Focus on the Can

Featured

He couldn’t brush his own teeth. His hand was too weak to even grasp the toothbrush. However, he could hold it with my help. He could brush his teeth with my hand holding his and gently helping lift it to his mouth and helping with the brushing motion.

Have I mentioned that I’m a nurse? This patient of mine was deconditioned from being sick for several weeks. So, we made a plan together. I helped him do passive range of motion exercises. This basically means lifting and bending arms and knees and getting the body moving.

By the end of my 12-hour shift, he was showing off to his family, because he was able to lift his arms on his own! This is why I say focus on the can. There may be much that you cannot do, but there are always things that you can. Do what you can. Then do the next thing you can. Before you know it, you may be doing what you couldn’t!

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:16

Focus on the can.

Here are some pics of our camping adventure with our sweet granddaughters, Senna and Adina, who always have a can do attitude!

Peas Aren’t a Problem Anymore

Featured

It was split wide open, and at first glance it looked rather destroyed. However, the pea seed we planted was actually growing! It was being transformed from a hard, tiny object into a living, thriving sprout. If you happened to read my blog last June, you would understand that this is a major feat.

This year my granddaughters are a year older and wiser. When they helped plant our garden, we talked about the seeds and how deep they should be planted and how far apart. They carefully dug little holes and placed each seed in its place. Then came the watering, watching, and waiting. You should have seen my excitement when instead of plain brown dirt, I saw green shooting up through the soil. This miracle always astonishes me.

There is a Bible verse that says, “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32 NIV) Another version puts it like this: “I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.” (NKJV) We are fortunate to actually have written instructions for life from the Maker of life! The Bible tells the story of His incredible love and care us. Following His ways leads to growth, freedom, and so much more. Rather like my seeds, it splits us wide open, so we can grow and thrive the way we were intended.

“Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18

Following God’s ways leads to flourishing.

Trust Your Training

Featured

It was a simple text message that shaped the next days and months of our lives. I was walking our pups at the park with my husband, Mike, when our daughter, Amy, sent me a message. She asked if I would run a half marathon with her. I looked at Mike and then answered, “sure!”. I don’t recall if I realized that it was a 13.1-mile race I had just agreed to.

My first “long run” was 3 miles, and I wondered how I would make it that far. However, by the end of training, 3 miles was a short run. We each had a specific plan, and we encouraged each other along the way. Not only did we run, we also did strength training, cross training, and even some swimming to build up our strength and endurance.

Amy ended up training to run a full marathon, 26.2 miles. I stuck with the half marathon. It took hard work and consistency, definitely consistency. One time, when wondering if I would be prepared, I heard the phrase, “Trust your training”. After over 12 weeks of training, we were ready.

On the big day, we both felt prepared and excited. Our family came along and cheered us on, which was a huge boost. My longest training run was 10 miles and now I was going for 13.1. Amy was doing double that distance! That’s when the phrase “trust your training” came back to mind. We had both done the work to get ready, now all that was left was to run.

I am very happy to say that we did it! Amy continues to inspire me. She is a marathoner! I am so very glad she sent that text message. We continue to train for other shorter races, and perhaps one day will even tackle a marathon or a half again! What are you training for? With hard work and consistency, you will get there.

“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8

Trust your training.

Amy finishing her marathon with our family cheering her on.

The Ants’ Rest Day

Featured

Every day he carefully stepped over the tiny parade. Countless leaf-cutter ants marched past the front of his lodge on their mission. My husband, Mike was in Costa Rica and saw this continuous line of ants every day until Sunday. That day he stepped out the door, looking to avoid stepping on the ants, but there were none. It seems the ants took a rest day.

I’m in the final week of training to run a half marathon with my daughter, Amy. She’s training for a full marathon! Part of training includes taking rest days. These are very important, because our bodies need time to refresh and replenish. It’s not good or healthy to work constantly or to always be on the go. So, I challenge you to stop. Be still. Try doing nothing for a time. Not even looking at your phone or watching TV. Simply rest.

On Monday, Mike again had to watch his step, as the ants were back on their march, carrying leaves back to their home. After a rest day, both Amy and I also pick up our training, going further and further distances on our runs. The balance of consistent training and rest is preparing us to accomplish our goals. What goals are you training and resting towards?

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:9-10

Take a break.

Move the Trash Can

Featured

A very good friend asked me what I would do if there was a trash can next to my chair, and every time I got up, I banged my knees against it. I quickly answered that I would move the trash can, of course. We were talking about how some people seem to miss the obvious.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, honestly, but then I realized there are trash cans in my own life that I keep bumping into. For example, recently I was planning to cook a meal for my dad. I tried and tried and tried to figure out how to make the timing work. Finally, I accepted that it was simply impossible to pull together on the planned day, so we got takeout instead.  Looking back, I wonder why it took me so long to realize the logical solution.

This made me stop and examine more things and move more trash cans, so to speak. Part of it for me is not doing some things to make room for doing other things, if that makes sense. What trash cans do you need to move in your life?

Mike with our two sweet granddaughters. He moved himself to sit between them. (He’s a smart guy!)

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

Let the Lord order your steps, and He will show you what trash cans to move.

Boundaries and Bridges

Featured

He emphatically stated the importance of quickly removing the wet clothes from the field. Furthermore, he insisted that others could not use their property for drying clothes or any other reason. After washing their clothes, the missionary’s neighbors had laid them out on the mission station’s field to dry. The missionary’s response was the exact opposite of what I expected.

I had seen firsthand how these missionaries had built bridges to reach out and help people. For example, they offered free English classes, had outreach programs to a local orphanage, and simply cultivated friendships, all to share God’s love and the gospel. So why the fuss over someone laying out a few wet clothes to dry?

What I learned is that in this area, maintaining boundaries is crucial. If you allow someone to use your land for any purpose, that land becomes the property of the one using it after a certain amount of time. In other words, the missionaries had to carefully maintain their boundaries so they would continue to have a place there. If they did not hold the lines of their property, eventually it would no longer be theirs.

What a lesson for all of us! Proper boundaries help us thrive and enable us to continue to reach out to others. This may simply mean carving out some time for yourself. I’ve been doing this with exercise, as I aim to get more physically fit. I find that it definitely takes practice, but it does get easier and is well worth it. Hopefully the exercise will get easier, too! If you’d like to explore this subject further, a great resource is a book appropriately called Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. What boundaries do you need to set?  

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverb 4:23

Setting boundaries can help you build bridges.

Keeping the Good In

Featured

There in front of us was a huge fence, about 10 feet tall and completely blocking the trail. Mike and I were taken aback. We were many hours into our hike, and it was too late to return the way we came.  We considered simply climbing over the fence to stay on the trail, but it was so overgrown inside this unexpected enclosure that we couldn’t even discern where the trail went.

It was a beautiful summer day, and we had thoroughly enjoyed hiking through the mountains, stopping for a picnic lunch, and leisurely taking our time. Now it seemed we would have to pick up the pace before darkness fell. So, we looked at our map, followed along outside the fence, then figured out what direction to take to a creek which would lead us back to our truck. We made it safely back with time to jump in the creek, cool off, and laugh about our unexpected adventure together.

Later, we stopped and asked a park ranger about the surprise fenced-off area. She explained that it was an out closure, used to keep animals out while plants and trees are rebuilding. It protects the growing area. It seems we need out closures in our lives at times, also.

The trouble can come when the fence is left up too long, and the growth becomes a wild overgrowth of weeds and thorns. Why am I thinking about all this now? I want to see smiles, handshakes, and hugs return. Smiles are contagious, and I’m convinced that we need them. I am concerned that we are creating a culture of fear – fear of each other. As someone wisely said to me recently, we should be allowed to hold hands. May I suggest keeping the fear out and letting the love in? As for me, that is how I want to live.

“Let all that you do be done with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

Keep the fear out, and let the love in.

Mike and I are thrilled that we get to enjoy hiking with our two sweet granddaughters now. Don’t worry, we always have a map and survival gear with us.

How to Grow

Featured

It surprised me to see it had not changed at all. Nothing seemed to be happening. I gave my dad an amaryllis flower, which usually grows at an astonishing rate. I had one that had already grown several inches. His seemed to be stuck. Then I realized the location of his flower. It was sitting on a windowsill where bright sunlight hit it every day.

Surprisingly, this flower requires indirect light, so we moved it to a better location. It still remains to be seen if it will do better and bloom. This reminded me how important instructions are for growth. The cool thing about life is that God gave us an instruction book. The Bible tells us everything we need to know to live a joyful, purpose-filled, satisfying life, if we choose to do what He says. The choices we make are what make us.

My amaryllis

Some things may seem backwards, like putting a flower out of reach of direct sunlight, but we can trust that God knows what He’s doing. For example, He tells us to forgive others. Too often, I’d rather seek revenge. However, I’ve found that forgiving actually leads to freedom and allows love to occupy my heart, instead of hate. That’s just one example of how following God leads to the best life. Whose instructions will you follow?

“Teach me good judgement and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments.” Psalm 119:66

The choices we make are what make us.

Mike with our growing granddaughters.

Near and Far

Featured

What amazed me most was the realization that I could see individual leaves on the trees. That was the day I first got glasses, as a kid in elementary school. Before that day, the leaves were simply blurs. It was as if I was seeing everything for the first time, noticing exquisite details that I never realized existed!

As I got older, I wore contact lenses. Then, as I got even older, I switched to wearing just one contact. Most people need reading glasses at some point in their life. My eye doctor explained to me that I could switch to wearing one contact to continue to see far away, and my other eye would take on the job of seeing up close, as in reading. She was right. It only took a few days for my brain to adjust, and wearing one contact has enabled me to see both near and far.

Why am I sharing the story of my eyes with you? I think we easily get caught up in seeing only what is near or only what is far off, and we need to see both. It is so important to be fully present and focused on wherever you are, what you are doing, and who you are with at the moment. However, we also need to see far off. Life here is very short and death awaits us all.

That doesn’t sound like a merry message, but please read on. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and one reason He was born was to defeat death. John 3:16 is still true today –

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

May I suggest being fully present now and conscious of eternity at the same time?

Jesus came for us both for right now and forever. He can “free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15)

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Be both fully present here and conscious of eternity.

May you know the joy of Christmas, and have some fun this season, too!
We remember that Jesus came, and He will come again!

Broken Fingers and Guitars

Featured

I missed it. Without even realizing it, I really missed it. See, my left index finger got broken in a driveway basketball game quite a while ago. After lots of persistent exercises, I still couldn’t bend it very much. Therefore, I figured my guitar playing days were over.

Many months later, I decided to try again. Much to my happy surprise, I could bend my finger farther! Enough to play chords on my guitar! It is taking work and determination, as well as a bit of pain, but I am enjoying every moment. I am so thankful that I tried again.

This encouraged me in other areas of my life to keep trying and to always have hope. What do you need to try again?

We tried the Scooby Doo 5K and did it!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Try again!