Make the Most of the Choices You Have

Not many of us, if any on this earth, have everything we want. Many of us DO have everything we need, but we don’t always make the choices that allow us to be our best selves.

The image of the compass above is to illustrate and represent the choices we have in all directions.

Life has always been about choice from the very first humans in the Garden of Eden. They set the bar really low when they CHOSE to eat that apple. We’ve been making regrettable choices ever since.

Some choices are really easy and simple to make. Decent people usually make correct choices when confronted with a major right or wrong decision: steal the money/don’t steal the money; snatch an easy shoplift item/don’t snatch the item.

It’s the every day smaller issues that sometimes trip us up.

My personal biggest nemesis is my reaction to events in my life. For instance, getting cut off in traffic and choosing to lay in on the horn. Choosing to become all flustered when things don’t go my way. Choosing to react instead of just letting it go.

I’m working on that aspect of my life, as well as choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. Choosing to exercise, rather than making excuses not to exercise. Choosing to eat healthy, non-processed food, rather than junk food.

I’m working on living a better life by choosing to give the beggar by the road some money or a gift card for food or gas, rather than passing by without making eye contact.  Choosing  to have difficult conversations with people I care about, rather than allowing things to fester causing mole hills to become mountains in our relationships. And choosing my words carefully in all conversations.

We should all strive to make the best choices. It’s not always easy, and all of us will stumble occasionally.

Our lives will be richer and happier when we learn to make the most of the choices we have.

See you next time,

It Was a God Thing

The pretty cat above is our Molly. She’s a one of a kind, beautiful, tortoiseshell cat. The story below isn’t about her, but based on her personality it sure could have been.

A friend of mind was taking her cat to the vet. Now, unless you have a cat, you may not know how difficult it is to get them into those cute little plastic carriers that make it “easy” to transport them. It’s basically a two person job, both dressed in combat gear.

Those sweet little kitties hate, and I mean HATE, to get into the carriers. The most effective way I’ve found to get a cat into a carrier is turning the carrier up on it’s end, and putting the kitty in back feet first – and, trust me, that’s a hit-or-miss kind of thing.

This particular day, my friend’s spouse wasn’t available to suit up and help with the carrier process, and after several failed attempts, she just gave up and put the cat in the back seat of her car.

Mr. Kitty was NOT amused, and as cats have a tendency to do, began making his displeasure known. He bellowed, as only a cat can, as he walked back and forth in the back seat like a caged lion.

Eventually, he realized there was a world outside the windows, and he decided to investigate. Upon putting his front paws on the door handle, he hit the button to lower the window and promptly jumped out of the moving car!

My friend was stunned to say the least, and quickly turned the car around and headed back the way she had come, expecting the worse.

This is where the God thing begins to take shape. As she scanned the highway looking for, and praying she’d find, Mr. Kitty, she felt God guiding her as she made one turn after the other.

She finally spotted him several streets away from where he’d jumped out, sitting beside a building that was formerly a church.  She pulled into the adjacent parking lot, and confirmed that it was in fact, her cat.

She parked the car and carefully approached him, carrying a container of cat food. He was so petrified from his experience, he would not come to her.

She looked around for someone to help her, when she realized she was in the parking lot of the strip mall where her friend’s restaurant, Our Daily Bread, had been.  Even though it’s now a bakery, she felt compelled to go in there looking for help.

Through her tears, and still carrying her cat food, she asked  the gentleman working there to help her coral her cat. Once he got past the shock of seeing an hysterical woman carrying a container of cat food, he followed her outside. Together they coaxed Mr. Kitty to come to her, and the story ended happily. She got Mr. Kitty back into the car, locked the windows, and continued to the vet.

Some may say that was just a coincidence, but I don’t think so. There was basically zero percent chance of finding her cat unharmed!

I know it was a God thing, and that God protected Mr. Kitty as he jumped from the car on that busy highway. It was a God thing, that the cat found his way to the parking lot my friend was already familiar with.

It was a God thing, that God led my friend down the streets she needed to travel to find the cat. It was a God thing, that the man in the bakery stopped what he was doing and helped her coral the cat.

That’s how God works. Even when we make a mistake, God is there with us every moment as we try to get out of whatever we’ve gotten ourselves into. As my friend prayed, God guided her eyes where to look, and what turns to make,  just as He had guided Mr. Kitty.

God is ALWAYS with us, and He cares about us – even when we get ourselves into a mess.

God things happen all the time. Be mindful of them, and thankful for them.

See you next time,

That’s an Omelette?

Yes, the above picture IS an omelette,  howbeit not as attractive as ones you are used to seeing. It’s perhaps like the ugly duckling. No, wait, in the end the ugly duckling was a beautiful swan. Wrong analogy, Deb!

When I make, okay, TRY TO MAKE omelettes, they usually look like the one above. This morning was no different. I’m really NOT a cook.

It got me thinking about life, though, and how what we set out to accomplish does not always look as we imaged it would. It’s  not altogether wrong and it shouldn’t be thrown out, because it still works – just differently.

So, was my breakfast an spinach omelette? Yes, all of the ingredients and the tastes were in it. Cooking is not and never will be my strong suit, but what I prepare IS usually edible. It’s just not attractive by the standards of a chef. If you’re a chef and reading this, you may be on the verge of fainting!

Many years ago I wanted to prepare my Mom’s sweet potato pudding recipe. The problem was, I didn’t read the recipe first  to insure I had all the ingredients. As I began to prepare her signature dish, I realized I was short a sweet potato or two. So I improvised and used a couple Idaho potatoes. I realize the chefs who didn’t faint earlier are no longer with us, but I digress…

When I took it out of the oven, I knew right away I probably should have just run to the store for more sweet potatoes.  Daddy looked at it and asked, “Why does it have white flecks in it?” I was honest and replied, “Because I used some Idaho potatoes.” The look on his face can’t even begin to be described here. Mom said, “I’m sure it will taste just fine.” I wouldn’t describe the taste as “fine”, but it was edible. It wasn’t a total disaster, and again, didn’t have to be thrown out.

When we do something, and it doesn’t quite live up to our expectations, we can look for an alternative that will work, even though the look and feel may be somewhat different than we’d hoped. Our lives may not always look inviting to others, but that doesn’t mean anything is really wrong – just different.

This also applies to people we may encounter who don’t look or dress like us. Just because they are different from us, doesn’t mean we should avoid them. You never know when God has put someone in your path, and once you engage with them you may be quite surprised to learn you’ve discovered a brand new type of “omelette” that you really like! Just sayin’.

See you next time,

My Faith, My Life

Psalm 42:1 – As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

John 10:27 – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Daniel 3:17a – If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…

Daniel 3:18a – But even if he does not…

Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

The six verse above, all taken from the New International Version of the Bible, sum of my faith in ways I could not articulate.

I used to be upset that I didn’t have a huge redemption story of lightening bolt amazement. I used to fear I wasn’t God’s child because I couldn’t put my finger on the exact moment He came into my life. I used to feel that I had no testimony.

Then one day, as gently as the trees wave their branches to their Creator, a Breeze filled my soul and washed over me in a way nothing had before or since, and I KNEW. I knew I am a child of God.

I don’t need a great, splashy story. I don’t need a faith I can explain. All I need is my God, my Creator, my Strength, my Wisdom, my Shepherd, my Guide, my Savior.

No matter where I am in life, no matter what is going on around me. No matter if God says “no” to one of my deepest prayers,  no matter what, God is and I am.

May you open yourself up to the peace and love of God, and may they flow into your soul now and forevermore.

See you next time,

Miracles Abound!

I’ve heard people ask why there aren’t miracles anymore like there were in Biblical days. My answer is, “There are! Miracles Abound! They are everywhere!”

The very fact that we live, move, and breathe is a miracle. Birth is a miracle. Death is a miracle. Sunrise and sunset are miracles. Every new day is a miracle.

In addition to the aforementioned miracles of life, we all experience miracles all the time. We may call them coincidences, but really, are they? I don’t think so.

Just within the past few weeks I’ve experienced several miracles.

As I was finishing the task of decorating for Christmas, I realized we were missing some important items. A quick review of the storage bins confirmed that those items were in fact missing.

All of our Christmas bins, and the box for our tree, are stored under our stairwell. I made a frantic trip to that space, and saw no Christmas bins had been left behind.

At this point in my story I have to interject that I’d also been looking several months for the accompaniment tapes and cds that never made it to my home office when I relocated from one room to the other. (Keep that in mind as I continue.)

Seeing no Christmas bins, I decided to open the other boxes also stored under the stairwell to see if perhaps one of us had accidentally placed the missing items in one of them. Four of the boxes had no Christmas items. The fifth and final box was my last hope. The bad news is there were no Christmas items in it either; the good news is all of the accompaniment tapes and cds were! What a miracle that was!

As I was backing out of the stairwell, my eyes fell upon a shelving unit across the way. One of the bins had a red lid. Really, a RED lid? I raced across the room, and to quote a well know poem – “what to my wondering eyes should appear?” – our missing decorations! Miracle number two within a space of 15 minutes. Miracles abound! Just sayin’

A few nights later I took one of our grandkids to ball practice. When  we arrived at the gym, the parking lot was full and I had to park farther from the door than I wanted. Due to COVID concerns only the athletes are allowed in the gym, so I settled down in my car to spend the next two hours visiting with the characters in the novel I was reading.

An hour after we arrived another team finished their practice, and parking spaces closer to the door opened up. When I turned the key, my car would not start. The battery needed a jump start. Roadside assistance gave me a window that would be after the practice was over, and we’d be much later getting home. Not long after I placed the call, the tow truck driver called me and said she’d be there in 12 minutes. 12 minutes! She arrived, jump started my car, I moved closer to the door, and was ready to head home when practice was over. Miracles abound!

The very next night on a rainy drive home, the back window of our SUV decided to get stuck in the down position.  Atlanta traffic is bad anytime, but on a cold rainy night with a window open, it’s worse! I pressed the button to raise the window numerous times, to no avail! I did everything I could think of to get that window up. Nothing. Nada. As the rain came down in sheets, and as the other cars roared passed, I prayed: “Dear God, I need a miracle. I need the window to come up.” My prayer was barely off my lips when I pressed the button again, and slowly my window closed. Miracles abound!

Some may say all of my examples were coincidences. I KNOW they were miracles. Miracles don’t have to be huge like the  parting of the Red Sea. Most miracles are small, quiet acts of God, just enough to let us know we aren’t alone. God is ALWAYS with us.

The next time you experience something that one might call a coincidence, embrace it as a miracle. They abound, you know.

See you next time,

When I’m Worried, and I Can’t Sleep

Well, THAT rarely happens, but when it does what do I do?

The first thing I do is try and determine what is bothering me to the point of keeping me awake. The usual suspects are: Family Matters, A Large Purchase, An Important Decision, Finances, or Knowing I’ve Made a Wrong Decision.

These are common to many people, and NONE of them are solvable by worrying.

Sometimes I’m not a key player – just an observer that FEELS the issue in a big way.

Again, this isn’t something that happens often, but every once in a great while a circumstance will arise that comes in like a steamroller, flattening and crushing everything in its path, including me.

From my perspective, no solution will make everyone happy. And, if it involves hurt or anger among family and friends, my heart is usually beating 90 miles a minute, and my brain is racing to find the magic words that will totally heal the situation.

The crazy thing is, many times it’s not MY issue, not my fault, and certainly not my place to fix. But the NEED to make it right is mine – knowing full well it isn’t mine.

It appears that the moron in my oxymoron personality takes over frequently. I just feel the need to sit all the parties down, let them each speak while all listen, and then break it down inserting my two-cents worth in a loving, thoughtful and respectful manner. Way easier said than done.

I mean we ALL make mistakes, and the majority of us don’t set out to purposely hurt anyone – and yet we do.

Why can’t we all recognize that we inadvertently hurt one another and own what we did – even if/when it wasn’t intentional?

It goes on among family members and friends frequently. Feelings are hurt, and then when called on it, the hurter blows up like a blowfish with a defensive stance rather than ever entertaining the idea that their actions/comments need to be addressed. Sometimes that hurter is me.

I used to let these situation pass without comment, but recently I’m more likely to confront howbeit, as nicely as I can.

For one thing, I know my faults, so I have to be willing to address what I’ve done without getting my panties in a wad.

I get that some things are not as bad as they appear, while other things are much worse than they appear.

I used to lie (or is it lay?) in bed and rehearse whole conversations with the various players. No wonder I couldn’t  sleep – I was playing all the parts in a play that hadn’t even been written!

In my “mature” years, I’ve learned a better way. It really works for me.

I get out of bed and spend time with God. I pray, I meditate, or I read the Scripture – sometimes I do all three. Slowly, as the minutes with God pass, my brain slows down. My blood pressure comes down. My heart rate slows down. A peace I can’t explain comes over me.

Is the issue resolved? No.

Has the issue changed? No.

Only I have changed, because I’ve been in the Presence of Holy God. Then I go back to bed, and I go to sleep.

So, the next time you’re worrying and can’t sleep, spend some time with God. I promise you will receive peace like none other.

See you next time,