100 Beautiful Days – Day Five

Day 5

Well the dreaded day has come, I’ve given in and I’m taking down the Christmas decorations.  I would probably keep them up all year if it wouldn’t make the neighbors avoid me or cast side glances at me when I see them outside.

So, as I’ve worked to put away the Christmas mugs and tried to keep from getting tangled up in the tree lights, I’ve been spending a little time reflecting on the Christmas season.  One evening, that stands out in my mind, was just a few nights before Christmas when at random we decided to jump in the car and head out for ice cream.  Since we were out we decided to drive around town and look at the Christmas lights. We made our way through the park, hit a couple of streets around town and then toward a complex that we knew had some excellent lights.  I was the fearless leader of this adventure and I didn’t have a clue where the lights display started, so I just picked a point of entry and said “turn here”.

As we were driving through, oohing and awing, we started to realize that we were struggling to make out what each design was supposed to be.  A little bit of a lively discussion took place at one particular display because I thought Santa was standing outside of a house on the back of a reindeer putting a star on top of a tree.  Others in the car felt like it looked like a house with a reindeer on the lawn attached to a sleigh and Santa standing on the rooftop.  After a few minutes of uncontrolled laughter over our unique observations we moved on down the road trying to make out the other displays.

Finally, we reached the end and suddenly realized that we were headed out the entrance.  We had just driven through the entire display…backwards!!  Of course, we couldn’t control our laughter at this point and we had to turn around and go back through the right way.  This time we could make out every single display without effort and everything made sense.

As I was thinking about that today I realized how life is so much like that. Very often the seasons we walk through look confusing or don’t at all turn out like we thought they would. We scratch our heads, we look at our circumstances from every different angle but we can’t figure it out to save our lives.

Sometimes we find ourselves in these seasons because of choices we made (like going in the lights display the wrong way) or sometimes it’s just the way things are supposed to be. We might not get it right in the middle of the mess, and honestly, we might not even get it this side of heaven.  But I like to imagine that someday when I reach the finish line I’m going to look back over my shoulder and have a good laugh, finally seeing clearly some of the things I don’t currently understand.

Remembering that night brought a little beauty to my day and a smile to my face.  What brought beauty to your day today?

Well – I guess I’ll finish tucking away the Christmas décor.  If you don’t hear from me tomorrow send help – I may be tangled up in lights and tinsel!

 

 

 

 

100 Beautiful Days – Day Four

Day 4 –

Guys!  Sometimes joy jumps up and grabs us at the oddest of times!

I was just running out to empty the trash, dashing through the cold rain and shivering all the way, when my eye caught a glimpse of this little garden rock.  It sits right by where I park my car, where I pass in and out of my courtyard gate, where I have to see it in all my comings and goings.

I strategically placed it there to remind me to be joyful.  Not just when I leave and have dealings with others but when I come home as well.  It reminds me that I should spread joy to a world hurting and in need and that I should fill my home with that same joy!

I painted the rock a few years ago when painted rocks placed around town were all the rage.  The girls and I painted quite a few and I managed to drop some off throughout the community, but this little guy never left my car.  I kept meaning to find the perfect location, maybe near the hospital or a doctor’s office, but somehow it just never made it there.  Maybe selfishly I wanted to hang on to it.  When I would look at it I was reminded of that special day painting rocks with my girls who have grown up too fast, and I was reminded to find joy in every part of their journey.

Just now, as I dashed past the rock and then backed up to snap a picture, I couldn’t help but notice how the rock is surrounded by brown leaves and dead vines buried in the cold of the winter season.  And yet, the joy rock still holds its color and shines through right in the middle of the dark, drab surroundings.  The children’s book author in me likes to imagine that little rock is cheering on the earth around it saying “Hang on everybody!!  Better days are ahead!!  Spring is coming!!”

Here’s the thing…life is messy and so very tough and beautiful and wonderful.  Some seasons joy just bubbles up naturally from within us and sometimes we have to dig very deep to find the joy in the hard stuff. Sometimes we need people around us to point us to God – the source of true joy – and encourage us to hang on.   Sometimes we need to be the ones yelling “Hold on friend, God’s got this and its gonna be ok.”

So today, in the middle of a cold, dreary day,  that little rock was a gentle reminder to look for joy.

What reminds you to look for joy in all things – simple and challenging?  Who do you surround yourself with that points you to the brighter side of life?

Maybe, just maybe if you really, really want to you could paint yourself a joy rock and put it where you can see it!  While you’re at it – grab yourself some fuzzy slippers that you can wear outside to empty the trash!  They are guaranteed to make you smile!

100 Beautiful Days – Day Three

Day 3

It isn’t often that a member of my tribe finds themselves sick. I put a lot of effort in to prevention and on any given day I’m tracking them down and handing them essential oils, vitamin C, Elderberry, colloidal silver or any other interesting concoction of supplements.  I’ve been made fun of and very often they roll their eyes and call me a nut, but for the most part they stay pretty healthy.

However, the first week of 2019 has found three of my five people down for the count. I’m thinking our late nights and holiday fun might have caught up to them, but shhhhh, don’t tell them because next year they’ll use it as an excuse to not participate.

Long story short, I’ve been playing doctor mom for the first 10 days of the new year and it’s been just a little hectic at times. One day I caught myself inwardly sighing and beginning to silently complain.  I’m sure you’ve heard this self-talk before, it goes something like this “I can’t believe the new year is beginning like this, I want a restart” or maybe “Why does everyone have to be sick at one time, don’t they know there is just one of me?”

Come on now, just one person has to tell me that you’ve said these words to yourself or at least started to, because if not then I’m really going to feel like a meanie pants!

But here’s the deal, right in the middle of thinking those not so nice thoughts, I had the realization of something wonderful.  I realized that had this happened at the beginning of 2018 I would have been trying to balance taking care of my tribe while being away at work, running in on my lunch hour to check on them and then back out the door until after hours.  I would have felt bad for leaving them and wished that I could be home with them while they were feeling so icky, making them soup and being available if they felt worse.

After making some changes a few months ago, I now do most of my work from home. Although I stay plenty busy, I’m available for my people when they need me most.  So, as I was handing out medicine and setting up diffusers, taking temps and fixing yummy food, I wasn’t worried about missing work or feeling guilty because I needed to be two places at one time.  I was simply able to shift my obligations around, get my work done and be doctor mom to the ones who need me the most.

This simple realization (that came right in the middle of a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, frustrating mess) brought a sense of peace to my soul and a smile to my face. It also brought about a change of attitude and allowed me to be oh so very thankful for a God who loves me enough to make a way for the desires of my heart.

What super cool thing has God done in your life lately?  What are you walking through that warrants complaint but that you can choose to see from a different perspective?  Often in the middle of the mess, a shift in our perspective can bring a little extra beauty to our day!

100 Beautiful Days – Day Two

Day 2:

The Christmas season has come and gone and I’ve been enjoying just a little extra down time before diving in to the activities of the new year.  I always try to hold on to the holidays a little longer than I should, getting in no hurry to take down the snow village and put away the decorations. I mean seriously, as I type this I’m still drinking coffee out of my Christmas mug.

I truly love everything about Christmas and this year there were some extra special moments and memories that made me just want to hang on even longer than normal. We walked the streets of a re-created Bethlehem, held our annual gingerbread house contest, baked and decorated Christmas cookies in to the wee hours of the night and enjoyed new family traditions that brought joy to our hearts.

With so much excitement, would you believe that among the simplest of pleasures for me was a red and white dish towel hanging lazily in my kitchen?  Yes – it’s true!  A simple kitchen towel continually brought the oddest sense of happiness to me. I would look around my Christmas kitchen, catch a glimpse of that dish towel and a smile would come across my face.  The funny thing is, I can’t really tell you why. It’s just a towel that I purchased on a whim and brought it home to add an extra touch of Christmas to the heart of the home.

If I’m honest, I think it might be that I’ve never bought holiday or season themed dish towels even though I always wanted to.  In the past, I would pick them up, put them in my basket but then feel silly for spending money on such an unnecessary item and put it back on the rack.  But on that day, in early December, I put the towel in my basket, giggled like a little child and confidently pushed my cart to the check-out counter, never looking back.

You see, I’ve been learning how to embrace the here and now a little more than I used to.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an “in the moment” kind of person but not when it came to money.  I was always looking ahead, projecting a need and putting money away for the dreaded day when we would surely have a crisis that needed extra cash. I couldn’t buy something simple for pure joy without feeling irresponsible. So, this Christmas, as I looked at that little dish towel, (that by the way, came with matching dish rags…insert snoopy dance) I was reminded of how far I’ve come in letting the worries of financial stress go and just treat my tribe with unexpected little touches of a home well decorated and loved. Not to mention the joy of a happy mom/wife who gets ridiculously giddy over a simple dish towel.

It seems a little silly when I think about it too much but if I just let myself be happy about that red and white dish towel then that stupid smile spreads across my face again. What is something simple in your surroundings that brings you happiness?  Something seemingly insignificant or otherwise unimportant? Look around with eyes that search for tiny blessings and a heart open to whimsy and you just might find a little unexpected beauty in your day.

 

 

 

 

 

100 Beautiful Days – Day One

Like many of you my schedule is full!  When you look at the pages of my planner you will find a million markings of places to be and things to do, some scratched out and moved around and some anchored firmly in their slot, protected, not to be canceled.

My days are often long and I wear many hats!  The hours are filled with many wonderful, beautiful, hard and challenging things.  In my world, I am blessed to spend days planning and preparing for my family, educating my teenager, meeting with women who sharpen me and make me better, mentoring children at the school, walking through joys and triumphs with others and also weeping with those facing dark times.

I have the joy of visiting with my dad, spending time with my mom, having conversations with my adult son and daughters, sharing in Bible study with my one child left at home and working through life with my spouse.  There are days you will find me jumping and singing loudly in kid’s church, teaching a class of students at co-op, cleaning a cabin and preparing for church groups, writing a blog about natural health for my precious father-in-law, writing a newspaper article or teaching a class on essential oils.

Wow!  Just typing it all out makes me feel a little crazy! For that reason, it is so very important to keep it all in perspective!  To be thankful not stressful, to be overwhelmed with all I GET to do, not overwhelmed with all I HAVE to do.

I know that if you write your list of responsibilities down it may far exceed mine and that you can completely relate.  So, how do we keep a positive mindset?  How do we remind ourselves that we are blessed to have a full life?  For me it takes starting every day with God, I follow that with exercise and very often I combine the two!!  I have an intentional morning list of things to do and very near the top is Practice Gratitude!!  It may seem odd that I have to put that on a list and remind myself to be grateful but if I don’t then often I get too busy to see life for what it is, blessed – even in the hard stuff!

For the next 100 days, I will be sharing intention with you and hoping that you will walk through gratitude with me as I begin writing 100 Beautiful Days.  The intention is to see beauty in everything, from the difficult and overwhelming to the simple and lovely.  I hope that you will take this journey with me – share your own beautiful moments and let’s be intentional together!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vison for tomorrow.”  Melody Beattie

Soaking up Scripture

More times than I can count I have fallen asleep with my Bible laid open on my chest.  If I’m honest, I’ll tell you it started as an accident, the result of going to bed exhausted from long days with little ones,  a job and late nights writing.  I would open the Bible, wanting to read before closing my eyes, but would quickly doze off.  At some point I would wake up in the night, lay the Bible on my bedside table and turn out my lamp.

But one night, while going through a difficult season, I dozed off reading scripture and when I woke up I didn’t move the Bible.  I remember closing it, starting to set it on the table beside me but then suddenly feeling the need to bring it back.  So I placed it back on my chest and turned out the lamp.

That night stirred something in me, something that maybe isn’t taught in Sunday school or Christian counseling sessions but for me it works, it draws me close to God.  You see when I have that Bible laid open on my chest it feels like every God breathed word is finding it’s way to my heart, to my soul.  Every word of encouragement and strength, every story of God’s absolute love for me, every promise of hope and provision, all of it from beginning to end just seems to settle in to where I need it the most.

At times when life was heavy and my mind couldn’t stay fixed on the words on the page, I would lay the Bible across my chest and just breath.  Nights when I wasn’t sure what the next day would bring, test results, looming surgeries, answers about the health of those I love, I would read scripture, talk to God then place the Bible under my pillow and just close my eyes.

Maybe this all sounds crazy, weird, out there.  Maybe it is.  But I’m one to take my Bible everywhere.  When I go to work, it’s right there with me.  When I make a trip, it’s in the seat beside me in the car.  That’s because there is comfort in God’s word, guidance in the scriptures, answers to everyday questions and it’s the first place I turn in the morning and the last place I turn at night.

In dealing with a troubling situation lately I have found myself trying to communicate with God and instead just sitting and staring in to space.  I was feeling bad about this and wondering why I was struggling, so I turned to a devotion written by Billy Graham for some insight.  In the devotion Graham talked about those seasons, that we all experience, where we just don’t have the words but we desperately need to talk to God.  He shared how in that time it’s ok to just sit and be in the presence of the Lord because in that moment your posture, your presence is the prayer.  You become the prayer!  Wow!

You see for me, holding that Bible on my chest while I sleep or tucking it safely under my pillow just makes me feel the presence of God in my life.  It’s almost like I’m clinging to his words, holding fast to his promises even when I’m asleep.  Keep in mind this is not a replacement for reading the scriptures and praying!  You can’t actually “soak” up God’s word, you’ve got to do the work, have a relationship with him!

As you fall asleep tonight, remember that God sees you and loves you, he delights in your ways!  Maybe if you can’t relax or life’s craziness is getting the best of you, you can open God’s word and read of his promises for you, be reminded that he holds you securely in his hands.  Talk to God, share your heart with him.  Then maybe, if you want to, lay his word beside you or across your chest and just fall asleep trusting him.

Sleep well friends!

 

Sleep Well

So often, when I come to the end of the day, I head to bed feeling like a failure.  If I’m not careful, I look too closely at those things I didn’t accomplish instead of focusing on the things I did.

I wonder though, how many things do we place on our to do lists that God doesn’t want there at all?  What heavenly assignments are we missing out on while rushing to accomplish earthly tasks?

When I examine my own life I find that often I get caught up in seeing how much I can get done in a day or how well I can multi task.  Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with being efficient and in fact I believe we should strive for efficiency, but not at the cost of being aware of those around us and available to the people God would bring across our paths.

What task remains on your list from today?  What line item is not checked off and is staring up at you…taunting you, almost mocking you?  Don’t feel guilty about the unfinished business of the day.  Unless God placed it on your heart to accomplish before the rooster crows then simply move it to tomorrow’s list and call it good.

Instead of looking at your to do list through your eyes, try looking at it through God’s.  Once you do that I believe that peace will come and you can finish your day trusting you did all that you could do.  Give that a try!  Sleep well friends!