Like many, we haven’t traveled on vacation for several years. This year has had lots of ups and downs. The downtimes left me only wanting a change of scenery. But when it came to the details and planning, we decided to keep it simple and stay home. A #staycation. We chose a Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Tuesday around our wedding anniversary. With the weekend, we had six days.
Much like a vacation, it took me about a day to really get into vacation mode. Alarms for getting up were turned off. We decided that we wouldn’t cook much, had several of our meals out, spent our days hanging around the pool, and not overplanning every day. We did play pickleball one day, went to a community theater production of Sound of Music, and enjoyed a hymn-sing at our church. As easy as it would have been to fill our time with projects around the house, we only chose a couple and moved them forward. On the day it rained, we ran errands and took care of a couple things.
Our days were comfortable and easy. We spent time in the pool, reading, talking, and laughing. At the end of our days, we climbed out of our saline pool, lotioned up from a solid dose of sunshine, enjoyed a good dinner, and then headed back home to curl up together. It was a delightful time. One I will cherish.
Unlike leaving for #vacation and coming home, there was no packing and no unpacking, and then repacking to come home, we just unplugged and shifted gears. Our change of pace and schedules thoroughly confused our dog, Eli. He didn’t know what to do with himself.
It was a great vacation, even if we didn’t go anywhere.
We all have a #COVID story. The events of 2020, and how they impacted and changed us. Some are very positive stories of lives that were enriched as individuals took advantage of the shutdown as an opportunity to connect with their families like they had never before. Or what about the surge in healthy lifestyle changes — at-home workouts, cooking new meals. Before anyone gets mad, yes, there were some horrific experiences during the shutdown — increase in physical abuse, children not engaging in online learning, lack of free meal distribution, and many more. I learned several things during Covid and the social unrest we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
I learned to think for myself. There were (and still are) many opinions about how to handle the virus. It’s important for each of us to listen and decide for ourselves. When airlines discontinued their mask mandate. The country went nuts. The experts were appalled. What was missed was the fact that while they weren’t required, masks weren’t banned either. So, if a traveler is at risk, please wear a mask. And if they’re standing apart from the crowd, hopefully, others will understand and respect that. There were plenty of times I disagreed with what was mandated, but I respected authority enough to keep myself and those around me safe. Watching the protests in the midst of a pandemic was a great example of individuals thinking for themselves. We were all told to stay home, out of crowds, wear a mask, and thousands of people did just the opposite. Cases of COVID in the areas with protests sored. But it was their right. So was it wrong?
It’s ok to turn off the news. We are barraged with messaging and information. It’s everywhere! We can’t look at any #socialmedia or open an email without finding junk mail sent to us because of something we #Googled. For me, it’s gotten to be too much. So, I watch the news just a few times a week; use my weather app for weather. Yes, being an informed citizen is important. But not at the risk of my own stress level. The world hasn’t ended because I quit watching the news. Unfortunately, I could tell you the subject of the first three stories before I turn it on.
Shouting may get someone’s attention, but it won’t keep it. If more than one person is shouting, you can forget getting your message across. Oh, those shouting will get attention, but their message will not be heard. We live in a country in which we have the right to protest anything we believe in. I’m glad about that. And I support any citizen who wants to exercise that right. But the purpose of the protests quits being heard when fires are set, or guns are fired. Then you just have mayhem, and those with the influence to help quit listening and respecting those in protest. Go ahead and shout, but when you’re heard, calm down and state your purpose. Come together with those who can help and together find the answer.
Have faith.In this world you will have trouble (quote from the most quoted text in history). It goes on to say to take heart, we are just traveling through. There is a perfect #God who is ready to come alongside to guide us. And there is an eternal world that doesn’t have the troubles we have here. We need to leave this world a little better than we found it. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control go a long way in living in community with others. We are never all going to agree. That’s the joy and the challenge of being an individual. We each bring our own bias, color, shape, and size to a conversation. Take a breath and listen to the other person. You will learn something you didn’t know before, and can then choose to believe it for yourself or not. Think about it, what if everyone agreed with your most positive conviction? But what if everyone agreed with your darkest thought? What if our definitions of positive conviction and darkest thought are different? We are on this earth for a finite number of days and then we go to the infinite.
Today’s post isn’t my way of saying I’m right and you’re wrong. It’s merely to get you thinking. Comment if you like. Or take a walk, sit alone, and ponder the last few years. What have you learned? How have you changed? And ponder your future, what legacy will you leave in this world?
#Goals, #to-dos, and #bucket lists are all very important. Here are a few things to consider. Recently, I challenged a friend of mine to set one goal. She said she had goals – clean out a closet, etc…That is not a goal, that’s a to-do – a chore. And in another conversation with a couple who are a little older than us, they described some things they are doing as “not bucket list” items, just things we want to do while we still can. I get that. Why call things bucket list, if you still may have 20 plus years from kicking it. Embrace life when you can.
Let’s break this down a bit. Goals, larger accomplishments, that may take several steps to complete, and consequently more time. SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based. Mine are broken into three categories, body, mind, and soul; allowing for me to work on different parts of my life at different times of the year.
To do’s, the stuff we must do to manage our lives – maintain the house and yard, grocery shop, run errands. I do find it satisfying to keep a list of to-do’s and mark them off. Not sure why other than I know that in life, it’s easy to go through our days and in the end wonder what we accomplished. The challenge is to not let the to-dos overtake working toward the goals. We must manage our time and commitment to the importance of each.
The #bucketlist – as our population ages, and those who are older are embracing a more active lifestyle, it seems to have a bucket list may or may not mean what it once did. As my husband and I talked recently about where we are in life and some things, we’d like to do we took notice of the elderly folks we most admire. How are they living today, and how have they lived their lives? The ones we most admire are still active. Even slowing down, they are finding activities to fit their pace. They engage their minds every day with more than The Price is Right, and 20 versions of the evening news. We talked about a list of things we’d like to do and began the conversation of what retirement years will look like. The list is varied, and why not? You can only travel so much, read so much, volunteer so much. Why not mix it up? And we realized there are items that are better done now while we’re working than waiting on for later.
So, what are your thoughts on all this? Please add a comment.
Our soul, the essence of who we are. We have a creator who breathes into us and gives life – filling our body with our soul. He designed our soul, but our human DNA comes from our parents, our earthly family tree. What an interesting partnership of that which comes from the Perfect, and that which is imperfect.
Our body houses our soul for all its earthly days. As a Godly gift, our soul is our connection with our Creator throughout this journey. We go through our days handling the realities of life – family, work, personal challenges. The here and now – the physical.
During our life, we take care of our bodies with good food, watch our health, and exercise. But how do we take care of our soul? What about how we feed our minds? How does what we feed our mind manifest in our soul? Are we taking the gift of life, and returning it void or lacking, both in how we live in this world and in the spiritual realm?
Are we growing our minds and soul to look like their Creator? Will our attitudes and actions be the fruit of God’s Spirit continually and over time working within us?
What will our soul look like when we exhale our final breath, and our soul returns to the Father? Before our mighty Creator, will we have filled our soul in such a way that He will recognize it? Will He see more of our family DNA than His?
Lots of questions. Take some quiet moments to consider, what on earth are we doing for heaven’s sake?
All the best,
Colossians 3:23 – 24
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The second week of January. We’ve had time to make and break ridiculously under-considered #resolutions. Now it’s time to get serious. It’s GOal time! Take time this week to truly consider 1 – 3 things you would like to do in 2022. We’re two years into a pandemic, so we’ve figured out how to do most of the things we want and need to do within the constraints of staying safe and healthy. Below are my thoughts on goal setting in 2022.
Goal setting is NOT making a to-do list (or honey-do lists). That is a totally different exercise we’ll cover later. Goals are those activities that cause us to reach, grow, and get out of our comfort zone. Accomplishing them changes us for the better.
Before Friday, January 14, find some time alone – quiet. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom. Consider yourself and your life, and get real. What do you like about where you find yourself? What don’t you like? Ouch, that hurts. Remember, you’re alone and you’re searching your heart. No one else knows what you’re thinking. What three things come to mind? Write them down, tuck them away and come back the next day.
This year my #goals fall into the categories of mind, body, and soul. Over the 24-hour simmer, let the three things roll around in your head. When you come back to them, are they still three things you want to work on? Take one sheet of paper, if your goals won’t fit on one piece of paper, it’s too much to take on.
Write your goals and simple steps to accomplishing them. Remember these are things that will have you reach, grow and get out of your comfort zone to accomplish.
Now, there they are in black and white. It’s real now. The goals you’ve committed to for 2022. You are going to do something wonderful this year. If you have someone you can be completely transparent with, and you want to ask for accountability, give them a copy and set up a time to connect with them throughout the year.
Dateline: December 30, 2021, For some, the week between Christmas and New Years is like living in another dimension. Christmas is over, this may be a week of vacation or staycation. Work is slow (unless you’re in #retail), it’s an opportunity to get odd tasks complete, but nothing that depends on others or that is super deep. It feels like life is in suspended animation. This week is all about completion and anticipation.
What is something that has a December 31st deadline for you? Something in business? Perhaps you had a goal set and you’re trying to complete it. One year, I set a goal to read 20 books of the Bible, you guessed it, got to the last week of the year and I dove into the shortest books I could complete – Ruth, Obadiah, I, II, III John, Jude. Hey, they were quick checkmarks toward my goal completion. It’s hard for our thinking to not creep into what the new year will bring.
We start a new planner, click over to a new month, or start a calendar. The pages are blank, a clean slate. It’s all potential. We are given as many as 365 days, 8,760 hours. What will we do with them? What will we make of them? How will we be changed or grow as individuals because of what our days are filled with? If you are not thinking about it, you’ve got today and tomorrow. Don’t float out of one year and into the next without a plan or at least a few thoughts about how you will invest your time. Use this anticipatory week (or now a couple of days) to dare to dream about what a fresh new year will bring.
No excuses. No, “yes but…” And if I hear one more thing blamed on the pandemic, my head is going to explode. We have to keep ourselves healthy and safe, but so much of what we’ve loved to do has made the pivot to allow us to continue.
Go ahead, leave a comment here, or write it down on your device or a scrap of paper, what is one thing you’ve put off that it’s time to complete or make a priority.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
A great quote, but also let me encourage you to stretch a little. Challenge yourself in some area that you have let settle. Grow as an individual and make a difference to those around you, even if they are strangers.
The journey took over 50 years, but my travels this day lasted about an hour. Families have lots of traditions when it comes to trimming the #Christmas tree. Some have #ornaments that all match, and the tree glistens with coordinated bows and frills. Those with small children, may have all their ornaments clumped in one toddler-designed section of the tree. There are real trees, artificial-to-look-like real trees, and of course there are artificial that don colorful branches and sprays of fake snow-covered pine needles.
Our tree is typically real, and historically we’ve made an evening out of going and buying it from a local tree stand, bringing it home and letting it settle, then decorating it the next night. Our time together as a family is just about as close to movie-perfect as you can get. But as life goes, this year, our son was out of town for a marching band commitment (WKU at the Boca Raton Bowl), so it was my husband and me. It was a different kind of delightful 2-evening event. Yes, I had tearful moments; but that’s ok. It was a different kind of year, and my emotions needed to catch up.
My husband put the lights on the tree, and while he baked Christmas cookies, I traveled in time through each ornament I hung. If our tree had a theme, it would be our blessed moments. An ornament made of a Styrofoam ball that had orange yarn for my hair, and beads for my eyes, nose, and mouth, took me back to second grade and getting moved from my desk group for being too chatty. Ornaments from our son’s first year in baseball, or in 2008 when he learned to swim and water ski. The Hallmark boat ornament that looks just like our Moomba, my husband always hangs. For many years, when we would vacation, we would bring home an ornament so that the summer memory would be recaptured in December. Several trips to the beach, just the three of us, and a couple of years with my entire family. #Baseball trips to Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York. Disneyworld, Niagara Falls, New York, Chicago, oh, the places we’ve traveled! Our first married Christmas and our first home purchased together are represented with sparkles of white, and bright red ornaments. In 2002, I started adding an #angel ornament each year. Each represents something about my life; an Irish angel, an angel’s embrace has a small child in her arms, a dancing angel. Others are just peaceful and calming to ponder. The time we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made swirled and danced to the tunes of the Christmas carols playing while the smell of butter and sugar wafted from the kitchen.
Merry Christmas and peace to you and those you love.
We have so many platforms for our conversations – email, text, instant messaging, and posting on social media sites. As if the #English language wasn’t hard enough, now we’ve included hieroglyphics. For those of you who missed ancient Egypt class, #hieroglyphics was how stories were told and history was shared from one generation to the next.
In grade school, we learned how to write a letter. You know paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. Letters have very specific parts, a salutation, the body, the closing, the signature. All of these have a purpose. They tell us the start, the purpose and message, and a close. It was a complete thought from one person to another. We mailed them (we call it snail-mail today). The recipient reads the entire message, thinks about it, and writes a response. The conversation can take days, weeks, or months, and is done completely with words.
Enter the tech approach. Our written conversations now involve quick phrases, not even sentences, and sometimes, I honestly don’t know when the message is complete. After the back and forth of messaging, someone adds the thumbs up or some other cutesy face indicating a message received and understood, I guess that’s the conclusion. The last word is now a cartoon face or hand sign.
Recently, I was given a #texting lesson from my college-age son. Evidently, I was using too much punctuation and not always the right emoji. I learned that the message is different if I text “Ok.” versus “Ok” with no period. But it’s a statement, it needs the period! According to our household expert who is in his final year of college, the period at the end indicates a curtness, frustration, or even anger. All that from the proper punctuation. What would my high school English, or my college Grammar 310 professor think?
This applies to the professional setting too. With the incorporation of Microsoft Teams and other tools for instant messaging, while we’re all working from home, quick messages are the standard. It’s replaced the “office drop-in” or hallway conversations we used to have. And the use of emojis is just as prevalent. It’s now considered appropriate to send the boss a smiley face when he complements your work. A word of warning though, be sure you know your emojis and what they mean. By the way, this is not chocolate ice cream…
Christmas Eve, 1999, I was about five months pregnant with my first (and only) child. Like most first-time mothers, I had been through morning sickness, and the reality of my changing form was the reality of a child growing and coming soon. What an amazing thing! What a scary thing! What an awesome responsibility! The church service was finishing when a man came out and began to sing Mary Did You Know, a song written by Mark Lowry.
The lyrics to the song asked the question of this young mother if she realized the impact her child would make in this world.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?Did you know that your baby boy Has come to make you new; This Child that you delivered Will soon deliver you?
While listening and relating to all the questions #Mary may have had, I was struck with the potential I carried within my own belly. PLEASE don’t misunderstand, I had no misgivings of my child being perfect like Mary’s. But I couldn’t help praying and asking the question, “what will my child bring to this world?”
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with His hand?Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod, and when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God? Mary, did you know?
As the song concluded, I was left with a profound feeling of wonder. Who was the child that I would deliver? What would he bring to this world? He would carry into this world his own God-given purpose. I just needed to not screw it up. My job was to love, care, and encourage what God had planned.
Babies are little #miracles wrapped in potential. The Christ-child changed the course of history for the believer and the non-believer. He did amazing things while here and set in motion our plan for eternity. How can our children make an impact? Perhaps you’re reading this and are #pregnant or waiting for that phone call from the #adoption agency. Consider how you will pour into a child’s life to raise them to look outside themselves for ways they will make a difference. Pray for their purpose to be made clear. We all have one.
One final note, yes, adults need to encourage the potential out of our children, but as long as we have days ahead of us, we have potential. What better example for our children then to continue our quest until our last breath?
Please take five minutes, close your eyes and listen to these words written with a young, scared mother in mind.
Recently, I was hosing the leaves and dead blooms from the back porch hanging baskets. It was the end of the day, and I was hustling to get it done. I set the hose nozzle to “jet” to get the hardest, fastest blast of water to move the debris. The powerful gush of water scattered the debris around but it didn’t move it quickly in the direction I needed it to go.
So I tried a different setting. Instead of “jet” the dial was turned to “shower.” The strong but gentle stream of water pooled around the debris to move it off the porch in a more efficient manner.
Sometimes we go in with a fire hose, when a water hose is all we really need to accomplish our goal. Both are great tools that use the same fuel.
Think about it. Has there been a time when you went marching in on your high horse, blasting the jet of orders and demands? While you may get what you want, you did so at the expense of everyone around you, leaving a trail of people scratching their heads. It’s not pretty, and usually anything gained is short lived. There is a time for taking out the #firehose, to turn on the “jet” setting, but it should be rare.
Consider this. Click the #waterhose setting from “jet” to “shower,” allowing your message; your goal to wash over those in your way or on your team. Lifting them and carrying them along with you across the goal line. You’ve accomplished what you set out to do, and you’ve brought your team along. Together, you cross the goal line with a sense of impact and accomplishment. The shower of success, will leave your team feeling appreciated, satisfied, and ready to move forward with you again.