Thoughts on Thoughts

Recently, some of my grandchildren stayed with me for a few days. It was a fantastic time full of energy, excitement, and exhaustion. My schedule shifted to ensure that there was time to be with these future leaders. My concern became their well-being. My thoughts were all on them and how can I make their time with me meaningful. I really didn’t have time for my own thoughts. This is not a complaint but a fact.

When I wrote The Seer of Philippi one of the things I tried to express in the book was that the slave girl had no private time or thoughts. She had no independent actions from when she was a young child until she was freed from the demon’s hold. She was imprisoned in her mind, and her actions were controlled by others.

While enjoying time with my grandchildren is not a drudgery or slavery, it does change my focus. I am not primary in all that I do. As I sit with a cup of hot tea, listening to the birds sing, I ponder all sorts of ideas. I am reminded that we need to take advantage of this free time.

You may be thinking I’m not a slave, I have my own thoughts, I can do what I want – but can you really? Are you working? Whether for someone who sets your schedule and makes the assignments for the day. Or work for yourself with customers and suppliers making up your daily to-do list and deadlines. Is there a child or a spouse in your life? Well, they certainly put demands on your plans.

Is this bad? No, of course not; it is part of life. How we choose to respond to these opportunities is up to us. We can choose to be angry about the requirements put on us by others or be thankful for their presence in our life. We can choose to ignore their needs and take care of ourselves, but that can lead to consequences we don’t want. The loss of a job, a broken friendship, or a family relationship that becomes a challenge to mend.

I choose to enjoy the moments – whether busy caring for my family, working to accomplish a goal, or sipping my favorite tea. These moments are precious to me, and they help me find inspiration for more stories.


What to Do on a Dreary Day?

It’s a dreary day at my house. Too cold and wet to be outside. So overcast my spirit feels depressed. What to do?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Today is National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day. Did your heart speed up at the thought of bubble wrap? What is it about popping bubble wrap that can make you smile? Maybe it’s because it takes so little effort, or the patterns you can make, or the popping sound makes you think of happy things. I don’t know what it is, but it works to lift your mood.

Ever wondered how bubble wrap was invented? The story can be found here. The condensed version of the bubble wrap story is that it was a failure. But the inventor worked and worked until he found an excellent use for it. So it’s now a successful product that makes lots of money for the inventor and the people who make it.

I don’t have any packages coming that have bubble wrap in them but have a small stash for packing purposes. (Wink, wink)

And of course, there is an app for this activity.

Don’t stress over the day. Take it out on the bubble wrap.

Happy National Bubble Wrap Day.

From Wronged to Strong

There will always be people in your life who treat you wrong. Be sure to thank them for making you strong. Zig Ziglar

Okay, I never thought of being wronged as making me strong. But now I realize this is true. Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, a witch named Zora worked in a broom factory. Every day Zora reported to work, put on her factory-issued hairnet, and took her place on the factory floor. Her job was to add the last piece of magic to the broom. This small amount of magic she weaved into the broom was something she took immense pride in doing. Some witches used their magic to carve and shape the brooms. While others specialized in the placement of the broom straws and finishing. It was a small operation where everyone knew each other and usually got along.

Then one day, the old manager retired. Dagny, a witch with great skill in finishing, was promoted to factory manager. Dagny felt that the appearance of the broom was the most essential part of the process and worked hard to get everyone to create perfectly formed and beautiful brooms.

Dagny and Zora had worked together for many years. Zora was surprised to learn that Dagny saw no value in Zora’s tiny, insignificant, invisible part. New requirements were put on Zora to make the spell visible and beautiful.

Zora tried to make the spell appear beautiful, like trimming the broom. She worked and worked to perfect the magic. Every day Dagny walked by and watched Zora, making sour faces at her attempts. Then one day Zora was fired.

What was Zora going to do? This work had been her life. She spent the next month sulking in her room. There she practiced more spells, and an idea began to form in her mind. She would open her own broom-making business.

It took several months to get the business started with two friends. The friends carved, assembled, and finished the brooms. Then Zora added her little bit of magic to them. The brooms became popular, and soon their small business grew.

During the time Zora had been without work, she created a new spell for the brooms. The original spell’s purpose was to make the broom respond to its owner’s command. The new spell went further. Not only did the brooms respond, but the broom would become colorful and decorated to match the witch’s personality. It could even change with the witch’s attitude.

A couple of years later, the Witches World News interviewed Zora about her successful business. Zora thanked Dagny for challenging and firing her during the interview, making Zora a better broom-making witch.

Moral: Just because something terrible happens doesn’t mean something better isn’t waiting for us.

Unexpected but not Defeating

Sometimes things just don’t go as you planned. Then what do you do?

It is time to assess the damage. This is what you always do when unexpected things happen, whether it is a fire, tornado, earthquake, or a human-caused event.

Accessing the damage frequently means changing your plan, if not tossing the plan out. For example, your house is burglarized, and that requires looking at your home in a different light. You begin asking questions like:

  • Do I need a security system?
  • What was stolen?
  • Why did the burglars choose my house, my things?
  • What was the purpose of damaging my home as they took what they wanted?
  • How come they stole my yearbook?

These questions are frequently followed by tears, yelling, and fits of anger. All these things are necessary but not where you should dwell. Remaining too long in this anger and grief stage will cause you to miss living your life and finding new opportunities. Accept that it happened and move to the next step.

Next step, a modified or new plan. As you look forward, you can rid yourself of some baggage that needed to go but couldn’t bring yourself to do it. Get help to clean up the mess and someone to talk with. Make improvements to your life. This new stage of your life can be exciting as you evaluate what you want going forward. That big box of high school memorabilia that you moved from one place to another is now gone. You have a whole shelf in the closet to use, the memories are still with you, and it could provide an opportunity to reconnect with these friends if you decide to find a replacement yearbook.

No one likes starting over. We are more comfortable with what we know, but sometimes we are forced to see new possibilities for our lives.

Turning From One Season to the Next

I recently heard the song Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds. It is from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where King Solomon wrote:

1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 

2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 

3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 

4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 

5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 

6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 

7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 

8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. 

Indeed, I am not as wise as Solomon, so I take his advice to help me through my life’s trying and challenging times. His words remind us that everything changes – just like the seasons.

I finished writing In Paul’s Wake, the Seer of Philippi during the past year. The book explores the lead character’s seasons – from her life as a child, to her life as a seer, and then her true life.

I have seen many seasons of change, but if I had focused only on the tough times, I never could have written the book (or function in life). Equally, I can’t focus only on the best times. There must be balance in life. A way to move through the bad and good incidents that make up every person’s life.

As King Solomon states in verse 11, Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

I trust that He has everything in His hands, and all things will work out.

Successful Attitude Change with One Word

yellow flowers-shutterstock_121361704“I’ve got to go to work.”

“I’ve got to go to school.”

“I’ve got to go to the doctor.”

“I’ve got to….” Just fill in the blank.

Every day we say we got to do something and it is usually something we would rather not do. But by changing one word you can change your entire attitude towards doing whatever it is you got to do. Not magic, not over hype Pollyanna happiness, but serious attitude change.

That change is go from “got” to “get.” Now think how these same got to dos sound when you get to do them.

“I get to go to work.” I’m not unemployed. Might not be my dream job but I have work, which will make it easier to get a better job.

“I get to go to school.” This provides you the opportunity to learn more, meet more people, and have more (get a better job.)

“I get to go to the doctor.” Unlike much of the world, there is a doctor available for me. To make me feel better.

The chores are the same, but the idea is different when you get to do something. Get implies opportunity, something special just for you, and has an element that this might be fun.

When I’m looking a pile of dirty clothes that need to be washed, I remind myself I get to do the laundry because I have more than one outfit and washer and dryer, and the chore isn’t so bad.

Give “get” a try. You’ll be surprised what a difference that one word can make in your attitude.


Evidence of Nothing to Say

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. George EliotTrash

In this day of public exposure to other people’s ideas and thoughts, this quote should be our constant reminder to watch our words. Social media, blogging, television, etc. gives almost everyone a chance to say their piece. Whether it is to sound off about your latest interaction with poor or great service, a wonderful meal, children’s accomplishments, crazy pet stunts, anger about a current event, or swooning over the love of your life – we all can tell or show the world. But is it wise to do this?

Considering most of the comments make no difference in anyone’s life or will be remembered even a year later, do we post because we need to hear ourselves talk?

I am as guilty as anyone for posting thoughts that are trifles. I try not to do this, as I want to be considered relevant. If I were to post my every thought this would cause others to view me and my comments as meaningless. No one wants to be meaningless.

Does this mean I never post a silly photo or express my anger over a situation? No. I just try to think about what I want to post and decide if it has any value to anyone. Just before I click publish, I stop and ask, “Will this make someone smile, or think about a problem they may not have considered before? Or is it just babbling?” As you might expect, there are more posts in the trash than you will find here.

The Day Everything Changed in My Life

imageFlag Day. June 14 – a significant day in my life. It’s the day my first son was born – I became a mother. This event has changed and shaped everything in my life since that moment.

You are never really prepared to be a mother, even if you have read the best books, had an excellent role model, and babysat until you know everything about children. But then you have your own, and everything goes out the window.

I’m sure someone told me that every child has a unique personality, but I didn’t listen. After all, I was the eldest of four children and had practically raised my siblings. Sheesh! I was such an idiot to think I knew how to be a mother.

The learning started a few minutes before the nurse handed me my precious child to feed for the first time. The nurse took a few seconds to explain what to do and told me to relax. Like that’s going to happen! It’s my first child. A multitude of questions popped into my head at that moment as I gazed on that small bundle lying so still. What if I do something wrong, will he be scarred for life?

The nurse laid the child in my arms, and immediately he began to cry. I looked up in a panic, but the nurse was totally unaware he was crying. She was helping me get ready to nurse my baby. I watched as the bundle began to twist and turn. Soon an arm and foot were out of the blanket and flapping around. The nurse smiles and encourages me to try feeding him.

Feed him? He was practically turned over in my arms. Tears formed in my eyes as I tried to smile thinking, “I’m a failure as a mother!” The nurse patted my shoulder and made a couple of magical waves of her hands, and my baby was snuggled back into his blanket.

So life as a mother began. Being a mother isn’t for weak people. Also, it is best to have a partner to make the job easier. Having a partner gives you someone to turn to when your perfect child becomes an absolute monster turning your dryer into a hiding place for the cat. Which by the way, cats don’t mind being put in the dryer as long as it’s not turned on. Turn the dryer on and between the bumping and howling you fear it has become demon possessed.

Single moms (and dads) have their work cut out for them. If you should ever wonder why they are always tired, the answer is found when you look at their child and see he is growing, healthy, and happy.

A child can drain you of energy, test your emotional well-being, and cause you to question your sanity almost every day. But when the child is sleeping on your shoulder or runs across a room as fast as their little legs can carry them to give you a jelly covered kiss, you realize this is about as good as it gets.

To my first born son, happy birthday and thanks for giving me so much.

Say Something Nice Day

SocksJune 1, “Say Something Nice Day.”  When my sons were young there were times when they would get on each others’ nerves, bickering, fighting, and, in general, just being ugly to each other. At those times, I would make them sit at the kitchen table and say something nice about each other. It has to be a real comment about what they liked about that person and could not be repeated from one brother to the next – it had to be an original thought about something nice in the other person.

On a particularly trying day, I had the three boys sitting at the table. They were so upset with each other they could hardly stand being so close together. They knew the drill and would not be allowed to leave the kitchen table until everyone had said something nice about the others. We began the process. It was slow, but the first brother got through it, and things lightened up ever so slightly.

Then the next brother said to youngest brother, “I like your socks.”

Reply, “They’re yours.”

“I know, that’s why I like them.”

Sometimes finding something nice to say comes down to the socks, but there is always something nice to be said. Celebrate today.

Were You Born in a Barn?

barn with sunflowerWhat is the craziest thing your mother or dad ever said to you? As you read the sentence above a memory came into your mind. It may have been something your parent said all the time or a once-in-a-lifetime event. For me, it was when my mother looked at me and asked, “Were you born in a barn?”

I was about ten, going on twenty, and acting like a three-year-old. I had been sent to pick green beans in the garden, but I wanted to play with the neighborhood kids. Pleading my case that I would pick the beans when I got back was of no use. My mom wanted to can the beans now. She worked outside the home, and this was one of her few days off.

So I picked up my bucket, tromped out to the garden, furious that I had to do this right now. It was a large backyard garden with about a ten rows of green beans. On that day, the rows looked like there were a mile long each. The reality was they were about thirty feet long. Typically the job would take less than an hour, but today, I felt sure it would take all morning and my friends would be having fun while I slaved away.

Pouting I began picking, and with each bean, I got more upset. I glared at the back door and finally sat down in the middle of the row on the soft, moist soil. I sat there picking at the dirt and throwing dirt clots at the bees that were working the garden.

Slowly I finished the chore and carried my bucket into the house. My mother took one look at me covered in dirt and mud with the back door hanging open and asked, “Were you born in a barn? You’re a mess. The door is open. Where are your shoes?”

I stood there with my bucket and thought, “You don’t know where I was born? Weren’t you there?”

She took the bucket, sent me to the bathroom with a promise that I would be cleaning up the floor where I tracked in mud. Looking into the full bucket, she smiled and said, “You did a great job picking the beans.”

Through all of these garden chore episodes (or maybe because of them), I have a love of gardening and the ability to laugh at myself. And, no I wasn’t born in a barn.