Life like a children’s story

When my kids were young we often read them children’s books one of our favorites was, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Mumeroff illustrated by Felicia Bond.  The premise of the book is described on the inside cover of the book this way:

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(If a hungry little traveler shows up at your house, you might want to give him a cookie. If you give him a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. He’ll want to look in the mirror to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache, and then he’ll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim.…

The consequences of giving a cookie to this energetic mouse run the young host ragged but young readers will come away smiling at the antics that tumble like dominoes through the pages of this delightful picture book. HarperCollins Publishers.)

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  • I cannot tell you how much the energetic and distracted mouse reminds me of myself!   Like today, a day set aside to write, I tried to clear my distractions, but before I sat down I did these things and more:

 

  • 6 am coffee date- girl friends
  • breakfast with my husband
  • time in the word with my honey
  • made the bed
  •  phone conversation with my son
  • 3 mile prayer walk with friend & dog (See blog post Pick and Save)
  • made lunch
  • cleaned the kitchen 
  • soaked in God’s presence listening to instrumental worship music
  • found some ice-cream to eat in the frig
  • started at load of laundry 

I try to clear my distractions so I can focus on the task at hand. BUT it never really works completely. The scenerio falling dominoes that If You Give a Mouse a Cookie talks about could play out in my life this way.

If Rachel takes a walk in order to expend some energy before she sits down to write her blog. She may return from the walk thirsty. If Rachel drinks lots of water she is going to have to use the bathroom to relieve her full bladder, when she is in the bathroom she’ll notice the laundry basket is getting full so she’ll go start a load of darks. While she is in the laundry room she’ll notice a… You get the picture. This was me today. No, no, the truth is, this is me EVERY day.

Years ago, I admitted my constant struggle to focus to a friend. I joked a bit as I told her, “SueAnn, it can get pretty bad. So, for instance, if I want to clean my family room, I have to chant, ‘stay in the family room, stay in the family room, stay in the family room!’ repeatedly. Otherwise I’ll see something, like a fork that belongs in the kitchen, but when I go to the kitchen I’ll see a few dishes and start to wash them instead of returning to the family room to pick up the toys and vacuum the carpet.

So I out smarted myself. I put a laundry basket near the exit of the family room. Then if I was tempted to leave I would just drop whatever I found from a different room in the basket instead of exiting the room-otherwise, who knows when I’d return to finish vacuuming!”

She reassured me, “Rach, You crack me up! I get-cha, I find myself doing the same thing sometimes, so I’ll try it.”

After all these years, I have learned to accept the way my brain works and the amount of things I accomplish in a given day. I just do NOT get them done in a sequential order at all.  I may drive an observer nuts who is trying to track me or a person working alongside me. I used to get so frustrated at myself and now I have realized it is the way I am wired and I appreciate the way God made me. I a fearfully and wonderfully made-His works are wonderful I know that full well.  So I roll with it!

When I have to, I can stay on task.  I mean seriously, I am able to drive and get from point A to point B so I know I can do it. I can maintain a conversation with people and do accomplish quite a great deal in a day.

But accomplishing tasks is not all we’re made for, right? I remember a phrase my father would quote from a colleague  of his, “Do! What do you mean, what do I do? Why do I have to DO anything? I’m a human being, NOT a human doing!”

Take that comment for what you will, but sometimes it is important to clear the tasks the  TO-Do lists and just BE. This has been one of my actual tasks this week. in light of this being Holy Week, I have tried to slow my  pace and not overload myself so I have time to reflect on the events of the last days of Jesus life.

I have the privilege of singing for the Easter Services and because of that my schedule is pretty full. I am not adopting shame over my failed attempts to “BE” more than “DO”, but I am aware of the continued desire to practice the presence of God in the daily life I live and clear my mind of distractions and stop some of my tasks in order to not be run ragged by the life I’ve chosen to lead.

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This is my prayer for myself and for you.

Father God, you made me and love me. You know how I am wired and what I’d like to accomplish and what I feel needs to get done each day. Thank you for ordering my steps along the way. Thanks that I can keep in step with your Spirit.

You are good and I am incredibly grateful for this Holy Week, the cross of Jesus Christ and the victory you won over sin and death. I am so grateful for empty tomb and the resurrection power you’ve given me to live my own beautiful and easily distracted life. Thank you for life eternal. Thank you so much, thanks! In Jesus mighty name I pray, Amen.

 

 

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The Struggle and Ordered Steps

I was all bundled up with double mittens, my hat and a parka. Yep! That’s my style. I hate to be cold.wylhxlteqigsu0ouzfwua.jpg

As I walked briskly along, I chuckled to myself because I spied a young man running towards me with shorts on!  He also wore a tight long-sleeved running shirt and his baseball cap backwards. His cheeks were flush. He nodded politely and sprinted past me with his dog on a leash running beside him.

“Hello.” I said.

Burr! He makes me cold just to look at him. But I’m finally beginning to warm up. No, I am actually getting hot the farther I go in all these clothes! I have to unzip my coat a bit.

I was nearing the end of my walk, when I saw a car slowing down. I glanced to the left and I realized it was a precious friend of mine. FunnyI was thinking about her earlier! She lowered her window.

“Hey, Girl!” she said.

I walked from the sidewalk into the street where she had pulled over and stopped.

“Hi friend!” I said. “I’ve been thinking about you. Congratulations!”

“Aw!  Thanks. The new baby and new mama are doing well.” She responded with a grin.

We chatted about the delightful new grandbaby in her life and about some of the struggles she’s facing too. Sensing both her joy and concern, I said. “Hey, let me pray for you.”

She sighed. “Oh, Thanks.”

I reached inside her car and placed my hand on her shoulder. Who knows what I prayed. I don’t really remember. I do know the Holy Spirit did the praying on her behalf. We’ve become trusted friends and prayer warriors so I added my own weighty concerns to the prayer. I knew she would be okay with it. She would agree with me in prayer and she did.

“AMEN!” she said.

Just before she drove away, she sat back in her seat, exhaled and said, “Well this was a God ordained moment in my day, I’ll tell you! I sure needed to pray like that today.”

We smiled at each other. “It was so good to see you.” I waved as she pulled away.

Man! That was great fun to meet right here on the road. She has the most beautiful and twinkly eyes ever! I am delighted! God you amaze me!

God, we are both facing trials that are developing a new level of trust and dependence on you. We’re surrendering the struggles and submitting our wills to yours. We agree your way is best. We’ll keep praying and trusting. Thanks for hearing us.

Is the struggle real for you today? Perhaps it concerns:

  • a child
  • an illness
  • a job loss
  • some legal entanglements
  • an uncertain future
  • a financial deficit
  • your spouse

Know that God knows what you are struggling with today and he hears your prayers. I know God heard our prayers there at the side of the road because He promises to hear our prayers:

  • The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. Psalm 34:15
  • Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

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Sunday is Palm Sunday and I thought about how not too long after His triumphal entry, Jesus submitted to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed saying, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

I am amazed by the way God ordered my steps.  I know we were both on God’s mind (the truth is we always are) and he brought us both down the same road at the exact same time because He knew we both needed it. The struggle is real. The weight can be lifted and He orders our steps. I so am amazed and grateful.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord when he delights in his way; Psalm 36:23  

 

 

Simple yet Profound

I turned the door knob and opened my bedroom door this morning.  A bit surprised, I was immediately and delightfully hit by brightness. So much light streamed into my kitchen windows. The sunshine was like a congenial greeter at a fancy hotel welcoming me to a brand new day.  Aw! It’s a beautiful day. I’m a huge fan of light and sometimes it’s the little things that help us enjoy the journey, right? This was true for me today.

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Here are a few simple things which filled me with joy today:

  • Waking up from a great night’s sleep in a bed with newly changed clean sheets. (Heavenly)
  • Eating a piping hot blueberry waffle made by my honey! (Delicious and thoughtful)
  • Breakfast enjoyed together with him and not alone. (Important)
  • The crisp March air filling my lungs as I walked outdoors with a friend. (Invigorating)
  • Praying as we walked and enjoying God’s presence. (Vital)
  • A friendly reminder text on my phone “Good morning Ms.Blogger today is blogging day!” (Needed)

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As I started to write today, I had so many things in mind and I couldn’t get my mind to land on anything. Then when I finally sat down to write all thoughts and ideas that had been ping-ponging around in my head vanished. “POOF!”

Shocked by my mind’s completely blank canvas, I sat.  What? My mind is NEVER blank. I’m always thinking about something. Why am I at a loss for words? Well, Rachel if  you don’t know what you’re thinking how are you going to articulate any thoughts to anyone else?  Oh, just grab the laptop and get started anyway. 

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I opened my laptop and entered the password, but something caught my eye beyond the screen. I saw a small stack of verse cards with a green bow tied around them. These verse cards we had used when our three children were tiny. I found them in a cabinet months ago and have used them from time to time. I flipped through a few again today. Maybe I was stalling or looking for inspiration. I ‘m not exactly sure. But I landed on one. It hit my spirit today.  It was a zinger!  In quietness and trust is your strength.

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This set is called “Foundation Verses” It contains a note to the parents on the first card. Here’s part of the note:

(Children are never too young to begin memorizing Bible verses! Although their minds may not understand every word, our prayer is that their spirits will be touched. As their life experiences add to their understanding, these verses will come to mean even more to them. Foundation Verses are intended to be used with preschoolers but may also be used by others. These verses have been chosen for the basic truths they contain. God bless you, David and Sally Michael.)

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Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. These simple truths are so important not only for the preschooler but to ME. They may be short enough for the pre-schooler to memorize but that doesn’t mean they are any less profound. (As their life experiences add to their understanding, these verses will come to mean even more to them.) That sentence in the note to parents rang true in my mind. It was incredibly impactful to me.

My life experiences have taught me the importance of these verses and do mean so much to me. This is exactly the lesson I am learning. I’m learning to trust God in many situations and quietness is a great companion for trust.  In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

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 Here are a few “Foundation Verses” I’d like to share:

  • The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

 

  • And do not forget to do good and share with others. Hebrews 13:16 a

 

  • What is impossible with men is possible with God. Luke 18:27 * I needed this one too!

 

  • I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 411 b

 

  • This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

 

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

 

And I’ll repeat and conclude with the simple yet profound verse I needed today:

  • In quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

 

Maybe you needed one or more of these above mentioned foundation verses today. Select one and say it aloud because as I mentioned in last weeks blog post, it’s good to talk to yourself.

What verse or passage has been helpful to you recently? Do share!

 

Do you talk to yourself ? Try it!

I talk to myself a lot. Many years ago I attended a photo scrap book workshop with my friend Caroline. She looked at me from across the table filled with photos, scissors, colorful papers, stickers, and trims and said, “Rach do you know you talk to yourself while you’re working?”

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“Do I? I’m sure you’re correct.” I nodded.

She went on to tease me as she gave her best impression of my logomania. “Oh, I could use this photo over here and that would make room for these two right here. Or I could put a piece of red paper underneath this one to tie in the photo of Michael’s red shirt on the right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that would balance nicely!”

She clapped her hands together rapidly the way I do when I’m excited and continued. “Yay! That looks great. Boom!” She crinkled up her nose as she snickered to herself because of her good impression of my diarrhea of the mouth.

Caroline hit the nail on the head. I do talk to myself. I heard it was a sign of intelligence. Hey, I’ll take that. Do you talk to yourself? Try it!

I talk to myself in the car too. If  I go that way it will be quicker. The light is turning red I should turn right here and go to the grocery store. Today I did a bit of talking to myself in my journal. I guess that’s called writing.

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Thank you God for being:

  • My Strong Tower
  • Deliverer
  • Shelter
  • Way-Maker
  • Shepherd
  • Guide
  • Rescuer
  • Friend
  • Wonderful Counselor
  • Almighty God
  • The Lover of My Soul

Then I went on to talk to myself through a few of His promises.

Promise: God plans good for you:

  • For the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18.

 

  • I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. Jeremiah 32:40

Promise: God will be with you in hard times.

  • When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43: 2a

Promise: God will not bring any unnecessary suffering into your life.

  • Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. Lamentations 3:32 – 33

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I also talked to myself with this list:

  • The LORD will work it all out.
  • God loves me.
  • Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.
  • His grace is sufficient for me.
  • Everything works out for good in the end – so if it’s not good it’s not the end.       ( Romans 8:28 loosely quoted by Kris Vallotton)
  • God is for me – he’s not against me.

Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17. When we hear ourself talk we are able to build our faith in the unfailing and faithful God. Do you talk to yourself? It’s key. Say a few of the the promises above aloud. Talk to yourself. Try it!

 

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http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/why-talking-to-yourself-out-loud-might-be-just-what-your-brain-needs

 

Pick and Save

I’ve had a radical change of habits. “What’s changed?” you may ask.  I’d answer, “I’m frequently walking with a dog!” It has become a norm for me because my friend Jeanne and I walk regularly and she brings her precious and friendly dog Gabe along. (Gabe recently had his 12th birthday. Happy Birthday Gabe!)

I’ve noticed something about Gabe’s behavior when he needs to go poop. This playful  golden retriever will sniff around for a while. Then he’ll circle around and around, chasing his tail a few times and vacillates back and forth, while his head swings left and right. Finally, he sort of marches up and down until he finds a place suitable to “do his business.”

The weather has changed recently here. It’s actually become balmy.  It was in the upper 50’s° the other day. Yay! Spring is on it’s way. It is no longer all snowy and white outside.

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The snow has become icy like pellets of ice so when Gabe does his famous bathroom dance the trampled snow makes crunch crunch sounds. When the noise stops, it’s a signal that Gabe’s about to poop.

This poop march, coupled with the response of my friend, Jeanne is like a well choreographed dance. After Gabe squats to poop and finishes, Jeanne removes a plastic bag from her right coat pocket. Swish. She places the bag over her hand for protection,  claws up the dog poop, inverts the bag and ties a knot in the plastic bag in one fluid motion and we all go on our merry way.

Recently, I noticed she used a tan plastic bag from our local grocery store called Pick-n-Save. The green store logo was written on the bag as clear as could be.  As I witnessed Jeanne’s poop removal skills in operation I laughed, “Well now, that gives a whole new meaning to PICK-N-SAVE.”

Jeanne gazed directly into my eyes, puzzled and asked, “What?”

I repeated, “That gives a whole new meaning to Pick-n-Save. Get it? You gotta pick up the poop and save it until you get home to throw it away.” She marched forward, the poop sack dangling from her right hand and swinging like a pendulum. 

“Oh, Rachel! You crack me up!” She said. “I will never think about Pick-n-Save the same way again.”

I slapped my leg laughing. I got to thinking about pick and save and my silly pun. I thought I was so clever in the moment. Honestly, there have been a few times on our walks when I am able to smell the poop even in the sealed bag.

I often say. “We’ve got to mind our minds and think about what we’re thinking about. Sometimes we have stinkin’ thinkin’. When it comes to our thoughts I have to ask myself and I ask you too, “What do we pick and save?”

Go ahead! Yes, do pick up things that are the things we should think about and save them safe in our minds. However, other things we need to not pick up at all.

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Consider this verse from Philippians. It comes on the heels of Paul telling his listeners not to be anxious then he wraps up with this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8 

So, let me ask you, what are you thinking about? I always say… “mind your mind and think about what you’re thinking about.” Have you picked up a poopy thought today or recently? Do you have stinkin’ thinkin’?  Let me implore you, DO NOT SAVE IT!

Remember…We don’t even need to pick up the poopy thoughts that come our way and try to enter our minds to pollute us, make us anxious or attempt to steal our joy. LEAVE THE POOP ALONE.  JUST LEAVE IT THERE.

The kind of thoughts we want to pick and save are the kind we should grab on to. Think about what God instructs us to dwell on. Let me encourage you to pick and save only things that are true, noble, right, lovely, admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about (“pick and save”) these things.

*I hope I’ve not offended you by the amount of times I’ve had to talk about 💩 in this post. But it is what it is. So there ya go! That’s my fresh perspective for everyday life.