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Archive for the ‘Life’s Lessons’ Category

aging www.hispasturepress.com

I find aging, or the topic thereof, interesting.

When I was in my early 20’s I couldn’t wait to grow a little older. Being young can be tough, especially in an office workplace setting. I was at the bottom of the totem pole, and I knew it. I typed invoices on a manual typewriter and I was the one that became the favorite filing clerk. I had a lot of proving to do! I tend to remember how I felt (40 years ago), and younger folks probably want to roll their eyes at me when I tell them I know how tough it can be to be young. I am old, what do I know?

When I turned 25 I was surprised when I realized there were no more age markers to look forward to. 13, 21, and for whatever reason, 25 had arrived and I had looked forward to it. No single age has mattered to me since.

I recently asked a woman about her upcoming birthday, and I made positive comments about our age frame. She did not respond and her facial expression was very controlled, stoic. I started to gently ask, “Did you hear me?”, and then I realized that she had. Oops. That moment was a first for me, and a preventable last.

See, I do not find age embarrassing.

When I was a young child I enjoyed touching my grandmother’s soft hands. I loved to kiss her on her cheek. Somehow, that sagging skin (which was beautiful to me), was precious. She was my elder and I appreciated it so very much. Her eyes and skin reflected wisdom. He gray hair was a crown.

Two things do typically catch my attention, though. The first is any statement along the lines of, “An elderly 60-year-old woman was pushing the grocery cart.” What? Elderly? Or, when I converse with someone 20-30 years old and they say, “My grandmother does the same thing.” I then do the math in my head. Yes, they could very well be a grandchild of mine. A young woman relaxing in our community hot tub said to my husband, “Oh, I know, my parents are old too.” Yep. Ancient. Good for a belly laugh.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Oh, and one more thing, the older I get, people that are my age don’t look so old to me anymore. When did older people stop looking old?

How do you feel about age? Is it a number, or do the oncoming years scare you? Do you hide your “real” age from others?

 

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constant connections www.hispasturepress.com

Sometimes I wonder where we crossed the constant connection line.

I remember when my mother had a tan-colored phone that hung on the kitchen wall. It was a rotary dial. There was no answering machine. If people called while you were out, nobody got mad, and nobody got worried. The caller attempted to call at appropriate times. I remember my mother’s sister asking if she could call on Sunday’s after 5:00. When she called, my mother was usually relaxing and this became family connection time.

I also remember party lines. Folks had phones in their homes that did not have a dial. They called the operator to place a call. They also listened for a set number of rings before they picked up a call. I think I nearly gave my Great Aunt a stroke when I picked up her phone after it rang once. Her assigned number of rings was five. After the phone rang five times in a row it was a guaranteed call for that household, not for the next household down the dusty gravel road.

I miss those days to a degree. Life was more difficult because we had less conveniences, yet it was easier because we didn’t have electronics. The closest thing to an electronic was the big wood stereo that sat in our living room. Mom cleaned house to “long hair” music, which I now refer to as soft orchestra or band music.

We didn’t walk around with a phone stuck to our ear. We went out and did whatever we wanted and needed without staying connected, but then, we weren’t able to share our experiences instantly with our friends around the world.

Families actually enjoyed each other’s company. Have you seen couples or families sitting at a restaurant table together with each individual staring at their own phone? What about moms that walk and scroll on their phones, while dads tend to the kids, or vice versa?

I have visited homes where people were texting each other across the room. Talk about an uncomfortable situation. I do not worry over what people think about me, but the visitor would be dead to not wonder.

What do you think? Would you like to break away, or do you take a vacation from your cell phone deliberately? Do you feel safer with a phone within your reach? Do you go to bed reading on your phone, and do you wake and catch up on updates on your phone before you rise out of bed? I admit. I have a difficult time not reading the news (I know…bad times for that) before I read my favorite fiction books that I call my sleeping pills.

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memorial day www.hispasturepress.comI brought my satchel of notes and planner with me. I had decided to turn a chair or two into office space as I sat in the waiting room in anticipation of a one-hour stay.

An elderly couple caught my attention as they helped each other walk into the room. When they sat down, the husband placed his hat, which displayed bright gold stitching “WWII,” on his knee. As a daughter of a father that was proud of the years that he had served in the U.S. Army, my heart swelled at the site of the mounted hat.

Moments later, another couple entered the waiting area. After they settled into their seats, I noticed the man was also wearing a similar hat. I thought it was only going to be a short matter of time before the veterans struck up a conversation. The first husband looked at his wife as he rose up, “I need to go pay someone a visit.”

The men patted each other on the shoulders and I heard places of war mentioned, one was Okinawa. My thoughts funneled down to one, this is the way it should be. Without a prompt, this was the unspoken understanding between two strangers — admiration, support, warmth, and love.

The dainty wife looked at me. With honor and respect in her voice, and with tiny tear-drops on her eyelids, “He’s found someone to talk to.” She knew why, and without a doubt, she was also pleased.

When her husband returned to his seat, she laced her fingers through his, “You found someone to talk to.” They both smiled and my heart melted. Time and space filled with unspoken words.

There, in that bland waiting room, one thing stood out – the image of love and devotion. Devotion between two men that had fought for all of our lives, and a woman and a man who had made it through the ups and downs of wedded life. They had bound their gnarled fingers together, held in peace as one.

My own lesson for the day, and one that should never fade from me, to remember and treasure these things. Love. Devotion. Support. Never forget to hold those that have fought for us in honor and admiration.

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God's voice through colors, God's colors

It had been a trying week. After I arrived home from work I took a drive to a second-hand shop to peek around for a couple of small end-of-week rewards … a token to hold in my hands, and the other a gift of unwinding by myself.

As I drove back home with air conditioning blasting in my face and with my foot heavy on the accelerator I noticed other cars sharing the road had their windows down. They, unlike many city Texan drivers, seemed to be on a slow meander. I said, “What is up with that?” I eased off of the speed and followed suit as I pushed the button to roll down the glass. A glorious cool breeze wafted in, and then I saw it.

God’s pallet unfolded before my eyes. Sunset filled with a rainbow of colors. No need for sunglasses. The glare was gone, and in its wake were the most beautiful deep and profound colors that I believe I have ever observed.

It soothed my soul,  and I whispered as a tear escaped my eye, “Oh Father, I see your beauty. There is no other that could have made this. Your colors speak, and Father, I praise you. I love you.”

I find it to be no coincidence that man reports these colors to hold meaning and significance:

  • Gold – complete and pure
  • Orange – energy combined with happiness
  • Pink – unconditional love and nurturing
  • Purple – imagination
  • Blue – depth and stability

Whether it be through a rainbow after a storm pulls out, or through the promise of rest that follows the prism of sunset, God speaks his words of life.

 

 

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jumbo puppy www.hispasturepressDiesel and I were secured in the dog park when I heard a little voice squeal with delight, “Look mom, a jumbo puppy!” He did not see a chunky wrinkle-faced bulldog, he saw a jumbo puppy! The tiny boy clung to the chain link fence with intent, with nothing short of delight in his eyes. A memory formed in the boy’s mind that instant, the days he saw a tiger-striped chubby dog that strolled in a rolling motion and snorted as he went.

This notice of simple pleasure reminded me to treat today, every day, as the best day ever.

To see life through the eyes of a child.

The sun suddenly became brighter. Blue deepened from horizon to horizon. Clouds fluffed. Air freshened.

This coffee mug that sits within my reach holds not just any ordinary beverage and it is not of a simple design. It is painted with bright hues of red, blue, yellow, and green. I could be drinking it on a veranda, admiring the beautiful Hill Country. I see it. Do you? The coffee is perfectly steamy, with just a touch of vanilla…and something else that I do not recognize. Smooth. This is why they call it Texas Pecan. Today, I let it linger over my tongue. I enjoy every…single…drop.

As I prepare for my day, I am not simply dressing. I am staging my day with color. Today is a deep blue day…from turquoise to navy, with a touch of clay. I am choosing from the box of crayons of life once again. Is it periwinkle, or sea foam green? Perhaps it is tomato red tomorrow. Mountain meadow?

I am listening in these early morning hours to the hum of the refrigerator. I think of my grandmother’s large kitchen with her Formica topped table and white metal cabinets. The freezer and refrigerator filled with Missouri peaches and grandfather’s favorite salads. They also hummed away, holding the treasures from earth cold and fresh. The snoring buzz of the bulldog, the five-year-old jumbo puppy gives warmth to my heart. His eyes pop open now and then, but he is unconscious, the monkey. I hear the tapping of the keyboard. Happy sounds from my fingertips. Painting words on paper. This is not just the ordinary. This is life times one-hundred.

Hello world. I shake your hand. I hug your people. I embrace your beauty. I absorb what you, my Father, have surrounded my being with.

Today, I am who I am. I live in a “jumbo puppy” world.

This is the best day…ever.

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cleave to the power www.hispasturepress.comI am so mad. She has ruined my entire day.

Why does he always do this? I cannot get anything done because of him!

He is going to think I am an idiot no-matter what I do. I will try to be better starting right now, and perhaps if I am careful I can turn this around…or…better yet, I might throw in the towel and go hide away.

Does this sound familiar? I know, it is frustrating. It can feel like you’ve fallen into a whirlpool that sucks you under, twists you about with bone aching action, and never releases you to gulp a restoring breath of well-deserved calm and peace.

Where is God’s power in all of this? What is it that locks iron bars around our attention and devotion while our lives are twisted like flimsy rag dolls?

The power of God’s love. The power of His grace. The power of His will. The power of His plans for us vs. the power of His enemy…our enemy. The enemy that knows our shortfalls. The destroyer that knows our weaknesses and ignores our humane strengths.

We give the enemy our power, and he sneers at us. Ah-ha…I’ve snared her for good today. She thinks she has John, or Susan, or the fire-breathing boss to blame. I’ve wrenched her heart to drain it, and made her soul ache to the bones. She believes my lies. She does not see the truth. I am the one that is handed the token. I have prevailed. With a twist of her mind, I can hold her here and convince her that she is worthless, powerless, and unable to make a change.

She has given the power to me. Me!

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV

I can see Jesus looking at us (in our wrung out state of mind), “Where is your faith?” “Did you lock it away to only be used when you face no problems? What or who is greater than my Father? You have many choices, and one is to pick it (your tired bones) up and follow me.”

Do you feel it? Thank you Father, for your peace and strength. Thank you for understanding us…that despite our love for you, we slip and fall weak. We look inwards for answers, and fumble around in darkness. Thank you for the lessons you continue to provide. The lessons in patience, in love, in remembering the grace that you have given us is the grace that we must also graciously serve to those that live on earth with us. The lesson that we must do this without giving away the power that The Spirit has given us, to allow you to fight what we cannot. Today, we do not want to waste one ounce of that power and love, not a drop, not a single speck.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you — they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63

Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” John 6:64

Father, fill us with your Spirit. Be with us and fill us with strength.

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Share Encourage and Grow is my motto – a shortened version of my life and work mission statement.

I looked at these words this morning and I thought about how important it is for each of us to support one another.

Encourage others to share with you. Listening is a priceless gift that doesn’t cost a penny. When you listen with your full attention, putting everything else aside – no glances at your phone, no staring at the television, you craft a sense of comfort with the person that is talking. They know you are there for them. Everyone, especially in this busy and tumultuous world, can use exactly that!

To encourage, well…there aren’t many words that hold more meaning. We all want to grasp onto the feeling when encouragement fills our head, but life does not resemble a flat line, it has so many ups and downs. When you are up, chances are someone you know is down. Actually, a huge part of the exhilaration in life is the trip up, the anticipation of reaching the peak. Unfortunately, after the thrilling shock of cresting wears off, we end up at the bottom again…often contemplating, where do we go from here?

Growth, where is your purpose in life without it? A friend once said, “I am so careful, I intentionally stay within my comfort zone – every single day.” This is an extreme example of someone that is not happy. He will not go beyond his normal day to day routine, and he trusts his tunnel vision. I do not believe people have to lead such an exciting life that they feel compelled to write a book about it, but, stagnant is just that, stuck in place with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I believe, not only do we benefit from growth, but it encourages those around us as well. We set the example when we learn to accept the challenges in life, knowing that they hold value – growth.

Are you ready to take the initiative? Remember what your friends are passionate about, what their strengths are, and look after their backs. Ask a friend purposely, because you truly want to see good things develop in their life, “So, where are you at with _____?” Encourage them to stick with their dreams. Don’t push…encourage…listen.

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