Middle of Nowhere

#new perspective, going somewhereThe single-lane highway stretched before us. We had only passed a few small towns in the last hour and none were visible on the flat prairie landscape ahead of us. Our navigation system told us the next turn would be in 495 kilometres.

We approached an area which had recently been twinned and the old patched highway transformed to several kilometres of smooth new pavement. Our navigation system now showed us as being off-road. The costly stretch of highway, (a sign informed us this was a seventy million dollar project) built to make travel easier was not recognized.

When I commented on the expensive road work, my husband said, “In the middle of nowhere.”

“Yes, but it helps people in the middle of nowhere to get somewhere” I replied.
I thought about the times on my journey to move forward in life I have been stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was not where I started from and hadn’t yet reached where I wanted to be. It felt like I was spinning my tires and not getting anywhere. The cost in energy and resources were much greater than expected.

This phase has often felt long and unproductive. In reality, each step I take is an investment that moves me closer to my goal. The lessons learned and experiences gained are the price paid to smooth my future journey. Although it feels like I’m no longer on the road, I am actually paving new ground.

The next time the road I’m travelling seems far too long I will think of the highway we drove and remember I’m not stuck in the middle of nowhere – I’m on my way to somewhere.

It Started Out Misty

Inspiration, life metaphors The ever changing conditions during our ten hours on the road seemed to me like a metaphor for life.

The morning started out misty, with low clouds hugging the hillsides. Splashes of colour visible between the clouds provided a welcome contrast to the greyness surrounding us.

Soon we encountered pouring rain and poor visibility. The view around us became obscured.

In the distance I could make out the faint outline of rolling hills. Then, muted colours appeared. As we neared, I saw the vibrant hues of fall foliage. The beauty was a reprieve amid the overcast skies.

I was aware that the colour had been there all along. It had just been hidden from view by the storm we were passing through.

In early afternoon the sun broke through. We thought our drive would now be more pleasant. Instead, we were faced with a new challenge as strong headwinds seemed determined to hold us back. We fought through them and kept going.

The highway turned and the wind attacked from another direction. It became a cross wind that tried to blow us off course. Strength and determination helped us hold onto our bearings.

We persevered and after a long day of driving, reached our destination. Our journey would continue the next day.

We had no idea what would be in store for us the following day but two things were clear. The challenges we faced today not only made us stronger but have also given us a deeper appreciation for the smoother days when they come.

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)

The Snow Tires of Life

#inspiration, life skills, tools, knowledgeEavesdropping was not my intention. The conversation was taking place between two men standing directly behind me, so I couldn’t help overhearing at least part of it.

They were talking about the harsh winter road conditions and yet another March snowstorm. “Do you have snow tires?” one asked. The other replied he didn’t need them as he’d grown up in Winnipeg and knew how to drive in the snow.

The rest of their conversation faded as my mind processed this information. The knowledge and skill for driving in snowy conditions are good to have, but to my way of thinking, tires that give better traction would still be helpful.

I wondered how often I think I can do something on my own and fail to make use of the equipment or life tools available to help me be more effective.

Knowing what tools to use and actively using them are two different things. For example, I can grumble and complain about driving through the snow or pick up a life tool to allow me to see this from a different perspective. If I say, “I choose to drive for the benefit of spending the day with my grandchildren” the trip takes on a new meaning.

When a situation doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped I can get upset or ask what I could do differently. There is more than one way to get from point A to point B and when I combine this knowledge with the skills I possess, I will have increased traction on the road of life.

“Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things.” Biz Stone

Snow Storms, Tail Lights & Life

#inspiration, life, light, shineLast week we had to drive through blowing snow. The line of cars was travelling at a reduced speed due to poor visibility.

A truck sped by, the snow swirling behind it creating a temporary white out. We were unable to see anything in front of us and no longer knew how close we were to the car directly in front.

To make matters worse, none of the vehicles ahead of us had their headlights on. They may have thought running lights were enough but because these don’t connect to the tail lights it made it difficult for those following to see where they were. For safety, we needed a visual of the car in front before they slammed on their brakes.

The main purpose of tail lights is to shine a light for others. I can’t see the effect mine are having but know their benefit is for more than me.

Maybe my life is like this. What if shining my light has a bigger effect than I’m aware of? I may never know who altered their course or saw their way more clearly due to my living on purpose.

When I shine the light of my talents and abilities, it is possible to make a difference in the lives of those around me. The gifts of teaching, encouragement and love may help someone find their way out of a dark situation. For this reason, it makes sense in snow storms and life to keep my light burning brightly.

“Make today amazing and let your light shine.” Stacia Pierce

What’s Blocking the Way?

#God, #The Lord, #inspiration, protectionOn 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)

City on a Hill

#Jesus, #inspiration, light, kindnessLate one night I was driving home on a long, dark road. The lack of traffic meant there were no other headlights to brighten the road. I felt alone in the darkness.

Most of the towns I passed were in low-lying areas and their lights couldn’t be seen until I was almost upon them.

In the distance, I saw a glimmer of light that brightened as I drew nearer. The city I live in is built on a hill and its warm, welcoming glow could be seen from afar.welcoming, kindness

In the bible, Jesus tells us we should be the light of the world. This is important all the time but maybe even more so in the long, dark days of winter. I wondered how I could be a warm, inviting light for others.
It may be something simple like a friendly smile or word of encouragement. Maybe I could give my time to someone who needs a helping hand. Or, I could take a plate of Christmas cookies to someone who doesn’t bake.

When I stop to think about it, there are lots of ways to shine light into the lives of those around me. By showing kindness I am letting people know I care about them. In this way, the light of Jesus shines through so others will know they are not alone in the dark.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14 NIV

Leaning into the Curves

#Jesus, #inspiration, balanceThe term sharp curve just didn’t make sense to me. Curves by nature are soft and rounded so how could they be sharp?

I saw the sign on the highway just before the road had some twists and turns. Part way through this area I understood how sharp curves can be. I also realized my whole body was leaning into each curve as I navigated it. That’s when I started talking to myself!

“Why are you leaning?” I asked. “It’s not as if that will help the car take the curve.” I laughed at my body instinctively listing to one side as I rounded a bend. My attempt to help my vehicle was not going to make a difference.

“Is there a time when leaning into a curve like this is helpful?” I wondered. The answer that came quickly was, “Yes.” The road of life is not always straight. Sometimes I encounter curves that throw me off balance.

Leaning into them may help me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile, but it doesn’t always make the situation easier to navigate.

When I lean into Jesus he guides me through the challenging places. He keeps me balanced so I’m not concerned with remaining upright. There is peace when I call out the name of Jesus because I know he will make my route straight and clear.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Are You Distracted?

inspiration, God, Jesus, focusThe province I live in has a distracted driving law. Recently the penalties for this offense have become more sever in the hopes of reducing the accidents caused by distracted driving.

From what I have observed on the roads, many drivers are still multi-tasking while behind the wheel. Cell phones are the biggest distraction for many of us.
This applies to more than driving. I’ve witnessed people bump into others while busy texting. Sometimes they have even stepped out into traffic without looking up.

While at home I’m guilty of checking my phone each time I hear the notification that tells me a new text or email has come in. This distracts me from what I should be doing.

I can’t blame all of the distractions in my life on my cell phone, though. My mind is frequently on something other than the task I’m performing.
Recently I was baking a cake to take to a gathering that evening. During the preparation my mind was busy thinking of the other tasks I needed to do. After the cake was in the pan, I set the oven timer and started to clean up the kitchen while mentally going through my to-do list. In my distracted state, I forgot to put the cake in the oven!

I know that I’m not the only one who is challenged with distracted living. Nor is this an affliction that began in our modern, busy world.

Jesus gives us an example and a solution in the biblical story of Martha and Mary. Martha was distracted by at all the preparations that had to be made. Jesus advised that these preparations were not as important as spending time with him.

When I spend time in prayer with Jesus I experience a peace that enables me to focus on what is important rather than the distractions in my life.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7 NLT)

Successful Merging

God, prayer, Guidance, InspirationWhile driving along the highway I noticed the many times I encountered a sign warning motorists their lane would end. This notice was to give time to merge with the lane beside them.

Usually this was done smoothly but I did observe occasional problems. Sometimes the person merging didn’t consider the other vehicles and cut someone off. Other times they held back, staying in their lane until there was no option other than to merge. It seemed they’d rather come to a standstill than join with the other traffic.

To me this had a far greater significance than highway traffic. A visual reminder about reacting to the changes in life was being played out.
My life path seldom has completely unexpected endings. If I’ve been paying attention there has usually a warning sign or two. Knowing that change is imminent, it’s up to me how I will continue. At some point I will need to merge with others going the same direction as I am. This is the only way to keep moving forward.

If I approach the change with hesitancy I run the risk of coming to a standstill. I need to be prepared for the new challenge ahead of me. Conversely, I may rush in without evaluating the timing. This can cause problems with those I cut off in my rush to get ahead.

There is an alternative. I need to pray and ask God for guidance. He is the one that knows where he is taking me and the best way to get there. When I spend time with him my journey will be much smoother.

Call to me and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 GWT)

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