Connect the Dots

#inspiration, connect the dots, life lessonAs a child I enjoyed doing connect the dots pictures. Sometimes I could guess what the picture would look like before I started and other times it was a surprise.

Recently I bought a book with difficult dot to dot pictures. Most have close to five hundred dots and the lines often crisscross or head off in unusual directions. Sometimes they come back to where I thought they should be and other times surprise me with what they create.

Once in a while I haven’t been able to find the next number in sequence. I’ve learned I can start over in a new area and eventually I will find what was needed.

Even when the picture is completed, I can’t always immediately see the image I’ve created. I may have to look at it from a distance to see the big picture and not just the connecting dots.

This book reminds me of life. I don’t always move in a straightforward manner to reach my destination. I may double back or go in the opposite direction for a time. When I temporarily lose my way, I can start over from where I am. Every move I make is contributing to the overall picture of my life. Some days it is far more complicated than others.

At the end of the day I may wonder if I’ve been productive. That’s when I need to step back and look at the day from a distance. This other perspective may be just what is needed. I am able to see the big picture and know where to add colour or shading to enhance what was created.

No matter how I feel about the result, I know that tomorrow I will open the page to a new puzzle and follow the dots to see what this one has in store for me.

Beneath the Surface

#inspiration, #Jesus, roots,There was something different about the property we approached. Then I saw it. A once tall palm tree near the edge of the lot was now lying on its side. It had been upright when we had passed by this way the previous week. There had been a little wind but nothing I thought was powerful enough to topple a tree.

Drawing nearer I could see the entire root ball still attached to the tree. Then I understood the reason for its fall.

The tangle of roots was multiple but they were also thin and short. To have strength to endure they would need to be thick and strong. Without a deep anchor the necessary stability was not present.

Strong, deep roots are also important in my life. They give me the stability to endure the storms of life.

My roots have become much stronger since my life took on the nourishment that Jesus provides. The more I spend time with him, the deeper my roots become.

Over the years I have encountered some strong storms in my life that threatened to topple me. Before I committed my life to Jesus I would have fallen. Now I am rooted in Him. The winds of adversity may cause me to bend but my deep faith tells me Jesus will help me remain upright and strong.

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:8 NIV)

Love and Friendship Day

#inspiration, love, Valentine, romanticMy husband and I attended an event a couple of days ago that was an early celebration for February 14th. We are in Mexico and the celebration was different from what we experience at home.

On a large banner, the words Feliz Dia del Amor y la Amistad were printed. Translated, this means Happy Day of Love and Friendship.

Valentine’s Day as we know it, is all about romantic love. It is important to recognize those we love and let them know how much they mean to us. My husband is the most important person in my life. I never want to take for granted the love we share and celebrate it frequently.

But, how often do I celebrate the other types of love in my life?

One significant type of love is the kind I have for my family. My daughter and son-in-law; son and daughter-in-law and my amazing, talented, witty and compassionate grandchildren (absolutely no prejudice here!) mean the world to me. Each of them has enriched my life in her/his own unique way. They deserve to be celebrated and I don’t tell them often enough how much I love them.

Friendships form another kind of love. Whether we have been friends for months, years or decades, these relationships have helped shape me into who I am today. We support each other through the roller coaster of life and I love each of you.

A very special love is the one I have for you, my faithful readers. Your encouragement and support gives me the strength to keep writing. Without you, I wouldn’t be living my passion. From the bottom of my heart I send you thanks and love.

To each of you, I wish you a Happy Love and Friendship Day.

Great Love

#Inspiration, #Jesus, #Love, familyMore than ten years ago both of our children moved almost one thousand kilometers away.

We loved our family and missed the closeness we’d once enjoyed. My husband and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them and be active in their lives.

After much prayer, we decided to uproot the life we knew and start again, closer to our loved ones. The Lord provided a job for my husband in our chosen city. We resigned from our jobs and sold our home.

I was excited to know we ‘d soon live only twenty minutes from our family.

I hadn’t considered the difficulty of leaving friends and our church family. The goodbyes were tearful. Knowing we were doing the right thing didn’t make it any easier. I grieved what I would be leaving behind.

The transition had some challenges. The result, however, was more than worth it. We have been restored to a close, loving relationship with our family and are blessed to play an active role in their lives. The sacrifice we made out of love has rewarded us more than we could have imagined.

Our small move was insignificant when I think of the move Jesus made for you and for me. The love I have for my family is nothing compared to the love He has for us.

He knew we were becoming distant and longed for a closer relationship. The Lord knew there was only one course of action to be taken to remedy this situation.

He left his home in heaven and came to live on earth. He sacrificed not only comfort, but his very life in order to restore us to a relationship with God.

What does Jesus require for this love I don’t deserve? He wants us to spend time together. The more I do this, the deeper our relationship becomes. It is amazing to think the Son of God not only offers me forgiveness, comfort and guidance but wants to us have a close personal relationship.  Now that is love worth celebrating.

A Different Perspective

#inspiration, #another perspective, viewpointFrom the third floor deck of our condo in Mexico, I look down on a palm tree. Normally I am on the ground looking up at these trees. This is a new point of view for me.

The tree itself hasn’t changed but my perspective certainly has.

I see bunches of what appear to be berries. From the ground I see the reddish purple ones. From above I see many more of these clusters and they are all green. Also are bouquets of tiny yellow flowers, in the same type of grouping as the berries. I wonder if the flowers mature to berries.

These are high up in the tree and couldn’t be viewed from my previous vantage point. Neither could the bees buzzing around the flowers or the humming bird hovering nearby.

There was much more going on in this tree than the swaying palm fronds and few clumps of berries I had seen from the ground.

Sometimes all I need is a different perspective to see what was there all along.

I have found life to be far more fulfilling when I take the time to look past my limited first impressions. A different perspective is able to help me change my point of view.

I’ve heard it said you only see what you’re looking for. In that case, I need to look past the obvious to be able to create value in all things. There is no telling what I may discover.

If We’d Have Known

tropical storm, clean-up, #timewithtandyHad we known earlier what was going to happen, our plans would have changed. We would have been prepared for the situation and not required as extensive a clean-up.

It was overcast and windy when we headed out in the morning to do some shopping in the city. Rain was in the forecast for early afternoon. This had been predicted for days and not materialized, so I gave it little thought.

We barely entered a store when a deafening noise overhead caused us to look outside. An intense tropical storm held us and many others captive.

Driving home an hour later was an adventure. We navigated through puddles the size of small ponds. The storm was obviously more intense than we’d realized.

Little did we know what still awaited us. We returned to find the strong wind had forced rain through the tracks on the window and the sliding patio door. Our tile floor had streams of water flowing under and around furniture through the living room, kitchen and eating area.

If we had known the storm was coming, we would have stayed home and been prepared to deal with the water as it started to enter. Since that wasn’t the case, we had to deal with the aftermath.

The situation brought to mind a parable Jesus told when asked about the timing of the Lord’s return. Since I don’t know the day or hour when Jesus will return, I need to ensure I’m ready. To do so I have confessed my sins, asked forgiveness, and entered into a close and personal relationship with Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. The preparations are made. I am ready.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know what day your Lord will come. If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-44 NIV)

Another Day

#inspiration, approaching storm, gratitude,The sky today is filled with clouds. They vary from fluffy, cotton ball white to deepening shades of grey. A few blue patches are also visible but they are outnumbered by the clouds.

The wind is gusting from the south. This is unusual. Normally the wind comes from the north, over the water, which lowers the temperature.

I am sitting on a covered deck, enjoying the sensation of hot wind buffeting my skin. From where I sit in my third floor hideaway, I watch palm fronts bending to and fro and clouds skittering overhead.

The forecast is for a thunder storm later in the day. When that comes I will be forced inside. The other side of the condo faces the sea where I will have a sheltered view of the storm. I wonder what it will bring.

Perhaps there will be flashes of lightening cracking open the fury of a dark sky. Maybe the wind will whip the waves into giant froths before they crash to the shore.

I am powerless to stop whatever it may bring. There is no point in me focusing on a storm that is not even here yet. For all I know, it may be diverted and not arrive here.

At the moment I relish the feeling of the warm wind billowing through my clothing. I am content in the here and now. Gratitude floods over me as I enjoy the solitude and diversity of my surroundings. Right now is all I am guaranteed of and I don’t want to waste one precious moment.

Steps to Nowhere?

#inspiration, #God, steps, guidance, The image was quite striking. The concrete steps had what looked like a supporting frame on either side. Other than that, there was nothing attached to join these side pillars to anything else. The stairs were on an angle, tipped backwards into the sand. Abandoned.

I wondered what this scene had once looked like. Were these steps that led out to a world of adventure and later back to the safety and comfort of home? Did they watch children go over them to play on the beach? Maybe they welcomed guests to an outdoor patio gathering. There are many stories I could tell myself about what they had been. I have no way of knowing the real story.

Now they were a sad sight. They led to nowhere.

I could go over them and around them and still be basically in the same place. My steps would be wasted as they would lead nowhere.

This was a visual reminder of what can happen to me if I’m not careful. Without clear direction, my dreams of what life can look like remain only dreams. The plans I have for my life will not be fulfilled.

I think of times I’ve been disappointed when what I had worked towards did not bring about the results I’d hoped for. Sometimes I’ve abandoned my dreams the same way these stairs on the beach had been abandoned.

There is a better way. My direction needs to come from the Lord. I can make all of the plans I want but until I trust the Lord to determine my steps, they may be getting me nowhere.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)

Blank Canvas

#inspiration, adventure, have fun, don't take yourself so seriously, Too many opportunities have slipped through my fingers due to my maybe later thinking. I still fight this but am learning to tell myself, if not now, then when? Why is another time better than now?

Each day is a blank canvas and the picture I paint is up to me.

I am not a swimmer so was hesitant when asked by a friend in Mexico if I’d go into the sea with her. Just before I said, “Maybe later”, I caught myself and changed my response to, “Yes, let’s go!”

It was fun and refreshing. That day I added a splash of adventure to my canvas.

For many years I’ve said I am not artistic or creative. I admired the artwork of others while wishing I could do something similar. Recently, I committed to a series of weekly painting classes.

The morning of my first lesson I was nervous and excited. Thoughts of failure and humiliation competed with the desire to try something new. I sent a message to my daughter and she replied with two pieces of advice. The first was to have fun. The second was not to take myself so seriously! That was exactly what I needed. My daughter is a wise woman.

I learned so much during my lesson. No mistake is permanent was huge for me. The first mark I made on the clean canvas was the most difficult. Support and encouragement from the teacher helped to ease my hesitancy. Before long I was mixing and applying colour. At the end of the class I had created a painting I was pleased with and looked forward to my next lesson.

My canvas that day was coloured with new possibilities. There is much to learn and I now have the confidence to do it.

If each day starts as a blank canvas, I wonder what new picture I can create today.

The Walls Came Down

#inspiration, #Jesus, foundation, prayer, forgivenessWe first saw the wall about ten years ago. It stood strong and tall, protecting the property behind it from the ravages of wind and sea.

In the last few years the wall started to lean but still kept the property safe.

Today, as we walked past, the wall was crumbled and broken. Part of it lay down on the sand and the elements were now free to ravage the property. Since we hadn’t been in the area for a year, we had no idea when the wall fell. The destruction behind it was clearly evident.

All it took was the foundation to be undermined. The sand slowly eroded and water made its way through small crevices. This would have started where no eyes could see. Eventually the damage was severe enough to cause the wall to crumble and fall.#Jesus, prayer,

I wondered if something could have been done prevent this. Perhaps it could have been reinforced when it first started leaning.

This situation was a good analogy of the effects of sin in our lives. I don’t see how a little white lie can cause harm. Soon more lies and deception follow.

I have opened the way for sin to undermine the foundation in my life. What seemed so innocent has taken on a life of its own. Left unchecked, it has the power to destroy me as it slowly erodes my moral character. One day the façade can no longer be maintained and crumbles, leaving the damage exposed for all to see.

There is a better way. Despite my best intentions, I will never lead a sin-free life. Thankfully, I have a personal relationship with the one who can wash away my sin and repair the damage caused.

Jesus offers forgiveness to all who come to Him in sincere repentance. I know by coming to Him on a regular basis, my foundation will remain strong and my life will not fall in shambles.