Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.
~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
This I know is true; focusing on the negative is blinding. Following the February death of our parents, I found myself in a blue funk, a gloomy place with little interest in what normally brought pleasure. Yet today, as soft fluffy clouds float across a baby blue sky, nearly naked trees stretch their arms heavenward, and the smell of Mom’s stuffing tickles the nose, I find myself excited with anticipation for the day’s traditions and the making of memories with family and friends.
Why did everyone decide to go shopping on the same day at the same time? Were they influenced by the chill of the overcast autumn day?
Feeling frustrated by the oppressive obstacle of humanity, the weary shopper zigzagged her way through the aisles to the shortest checkout line. With her transaction complete and making her last skillful maneuver toward the exit doors, she anticipates the feeling of relief the drive home will give. However, to her disappointment she must move around one last stumbling block.
“Ma’am, would you like to buy some popcorn, “asked the four foot Boy Scout with arms outstretched and a smile of exuberance that could brighten the dreariest of days. Without missing a step, the shopper politely declined but didn’t proceed too far when she thought, you may not want or need popcorn but that boy needs more than a “no thank you” for his effort . With a swift about face that left her bags swinging, the shopper digs into her wallet, taps the young scout on his shoulder, and hands him a sizeable bill saying, “Thank you for your effort in helping your organization. Never give up. Even when it looks like you are failing, always keep trying.”
Who received the better of the gift, the shopper or the scout and his organization? I think the shopper. Feeling buoyantly happy and energetic, she forgot where she parked her car bringing to mind the biblical truth, you are far happier when giving than receiving. (Acts 20:35)
A conversation with several coworkers reminded me of this quote…
The grass is always greener over the septic tank. ~ Erma Bombeck
Then some time later, I read this on Facebook…
The grass is greener where you water it. ~ Neil Barringham
I do not wonder where your green grass is because that is obvious. It is where you are in your home, workplace, neighborhood, and relationships. The question running through my mind is, what do you (I include myself here) water your grass with? Do you use downpours of sarcasm, negativity, discouragement, and even hate? Or do you spray refreshing showers of respect, enthusiasm, hopefulness, compassion, and love? (Proverbs 15:4)
Today I am thinking of childhood vacations at Barnegat Light, NJ with Great-Uncle Everett and his family. Why, I do not know. Maybe it is the desire to feel giddy with anticipation while standing with our backs to the surf once again. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. What is so exciting about knowing you are about to be taken under water? There is nothing fun about seawater and sand rushing up your nose as the surf violently rolls you onto the beach. Yet, stand there we did as Great-Uncle Everett encouraged us “don’t look”. Don’t look to see the next wave coming, don’t look to see how big or forceful it is, don’t look. In the not looking, we just trusted, trusted that after each wipeout, he would be there smiling as he grasped our hand as we attempted to ready ourselves for the next breaker. In that grasp was the promise of surprising fun as the seaward pull of water away from the shore carried with it the fear of the next wipeout.
As we stand on the beach of 2013 with the surf of 2014 tickling our feet, do we catch the next wave with excited anticipation or fear the undertow of past failures and defeat?
Wow! Yesterday felt like an archeological dig after six hours of unearthing treasures from the attic and other spaces to move out to the garage for this weekend sale. And, we are not done yet!
The fun part of this excavation is dating the “jewels” and placing them in historical context. Ahhh… the memories! Each artifact raises warmhearted recollections of its previous owner and the special place he/she held within the family.
Is this what the Israelites felt when placing memorial stones along the banks of the Jordan? (Joshua 4:20-24)
If you read my About page, you know I am not a fan of baking but love to cook. Baking feels somewhat restrictive with its exact measurement of ingredients, where cooking allows for uninhibited creativity. This makes mixing flavorful and aromatic spice and herb blends so attractive and shopping at a favorite Mennonite store pleasurable because of their abundant supply of inexpensive herbs and spices, especially those not carried by the more popular grocery store chains. You have heard the saying, “like a kid in a candy store.” Well, that is me smiling and wide-eyed as I choose the next savory item for my spice cupboard. While I review a dry onion soup mix recipe I received from a friend, I cannot help but think of the two women who after Jesus’ death began preparing several pounds of spices for His burial. (Mark 16:1-2) What were they thinking? In their memories of their dearly loved friend, did they marvel at how mundane their existence was prior to His influence? Did they realize the flavor of joy in their lives, the spice of life, was possible only by the presence of Jesus who gave life meaning (and continues to) by winning the victory over everything that was against them? (Psalm 16:8-11, John 19:25-30) Do you have the spice of life? (John 3:16-18)