NCN 2019–Days 27-30

IMG_20171125_071335337Well, it’s here! We’re right at the end of NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER 2019. This will be my last post for the month because I am choosing to celebrate Thanksgiving and LIFE with people who hold the biggest part of my heart. I pray that your days will be spent in much the same way. I pray that they are GOOD DAYS and, even if they are less than you’d like them to be, that you will choose to make the most of them.

I have been truly honored to share this month with you and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how well we all do carrying the lessons we learned into December and beyond. Despite all of the faults we hear so loudly proclaimed, God has given us a good world and plenty of opportunities to make the difficult places better simply by choosing to respond in positive and healing ways.

We will be people of influence…no matter what responses we choose. I hope we all choose the best ones.

Thanks for joining me this month! May God be praised by your life, your witness to the world, and your choices to make life better for those around you!

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2019–Day 26

Today is a beloved cousin’s birthday AND her wedding anniversary, as well! I remember picking roses from the bush in front of my Mississippi house and being ever so grateful that God had given us so many to decorate her wedding cake–after all, it was right on Thanksgiving Day that year! I also remember how we had so much food prepared for her reception and the family Thanksgiving celebration that the roses ended up being stored outside overnight in the cars…where the water in ALL of the vases froze absolutely solid. 

IMG_20181130_071351806_HDRIt was quite a sight and quite a shock! We weren’t expecting that. We didn’t let it change the wedding plans or have a major affect on the wedding festivities, though. We just laughed, cut the blooms off, and left the stems in the frozen water! Her cake was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I still think about it every time I pass by similar blooms here at my current Georgia home.

I picked those bushes on purpose once I got settled here. They’re my favorite…and what could have made us upset that day, just made us laugh and turned into one of our favorite family memories.

Whether its a Tuesday or a holiday, we get to choose how we react to what happens. We get to decide. Sometimes we do that really well. Other times, we realize later, we should have taken more time before we pronounced our judgments or relayed our responses.

That’s one of the most important lessons I hope we learn from NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER: the rush to respond rarely leaves us with a good memory or leaves others with a good impression. Once we become determined not to complain, it automatically makes our brains become wired to look for solutions instead of becoming bogged down in the challenges. It doesn’t stop the challenges, it just changes the way we view them! They can then become adventures, funny stories, opportunities for growth, and a chance to bless those around us by illustrating creative problem-solving and a choice to add to the number of blessings we share with the world and the ones we love in it.

It’s a pretty good opportunity to share the goodness of our God, as well.

It’s a choice. Are you willing to keep making the right ones?

Remember: you can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

Grace and Peace! (and Happy Birthday and Anniversary, dear Cousins!)

I decided…and you can, too.

IMG_20190906_092212433I woke up late (at 6:15A 🙄) this morning and found that my wonderful husband had packed his own lunch and gone on to work without a single complaint. His simple act of grace was much appreciated and such a blessing that I DECIDED that I would fill my day with his example. As I walked my way through my prayer list this morning and worked around the yard, I’ve been determined to make this a day when I simply gave God praise for the blessings of life.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got to tell you that I almost didn’t make it through my prayer list. I almost slipped up and asked for something! (EEEEK!) I’m kidding of course–about the eeeek! I know that God doesn’t mind our asking for things, but my goal for the day is to just tell Him “thank you!”…so…I had to revise a couple of things as I went through my list.

For the family God placed me in and continues to bless me with, I thanked Him for His watch-care and the privilege of a Godly heritage, for strong and healthy nephews, and the gift of actually LIKING my family members. I know that is a gift many cannot claim.

For the friends who encourage my heart and keep me accountable, I praised Him for His personal touch through their counsel and told Him how glad I was for those who know Him and reflect Him in my daily life.

For the ones who have survived and and are still facing hard things, I gave God praise for the strength I see in them because I know it comes from Him.

For those dealing with difficult health issues, I gave thanks that God is our Healer and our Provider.

For the ones with difficult family issues, I told God how wonderful it was to see them love even when it is hard to do so and how proud I am that they haven’t given up when so many others would.

For the ones who have just faced the physical storms and are now facing the aftermath and cleanup from Dorian, I thanked Him for their personal safety.

For those who, like us, are dealing with the heartbreak of dementia within the minds of loved ones, I gave Him praise that we can still lift each other up and encourage each other in our shared experiences. I have become grateful that I can pray for them (for US!) with new understanding.

For the one who has just lost her father, I gave God praise for his legacy and the beautiful picture she posted of the last time they laughed together.

Along the way, I met a new-to-me neighbor, trimmed back some shrubbery and a couple of rosebushes while I thanked Him for the delightful scent of the roses and for places along the stems that aren’t covered in thorns. I also managed to liberate a VERY green frog who had gotten trapped in my rain barrel and I expressed my gratitude for clean water and the luxury of sharing it with plants in need. I found limbs that needed pruning and gave thanks for the right tools to use and the ability to drag the detritus to the fire pit out back.

IMG_20190906_102932890_HDRAs I finished my yard work and made my way to the porch, my phone rang and I rejoiced to have time for a conversation with my brother, whose great joy in getting to cut hay on his birthday made me laugh. I sat on a small pew on my porch, read through some of David’s songs of praise and allowed the wonder of having a hallowed place of my own to sweep over my spirit. I was reminded that I have a hand in MAKING a hallowed place anywhere I DECIDE to give God praise and enjoy the blessings He has provided. We are unusually blessed–and when we decide to think about it, celebrate it, and share those blessings with others around us, we can help them remember that they are, as well.

I hope you remember that and celebrate your blessings today. Feel free to share them with me so I can tell God “thank you!” on your behalf, too!

Grace and peace!

 

 

 

Sharing time, history, and beauty

40472“We seem to have lost the gift of patience, of waiting for time to unfold its story.” ~Mary Irish

I found this quote today and I love it! Too accurate by far, it reminds me, most unfortunately, of myself! Patience has never been one of my virtues. I like things to happen when I want them to happen–and so, dear friend, do you. (right?)

40468The one place I’m most content to practice the “gift of patience” is out in the garden. I love counting days by what’s in bloom and what stage this plant was or it will be by the next year or season. After being back in Georgia for a little over four years, I’m better acquainted with my surroundings, the timing, the expectations, the new growth, the dying back, and the filling out of this place.

I like to wait at least a year before I start making too many changes just so I can see what’s already in a place before I begin to add in the things that make me call a garden “home” and take away those things that don’t add to that particular comfort. I agree entirely with Sydney Eddison,when she says, “Gardens are a form of autobiography.”

That’s absolutely true for me and as I think about the parts of my autobiography that are left in all of the different places I’ve lived, it makes me smile. Oh, I’m aware that none of it is just like I left it. That’s as it should be! Someone else is the caretaker now in each of those places, but when I ride by and see the maples that we planted grown strong and tall in the yard of our first home, see the roses or ornamental grasses grown tall there to the side of that place, and the herb garden grown more mature and permanent at that one…well, it’s a part of my story even now just the same as it is for those who were there and planted before me.40469

I think about the plant gifts that have gone with me as I left for new places and the ones I’ve sent out into the world where others have also come and gone–it’s good to share beauty, you know?! I don’t need a whole lot in this world, but beauty can always find a home out in the garden. This morning was no exception, so I snapped a few shots and fulfilled the quote below electronically. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too

“I thought about giving you a bouquet of flowers, but then I thought, why don’t I take you and show you the garden instead with all the beautiful flowers in it.” ~Anthony Hincks

Grace and Peace, Everyone! Just enjoy the beauty and ignore the weeds! (That’s pretty good advice for just about everything! grin)

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Being well

I recently got an email from Pinterest with “18 Mental Health Pins” for me to investigate.

How did they know?!

Seriously. I’ve been struggling a little bit because I’ve just “lost” almost a whole month…yes, a month. Gone. Just. Like. That (snaps fingers).

It all started the day I was transplanting the magic beans and managed to hurt my back. Yes, magic beans. At least that’s what my Uncle called them when he shared them with me a few months ago. Actually, I think they’re called hyacinth beans, but I like that magic beans thing better. (Insert silly kid Grin here.)

Anyway! The beans got transplanted, the back muscles suddenly went into DEEEEEP spasms with (thank you, God!!!) no disc involvement and I began what has been quite a long recovery process. It really wasn’t how I saw my July happening, you know?

I’ve said it for years: I’m the most blessed person I know. Still true. Absolutely positive about that…and yet…I will admit without any wiggle room whatsoever that I am a horrid patient. Because I’m not. Patient, that is.

Sitting still, moving slowly, reconsidering even simple chores, letting things go, ASKING FOR HELP!–All of these things make me cringe. They might actually be my top five things to avoid…well…in the top 10, anyway…right after reptiles, rodents, the plague, reptiles (on here twice because I REALLY despise those things!), and cancer.

And yet, this was my month…complete with an adoring husband, kind friends who called and prayed, and a disgruntled cat who was being denied his favorite perch (my lap), and me…being whiny and negative and frustrated because for the first time ever I couldn’t depend on my body to do what I told it to do. That takes some getting used to physically…and mentally, as well.

Interesting things I discovered this month:

  • the world ran just fine without me.
  • many, many things happened without my input or my presence.
  • you can’t even breathe without it affecting your back muscles.
  • I am not a fan of whiny people…even or ESPECIALLY when it is me.
  • my husband likes being the caretaker more than being taken care of…for the most part.
  • it is never a good idea to do a spiritual assessment of yourself when you’re grumpy and in pain.
  • I am not as far along on that “being ok about giving up control” thing as I would like.
  • if you have been praying for patience for me, you can stop now. Really. I mean it. Stop it. Now. Feel free to pray for strength and endurance, but let’s just let that patience thing slide on out of the picture, ok? I am serious about this one.
  • pain can actually make you a more dedicated prayer warrior for others.
  • God can and will show up and give you stuff to do even when you’re confined to a chair.
  • sometimes, having Margin is good for situations that you wouldn’t really expect…or want.
  • chiropractors can actually help with some issues (pardon me if you are one or love one, please. I had never been to one before this month. They were kind and helpful and caring–and Bama fans, which made me smile even though it hurt.)
  • people in pain are much more sympathetic to others in pain than people who are rarely ill and have abnormally high pain tolerances (me…I’m talking about me although I would REALLY have preferred to find this out a different way, God! BIG eye roll–at ME, again!)
  • Pinterest, who sent me an earlier email with suggestions for my “RED” board that were 98% YELLOW (?!), might not be the best place to look for mental health tips.

That last one is important. I am much better off talking to God about what ails me–body, mind, or spirit–and counting on the truth of His Word to keep my mind headed in the direction that’s best for me–and you are, too!

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3 (CSB) 

As I am recovering, I am feeling the truth of that verse more and more. It’s not over…but neither am I. Returning strength gives me yet another reason for praise, another reminder to pray for those who still need it, and another call to gratitude for all my blessings: physical, spiritual, and mental.

May you be blessed and may you be well…in every respect.

IMG_20180720_194723477(and BTW, the magic beans are doing just fine…and so is Grace! In fact, she ought to be ready to transplant just in time for the Fall–although someone else may be digging THAT hole! grin)

Grace and peace!IMG_20180720_194741388

Heart song

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

It started in 1989. A couple of months after I finished grad school, I moved to Atlanta and found a ground floor apartment with big rooms…that scared almost everyone I met…except me. I KNOW it scared them because–without exception–I was encouraged to move as soon as anyone came to see me for the first time. This was especially true of the people who had lived in the area for awhile. (I actually had dates that refused to come back because of where I lived!–but those were “faint of heart” and apparently, it was God’s way of weeding them out! HA!)

What “THEY” knew: drug deals were going down at the front of the complex. All. The. Time.

What “I” knew: it fit my budget, was close to my closest office, and I was finally on my own. It was heaven–even without any furniture and no TV. Starting out, I had a bed (mattress on the floor), a new job, a radio, my books, a place to cook meals, and freedom to make my own decisions. I set about making a home and a life on my own…or so I believed.

What God knew: there was a plan to bless me really big. It would just take a bit to unfold.

Because I was raised to live with a healthy respect for cleanliness, because it was an old apartment that had housed people I did not know, AND because I worked for doctors, I scoured every single inch of that apartment. Cleaning supplies were my number one priority and biggest budget item that first month. I didn’t have much, but it was going to be clean, so there was absolutely NO surface that escaped my obsession. (That’s important to know because of what happened later.)

I had been there almost two years and had settled in nicely. I found a church home right next door to the complex, friends who ‘braved’ (Read that as PRAYED HEARTILY–and most likely, OUT LOUD!–AS THEY DROVE QUICKLY THROUGH!) the front part and came to visit, work that was both interesting and challenging, and a host of children who greeted me every day when I came home. They came running at top speed as soon as they spied my truck turning in and I often had to ask them to wait a moment while I put my stuff down. THEN, they turned in their “reports.” I knew if anyone had come by, stopped at my door, whether or not they went on to another door (and if so, which ones), what they looked like, what they drove, how long they stayed, and if they had been there before. A state of the art security force…all for the price of a big bowl of candy and a round of hugs and questions about their day, as well. The back part of the complex where I lived, you see, was made up of families and they had adopted me as one of their own.

I had a large and loving personal family, a great church family, a wonderful work family, and now, an apartment complex family. God was showing out in the love department, but He hadn’t sent me anyone to do life with yet. I was content to wait, but I was praying about it. I even went so far as to write down exactly what I wanted Him to send me…in detail, because, you know…some things you just need to spell out…even before God. (grin)

As the wait became longer, I wondered if He was really listening and, one evening, after some pretty intensive prayer–about a lot of things, not just that–I walked into my bathroom and reached for something in the medicine cabinet. As I pulled it forward, my hand caught something else, as well.IMG_20180618_075914480_LL

Something I had never seen before.

Something small and shiny.

Something gold, but kind of sticky…like it might have been back there a LONG time…and then…There. was. another. one.

It was a pair of VERY small gold heart earrings. Covered in dust.

I had had no recent visitors. I checked with those who had been there to see if they were missing a set. I had never owned a pair like them, had never even SEEN a pair like them, and I had absolutely NO idea where they could have come from…because I had SCOURED that place from day 1 and kept it clean from then onward.

It made absolutely no sense, but somehow, I knew that GOD had sent me those earrings just to let me know that He actually was listening. Instead of feeling like it was a bit creepy, I felt absolutely loved and cared for. I cleaned them up and wore them for years. Every time I did so, someone would comment on them–even as small as they were–and I would get to share my story. Actually, I was sharing God’s story.

You know the one? The one where He loves each of us SO MUCH that there’s nothing He won’t do to get our attention and nothing He saved back when He sent His Son to die for us. That’s the one. If you’re not familiar with it, go back and read this paragraph again. He loves you…really, really big…so much so that He sent His Son to save you in whatever high and mighty or backwards backwater place you find yourself today. He came to save you from your sin so that He could spend eternity with YOU and you could spend it–and today!–with Him.

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Those heart earrings were just the start of it for me. To this day, God still sends me hearts on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes they’re shaped like rocks as I walk to the mailbox (like the one I found last week–see the picture!–or the ones I found ON MY PORCH at my Mississippi house!) or near a mountain stream. In fact, I have an old white platter where I have started piling those heart rocks as a reminder that HE is personal and very, very present in my life.

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Sometimes, the hearts show up as flowers like this one that’s blooming right this minute along my back walkway…kind of like He had me bloom at the back of a really old apartment complex all those years ago.

No matter what form they take, each time I see one, I smile really big and tell God “THANK YOU!” for listening, for being near, for having a plan, and for just being God. Of course, I am looking for the hearts. Don’t miss that! I’m looking for the hearts He sends because I’m also looking for HIM to show up every day and yet I sometimes wonder just how many hearts I’ve missed because I forgot to pay attention over the years.

Writing all of this has reminded me of the verse I started out with today:

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)

This wasn’t just written for us, you know. It also characterizes our God. WE are His treasure and where WE are, there HIS HEART will be also!

If that doesn’t help you look for Him today, I’m not sure what will, so I hope you’re looking…and I hope your heart has a home with Him.

Grace and Peace!

 

 

 

 

Weeks of water and wonder

God’s been on a mission around here lately. He’s been answering some prayers and watering my plants–and everyone else’s!–with abandon…for days and days.

As He’s done so, that low place in the driveway filled up and made a spectacularly large birdbath delighting me and the birds who have taken full advantage. The hard Georgia ground has softened up to accept a few more new plants so I could take advantage of a break in the downpour and finally get around to planting some iris rhizomes that were gifted to me at the beginning of April. (Yes. April! I know. Blessings on you, Cyndi, and please thank Will, again, for his patience about returning his bucket!) Though I won’t see anything from them this year, they’re already holding a promise for the Spring–and isn’t it just like God to use something we normally complain about to help us become more pliable and full of beauty for the future?!

As we’ve watched the waters fill up buckets and overflow rain gauges, God has also filled up our home with guests and laughter. He sent us out to minister to others and helped us enjoy seeing that adding margin to our own lives can actually become a blessing to those around us, as well.

Our guests have been delightful and nourished us much like the rain has blessed our plants. We’ve seen some incredible growth in both plants and relationships–and both are beautiful. I’ve lost count of the number of hydrangeas arrangements have left this place to find new homes and, hopefully, give cheer in their new locations.

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It seems that nature has used this rain to fullest advantage…and now we have a new, though unplanted crop being enjoyed by our local squirrels. Although their abundant presence in our yard often annoys me as I work to stay ahead of planted nuts growing into trees in all sorts of odd places, I laughed to see how the squirrels have nibbled all around the edges of a string of mushrooms all lined up like a buffet. I guess God thought He would provide for those guests, as well.

As I wandered through the yard this afternoon, I couldn’t help be be reminded how blessed we all are and along the way, I found a few more things to share. For those of you still asking after Grace, I’ve included a picture of her below. She’s showing out these days…just like God.

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does next…and to home-grown tomato sandwiches and a caprese salad or twelve, as well. In the meantime…

Grace and Peace!