Some Things Can’t Be Avoided

Three or four times a week I have a 30-minute drive, both directions, so I like to try and avoid construction zones and freeway traffic, simply because I prefer to not interact with stressed-out drivers, nor do I want to become one. So I always drive the back country roads where I can enjoy a peaceful drive and pretty scenery while exploring new ways to get where I’m going.

Thursday, as I was on my way back from running my errands, I had gone to a new place which was a little further than I normally would go, and had a little bit of trouble with my directions on my “inner compass”. I ended up turning left instead of right, and much to my displeasure, I was forced to get on the road that I was trying to avoid. As I sat at the stop sign waiting for my turn to merge into the slow-moving traffic and construction work, I was irritated with myself for making such a dumb mistake. “I knew I should’ve turned right back there! Now I’ve got to deal with this junk! So frustrating!…”

After I was done complaining to myself, a spot opened up for me to join the chaos, and as I made my way onto the dreaded road, I got a “life lesson” and encouragement:

Sometimes, we’re not meant to avoid difficulties in life; we don’t always have to look for the easy way out of situations and circumstances that make us uncomfortable or frustrated, or because we don’t want to deal with other people. Sometimes, we just need to endure, with the right attitude, and embrace the character building that comes from it.

As I relaxed and continued to drive, traffic began to move a bit more smoothly and quickly; and turns out the construction work has actually been making some progress since the last time I was forced to drive that road; it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

The best part is, later that day I was able to share this lesson with my stepdaughter, after watching her endure a hurtful and uncomfortable moment due to the frustrating situation that we’ve been dealing with for a long time now, as with much frustration and confusion she asked me why things aren’t “changing” yet, and “how stupid it is the way things are”. What I shared seemed to help her let go of the frustration she was feeling, at least for now.

The hard part is maintaining the right attitude, and trusting God to work out the details the way they are meant to be worked out. Most of the time that means we’re going to have to be “uncomfortable”, at least for a little while. Hopefully, we will look back and say, “It really wasn’t that bad”.

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Not Afraid to Live

Does the thought of each new day excite you, or do you try to stay in bed as long as you can for fear of what the day may bring?

My site icon is a photo of some mountains that I came to know and love with the words “Life is an Adventure” hovering over the top of them.  I have tried to adopt that frame of mind since about 6 years ago when my life as I knew it suddenly took an unexpected turn.  The marriage I was fighting to save was unfortunately unsavable according to my husband of 19 years, and he “invited” me and our two youngest children to leave.

My two older children were already raised and out of the house, and both had been living in Texas (a place that I had sworn all my life that I would never live).  With no job, and no way to survive in the outrageously expensive Bay Area of Northern California, I packed up whatever I could in my F-150, sold enough of my belongings for gas money, and headed to Texas with my two youngest sons to stay with my daughter while I tried to regroup and “start over”.

God showed up right away in the little details, like bringing my oldest son back “coincidentally” in the same week that I had planned to make the 25-hour drive to Texas, though my son had no idea that’s what was happening.  I was so grateful to have a second driver and his love and support on one of the longest drives of my life.

I must confess it took me way to long to assimilate the “Life is an Adventure” mindset, and there were many days over the first 3 years that I either tried to stay in bed or didn’t leave the house because I was trying to hide from the craziness of life.  Fear and discouragement almost took me out a few times, but I’ve been blessed with wonderful, loving kids, and amazing friends and family, who have all contributed in one way or another to keeping me going on this journey called life, not to mention that I and my kids have been blessed with a great sense of humor which has been absolutely vital to our sanity and perseverance.

Several months ago the lyrics of a song grabbed my attention as I was driving along pushing the seek button on my stereo:

“…Hold on tight, slide a little closer
Up so high stars are on our shoulders
Time flies by, don’t close your eyes
[inch by inch, life] is like a thrill ride
What goes up might take us upside down
Life ain’t a merry go round…It’s a roller coaster…”

You may, or may not, have noticed I changed the words just a bit because I thought it was such a great way of looking at life.  I love rollercoasters, but I have been known to freak out a bit, scream a lot, convince myself I could die, hold on very tightly, and laugh uncontrollably at times. (I’ve had the same reaction just living life sometimes, haha)  Some people have a really hard time convincing themselves to take a chance and have some fun, embrace their fear to feel the thrill of the unknown and unexpected twists, turns, and flips turning them upside down, to just make up their mind to enjoy the ride.  Have you ever been in line and watched someone at the last minute decide they couldn’t go through with it?  they always look so disappointed as they walk away.

Well, anyway…I just think it’s a great comparison of how some people live their lives, and I’m determined to be one who’s not afraid to hold on tight when I need to, close my eyes and pray if necessary,  roll with the twists and turns, try to keep a smile on my face, and hopefully encourage others to do the same.

(Enjoy the video for the song below.)

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Not My First, Hopefully Not My Last

Okay, so this isn’t exactly my first written article or blog, but I have to admit that every time I write anything it feels like the first time.  Hopefully, with a little help, motivation, encouragement, writing prompts, and inspirational advice from those who “have gone before me”, I will be able to stay focused on achieving my goals and let my passion for writing blossom into something that others can enjoy as well.

For the most part, I enjoy writing from real life experiences, my own or other people’s, lessons learned from life and things that inspire us to become better people than we were the day before.  I’ve also been known to write about those things in life that irritate me or frustrate me about humanity, and the lack of wisdom, decency, compassion, and kindness that are too often shown in everyday life, but hopefully I will learn to write about those things in a way that will inspire change and not just voice an opinion.

Ideally, I would love to be on a perpetual road trip where I can meet people from all walks of life who are on different journeys and then write about their struggles and triumphs that I hear of as I listen to the stories shared with me along the way.

Another plus to becoming a blogger is connecting with other bloggers with similar or different passions, ideas, and goals, and from what I’ve seen and read so far, there are plenty of people from many different backgrounds, interests, ideas, and information so the inspiration and motivation could quite possibly be endless.

So, here’s to my one of many “first” blogs, but hopefully not my last.

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Darkness Will Never Overcome Light

Do you ever just look around you and shake your head in disappointment?
There have been several occasions when I’ve done it myself.  I’m referring to the different places you and I go where life happens; home, school, work, stores, just every day places where we interact with others. . . Bob on Sesame Street sang about it years ago, “…the people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet each day…”  As I recall those memories it sure seems as though those were much simpler times, and perhaps happier times.

I’ve been living for over 50 years now, and things have certainly changed from when I was a child.  People are different, or at least they seem to act differently than they used to.  I think when I got to about the age of 30 I really started noticing that the culture in America was rapidly changing and because I had become a mother of four, I was becoming more concerned about certain things which may not have bothered me as much before motherhood.  Having children and taking responsibility for how they “turned out” was taken very seriously by me.  I had had a hard time growing up, mostly because I was a foster kid who had been abandoned by my birth mother and separated from my siblings.  And, even though I was eventually adopted by the second set of foster parents, they were only able to do the best they could with what they knew.  While they were far from perfect (as we all are) I can honestly say if it wasn’t for them, I have NO IDEA where I’d be. . . but that’s a story for another time.  The point I’m trying to make is the reason I poured myself into parenting my children, is to hopefully reap the rewards of knowing they would grow up to be wonderful people, who know how to love others, make a positive impact on the world around them, find their purpose and live it out, and if they are blessed to have children, then hopefully they would follow my example and be an even better parent than I.  Not trying to brag or boast because believe me, I messed up on so many levels.  But this I know–I may have loved imperfectly, but I loved each of them uniquely and passionately.  I did my best to engage with them individually and build them up, always making myself available and letting them know I would never turn my back on them, EVER…no matter what.  I sacrificed for them in ways they never knew or understood, but their needs were always more important than my own.  I didn’t completely neglect myself, but I knew that one day they would be gone and I would have time for myself when that time came, so I did what I had to do to so that they would know that they were loved, they were important, and their lives mattered.  I wanted to raise up confident human beings who would be compassionate and caring, bold and courageous, who would be willing to step up and make a difference where they could and always be willing to help their fellow human beings.  I prayed for them and tried to teach them to think of others before themselves hoping that they would never become vain, selfish, unkind, greedy, uncaring, self-centered, miserable people who only take from others or look for how they can benefit themselves in every situation.

I am happy to share that I am proud of each of my children and the ways that they have chosen to live their lives.  I still pray for them daily and I am reaping the rewards of doing my best as a parent.  My two oldest have families of their own and are doing their best (and are probably realizing why I did some of the things I did.)  And, as dysfunctional as our family was while they were growing up, they are each still growing daily with a desire to be a better person than they were the day before.  I hope they continue to be the compassionate, caring, kind and courageous people who live to make a positive difference in the world around them because our world could sure use more people like that.  Which brings me back to why I started this post in the first place; I am overwhelmed by the amount of self-centered, ugly people in the world.

Working in retail, I was daily exposed to what seemed like the worst in people.  I tried to think positively and look for the good in people, and on most days I tried to “combat evil” with goodness.  But,  I not only had to deal with this from the guests in the store, but also from a very miserably unhappy co-worker who did everything she could to stir up strife and bully those around her.  She lied, manipulated, and was flat out mean to people for unknown reasons other than she had an “ugly heart”.  Needless to say, there were days when I really hated going to work.  I had to learn to not take things personally and to walk away from situations before they got to me.  There were so many moments that I seriously had a hard time believing my eyes and ears; situations and attitudes that left me speechless, and at times heartbroken, as I considered the condition of humanity.  Lazy, disrespectful people making a mess of the store, dropping things without picking them up, ripping open packages, stealing, and treating others with rudeness.  Teenagers disrespecting their parents, and parents completely disconnected from their children.  People walking through the store on their cell phones using vulgarity with no concern who can hear them.  Couples speaking with contempt toward one another, and children screaming at the top of their lungs while their parent is staring at their cell phone or looking at merchandise.  These are just a few of the examples of what society looks like at a glance, I have also seen and experienced some darker issues as a guest service manager at a hotel, and I understand that if we were able to dig deeper we would see the real issues that cause such ugliness, brokenness, and dysfunction.  We all suffer from the same “disease” at the core of our being.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know there is hope because I found it.  I can’t change the world, but I can make a difference in the places that I go and for the people that I meet.  I can choose to love instead of hate, bless instead of curse, and forgive others as I have been forgiven.  I can choose to look for the best in people even when they show me their worst. And, I can choose to shine brightly in a world that seems to be getting darker every day.  I refuse to become part of the problem and I’ll never stop believing that good overcomes evil every time.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  ~ Jane Goodall

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In God I Trust

The familiar cry of the mourning dove stirs within me memories of my first mornings in Texas when I was doing plenty of my own crying. It’s strange how certain sounds, smells, and even seasons can evoke such powerful memories within our heart and mind, and no matter how much time has passed since a certain experience, the emotion attached to it can suddenly seem so very strong, as if it only happened ‘yesterday’. Thankfully, I have grown to move quickly past the painful emotions attached to memories and I am able to remember them with joy and gratitude.
The move to Texas was also the beginning of an important part of my journey of faith; one that many times felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster and at other times an intense spiritual boot camp. Most of the time, I had NO IDEA what was happening. I can still imagine myself metaphorically hanging on for dear life, with white knuckles and a tear-stained face. Countless times I wanted to give up, but the Spirit inside of me would not allow it. I thank God for His promise to never leave me or forsake me. When I couldn’t fight, He fought for me. When I didn’t know what to believe, He helped my unbelief. When I doubted God’s love for me, He pursued me. When I was angry, He was patient. When I cried out, He answered. And, when I was faithless, He was faithful. He surrounded me with friends and people who prayed for me, and with me. When I was in need, He would provide through the generosity of others. He never gave up on me. Through it all, He proved to me that I could trust Him, not that He needed to prove it, but I needed to realize it and then choose to trust Him, no matter what.
So many treasures I discovered throughout my first five years in Texas, but learning to trust in the Lord with all my heart rather than rely on my own thoughts and understanding was pivotal in my relationship with Him, because you can’t have a strong, healthy, lasting relationship with someone you don’t trust. I learned years ago that love is a choice, now I know that trust is a choice as well.
Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
Are you trusting the Lord with everything?
Is there something you need to surrender?
Something that you need to stop trying to figure out, and stop trying to tell God how he should work it out?
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Two Paths

Everyone has to walk their own path, make their own choices, and deal with the consequences along the way; unfortunately our paths cross with others and we can be affected by it…like getting into an accident in an intersection – sometimes the damage is minimal and repairable, and other times…not so much.
I think the hardest thing for me, however, is to watch someone and not be able to help them; to see them making choices that will hurt them, and walking down a path that leads to destruction, and I have to accept that it’s their choice.

Imagine the incredible aching of God’s heart as He also has to watch so many of His creation turn and walk away from Him and all that He has offered them…

Over the past several years there’s been a popular teaching that people want to accept because it makes them feel better, however, it is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Some say that God is a God of love so therefore he wouldn’t send anyone to hell, and everybody gets to go to heaven. They are right, that God is a God of love, but he is also a God of perfect justice Who judges with perfect righteousness and holiness, and he has prepared a place for the wicked who hate him and who rebel against his ways; people who think their ways are better than God’s ways.

My reply to this false concept of “everybody gets to go to heaven” is, why would “they” want to? If they want to live life their own way according to their own “rules and morals”, and ignore the fact that God created them, and established “laws” to live by, they reject everything about him, mock him, insult him, etc,- why would these people want anything to do with spending eternity with someone they hate?

The beautiful part is that God does still love them, he just doesn’t force them to believe in him, or love him back. And, he’s waiting for the day that they will respond to His love and turn from their wickedness SO THAT He can save them before it’s too late.

“Hebrews 9:27-28 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Notice how it says those “who are eagerly waiting for him”)

Hebrews 10 describes how God’s enemies will be destroyed along with all those who turn away from him to their own destruction (their choice). I think the problem is that the enemy of God has deceived many and distracted them from the truth that there is a spiritual war going on, and we each have to choose sides.

Hebrews 10:37-39 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.”

Which side will you choose?

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Choose Love

If part of my purpose is to love no matter what, then the hurtful things that others do, whether intentional or unknowingly, should not matter to me…unless I take offense. One goal of a follower of Christ should be to NOT be easily offended.

I must always keep in mind that the One I follow and learn from, came to a broken and lost world to bring healing and restoration, and as He went about fulfilling His purpose He didn’t get caught up in the politics of the day, or theological arguments, or whether or not one sin was “worse” than another.
He came to teach the truth and to set the captives free.
He wasn’t mad and bitter when others disagreed with Him or didn’t understand His mission; He wasn’t even bothered by His own mother, brothers, and sisters who called Him crazy. And while He may have seemed a little ‘annoyed’ with His closest friends who were a little slow in ‘catching on’ to what His purpose was, He still loved them and ‘put up with them’. And even though he called the people of that generation, ‘wicked and perverse’, He chose to take the punishment for their sin so that they wouldn’t have to. The night that He ate His last dinner with those who knew Him best, He spoke many words to them in an effort to prepare them for what was to come as they fulfilled their purpose on the earth as they continued the work that He began.
Twice He said to them, “This is my command: Love one another”.

This seems so simple in words but clearly, we are living in a time when people do not know what real love is. The word ‘love’ has been overused and misused. We say things like, “I love chocolate!”…”I love sports!” …”I love horses!”…”I love pizza!”
But real love, according to the source of Love, is when you are willing to put someone else’s needs before your own; to lay down your life for another, unselfishly and sincerely concerned about the well-being of another.
We have allowed a wicked and perverse generation to twist and distort our understanding of true Love. What a sad time we live in; but what a perfect time to choose the Way of Love and start living it out every day.

We are all created in the image of God but we certainly don’t reflect that. One person came to make a difference and bring hope for a lost and dying world. He asked His followers to do the same; it’s a perpetual commandment to all who choose to follow Him and to be like Him.

Love is not easily offended.
Love is patient and kind, not jealous or rude.
Love is not boastful, prideful, or selfish.
Love is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over someone else’s faults, but
Love rejoices in the truth.
Love always bears up; always trusts; always hopes; always endures.
LOVE never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)love

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