Monday, November 14, 2022

Simple Pleasures

Wherever I’ve lived over the past 30 or so years, I’ve put up hummingbird feeders and bird feeders. I don’t know much about birds — the migration habits of various species, how to identify them, etc., nor do I really want to. Maybe you can relate when I say that too much of my time is already filled with things that must be analyzed or evaluated or studied: which probiotic is best, which car should I buy, which insurance plan is best for my needs . . . 

Thank goodness our lives are also filled with countless things — birds at a feeder, a sunset, our grandchildren at play, the ocean, the smile of a dear friend — that we can simply appreciate, enjoy, and give thanks for.


Saturday, November 12, 2022

Let it Snow — Not!


This was the view from my bedroom window at 6:15 this morning. If friends’ facebook posts are any indication, I’m in the minority when I say that I was not at all pleased to see the white stuff.

It’s not that I don’t like snow; rather, I don’t like the cold temperatures that are necessary in order for it to exist.  

And so I puttered around my apartmentette all day — in my pajamas and slippers, no less. I rearranged several pieces of furniture, watched college football, read, and wrote a few letters. 

It’s been a wonderful day, white stuff and all! 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Delete!

To blog or not to blog? That question has plagued me for a couple of years. I love to write, but the whole blog idea seemed somewhat contrived to me. After several months of prayerful deliberation, I’ve decided to return to the roots of blogging (think way back to the early 90’s) and approach this place on the web as a “personal diary”. I plan to write a brief entry several times a week, but bear with me if from time to time I carry on a bit or only post once a week. 

*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Sitting in a local tea shop this past Monday, waiting for a friend who was running a bit late, I decided to clean up my phone. 

I decided to delete any apps I rarely/never use and knew I never would. That took care of 7 or 8 apps. 

But what kept catching my eye was the blue square with the white lower-case “f”. My go-to when I’m bored or am trying to avoid doing something I know I should be doing. 

Delete! Good-bye Facebook. 

That felt so good that I got a bit cocky. I deleted Instagram and Pinterest as well!

I thought I’d miss being able to access social media when I’m away from my ipad (which still has social media apps), but 5 days in, I don’t. Not even a bit. 

I’m enjoying utilizing those little bits and bobs of time I used to spend looking at my phone to  people-watch or appreciate the natural world around me, to talk to God, to do nothing at all. To simply be. I should have done this a long time ago!



Thursday, November 3, 2022

One Gigantic Step

“Two steps forward and one step backward.”


This old adage, from a tale about a frog trying to get out of a deep well by climbing its stone wall, may be something you can relate to. I know I can. Early this year, for example, I experienced two quite large steps forward in my life. Four months later several significant issues -- financial, health, etc, -- arose.  


I fell back on old habits of of thinking I had to control everything so I could fix the problems and of trying one thing and another, resulting in either no change at all or in matters worsening. I developed an upper respiratory “thing” — five long weeks of coughing, congestion, and nearly-sleepless nights that left me physically depleted. Emotionally, I was at my lowest since my husband passed away.



Thankfully, I was reminded of sound principles I had been ignoring and began putting them into practice: daily Bible study, daily meditation and journaling. One issue showed some improvement but wasn’t resolved. The financial issue and health issue remained virtually unchanged.


What did change was my perspective. I felt at peace, confident that I was doing what I should be doing and trusting God to do what He knew was best.


And then, last week brought another trial. The six-month-ago me would immediately have begun scrambling, trying to figure out how to fix the problem.


Instead, I'm doing nothing, completely at peace with the fact that it's not my place to control or attempt to fix a single thing. It's taken several decades, but I've finally accepted that when trials arise, my job is to simply be submissive and obedient to God.


And I consider that one gigantic step forward.



Can you relate? Maybe you’ve also experienced the “two steps forward and one step backward” phenomenon or have come to some realizations and made changes in your life. I’d love to hear your thoughts via a comment below. Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A Little Green Glass Frog


It’s been nearly 10 months since I got the small package in the mail. It was sent by a Facebook friend and former high school classmate, and I couldn’t imagine what it might hold.

When I unwrapped it, I found something I didn’t expect: a small, green glass frog and several bookmarks with brightly-colored frogs scattered through lush green grass and 

“F.R.O.G.” in white script.


At first, I was confused. As a young girl, I had decided (based on a nickname given to my by my maternal grandmother — and that’s a story for another day) to collect frogs. I had hand-carved frogs and glass frogs, ceramic frogs, and . . . well, I’m sure you get the point. But I couldn’t figure out how the sender of the adorable little glass frog and bookmarks could possibly know that. She and I weren’t really friends — more acquaintances — back in high school. And besides, just before entering 9th grade, I had packed away my frog collection, thinking it too childish for a high-schooler and certainly not a “cool” thing for a girl to collect. There was absolutely now way the sender of the package could no about my long-ago affinity for frogs!


Then I opened the letter included in the package and began to read.


The sender indicated that she had read my social media posts, in which over the past six-plus weeks I shared how difficult  the period between the 3rd week of July and the 1st week of August is for me. I had posted, as I had for the 12th year in a row, that the “anniversaries” within the 43 days from when my husband was diagnosed with cancer to when he passed away were rife with memories, none of them good.


She shared how a friend had sent her a frog after her mother passed away and explained then that it was a reminder to Fully Rely On God. She want on to share (and I paraphrase) something to the effect that she and her mother had shared a close relationship but that she had chosen to not go back and dwell on her loss over and over, year after year.


I never felt like she was chastising me for my own remembrances and posts about my husband. Instead, I was touched that she acknowledged my grief and cared enough to offer to me something that had she had found beneficial. 


I laminated the book marks and use one each in whatever devotional, novel, and nonfiction book (yes, I always have at least 3 books in progress) I’m reading at the time. And that little, green glass frog has sat front and center on my desk every day since I received it.


This year, when July  arrived, I didn’t feel the horrible weight of dread that I’d felt each of the previous 12 Julys. I acknowledged internally what was on the horizon, and that was it. 


You might say that it was the passage of time that made such a difference, but I know differently.


You might also think that I’m now going to claim that it was the little green glass frog and bookmarks that made the difference. I won’t.


What made the difference was someone reaching out compassionately, sharing her own story, and helping me to redirect my focus from what I’ve loss to Who is sustaining me.


F.R.O.G. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Lenten Reflections


I decided that for Lent this year I would give up criticizing/judging others and that I would spend 15 minutes sitting 
silently (outwardly & inwardly) in God’s presence. 


The results were not what I anticipated.


I tend to judge other people, particularly in two respects. I know it’s wrong, but it’s become a knee-jerk reaction, and I thought I would fail miserably at not judging other people for 40 days. I was wrong.


Because I knew the “issues” (for want of better word) that most commonly cause me to judge, I was able to implement strategies that helped me be more aware of my reactions and not slip into judge-and-jury mode. Most importantly, before entering situations in which those issues typically occur, I physically paused and reminded myself to not only refrain from judging but to be accepting and loving instead. 


I also avoided situations that typically raise the Judge Judy in me and, when I had no other choice, made a point to not notice certain things.


And while I slipped occasionally, I was able to stop judging/criticizing other people almost entirely.


I failed miserably at sitting silently in God’s presence for 15 minutes every day. I didn’t even make it 10 days. My mind raced, I fell asleep (yes, I was sitting up in a chair with a low back, but I still nodded off), and I forgot — first one day, then another, and . . . 


My take-aways?

1. I can be less critical, less judgmental, and it’s worth the effort to continue being intentional in that regard. 

2. I do want to learn to sit in silence with God, but (for me, at least) 15 minutes was too ambitious of a start. I’m starting today with 3 minutes. Yes, that sounds so easy, but I’m telling you — it isn’t!


I’ve given up something for Lent for many years now, but I can honestly say my Lent 2022 preparation has been the most impactful. It was a time of reflection and of renewal as I prepared for the blessings and joy that Easter bring.


I hope that wherever and however you celebrated this year, you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Lessons Learned from a F*& Cat



I recently acquired a cat. Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (aka Barnaby) came to live with me several weeks ago after a brief sojourn at the local humane society. {By the way, Barnaby was previously known as Egypt, but really . . . Egypt? No way!}


He looked perfectly normal-sized to me (a life-long dog lover), but the ladies at the humane society referred to him as “large”. So when I took him to the vet for his "adoptee check-up" and Kelly, the delightful vet-tech, immediately commented on Barnaby’s size, I wasn’t completely surprised. But when he dropped the f-word a few times, I was a bit taken back. I mean, my cat may be a big guy, but fat


Kelly had me place Barnaby on the scale, where he dutifully sat just long enough for his weight to register on the screen. The number displayed meant nothing more than that number to me until Kelly put it into perspective. But perhaps after seeing my winces earlier, he didn’t drop the f-bomb again.


“Barnaby is . . . well, he’s plush. He’s not quite obese. But he’s . . . plush.” Barnaby wasn’t at all offended. He continued to nonchalantly gaze out the window from his seat atop a carpet-covered cat condo. I, on the other hand, was concerned. Plush-on-the-verge-of-obese isn’t healthy. Not for humans and not for animals. 


Kelly explained, and a few minutes later the vet confirmed, a few things about plush cats and we came up with an action plan. I think there are some important life lessons in this experience and in Barnaby’s action plan.


1. Words matter. Yes, the f-word may have been accurate, but plush is much less hurtful. Takeaway: I need to be more deliberate, more intentional, not only about what I say, but how I say it.


2. Knowledge is a good thing. Had I not taken Barnaby to the vet and learned about his plushness, its harmful consequences, and a plan for addressing it, he would likely have experienced serious health issues and, eventually, premature death. Takeaway: Educate myself on issues before taking action.


3. Shakespeare was at least sometimes right when he said (Romeo and Juliet), “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” Unlike dogs, in order for cats to lose weight safely, they must do it slowly. Slowly as in perhaps only 1 lb. a year!! Wow!! Takeaway: Don’t dilly-dally when faced with a task, but adopt a pace that allows for the job to be completed correctly and safely. 


But my biggest takeaway is the reminder that, like Barnaby, we’re all works in progress. It’s important when dealing with both ourselves and others that we balance accountability with grace & mercy.


[On a side note: as you consider the pictures included in this post, remember that everyone that has seen pictures of Barnaby and then seen him “in person” has commented on how the photos do not truly reflect his size. Time and again, people’s response to him is, “Wow, he’s a really big cat!” Some have even said, “He’s huge!”]