Tag Archives: Inspiration

Better with a cup of tea

Better Over a Cup of Tea

Mom’s Mama came from New Brunswick, I can’t quite remember the name of the town, but it was along the Miramichi River. Mama came to care for mom and her brother and sister when their mom died in child birth (giving birth to my mom) later marrying grandpa.

Along with Mama came her brown teapot and the time-honored tradition of drinking afternoon tea. So even though tea may not run through our veins, we were adopted into a love for tea. My mom spent many an afternoon drinking tea with her Mama, so naturally she began the treasured tradition with my sister and me. I can’t speak for my sister, she is eight years older and was out of high school before I have a recollection of arriving home from school, but many a day I’d walk in the house after school and find mom putting on the tea water.

Those times of tea and chatting helped keep me grounded and on the high road. It brought joy and comfort. I always had a place to go to share my not so good days and my great days. I had someone who would cheer me on. No matter what the day brought, it all seemed better over a cup of tea.

Angry, Angry Birds

Angry-Birds-LogoAngry Birds may have turned into an obsession or addiction, but it did teach me a few things about anger.

If you’ve ever played the game, you know there are different types of angry birds.

  •  A little red one that does damage on its own.
  • A little blue one that will morph into 3 blue ones for extra power.
  • A white egg-shaped one that will spin off into another direction when tapped.
  • A yellow triangle-shaped bird that will speed in for the kill at the right moment.
  • A black one that will hit the target, then in a few seconds explode doing even more damage.

I got to thinking that they all represent different ways we can exhibit anger or maybe different styles of anger.

  • Some people are like the red bird, they just spout off, and that‘s that, very direct.
  • Others are like the blue bird, they clone themselves, they bring several with them to spout off.
  • Then there are the people who are like the white bird, they position themselves to be deadly by hitting a target, but also aim for other strategic spots- sometimes they miss their mark and just spin out of control.
  • The yellow bird typeS start out to spout off and along the way gets more steamed up and hits hard at their target.
  • Then there’s the people who are like the deadly black bird, they hit their target then just explode killing or maiming the target and hurting a lot of other people in the process.  They really set off a fire storm in their wake.

Hmm, wonder which one I am when I get angry.  Can you pick out your style?  Or maybe we use different approaches at different times.

All I know is that each type of angry bird leaves a path of destruction, some worse than others.   And that’s what anger does.   It tears down and destroys.  Good word to live by:  be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 1:19

Angry Birds, thanks for the lesson in anger and I wonder if you could find a gentler, kinder way to accomplish your goal.

Angry Birds, Goodbye!

official-angry-birds-addict-t-shirtIt’s a harsh reality when you realize that your life is filled with many addictions.  Major  and minor ones.   Technology may be a major one, but who would’ve thought that a silly little game could actually become an obsession or addiction.

Yep, I realized that I wasn’t only addicted to surfing the net, but also to a seemingly harmless game called Angry Birds.

It’s a hugely popular game.  The idea behind it is that you sling shot birds across the air so they can strategically hit all different shapes, sizes and formations of wood, glass, rock, etc. in order to kill pigs, monkeys, free birds, etc.  And of course there are levels, so it increasingly gets more challenging.

I could sit for hours and try to figure out how to kill those monkeys with the amount of angry birds I am allotted for a particular level.  And I literally was sitting for hours trying to do that!

So, “Angry Birds, Good-bye!”  You are no longer going to take up space on my iPad or in my 24 hour day.  You are deleted!  I mean, gone!  I had to do it, it was a tough decision but I decided I had to push that little red negative circle because it was wasting precious time.  I was foregoing conversations with real people, ignoring family, limiting my availability to attend a community meeting or helping at a local charity.

Am I going through withdrawal, you bet I am, but I’m betting that I’ll be a healthier person because of making the decision to say ‘enough is enough.’

Stay tuned for another lesson learned from Angry Birds coming later this week.

Striving for Perfection

Janine and Rob2I come from a long line of perfectionists.  I’m not going to list names because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but you know who you are!  That personality disposition has manifested itself in my life and I’m seeing it now more than ever.

It hurts to say it because the truth hurts sometimes, but at this moment I’m unemployed.  I wasn’t forced or asked to leave; I chose to leave to relocate with my husband.  This is the first time since 2004 that I’ve been without a job.  At first, I thought I’d love the freedom and the break that unemployment would provide.  I’d spend time renovating the house, sleeping in, meeting new friends, and exploring my new stompin’ grounds.  But in reality, it’s been none of those things!  It’s actually been quite the opposite.  I find myself getting up when my husband gets up, so there goes sleeping in.  I have made a couple of acquaintances, but haven’t even invited them over.  How am I to make friends that way?  I would like to work on house renovations and improvements, but have learned that it’s not as easy Janine and Rob 1as it looks on tv!  I don’t know anything about installing light fixtures, sewing and hanging scarf valences, staining wood trim, tearing down walls, and all those things that need done in this old, new house of mine.  Sure, I can watch videos, but when it comes right down to it, I’m scared to try it.  Why?  Because I’m afraid of messing up.  I’m worried I will fail.  I’m fearful of not being perfect.  I liked it so much better when my life was centered in and around people, places, and things that were ‘put together’ and established: my organized house, my decorated classroom, my talented students, my chorus lessons.

I was reading in my devotions this morning and came across this one sentence that really put everything into perspective.  In her book “Jesus Calling,” Sarah Young writes the following: “Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.”  Psalm 46:10 (NET) echoes this. “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!  I will be exalted over the nations!  I will be exalted over the earth!”  I like the sounds of that….sounds so…perfect!

Set on Repeat

Do you ever wake up and just lay in bed for awhile, running over and over in your mind the challenges that you’re going to face that day? You get more and more anxious as you keep playing them out in numerous different ways. Or maybe you’re thinking about the ones that you faced the day before. You keep beating yourself up over saying what you said or doing what you did. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have my troubles and challenges set on repeat. It’s like I store these short clips of my life on a shelf for easy access so I can watch, re-watch, and rehash them again and again and analyze them from every possible angle.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put ourselves through the agony, guilt, regret, and anxiety of reliving or anticipating these difficult times in our lives? I don’t think God wants this for our lives. We are only meant to live through these times once not over and over. Reliving them only multiplies our suffering. Instead, we need to learn what we can from them and then offer them to God to be used for His purposes. God can use the rough and seemingly terrible times in our lives for good. He wants us to lay our burdens before Him (Matt 11:28) and be freed from the thoughts that bring us down.

Here’s one of my favorite songs that reminds me what I need to do with my troubles!

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=alSjOp4aj7M&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DalSjOp4aj7M

 

It’s mine, and I want it!

When my kids were toddlers my husband lovingly and skillfully made them a large toy boxo.   I remember times they would grab specific toys and wouldn’t want to let go. Their little hands would turn from pink to white as they held on tightly and cried if someone tried to take it.  At timesCrying for toy they were holding onto something that they really didn’t know how to play with or had outgrown, but it was theirs and they wanted it.

That picture came to my mind one day when grappling with the idea of letting go of a good thing in my life.  My schedule was busy and I could see this ‘thing’ was taking more and more of my time. The thought of letting it go was enough to make me grab tighter and cry.

In my mind I could see the toddler holding on while behind him (her) was this great big toy box with so many other toys. Ones that were colorful, challenging, and maybe more fun!  But that toddler was so fixated on keeping what was in their hand that they couldn’t even see the other toys available if they would just let go of the one they had.

I think I’m like that toddler sometimes. I get so wrapped up in something that I can’t see how I could ever do without it, that it’s actually taking up way too much of my time or keeping me from more important pursuits.  I hold on for dear life because I don’t want to lose it.   And all the while God’s gently saying, if you are willing to give this up, I have others things I want to put in your hand that will be more fulfilling, help you grow and bring even greater enjoyment. As long as we fixate on the good thing we have in our hand, we can’t turn or see clearly enough the better thing He has to offer.  (Rom. 12:2)

The bigger picture

I have spent the last 8 and a half years teaching music in the public school setting.  My last gig, which ended in December due to relocating, was teaching chorus to a bunch of very talented sixth graders.  While teaching, I’d often found myself in situations where I’d tell my students, “Just trust me.”  For example, I’ve taught songs where one of the harmony lines just doesn’t seem to make much sense when sung by itself.  I’d tell my students “Trust me, it might sound a little weird right now, but it will sound awesome when we put it with the melody.”  My students were probably thinking “Yeah, right!  How could that ever sound good?!”  But as time went by and they started hearing how the piece fit together, with each passing rehearsal, I began earning credibility points from my students.

After you start making good on enough of those ‘trust me’ moments, you begin seeing that you’ve built up quite a big bank of points.   My students’ doubt and questioning gradually started being replaced with certainty and trust.  They began realizing that I was on their team, that I was pushing them to be their best, to perform up to their highest ability because from my position, I could see the big picture.

I think trusting the Lord’s a lot like that.  He clearly knows what’s best for us.  After all, He is our Maker and He does have a better vantage point on our lives than we do.  If we begin showing our trust for Him in the little things, He will begin proving His credibility and showing His goodness and we won’t help but to want to come to Him for the big things, too.  My favorite verse, Proverbs 3: 5 & 6, illustrates this.  When we trust Him with our whole heart and fight the urge to try and accomplish things on our own power and wisdom, He promises to make our paths straight.

Straight Path

Spiritual Coffee

January 8

The best part of waking up …..  I’ll bet everyone can finish that phrase.  I know it by heart; some of us probably get up humming it in the morning as we smell the coffee brewing or take that first sip.  Folgers came up with a great jingle, didn’t they?   We do love our coffee.  It gets our day going, helps set the tone for the day.

Maybe we should add just a small spiritual jingle to our morning routine to get us in the right spiritual mindset for the day.  I’m thinking back to my childhood and realize that my dad had his own little jingle that started his day off right.

It was what must have been one of his favorite Bible verses, ‘This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24.   He would say this verse at the beginning of each radio program he aired and many times at the beginning of a church service.  As I look back, I think he was trying to model something without saying it.  I think he was trying to say:  start the day off reminding yourself who made the day and determine to have joy and be glad.

So, every time you put the coffee pot on in the morning, let it be a reminder to not only hum the coffee jingle, but to quietly or loudly say this spiritual jingle as well.  It will be kind of a spiritual coffee to help set the tone for our day. 

Here’s to joyful, glad days beginning with a cup of coffee and reminding ourselves that this is the day the Lord has made.

Gifts in Disguise

There are so many times that I wonder why God hasn’t answered my prayers the way I would’ve liked Him to or as quickly as I thought He should. Too often I think I know what’s best for my life and what I need, but I’m not the one who can see the whole picture. There have been times when I have questioned why God never answered a certain prayer that I had, just to realize later why He never did and I go away humming along with Garth Brooks’ song ‘Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers!’ God knows me so much better than I know myself and loves me more than I know, so why wouldn’t I trust Him? When I haven’t seen God answer my prayers, I need to remember it is teaching me to wait upon God and to trust Him in the darkness. Instead of letting difficulties draw me into worrying, I need to try to see them as setting the scene for God to gloriously intervene. We need to always be actively looking for what God is doing in our lives.

Who’s batting for you?

Why is it that I only show true reliance on Jesus when I’m going through rocky times?  I’ve been working on processing an answer to this difficult and disturbing question for the last few days.  A few months back, I experienced a personal tragedy in my life that sent me running (really, beelining) to the Lord for the comfort, direction, and peace that only He could bring.  As a result, He pressed on me the desire to join a women’s group at my church, to meet one-on-one with the group leader at Panera’Baseball pics, and to start building friendships with some of the other Christian women at my church.  Boy, did I feel good!  After the study ended and I found myself in a better place spiritually and emotionally, my outings started becoming more sparse and even my time spent in Bible reading, prayer, and devotion started sinking depressingly low.  Looking back,  I’m forced to ask myself the question “Why?”.

The answer can be summed up in two words: independence and conceit.  Dictionary.com defines independence as “freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.”  I must admit that I’m naturally a very independent, self-sufficient person, to the point where my husband has jokingly commented that I don’t even need him around!  That comes from many years of living on my own before getting married.  When times are hunky-dory, I find myself relying on me, myself, and I for just about everything.  But when times aren’t so swell and life seems to be throwing me curve balls, I find that I need someone bigger, better, wiser than myself to step in for me and to ‘play those innings.’

If I can wholeheartedly admit that Jesus is my answer when life throws those curve balls, and if He’s as wise, as big, and as strong as I know He is and is the provider of all good things (James 1:17), then why wouldn’t I ALWAYS want Him batting for me?  Really, I think I could do life better than He can?!?!  Wow!  Sounds a little conceited, doesn’t it?

As I start into another new year, my prayer (for myself and for anyone reading this) is that we will learn how to truly rely on Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Wonderful Counselor, the Provider, not only when times are bad, but when they’re good as well.