Jigsaw Tribute

#inspiration, tribute, motherThis week marks the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. I can think of no better tribute than to share an excerpt from something she wrote years ago. She’s been gone for many years now but lives on in the following message.

At some time in our lives, I would imagine that each one of us has worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

Usually, the first thing we do is to study the picture on the box. It’s much easier to know how the pieces fit together if we have the completed picture in our mind’s eye.

The second thing that we do is to turn over the box and empty out its contents. Often our reaction to that pile of pieces is to wonder how such a jumble will fit together to form the picture on the box.

However, we set to work, turn all the pieces right side up and begin to sort them out and fit them together. Each piece has its own particular spot. Have you ever found one piece coming into your hand every few minutes? You try it here and try it there, and it almost fits, but not quite – so you put it to one side and go on with the rest. Whenever you find it in your hand again, you give it another try. Eventually, you find the right place for it.

Every piece of the puzzle must be there to start with, or we can never hope to see a completed picture.

Joining any kind of group is something like this jigsaw puzzle. Before we join we try to get an overall view of the whole picture. Then we look around at the number and variety of people who attend and wonder if we’ll ever sort them out and fit them together to make the picture we envision.

First of all, we have to turn them all right side up – that is, we have to find the right and good side of each. We can’t expect a piece to fit into our puzzle ANYWHERE. It won’t fit if we’re looking at the back, or standing it on its side, and trying for force it into where WE think it should go. We have to accept each person for who THEY are and not try to force them to be what WE want or expect them to be.

Some people are like the piece of the puzzle that keeps coming to our hand and we have difficulty finding a spot for. We must recognize the fact that everyone does not fit with everyone else all the time, but there is a proper spot where each of us belongs, and that no one else can fill. Every piece of a puzzle is absolutely essential if we are to have a completed whole.

It is my belief that our lives will be happier if we let each person take his place as an individual. Together we form the complete picture.

Rules of the Game

#Jesus, #inspiration, BibleI have happy memories of playing card games and board games. This enjoyment of games was passed on first to my children and now to my grandchildren.

Recently I pulled out a board game that had been neglected for many years. Nine year-old Emily and ten year-old Logan were excited to play a game their mom had played as a girl.

It had been so long since I’d played Big Deal that I had to learn the rules all over again. Fortunately they were printed inside the lid of the box so we had guidelines to follow. There were more rules than I remembered and it was easy to get confused and forget some of them.

We decided to start anyway and learn as we went. Many mistakes were made and I was grateful for understanding grandchildren.  They asked lots of questions and waited for me to look up the answers. The rules were always beside me and they let us know how to play and how to win.

Life also comes with a rule book.  It’s called the Bible.  Jesus came to show the joy and peace found through following God’s laws. He demonstrated how to play by the rules in order to win the prize of everlasting life.

I still sometimes struggle with or forget some of the rules. Jesus is always beside me to instruct me as I go along. He is the one who makes it possible to play by the rules and win at the game of life.

If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)

Celebrate

#inspiration, celebrate, milestonesIn a few short days, 2017 will come to a close. Before you start making plans for next year, there is something important you should do.

Give yourself the gift of reviewing what you accomplished this year.
Most of us look ahead at the next hurdle to get over, rather than looking back at how far we have come.

The baby steps that seemed insignificant at the time add up to a huge leap over the course of time.

Too often I fail to appreciate the accomplishments. It’s important to celebrate all my little victories instead of focusing on what didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

Even navigating through a difficult situation is something to be proud of.
Did you embark on a program to improve your health? Make a move toward healing a broken relationship? Did you learn something new? Work on restoring balance to your life? Congratulations! The first step is always the hardest and you took it. If your plans didn’t turn out as you hoped they would remember you made the effort once and can do it again.

Be proud of what you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back for the effort put forth.

Celebrate the milestones, both small and large and let them propel you forward. Know that past experiences are stepping stones to a bigger and brighter future.

We are all works in progress, so please join me in celebrating the progress made this year.

“Wherever you get to is better than where you started. To stay on the road is a massive achievement.” Anthony Joshua

A Special Pillow

#inspiration, unique, design, lifeSometimes we happen to find the perfect gift for a loved one. That was the case with a birthday present for our nine-year-old granddaughter.

Part of her gift was a pillow. This was not your everyday pillow but a special one, with one side in a satin fabric and the other covered with sequins. I knew it would be a hit because what little girl doesn’t like sequins?

It got even better, though as these adornments were purple on one side and silver on the other. The colour changed depending on the direction you ran your hand over the surface. We watched her write and draw as she customized this special gift.

I understood why she liked the pillow because I enjoyed playing with it, too. There was no right or wrong way to make the designs. It could be predominantly purple, mostly silver or a blend of the two colours. I could draw straight lines or make random patterns.

If there was something I didn’t like I could erase it with a simple swipe of the hand. Starting over was not a failure but an opportunity to make something new.

I can create this feeling in other areas of my life. The pattern of my life is unique to me. There is no need to be the same as everyone else. If something isn’t working out for me I can embrace the opportunity to start again.

Somehow, playing with this pillow was freeing. I may just have to get one of my own!

Edits and Revisions

#inspiration, life, changeMy latest book in progress was just returned by my editor. I was discouraged by all of the red marks and notations in the columns. I thought I’d sent some of my best work and still most pages required at least one revision.

It’s not easy to accept criticism, no matter how well-intentioned. Even when I hired someone to find and point out my mistakes, I didn’t like it.

My editor is positive and encouraging. She makes suggestions and leaves it up to me whether to implement them. Her role is to inform me of problems she sees and not to force me to make changes. My words shine brighter and have more clarity after following her suggestions. They are still my thoughts, just an improved version.

Can you think of a time you’ve been given helpful advice and took it as a personal attack? I certainly can. It hurt and I didn’t want to hear it. My first instinct was to put up a wall to block it out and protect myself.

Many times I’ve had to take a step back and seriously consider whether this feedback is valid. It is then up to me to decide if I want to discard or act upon it.

I am learning to appreciate those who act in my best interest by pointing out things I may not have been aware of. The process isn’t always pleasant but does have benefits. The revisions I choose to make because of the feedback can help me shine brighter and become an improved version of me.

Growing Together

#inspiration, growth, independenceMost of the carrots in our garden grew side by side. Not these two. They grew together, one wrapping itself around the other.

Two distinct tops were visible above the ground. The roots at the bottom were also separately defined.

At some point during their growth, the shapes were altered as they became entwined and no longer individual. The result is you can’t take them apart without breaking at least one.

There have been times I’ve aligned myself closely to another whom I admired. Subtly my individuality disappeared as I attempted to mold myself into the other person’s shape.

Other times I have been flattered by the attention of someone else and allowed them to grow into my space, altering both of us.

Neither case was healthy. It is not possible to carry on this way without feeling stifled. Unfortunately, the move to separate causes injury or brokenness for one if not both.

Supporting one another does not mean losing the traits that make me who I am. Growing alongside and learning from another while still maintaining independence is what makes me stronger and healthier.

I read a quote that said, “Be yourself before you forget who you really are.” That is advice I plan on taking!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Judy Garland

Buried Treasure

#inspiration, treasure, buriedI had every intention of dealing with them last week, and the week before. At the very least, they should have been sorted and counted.

Although I knew it should be done, I didn’t want to, which is why I was still tripping over bags of bottles and cans in my garage. They were taking up valuable space and were also an eyesore I faced every time I entered or exited the garage. It was getting harder to ignore this visible reminder of clutter to be removed.

Only a little dedicated time was needed to deal with these recyclables before they were traded for cash. A reward that turned clutter into something of value should be all the incentive needed to do the necessary work.

I wondered if my procrastination was representative of something deeper. Do I have items of potential value hidden inside that are not being utilized? What would I discover if I sort through the clutter in my mind?

Am I afraid to explore the dreams buried deep within? Are excuses taking the place of action?

As I answer these questions I realize I am the only one responsible for my experience. It’s up to me to take the necessary steps to find the treasure of possibility buried inside and bring it to the surface.

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” Bill Phillips

What Crop Are You Harvesting?

#inspiration, nourish, growthThere is nothing like the taste of fresh from the garden produce. I am a carrot lover, so that is one crop I look forward to with great anticipation.

A few days ago we harvested the remaining carrots. It was interesting to see the variety of sizes. The seeds were all sown on the same day, into the same mix of garden soil. They were cared for in exactly the same way. So why were some large and others small?

At first, I wondered if the ones gathered closely together didn’t have enough space to grow as large as the ones with more room. That may be part of it, but then how do I explain a large carrot growing beside a small one? What makes one thrive while another grows slowly?

I wondered if this is true for seeds, is it also true for people? Deep within each of us lies many seeds. We have seeds of potential, of love and kindness; seeds of confidence and self-worth. We also have seeds of disappointment, of anger, of discouragement and low self-esteem.

Some of these seeds grow larger and stronger than others, depending which ones we focus on. Every seed needs proper nourishment to grow and flourish. I can feed the negative ones by focusing on them, or I can make the choice to nourish the positive ones to encourage their growth.

I look at the carrots just in from the garden and wonder, which of the seeds in my life I’m putting my focus on.

Dabbling in Life

#inspiration, #God, Spiritual lifeAre you a dabbler? To dabble is to take part in a casual or superficial way. In other words, you’re not fully committed.

I must admit that I’ve been known to dabble. I’m not a dive in headfirst type of person. No, for me it’s been more stick your toe in the water and see if you like it.

Maybe that’s why I’ve worked in so many types of jobs. This means I know a little about a lot of things but I’m an expert in none.

In the past, it was the same with hobbies. Once the novelty of something wore off, I’d be on to the next thing. I have a sewing machine that hasn’t seen the light of day for years, cross stitch canvases that are still unopened and racket ball gear that was eventually given to someone who would use it.

While it may be acceptable to dabble in many types of activities until I find the right one, there is one area where this is not advised.

My spiritual life is not an area to be dabbled in. There is nothing casual or superficial about my relationship with God. He has repeatedly shown his commitment to me. How can I not have the same commitment to him?

When I spend time with him, in prayer and reading The Bible, I will learn how to live a life that is fully devoted to him. My goal is to honour and please the Lord, no dabbling allowed.

“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.” (Colossians 1:10 NLT)

A Different Eclipse

inspiration, darkness, life, blockage
picture from pixabay.com

Earlier this week multitudes of people put their lives on pause to witness the solar eclipse. During the eclipse the sun disappeared from view, either completely or partially, depending on your observation area.

Since I didn’t have the proper viewing glasses, I chose to watch it on the television, rather than risk burning my eyes. It was interesting to see the sun gradually become hidden as the moon passed in front of it.

I started thinking of the times in my life where I’ve found myself in increasing darkness. Something has eclipsed the light in my life.
Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing. Here are a few questions I’m asking myself.

What have I been eclipsing for years? What dreams, goals, wishes, skills, etc have I put off and never realized? Maybe now is the time to remove the blockage I’ve put in place and just go for them!

Am I eclipsing something right now? What am I afraid of? I spent years feeling it was safer to remain unseen than to risk finding my light. It wasn’t the truth!
Is there a reason I’m not shining my light? Is it because I’m afraid I’m not good enough? Who is missing out because I’m hiding out? What if I’m depriving more than myself?

Are there areas where I am not letting in the light? Am I refusing help when it is readily available? Do I open myself to new experiences? I wonder what I might be missing out on by choosing to stay in the dark.

If I’m totally honest, there may be a few areas where I am eclipsing my own life. Are you also guilty of putting your life on pause, moving slowly into darkness while watching the brilliance of someone else?

It’s time to remove the blockages and step into the light. I’m ready, how about you?