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Living in a land of plenty or should I say ‘excess’ presents a challenge for me. Aggressive advertisers tell us our wants or rather their wants for us—a new outfit, a nice car, a theater ticket, a second house, yet another t-shirt, hat, or sweater.
While on vacation in the Canadian Rockies (see my August 28 blog for photos if you missed them) I walked in and out of more souvenir shops than I can count. Granted, I didn’t have to go inside but curiosity got the best of me every time––and it was something to do in the few moments remaining before reboarding the tour bus for our next adventure. I learned a lot from my walk-throughs and observations.
I soon discovered that if I’d seen one, I’d seen them all. The only difference being the stitching on the sweatshirts and the printing on the coffee cups. When in Whistler, so said the shirts and cups. When in Jasper . . . and when in Banff National Park . . . and in Victoria . . . You know what I’m getting at.
Not that there is anything wrong with selling or buying these and myriad other items, but the amount of ‘stuff’ made me think hard about the millions of people on the planet without a shirt to wear or a cup to drink from, let alone one that is neatly monogrammed and for a price that most couldn’t afford ever.
I’m rethinking my priorities this week. Sitting quietly in prayer for a moment or two will calm my anxious heart and set me straight again. A walk and a cup of tea feels about right. A day with my great grandson and his mom will be pure delight. Diving into a cozy mystery sounds like a great way to end my day.
And when I do have to shop–whether for food, or clothes, or gifts, I want to remember what matters most to me–a simple, uncluttered life where my old car still runs perfectly, sweaters and pants from three years ago are still just fine, and enough food for a few days instead of several weeks is all I need.
I can’t solve big problems like world hunger and housing shortages and politics gone awry but I can keep a short account in my own life so I have money and goods and love to share with others who may be less fortunate than I.
I like Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12 … “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I hope to keep this verse firmly in mind during the week ahead. What do you think?
A few weeks ago I joined a group of senior men and women for a morning’s hike at Wilder Bluff just north of Santa Cruz, California. What an experience it was. A perfect day with a blue sky and warm sunshine and a lovely little breeze to keep us comfortable.
What more could we want? It’s at times like this that I am reminded of the wonder of God’s creation and the beauty that is available to us if we look for it. And so often at no expense.
After our five-mile walk along the bluff we enjoyed a picnic lunch at nearby Wilder Ranch State Park. I came home refreshed, energized, tired (in a good way), and so grateful for these simple gifts from the hand of our loving God.
Where do you go to enjoy a respite in nature? Let’s share our experiences.
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you . . .” (Job 12: 7-10)
“The poetry of earth is never dead.” ~ John Keats from “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”
Oh my! What a weekend it was–saying farewell to my daughter Erin’s beautiful chocolate labrador, Tanner (my grand-dog). He was a faithful companion, playmate, and all-around cuddler, brightening our family’s homes for eleven years. He turned 13 (a teenager) on Monday, September 25 and died on Friday, September 29.
He was a ‘rescue’ dog when we met him,
but in the end I’m wondering who did the rescuing?
Each of us has been forever changed and blessed because of Tanner who gave so much and asked for so little.
Tanner, we will not soon forget you. Your presence in our family was a true gift. We hope you knew how much we loved you. We knew, without a doubt, how much you loved us.
“… who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?” (Job: 35:11)
September 25, 2004 – September 29, 2017
We arise in the morning, jump in the shower, pop a slice of bread in the toaster, turn on the coffee maker, pick up the newspaper outside our front door, boot up the computer to look at the stock market action and check our e-mail or some version of the above.
Some of us then speed off to work. Everything we need is waiting for us: an elevator to take us to the designated floor with just a push of a button, a desk and chair, overhead lights, a fax and phone, a copy machine so we can duplicate whatever work we turn out that day.
On the way home we might stop at the gym, lift weights, ride the stationary bicycle, sweat in the sauna, cool down in the shower. We drop by the supermarket and pluck our favorite foods off the shelves and out of the freezer.
We dash home, grab a pot and pan or pop a prepared dinner into the microwave, then flip on the TV to watch the news or a sitcom. Or maybe we listen to a classical CD and plop down by the fireplace with a satisfying book. Then we’re off to bed. It feels good to settle down on a comfortable mattress with a fluffy quilt to warm us. Just think! An entire day filled with comforts and conveniences that most of us probably take for granted.
But sometimes the very items that make our lives easier can also be our undoing. Instead of inspiring gratitude within us, they stir up irritation. They require assembly and maintenance, training and practice, and eventually repair and replacement.
On the other hand, maybe we become so dependent on these gifts of technology that we lose sight of the Giver. And still others dismiss their value, preferring instead to live “above” the things of the world like my husband’s friend Frank.
But if God is first in our lives—He is first—period. We’ll receive His gifts of technology and use them gratefully. Whether at a keyboard or an ironing board, lifting weights or tilling the soil, we can remain aware of the One who gave us every good thing.
Thank you, Lord, for your loving provision even in the midst of life’s storms.
“I never see you in shorts,” a friend said on a hot day as we enjoyed a glass of iced tea.
“And you never will,” I quipped. “I don’t have the legs for shorts. I inherited my mother’s veins so I prefer pants or skirts.”
“What difference does it make at our age?” she chided. “We’re not in a beauty contest. Who cares, anyway? Comfort is the name of the game at this point in life.”
“For you maybe. My game is Keep Covered. Can we please talk about something else?”
We sipped our tea in silence–till I burst out laughing. My friend joined me. She admitted she didn’t look too great in shorts either but she preferred comfort to fashion.
This incident reminded me of a speaker at a women’s luncheon I attended many years ago. She appeared to be in her late 60s as she walked onto the platform in a classy dress and jacket, but her footwear? Well, let’s just say her shoes were perfect for a game of tennis or a run in the park. “How could she?” I mumbled under my breath.
Seconds later she pointed to her tennies and announced. “I know what you’re all thinking–how could she! Well, I’ll tell you how. I’m into comfort at my age, so unless there are any ‘fashion police’ on the premises let’s just forget my shoes and get on with my message.”
The older women in the audience let out a wahoo. The younger ones smiled politely.
Here I am decades later–now an old gal myself. I haven’t worn heels or wedgies for years. I wear eye makeup sparingly if I do at all, and I choose clothes for comfort over style, but do my best to look at least reasonably current, for my age, that is.
Funny, isn’t it, how for some, myself included, what was once important no longer is. As my mother used to say, “I have my little black dress for parties and funerals, and the rest? Well whatever looks attractive and feels comfortable without drawing attention.”
I am my mother’s daughter!!
How about you? Are you into comfort or fashion or maybe a bit of each? Or perhaps you don’t give a hoot about any of this. I’d like to hear from you too.
“Grace and beauty can fool you, but a woman who respects the LORD should be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30
My friend Kirby and I set out for an afternoon at the movies and a lovely meal–our regular date with one another. We’ve been at this for a couple of years now and we look forward to it. We’re both movie buffs and find it fun to watch a flick and then have time to talk about it afterwards. So far so good–until a recent Saturday.
We handed over our money for tickets, and with a snack and cups of water in hand, we settled into our favorite seats.
We survived the previews of coming attractions and waited for the main attraction to begin. About twenty minutes into the film Kirby looked at me. I looked at her and we knew we had picked a dud, even though Rotten Tomatoes had given it a 93% rating.
I let out a sigh. Kirby let out a sigh. Should we or shouldn’t we? Leave, that is.
“Let’s ask for a refund,” I suggested. “But we need to move quickly or they may turn us down for waiting too long.”
We hustled out the door and down the stairs to the refreshments counter. We expressed our disappointment in the film. The gal behind the counter agreed with us but she had to clear it with the manager before giving our money back.
He appeared with a smile and offered us each a complimentary movie card for a future flick. That suited us just fine since we’d be back soon enough, hoping for a better show next time.
We left in a happy frame of mind, took a walk down the city mall, and settled on lunch at a classy restaurant. YUM! What delicious salads we had.
Afterwards we drove home ready to try again another time. The next day I received an email from Kirby saying she had fun no matter what. I did too.
I wrote back. “We sure know how to turn a dud into a diamond.” She agreed.
This incident, not of any significance in the scheme of things, did show me that I do not have to let disappointment get the best of me. I am always in charge of my attitude and when I focus it on gratitude–for my good friend, a walk on a beautiful sunny day, a wonderful meal, and a conversation we both enjoyed–well, how blessed I am, regardless of circumstances.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
~ G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English writer, journalist and Christian apologist.
I’m taking the day off. I hope you are too. We all work hard. Today is a good day to play hard, free of work and worry–just enjoying the fruit of our labors.
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands. (NIV)
You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. (NIV)
“It is sweet to let the mind unbend on occasion.”
In early August I enjoyed an eighteen-day bus tour through the Canadian Rockies. It was the perfect complement to my tour last year of the National Parks in the United States during their 100th anniversary year.
I’m posting a few photos of the highlights. What good and benevolent people live in Canada and how wonderful they were to us tourists. While there the country was celebrating its 150th anniversary. One of our travelers noticed a big sign that said, “150 Years of NICE!” That certainly summed up our experience of this delightful population.
While doing some research for a writing project I started looking for quotes from famous American women. There were MANY but these four jumped out at me.
Each one inspires me to keep on going regardless of the challenges that life brings. I hope they will drop a bit of courage and hope into your life too.
I’ve been writing since the mid-70s and here I am decades later still plugging away.
I started on a Royal typewriter that my parents gave me for a high school graduation present–so I’d be ready for college.
Today my college-age grandchildren receive feather-weight laptops. Oh how things have changed.
I went from the manual typewriter to an electric typewriter to a word processor to a clunky computer to the laptop I work on today.
Technology gets ahead of me and then just as I catch up, it takes another leap. And on it goes. This is probably true in your life too.
But as I reflect on the writing gift I’ve been blessed with I’m humbled and so grateful. I’ve been able to write and teach for a living–skinny as that ‘living’ was at times, to share my ideas, thoughts, and observations and enjoy a faithful readership over the years.
Thank you for being my readers, however much or little you’ve read of what I’ve laid down. Without you my career would have crashed! Because of you and the grace of God I am thriving even as I’m at 40+ years and counting.
“My purpose is to give you life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
P.S. What is your special gift? And how have you used it to bless others?