles of a gardener is to tend the plants, removing anything that will impede their growth. Without proper care, they will be unable to reach their full potential.

I think of myself as one of these seeds. Sometimes I put myself in situations that hamper my growth. God wants me to have deep roots so I can reach my full potential. When I am hard and unyielding He may need to do some digging into my life and break up the clumps of stubbornness and rebellion. The weeds of my wrong attitudes need to be removed.

This process can be quite uncomfortable but the results are worth it. The thought of being a seed, planted by the loving hands of my Heavenly Father is reassuring. There is no better gardener to nourish and care for me. His love and protection will help me reach my full potential.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1 ERV)

Swatting Mosquitoes

#inspiration, negative thoughts, affirmations, positive wordsWe spent the long weekend in our RV. Despite summer-like temperatures and a peaceful, beautiful setting, our enjoyment was hampered by mosquitoes.

Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me but I don’t remember these annoying insects being as troublesome in previous years.

Let me paint you a picture. I sat at a picnic table under a bright blue sky; pen in hand ready to do some writing. Slightly behind me, a bug zapper was plugged in. A citronella candle burned within an arm’s length. And yet, mosquitoes continued to land on me.

I would swat them away and return to my writing, determined not to let these pests cause me to retreat indoors. Moments later, they would be back again. Sometimes I wasn’t aware of one landing until it had already done its damage. These tiny insects were destroying my peace of mind. The only solution was to go back inside and apply the insect repellent I should have used before coming outside.

I wonder if these pesky, blood-sucking insects are like the negative thoughts that swarm in my mind. I swat just as ineffectively at them. These thoughts keep coming back, sucking away my confidence. Soon they have me convinced I shouldn’t be out among all you ‘perfect’ people and I retreat into myself. My time becomes spent looking out longingly, wishing I could join in with everyone else.

Instead of living like this, there is a powerful repellent I can use. Repeating affirmations such as, I am strong, I am confident, I am valuable, I am worthy, I am loved have proven to be effective in fighting off negative thoughts. The more often I say these words with conviction, the more powerful they become.

When I believe the positive words, I am free to step out into a world of possibilities.

How to Get Rid of Your Mistakes

#inspiration, #God, forgiveness, sinsFor many, the handwritten note or letter is a thing of the past. Why would we take the time to sit down with pen and paper when it’s much quicker to log onto the computer?

However, I enjoy giving handwritten notes of encouragement and support. The feedback I receive tells me the personal touch is appreciated.

Mistakes made with ink on paper are not easily erased and corrections made on the page can look messy. In these cases, I turn to a solution made popular in the last century!

It is called whiteout. The fluid comes in a small bottle with a brush and all I have to do is cover over the error with the liquid and wait for a few seconds for it to dry. Then I can carry on as if the mistake never happened.

That might be the idea but often I either apply either too little, leaving the mistake to show through, or too much, leaving a bumpy surface that’s difficult to write on. This magic eraser also comes in a tape form which I have never been able to master. The result is my mistakes don’t always disappear as I’d like them to.

I know of something that completely blots out the big mistakes in my life. It leaves me fresh and clean and able to start over again. What is this magic formula? It is called forgiveness of my sins. I don’t have to shop for this in the store or wonder how to apply it properly. All I need is to sincerely come to God in prayer, confess my sins, and repent. God promises to forgive and give me a fresh start. I can think of no better way to get rid of my mistakes.

God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong, (1 John 1:9 GWT)

Thorns or Blossoms?

#inspiration, blossoms, potentialWhat is the first thing you think of when you hear the word cactus? For me, it is the thorns. These spiky protrusions keep me from wanting to get too close for risk of injury.

There is much more to these plants than I was aware of. Most of the time their appearance, although interesting, is not terribly appealing. Found in extremely dry climates, cacti are often covered in spikes, thorns and needles. During the proper season, a cactus can produce some of the most beautiful flowers seen in nature. The big, showy blossoms were a complete surprise to me.#inspiration, blossoms, potential,

My life can be like that of the cacti. When I am left in very dry conditions for extended periods I become prickly too! You won’t want to get too close for fear of being attacked by one of my barbs. They are there for my protection and have a tendency to injure those who come in contact with me when I feel threatened.

When conditions are favourable I may blossom in unexpected ways. If you judge me as unapproachable and keep your distance, you will miss out on the beauty my life has to offer. It was there all along, waiting just below the surface.#inspiration, beauty, life

So, when you see my prickly side, please don’t walk away. Look at me for the potential I have and appreciate me for who I am. You may be the one who encourages me to show the world the beauty that lies within.

He who wants a rose must respect the thorn. – Persian Proverb