Challenge #2 Emotion Roulette

The other night I was walking back to the house from the barn. I do some of my best thinking while doing my chores. To be honest, I don’t really consider feeding the animals, and the trek to the barn a chore. It is my labor of love. There is something to be said for working out life’s problems while working. There has been many an evening when the horse calmly listens to me as I tell her of my attempts to solve the world’s problems by bedtime. 102_4140

 

I am happy and content with my life in the country. I like having land, I love all my animals, and the peace of living in quiet spaces and wide open places. It never gets old for me. I am grateful to have this opportunity. This chance I’ve been given, to live on this piece of land in rural Ohio, makes me genuinely happy.

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My life has taken unexpected twists and turns over the years. I never in a million years would have thought I’d end up here. In this spot. In this state. At this time.

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But, I’m so glad things worked out this way.

I Can’t Go Wrong

102_3462 The beginning of that school year was the beginning of my career as a special education teacher. I was twenty-two years old, just beginning to put my knowledge to the test. Looking back, I didn’t know near as much as I thought I did. Isn’t that the truth for most of us, when we were in our twenties? Big on ideas, not real big on life experience.

The morning was underway. Attendance had been taken, and learning groups had already begun. Bobby*, a sixth grader, wasn’t there yet. He was late. The classroom clock ticked off the first moments of the school day. The door opened and in walked Bobby*. He came up to me, eyes averted, and mumbled something about being late. I, in my own naive youth, abruptly replied to him with, “I understand you are late to school, but it is important for you to be on time. Now you are going to be behind this morning. Hurry up and put your stuff in your desk, so we can get you in your group.” My teacher mindset appreciated punctuality and I wanted to get that across to him, but Bobby* wasn’t finished.  He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry. Last night, with all the rain and wind, the living room wall caved in. I was up most of the night with my Daddy putting tarp up, so our stuff didn’t get wet.”

Tears began to well up in my eyes. I looked away. Now it was my turn to mumble an apology. This poor boy, who was a good student, and had a tender heart, after a difficult and stressful night, now had to listen to his teacher gripe at him. He had helped his Daddy. He was doing important work to save his family’s house. I felt badly about my cavalier attitude, not comprehending what it meant to live in a house that was weather worn and crumbling.

I learned a lesson that day, one that stuck with me. I learned a lesson that didn’t just apply to my career in teaching, but to life. Things are not always what they seem, in fact many times, we only skim the surface of what is going on with people. We often jump to our own conclusions about others because it is more convenient.

And that is wrong….. so wrong.

None of us is perfect, and most are fighting battles that others know nothing about….because of this, I can’t go wrong treating everyone with kindness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

*Bobby is not my former student’s real name.

At The Scene Of The Accident

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I had to run some errands today, in town. On the drive in, I was listening to music and singing. The sky was blue, the sun was out. It was chilly, but not yet cold. After going to the store to pick up some groceries and supplies, I jumped back in my truck to head home. Just up the street I saw the aftermath of what looked like a serious accident. My eyes were riveted to the black mini-van that was crunched and laying on its side in the middle of the intersection. A mini-van, on a Wednesday morning. Were there young children in that van? Was there a mom in the van that had also been out running errands on this sunny November day? Many men had pulled their vehicles over and were there to help whoever was inside. The emergency vehicles had not arrived yet. As I slowly weaved my way through the intersection, I could hear sirens. A little further up the road I pulled over to let two ambulances, a firetruck and a police car pass by.

“Dear Jesus, please be with the emergency personnel as they work that accident scene. Father, have Your hand on the people involved in the accident. Calm their spirits. Give all involved, peace.”

On the way back home I was listening to David Crowder sing “I AM”. The music was playing as I passed by a local cemetery. I noticed a tent set up and a hearse in the driveway. Someone was going to be buried today…….and the song played on…..

“I am,
Holding on to You.
I am,
Holding on to you.
In the middle of the storm,
I am holding on,
I am

This is my Resurrection Song
This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
This is my Resurrection Song
This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place that we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace”     ——-David Crowder, I AM 

Tears trickled down my face, as I thought about that accident in town, the soon to be burial of someone at the local cemetery, and the words “in the middle of the storm, I am holding on…..” At times, worship happens in even the most mundane of settings.

Our days are tenuous and this life we live is so fragile. Can we take just a moment to be reminded of that? That accident today, had I left the store only a couple of minutes earlier, might have been me……and I whispered, “Thank you Father that I know whatever storms life brings me, You are there. You are my anchor in all of life’s storms. Whatever happens.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?………37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8 NLT

Taking A Detour

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Today I was lost, turned around and backwards. I often tease with my husband calling myself, “directionally challenged”. I laugh about it too…unless I am on a backroad with no idea where I’m at, and am desperately needing to get to an appointment in town, on time.

The small village that we live outside of, in rural Ohio, is having work done on the railroad tracks. Since most of this village is surrounded by tracks, it makes it tricky getting around when roads are closed due to maintenance on those tracks. I thought I had it figured out and was able to get to a main road into town. All was well until on the main road I nearly slammed into yet ANOTHER road closed sign. What??!! How was I going to get into town? I turned onto a road, the only road NOT closed, that I had never been on before. I figured I knew the general direction I needed to take so I’d just drive and keep turning until I circled back around towards town. Now, if any of you have ever lived in or visited the rural Mid-west you know that country roads can meander on for quite a while and there are a lot of fields that all pretty much look the same. Unless you know the area, it can be confusing. Corn looks like corn, looks like corn. You, know?

I started to panic a little bit, not because I was scared of being lost (I’d eventually find my way back, even if I ended up in the next county over), but because I was going to be late to meet with one of my students at the library. I didn’t want him waiting on me and wondering. I called my husband (thankfully cell service still works in the middle of nowhere). He googled the road I was on, and was able to help me figure out what I needed to do, to safely ,and with my sanity still intact, make it to the library without too much problem. After a short jaunt ,on yet another road, I made it into town in one piece.

This whole experience got me thinking. My experience this morning is so much like life in general. I find myself cruising at 60 mph, believing my day is going to go exactly as planned. My plans. My way. That is until I almost slam into a detour sign. Sometimes God has to put up a very LARGE detour sign for me…..to make sure I see it, because unfortunately, so many times I am not paying attention.

God never gets lost or confused. He never worries about where He is taking me, or how many turns are in the road. He already knows the final destination and I can rest in the safety of that knowledge.

Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Living in Grace

The past couple of weeks I’ve been doing a long term substitute teaching job at a local middle school. The school is about twenty minutes from my house. I don’t really mind the drive, because most of the roads I take are out in the country. I take the time to admire the late summer corn surrounding the white farmhouse and barn in its sea of green. I stop and watch a mama deer and her two babies (still with white spots on their backs) cross the road. I wind through turns and pass by more farmhouses. I notice some trees with the slightest hint of beginning to turn from summer’s green to autumn’s golds and oranges. I always watch the black and deep chestnut colored horses. Friday morning they were standing close together, right next to the fence, looking as if they were whispering to each other.

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As I drove along, radio turned down low, I started to think about my life and how it has played out thus far. Driving alone tends to make me contemplative. I started to list all the ways that God has shown Himself to me….throughout my life. The good times, the hard times, the thrilling times and the heartbreaking times. My life, much like yours, truly is a tapestry of the moments of each day, woven together to create something unique to each of us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Life has not always been easy or fun, but even in those difficult times, I can look back and see God at work in my life. Like most of us, I’ve made some good choices and some poor choices through the years, especially as a young adult. I shudder to think what might have been. I realize and am humbled to know it is only because of God’s unending mercy and grace that I am where I am today. My life is no mistake. Neither is yours. Dwell on that for a minute. On that early morning drive, I thought about that. Tears squeezed out the corners of my eyes and slid down my cheeks. I tried to stop, because I didn’t want to mess up my make-up on the way to work, but a few more slid out leaving me with a tear stained face. When one truly understands God’s mercy and grace as it pertains to him/her personally, it SHOULD overwhelm you, because His grace truly is amazing. Mercy is when God chooses to withhold the consequences of punishment for what we DO deserve, and grace is when He gives to us, and gives to us (unmerited favor) …all the things we DON’T really deserve. The realization is humbling. How can we not give thanks, with each breath that we take?

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.” 

Small Miracles At The Grocery Store

This Friday morning found me at Aldi, doing the weekly grocery shopping, enjoying the stroll up and down the aisles. It was around 11:30am as I was finishing up, ready to check out with my overly full cart. There was only one check out line open, and so I let an older gentleman in front of me. He only had a couple of items and a dozen, beautiful red roses, that I had just watched him choose from the store’s flower bin. He thanked me for letting him “cut” line. I gave him a big smile (I make a habit of smiling often when I am out shopping. I get a lot of smiles in return–a great experiment, you all should try it). I asked him if someone special was getting the roses? He got a grin on his face, and said, “Yes. My wife. This is the anniversary…it is the 21st, right? (I shook my head “yes”.)…..of our very first date.” I replied,”I am sure your wife will love the roses, and that you remembered your first date. That is so sweet.” He smiled and said, “I hope she thinks so.” After he paid and was turning to leave, he looked back at the cashier and at me and said, “We’ve been married 43 years.” I had a big grin on my face…… I hope that loving husband and his dear wife have a very special day celebrating their first date. 

I am thankful for the small miracles in life that God allows me to come across each day, even at the grocery store. 

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Only A Short Time To Live

On this warm Sunday evening in mid August, I take a few minutes to read back through some of my old blog posts. It is interesting to me how the words I wrote years ago still apply today. My own words remind me to keep the proper perspective.

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ONLY A SHORT TIME TO LIVE

I’m currently watching a movie about a young man that found out he had terminal/stage 4 cancer. In the movie he takes off on his motorcycle, on a journey of self discovery across his homeland of Canada, seeing things through new eyes. It’s the knowing that he is dying that causes him to really live…to truly see. To appreciate.

His perspective changed.

What would I do if I was told I only had a few months left to live?  This question makes for a good movie plot, and allows for me to view some gorgeous scenery while watching this man’s trek across the country…..but, the truth is….

for all of us, it is the change of attitude that causes the change in action.

What are the things that are important to us? Are we thankful for what we have? Or do we take what we have for granted? Who do we thank for this day? This moment? This life?

Do you believe that your life is just a cosmic experiment, and therefore your life is not really important in the big scheme of things? That you are here and then you are gone? That death is final?

Or do you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made, by God that loves you? He that knows every hair on your head? That understands your motives? That catches all your tears? That sees and knows your heart better than you know yourself?

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV

It depends on your perspective…in how you choose to live your life.

None of us is promised tomorrow. Oh, we like to think we have eighty or more years on this earth. That we will die peacefully in our sleep. That we have all the time in the world to….live.

Not true.

The doctor gives the diagnosis. The other car crosses the center line. The heart stops. The brain ceases thinking. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The accident happens. Not waking up.

We are all terminal.

God tells us not to worry about tomorrow, not to live in fear, but to remember that our lives on this earth are like a vapor.

A mist. A swirling mist that is seen in the early morning, soon dissipating with the rising of the sun.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14  NIV

My life is for a purpose. I am here for a purpose…and so are you.

God chose each of us. There are no mistakes with Him. He is not caught off guard by surprises.You are no surprise.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thessalonians 2: 16-17  NIV

That changes perspective, doesn’t it?

Although it is good, in my opinion, for each person to take stock of their life, to explore new and exciting things, to change what we need to change, to check off the wishes on the “bucket list” ….. it is equally important to be grateful for the life that we have.

This is the life we were gifted with.

I don’t need to travel the world, to see the sights, to know…

that God infuses wonder in each moment.

Whether a person lives only one hour on this earth, or lives to be one hundred years old…in the scope of eternity, it is all a short time.

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22 NIV

You Are Not Too Old

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The other week, on my blog, I posted about dusting off a dream. I’ve been excited about making an official leap into having my own business. I have been an intervention specialist (sped. instructor) for the majority of my adult life. Even before I worked in special education professionally, I worked in it with my heart. Decades later, with much experience, many stories, and multitudes of people that I have helped in some way, I wanted to start my own consulting business. I have been consulting and doing advocacy work with parents and their children informally for several years. Recently, I have felt led to do more, say more, help more, and try harder. My husband continues to be a wonderful support for me, always having faith in my abilities and seeing my heart, even when my vision sometimes became blurred.

A couple of days ago, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was wondering if I had what it takes to do this big thing? Would I be able to follow through? Was I too old to take more graduate level classes? Would parents care about this? What if the whole thing just blew up in my face? Sometimes negative self talk is more dangerous than anything else we may come across.

So, this morning, I arose early as I normally do. I straightened the house, started the coffee, and fixed breakfast. I slipped into my boots, grabbed the feed pail, and started over to the barn. The morning was quiet and the clouds were low on the horizon. Peaceful. Just then, God stepped into time and space. My time. My space. Although His voice was not audible, He spoke to my heart. Now, I am just as sane as you are, but something happened there in the yard, on the way to the barn. God spoke. He said, in a whisper only my spirit could discern, “You are not too old.” Just like that. I nearly dropped the chicken feed. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I stood rooted to the place. I looked out over the back field, tinged with the early pinks and purples of the morning. “You are not too old.”

I began to think about all the people that I’ve read about in the Bible, from the time that I was small. Many times, God had His children wait. Years would pass. Life went on. They wondered. They wandered. They grew older.  Until God told them, “go”.

“You are not too old.”

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:9

Riding In Life’s Rodeo

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Sometimes life can buck us hard, and all we can do is hang on.

Get a grip. Be strong. Count out the 8 seconds….

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We get thrown around, tired and sore. We want to quit. We get hurt.

But, we keep the faith.

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We’re not in this alone.

All of us that walk this earth, take turns at life’s rodeo.

Be an encouragement to others.

Cheer them on!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

All Of My Days

Time has a way of sneaking up on a person. Do you, too, feel the sands of time slipping through your fingers?  The other day a friend mentioned that she could not believe how in a few short years she will be celebrating her fiftieth birthday. I can relate. I have young adult children—young ADULT, for cryin’ out loud! Next month my son will be going back to college for his sophomore year. I was starting my sophomore year of college in 1987. Weren’t the ’80’s, just the other day? Sigh…….I’m feeling a little old today.

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The months slip by and the seasons come and go. Today, on my way back from the mailbox, I looked up at the gray sky, felt the unseasonably cool temperatures, and realized just a mere three months from today we will be smack dab in the middle of Fall! You know, brightly colored leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and football games. From there, it is a short and fast trip to Christmas. Then the year is over.

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Holding on to the moments, by letting go of time……..appreciating the memories and not worrying about the future. Resting in the One who already knows all of my days.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

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