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Breaking a Bad Habit

I realized quite suddenly that I have a bad habit! It is one that involves my tongue and affects my mind and my mood. It also has the potential to negatively affect other people. Those are good reasons to break it.

My Revelation

I have a habit of including unnecessary negative details when giving a report about an event.  I can make a positive change to my life and others’ lives by breaking that habit.

How It Happened

  1. I was at a training meeting where important information was being presented. I needed to hear and remember what was being said.
  2. A distraction occurred that made it very difficult to do so.
  3. I decided to move away from the distraction and closer to the speaker.
  4. Someone else addressed the people involved and the room became quiet.
  5. I learned what I needed to know.
  6. Toward the end of the meeting, this surprising thought entered my mind, “You don’t need to tell your husband about the bad behavior of others when you get home.” I knew instantly that the words came from the one who knows what I am going to say even before I say it. (Psalm 139:4) When the Lord speaks, I listen! As I agreed with Him, I felt a strange sense of excitement and peace.
  7. When I got home and Dave asked how the meeting went, I said “fine” and told him a few things I had learned.

I confess that my usual response to, “How did it go?” would have been different. I might have said,”Fine.” and then added, “But, you won’t believe what happened…”  Then I would have given negative details that, in the end, did not even affect the outcome. He would, no doubt, have agreed with me that others had been rude, and his opinion of someone else would have been tainted by my report. In this case, it was over and I needed to let it go without repeating it.

A Positive Change

I’m still excited about the difference that will occur in my life as I make an intentional effort to not repeat negative details that are in the past. They cannot be changed and they don’t need to live on. Unless there is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed, which was not the case this time, I can avoid telling the juicy details that, truthfully, reveal an attitude of superiority in my heart. I can love the other by covering over their offense and not come away feeling offended. By eliminating negative reports, I will feel more positive, more joyful, more peaceful.

What’s the Big Deal?

By deciding not to include unnecessary negative details, I will

  1. Feel better about myself.
  2. Spare other people some negativity.
  3. Be obedient to Jesus.

As I conclude this post, this thought comes. Assuming that I have sometimes done or said something that irritated someone else,  how do I feel about the possibility that they later gave a negative report to someone about my behavior? If I am to treat others as I want to be treated, then I must give up grumbling, gossiping, and tale telling. It may sound like I’m being hard on myself. Not so! I am grateful for the revelation and excited about taking tighter control of my tongue.

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

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7 Hour Traffic Jam – Patience part 3

Today began as an ordinary Tuesday. For me that includes a seven minute drive to morning Bible study and then back home for lunch. This was one of those mornings, though, when I felt like staying home. I had company in the back yard and was enjoying watching them snack and rest.

I do appreciate our teacher’s lessons and the time with other women, so I took a picture and headed for the church. I had some trouble turning on to the state route that runs through our little town. Thankfully, I was going west. The eastbound lane was full of diverted interstate traffic.

People were talking about an accident involving semi trucks when I entered the church. Our teacher and most of the class arrived, and we opened to 1 Peter for study, hoping traffic would be normal when we finished. Instead, it was bumper to bumper and stopped.

I remembered hoping to write about PATIENCE this afternoon and, not having any other commitments, could appreciate the presentation of a situation that would require PATIENCE. My experiences of watching the sun rise and of planting garlic had led up to this less rewarding situation. This would require PATIENCE for patience’s sake.

As other women were working out alternate routes home, I considered sitting in my car in the parking lot to write while the traffic cleared. It had been three hours since the accident. How much longer could it be? We had heard there might be injuries and prayed for all involved, including delayed travelers. I took my time getting out of the building and chatted with a few ladies until another hour had passed..

With home only a couple of miles away and lunch time approaching, I decided to set out. A considerate truck driver left space for me to get onto the road to join the stopped vehicles.  Ongoing construction on the two-lane, along with today’s utility work, made matters even more trying for all involved.

They needed to move their truck up the road, but were blocked by a car.

She was working – and stuck. I was only trying to get home.

I was still feeling patient and enjoying some praise songs on the radio as I used my phone to take pictures. When it took ten minutes to creep up to the next driveway of the church, I decided I’d rather sit in my car and write than sit still on the road. I put my windows down and filled a couple of pages with notes about this experience. It was now 2:00 p.m. – five hours since the traffic jam began. I decided to leave the parking lot again with plenty of PATIENCE left to get home in, say, thirty minutes.

After more than an hour, I was feeling hungry and tired. It was now 3:15 – eight hours since breakfast. Within my reach was a bag of donated items for our Bible study group’s ministry project. I found a snack to make the wait more tolerable.

 

Thankful for plenty of gas and some Buddy Bars.

After school travel was going to be a challenge for so many!

At last I crossed the closed interstate  and crept into town. The traffic was still stop and go when I reached the turn into my neighborhood. My seven minute straight shot home had taken 105 minutes. Not confident on the back roads, I had chosen the straight and narrow path home and did not turn off to the right or to the left (Proverbs 4:27).  Patient endurance was required.

A Few Takeaways:

  1. I know that many other people experienced worse discomfort and frustration.
  2. Patience has a time limit. I didn’t quite reach mine thanks to the Buddy Bars.
  3. Having a cell phone with me was comforting.
  4. Finding reasons to be thankful helps.
  5. I should take my neighbor’s advice and learn the back roads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Cringe-worthy County Fair Memory

Born and raised in Ohio, my husband and I both looked forward to our respective county fairs.  One of my earliest memories from my family’s trips to the fair is picking out a souvenir as we were leaving. I managed to find an e-bay picture of one that I chose, a furry monkey attached to a stick with elastic – creepy.

Image result for 1960s carnival prize monkey

I remember riding the pony ride and the Ferris wheel  and gobbling up fair food, particularly the sweet, crispy waffles – tasty.

Image result for fair waffles

The fair in Wyandot County ( Where I Come From) is held in mid-September. I remember it being really hot on some days and pretty darn chilly on others. Whether it was hot or cold, rainy or dry, the fair was the place to be, especially for those of us in 4-H clubs.  I focused on sewing, photography, and crafts and have often appreciated learning to mend and sew. Here’s one of my sewing projects from the 70s – bright.

I remember helping my 4-H advisor decorate our fair booth. My right hand blistered and ached from cutting out corrugated cardboard four-leaf clovers – painful.

Image result for cardboard 4-H clover

Four leaves for Head, Hands, Heart, and Health.

I remember going to the fair with my girlfriends and walking around with the hope of seeing certain boys.  It was usually pretty fun. But one night I got myself into quite a predicament – cringe-worthy.

In thinking about what happened that night, two song lyrics come to mind – “I am fifteen going on sixteen.” and “Why must I be a teenager in love?”

It was county fair time during September of my junior year of high school. I was still desperately wanting to reunite with the guy I had dated in the spring. He was moving on. I needed to get his attention.

I happened to be at the fair on the evening when 4-H lambs were being judged, and was hanging out with a girlfriend who had lambs. We were in the sheep barn talking about personal stuff before her time to show her lambs for judging. Realizing that a certain guy might also be in the vicinity, a plan was hatched. I have a hard time thinking that it was my idea, so it must have been hers.

As I mentioned, I took sewing 4-H projects, never animals. My only experience with sheep had been adoring the tiny bottle-fed lambs at my grandma’s house and occasionally touching a sheep at a petting zoo. Still, my fifteen-year-old mind, prompted by my broken teenage heart, agreed to TAKE ONE OF HER LAMBS INTO THE ARENA FOR JUDGING. She made it sound easy. It was not.

I guess I assumed that the sheep would know what to do. It either did not, or it somehow realized that I was not its shepherd.  When a 95 lb. girl tries to control an 80 lb. lamb in front of judges and an audience that possibly contains a certain guy, she finds herself wanting to disappear. Hope arose when I spotted another guy from my church youth group helping with the judging. I can’t even imagine what he thought when I begged him to help me. There wasn’t much he could do. I either managed to stay on my feet and fake some semblance of doing what the judge asked or have blocked out an incident of being dragged around by a lamb. I don’t remember how we got out of the ring. I also did not see the faces of anyone in the stands.

Later, when I asked my friend what her project score was, she told me that she expected that pen of lambs to get a B anyway. She’s a good friend. No one else ever mentioned the incident to me.

So why would I tell  you about it? It just seemed good to keep my post light this week. There are still a lot of serious thoughts rolling around in my head, thoughts that may be collected and shared soon. But for now, you can laugh a little and know that while at that time I felt certain that the two of should be reunited, God had a wonderful plan for me to meet and marry my husband.

And there’s another song lyric. “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.” He’s a much better shepherd than I am.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commitments, Questions, and Wonders of Nature

On this last Sunday of August 2017, I’m sitting barefoot on my deck reflecting on the week that has just passed. Perhaps you and I have had some similar experiences and thoughts during those days.

Sunday, August 20 – At church, I was reading a list of adult classes to be held this fall.  What caught my attention was the very first class, one to be held at 8:15 a.m. on Sundays for men only.  It was the ONLY class to be held at 8:15 on Sundays!  I’m not one to make quick decisions, and we rarely arrive at church before 9:00, but the calling was clear. So, I committed to lead a class for women only at that early hour beginning September 10.  Regular readers know that I’m a fan of Love & Respect Ministries and have taught their “Respectfully Yours” course to wives so many times that I may be able to do it with my eyes closed.

Monday, August 21 – I had made no preparations for the Great American Eclipse and anticipated a normal day at home alone. When morning tasks and lunch were over, I saw an on-line video on making an eclipse projector from a cereal box. . Dave had just emptied his Cheerios box, so I whipped up the viewer and headed outside, feeling slightly embarrassed about my neighbors seeing me having fun with my projector alone.

I stood with my back to the sun and moved the box until the sun shone through the pinhole in the foil, casting a TINY image on the box bottom. There was a little dark dent in the sun! I spent the next couple of hours checking on the progress of the eclipse, chatting with Facebook friends about their viewing experiences, and sharing my cereal box with the paper carrier. He and I talked with our backs to the sun while the moon moved across the sun. We noticed the slight change in temperature as it grew noticeably darker in our Ohio location. A neighbor from two doors down walked over to give us a quick look through his eclipse glasses.

Later, I called my mom to see how her day was going and tell her about my fun. She had watched eclipse coverage on TV and was happy to see reports of large gatherings of people where “no one got shot.” I agreed. The eclipse brought people together to share wonder.

Tuesday, August 22 –  Instead of playing outside with neighbors and a cereal box, I needed to drive to Wheeling for medical tests. At 56, there are more and more potential health issues that need to be monitored. One cropped up in 2016 when I saw my doctor about some shoulder pain and had x-rays that revealed abnormalities in my lungs. Some physical therapy helped my shoulder, but now I’ve added a pulmonologist to my list of doctors.  I have no symptoms and last year’s blood work and scans did not bring an explanation, so I did follow up breathing tests on Tuesday.  That evening, my husband and I enjoyed our walk uphill through the neighborhood and witnessed a breathtaking sunset. It was every bit as awesome as Monday’s eclipse. Wonder!

Wednesday, August 23 – In the morning, I continued to pray for a nephew in his 30s who had open heart surgery on Monday. In the afternoon, I gathered materials and made photocopies in preparation for the Understanding the Bible class that will begin on September 6. Summer is slipping away.

Thursday, August 24 – Our summer project of redoing a bathroom got to the point where we needed our plumber to hook up water to the new toilet and faucet. That happened on Thursday morning. After lunch, I drove a few blocks to our Council of Churches Food Pantry to work with others from our church. Twenty-five people came through to pick up food for their families. I am usually assigned to working behind the counter, selecting and bagging frozen meat for the clients. This week I had the opportunity to interact with each one as he or she chose several bread items. Seeing some of their physical problems and hearing of a few of their hardships was heartbreaking. Life is hard. I hope each one was half as blessed by the food as I was by the giving of it.

Friday, August 25 – I spent the beautiful day getting a haircut, having lunch out, and hitting some clearance sales at our mall, while being aware of the growing concern that Hurricane Harvey could devastate eastern Texas. Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane at 10 p.m. central. That began a trial for many people that continues as I type this on Monday afternoon. Another nephew and his family are waiting at this moment to be rescued by a boat. Many prayers being said.

Saturday, August 26 – My husband and I spent the afternoon installing a lighted medicine cabinet, two shelves, two towel holders and our toilet paper holder. The bathroom project is nearly complete!

After dinner, as Dave was mowing the lawn, I started thinking and praying about this week’s blog topic. The eclipse had overshadowed some of the tragedies and crimes that come so often we can’t keep track of them.  But the Charlottesville showdown between white nationalists and counter protesters  of August 12 has remained in the news and on my mind. I wondered whether I could collect my thoughts about the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments and the current focus on racism in America. What resulted was a sheet of paper filled with over a dozen questions. A lot is being said. For now, I’ll do some listening and reading, keep praying and pondering, and strive to love my neighbor as myself. Today that includes making an on-line donation to the American Red Cross on behalf of the people of Texas.

The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

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