When we toured Rome, our guide helped us navigate the crowds through the Vatican. She kept us moving faster than we’d have taken on our own but there was so much to see.
In Turkey, our guide Jim answered questions on bus rides from one area to the next and cautioned us about buying things from street merchants that seemed to magically appear as the doors of our bus opened.
We’ve had tour guides in several countries and a guide on our first white water rafting trip. All of them led with confident knowledge and a patient understanding of the foreign culture.
One year we took a self-guided tour through Gettysburg listening to the audio recording provided.
Whether we are led by a professional guide or an audio one, having someone alongside to help us walk through life provides comforting assurance.
Most of my life guides have been friends and family. I don’t care much for the manuals provided with appliances, the kind that looks as if they’re written in my language but I can’t seem to understand a word. No, I need to see the words lived out. I need to be shown.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus spoke in parables when he taught. He used stories people could relate to. He talked about weddings and soil and being a good neighbor. He told stories about sons who left their families and learned hard lessons and stories about lost sheep.
His stories were a guide to people thousands of years ago and a guide to our lives today. His words are often gentle and I imagine him as a great story-teller with gestures and vocal inflections.
We’re all leading someone. People are watching our words on social media and seeing if they match our actions. What kind of guide are you? Do you lead with mandates or stories?
I need to do better. I need to soften my tone and firm up my actions. I want to be a guide leading others to one greater than me.
As parents and caretakers we urge children to try it; the broccoli, swim lessons, piano, and sleeping with the light off. We stand beside them, urging them through life. “Just give this a try, you never know”, we say.
As adults, when the urge to try something comes from outside sources, the resistance is still there. The stubborn woman that I am, I’m more willing to try something that’s my idea. Don’t force me, don’t push me and don’t make me. The old childish behavior speaks up with grown-up resistance.
I want to know the end result before I try something. I want to know that putting my face in the water won’t burn my eyes. I want to know the calamari will be delicious and that I’ll be pitch perfect in the church choir. Fear of failure pushes against trying the fullness of life.
I’m a mediocre swimmer. Putting my head underwater burns my nose and I just can’t get the breathing right. But I love how the water refreshes on hot summer days. I can back stroke across the pool and feel the joy of swimming.
Calamari is meh and I’ll never be the soloist of anything. Those won’t stop me from enjoying a good meal with friends or blasting my favorite music to drown out frustrations of traffic.
My mind keeps going to the verse that says ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. Try it and see. Just a taste of God’s goodness and you’ll know that His ways are good. You’ll know his love is forever.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8
I’m trying to get back into the practice of sharing a What we Learned, or learning, post. At one time, Emily Freeman had a monthly link-up of these type of posts on her blog. I found them helpful in recognizing things I’d learned or discovered. We go about our lives on auto pilot that I liked acknowledging the specifics filling my days.
This will be a compilation of learning and favorites. Though not limited to July, they are recent.
On my ‘thumbs down’ list:
Hanes thigh-high stockings
Basically, any stockings are on my thumbs down list but since I’m required to wear a uniform in my role as a Salvation Army officer, stockings are part of that when the skirt is required. In South Florida, I find the thigh-high style to be cooler (thanks to my cousin who recommended them). However, I went through two pairs in two days at $7 a pair last month. Not good.
This is related to the above. I haven’t ever been able to find a pair of comfortable, uniform-compliant, heels. I try for special occasions but they hurt and when I hurt people around me hurt. Enough said.
Makes life easier department:
Walmart Grocery pick up – WIN!
I’ve used this free service three times and each time has been a positive experience. They have my order ready earlier than requested time. They call ahead to notify me and give clear instructions on where to pick up. I’ve had few substitutions which have never resulted in more cost. Once the didn’t have the small size I requested, replaced it with the larger at no extra cost. I don’t even go inside the store. Did I say mention this service is free? 🙂
Scan to Digital
I was asked to make a video for a special celebration for friends. She presented me with nearly two hundred photographs that would need to be scanned. YIKES! There was no way I or my Administrative Assistant could spend the time scanning these so I looked for a service and found this one. Their price is lower than most and the quality was excellent. They kept the digitals in the same order the photos were sent which was important in this case. My order was completed in less than two weeks including mailing back and forth. The total was well under $50.00. Another win!
I expected a book about tips on slowing down. It wasn’t what I expected. It was better. This isn’t a book filled with tips or how-to. It chronicles a part of the author’s life that seems to be a continuing struggle for her driven, creative type. I enjoyed her relatable writing style.
I have no plans to disconnect from the internet. However, I am intrigued as to the why’s and how’s of this decision. I’m not too far into her story and it’s interesting to see how far she takes this year-long experiment and the ramifications it has on her life. Emery includes the use of credit/debit cards and a cell phone. Definitely a book to consider.
The Perennial Gen blog is a new discovery for me. It’s also a fairly new blog. As the title hints, it’s target audience is described in its tagline: “Growing deeper roots in the dirt and light of midlife (and beyond)” Yes, it’s for us baby-boomers. I discovered it from an editor of another blog who told me my writing might be a good fit for them. I think she was telling me I’m old but in the nicest of ways, of course.
Grammarly is another free tool recommended by Kate Montaug from Five-Minute Friday link up. Once you download (free) and install it, it will highlight spelling and grammar issues. It’s available for MAC and PC. I’m not including a link since it would be specific to Apple products.
Share something you’ve learned this summer in the comments. Thank you!
I am not an affiliate for any products, books, websites, services, etc. I included links to make it easier for those of you who may be interested in the things I’ve mentioned.
The prompt is inspire but I’m not feeling it. Inspired, that is. What do you do when you need to conjure up inspiration?
In photography, I scroll through my favorite Instagram feeds or type in a specific look on Google image and hope for others to inspire me. Sometimes the spark comes right away and other times it’s just beyond my reach.
I like how inspiration starts like the flicker of a flame and works its way through me. Sometimes it’s like foamy bubbles on a frosted glass of root beer that tickle my nose. That tiny flicker, bubble or seed of an idea feels good.
It comes when I’m driving and can’t commit words to paper or, like so many others, when I’m in the shower. If the words are good, I tell myself, they’ll stick. Most often they don’t.
The trouble with inspiration is I want it to fuel me to move; to act, to do something, make something, be something. But what if there are times inspiration is only meant to make me recognize the Creator? What if the great works of art are meant to inspire worship? What if this expanse of shoreline where we breathe in God’s handiwork is meant to inspire gratitude and not another blog post or painting?
Maybe inspiration isn’t always meant to fuel doing but being.
He picks up a shell from the shore. “This looks like a heart….sort of”, he says. Yes, it does, sort of. Close enough to add to the other sort of heart-shaped shells we collect. You tend to find what you’re looking for. We look for hearts.
No special reason except the first time we spied a shell that resembled a heart it seemed special. They aren’t made in heart shapes. It’s not how they are designed by our creator. At least not the ones lining our beaches. That started our hunt and turned our eye looking for the different. The shells that are surely meant for us.
I’m a collector, sort of, who doesn’t want a bunch of stuff. The kind that has to be carefully dusted and grows to more than your shelves can hold. I don’t tell people I have a fondness for black and white cows because your congregation and employees will give you cows on every occasion for the next ….well, forever! (Forget I said I like cows 😉
We all collect something. Some of us seem to collect aches and pains, our woes are out there for everyone to hear. Some of us collect friends and some collect more manageable things like shells.
What I most like to collect are stories. Some about grace, some about grief; some about love, some about loss. All about living out life in its fullness.
This is a collection I want to grow. There is always room for more stories. There is always room for more grace.
We are urged to get out of our comfort zone and curb our indulgence in our comfort foods, the pint of Ben and Jerry’s we crave at the end of a hard day….not our best go-to.
Comfort is familiar. It is routine and known and safe.
It is also complacency and hiding and avoidance. When does the contentment that soothes your soul become bad?
Harder still is the answer. The answer for me isn’t the same for you. And it seems to change, starting with the disclaimer: it depends.
It’s not that comfort is bad, maybe it’s that we don’t always look for it in the best places. To be honest, I’d rather toss back a few almond M&M’s than recall a verse of scripture or inspiring quote. Comfort=easy=lazy=not real comfort
Most would say it’s about balance. The truth about balance is that it’s elusive. It’s not 50-50 as I’ve mistakenly believed. We grab our doses of ease when we can. We stay in our zone. We lap up conversation with a good friend because it tastes better than ice cream and is calorie free. Or maybe we share the conversation over the sweet comfort of ice cream or cookies or pie – yes pie…with ice cream!
While we’re at it, let’s put our favorite play list on in the background and talk about the last good book we read. Let’s laugh at our silly mistakes. Let’s get comfortable with the rhythms of life and let’s make space for grace, the truest comfort.
She’s an only child and we are her playmates. I, the least willing to get in the cool water of the pool, to get my hair wet. Her pleas are urgent, “C’mon MeMe….pleeeease.” Play with me is all she wants.
I can make play about work more than fun. Chasing her on the playground means sweaty and sand in your shoes and hair matted to your face.
It means an extra close shave of the legs before heading to the beach and all the stuff that has to be packed. It means wearing a swimsuit that never looks good! All of this just to play.
Yes, all of this to play with our only grandchild. The one whose squeals of fun part the gathering clouds. Her smile melts my resolve and makes the so-called play refreshing.
Her Baba is her best playmate. They are fish in the water swimming down to be the first to get the toys on the bottom of the pool. They sculpt sandcastles on the shore at the beach and run fast into the tide coming in.
Let me be the gatherer of stuff and plans and time. Let me be the watcher of this show of fun between grandfather and granddaughter. This is how I play. This is my true delight. And to be drawn into it a bit more as an accomplice…yes, it’s worth the extra as joy always is.
How did I take one giant step playing Mother May I as a kid and I can’t do lunges on steady feet as an adult? I wobble and throw my arms out to keep balance ON THE FLOOR!
I stand straight. Fix my eyes on an unmovable point across the room and stretch out with one leg. Fixing my eyes on the edge of the frame on the wall, the unmovable, helps steady my move, helps stabilize my balance.
I wonder where they fix their eyes? On the horizon that never changes?
Our work in in the recovery community isn’t stable. Some days it’s like being forced on an out of control roller coaster. The dips and turns have your fingers wrapped in a death grip around the, so-called, safety bar. The minute it slows and you catch your breath it whips around another sharp curve and you wonder where that blood curdling scream is coming from only to discover it’s you.
Does that sound like your day? It’s called life. And I keep searching for that smooth ocean where I can stand balanced and enjoying the view.
Where can I fix my eyes? What will help hold my balance in this ever-shifting world?
“Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith.” Hebrews 12:2a VOICE
In the Old Testament book of laments, where people were surrounded by difficulties, we find this hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3:23 the Message
When we were kids, one of my younger cousins would trade you his dime for your nickel. He thought bigger was better. That the size spoke its worth.
We laughed, pleased with ourselves for pulling something over our younger cousin. Trouble is, when we grew up, we let the world pull the same thing over on us.
We’ve bought into the stuff, the titles, the degrees, the labels, the whatever it is that’s being sold this week.
I know. I think I’m too smart for those pitches too. But I find myself trading my dime for someone else’s nickel too.
I’m looking for my place. I”m looking for status, for recognition but these are empty. They will never describe my worth or my value.
The text we grew up on says this:
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36 KJV
Eugene Peterson, in the Message, expands on that as he writes with more context:
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? Mark 8:36-37
It’s why we shut out the 24-hour news cycle and close our laptops. It’s why I turned off notifications on my phone. At times, it’s hard. I don’t want to be the las one who knows the latest app or the political jokes the late night talk show hosts are making. But it’s fools gold. In the scheme of life, it’s worthless.
I believe my value will only be found of worth through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Am I a nice person? Yes
Do I want to make a positive difference in this world? Yes
Do I show my love for my family and friends with actions and words? Yes.
Yes, yes, we are good people. But Jesus wants more than good. He wants all. He is described as the pearl of great price. His sacrifice has paid the price. He alone makes us worthy.
Sometimes I have to pause and ask myself, “What’d you expect?”
Answer: I don’t know, but not this.
I never expected to be married at 20, our first baby at 21 and second at 23.
I never expected to find ourselves in full time ministry as, what I joke, was my husband’s mid-life crisis.
I never expected my parents to divorce or my mom to have Alzheimer’s.
But I did, we did, they did.
There were some hurts, anger, feelings of not knowing my way but also learning about God’s love in ways I never would have without these times in my life.
I try to keep expectations low, it’s safer that way. But they have a way of being invisible. You don’t know they’re there until you’re let down.
We’re facing a new time in our lives. As always, this husband who I could never have expected to be so what I need (aka wonderful!) is sailing through. But me, I didn’t expect this anxiety.
I didn’t expect the uncertainty. One moment I feel elated about the nearing future of retirement and what it promises. The next, I want to know the specifics. Now. I don’t want to wait. Are there hidden expectations waiting for me – again?
I realize I can expect to be overjoyed but that one doesn’t come natural to me. So I hold my breath a bit and overthink it all.
Until those words come that find a way of answering the fear:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal,