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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Nurtured by Nature


NURTURED by NATURE


A relaxing hobby for me is reading. Though I read both fiction and non-fiction, my favorite genre is autobiographies. Who can tell a person’s story better than themselves?

It takes a great deal of courage to write about yourself. Friends, family and colleagues know a lot of truth about you. Gloss over the truth and your hard work on writing could come to an untimely end.

One Woman's Life


The autobiography I have enjoyed recently is by Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be. Born to a survivor of the holocaust, she grew up to become a famous fashion designer and world traveler.

I enjoyed many of her insights, but this comment about the beauty of nature intrigued me: “The fact that we cannot control nature appeases me and somehow brings me back to a normal dimension. Whereas my size is magnified in the city where everything is man-made and every problem is mine to be fixed, when I go on a walk in the forest and climb the hills around Cloudwalk I feel small and I like it.”*

I could identify with her satisfaction of feeling small in the midst of nature.

Wind, Moon and Stars


While living on the desert in the southwest, we owned a Porsche 914 convertible. I looked forward to our evening rides and loved being the passenger. As the engine roared in my ears and the wind blew past my face, I was awed by the immense panorama above me.

Though not familiar with the constellations, other than a few names, it was fun to look for them.

Ms. Furstenburg said feeling small out in nature was a satisfying feeling. She was not in charge and not expected to fix anything. Having leadership responsibilities, myself, I could totally agree with that sentiment.

A Big World View


But I was also awed by the fact that people all around the world could enjoy the night sky. In fact, many of them would have an even better view than mine.

The Psalmist, David, describes it this way: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands . . . They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world (Psalm 19:1, 3, 4).

I still take pleasure in the night sky. The Porsche is gone, but I can sit on my deck and look over a valley. It may not be as dark as the desert, but I still enjoy the stars, moon and wind.

What About You?


There are so many options to be nurtured by nature. 

Which of God’s beautiful creations refresh you and cause you to give Him praise?

*The Woman I Wanted to Be, Diane von Furstenberg, Simon & Schuster, NY, 2014, p. 137.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Don't Be a Jumper


DON’T BE A JUMPER


Everyone seems anxious to share their opinions now days. Email, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter make it easy.

My question is this: Would more be accomplished if people dug a little deeper, or waited a little longer, before jumping to a conclusion and dashing off an opinion?

Good Stories 


I used to enjoy hearing Paul Harvey share human interest stories on radio. He would lead right up to an intriguing point, then say, “Page Two.”

After an advertisement, he would continue with another side to the story, or behind-the-scenes information. He always closed by saying, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Jumping to conclusions means making a judgment quickly without knowing all the facts. I used to be a good jumper, but I learned to be more careful.

My Story


I worked in church offices for years and noticed a common practice when people asked for help. Women generally came in alone. But it was not uncommon to see a man waiting in a vehicle outside.

One day a couple got my attention by coming in together. They shared their need and we helped them out. I invited them to church and they came.

As I mentored the wife in a weekly Bible study, we became better acquainted. I learned they had not always been homeless.

They had once enjoyed a good life. The husband was a contractor and they had actually built their dream home.

Page Two!

The house burned down and they lost everything. The wife said, “I just never had the heart to start over.”

Now I knew the rest of the story.


Jumping Instruction #1


When I felt cautioned about jumping to conclusions, the wisdom of John 7:24 seemed applicable. It says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

Appearances are only one side of the story. You don’t have to live long to learn stories have many sides.

I still remember a young man telling me something years ago. I jumped to a conclusion and shot off a reply. 

I’ll never forget how he looked at me and said, “It must feel good to always be right.”

Ouch! My judgment was faulty. I had not taken time to hear the rest of his story.

Jumping Instruction #2


I’d love to say I’m no longer a jumper, but the truth is this: I still have to remind myself that jumping to conclusions is dangerous.

Another good reason for caution is found in Matthew 7:1-2. Jesus said whatever measure we use to judge others will be used to judge us.

Do we want people to see a few things and jump to conclusions about us? Or would we prefer they learn more about our situation?


Caution


I’m now cautious about sharing quick opinions.

Join me. Don’t be a jumper!


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lighten Up


LIGHTEN UP


Some days are a little heavier in life than others. Whether at work or at home, demands can be made that turn our day upside down. We wake up thinking the day will go one way, then it gets entirely off (our) track.

Now that I’m a care giver again, I see days like that quite often. Being a care giver for a family member means I’m on tap twenty-four seven. If I was employed as a care giver outside the home, I’d have hours at work then time of my own.

Most of the time I feel at peace, but today was one of those days when life seemed just too challenging. After dinner I decided to look through my idea file for this week’s story.

I was surprised by some very humorous items. Most had been shared as emails from friends, but not all. I started to smile as I read them. My focus changed and my load felt lighter.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs to lighten up. So, how about sharing a few smiles?

Bumper Stickers

  • He who laughs last thinks slowest
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine
  • Cover me. I’m changing lanes
  • Out of my mind. Back in five minutes
  • Tell me to ‘stuff it’---I’m a taxidermist

Confusing Accident Reports

  • The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
  • I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.
  • My car was legally parked as it backed into another vehicle.
  • I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.

Punography

  • I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger? Then it hit me!
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

Good Humor

Wife:         We could swing by DQ and I could treat you to a small sundae.
Husband:  If I go by myself I can get a big one.

Mom to Little Boy:     We can’t get that. I’m out of money.
Little boy:                  There’s a bank. Go get some.

Mother:  Did you find my message about the sandwich and milk I left you?
Son:       Yes, thank you. But I wanted to leave you a note.
Mother:  What was that?
Son:       Things go better with coke.

There’s more, but I’ll quit here. Now that you think about it, I’m sure you can find your own smiles.

In the New Living Translation Proverbs 17:22 puts it this way: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

When life gets heavy, lighten up!


Sunday, August 5, 2018

When the Wind Blows


WHEN the WIND BLOWS*


Just a couple of days ago a strong stormy wind got our attention. My husband and I saw the dark clouds while running errands. We were thankful to be safe inside when the storm arrived.

I've been in major rains before, but this storm seemed even more fierce. From our living room window, we watched the wind blow sheets of rain off our roof and out over the deck.

The electricity went off and on three times in fifteen minutes. I was glad we had a couple of battery-powered backup units for the computer and entertainment center. But the storm reminded me to share a story I had written about another windy day. 

Here it is:

A Photo Reminder

I always smile when I look at a photo posted in front of my desk. I took it on a vacation while trying to keep my balance by leaning against a tree. The wind nearly bowled me over as I was standing on a bluff overlooking a small valley.

I finally decided to enjoy the view from our car, though there was a wire fence in that area.

I thought the fence would hinder my view but I had some great entertainment. A variety of birds did touch-and-go landings on the fence just to the right of my passenger-side window. With such strong wind I was amazed they chose to land on a wire at all.

Finally, a pretty blue bird with a white underbelly landed with his feet about two inches apart. His tail stuck nearly straight up for balance. My photo is a little blurry because I hurried to get the picture.

I thought he would take off quickly like the others, but he didn’t. My husband and I both admired that little bird’s tenacity since he was fighting the same wind we had just fought.

High Winds

You’ve probably heard about winds of adversity. Adversity can be something physical or mental that causes us to struggle. It may cause us to feel perplexed, confused or uncertain and we feel at a loss, wondering what to do.

In Psalm 42:5 David asked himself, Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? In 2 Corinthians 4:8, Paul wrote about being hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Those are good reasons to be downcast, but both men chose to keep their focus beyond life’s challenges and frustrations.

High Hopes

David encouraged himself with a little self-talk saying, “Put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

Paul wrote that in spite of all the adversity he experienced, he was not crushed or in despair, nor did he feel abandoned or destroyed. He chose to focus on things unseen, “since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Keep Your Focus

As I watched that little bird land on the wire, I wondered what’s your motivation? All the other birds barely landed before they took off! One thing for sure, it was a personal choice.

Like the little bird, we do a balancing act. 

While acknowledging the reality of what our senses tell us is happening, we can move past that to focus on eternal, unseen things known by faith and hope in God and His word.

Remember, when the wind blows and you’re facing adversity, choose your focus and hang on.


Note: Do you know someone who would find this story encouraging? Why not forward it to them?

*When the Wind Blows is from my book REFLECTIONS: Inspirational Stories from Everyday Life (available from BookLocker.com)