The Client

Someone once came up with a creative acronym for BIBLE as being Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  I like that.

While sleeping this morning, I came up with what to me is a strange analogy for our walk with Yehovah God.  It was like being a stock trader.  I knowww, hunh?  I’m as out of my comfort zone on that as can be.  I’m referring to one who trades stock for others and haven’t a clue what the title for that job is and have never even owned a piece of stock so I may be completely clueless but hopefully not wrong…but if I am, please forgive my error and feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the matter.  Now that I have laid my ignorance on such things before you, I can move on.

From what I understand, when you trade stocks for another person, you are usually given a set of parameters for when to buy or sell that stock.  For instance, you sell when it’s high (at a certain price sometimes) and buy when it’s low (again, often there is often a number given ahead of time).  You can do that for your client all day long or even longer until something out of the ordinary comes up.  That’s when you call your client and say, “What would you like for me to do about THIS situation?”  You’re dealing with that person’s money, after all, so you need to know what THEY want to do, not just do what YOU would want to do.

If the client says, “There are instructions that cover that in my portfolio” (again, excuse my ignorance of proper term, here), then you would go find that information and use it to make the decision.

If the client says, “I trust you and give you the authority to make that decision based on your own knowledge and expertise”, then you’re able to go ahead and make the decision on their behalf.

On the other hand, they may say, “Here’s what I want you to do…”, so you would go ahead and do it because it is their money and they have the right to do what they want with it.  Oh, I know…this analogy is faulty right here because often, “the stock trader” is the one with more knowledge so they would likely give advice to the client, suggesting what they think they should do so we’ll have to be sure it is known that this is a very experienced Client we’re dealing with.  In fact, this Client knows even more than “the trader” and the trader is new to the business.  The Client has more important things to do on His own and doesn’t have the license or time or fill-in-the-blank to do it Himself here in this realm and therefore needs representation.

If you haven’t already been “catching on” to this analogy so far, I believe you are now able to see the point of this analogy and you will be able to see yourself and so many of us in it.  Some of us run off half-cocked, forgetting or not bothering to even check the portfolio a.k.a. BIBLE for the instructions we were given.  We forget that this is The Client’s money and not ours, that WE represent HIM and what we do will reflect well or poorly on Him.   We wouldn’t want to trigger any sort of “Occupy Wall Street” on Him now, would we?!?

Some people will be too insecure and afraid of making a decision which means they may miss opportunities for the client which would make the client very unhappy and could easily affect others’ lives.  Or perhaps some are too busy and forget that they are only “in business” because this Client saved their life and gave them this job, even getting them their “license” in order to service this one Client.  Oh, there are so many scenarios!

At some point in time, we all try to tell The Client that we know what’s best for Him.  After all, we are all too familiar with the extenuating circumstances and He might have missed some of them.  Ha!  I knowww…it sounds ludicrous when seen in this light but I know you can see yourself doing that.  Ouch!  I can see myself, too!

How about when The Client says, “Do this…” or “Do that…” and we say, “But I’m scared!” or “I don’t want to do THAT!” and try to talk Him out of it or worse, just ignore His instructions.  The client could miss out on millions and you can imagine His displeasure!  (Feel free to fill in your own various definitions of “millions”.)

The parable of the talents from Matthew 25 comes to mind, doesn’t it?  The “talents” are HIS, whatever we deem those talents to be.  Some say it’s simply about money, some say it’s talents as in abilities but perhaps we are still limiting it too much.  Could it be that everything He has invested in us is included, not forgetting the opportunities we’re given?  Haven’t our lives even been redeemed by Him?  It’s not clear from the scriptures where to draw the line so I guess the question is all about where we choose to draw that line in our own lives.

In Romans 9, we read about The Potter a.k.a. The Client and “the clay” a.k.a. “the stock trader”.  We must never forget that it’s all about The Potter…not “the clay”.  It’s all about The Client and His will…and not about “the trader”.  Let’s balance that with reminding ourselves that The Client LOVES the “trader” and The Potter LOVES the “clay”!  Jer. 29:11 tells us that HE has a good plan for us and as we take the time to get to know Him, we will come to trust that He Is the right and only choice for being The One in Control… and we are fortunate just to have been chosen to be called His trader, His clay, His child.  Then, as little children, we can REST in His choices and bask in His rewards…both here on earth and in the inestimable days and years to come!

As for me, I have traded my old life for His life…and I am going to do my best to be as moldable as I can be, studying His “portfolio” and spending time with Him to learn His wishes so that I can make the trades a.k.a. decisions He would have me make with as little of my own fear or even “wisdom” thrown into the mix as possible.  I will try to keep in mind that He has a plan and it’s a good one and He knows ALL I will ever need to know to “get the job done” so that once I’m finished, I can hear those amazing words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into My rest.”

“So be it!” a.k.a. “Amen!”

Friendly People Day

I had an unusual experience the other day. It just so happened that it was Halloween, probably my least favorite day of the year, but it turned out to be a very nice day because of all the friendly people I encountered.

Which brings me to my reason for blogging today…

After taking my mother to the airport, where friendly airport personnel abounded (even the nosy guy who was going through her luggage and took away her 8 oz. water bottle), I went shopping at WalMart. Now, I must tell you that WalMart has consistently been the source of some of the unfriendliest people in the Ozarks but on Halloween, everything changed!

It was strange…in a good sort of way, of course! Ordinarily, it didn’t matter who I greeted or spoke to, my comments were responded to with blank stares and mute mouths. I’m serious! It was horrible! I kept wanting to look in a mirror and see if something was on my face or in my teeth! Hahaha! On this Halloween, though, it seemed that every time I turned a corner, I was greeted with a smile and often, some version of “Hello!”  I knowww! How strange, hunh???!!!

There was even a very senior citizen who stopped and talked to me in the parking lot…twice! In the bakery, I also helped a young man pick out a birthday cake for his 14 year old sister. I also chatted with the checkout clerk and another woman greeted me twice! Hahaha! Before I left the store, I went to pick up a sandwich at the Subway in the front of the store and even there, a woman in line chatted at length with me, giving advice on how to have the sandwich made. She works at WalMart in the shoe department and I will keep an eye out for her when I go by her department in the future so I can say, “Hi!”.

So, what’s the deal? I don’t know if all this friendliness had anything to do with the “holiday” but I’ve got to seriously consider it. I don’t think it has anything to do with me because I’m always smiling and friendly but I must admit that I asked my husband while he was eating that sandwich (made just as that WalMart employee suggested), if I looked different today. It sounds silly but I did! And he was so sweet…he perceived it was a test and told me that I did look very nice! Hahahaaa! Bless his heart!

But seriously, I’m thinkin’ it had something to do with the fact that employees were dressed up for Halloween and that many of the shoppers were planning fun events for the evening. I wonder if people aren’t also feeling more generous on that day. I mean, Christmas seems to have become more about getting than giving but Halloween is partly about giving candy. Thanksgiving and Christmas are about spending quality time together but as I think about it, so is Halloween. Families take time to make costumes for others, bake cupcakes, spending quality time together going trick or treating, etcetera. Drat! I hate that there’s something good about this holiday that I hate so much! Sigh! I’m afraid I can’t deny it so I’ll just let it be what it is…and be grateful for the friendliness of the day. Now, I can’t help but wonder if that friendliness will continue through the rest of the holiday season…???

I spent the afternoon with an old friend…

I had a wonderful afternoon today. I spent it with an old friend.

The old friend was music…but not just any music. It was one of my favorite CDs that I hadn’t heard in a couple of years. It’s by Carolyn Arends and the album is called, “this much i understand”.

I think Carolyn is a balladeer. She is a Christian who sings wonderful songs about our lives. One song is called Happy and in it, she asks if she annoys us by her optimism and tells us she is going to dare to be happy. What a great message!

She goes on to sing Life is Long, which talks about some tough times in a woman’s life and she tells them to hang in there, that life is long, and tomorrow’s another day, that she believes they’re gonna make it. Who hasn’t had days when they needed to hear that?

I love them all but another particular fave of mine is called Life and Death, where she says that we are all just too busy, that we need to take the time to do what’s important and we forget that, “It’s a matter of life and death, all the choices we’re gonna get, to use our voices, make our choices happen here and now. What’s the matter with all of us? Chase the wind and we miss the bus. We get distracted from what matters and then somehow, we forget…it’s life and death.” It’s a real eye opener. ; )

An amazing love song is called The Day Will Never Come. In it, she tells her husband that the day will never come that she doesn’t love him, even if she can’t guarantee that she will always be the things he wants and needs from her. Now, THAT’S TRUE LOVE!

In a song called Surprised by Joy, Carolyn shares how she is astounded by God’s love and the wonderful things in her life, including God’s grace and the “little” things, like her son’s toothless grin. It is a song of gratitude and love…and we all need to be reminded of that!

One-Syllable Words talks about how instead of all the psychobabble, legalese, big words and craziness in our world, we need to get back to using some one-syllable words like “faith and hope and love, truth and peace and trust, dream and pay and watch and play”…stuff like that. Who can’t agree with that?

An absolute favorite that will often bring me to tears is her song, Even the Wallflowers, where she speaks to her infant/toddler, telling him that ever since he was born, she has been utterly amazed, astonished at his level of perfection and although she can’t imagine how anyone could hurt him, she knows they will. She wishes she can protect him from all the bad things of life but if she does, she knows he may never learn that even the wallflowers do survive, in fact, they can thrive, even in the shadows…and that there is a power in finding that out for himself. In fact, someday, he will even tell it to his own kid.

A sad and beautiful song was written to her grandmother, who died sooner than Carolyn expected. She says that if she had known her grandmother would be leaving here so soon, she would have done a lot of things differently. She sings, “If you were here right now, I would Love You Out Loud“, and explains what that means by saying she would listen to more of her stories and laugh at her jokes, pray with her, tell her she loves her more often and other such wonderful things.  It is a touching and beautiful ode to her grandmother!

She ends the album with another favorite of mine. It is a song to her newly born son, where she tells him she knows how frightened he must have been to have been taken from his warm world inside her “to this delivery room”. She tells him that even though he doesn’t understand it now, he belongs and that they’ve been waiting for him, looking forward to showing him the place. It’s called We’ve Been Waiting For You and she tells him that he’s going to like it here and that there are wonderful things in store like the taste of ice cream and his first kiss.

Then, she gets more serious, saying she now realizes that she is on her own journey and that when it’s her turn to leave, she’s pretty sure she’ll be frightened. She tells him that even if she cries, she won’t be alone and when her room is ready and she arrives at the gates of Heaven, she knows she will hear them say the words that she said to him as he arrived here, “We’ve been waiting for you. We’re so glad you came. We’ve been looking forward to showing you the place. There’s so much in store and we’ve been waiting for you.”

What a great note to leave us with! There is such tenderness and hope in her songs and my heart was full and soaring by the time the last note was played. Throughout the afternoon, even though I tried to be productive, I discovered that I couldn’t bear to be distracted, to miss a word, and I had such fun singing along to all the words that came rushing back to me!

I had almost forgotten how important music is! It ministers to my spirit, my mind, my soul! Oh, the time I’ve wasted listening to so many other things! Do YOU have a favorite album or singer you haven’t heard in awhile? Even if it is just a favorite era or a style of music you used to love, I encourage you to play it…and let your mind experience the emotions that come along with it. Another thing…if you love to sing, sing along…even if you don’t think you sing well…sing…because that act will take you deeper into those places you’ve kept closed off, the places you loved, exposing parts of you that you thought were dead and you’ve missed.

Music IS the stuff of life! Viva la musica! Hahaha! What a wonderful gift music is! What a blessing Carolyn Arends is to me! I think I’m gonna have to go visit her web site so I can tell her and thank her for it!

So, what are you waiting for? Your old friend is waiting!  Go turn on the radio or put in an album, tape or CD! Turn on your satellite and go to the CD stations! Get out the MP3 Player! Just start humming! Whatever you do, go for it!

I wish my cat understood…

I wish my cat understood…

I wish she understood English so I could explain why she can’t come in the house right now.

I wish I could explain about those chiggers and ticks…I’d tell her what they’re doing to her and then I’d tell her that she is bringing them into the house and then depositing them on the carpet, beds and couch, whether she means to or not.

I wish I could explain that the new kitten is not to replace her and that really he wants to be her friend.

I wish my cat understood that her human family NEEDS to SLEEP ALL NIGHT and they don’t want to get up and play with her or let her outside…again!

I wish my cat understood…because if she did, she’d be a happier cat!

Spoiled or Grateful?

I read a great article recently. It was written last year but its message is timeless…

Made in the USA: Spoiled brats by Craig R. Smith

Posted: November 20, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right? …

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change.

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ”What we are so unhappy about?”

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn’t have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ”general” discharge, an ”other than honorable” discharge or, worst case scenario, a ”dishonorable” discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn’t kill his wife but if he did � insane!

Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

I close with one of my favorite quotes from B.C. Forbes in 1953:

”What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.’ Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.”

I suggest this Thanksgiving we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don’t, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the ”greediest and most ungrateful generation.” A far cry from the proud Americans of the ”greatest generation” who left us an untarnished legacy. (End of article)
Link: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53028

This article has been plagiarized and distributed on the internet as an Urban Legend. In it, the comments are attributed to Jay Leno, in addition to another comment Leno made but which has evolved or devolved, rather, by other people adding their words to his words.

As best I can determine, Leno’s original comment in September, 2005 went something like this:

As you know Hurricane Rita is headed toward Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Another hurricane! It’s like the ninth hurricane this season. Maybe this isn’t a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Right on, Leno!

I don’t know why some people feel the need to do these things but someone has taken Smith’s article, “amended” and added Leno’s comments and then mixed the two to create an Urban Legend that is cluttering up the world wide web and will undoubtedly do so for years to come. Here’s the link to learn more about that, if you like: http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/dubiousquotes/a/jay_leno.htm

Anyway, this week, our nation has been glued to our TV and radios watching the scenes from a “massacre” at Virginia Tech, where 32 students were killed. Their website has a special page dedicated to news on this tragedy… http://www.vt.edu/tragedy/ …for those of you interested in learning more. Whenever I am struck by such a sense of loss and begin to feel a sense of despair when I realize that there really isn’t much that can be done to prevent it from happening again, I try to take a step back and take a fresh look. Otherwise, I can be overwhelmed.

Let’s face it…as horrible as the shootings at VTech were, we need to realize that we as a nation are pretty blessed if this is the biggest campus shooting in our nation’s history. In other countries, people die from terrorists and bombers on a regular basis. There are other senseless atrocities all over the world. Please don’t get me wrong…I have cried along with the rest of the nation as I sympathize with those whose lives will never be the same. I grieve and pray for all those who witnessed the shootings and lost loved ones. I feel sad for the killer’s family and can only imagine the guilt they feel as they replay so many memories and wonder what they could have done differently. I can only imagine all the “should have, could have, would have” thoughts that are going through people’s minds. I am also aware that these events have caused many to lose their innocence and hope for the future. Some are considering giving up because they wonder what’s the point if your life can be taken from you after all you’ve done.

But don’t you see? That’s why I must step back so that I can keep from sinking down into that mire of despair. You know, there’s an old saying, “You find what you are looking for”. If you are “looking” for bad things in order to confirm your negative view of life, you will find plenty of things to continue to fuel your negative thoughts. Conversely, if you happen to be an optimistic person, perhaps one who believes that you have some control in determining your future, you can find good things around you to support those thoughts, as well.

So, who’s right? To answer this, I can’t help but think of another saying, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right”. Our expectations do have some influence over our lives. Obviously, we can’t control everything around us. That was evidenced this week at VTech. But our expectations do play a role in our future and in the amount of satisfaction we feel in our day to day lives.

That’s why I believe an attitude of gratitude is such an important thing. Even though I am a Christian and I believe that God is the source of every good thing, I don’t believe you must be a Christian to have this attitude of gratitude. I think that happiness depends, in large part, on being grateful.

At this point, I’m reminded of this VTech killer. According to one expert, this young man was paranoid and delusional. In all of his complaints, he doesn’t give a single concrete example and makes no accusations against anyone in particular. Everything is vague. This is because there was no wrongdoing. It was all in his head. In spite of being a young man whose parents sacrificed and brought him to America, offering him a simple life, perhaps, but much better than he would have had in Korea. He was in college, which is something that isn’t an option for many people. He made comments about rich kids but VTech is not made up of rich kids. It has been said to be made up of “blue-collar” families. Several students told of trying to get to know him and the school didn’t kick him out when he did several things over the years that we would assume could have gotten him expelled. As a matter of fact, they even gave him a tutor to accommodate him when he got kicked out of a class for his behavior and refused to stop.

I’ve heard testimonies over the years from people whose families were poor as they were growing up. Several of them have said that they didn’t FEEL poor and sometimes didn’t even know they WERE poor. Instead, they were grateful for what they had and went on to become successful adults. What made the difference? In my opinion, expectations and gratitude made the difference.

I got an email recently. It fits in perfectly here:

One day a wealthy father took his family for a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show his son how poor people live. They spent a week on the farm of a very poor family, just barely managing to scratch out a living. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, “How did you find your week on the farm?”

“Very good, Dad!”

“Do you understand now how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Yeah!”

“And what did you learn?”

The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden but they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden but they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard but they have the whole horizon.”

When the boy was finished, his father was speechless. His son added, “Thanks for showing me how poor we are, Dad!”

Now, that was obviously not the father’s goal but it is clear that his son came to value of the simple things of life. I sincerely doubt that the son actually felt poor but it is possible, in the worst possible scenario, that he could have become disenchanted with his rich life and all the extras that he was given as a result of his father’s wealth and provision. It is possible that he could have spent the rest of his life wishing he had the simple life of those on the farm, resenting where he was. While it is unlikely, can you see what a role expectations can play?

I think it is important to live in the moment, be grateful for what you have…even while you are striving to improve your circumstances and future. What is…simply is. How you feel about it doesn’t change it…but it can affect your happiness and your future. Accept your life for what it is…take credit or blame for your part in making it what it is…change what you can…accept what you can’t…learn from it so you can prevent or repeat what you can…and move on from there.

Forgiveness is critical, too. If you don’t forgive others, you are doomed to be held back, unable to move on with your life. You don’t have to go to them or even restore relationship with them to forgive them. Forgiveness is sort of like releasing your right to punish them. I suggest you release them to God who said, “Vengeance is Mine”. I imagine He is verrry good at it, too. You see, as long as you reserve the right to their judgment and punishment, you keep God from being able to hold them accountable. On top of that, unforgiveness does several other things. It is like a ball and chain that you drag around with you and drains you of your energy. It affects your perception of others and has the power to change the future. I have known people who wouldn’t allow people to be close to them because their unforgiveness of something in the past caused them to protect themselves yet this caused them to miss out on many good things. It determines the behavior of others and the outcome of many circumstances. So, you see, forgiveness is for YOU. And in a sense, it also helps to assure that those you have forgiven actually are held accountable for their actions. “How?” you ask? Because you can rarely actually cause them the type of retribution or punishment that is warranted…but God can. Remember that God can’t do that until you release them to Him. I must tell you, though, that if those people you forgave/released ever come to a place of genuine repentance, then God, Who can see and knows their hearts, will forgive them. But then, that’s what He has done for most of us and hopefully, that’s what we would do if we believed and could know that they were truly sorry and changed. It’s a good plan, isn’t it?

You know, I experienced quite a lot of abuse from my ex-husband but I had to let it go so it wouldn’t affect my next marriage. My husband does not deserve any of the distrust that my ex had earned. I didn’t want to hold my husband at arms length so I could protect myself from potential pain. I must say that if it wasn’t for God, I don’t think I could have learned this or done it but it has caused me to reap such wonderful rewards! I often say that I am the happiest married woman I know. I’m not living a life that a casual glance would bring others to envy but I do know others who say they would be happy to have what I have…

To be honest, I have less money than most, have relationship issues with loved ones, am unemployed and have many hurts and things I would love to change about my past…but I am still grateful for most of those past things. I have a simple home but I don’t have to work like crazy and worry that I can’t pay for it so that brings me peace of mind. I do have relationship issues with a few people but I’m grateful that I haven’t spent my life lonely with few contacts or friends. I don’t expect all of life to be perfect or others to be in agreement with me so I expect some issues. I am unemployed but grateful that we have such a low overhead and that I have the skills and health that will allow me to work, even if my health keeps me from doing many jobs. You know, I realize that I don’t have as much as most but there are many who suffer every day and don’t have as much as I have. If I want to compare, I can always choose to compare myself to those with less.

Some of my past really hurt but I must admit that those experiences have helped to make me who I am. Instead of moaning over what could have been, I choose to think about what I learned from those things. I like to think that I am a stronger person and more sensitive and understanding of others, too. I believe those things have made me a wiser woman and sharing them has allowed me to help others with what I’ve learned from those disappointments and pains.

An important thing to realize is that even if you want to go back to change the past, you can’t. You can only get stuck in the present or move forward to your future. Albert Einstein is credited as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Sounds to me like it would be kinda crazy to get stuck in the past…or present, as it may be. Instead, we need to learn from those things we go through so we can stop repeating the things that are not bringing results we like and continue doing the things that bring us good results.

Another thing…stop expecting others to fix your life. “Spoiled brats” expect every one and every thing to center around them. They expect others to cater to them. It’s your life. Seize the day…make wise decisions…and remember what the families in Virginia are so painfully aware of today…that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Death comes to us all…and it obviously can come before old age…so start today living so as to make every day count. You don’t have to make every moment count…just work to make a difference in any way you can, while you can. One person CAN make a difference. I mean, look at what Jesus did in just THREE years of ministry!

Let’s face it. We do have choices and we make them all the time, good or bad, every day. The Bible says that we will reap what we sow and that works both ways…good or bad. I want to reap good things so I’m doing what I can to sow good things. I hope one day to hear those words from God, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

On Life…

Life is wonderful, life is hard and life is long…so don’t get stuck in the moment…there are better days to come.

Of course, if you are in a wonderful season, don’t expect it to stay that way…no matter how hard you try to control things and do the right thing, bad times will come. It is a fact of life. Every life. I mean, you just have to look at Jesus to see that no matter how good you are, bad things happen to even good people.

Why does that matter? Because our expectations have a way of tripping us up. This is due in large part to their beliefs and expectations. As an example, I remember one young woman who had to have a boyfriend and if she didn’t have one, pretended that she did because she believed that other single guys would think there was something wrong with her, that if she didn’t have a boyfriend, perhaps there was a good reason for that. Consequently, whenever she would break up with someone, even if that someone was undesirable, she was sent into an emotional tailspin…basically brought on by her own beliefs.

Here’s another example…
A young man and woman break up…and he thinks it’s the end of the world, believing he’ll never find another love such as this…while she responds with sadness but is not downhearted. She moves on with her life, knowing there are better times ahead. In time, they both find someone else and even discover that they learned something from their old relationship that they brought into this new one, making it even better. And life goes on…but meanwhile, the young man suffered much more than necessary. That suffering was due in part to his belief that she was his one true love and the resulting expectation that the future was now hopeless.
I have found that many people freak out when the bad times come, even becoming depressed, when in reality, there’s no reason to believe that things will not get better! Just as we read a book and throughout the chapters, we find people experiencing various difficulties, we know the book’s not over yet. We keep reading, hoping that things will work themselves out before the book is over. In fact, we’re counting on it! If we didn’t believe it, most of us would just put the book down and never finish it. When the bad stuff happens, we know we’re just in the middle of the book…not at the end. Yet, when bad things happen in some people’s life, they act like it is the end of the book. Even later, when things resolve themselves, they often don’t learn from their lesson. When the next bad day happens, they fall back into the old mindset of fear and depression.

It is wrong to expect everything to always go right…so why do we do that?

What I’ve learned this year…

Here at the close of 2006, I pause for reflection and consider what have I learned this year. Some things are more important than others…yet all are significant in some way and a few say something about the world around me, too…

With Saddam’s execution, I have learned that justice in Iraq can be swift.

In moving from CA to MO, I learned to take chances and trust God to work all the details out. I also learned that selling a home and finding a new one often takes longer than you think.

When one of my vehicle registrations expired while I was on the road and then others needed new tags before I got stuff from storage and went through it, not to mention getting approved for a home loan, I learned to take all of your important papers with you including birth certificates, auto paperwork and two years of tax info with you when you go. Do NOT pack them with your stuff in storage!

With so much time in transition, I learned there’s still such a thing as having a General Delivery mailing address.

Being snowed in for days, I learned to stock up for more time than you think you’ll need and to refill water jugs in case the power goes out and the toilet doesn’t flush.

Watching stories of the family on TV that was stranded in their car in Oregon, I learned that I wanted to keep blankets, water and other emergency supplies in the car.

With a new kitten that never goes outside, I learned that all the fleas don’t die with one or even two month’s applications of Advantage flea treatment.

In the process of living for months without all my stuff, I’ve learned that I really don’t need it all.

In watching the news and so many crime shows on TV, I’ve learned that things are not all they seem at first glance.

Having just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary, my husband and I have learned that love does become like a fine wine. It gets better with age!

Since so much of what we learn is just a reminder, a refresher course, we were also reminded of how important it is to marry the right person in the first place! 😉 Some things…er…people, you just can’t fix!

Well, that’s enough for now. I’d love to hear from some of you since I’m sure the list is absolutely endless!

It’s hard to care…

It’s hard to care…ya know what I mean?

I mean, if you care, you can be disappointed. If you care, you can get in arguments. If you care, you can lose. If you care, your heart can be broken.

I’m predominantly speaking of the elections yesterday and fighting to keep other scenarios away.

Don’t worry…I won’t go into the specific issues since I’m betting YOU care, too…but therein lies my dilemma!

You see, YOU might be against what I am for and for what I am against. That would mean that what makes me happy makes you sad and vice versa. You may even be disappointed in ME for feeling the way I do…and if you told ME, I might feel the same. Who knows? It may even cause us to “come to blows”! (Hahaha! Not really!) ; )

It’s a fact of life…you win, you lose. Ya can’t get around it. So, what’re you to do? Do you just choose not to care??? Is it possible to shut your brain off and build a wall around your heart? Is that an option anyone would even WANT to consider??? Shye…NOO! Hello! No way!

Besides, what’s the point of living if you don’t LIVE? You’ve just GOT to know what you love and hate…even just like and dislike. In many ways, life is about trying to find ways to have as much of the things and people you like around you and as little of those things and people that you don’t. That’s why we form opinions and vote...because we don’t live in a vacuum even if we wish we could. ; )

Choices. Decisions. Those are either good words or bad words depending on who you are. For me…they’re usually good words. I don’t struggle making decisions as much as some others that I know. The hard part is that we don’t always know whether our choices will bring what we hope they will. And another person may choose to take a different route (aka choice or decision) to answer the same issue than we would. Alright…NOW those words are beginning to sound like bad words! Hahaha!

But who in his or her right mind would want their right to make choices and decisions go away??? None of us. The hard part is that we don’t get to make all of our own decisions. Parents, bosses, spouses and politicians are among the most common people who also make decisions “for” us. ; ..

And in the case of the election…all the other voters have a say in making decisions for us. And as much as we hate that, it sure beats having a dictator (whom none of us chose) making the choices that please him/her without regard to our happiness or wishes.

I am reminded that it is GOD who gave us this ability and permission to choose…and whether or not you choose HIM or even believe IN Him, I choose to believe in Him and be grateful this ability to choose. And I must say, the alternative of no-choice is not desirable nor acceptable. So, I guess I should be saying, “Thank You, God!”

As far as my original comments on caring, I was thinking about caring enough to make a choice about things in life, in particular, the political issues. I was also thinking about the fallout of sharing your thoughts with others and their respective responses. When I spoke to my husband about it, he reminded me of Shakespeare’s quote: “To thine own self be true”. I took that to mean that you should be true to yourself and not worry what others think. I agreed but as I continue to think about it, I find myself only agreeing in part.

You see, often we need to influence others so that we can collectively work towards accomplishing goals that bring good and reduce negative things in our world which affects our lives so we must work together, we must talk about it…and yes, we must vote. Sometimes, we’ll be voting for people that will make decisions for us and we want them to represent us and our beliefs well. That’s why we can’t just keep our mouths shut. All things are not in our control…and we cannot even have an influence on things that happen in our world if we keep our mouths shut.

And life goes on…and some of what happens we don’t like and so we complain about them…until someday someone comes along and changes them…or a lot of people go out to vote and their votes change them. But how did that even come to a vote except someone opened their mouth and showed they cared enough to try to make a difference? Only then could others learn of it and if they agreed, were able to join and help make their world a better place…according to THEM.

So, yes…it’s hard to care…it even hurts to care…but care we must…or we will die horribly alone, having lived a life not of our own choosing, not caring nor enjoying anything much…maybe even bitter…oops…if you don’t care, I guess you can’t be bitter, can you? No, this life, if it were possible, would be a life of endless monotony and lacking in either pleasure or disappointment. I’m pretty sure that’s not even possible although it reminds me of another quote I heard somewhere: “If you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed.” There’s a lot of ways to interpret that saying but today, I’ve added a new one than I’ve ever thought about before.

So, where do we go from here? To care or not to care? That is the question…but then again, maybe it isn’t. Maybe we can’t help but care. Maybe it is in HOW we express our caring and what we do to bring about a measure of success in those things we care about. Maybe we need to learn HOW to care, HOW MUCH or LITTLE to care and WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT? Ahhh, those seem like the better questions. Along with them, we may need to learn how to handle the disappointments, when to “turn off” our caring, what the boundaries are in our caring for others. We could probably learn better ways of communicating our “cares”, too. There are inappropriate ways and times to share, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Well, I must say that I feel better than I did when I began this blog. I was “smarting” from the losses at the polls on issues I care about. I was disappointed once again with some of the people elected to office…those who will be making decisions “on my behalf” that will affect me and my life. In my disappointment, I felt the urge to run…to not participate in the process again…but how can I benefit from that?

Maybe I need to remind myself that “this, too, shall pass”…this pain that I hate so much. Maybe instead I should use this pain for gain, reminding myself that next time, maybe I should consider getting involved in the political process, helping others to hear my position. Yes, there will be those who disagree…and the worst part is that some may disagree very disagreeably…but some will agree very agreeably, too…and maybe even change their vote once they understand and agree…and only then we can become a team to help change our world and our choices.

Okay, it’s official…I choose to continue to care…even if it hurts! And I choose to remember that each of us has that same right…even if what others care about and want is different than what I care about and want…and I will respect them in their choices and if I disagree, I will try to do it agreeably, remembering that I do not have to respect what they’ve chosen, only their right to choose.

It occurs to me that this is what God does. He does not approve of many of our choices but He allows us to make them. As sad as it makes Him, He doesn’t remove our right to make the choice. One thing is certain, though; we will always reap what we’ve sown. I think that’s why we try so hard to intervene in others’ affairs, knowing that they will reap and what’s worse, we may even reap alongside them. It’s a painful way to learn and understandable that we would want to avoid it since we care so much…but there are times when the choice is not ours…and that’s just a part of life.

Whatever we do, we can’t just shut down and run and hide with our tails between our legs, licking our wounds for long. We’ve GOT to care again or we aren’t really living. (Boy, does that hit home!) So, once again, here it is: I choose this day to care…I choose life! How ’bout you?

Autumn is so fleeting!

I recently moved to Missouri where the trees actually change color before they fall off the trees. I was so excited for it to arrive! My mother even told me that I was going to have to enjoy it twice as much as others since she couldn’t be here so I was also having to enjoy it for her, as well. ; )

Well, supposedly the drought has caused the leaves to fall faster this year and the color hasn’t been as bright or long-lasting, either…and while it is still much more beautiful than in my home state of California, I keep looking for the breath-taking views that I’ve seen in photos…all the while, wondering if I’m just jaded or expecting too much. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful and it is beautiful, but reality often has a hard time living up to our expectations, don’t you think?

Anyway, even though it was drizzling today, I tried to get out and take a few photos and was shocked to see that many of the trees are already bare! Where did the time go?

And then it hit me…

I turned 50 this year and by all respects, am in the autumn of MY life…and it, too, seems fleeting. I am bound and determined to make the most of this season, both in nature and in my life…but am unsure how to go about that. The only thing I can think of is to live each day, appreciating whatever life brings my way and trying to ignore the feelings of dissatisfaction that come from such close introspection.

I’ve discovered that those beautiful leaves look better from a distance. They’re actually dying and have flaws all over them. I don’t even want to think about any analogies to that in my life! Hahaha! But since it’s inevitable, I will think about it…I guess I thought this part of my life would be better. Don’t get me wrong…I’m a happy woman…but I never thought that I was going to feel this old when I got here. I always thought I’d be that young, energetic, enthusiastic young woman…but a little older, somehow…and without the pain! Hahaha!

But then I think about how much everyone seems to love autumn and my emotions shift gears. Why do we love it so? There is a respite from the heat of summer…and who doesn’t love that? And maybe after the craziness of summer, there’s a chance to get back on track, somehow. Kids get back to school, places get less crowded and there’s time to catch your breath and begin to think about what’s next. Another thing is that when autumn comes, we begin to think about the holidays and even the new year ahead. For most of us, even if they aren’t here yet we find that just thinking about them makes us happier and more hopeful, somehow. Then again, for some of us, it also makes us a little sad about what hasn’t happened yet.

And there’s the crux…

OUR THINKING can get us in trouble!!! The good news is that we have the power to change what we think! A couple of well-known sayings come to mind here:

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” You see, if you think negatively, you’ll never try and therefore, rarely succeed at anything…and if you believe in yourself, thinking positively, you will try…which greatly enhances your chance to succeed! I can choose to think negatively or positively and either way, my thoughts and beliefs have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. What power our thoughts have!

Now for the other saying…

“You will find what you are looking for.” Have you ever bought a new car and suddenly notice all of the other cars like your new one? You even notice all of the cars that are just the same COLOR! Okay, I’m going to give you an exercise. Don’t look around the room right now…just look at this page until I tell you to look around. In a minute, I want you to look around the room and see if you see anything green. I could pick any color but I don’t want you to pick your favorite color because you’ve probably filled your room with it. Okay, okay…you can pick the color if you want but just try it…go ahead and look around now………………..

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Did you do it? Did you think you didn’t HAVE anything green? Did you find it in places you hadn’t really noticed or thought about before? That’s what I’m talking about! You’ll find what you’re looking for! Are you looking for trouble? Do you expect people to let you down? Do you think life is over? Do you expect to fail? Or are you expecting to be blessed, continue to grow and find a new and wonderful season in your life? I’m not talking about the past. The past does not have any ability to dictate the future…unless we let it! Unless we believe it has that kind of power…even when it doesn’t!

So, how does all this relate to me in the autumn of my life? Well, if I keep playing the analogy game I’ve been playing, I would have to say it is a great time of my life! A time when the hectic craziness of my younger years has finally begun to slow down and I have time to think about…and pray about…what’s next. A time when I can add some color back into MY world! (Remember that poem, When I am Old, I Shall Wear Purple?) It’s not winter yet…and by the way, we’ll tackle winter in another blog, in another time. ; )

So, I guess I’ve come full circle. I am a grown up so I know that life is not all fun and games and beauty and ease. As a Christian, I know that Jesus told us that in this world, we were guaranteed hard times. Of course, He also said to be of good cheer because He has already overcome it…and the Bible says we would be MORE than overcomers, too!

I have had the wonderful privilege of discovering that God loves me and has a plan for my life. I asked Him to come into my life and become my Lord and Savior…and He has. He has promised to work all things out for my good…even the bad stuff. He says He has a plan for my life and that the plan is for good and not calamity. Well, if God has promised to live in me and I allow Him to live through me…as Paul said, “It is no longer I but Christ lives in me”…then how on earth can I fear that??? I know that God has always had a plan for my life and that’s not going to change NOW! Why on earth would it?

The Bible says that we should build ourselves up in our most holy faith (Jude 1:20) and that we should trust in the LORD with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways, we are to acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

So, I choose today to believe God. That means that even this stage of my life is a good one and what’s coming is also good. I may go through hard times but God will work them all out to my good…and His glory! Philippians 1:6 tells me that He Who began this good work in me shall continue to work it out until the day when Jesus returns for His church…which includes me! ; )

So, autumn…winter…it’s all good!…even if it is fleeting! ; )