The Cone 2 (Kaylee’s Kryptonite)

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Kaylee had been the one with the power. Toys, balls, treats, anything she wanted she simply took. That was until the day Zoey had to wear the cone, otherwise known as an Elizabethan collar. You see, we have two puppies. Kaylee is 11 months old, and Zoey is 6 months old.

Whereas Kaylee tends to be a bit fearful, Zoey is fearless. You may have read my earlier blog about Kaylee’s experience with the cone. Now it was Zoey’s turn, and she wore the cone like it was a special honor. She quickly discovered that it gave her power over her big sister. Since Kaylee was afraid of the cone, now Zoey started taking away the toys, balls, and anything else she wanted. She’d march right up to Kaylee and nudge her with the cone and take what she wanted.

I also had to reinforce our free-standing dog gate, since Zoey discovered that she could use the cone as a battering ram to move it out of the way! When it snowed, Zoey had a blast using the cone as a snow plow to gather, then eat snow. All in all, wearing that cone has been a fun adventure for her.

This gave me a different perspective on cones and limitations. Are they limitations or opportunities for new adventures? As G.K. Chesterton said, “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” What inconveniences have you turned into adventures lately?

By the way, Zoey is done wearing the cone, and the power is now more balanced between our two puppies. The adventures continue!

Turn your inconveniences into adventures.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2

Light of the World

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It started about half a century ago, with a young mother, a glass Aunt Jemima syrup bottle, and an idea. The mother was my own, and her idea was a new Christmas tradition celebrating that Jesus is the Light of the world. She washed out the syrup bottle and placed a tall candle in it. Each day of December the candle light was there reminding us that we were celebrating Jesus’ birth, that He is the light of the world, and that He loves us. Over the years, it got more and more beautiful, as the colorful wax drippings covered the glass.

My mom had a way of making Christmas so very special. In the midst of all the busy preparations there were always smiles, singing, and laughter. Actually, she had a way of making life special, with her quick laughter and joyful heart. She knew how to savor each moment. This will be the seventh year that she is celebrating Christmas with Jesus in heaven. I can’t even imagine how amazing and wonderful that must be. It makes my heart rejoice for her, even though as I write this, a tear is dripping down my cheek.

What traditions do you have as you celebrate this special season? I’d love to hear about them. After Mike and I got married and eventually moved into our own place, we started our own Christmas candle. As I light it each day, I think, “Happy birthday, Jesus, and thank you, Mom!”

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

May your day be merry and bright!

What Are You Thankful For?

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The ease with which she laughed. The way she loved playing in the snow. Her constant encouragement and faith. The way she loved everybody, no exceptions. The sparkle in her eyes. The way she utterly and completely enjoyed life. These are just a few of the things I am thankful for about my mom. Yesterday as I was peeling apples, memories of her came flooding over me. That seems to happen particularly on baking days. I suppose it’s because we did a lot of baking together, and those were always happy, laughter-filled days.

Now baking days are still happy and laughter-filled. I am so thankful for my sweet daughter, Amy, and her little girls. Yesterday we baked three apple pies and three pumpkin pies together, using my mom’s recipes. In other words, we made more happy memories together. What a treat to see the joy in my granddaughters’ eyes as we mixed the pie crust dough together. How funny to watch them sneakily pop some apple slices into their mouths. I’m already looking forward to cookie baking day!

Adina and Senna mixing the dough.

I have very much to be thankful for each day. One tradition my family has is hanging a sheet of paper on our refrigerator each November 1st with “I’m thankful for…” written across the top. It isn’t long before it’s filled with little and big things written down by everyone. I highly recommend it, because it’s a great way to cultivate a grateful heart. As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for? Please feel free to share.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

  I Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks!

I’m thankful for…

Inviting Joy In

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It was a surprise, so Mike insisted that I put on a blindfold. Then he started the truck, and 0ff we went. To where, I had no idea. Of course, I tried to figure out this secret location by noting the turns and such, but soon I was hopelessly confused. When we arrived, Mike stopped the truck, had me wait (still blindfolded) and then he gently led me out of the truck and walked with me, holding me steady. Now I could take the blindfold off. My eyes opened to see a picnic table right next to a beautiful pasture with cows grazing alongside a creek and a pond, an incredibly peaceful spot. On the table there was a cheery, red tablecloth, and sitting on top of it were delicious looking hoagies, potato chips from the Herrs Factory right down the road, and ice-cold drinks. Aaaaaaaaahhhh. It was just the break I needed.

That’s my Mike. He reminds me to have fun, to stop and take a breather, to slow down and enjoy little things, like a picnic with some cows. I’m so glad for Mike. He adds life to life! Are you allowing joy in your life? Are doing something or some things that you really enjoy?

One thing that I really enjoy is writing and taking pictures. I put together a little book for my granddaughters called “God is with Me When…”. It includes pictures of them having a variety of fun. My hope is that they will always know God is present with them and wants them to enjoy life. I’ve included the PDF file so you may have a look, if you like. I hope it will inspire you to invite more joy into your life. Feel free to share what brings you joy.

We’ve enjoyed several repeat visits to that picnic spot Mike discovered, and each time there leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to go forward.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Allow joy in your life.

The cows enjoying the day, too.

Perspective

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He told me his three priorities, in order.

  1. Not cut off any fingers.
  2. Not fall off the wall.
  3. Clear away all the weeds, brush, and sticker bushes.

My husband, Mike, was cleaning up the area just behind the fence in our backyard. This was not an easy feat. It required walking through tall weeds to get to there, then maintaining balance on about a 1 ½ foot wide space on top of a retaining wall, while using an ax and a saw to destroy thorny bushes and weeds that were invading our yard through our back fence.

I love how he prioritizes things. He has a clear perspective on what is important and what is most important. He also has good balance, literally and figuratively. He has always been the one to get me to take breaks and make time for fun stuff. He adds life to life! He knows what it means to live for what lasts. Do you? When was the last time that you took time to have a catch with a football or dance in your kitchen or stop and watch the sunset or…well, you get the idea!

Thankfully, Mike achieved all three of his goals. Now we can play tag in our backyard with our granddaughters without running into branches filled with thorns, which is exactly what we plan to do.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Live for what lasts.

Farther On

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To be quite honest, my first reaction was to defend myself. I even told people who weren’t involved, simply so I could justify my actions. My second and later and better reaction was to examine the situation and see if there was any truth in the criticism I had received. There was. I actually stopped and considered what I could have or perhaps should have done differently. I learned from it. I am constantly learning, and I want to remain teachable. However, as Russ Taff sings, “I long to learn, but I’m so slow at being taught.”

This is just a small glimpse into one of many failures, bad choices, bad reactions, etc. Thankfully, none of it changes God’s love for me. I think of how much I love my granddaughters even when they pout, fight, get mad, or don’t listen. God’s love is like that. Nothing changes it. Nothing.

Here’s a little poem/action rhyme I often share with my sweet granddaughters. Perhaps you will want to share it with the little ones in your life or just read it to remind yourself of God’s unconditional love.

I love you when you’re standing up and when you’re sitting down.

I love you when you’re being still and when you’re moving ‘round.

I love you when you’re right side up and when you’re upside down.

I love you when you’re laughing and even when you frown.

I love you – all the time!                    

 (Author unknown, please feel free to identify the author if you are able to)

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:10

Nothing changes God’s love for us.

Celebrate the Small Stuff

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I felt a raindrop on my forehead, then one on my cheek, then one on my arm. It was definitely raining…inside our tent. We had really been looking forward to this camping trip with our two granddaughters, ages 3 and 7, so my initial thought was “Ugh! You’ve got to be kidding me!” We had camped many times using this tent, and it’s never had a single drop of rain leak through. Now there were drips everywhere.

After pausing a moment or three, though, I realized how grateful I was that the rain started as soon as we were getting tucked in, and not in the middle of the night. Also, we had beautiful weather earlier and went on a hike, had a campfire, and cooked s’mores. I couldn’t let one little raindrop (or hundreds) steal the joy of all the wonderful memories already made.

Lately my husband, Mike, and I have been cultivating the habit of celebrating the small stuff. It’s so easy to let the bad or sad or challenging stuff take center stage, but we are reminding each other of the many little victories, joys, and blessings we see every day.

After debating our options, we ended up covering our sleeping bags with a tarp and heading to a hotel for the night. The next day we discovered we had made the right choice. The inside of our tent was pretty soaked. We left it there and enjoyed a gorgeous day of hiking the Double Run Trail, swimming and playing in the Loyalsock Creek, and grabbing a delicious meal at the Forksville General Store and Restaurant (aka Big Mike’s https://www.forksvillestore.com/). We also got to enjoy another campfire! As we celebrated the small stuff, we came to realize that it was actually big stuff. What small stuff can you celebrate today?

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.” Psalm 145:17

Celebrate the small stuff.