Tag Archives: attitude

Spider Struck

Spiders are plentiful where I live. Even so people being skittish about them is also common.

This morning I went on an amazing trip – in my head. Despite all the efforts I put into housekeeping, spraying all spring, summer and fall, laying bait, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, another spider had violated my space.

In a heartbeat I was fussing, fuming, and then begging God to help me endure these seemingly ridiculous hardships.

I stormed out of the kitchen, deeply upset – over a spider watching me quietly from the stove top. Imagine the brass! Who (but another spider) could blame me for being unnerved by such a bold creature despite its small stature!

At one point I realized I’d too long entertained the idea of housebreaking Silly Suzy so she could live in the house with me and feast on the fiendish foes that have plagued me these two whole days.

 

About then I heard God’s Still, Quiet Voice say, “Snap out of it!” You see, God knows with that particular phrase I almost always laugh, envisioning Cher slapping Nicolas Cage:

And it almost worked for me – but I was close to complete melt down. Yeah. Over an itsy-bitsy spider.

Returning to the kitchen for my well-cooled mug, I noticed the spider exactly as it was some time earlier. I mean precisely there.

I am ashamed to admit my first thought upon seeing it hadn’t moved at all, was, “Great, now I have to dispose of the body…” This involves gloves, hand sanitizer, etc…

But before my brain formed the sentence, the Holy Spirit Spoke again,

“Just what is your problem?”

Like He doesn’t know. With that I stopped – everything but breathing.

Fast forward through a crying fit and more bad drama than I want to admit – you’re welcome. Once done I realized that I’ve been so preoccupied with my task list, skipping some rest here, dropping my prayer and devotional time there…

Seriously, I am getting ready for Christmas, for crying out loud! But sadly my fellowship and quiet time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy took the hit. Yet again.

I realized I hadn’t really slept well in days and that I’ve burned the midnight oil till just before dawn more nights than not.

Soon I’d washed my face and initiated some impressive groveling before God. That didn’t go far. Instead, grace and mercy swept me away.

Later, during my walk I marveled that as cold as it’s been it hadn’t snowed. Before I could finish thinking, “it hardly feels like Northwest Christmas,” I noticed flakes beginning to fall.

I turned my head to heaven, arms open, saying loudly, “Thank You God!  Merry Christmas!”

And about that spider. ‘Turns out it was actually some chamomile & lavender tea inadvertently dropped the night before.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4 (NLT)

 

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Oh Love

More than anything else, I love loving. People, animals, the weather, the earth, and the varieties in all the above. But mostly I love love. I’m an equal opportunity lover. Love taking over my being is incomparable to anything else that ever happened to me. And it did’t happen to me because of anything I did.

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding…*”

At the worst times of my life – and there have been many – love saved me from torment that would have utterly destroyed me. In the better times love showed me how to forgive, often daily, even those that violated my family and me over the years. In the best times love showed me a broader view of the big picture.

“…For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.*”

Among God’s mysteries, my life is a minuscule example of the power of love in the universe. Love is why God came in human form, took up the cross and died for such a crazy, broken species as humanity. I’m convinced that’s why love will continue through eternity. I thank God I get to help grow this love daily.

“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.*”

Amen

* Philippians 1:9 – 11 (NLT)

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Fruity

Almost as soon as I rose, I was a mess. My bandage was stuck to my pillow case, not my forehead and my neck hurt from sleeping on my other side. I almost always begin my day by saying aloud, “Hey, thanks, God!” But instead I was all, “waa, waa, waa…”

Clearly I needed caffeine – and prayer.

Priming the pump, I thanked God for every little thing I could see. Soon that became a stream of praise. My physical pains dissipated into oblivion, and before long God and I shared a good laugh. Yeah, at my expense. Yet again.

Today’s confession: As I brewed a pot and got my prayer journal, my feelings made me miserable. The pain, the dread, the fear, would it ever end??? I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was as if a cloud of dissatisfaction blocked any light into my soul. I didn’t recognize the scary, haggard old woman watching me from the hat rack mirror by the door. And I didn’t care if she saw me.

So, what’s funny is I’d been writing about the fruit in our lives. And suddenly that morning I could see where a few of my apples had fallen and become wormy.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22, 23 (NLT)

I often wonder if the average person goes on this insane roller-coaster ride – or as frequently. Those of you that do can commiserate with me for a moment and then feel free to snicker or laugh out-right. It’s as if we don’t know from experience what we’re like when we’re tired, wrung dry, trying to live wholly holy without sufficient Holy Spirit time.

I can see it in the mirror when I need some one-on-one time with God. Those worry lines, the furrowed brow, shoulders sloping and neck bent… Not flattering, impressive or the image of a victor!

Laugh lines are so much better. So God and I laugh at me – a lot more than I like to admit. But as I learn to laugh at myself more, take myself less seriously, I also learn to forgive myself for not being perfect. Despite a rough beginning, thanks to God I’m quite content to be good today.

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Luke 6:43-45 (NLT)

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Wrestling

I’m new at farm and ranch life, so I’m learning a lot. Much of the new lessons provide great insights to everyday life.

  • As entertaining as they are, chickens are silly, entertaining creatures, but they eat weeds, bugs and provide good protein food.
  • Smelly as cattle can be, among the other benefits that will come later on, they now provide excellent fertilizer.
  • The mare was trained for herding cattle. Even without a saddle, bridle or a rider, when she sees me carrying a rope toward the pasture, she brings the cattle in. I especially appreciate her late in the day when I’m tired.
  • And did you know cows rub against anything that stands still – especially the ever-available sprinkler heads? Unless I want to toss hay, checking for broken heads is kind of big deal.

Brother and company back in the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no pigs on this ranch. Aside from seeing them at the county fair and driving through pig farm country on a humid afternoon, I’ve never been around pigs. But I’ve learned some about them from Brother. He raised and showed them in his youth. He knows about pigs.

Recently, as Brother mulled aloud his concern for an anonymous friend that’s going through a wringer in a romantic relationship, my mind kept returning to something I heard some years back.

“I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”  George Bernard Shaw

After assuring him he told me that, he stared at me blankly for several moments. Once the point set he said, “Yep.”

Today I overslept. After coffee I quickly began scrambling to catch up with the day. Out of nowhere I remembered where that conversation with Brother went;

“If you don’t mind the slime and the smell you can go wrestle that pig. It’s a workout. But when you realize you’re not getting what you want, you get outta the pen.”

Sometimes life not going the way I expected weighs on me;

  • not seeing my offspring, my sisters and old friends feels lonely sometimes,
  • having to wait on the order of projects to finish settling in to my cottage,
  • not having the funds for things like a new mattress and a good storm door (without running up debt).

I wish I could honestly say I always keep a firm grip on reality, my expectations are consistently reasonable, I’m constantly in balance, and that I don’t worry. But like Brother’s friend, I waste a lot of time, do myself discredit by fussing and fretting about things I can’t control.

It’s all good. My new experiences and some old lessons are setting up well. Aside from recognizing when the water troughs need a power spray, I hardly notice pasture smells anymore. I’ve been close enough to pig farms and other people’s squabbles I know to keep my distance. And when prayer and quiet time with Father God remains my first priority, I can enjoy life so much more:

 

  • Gazing at the stars after a hard day’s work, enjoying the fragrance of petunias and sweet alyssum,
  • Brother’s company,
  • a relaxing walk with the mare,
  • clucking around with the chickens,

And I lose weight without wrestling pigs.

“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)

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Changing Things Up

 

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This morning started out amazing.

First, I slept. Yay! Then I woke up feeling exceptionally happy for no apparent reason.

With my next heartbeat I felt extraordinary gratitude. Rather than bolting out of the bed to check the wood stove, I pulled the goose down comforter over my shoulders. Annnd that familiar pain shot through my arms.

I didn’t care. I snuggled in and had a long talk with God.

I started by thanking Him, beginning with the obvious blessings in my life: good health, comfortable bed, a warm home, firewood, a variety of food…

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” *

Soon I asked for specific blessings for my family, friends and essentially everyone I know. Before long I was back to telling God how great I think He is, how good it is to know Him.

I gotta tell all y’alls, this scenario is rare. I typically begin my days with prayer and thanksgiving for my life – from my desk or armchair with a Bible, a freshly brewed latte or mug of tea, a good fire crackling in the stove…

Me lingering in bed rarely happens. During this exceptionally harsh winter my morning dialogues have started with “Thank You, Jesus. Now, please help me,” just to get out of bed – and then I hit the floor running. Today without thinking or planning I changed things up a little.

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What’s more, I think I’m better for… Wow. Sunshine!

And good just keeps on coming.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

*Psalm 100:4  (NLT)

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Run – Bliends

My marvelous friend and Sister, Jacqueline shared the joy of achieving a yellow belt in Karate-Do recently. Her recap of the story reminded me why I run.

Honestly, I’m not fast or graceful. Imagine Phoebe Buffay, only wrinkly, silver-haired in cut offs, tank top, loud electric blue Sketchers running shoes; that would be me:

In my quiet time today, before I checked my inbox, among the many other things clamoring around in my head I’d been thinking about the circumstances at home; Erin and I are as similar as a desert and an iceberg: a devout liberal and a hard-core libertarian. Comical. Right?

Arriving here this past April, the work necessary to fit me into the property seemed to loom above us like a tidal wave. We’ve made progress in our relationship, but the property is another story. Sometimes I feel like we’re trying to turn the Titanic on a dime!

Challenges trip me up daily – hourly stirring the longing for order and my usual routines.

Determined, I reflected on Paul’s words in today’s study of Galatians’ second chapter:

“I went there because God revealed to me that I should go…  I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing.”[1]

I’m not a missionary like Paul in the traditional sense, but if I’m not reflecting the love of Jesus, I’m wasting my time and energy.

I’m not fast nor graceful. Uncomfortable in public, finding a smooth pace is sometimes laborious. Occasionally, I feel embarrassed as youngsters whiz past me, chuckling out, “on your left…”

I’m sure Erin and the cats sometimes see me as an alien. I don’t expect them to understand my need for an allergen-free environment. They don’t feel my constantly congested sinuses and the pounding inside my head as I grope around the kitchen for food, tea, coffee, etc. or my need for order and routine.

As I read on, the study led me to Hebrews (again with the running);

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”[2]

Sin can be an attitude. I can only imagine the so-called Entitled Generations[3] miss the joy of serving others. I too must constantly be on guard against negative attitudes that can so easily overshadow my purpose here, love for my crazy family, my friends and gratitude.

Eyes on the goal, I’ll keep heading toward the finish line. Love endures.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

 

Friends episode clip courtesy of YouTube

[1] Galatians 2:2 (NLT)

[2] Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

[3] I notice the entitled mentality, a habitual behavior, is not exclusive to Millennials. Members of several current generations tend to behave as though they are more entitled, spoiled, and essentially self-serving.

 

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How to be Happy – Reblog

I hope What’s Next readers enjoy this delightful reblog by my blogosphere buddy Mitch Teemley:

being happy

How to be Happy

My holiday comedy sketch The Thanksgiving Fairy features Rick and Toodie, a married couple who are having one of those “nothing-to-be-thankful-for” days. Ever had one of those?

The setting is a laundromat:

To read more see the original post at Mitch Teemley’s blog, The Power of Story

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More Change – Part II

Hopefully you’re feeling more tranquil and assured having read Change is Inevitable; Attitude is Everything; and you’re ready for more.

Here’s the Part Two installment of Michelle Malone‘s Series:

Source: Change is Inevitable; Forgive and Remember

“No matter how formidable our life’s challenges become, there’s always hope for a better tomorrow. The Lord our God is always with us, and he is mighty to save. There’s no other help I know. Because I’ve gotten to know him a lot better in recent years, things that seemed hopeless and incapable of being resurrected a few short years ago are now alive and thriving thanks in part to God’s subtle, repetitive suggestions that I surrender a few things to him because my mortal power couldn’t fuel the necessary changes that I could only hope for. He took seemingly simple situations to teach me how to forgive and remember rather than forgive and forget.

In my mind, I thought I had mastered forgiveness. I figured if I uttered those words and meant them, then I had offered forgiveness to those I felt had hurt or offended me. Little by little, God showed me that I didn’t yet have the strength to forgive completely.  I was clueless.  I always held onto a sliver of hope that I’d find closure — that my offenders would come to their senses and apologize or beg for my forgiveness.  I know it’s silly to think that anyone would go to that extreme except in movies. What God revealed to me is that his hand is in all things — the offense as well as forgiveness.”

Happy Reading!

Source: Michelle Malone, Two are Better Than One – Partner Up; The Malone Zone

 

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More Change is Inevitable

Typically I like to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s been working for me, however this week is a challenge.

I’ll be hanging in the air most of tomorrow with lots of running around and catching up when I land. Because of the most recent changes in my part of the world, I especially appreciate Michelle Malone’s wonderful series recently published on Two is Better Than One – The Malone Zone. Michelle’s slant on how we manage change has encouraged and empowered me throughout this particularly challenging week. Iron sharpens iron, so I’m passing these excellent posts on to those who haven’t yet discovered the deep wisdom Michelle offers.

michelle malone

Source: Change is Inevitable; Attitude is Everything

…The best part of all this is realizing that my whole attitude has changed.  A few years ago, all of this upheaval so early in the morning would’ve had me frazzled. Though on the outside, I may have appeared unflappable, that wouldn’t have been the case in my mind. Today, very little can jolt me. I don’t worry about my job, finances, others’ perception of me, or anything that is beyond my control. My job is just that — a means to earn money to take care of my family. My finances are adequate and fueled by the revenue I take home as well as how I manage it. Others’ comments about me — whether negative or untrue, are not my business. All I need to be concerned with are things that are in my purview.”

“Philippians 4:6 reminds me not to worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”

Read the entire article at The Malone Zone

 

“The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends.” Proverbs 11:30 (NLT)

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Reblog: Not Today, Satan

Some day I won’t say, “Been there, done that.” However today I’m in good company with Michelle.

Mid-Week Motivation

Some days we wake up energized with a song in our hearts ready to take on the world.  Other days we wake up grumpy and focused on the dark cloud looming above us rather than its silver lining.

Ever stub your toe first thing in the morning and greet the day with a few expletives or euphemisms for expletives? Run into your ex and his  perfect, new girlfriend at church? Drop a ring down the garbage disposal that you borrowed from a friend?  What about getting up on the wrong side of the bed?   Perhaps it’s 12° outside, your gas tank is running on fumes, and you left your wallet at home. Yeah, that was my reality this morning. To all those things, let’s just say “Not today, Satan!”

Source: Not Today, Satan

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