Daily Prompt: Underestimate

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The prompt was Underestimate 

Some things we tend to underestimate…..

The power of an Almighty God

The effectiveness of a fervent prayer

The consequence of a bad decision

The contagiousness of a warm smile

The loving benefit of a sincere hug

The influence of an invested mentor

The powerful result of forgiveness

The impact of sincere kindness

The beauty that comes from a pure heart

The way life changes after we have children

The way time flies from birth to graduation

The time it sometimes takes to right a wrong

Grandma’s cure for boredom

Boredom – God’s way of telling you...

Source : http://www.coolnsmart.com/boredom_quotes/

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Roy G. Biv.”

The Prompt:  Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image.

“Grandma, I’m so bored”, Olivia whined after lunch.  Since breakfast, Olivia had roamed the house, snooping through the rooms, and went through a few photo albums.   She had discovered that Grandma still didn’t own a computer, much less have internet.  How would she make it for three full weeks with absolutely nothing to do?

Grandma Violet had known it may be hard to keep a pre-teen busy when she offered to have Olivia come stay for part of the summer.  She had put a lot of thought into it and was prepared to teach her a life lesson and the quicker the better.

“Honey, Grandma struggled with the same thing years ago”, Violet said with a smile.  “However, I no longer believe boredom is possible unless we just want to be lazy and selfish”.  Olivia squinted her blue eyes and scrunched up her freckled nose.  “What do you mean, Grandma?”, Olivia questioned.  “Well, there is just far too much to do and too many people to touch to be bored”, answered Grandma.

“Bring me that yellow blanket hanging on the back of the couch, please”, Grandma said.  Olivia snatched it up and brought it over to the dining room table.   Grandma said, “I am making this for a young woman who is expecting a baby very soon.  She doesn’t have any family close by and I want her to feel special and loved.  I work on it in the evening, after dinner.”

“It’s very pretty, and I’m sure she will love it, Grandma.”

“Oh goodness, exclaimed Grandma, “the time got away from me.  I need to hurry or I will miss visiting a friend before her afternoon nap.  Her name is Indigo and she is very old.  She lives in the nursing home down the street.  I go to visit her every Monday and Wednesday and read the bible to her.  She is blind you know?”  They climbed in Grandma’s green station wagon to go and Olivia anxiously anticipated meeting Indigo; she had always had a soft spot for the elderly.  After a couple of hours of laughs and a big bear hug from Miss Indigo, she and Grandma left for home.

When they got there, Grandma hurried into the garden and began picking some of the sweet bell peppers she had grown herself.  Olivia followed along, watching Grandma pick the red and orange peppers and remove a weed or two along the way.   When they were finished, Olivia remarked that they could never eat all of them.

Grandma said, “I don’t just grow these for myself.  I share them with my neighbors.  See, there is Mr. Whitaker across the fence; he loves peppers and he is on a fixed income, so it makes my heart smile to share with him.  Let’s go inside and prepare a basket and you can run it over to him”.

A while later, they sat together at the dinner table; bones from Grandma’s yummy fried chicken on their plates.  Olivia tried to stifle a yawn and Grandma asked, “Are you tired, my dear?”  “Yes ma’am, I am”, Olivia replied.

“Did you learn anything today about why Grandma doesn’t have time for boredom?”

Olivia thought for a moment about what a fulfilling day she’d had.  Her heart had warmed when Indigo squeezed her and thanked her for the visit and Mr. Whitaker’s smile and “thank you kindly” had made her feel like she was a part of something special.  Grandma had even introduced her to the young, very pregnant woman at the post office and she could sense her appreciation for the friendship Grandma was giving her.  Olivia was glad she would be here to watch her open the yellow blanket that Grandma was picking up to work on now.

“Yes, I did, Grandma.  You are so busy giving of yourself to others; you don’t have time to be bored, and I won’t either anymore.”  Grandma gave her a hug and told her she was welcome to go to bed if she’d like.  “Can I stay up a little longer and watch you work on the blanket?” Olivia asked.

“Of course, my dear and I will even show you how to make one yourself if you’d like.”  As they worked on the blanket together, Grandma smiled and thanked the Lord for the gift of this child and moments like these while Olivia thought to herself how blessed she was to have a Grandma like Violet.

The Who trumps the What

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What do you want to be when you grow up?  I want to be a policeman, a fireman, a dancer, an astronaut.  You might hear any of these if you ask a child this question.  Today as I sit here and contemplate on the aforementioned subject, I am reminded that WHO you are is so much more important than WHAT you do.

I firmly believe that everyone has a god-purposed calling and are bent towards it at a very young age.  Our role as adults and mentors is to help children discover it, encourage it and feed it well and watch it grow.  There is something we are all instinctively good at and naturally have a passion to do.

However, I propose that who we are while we are doing it is what will glean the greater good.  I can be the best in the world at whatever I do, but if I can’t influence a life for good, what is it really worth?  Yes, there are some cases in which you could be a jerk and what you have done would still bring good to the world around you.  You could discover a cure for a disease, for instance, and that would bring good, regardless of your personal impact on society.  As a rule though, the who far outshines the what!

Who we are determines how others are impacted.  Do we exude kindness, generosity and love as we encounter others?  How we treat people has such a lasting effect, for good or bad.  There is a quote attributed to Maya Angelou that says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Who am I today as I carry on with my work and life, as a mom, wife and friend?  That is what will be remembered and leave a potential life-long impression.

A Worthy Celebration

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Today I attended a beautiful “Celebration of Life” for a sweet lady who now resides in God’s presence.

The carefully chosen songs and words spoken were filled with love and emotion.  More than once I heard phrases like, “never an unkind word” and “found the good in all”.  It occurred to me that it wasn’t hard to understand why she was loved by many.  She obviously made many feel loved.

After the service, her family and friends reminisced over plates laden with fish and all the expected sides.  There were words of comfort spoken, tear stained cheeks, and hugs.  There was laughter as funny memories were shared and there was a feeling of family and familiarity that permeated the gathering.

Looking around, I saw faces of people who have known each other since birth or at the very least shared memories for decades.  As we shared stories and laughter, I was reminded once again that I am thankful for our small town.  Most of the people who were conversing share memories that span at least two generations.  We are like a large family, replete with the fussing and fighting and making up.  We know more about each other’s business than is convenient.  We know family histories, be they good or bad and some recollections are pristine while others are exaggerated.

One thing I have noticed though; when heartache is felt by one here, for the most part, it is felt by all.  When my family has been hit the hardest, I have found sincere words of concern, loving arms to hug and hold, warm dishes delivered to comfort and we have felt the ardent prayers for our peace.

When I was younger, I always flippantly voiced my burning desire to leave this boring, gossiping town and never come back.  As a matter of fact, my parents did decide to move, the summer after my 9th grade year.  Ironically, when the time came, I departed kicking and screaming and vowing that I would never, ever appreciate our new abode.  I spent the entire summer making sure my parents knew they had ruined my life.

As life would have it, a few years and many addresses later, I made my way back.  I understand why people say they hate it and how they get weary of the drama and gossip.  I have been there and I would encourage young ones to spread their wings and fly after their dreams.  However, if you find yourself lonely and broken, you might make your way back home again.  Yes, everyone will know your story (and might even embellish it), but many will be there to embrace and comfort you.

Today, I was inspired by the words that were spoken. We can be a kinder, gentler community that looks for the good in all.  We should never delight in another’s troubles, but in all things show love and mercy.  I’m thankful for the sense of community and am reminded that to be a part of a community you must interact.   We often find ourselves too busy to care for the wounded and the broken, or even to show up to acknowledge an accomplishment.

This dear, sweet lady may be gone, but today’s look back at her actions and interactions in the memorable life she lived have compelled me once again to re-evaluate my priorities and make sure they line up with my Father’s will.  For that, I am truly grateful.

Leave your mark

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As I turned to walk toward home, I saw the long white mark in the sky.  The beautiful blue background made it very noticeable.  A jet had made it’s mark against the backdrop of today’s seemingly endless blue skies.  As I gazed upward, the stripe began to grow a little hazy, it’s lines less defined.  It became lighter and within a few moments, it was gone.  I recalled watching these streaks in the sky until they disappeared when I was a child and wondered why I was so attracted to this fading puff in the sky.  After all, it doesn’t really leave much of a mark, just a temporary trail; they are actually sometimes called “vapor trails”.  It’s presence is fleeting.  It is big, bold and powerful, for a moment…..but quickly gone and forgotten.

“Leaving a mark” stuck in my mind and the wheels began to turn.  What is my mark, I pondered?  I would hope that it would be colorful, not plain old white, which my 4 year old granddaughter would quickly tell you, is the absence of color.   She has smart parents, but I digress.

I want my mark to be big and bold, but more importantly, lasting and worthy of repeating.  I don’t want it to be meager and shallow, but significant and deep.

Every single one of us is leaving one.  Aren’t you glad to know that if you started out faint and superficial, you have time to broaden your stroke?  If you have left black, ugly marks, there is still time for healing.  If you feel you haven’t left much of an impression at all, you can begin to color and embellish.  Additionally, we can also choose to overlook the marks left by others and encourage them to paint over and start fresh.

Let’s leave marks of kindness, faithfulness, generosity, compassion, integrity, patience and above all love.

Just pick one

Life

I just walked in the door from a nice long, gorgeous walk.

This morning, I found myself mulling over one thing after the other that I wanted to get accomplished today.  Knowing that my almost daily walks help me to clear my head and listen for God’s will in the foggy areas, I decided it was time to change clothes, lace up and get out.

If you read my post from a couple of days ago, The Everyday Things, you will know that earlier in the week I received a poignant reminder to slow down.  That continues to resonate in my soul.

It is easy to imagine that the faster we go, the more things we check off that list (you know, the one that never has an ending and is never going to?), the better our lives will be.  So, the outcome from that type of thinking is we hurry to do more.  Wouldn’t you agree?  However, do we do it as well?  Do we focus all of our energy and attention in to one thing and give it our best?

Let me illustrate.  Say, for example, that I feel led to go and visit some of the elderly folks in my community, just to check in and let them know they are loved and appreciated.  If I do something akin to a drive-by, pop in, hello, pop out, goodbye, it’s better than not having done anything.  But, what if I really focus on that person for say, an hour?  What if I look into their eyes, sincerely desirous to see and know their heartfelt needs?  I’m taking the time to discover how I might be of the most help to them, and at the same time, letting them know I really do care about them.

We don’t want to do things just so we can say “I did something”, or feel like I we checked an item off the list, or just “did my good deed for the day”.  The second example involves more sacrifice; it’s more of a heart thing.

Today, as I put one of my new Christmas sneakers in front of the other, I contemplated on this and I knew that I needed to “pick one”.  Pick one thing today, pour myself out and into it.  If there is time left, move on to another, but not at the expense of the first.  This is difficult, especially for women who are so adept at multi-tasking.  That’s a great talent to have in many areas of our lives, but not when it comes to relationships with other human beings.  I continue to pray that I will learn this, let it sink in and make it a habit of my own.

May we all continue to slow down, really listen and love deeply.

The Everyday Things

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This morning the routine I followed was the normal one.  I was logged into my computer and plugging away by 6:00am.  Knowing that I am the most productive in the morning, I try to make the most of my “prime” hours.  Phones, emails and IMs are usually pretty quiet until around 7:00am so I was surprised when at 6:26, I saw an IM blinking at the bottom of my screen.

Quickly, I opened it to scan the contents and smiled to see it was a nice guy from up north and the question he posed was relatively easy, so it shouldn’t take much time.  I hurriedly typed out my response, scanned for typos and hit “send”.  I was done and could now move on to another task.

He thanked me, and then he said something that would change my morning.  He said, “by the way, Lisa, how are you?  Sometimes I ask a lot of questions and forget to ask the really important one, of how one is doing.”

Suddenly it occurred to me that I’ve known this man for many years and had no idea how he was doing either.  As usual, I hadn’t taken the time to stop and ask.  Why are we often too busy to be polite?

This man had (probably unknowingly) just preached an entire message that went straight to my heart and exposed, once again, the selfishness and “much too busy” attitudes lodged there. 

So, I replied, “I understand what you are saying; we all get too busy to slow down and really care, don’t we?  How have YOU been?

He began to tell me that 2013 had been a tough year for him and he was glad to see it go.  He had lost his mother in law to cancer, and while he and his wife were cleaning up her estate, his wife of 37 years fell ill and was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.   He lost her in August.

Wow!  I hadn’t known and my heart ached for the grief and pain that must still resonate within him.  With the tears that now filled my eyes making the screen almost too blurry to see, I did my best to convey my heartfelt sympathy and congratulated him on such a long-lasting marriage.  He advised me to cherish every moment of mine and I told him I would heed his advice and take it to heart and we said our goodbyes.

Only a few moments had passed, but I looked at the day ahead with a fresh perspective.  I wonder if he even had a clue how his words affected me today or how grateful to him I am.

Everyone is going through things and I want to know, I want to care and I want to bring comfort when I can. 

Look someone in the eyes and ask them how they are today or tomorrow, and then give them time to respond.  If and when someone asks you the same, give them the benefit of an honest answer.  You might give them the opportunity to comfort you.  We all are blessed when we give or receive.

And, always look for the lesson or the reminder in the everyday things.

A matter of trust

another FL sunset

another FL sunset

 

Since I work from home on a laptop all day, I try to make an effort to get outside and take a walk or work in the yard during my lunch break.

Today, as the sky threatened to open up and pour buckets on me any minute, I figured it best to stay close to home.

As I was weeding, I heard a rustle.  I thought it was just lizards (here I go again, denigrating the lizards; see yesterday’s post to understand) until I saw the familiar red hue of the male cardinal.  He wasn’t even four feet away from me, hanging out, hopping around in the shrubs.

I found myself both thrilled and somewhat amazed that he trusted me that much.  But, after all, I am out here every day.  My husband and I do keep his source of food brimming over for the continual taking.

The first time I ever saw the cardinals, they were very skittish and flew away if we got anywhere near, but with time and the proof that we care (food) and we won’t harm them, they are growing to count on the fact that they can come and go as they please.  I couldn’t be happier.

You know those people who you feel like you just can’t reach?  Their problems seem overwhelming; life has been seemingly overly difficult for them.  You want to reach out; you want to be that listening ear, to help them in some way.

Be reminded that trust takes time especially once it has been broken.   Gaining confidence takes patience.  That acquaintance may have lived through hurt you can only imagine.  What you perceive as anger and hatefulness might be a mask that hides years of pain.  Keep smiling at them.  Keep praying for them.

That teenager who lives down the street might have been burned more than once.  The surly attitude and atrocious manners might be hiding abuse.  Be gentle, and forbearing.  But also, be diligent, and persevere.  You will reach them one day.  You might be the only one who cares enough to wait quietly, with ears to listen, arms to hold and a heart that beats to give hope to others.

And a note…I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Boston and West, TX tragedies that have shook our nation.  We must pray diligently for swift justice to the perpetrator, spiritual, physical and emotional healing for all involved and hearts that are never hardened to another’s pain.

Blessings!

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