The Small Stuff

Sometimes I bother God for stuff that is superficial even in my own life, much less from a world point of view. I’ve been known to beg for a chance to play pickleball. That requires a lessening of my back and hip pain. I pray for healing for myself and Doug all the time, but this is a specific wish for a particular activity. I want to play pickleball because it makes me feel like a kid again and it’s FUN.  I also love my fellow pickleball players.

Then I think of all the pain, suffering and loss in the world, and I feel like a real jerk  taking up God’s time for my petty request. This morning while I was thinking about that, I realized how presumptuous I was to outline God’s limitations. Doubting his capacity to handle it all is an insult to His omnipotence, His omniscience and His caring nature. We’re told in Matthew 10:30 that even the hairs on our heads are numbered. That’s a pretty big capacity for details. In Philippians Chapter 4, He invites us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known.”

I’m going to leave the mystery of how He handles all that to Him, and be thankful that He is interested in my problems big and small.

Shattered Glass

shattered_glassIn a hurry as usual, I pulled a heavy glass Pyrex measuring cup from the cabinet. It flew from my hand in slow motion. Maybe it won’t break. That’s pretty thick  glass.

It broke alright, shattered shards everywhere across the floor. I froze for a moment, thinking no one could ever walk barefoot in this kitchen again.

A thought from my morning devotions  popped into my head. Give thanks in all things. The idea of being grateful for bad things continues to appear impossible. I don’t imagine I will  conquer that concept in this lifetime. Yet it’s a thought that intrigues me. Instead of getting really angry and discouraged because I had a mess on my hands that would cause me to run late to my water aerobics class, I hesitated. Hmm, a lesson on not hurrying. Okay I get that. I’ll try to be grateful for the tutorial. Besides I can’t afford the time to chastise myself and what good would that do?

As I cleaned it up, I marveled at the energy in that simple flick of my wrist. It smashed that heavy glass to smithereens. The power that pulverized the glass began with me.

I’ve always been fascinated by quantum physics though I’m not smart enough to understand much. There’s lots of buzz in the world about the power of one, the force of positive thinking etc. Somehow that obliterated glass taught me a lesson about the energy inherent in me.

Just a slight effort to be thankful for a bad thing reaped an interesting notion. Small blessings all around if we take the time to unlock them.

 

It’s His Job

barking-dogWe had our windows replaced last week. A father – son team did the work. They were polite, skillful, and I had to admire the way they treated each other. The son deferring to his father when he had a problem, and the father respecting his son’s strength for the heavy lifting.

Because of the strangers, our neighbor’s dog went crazy. His barking was incessant. I kept thinking surely he will tire of this and restore the neighborhood to peace. He didn’t, and it was becoming increasingly annoying. I was trying to work and it was nearly impossible to concentrate.

I  remarked to the younger man about how irritating the barking was.

“He’s just doing his job, protecting his home. You can’t fault him for that.” He said in a lighthearted manner.

I was impressed. The simple transformation in my attitude caused by his sunny outlook changed my annoyance to a smile.

I must remember Blessings on the Journey can come from chance meetings with  people who touch our lives for only brief moments if we open our hearts.

 

Flour at my Door

bag-of-flour

My friend, Linda, and I put together a shopping list on the morning after we arrived at our condo.  It’s our yearly pilgrimage to Navarre Florida, where we write, critique each other’s drafts, soak in the beauty of our favorite place on earth and do a thorough catch up on the year past.

We have our menu and our groceries down to a science after years of practice.  This year I told her I’d make biscuits and gravy, so we added a can of  Grands refrigerated biscuits, milk and some Jimmy Dean sausage to the list. The grocery store is only a few minutes away, but we like to veg out if we feel like it. That means minimizing our trips across the bridge to get supplies. There is a Tom Thumb convenience store on the island for emergency needs, but even that requires us to change out of our swim suits or pj’s (the proper dress code for our vacations.)

We schlepped our bags up to the sixteenth floor and started putting our groceries away. I realized, we had no flour. Blast, that meant a trip to Tom Thumb’s before breakfast the next day.

That morning, we decided we’d settle for toast and coffee so we could get down to the beach first thing.  While we were organizing for the day, someone knocked on our door and Linda looked at me across the room. “Who could that be?”

I shrugged and watched while she answered the door.

“Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I thought this unit was empty.”

“That’s okay. Did you need something?”

“I was just going to borrow some salt for my hamburger.” She was one of the ladies from maintenance sweeping the breezeway.

“Here’s some salt, help yourself.” Linda said.

“Thank you so much.”

“No problem.”

“Do you know where we could get just a small amount of flour? We need less than a half cup.” I explained our dilemma.

“Sure, I know a really nice lady who lives here year round. I’ll be right back.”

Her second knock brought a cup of flour right to our door. I suppose you could call that luck, or coincidence or whatever you want. I think of it as a tiny hidden treasure along the path, a blessing on the journey.

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs – The Book of Bumper Sticker Wisdom.

proverbs1I’ve been reading the wise words of King Solomon lately. I assume they are his words since he wrote most of Proverbs. With apologies to Agur and King Lemuel, who wrote the last couple, and  help from The Living Bible paraphrased, I’m pretty impressed with him.

How few words he needed to express some seriously good advice. It occurred to me he dispensed common sense that would fit on a bumper sticker.

“Truth stands the test of time; lies are soon exposed.”

“The good man’s life is full of light.The sinner’s road is dark and gloomy.”

“Pride leads to arguments, be humble, take advice and become wise.”

“An unreliable messenger can cause a lot of trouble. Reliable communication permits progress.”

“Be with wise men and become wise. Be with evil men and become evil.”

“A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life, jealousy rots it away.”

“Work brings profit, talk brings poverty.”

You get the idea. How interesting that such ancient wisdom still rings true today. I wonder why humankind has to learn things over and over?

Respect Their Journey

Respect their journey. baby-1450368_640A very wise friend of mine used these words with me recently. What a great way to say, none of your business, it’s not your problem, and quit worrying. I’ll add, unless they ask, then I’m all over it.

When my children were born, they were perfect and  I wanted to keep them that way. Reason flies out the window when you look at the tiny unspoiled masterpiece that is your newborn. No junk food for their healthy little bodies. Their dad and I waited til they were asleep to break out the Twinkies, chips and ice cream.

I hovered so they wouldn’t fall, but they did. As they grew, others hurt their feelings and I was angry even when it was another child, but what could I do?  Even back then you couldn’t spank someone else’s child.  Though I couldn’t give them everything they desired, I wanted to. I magnified their disappointments by adding my own.

They’re all adults and have added grandchildren to the mix. Now my job is even bigger. I still want all good things for my kids. Of course we differ on that definition and I have zero control. I want to share the wisdom of my years on how to raise grandkids and no one is interested. I want all the cousins to be crazy about each other. That was a source of joy for a long time, but then their interests changed and they met school friends. They are all close, but it’s impossible for them to spend as much time together.

If somehow I could give them a perfect life, I would rob them of important lessons. I need to trust in them and have faith in God and maybe in somethings be a good example.

Respecting each of their journeys, is great for me too. It let’s me off the hook. I don’t have to figure it all out, don’t have to fill my days with judging and finding solutions for everyone close to me. I can use the time to work on myself. What a blessing.

 

Blessings are Blessings Despite Setbacks

odd_sleeping_airports_4In case you didn’t read last week’s blog, I gave up my seat on a noon flight to Denver for a hefty voucher.  I agreed to take the four pm flight. The hours passed quickly, but as boarding time approached, discouraging announcements began. The plane that was to take us on our one hour and thirty minute flight was stuck somewhere else, but would be here soon. You don’t have to travel much to know that’s a reason to start getting nervous. The next announcement informed us that flight was canceled, but one coming in from Mexico would be available in about thirty minutes.  The plane needed to be cleared since it was an international flight.

Things went downhill from there. They loaded about half of us, including me, then deplaned us about thirty minutes later. After a significant delay, they put us on the plane again.  We flew to Denver and circled and circled and circled.  There were no open gates. Fuel was becoming an issue. Long story short, they flew us back to Kansas City. We deplaned and the flight was canceled. Enough with the details, they finally got us to Denver too many hours to remember after our scheduled time.  Passenger pickup was a zoo, worse than the Christmas holidays.  My long suffering son-in-law was finally able to get through the maze of people and cars to pick me up. We arrived at his house after midnight.

I wish I could report the travel nightmare ended there, but my return trip was similar. Lots of storms in the Denver area, as well as, other parts of the country made flying less efficient than driving.  Conversations with fellow passengers, including one young couple whose flight had been canceled twenty four hours before, made me feel lucky. They’d both missed a day of work. To make matters worse, she’d broken her foot and was wearing a leg brace so she could catch the canceled flight and see a doctor at home.

Though the delays stole time from my vacation and created disappointment for my waiting grandkids, inconvenience for my son-in-law and extreme strength and patience from my exhausted husband, the blessings remain. I worked hard not to let the struggles overshadow the blessings. Gratitude for the good stuff and letting go of the other will serve me best.  I need lots of practice on that.

Big Blessings or Small Miracles

Air plane imageI find it almost more difficult to accept blessings and even miracles – a word that is hard to write – than to accept struggles. Why me? We ask ourselves when something goes wrong. Doug taught me it’s just as valid to ask “why not me?” If I embrace that, I must ask the second question when it comes to blessings/miracles. “Why not me?”

When does a blessing achieve miracle status?  Let’s keep it simple. One definition of blessing is a divine benefit or gift. Miracle can be defined as a supernatural act of God. Sounds kind of subjective to me.  Sometimes nudges alert me to blessings and those morph into miracles – things that simply were not possible in my mind. I’ll let you make your own decision.

The day I left for my rescheduled trip to visit my daughter and her family in Colorado, things began to unravel. Doug woke up with a worse cough than he’d had recently. Gone was the good feeling I’d had about leaving him for six days. My chest hurt and I was coughing worse from a four week bout with asthma that I thought was over. I checked email and realized I hadn’t checked in for my flight on Southwest. Oh boy, I would be C – 1000 and get a middle seat at the back of the airplane. I checked in at the Southwest website and instead of getting a boarding pass, they offered only a security pass. The message said” No seat assignment. Go to the gate for your boarding pass.”

What did that mean? Is the flight overbooked? Will I be bumped and miss the flight? I printed the security pass and added that to my worry list.

I decided to call my doctor and let him know I was still coughing. Maybe he could prescribe something. The physician said to come in right away, he wanted to see me. It was after eight o’clock and I needed to leave for the airport around ten.  I was all packed, but I had several last minute duties. Thirty minutes later I was back home armed with prescriptions and instructions. His office is about ten minutes away but still, it’s hard not to call that a miracle.

I had plenty of time to complete the items on my last minute list. Doug got me to the airport right on time. I dumped my huge suitcase at the outside check-in, found out I was a pre-checked passenger and breezed through security. At the gate, I showed the attendant my non-boarding pass and said. “I was afraid you were overbooked.”

“We are, would you like to volunteer to take the next plane about four hours from now? We’ll refund the cost of your ticket and give you a voucher for that and an additional $300.” Long story short, I’ll read and write for four hours and pocket several free trips to visit Denver. I felt very blessed. There is more to this story. As they say, it ain’t over til it’s over. Tune in next week.

 

 

More on Words

image of a book

I often wake up tired and not excited about the day before me. I drag myself to the kitchen and start my Keurig. I ask Doug how he is doing and hope for an ‘okay.’

While the coffee is dripping into my cup, I gather up my devotion books and journals, distracting myself from my sleepiness by racing to see I can get back to the kitchen before the cup is full. I open my devotion book and, more often then not, the message is right on for lifting my spirits and reminding me of how much I have to be grateful for.

Though it’s been a while since  I decided that gratitude was the antidote to feeling sad and blue, I need to be constantly reminded. I force myself to write in my prayer journal  things I’m thankful for. Family, friends, our home, cars, jobs, abundance that allows us to enjoy not just needs but wants as well.

Soon I’m on a roll. I feel grateful for the smiles and hugs of my grandkids, FaceTime that allows me to feel close to the three who are in Denver. The smallest, Otto, is a curly headed two-year old angel. I can’t see the image of him blowing me kisses on my tiny phone screen without grinning. He tells me he’s going poop on the potty. I can witness it in the present moment. I would hate to miss that milestone because I’m six hundred miles away.

Soon I have filled a page with gratitude, and my attitude is right with the world.  Nothing has changed physically, but words read and written have renewed me. I move into the day ready to find good things along the path and energy for the struggles. Worry and fear are pushed back into proper perspective. I don’t know what would happen if I didn’t start my day this way, I’m not brave enough to try it.

Words

Words Image

Words  are such a blessing. They can encourage, inspire, comfort, guide, and educate. (Let’s stick with the positive ones.)

Authors and song writers open their hearts and become vulnerable because they have a passion to share their thoughts.The ideas they share can be life changers and make us feel like we are not alone.

On our trip to Mayo, the head hematologist used the word hope twice during our consultation. That word electrified me. We hadn’t heard that used by a caregiver for way too long. He said the goal would be to make Doug feel better in six months and surely in a year. If not there were some other options. I know we can’t hold him to that, but it sure sounded wonderful.  There have been no timelines discussed in our marathon without a finish line. It didn’t hurt to place that in our minds. Uncertainty is a killer of hope and at least we had something now.

I question the doc’s mention of the word hockey.  There seems too be many roadblocks to that dream, but if Doug could skate and participate in stick time (an open skate where hockey players can practice their skills), he would be happy with that.

So though not much has changed in his treatment except maybe a clearer, more assertive plan of what has been suggested by our home docs, those two words have been an elixir. I can imagine a healthy husband and renewed chances to enjoy some of the activities that are only a memory now. What a blessing on the journey.