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Archive for December, 2013

father-time

Three-hundred and sixty-five days later, we face that old man again … Father Time.

What were we doing one year ago? What have we accomplished? What joys did life provide? Did we manage to lose the weight? quit smoking? exercise more?

No sense in hanging our heads, according to Forbes, only about 8% of people who make resolutions achieve them.

What if we looked at the birth of 2014 differently?

What if we ditched the long-winded, well-intended, grandiose resolutions for

one word?

In her blog post titled Gratitude is the Catalyst, Arianne Segerman tells of her own substitution for the traditional New Year’s Resolutions … picking a word to motivate, not just a diet, or change in one part of her life, but a word that would infringe on every aspect of her daily living.

May you enjoy her sharing.

I wish you a Happy New Year!

God be with you …

Carole

At the beginning of the year, I picked a word of the year for the very first time. I always wondered why people chose one word, because how did they decide? And then somewhere around the first week of January, a word hit me and it was so obvious it was from the Lord that I tucked it into my heart and have carried it in my mind ever since.

My word was Intention. It meant that this year my family would no longer just survive — we would THRIVE. And it would start with me being intentional.

As I sat down to write down some words for you guys today, I realized that one of the biggest ways I’ve learned how to be intentional is by being grateful

When I am slowing down my mind so that I can be intentional with my actions, words, heart, I do so by doing one important thing first. I look around me and find things I’m grateful for in that very moment. The sun, the birds, the cluttered house, the heart beating, the breath. Once I focus on that gratitude, I notice something happening. 

It’s as if all the things around me start to rise up. They start to fill the room. Fill my soul. And they rise higher than my stress level. And that gratitude takes form and begins to shape my thoughts and actions. Suddenly, I’m intentional.

I’ve become intentional with my husband, my children, my work, my diet, my sleep, my friendships and even my self-care. I can’t even tell you what a life-changing thing this has been for me (I highly recommend it).

I have gone years with huge life struggles, and I know what it’s like to feel as though “being intentional” is a luxury only people with an easy life get to do. I get it, I do. I “survived” for a long time with that belief system, but it held me back so much. I definitely wasn’t thriving.

Only did I start to thrive when I took a hold of the things God had laid out on a platter before me saying, “Here, my daughter, take this life, take me, and soar,” and realized I had the choice to make things different in my mind. My revelation was that my perspective really could be God’s perspective. And it wouldn’t take all that much effort on my part. In fact, it took surrender and an easy trade.

God’s perspective is that I’m worthy of a peaceful, joy-filled life. And that I deserve to head in that direction and keep going until I find it, or I find Him. He wanted to do it, to change my perspective. I need only take the platter from Him – full of His gifts – and give Him my plate – full of burdens and suffering. The easy trade.

Have you ever thought about living an intentional life? Do you use gratitude as the catalyst for change in your life?”

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For a few years we lived in a city nearby, where seniors were a growth industry! No matter if you drove, shopped, went to the library, the coffee shop or the gym seniors were everywhere.

Most were friendly, some were grouchy, some couldn’t hear well, some couldn’t see well, some forgot to bath. It was a terrific community for our children to grow and learn in their preschool, and early elementary years. To go to town meant that they would be talked to, smiled at, and sometimes have a wrinkled hand touch theirs. As a family with grandparents on the other side of the country, this elder-world we called home was a welcomed and adored atmosphere.

Hubby is also a pastor, and so our kids have had the great benefit of being around people of a variety of ages within our church communities over the years.

I think all of us have had awkward moments and experiences with those who are older. Perhaps it was a visit to a care home full of unpleasant smells, odd noises and residents staring off into the distance. Or maybe it was the annual Christmas visits with that older relative who squeezed your cheeks, or referred to your legs as chubby, or who asked you the same question over and over again.

The other day I clicked on a link to an article that originated at Elder Helpers, which touched my heart. This article awakened within me the desire to remember that those whose age is doubled my own, were once my age … feeling similar things, facing similar struggles, giggling at the same silly things.

Enjoy this poem, and the story which is similar for many silver-haired ladies and gents.

The context below is imaginary, the poem was written originally by Phyllis McCormack and adapted by Dave Griffith.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses?…….     What do you see?
What are you thinking…….   when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man,…….    not very wise,
Uncertain of habit…….    with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food…….    and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice…….    ’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice…….    the things that you do.
And forever is losing…….     A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not…….     lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding…….    The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?…….    Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse…….    you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am…….     as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, …….     as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten…….    with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters…….   who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen…….   with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now…….     a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty…….    my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows…….    that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now…….    I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide…….     And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty…….     My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other…….   With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons…….    have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me…….     to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more,…….    Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children…….    My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me…….     My wife is now dead.
I look at the future…….    I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing…….     young of their own.
And I think of the years…….      And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man…….      and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age…….      look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles…….      grace and vigor, depart.
There is now a stone…….    where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass…….    A young man still dwells,
And now and again…….    my battered heart swells
I remember the joys…….    I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living…….     life over again.
I think of the years, all too few…….      gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact…….     that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people…….     open and see.
Not a cranky old man.
Look closer…   see…….   ME!!Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!The best and most beautiful things of this world can’t be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart!”

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In Deep Trouble

As I awoke this morning with a pounding headache, my first thoughts were pain relievers … and that I had not prepared a post for today!

I have taken the past month off from writing … the longest I had gone before was about three days. I had awoke one morning frustrated by certain happenings in my life, and thought that I was empty of anything of value to share.

So, I stopped.

At first I missed it, but I had gotten myself into a bit of a funk in the way I was thinking, and each day I allowed my ‘hopeless situation’ and self-deprecating thoughts to bury me into a mire of apathy.

Then I recently realized what I was missing. My time writing is usually also part of my quiet time with God, with His word. These words on a screen are the outcome of working through God’s words in my life, and without the finger-tapping on the keys, there was less connection to the one who could pull me out of the pit.

Today’s guest post comes from Cheryl Zelenka, from her blog Weeping into Dancinging. She shared an old story, one with great teaching.

“I came across this story and had to share it with you. Life has both good and bad times but there is always HOPE. Hold on to your faith! Trust that God will provide the strength, ideas, friends, and means to bring you through your  trial or testing. He is all you need!

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. 

donkey

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down. 

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. 

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off! 

MORAL :

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive. 

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have. 

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

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best-of-week-logo

Christmas has come, and is now moving out of the way for the New Years!

It was the post Christmas Eve Tradition, this week, which received the most views. May you enjoy a peek into one tradition of our family each Christmas season.

Also this week were :

All is Well
(the song may be all about Christmas, at first glance, but it is really a song that we sing as we inhale and exhale, each and every day of our lives)

What Makes Ones Life Wonderful
(perhaps Clarence was right on)

Carol for Christmas
(truly an old hymn, but such a good one)

Fish and Bread Anyone
(thanks for what we will receive, even though we might not perceive the impossible)

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Holy multiplication

As I spoke to that mom, on Christmas Eve, she shared her own loaves and fishes story.

Things had been tough financially … really tough. Every cent was going into bills, mortgage, fuel for the vehicles and groceries … and the New Year was not looking much better.

Oh, corners could be cut, and pennies could be pinched, but providing the usual Christmas trimmings for the kids was looking impossible to this mom.

As I stood facing her, on the 24th of December, her smile was wide, and a magical light emanated from her eyes.

Generous gifts of money had been sent from the grandparents to be divided among their adult kids and grandkids. So, the mom set to work, spending the expected amounts on the kids, from the grandparents. What remained, that which was intended for she and her husband, she used to buy stocking stuffers and gifts.

In her heart and mind, Christmas was saved, by the generosity of her the grandparents, as well as by God, who from her perspective, orchestrated the provision of every penny. Her words to me were, “I didn’t even have any loaves and fishes, yet my nothing was multiplied in the most miraculous ways.”

Oh, there was nothing under the tree for this mom and her husband, but her mother-heart was full of excitement and joy, that nothing in a gift bag or shiny paper could fulfill. She knew in her heart that what she had received :

  • came from a God who cared even about stocking stuffers
  • was the gift of giving

The model of giving was provided by God … He gave. As Christ-followers we are to follow His example … we give.

And so we are encouraged to share, to give …

not from our excesses,

from our want, and in the anticipation of God’s provision.

It’s a thing of faith, not of sight.

“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
John 6:5-14

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On this day of continued celebration, of thankfulness, of love (and, for some, loneliness) my only offerings are a video of a most beautiful Christmas Carol, sung by a woman with a beautiful voice.

I pray you have had a most merry of Christmas seasons!

Carole

According to Wikipedia, “The Wexford Carol” is one of the oldest extant Christmas carols in the European tradition,” possibly dating back to the 12th century!

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What makes ones life wonderful?

The other night I came into the bedroom to see hubby watching the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” … without me! So I climbed into the blankets, snuggled up against him, and we watched the last part together. Many years ago it was hubby who introduced this classic to me. And every year since, it has become a part of our Christmas season.

It is a story of looking back, looking at today and looking forward into the future (kind of like Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’). It is a story of hopelessness and of hope. It is a story of redemption.

The movie is focused on George, a man who had always wanted to travel the world. It also tells of his life’s impact on others, not by any one big thing that he did or accomplished, but just by living, and making choices (just like all of us).

In this movie we learn that George never did get to travel the world. He never followed his dream.

To many of us that seems like such a loss, like such a waste. Our society tells us that ‘we can do it’, that ‘if you can dream it you can achieve it’. Even within the Christian culture we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’ as well) often believe our dreams and passions are the ways that God reveals our purpose in life, and the outworking of the gifts and talents that He has created us with. When we think this way, we become very dependent on fulfilling our dreams, to accomplish a wonderful life.

But, is it in following our dreams that we can live the wonderful life?

For George, his realization of his wonderful life came from the blessing of seeing his life, as others saw it. He had indeed had a wonderful life. And his wonderful life came from the impact his own life had on all around him, not through his pursuit of his dreams, but through his care for others. And, in the end, they reciprocated … big time.

The final, and most beautiful reminder of what it is that makes a life wonderful life, is when George reads the inscription his angel-friend Clarence writes in a book for him, “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

It is not in achieving a dream that we have a wonderful (or, dare I say, wonderfilled) life, but in sharing our life with others who we can call friends.

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