Challenges, Not Problems

Have you ever had someone say to you, “What you are going through in your life right now is a challenge, not a problem.”?  I have. I was in the midst of what I thought was a problem but after thinking about it, was then able to turn it into a challenge. I’ve had many “challenges” lately and one day I thought of that little statement. And, being the “overthinker” that I am, I began to think about the Bible and all God has left for us to encourage us through these challenges. Knowing that there are people who have gone through something like I am at the time seems to encourage me more, so I thought of 3 people in the Bible who had similar challenges as myself – I had never thought about them quite in this way before.

If you are interested, you can read about Joseph in Genesis 37-50, Daniel from the book of Daniel, and Esther from the book of Esther.) So, thinking about them, I wanted to capture their hardships and understand they, like many others, have “challenges” in their lives, not just me.

All three of them were stripped from all they loved and knew. Joseph by his brothers, Daniel by the Babylonians, and Esther by the Persians.

I thought of 14 things in their lives that could resemble somebody else:

  1. They were stripped from the ones they loved most.
  2. They were stripped from all the things they loved most, including their home, without choice.
  3. Most of the choices made in their lives were made by others, whether or not they were hurtful, good, or bad.
  4. They were moved to a new and unfamiliar home and had to begin a new way of life.
  5. They all lived at the mercy of others, but trusted God to work things out, sometimes through tears.
  6. Their daily lives were lived out in unfamiliarity.
  7. They had someone who wanted to destroy them.
  8. They all had to deal with the anguish of a broken heart.
  9. They were all dealing with wicked and evil enemies who had their own “gods” and did not believe in the One True God.
  10. They all had someone who helped them.
  11. Their enemies were cruel and heartless.
  12. They loved God and trusted Him.
  13. They wanted to please God first in their lives.
  14. They all prayed for God to remove them from their circumstances or give them the grace to endure and live for Him in the midst of it all.

I’m sure there could be more, depending on each individual’s circumstances. However, the constant coping mechanisms in their lives they all showed was their true character and love for God, which are:

  1. Loved God truly and constantly looked to Him.
  2. They wholeheartedly trusted God, no matter what.
  3. They were able to have contentment – not happiness – in their circumstances, knowing God was in control
  4. They thanked God for what they were supplied with.
  5. They were thankful for the people He put in their lives that were helpful.
  6. They adjusted to their cruel and overbearing enemies.
  7. They pleased God as they put Him first in their lives.

Well, I sure can identify with their challenges, but it’s those coping mechanisms I sure would love to come to fruition in my life as I do strive in the midst of my circumstances. My Bible has profiles of many of the people from the Bible and, of course, there is a profile of Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. I thought I would share them with you because they sure made me think about myself.

Joseph:

  • He rose in power from a slave to a ruler of Egypt
  • He was known for his personal integrity
  • He was a man of spiritual sensitivity
  • Prepared a nation to survive a famine

What can we learn from Joseph?

  • What matters is not so much the events or circumstances of life, but our response to them.
  • With God’s help, any situation can be used for good, even when others intend it for evil.

Esther:

  • Not only her beauty, but her character won the heart of Persia’s king
  • She combined courage with careful planning
  • She was open to advice and willing to act
  • She was more concerned for others than her own security

Our lesson:

  • Serving God often demands that we risk our own security
  • God has a purpose for the situations in which He places us
  • Courage, while often vital, does not replace careful planning.

Daniel:

  • Although young when deported, remained true to his faith
  • Served as an adviser to two Babylonian kings and two Medo-Persia kings
  • Was a man of prayer and a statesman with the gift of prophecy
  • Survived the lions’ den

Our lesson:

  • Quiet convictions often earn long-term respect
  • Don’t wait until you are in a tough situation to learn about prayer
  • God can use people wherever they are.

As I read back over this to edit it I see I have quite the lists. But, sometimes when you have quite a lot to say with examples, lists help us see each one better instead of them being all in a big paragraph where we lose some of them. I do want to say that I use the Life Application Study Bible and this information was taken straight from them so I don’t take any credit for this, I got them straight from the profiles of characters in the Bible. I enjoy those and, like these, there is something to be learned from each one.

I guess there really isn’t much more to be said about challenges except that everybody has them and as was documented above, it’s how we handle or respond to those circumstances that counts. I’m sorry to say, most times I don’t respond well right off. Sometimes it seems like God has to shout to me before I settle down and look at the big picture. Or maybe not look at all and just trust and follow God, even when it doesn’t make sense to me – it doesn’t have to make sense to me. Right?!?

I do hope I have peaked your interest in these three people and if you haven’t read about them that you will find a Bible and do so. The New Living Translation has been translated so that it’s almost like reading a novel. Give it a try – you might be pleasantly surprised. (I’m sure the library has copies of the Bible so if you don’t have one that might be a place to try as well as any church around.)

Who is the Strongest?

Did you ever argue with someone on the playground, or in the neighborhood, and say, “My Dad is stronger than your Dad!” or “My Dad is smarter than your Dad!” or anything similar?  I’m sure I must have.  My dad had so much common sense and could do a variety of things.  He was a very logical thinking man.  Why, he could pack a trunk full of suitcases and other stuff and get the lid down and it would take most people a small truck to get all that stuff in.  I would marvel as a child watching him arrange and re-arrange things when we traveled.  He never just jumped in and started throwing things in there, no sir.  He always stood back and surveyed the situation before he started packing.  (Consequently, I learned from him how to pack for traveling.)

My Granddaddy was a man you could learn volumes from about living.  You know, in all the days my Grandaddy lived, I never, ever heard him say anything negative or bad about anyone. Really!  Oh, he could have, too.  He had family that caused him to lose his farm and then he had to work on a dairy farm milking cows, barely making enough to get by and raise 6 girls.  (And you know God had to help him raise those 6 girls or he would have surely lost his mind!)  But, no, never anything negative.  If my Grandmother would start in about someone and he heard, he would say, “Now Frankie, it’s all right.” He not only didn’t say anything, he didn’t want to hear anything negative about someone, either.  Do you think society today could learn something from my Grandaddy?  I sure do.  I heard, “If you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all!” but not from Grandaddy.  No, he ‘lived’ it out as an example for us.  He didn’t even complain about all the arthritis pain he suffered. He would just say, “Oh me.” when he stood up from sitting or lying down and that’s as close as I ever heard him complain – something I wish I had really ‘learned’ and not just agreed with.

We learn from our parents don’t we?  Whether we intend to or not, there are just some things we learn from them – or whoever it is that raised us.  For most of us we could trust our parents for not only providing for us but for guiding us as well, giving us good advice, teaching us how to respect others, teaching us to be a good person.  Stuff like that.

Well, I am so very grateful to say that I have an Abba, Father God, who does even a better job than anyone in my family.  He was my Grandaddy’s Teacher, by the way.  Why, He even left us volumes of instruction in His Book, the Bible.  It’s like love letters from God.  Sometimes it seems like it’s hard to find the right path, but if we just step back, survey, look to God, and trust Him, He will show us the way.  And when we take the wrong path, He doesn’t forsake us, He just stands where ‘we’ left Him (He never leaves us), and waits for us to come back, sometimes nudging us, so we can get on the right path He has for us.  Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:24 – “Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.”  And specifically if you need advice, James 1:5 – “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” James 4:7-8 “….Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you……purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”   (New Living Translation).

Even though my father and grandfather are no longer here to help me and guide me, I am so very thankful for my Abba who is always with me and will always show me the way.  And, by the way, Abba is always standing beside you, stronger than the one who is against you, so you don’t have to worry about arguing about that, He always wins, whether it seems like it or not.

Dancing With the Devil

When I hear the word “dance” my mind immediately goes to ballroom dancing with the guy in a tuxedo and the lady in a beautiful flowing dress.  But when you dance with the devil it is not a beautiful site.  It might start out beautiful in your mind, but by the time you realize you are dancing with the devil instead of an angel, it’s too late.  I think we all know that the “devil” I am speaking of here is evil.  Of course, evil comes in both genders – some devils are men and some are women.  It’s just according to who the devil wants to ruin.

It’s always the same way – as the music is playing and the dancing is being danced, the partner to the devil sees only beauty.  However, those standing around can see the devil for who he/she is and that is pure evil and ugliness.  Some standing around are laughing at the devil’s partner because they can see how the devil is using this partner and what a fool they have become. Some try to break in and take the partner away from the devil, but somehow the devil is able to draw that partner back into his/her arms where the devil takes them further and further, deeper and deeper into the abyss.  Yet, the partner thinks they are going into a happy and beautiful place, all the while friends and family are shouting on the sidelines trying to get the partner to stop and open their eyes, to shed the scales from their eyes.  The problem is the partner does not want to open their eyes, they are having too much fun “now” and don’t want it to stop.  They keep their eyes shut and close their ears to any logical pleadings and so they are left, not realizing it will stop when the devil is finished destroying them and all around them.

Sometimes, before it’s too late, the partner will stop, think and realize that for that bit of happiness they are throwing away great joy.  It’s hard for them to come back, but those that are strong, unafraid, and gutsy will wake up, turn around and run back to the light and away from the devil.  This is not an easy process.  It really does take a lot of fearlessness and no wimpiness.  Turning away from the devil is not for the fainthearted or those who are afraid and tremor when they hear the sound of the devil.  No, those who turn back to the right have to be strong and be ready to face the consequences, no matter what they are.

Consequences are sometimes good and sometimes bad.  When you turn from dancing with the devil you have to pay but have to remember the future consequences are greater and outshine anything gained from staying with the devil, no matter what the devil has to offer.  In fact, there is nothing to be gained by staying with the devil except a few moments of false and misleading, short-lived happiness and long-term anguishing in death.

On the other hand, staying with the devil and continuing to dance will eventually bring nothing but pain and heartache to everyone around you.  It may take a few weeks, a few months, a few years, or a lifetime but it will come.  And if it takes a lifetime then you’ve wasted your lifetime and your best years.  Years that could have been spent in a more sensible and successful way.  However, when the end comes you realize you cannot go back and change anything and you have wasted what was given to you, a life that could have been full and successful, happy and contented.  And for what? A few moments of dancing with the devil – who was beautiful at first but now is so ugly because the scales have dropped from your eyes and you finally see what everybody else saw.  That is what happens when the devil is finished with you – the scales fall from your eyes and you cry out in anguish, realizing you have really screwed up, wishing you could go back! But there is no going back after you pass the point of no return.  You are caught in a web of deceit and lies and have to dance until you can dance no longer and the devil is finished with you.

Yep, dancing with the devil is a dangerous thing in life – I guess we have all danced with some kind of devil now and again and most of us have awakened before it was too late, yet face consequences nonetheless.  It’s when the devil has us so fooled and tricked that we don’t see anything but what the devil wants us to see – that’s the most sad thing of all because it leads to death!  Maybe not physical death but death of our soul, death of our emotions, death of feeling because we can’t feel again, the devil took it all away during the dance.

“At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”  Genesis 3:7  –  At that moment it all fell apart and death entered the world. I looked up moment and here are some synonyms:  bat of an eye, nanosecond, split second, flash, instant and crack ,to name of few.  I think crack is appropriate because in a crack, by listening to the devil, death seeped in and that crack allowed everything to fall apart.  When we first listen to the devil, it’s a crack that death can then pour into our lives where it all falls apart.

 

Closeness and/or Pleasing

It’s been a while since I posted anything – just felt kind of dry and I guess I needed a respite.  Sometimes I just need to take a step back – I’m not sure of all the reasons why but it just seems that way sometimes.

Have you ever thought about what it means to be close to someone?  I like to have people close to me – not necessarily physically but knowing I am on the same page with someone.  I’m a “people pleaser”, which is one of those “good things/bad things.”  Sometimes I am so engrossed in pleasing someone that nothing else matters.

Unfortunately, I guess I have been a people pleaser all my life.  Being an only child I wanted to please my parents and make them proud of me.  Sad thing is that no matter what I did it was never quite enough.  Yet, I still tried.  When I got married (at a young age I might add) I tried to please my husband but he was not one that shared his emotions or thoughts and was pretty much bland, so I never quite knew unless I asked.  Well, asking kind of defeats the purpose with a people pleaser.  We want to be told we have pleased without having to ask.

Then came my first 2 children.  I’m pretty sure I seldom pleased them – I really didn’t get it until I had my third child at the age of 40.  I finally “got” what was important to please a child (or at least I think I did).  It is said being young is wasted on the youth and at my age I can certainly agree with that!  If we could start off with realizing the wisdom it takes to live this life and go from there I think the whole world would be a much better place.

Oh my, think I have strayed from my initial thought I had today and am “all over the place.”  That happens a lot as I start in one place and then find that “rabbit trail” and take a turn to follow it.  Think I’ll just jump off that rabbit trail now and get back to my initial thought.

Today I was reading in my new devotional book called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (and I already highly recommend it).  This devotional is quite different than any I’ve read before as it is written as though Jesus was talking directly to you and you just have this special audience with Him, which actually we can have any time we want.

The sentence that “jumped” out for me was, “Concentrate on staying close to Me at all times.”  I need to some how have that tattooed on my hand so I can see it all the time.  I get so anxious sometimes, mostly about pleasing people, that I forget He is always there and wants me to be close to Him – it is not He that strays away from me but me that strays from Him.  He is the One I need to concentrate on pleasing.  I believe if I concentrate on pleasing Him, everything else will fall into place and in the end I will be pleasing those I started out wanting to please in the first place.  And then somewhere along the line I will eventually “find myself” as I have tried to please so many others that I have lost me and forgotten who I am – which is another subject for another day.

I could probably go on and on from here but my objective in writing these “tidbits” was to keep them short and hopefully then they won’t be boring.  I hope my writing today will touch someone and be a blessing to them or cause someone just to stop and think and know who they are and who is important.

ADDENDUM:  As I reread this blog, I realized it really was all over the place and seemed as though It might be a little disjointed to others and so I started to re-write it and make it more grammatically correct.  Then I thought to myself, “Self, if you change this you will be defeating your purpose of trying to be yourself or find yourself.”  So, I think I’ll just leave it with the hopes, as I said, someone will get something or enjoy it.  Otherwise, it’s “therapy” for me.  LOL

Love?

With so much “unlove” around I thought to myself, “Well, what is love really.  Is love one thing?  Is love a verb?” I decided to go to the dictionary and find a definition.

First, let’s look at love as a noun.  Webster’s Dictionary defines love as (1) a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. (2) a feeling of  warm personal attachment or deep affection as for a parent, child, or friend. [don’t forget, our pets are our best friends]  I have to tell you, it is so very easy to love my grandson as well as my children, my husband, friends, and family.  I am sure those reading this have those that are easy to love as well.  Then we have those co-workers, family, neighbors, bosses, and others I am sure some of you can think of, that are not that easy to love.  There are those that have wronged us in some way that we feel we will never love.

Those that are easy to love, well, what can I say?  They are easy to love!  We “love” being around them, we “love” doing things for them, we “love” being there for them, and on and on.  We love to see smiles on their faces and hear their laughter.

Then, we have those that it takes a little more effort to love.  Some complain about how “hard” their life is, some are negative about everything you talk about, they hardly ever smile, and I won’t name all I can think of.  But, you know you need to love them because you have to be around them from time to time and only “love” would allow you to have the enthusiasm you need to show when you are with them.  You try to encourage them about a problem they are having but to no avail most of the time.  Yea, that’s kind of hard.

However, the next group is the hardest of all to love and we think we just cannot possibly ever forgive or love these people.  Well, I am here to tell you that you do have the power to love them – not talking about the type of affectionate love or fondness type of love as above, but the type of valuing love for them just as a human being.  Yep, God allowed them to be born and live so apparently He has put some kind of value on them so I’m thinking we might do well to do so also.  Have you ever thought about the fact that if you hold a grudge or bitterness towards someone that you are allowing them to control you?  I don’t think anyone likes to be controlled.  They control our thoughts as we think about them, they control our emotions, and as they control our emotions, many times they control our actions.  They control the countenance on our face, they keep us from smiling, and sometimes they cause us to snap and/or be hateful to those we do love.

Did ya ever think about all that?  It took me many years to come to this conclusion about bitterness and “unloving” people.  When you forgive and decide to “value love” people, it’s amazing how freeing that is.  That darkness or heaviness that sometimes comes over us just floats away.  They no longer control you and you find yourself thinking about them less and less and you come to a point that if you do think about them you can just throw that thought out the window with a smile on your face and springtime in your heart.

Of course, God also has quite a bit to say about love and says it much better than I do.  He says “Love is kind…”, “through love serve one another..”, “for love is from God…”, “love casts out fear…”, “God so loved the world He gave his only begotten Son.”, “for love is from God..”, to name just a few.

Of course, all of this is just scratching the surface and you might want to dig a little deeper yourself.  For me, the conclusion is that we need to ask ourselves a question which is “do we really love?” or do we need to work on it.  Well, I don’t know about you but I think I probably need to work on it.

Time Flies

I bet almost everyone has heard someone say “Time sure flies!”  And that is surely true, at least as I get older it sure seems to go by like a jetliner.  I remember as a child, however, that birthdays, Christmas, and summers seemed like they took an awful long time to come around.  Even as a teenager they didn’t seem to come around that often.  However, after I started having children it seemed like somebody stepped on the gas as though they were driving a Nascar race and every time I turned around it was birthday time or Christmas.  Next thing I know it’s time for driver’s license.  What?  Driver’s license!  Yesterday they were just out in the yard on their trikes and bikes.  You look back and it just doesn’t seem possible.

And while you’re looking back enjoying a quick look at those wonderful, sweet, and funny memories, they are graduating college and/or beginning a life of their own, getting married – holy cow!  How did all this happen so fast and while I was just standing here? Now granted, this is the Beaver Cleaver family and mostly how things happen on TV, but sometimes and for some families, it really happens like this.  For others not so yet time does seem to fly for all families.  It just seemed like the best and least complicated example to use for my story.  I mean, there are those families where dad went to the University of Georgia and his son decides to go to Georgia Tech, or maybe worse yet Clemson!  If you’re from Georgia you will truly understand the repercussions from something like that happening!  But that’s possibly another story for another day.

So, you take a breather from it all and think to yourself, “Well Lord, we did a pretty good job.  I’m proud of these kids, they’re great!”  And they are great.  They are starting their own life, working, building on what you’ve taught them “just yesterday.”  Yep, they are great.

And then something happens.  You learn the difference between “great” and “grand.”  You see, it comes along rather slowly – time is standing still again.  The “thing” in and of itself to start with is not huge but the happening – well, let’s just say, “Strike out the band, let loose the balloons, stop the presses, put out a special news release on TV, and let all the bells in all the towers all over the world ring!”  Your “grandchild” was just born and you’ve held him/her in your arms for the very first time.  Yep, now you know why they call them “grand.”  Now you know the difference between great and grand.  And until it happens to you, you really can’t possibly understand.

And the journey begins all over again, watching that little one grow and learn and expand his/her horizons.  Yesterday you were holding them in the hospital and today you are holding them by the hand as you take a walk out in the yard and tomorrow you’ll be watching them walk up to receive their diploma as they graduate from high school.

Yep, time flies alright.  I’ve even heard it said that time stands still for no one.  So my friends, don’t worry about yesterday because there is nothing you can do to change it and don’t worry about tomorrow because you really don’t know what tomorrow might bring.  My best advice is to just take hold of today, enjoy it and make memories because “tomorrow” you’ll be looking back wondering where the time went.

Smiles and Laughter

Have you ever looked at the smiles of other people.  Not just your mama’s, your cousin’s, or Aunt Sally, but people you work with, acquaintances, or strangers in the mall or on the street.  I’m a people watcher so I notice that kind of thing – smiles.  With some folks you have to look real hard to find a smile, it’s one of those that just barely curve up at the corners of the mouth and make you wonder if they are really smiling or just gritting their teeth.  There are sweet smiles, mostly coming from old ladies like me, big smiles coming from children who are excited, and smiles of the romantical kind.  I remember in my earlier days people used to smile at everyone they met on the street, whether they knew them or not.  Of course, I was raised in Georgia and that was pretty much southern etiquette.

Now, in the “study” of smiles, you will notice that one person can have many different kinds of smile. (Of course, that would have to be studying the people you know.  You start following somebody around in the mall trying to watch them and see their different smiles and you might find yourself in jail or, even worse, dealing with Homeland Security!)  Some of the different smiles of folks are of when they are genuinely happy to see you, when they receive a gift, when they take that first sip of coffee in the morning, or their pet decides to join them while they are just chillin’.  I think if someone a whole lot smarter than me were to watch people and take a survey, they might find some kind of connection between a person’s smile and their personality.  Just thinking over the folks I know it seems like those with great big ear to ear smiles are more extrovert than those with the smaller, sweeter type smile.  (Not to say a big ole grin is not sweet, too, but I think you get the picture.)  I did have to take my survey mostly from folks I know as you don’t see many smiles at the mall – not even from behind the counters much anymore.

Now that we have done our “cursory” study of smiles, let’s move on to laughter.  If I’m in the position of waiting for someone in the mall, I like to just sit down and watch people.  Nowadays I don’t see as much laughter as once I did, but it does break out once in awhile, particularly with girls.  Now, you have to break girls down into subcategories (we are quite complicated after all).  You have those in the 5- to 8- or 9-year-old group.  They have that sweet, little, happy giggle of friendship and comradery that leads you to believe they have so many plans for when they get back to their “land,” especially if they are holding a particular new toy in hand.  

Next we have probably my favorite group – the adolescent, or what I call those “silly,  high-pitched giggly over everything and nothing” group.  Just have a group of those young ladies walk through and you can’t help but break out in a smile and even giggles yourself, sometimes.  That is the happiest group of all.  Why, they are not even on the same planet as we are.  And believe me when I tell you, sometimes I wish I was back on that planet again because I actually can remember being their once and when you’re with your friends, why it’s euphoric!

Next, we have the teenagers.  They are quite interesting, rather secretive as when they are with a group as whenever they laugh they cover their mouths slightly most of the time.  I’m not sure why that is other than just being at that self-conscious age.  However, as they are “stalking” as in a pair, you can tell by their eyes they are laughing but there is a full cover of the mouth.  Why?  Again, I don’t know.  This coverage of the mouth phenomena came about sometime after I was a teen so I am not privy to the explanation of said coverage.

After those teen years I noticed there are no more giggles and very little laughter.  Why?  I think folks just take themselves way to serious.  Hey, this is life and you only get to live it once so you might as well laugh, be funny or even silly.  After all, in 100 years who is going to remember what stupid thing you did in the mall in 2016?

They guys, well, let’s just say most don’t laugh in public, especially from that early age of 8 or 9 until 18 or so.  It’s just not done.  Even in those middle 20’s until retirement you don’t see guys laughing much at all.  There must be some kind of “guy etiquette” here that I am not privy to, being a woman.  Of course I am talking about mall watching and most guys don’t like to shop so it would make sense that they find nothing to laugh about in the mall as they have mostly been dragged there anyway.   I know they do laugh, however, because I’ve heard them when they are playing cards, playing pool, playing football or eating something they really enjoy.  They bring out their big ole guffaw, roaring, deep laugh.  Wait a minute, hold the presses!  I may have stumbled onto something here.  Guys really only laugh when they are playing or eating.

Of course, when you reach the retirement age group we are pretty much allowed to say or do whatever we please, laugh out loud and have fun as we have lived long enough that we’ve earned that right.  Have you ever seen the smile or heard the laughter of someone who has lived to be 100-years-old?  I have only seen that and heard it from a news report on TV but even from the TV, the smile was golden and the laughter sounded like the chiming of silver bells from heaven – the most beautiful smile and wonderful sounding laugh of all.

Oops to Blessings

Yesterday as I was feverishly working on a quilt for my daughter’s best friend (she’s like a second daughter, actually) I was just slicing and dicing some material for the “sashes” (that’s like a frame around a block) and thinking to myself that  I had finally figured out how to figure out how much material this particular part of the project would take (believe me, I don’t do Math with a capital I DON’T DO MATH).  So, after getting all my pieces cut, I sat down to my machine to start putting the blocks to the sashes to make my rows.  This time, the part of the sash that runs below the blocks would be one straight piece of material 2 inches wide by the width of the quilt and I wouldn’t need to match any seams.  Perfect, right?  No, again I didn’t do the match right and cut too many pieces the size of my square and I don’t have enough material to go back and cut the nice long piece that will be a lot less taxing to attach because of not having to match seams.  I was so discouraged.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here I sit with all these 10 x 2 inch pieces and I need one long piece 24 x 2 inches.  I was about ready to cry because I didn’t want to make a trip to the craft store this morning and besides, I hardly think they would have material to match what I’ve already sewn on to the sides of my squares, so what was I to do.  Think, think, think.  Getting a different color that would blend wouldn’t look right.  Taking out the other would take until probably after the weekend and I think taking out that much might just stretch the blocks, anyway.  Think, think, think.  Got it!  Get into my stash of material and take out tone-on-tone pieces of the other color that she is using for the nursery and make 2-inch squares to go between the 2 x 10-inch sashing pieces to make what I call the “underling” sashing.  (I had already used two of her colors, one for the solid block and one for the sashing.)  In other words, I would have a 2-inch square, a 10 x 2-inch piece, a 2-inch square, a 10 x 2-inch piece, etc., to go under my already sewn rows.  All of the 2-inch squares won’t be just alike but that is actually the beauty of it. I am so excited to get started this morning.  This quilt is going to be even more cute than I first imagined (I have yet to make a quilt by any particular pattern – I just start thinking and go from there).  I’ll take a picture and post it after it is finished.

Life is like that sometimes.  We head in one direction but forces beyond our control pop up and so we head out in another direction.  For instance, my husband and I were on vacation several years back and had about a day extra left (thank goodness) and we were talking and took a wrong turn on the Interstate and saw we were headed for Nashville, Tennessee!  We could have gotten off, turned around, and gotten back on our original trail, but decided to keep on this trail and head for Nashville.  Well, the Country Music Hall of Fame had not been opened very long.  I had seen reports of it on the news and entertainment shows and was thinking in my heart that I sure would like to go, never thinking in a million years it would ever happen.  Well, here we were, going to the Country Music Hall of Fame!!  I was so excited, like a kid going to their first fair (I guess today that would be akin to “amusement” park).  Anyway, we went to the Hall of Fame first.  They had about 3 or 4 floors of so much stuff from stars like Elvis’s gold car, Hank Williams’ guitar, suits, Johnny Cash’s black coat, one of Minnie Pearl’s hats (you younguns won’t remember her but you oughta google her – she was one of the greats), and I don’t know what all.  You cannot imagine how many pictures I took.  Oh, and they had performer’s gold and platinum records all over the walls. My husband is a hockey fan and it was a plus for us to get to see the outside of the Nashville Predator’s stadium.  It is right next door to the Hall of Fame.  We went to the Grand Ole Opry and stood right on the “circle” where everybody that performs stands – I mean, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, and so many more, including the stars of today, have stood.  Words could not explain how I felt to stand there.  I still can’t explain how I felt.  It meant so much to me.  (I was so happy to hear they were able to save that circle when Nashville had that flood a few years back.)  They had this cool restaurant (a little on the pricey side) but there were huge fish tanks that made up the walls, floor to ceiling, so you got to sit next to the tanks and watch the fish.  That was fun, too.

I guess what all this rolls around to say is, sometimes those seemingly “mistakes” in life or wrong turns, may just end up being a huge blessing so don’t miss out – think before you turn around and make sure you’re not about to miss out on something really big!

Three Things

Have you ever been asked the question, “If you were stranded on an island, what 3 things would you want?” (No electronics.)  Not people, mind you, but things.  Of course, hopefully, this is just a “mind” exercise and none of you ever get stranded – even on the side of the road.  I’ve thought about this particular question before and I guess there are several different approaches we can take here but to me it mostly boils down to “mind, body, and soul.”

Let’s attack “mind” first – I might lose mine before I can get to the rest so the sooner the better.  What does my mind need – I’m talking personally, now, not what you think the world thinks, your parents would think, your partner thinks, but this is just you.  Just to be “undisguised” as it were. I’ll be right upfront and let you know this probably is the hardest one of the 3 for me.  I don’t read books by brilliant and intellectual people – though to me anyone who can get their book published is brilliant!  I guess I could go on and on here telling you of all the “mind” things I don’t do but I won’t bore you – you have your own.  Personally, “mind” things for me would involve sewing, particularly quilting.  (Let me tell you, it does take a certain amount of thinking to put together a quilt start to finish and that is for another day!)  I love looking at books with pictures and stories behind old quilts. And there are many. Lots and lots of quilt patterns have stories behind them.  Of course, it takes me back to grandmama’s house which was filled with quilts.  Nothing fancy, just mostly squares or triangles put together and some material from flour sacks.  My cousin and I would sit on “our” bed and pick out different material that we would want a dress made from. So, number one would be a historical and pictorial book about quilts.

Number 2 would be something for my body, mmm.  This is hard for me because I don’t do camping and such.  Roughing it for me is not having a remote for the TV – I’m serious.  Doesn’t have to be fancy but inside away from the elements, including bugs and such.  (I would not do well on Survivor.)  So, I guess my next thing could be some kind of hut.  Mind you, we are stranded and while a mansion with an outdoor and indoor pool, etc., etc., would be wonderful, that is not the kind of exercise we are doing here – that would be for another day as well.  So yea, a place to be away from all the elements (I include crawly, flying, slimy, kind of things as elements) would be my “body” thing I think.

Next is easy.  For my soul would be my Bible.  Not only are there wonderful and wise truths there, I find there are some really interesting stories, as well, that are quite entertaining.  Some funny, some sad, some drama, and so on.  For instance in the Old Testament in Genesis you read how a beautiful coat caused a boy a lot of grief but God made all that good.  In Esther you’ll find how Haaman got his comeuppance.  That was so cool how God worked all that around.  Now, in Judges you’ll find some kind of gross stuff like the gal who drove a spike through this guy’s head – ghastly. Of course most of you have probably heard about David slaying Goliath but to read how all that happened is pretty interesting.  For all you romance buffs like me, there is a love story in Ruth.  In the New Testament there is Saul and how his name was changed to Paul and while on his way to prison later he was shipwrecked on an island and stuck his hand down and grabbed a viper and was not bitten or harmed in any way.  Oh yea, Paul had lots of adventures.  Back to the Old Testament, in Psalms I always find comfort, wisdom, peace, harmony, confidence and so much more.  To read about just these things and not counting the countless more things God has in the Bible would take a lifetime so I think the Bible would keep me company and busy.

Well, what do you think?  Did you play along with me?  There really are no right or wrong answers because it’s all personal.  As people are different so would be the answers.  I guess it was kind of an exercise that actually brings me back and makes me remember how much I have to be grateful for, though.

Who Am I, Anyway

Have you ever set back and wondered, “Who am I?”  I mean, really thought about who you are.  Not what you do, not the “mom/pop” person you are, not the neighbor you are – do you get the idea?  Who you are inside.  Are you a ballerina (something I wanted to  be as a child and each time I see a ballet I see myself up there); could it be an astronaut or maybe a rock star.  It’s kind of like starting with those dreams we dreamed as a child, then those have to be put aside as we grew older and our responsibilities grew out in different ways like the roots of an oak tree spreading out.  We were always somebody inside.  If our dreams came true and we were able to achieve those dreams we dreamed as a child then wonderful!  But, is it what you thought it would be?  Of course not!  We never thought about the work, just the “glorious” part of “being” whatever.  I guess that’s part of maturing.  If we knew what it would take to accomplish those dreams and the work it took to continue then we’d probably not dream at all and that would be a waste because as a child, dreams are wonderful.

Okay, back to the original question – who am I?  To be truthful, I am an older woman and I really don’t know who I am.  It seems I am a “pleaser” and so I am whoever the person in need, needs.  Not that being a “pleaser” is totally a bad thing, mind you.  So, I am many people – a mother, grandmother, wife, friend, and neighbor at this point in time.  Probably would have added more in my younger days like teacher, child, transcriptionist, co-worker to name a few.  But I’ve always wondered “who am I”?  I once told a doctor I felt like I had lost myself.  He said not to worry, we’d find “me”.  I’m still looking.  To tell you the truth, I am hoping and praying I will find my deep inner real self in having this blog.  Oh – don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy being all of those things mentioned above.  I am truly blessed to be able to wear those “hats!”  It may be that I am somewhat a Type A personality and as I look at life I put everything into a cubby hole (like I have one for restaurants, likes, children, husband) – you get the picture.  I’m sorry if it all seems so confusing.  Those are not really good names for some of my cubby holes and I don’t think some really have names, just things/people, etc., that are alike in some way or another go into one.  But I can’t find one for me.   Maybe we can’t pinpoint ourselves down to just one thing.  Maybe that’s it – we are who we are needed to be.  I guess when nobody needs me at the moment when I’m alone, I can be whomever or whatever I want to be.  Like be a gamer and play a video game, or be a cook and cook something fabulous, or be a quilter and make an award winning quilt!  Mmmm – I guess as I have written all f this out and look at it and think of it, I have answered my question.  As we get older, we do become more like our “child selves” and can kind of be what we want to be at this point in our lives – or close to it.

So, like so many things, it makes that round and comes back full circle!  On the “inside” we are basically who we started out as but only, hopefully, grew wiser but on the outside, the sky is the limit.  I can be whatever I want to be or whomever I want to be on any given day (just keeping within the bounds of reality which is the sad part).  So, ask me who am I right now – I am a Christian woman who loves the Lord with all her heart on the inside and is a blogger on the outside that actually wants to spread encouragement to others – sort of like paying it forward but only in words. So, here I gooooooo – out to Neverland to be me!!!!

IMG_0036 Of course I do need my coffee and muffin before I start this big journey! 🙂