On Personal Happiness . . .

How do you define happiness, and what is the source of it?  Do you define who you are by your position/ title?  If you had to prepare a motivational speech to address a small group of business professionals with – how would you answer these questions?  I’ve had cause to spend some time thinking about this, recently – and I’ve come to some surprising conclusions.

The first, and perhaps the most important is a sentiment that I’ve heard expressed many times throughout my life – which I have for years found a way to avoid accepting/internalizing.  This is that no one is responsible for my happiness – except me!  As a result of several different, influential factors  – during my young adult years, I came to believe that if I’m unhappy then someone (or something) must be to blame.  It has only been over the course of about the last fifteen years or so, since I’ve become a parent – that that has finally changed.  I realize now that if I’m unhappy, feeling out of sorts or just dissatisfied with my life – it’s up to me to make changes.  Continuing along that path for a moment, I’ve decided that invoking some change in my life on an occasional basis is vital to my continuing happiness.  Another critical factor that I’ve found deeply impacts my general attitude/ outlook is who – what “quality” of friends I surround myself with!   For years, I have been a somewhat vulnerable and easily influenced person and I’ve discovered – throughout the course of some major life changes over the last nine months – that being selective about who I interact with, on a regular basis – makes a difference.

The second is that the admonition that many of us are given early on, when we’re first starting out – that we need to find professions which we are going to enjoy – is of greater import than we frequently realize.  After several years of working in a business office, I’ve come to understand that each of us has a role in contributing to and sustaining employee morale!  Most of us who work in business offices spend somewhere between forty and sixty hours weekly with our colleagues.  Considering that this is more time, for most of us – than we spend with our spouses or “significant others” – when we’re not working, we need to be cognizant of our attitude while we’re in the office.  What “type” of person are we impressing our co-workers as being – uplifting, and inspiring?  Or critical, condemning and quick to gossip?  Over the course of some eight plus years, now – I’ve had ample opportunity to work with both types and it’s been amazing to me the difference working with some who – even when confronted with challenge, and hardship – have somehow remained inspiring to me!!  As I’ve worked in a few different offices throughout the last several years, with colleagues in a variety of different positions – it has not escaped my notice that in addition to being popular throughout their offices, people with that type of character are the ones that frequently get promoted as well.

In conclusion, I’ve decided that professional persona is important – and is one of my many, personal identities.  I’m not sure what most of you believe, of me – but I really do enjoy what I do!  Recently, I’ve felt compelled to make some stronger efforts to “check” my attitude and to see if I can’t become a source of encouragement, and inspiration to those around me!  Thank you, friends – for giving up part of your day to visit with me!!  Take care!

 

On Life Coincidences . . .

Greetings, friends!  This afternoon, I have cause to be meditating on faith and God’s direction for my life – so please pull up a chair, and visit for awhile.

As many of you know, my husband and I have spent the last month or so making some monumental changes in our lives – and the life of our two, teenaged children.  As we’ve proceeded with different changes, in sequence – we’ve found ourselves asking – at times – whether the changes that we’re making have anything to do with God’s vision, for our lives – or if they’re all the result of our two, combined strong self-wills.  I don’t think that any of you that have ever made monumental life changes – before – would debate the fact that at times, that’s one of the things that we do – as couples.  We attempt to “control” our lives – ultimately – because on a day-to-day basis, it is difficult to always discern whether the decisions that we’re making are God’s plan for our lives – or are just paths that we, in our selfishness – want to follow.  It is my belief that sometimes – on rare occasions – they wind up being the same one.  The experience that I had earlier this morning seemed to support that fact.

Last Friday,  my husband and I signed a purchase agreement on a home in the Auburn, WA area – which is still under construction.  It will not be the home of our dreams – and the way that it has been designed, there are several different rooms that we are going to have to be creative about furnishing, in order to accomodate our furniture and our lifestyle!  However, it is a beautiful home – is within our budget as a couple – and is going to be completed soon enough that it will enable most of the rest of our current life “transitions” to be smooth, and uncomplicated.  Finding it, and being able to secure it – within two weeks of arriving in the greater Seattle area – truly was God’s first miracle, in our lives recently!  Until the builder gets it completed, and we are able to close on it – we will continue to live with a gracious, hospitable aunt and uncle of my husband’s.

Now that the matter of a home for our family is – more or less – taken care of, it was just now coming time for me to begin thinking about employment for myself, again.  Just yesterday afternoon, I had given some thought to exactly how – and with whom – I was going to do this.  Additionally, I had also just begun considering what – exactly – I’m going to do, with all of the time that I have on my hands – right now.  Coincidentally, earlier this morning I received a call from a high ranking manager of the company that I had been working for – before my husband and I left the Minneapolis, MN area!  It seems that one of the company offices in this area, is in desperate need of some administrative assistance.  Unfortunately, the district office that is in need of help is not the district office that is closest to me.  If the situation is to work out, it will be a situation wherein I will work – remotely – from Southern Seattle, for an outlying – satellite – company office.  If it actually comes to pass, it will be a bit of a unique situation.  However, you and I both know of similar situations which have been logistically maneuvered for much lesser, smaller companies!

I believe that the timing of this event transpiring in my life – completely out of coincidence – has been the result of a deep, and abiding faith in God.  As my husband and I began taking steps to terminate many facets of our lives, in the Minneapolis area – we frequently questioned whether doing so was something that we really should be proceeding with, and is in line with God’s plan for our lives – or whether we would arrive in the Seattle area and have everything fall completely apart, for us!  At the time, we felt no “guidance” from our Lord, and Savior.  It was our conclusion that at this time in our lives, God was – for whatever reason – being silent.  However, as together we have prepared, and slowly begun to establish a life together, here – it has become apparent that God has not forsaken us – but has been blessing our decisions, every step of the way!  This has only come as the result of having faith in Him.

Many years ago, as my husband and I went through many of the same processes – leaving most of our friends and family in the Seattle, WA area and making preparations to move to Minneapolis, MN – because my husband had gotten a job there.  In the midst of doing so, we experienced many of the same emotions/ fears.  But as we worked through technicality, after technicality, after technicality – and prayed together through all of it, it seemed that doors just continued to open for us!  Yes – it was difficult – physically, and emotionally.  At times, we found ourselves questioning why God would ever call anyone to move so far away from their families of origin – and the support structure that we had built, around us.  But we stepped out with faith – and God provided for us!  In the last two decades, these monumental life experiences have convinced me that what God has in store for us is not always just what we see laid out in front of us, or the path that we lay out for ourselves.

In parting, I just want to wish blessings on all of you!  Continue to live your life for God – and I think that you’ll see that He is not only able to meet your needs, but is sufficient to fulfill the deepest longings of your heart!!   In Faith,

Wendy

Good evening, friends!  As it’s been some time since I’ve shared my heart with all of you, I feel compelled to take some time to do so.  So pull up a chair and visit, for awhile.

I’ve spent some time recently reflecting on aging – and working through what impact that has on my life.  At one time, I was the youngest lady in most groups that I became part of.  Twenty years later, that is no longer the case!  Even in my office at work, I look around me and there are salesmen (and ladies) who are just having their first children!  At church, as well – the Sunday School group that my husband and I “belong to” – is no longer the youngest, adult small group at our church.  Strangely, every now and again I find myself being surprised by this.  As I continue to consider it,  I’ve decided that there are benefits directly related to getting older.  One of which is the experience, and the wisdom to mentor younger women.  As we go through different “stages” of life, each stage provides us with experiences and memories that never leave us.  Those experiences – some joyful, some heart breaking, and some just challenging – provide us with knowledge, and insight which can be used to mentor generations behind us.

As I reflect on the last couple years of my own life, it occurs to me that one of the things that has become important to me – is having a group of strong, elder Christian women in my own life who act as role models to me.  For the last several years, this has been integral for me – since distance and (my) job schedule have prohibited me from communicating with my own Mother as frequently as I would like.  For the last couple of years, the group of people that my husband and I dance with are predominantly senior couples – and in the time that we’ve been dancing with them, I’ve come to realize that several of the ladies in this group have wisdom that I can learn from – as long as I take the time to build relationships, with them!  There are also some elder, more senior ladies in my church Worship Choir – who are strong, wise Christian women – yet have always given freely of their time, whenever I’ve asked it of them.   Recently, this has gained importance to me – as I’ve begun struggling to discern what my “goals” are – how I will define my life, throughout the next twenty years or so.  As concerns, and priorities continue to change for me, I need to continue to keep some elder “mentors” in my life.  Individuals who I can look to for encouragement, and guidance – in my life.

Now that I’m entering my forties, I find myself in a position where I have gained some life experience – from which I can mentor younger women than myself.  Ladies who, perhaps, have (or are just having) young children – and who’s parents do not live near them.  Or ladies who are just now making plans to return to work, after being out of the “professional” work force for a few years – during which they’ve stayed at home to raise children.  Even in regard to establishing a balance – between raising children, and personal happiness as a woman!  These are all topics that I feel I’ve gained enough experience, from – to be able to share with younger women.  As God has laid these things on my heart, I pray about opportunities to do so.  Perhaps even through public speaking, if that is where God leads in the future! In this season of life, I need these friendships with other women – in order to find some “balance” between my professional, and my personal life.  Both are important – both significant – but as I continue to age, and start looking back – am I going to be able to feel that I’ve influenced . . . . that I’ve impacted, anyone else’s life – with mine?  And if so, how?  In regards to what?

This is one of the things that I’ve spent some time reflecting on recently.  One of the things that’s become a bit of a preoccupation, with me.  Just recently, there are several of you who have provided me support, and encouragement – through private Facebook messages, and I’m truly grateful!  Your friendship in the midst of a bit of a difficult time, in my life – means more to me than I can say.  I treasure being part of your lives, as well.  Anytime that you desire prayer, or encouragement – I would be honored.  Good evening, and thank you for visiting with me for a little while again.

On depression, and personal fulfillment . . .

Good evening, friends!  For a few weeks, now – my lack of connecting with all of you has been on my mind.  So draw close and visit with me, for a little while.

About a month ago, the “Admin” team that I work as part of – was treated to lunch out of the office – as our district manager’s treat for “Admin Recognition” day.  During that meeting, five of us were given the news that – within the next four weeks, all of our jobs were going to be (more or less) “out” sourced – to a different part of the company – and as a result, we were all going to begin being “re” trained to do different tasks – on an ongoing basis.  That was just the beginning of what has – since then – become one of the most stressful periods of my life.  Since then, I’ve celebrated a – milestone birthday – which in itself, has been causing me to reflect on where – exactly – I am, in my life as I begin my middle years!  At the same time, my husband and I are currently in the process of preparing to list our home to sell.  I believe that things like this – compounded, all within a defined period of time – are things that psychologists would award “points” to, as part of a scale that is used to “rate” the amount of stress in a person’s life – at any one time.

Since I’ve never found more than a couple of viable, productive ways to deal with stress in my life – I’ve found myself turning to a few close, treasured (and candidly honest) friends of mine – and inward, to my blogging – for fulfillment.  Coincidentally, and surprisingly – some of the responses that I’ve gotten recently have made me realize that I’m not the only one currently experiencing some stress in my life.  That’s not to say that I have friends who are experiencing the same stressful events in their lives, that I am.  Most of them are in different “phases” of their lives, and have different events causing them stress.  In visiting with them, however – I’ve come to the conclusion that on a general level, the specific events aren’t that relevant.  When a valued friend “reaches out” to you – looking for an ear to bend, or a shoulder to lean on – they don’t expect you (me – in these cases) to have the solutions, to all of their dilemnas!  Frequently, they’re just looking for  expressions of sympathy – and perhaps prayer.  Strangely (for me), in the process of coming to this realization – the other realization that I’ve come to  ( a bit late in my life, perhaps) – is that it is psychologically beneficial to be involved in the lives of my close friends!  Having specific things/ developments to pray, for my friends – for – causes me not to delve into “self-pity” parties.  I believe that this is a tenant that many of us don’t practice, frequently enough!  The Bible admonishes us to pray for our friends, throughout the day and in various situations. Additionally, with the advent of Facebook – providing me ways, and opportunities to confirm – for myself – that although my husband and I have lived thousands of miles away from many of the mutual friends that we made when we were first married – several of them do actually still care about me, and make themselves “available” to me – when I occasionally begin slipping into depression, and really NEED to connect with someone who cares!

The other thing that I’ve found to be immensely fulfilling is writing.  It is an outward way for me to express some of my innermost thoughts.  As I make myself vulnerable to others, I’m able to look more objectively at my own situations.  Additionally, blogging provides an opportunity for my friends – and some of the mentors, in my life – to comment on my posts.  Many times, taking the time to read through any feedback that people give – or just getting some minutes, here and there – to discuss a particular “blog” with them – is fulfilling for me, as well.

I don’t know if I’ve really made a well-developed point this evening, or not – friends.  But this theme of close, and abiding friendship is one that I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about.  It’s been tremendously rewarding, and fulfilling – to be confronted with the fact that I do have several people in my life who – genuinely – care, about me.  Further, it’s been a humbling realization to know that for some of them – I’ve been able to be of some comfort to them, as well!  Just by being available, and “checking in” with them regularly enough to be able to pray for them, also.

Thank you for taking the time to visit with me.  As always, if something that I’ve said strikes a chord with you – I would be more than happy to know about it!   God’s blessings on your weekend, this weekend.

Good evening, friends!  I know that it has been almost two weeks since I have blogged – so pull up a chair and visit for awhile.

Earlier this week, I made a decision to roll out of bed early on a Saturday morning to attend a Ladies’ Conference at Edinbrook Church in Brooklyn Park.  In consideration of the fact that those who know me know that recently, I’ve been struggling with some identity issues – it turned out to be a great decision.  It was a beautiful, if cold – morning, this morning – but was a great day to attend an event that made a strong psychological impact on me!

The keynote speaker was well-known radio personality, and Christian author Susie Larson.  Throughout the course of the day, Susie made three different speeches.  It was her early morning address that impacted me the strongest, though.  Her opening keynote address was on our “uncommon” value as women.  I didn’t take extensive notes on Susie’s speech, but a few minutes in she made a statement that the two biggest stumbling blocks to achieving the destinies that Christ has for us are inferiority, and insecurity!  That really resonated, with me.  Most of my adult life, I’ve thought of myself as a fairly confident, secure person.  As soon as she said it, the wisdom and the truth of Susie’s statement occurred to me.  As the Bible says, in the beginning God created man – and then created woman – so that man would have a “help” mate.  In Genesis, it says that He created us – and that His creations were good.  It seems that in modern times, however – we as women seem to develop inferiority complexes.  Susie went on to say that we each have a destiny in Christ – but that the only way that we’re ever going to achieve our personal destinies is if we believe, and profess – our value in Christ!  It is only once we truly understand that we are loved, that we can achieve success and greatness.  Christ does intend that each of us achieve success in our own stories!

Later in the day, I had an opportunity to attend a shorter speech – by little-known public speaker Stephanie Page.  Stephanie is a happily married, thirty-something mother of three young girls.  In combination with her husband, Chris – Stephanie teaches the 5th & 6th graders at Edinbrook Church.  Stephanie had (previously) prepared a speech entitled  “Comparing:  The Desire that Keeps us from Living Our Story.”  Stephanie’s speech was well thought-out and timely, for women in society today.  Stephanie spent a short half an hour dialoguing on the sin of comparison.  Stephanie opened her speech with some brief remarks about herself, and then made a comment about how earlier in her life, she had been guilty of comparing herself – and her life.  Then, she queried her audience about how many of them had ever assessed who they were, and what they have – and then compared their lives, their selves – to someone else.  I think that we’re all guilty of that, at some point in our lives as women!  It says in the Bible that we were each created uniquely – and that Christ has a destiny for each of us.  Stephanie stressed that we were EACH created uniquely, in His own image!  That he has a destiny FOR EACH of us!!  Christ doesn’t intend that we compare ourselves.  It says in the Bible that jealousy is a sin.  Later in her speech, Stephanie talked about how one of the other sins that we commit is the sin of not prioritizing Christ in our lives.  She spoke about how one of the other things that she had been guilty of – in the past – was not prioritizing Christ!  How easy it is to just “visit with” Christ – for a few minutes, here and there – whenever our schedules permit for it.  She spoke about how she used to believe that within any particular day, there were always certain things THAT HAD TO be done!  Whether dinner cooked – for a family that depended on her, or speeches written – to be presented at a later date, or calls that had to get made a certain evening.  Then she spoke of how Christ got her attention, a few years ago – and how since then she’s realized that the only thing that she really HAS TO do is to sit at the table with Christ.  Not pass Him, coming and going – but sit down with him and spend time!

It was a wonderful, encouraging conference – and although I woke tired this morning, and sorely tempted to roll over – God spoke to my heart, and told me that I needed to be there!  That he had some messages that I needed to hear.  And in the end, I was very glad that I had gone!!

Good morning, friends!  Christmas is now upon on us, and I’ve been reflecting recently on the fact that I haven’t blogged since prior to Thanksgiving weekend.  So pull up a chair, and visit for awhile.

This early morning, I’m sitting in our Dining Room in front of our Christmas tree – with most of the lights in the room off, and Christmas music playing quietly on my husband’s iPod – and reflecting on the fact that I haven’t done nearly enough of this, this month.  This is the third of  four days that I get off of work, for the holiday.  For most of them, I’ve been watching with some heartache posts on Facebook – from cousins of mine across the country – referencing their activities, these last few days – and the plans that they have for celebrating the holiday with family members and close friends.  While more difficult emotionally for me, now – than it has been for the last seventeen years that we’ve lived here in MN – I find myself wondering why this is so?  Even here in the frozen midwest, God surrounds me with his love and his comfort!

Now that Christmas Day is finally here – and all the stress of picking out “good” pictures of the family, to send in to one or the other of the online photo-publishing companies to print Christmas cards for us from . . . . as well as making time to sit down and draft an annual letter, to be sent out to all of our relatives across the country, and close friends here . . . . and making time (amidst all of the Christmas parties) to get out and purchase that perfect gift – and then keeping it hidden, from a particular family member for weeks . . . . and then getting all of the gifts wrapped, and tagged – and many packed up, and shipped across the country to family . . . . is through – it’s a gift to finally have a quiet chance to sit down, and allow the impact of our candlelight service at church to work on my heart!

I’ve recently been struggling a bit with the realization that I’m getting to be middle-aged, and am no longer completely content with where I am in life.  I’ve always maintained that some perspective is a good thing – and as I’ve spent time recently reading through some of the letters that we’ve received from friends, this year – I’m confronted with the fact that I don’t have nearly the (physical) health, or the financial – issues, that many people are experiencing.  So contrary to what I sometimes believe, I really am very blessed!  In regards to no longer feeling content – feeling happy – with the circumstances of my life, I’ve begun praying more for God’s leading in my life.  I’ve realized recently that if I’m unhappy, I don’t have anyone to blame for it but myself!  I think that this has resulted – partially – from not keeping God first in my life, as I should have been.  I believe that if we remain in “right” relationship with God, he will bless us.

In the last month, I’ve been the recipient of more genuine love and encouragement, from close friends – than I could even begin to recount!  While my husband and I made a decision – some seventeen years ago, to leave our entire families and follow God’s leading in our lives – close friends in this area, and the advent of Facebook in the last several years – have gone a long way toward fulfilling many of our emotional needs.  More recently, I’ve come to realize that I am not the only one living far from family, either.  For me, cementing close friendships with other people who do not have extended family in this area has been invaluable, also.

I pray that as we celebrate the incredible gift that God gave all of us, by His coming – with family, today – that you’ll have an opportunity to recognize how blessed you are!  Enjoy participating in whatever Christmas traditions you have.  I’m grateful and I’m humbled that you had some time to visit with me, once again.  Joy indeed comes today, as the prophet foretold many years ago!!

 

 

Greetings, friends!   Today, I’ve had something on my heart that I’d like to share about – so draw close and visit with me, for a bit.

This is a somewhat difficult subject – but an important one, I think.  I’m talking about offense – and how easily it can be given, within relationships.  I think that we’ve all been through it – at one time or another, in our lives.  It can come from family, from friends – or from complete strangers.  It can be given intentionally, unintentionally – or completely unconsciously.  It can be caused by word, by action – or by inherent attitude.  Regardless of how it comes about, though – it’s always painful!

I was thinking today about an acquaintance of mine who is in the midst of a very painful time in his life.  It had been some time since I had last heard from him, but . . . it soon became quite clear that the reason that he was not his usual ebullient, encouraging self on this occasion was because he was suffering from a boute of depression.  When I asked what it was that had brought this about, his response was that he had recently done something that had caused offense, with one of his oldest friends – and as a result, believes that the friendship may now be over.  He didn’t mean to cause offense – in fact, it is my belief that he didn’t even know that he had caused offense with his friend!   All the same, the relationship between them is in jeopardy.

We’ve all been there, friends.  Involved in a long-term relationship with someone – which has developed over time into a close, and treasured friendship.  Then one day without knowing it, we say – or do – something that our friend so deeply disagrees with, that they feel like we’ve betrayed them!  In one fell swoop, the friendship is over!!  I’m not a psychology major, friends – so I don’t have any solutions to propose.  I just know that I’ve had these experiences a few times in my life.  And every time that it happens, it is always just as painful.

What these experiences have taught me – my friends – is that relationships can be precarious.  We’re all created with feelings, and emotions.  And the capacity to love deeply.  This same capacity also makes us vulnerable.  It has been my experience that as we age, we give of ourselves – and form lasting friendships – less and less easily.  I think that as we get to be middle aged, most of us really only have a few very close friends.  And we treasure those friendships, deeply.  Every once-in-a-while, though – life throws a curve ball, and one of our closest friendships takes a turn that we never would have expected!  Sometimes, whatever offense was brought only causes a temporary rift – but other times, it causes such a large – and enduring – rift, that the friendship cannot overcome it.   On the occasions that a long-term friendship ends suddenly, we always feel a deep sense of regret which can take time to fade.  In it’s wake, we usually wind up either drawing closer to a spouse, or another close friend of ours for comfort.

I think that as a partial result of these occasional losses, we wind up meditating on our own behavior – and the quality of our relationships with any remaining close friends.  I know that for myself, I wind up feeling a compulsion to run to the comforting arms of my Lord and Savior – as I try to discern what went wrong!  In His compassion, and steadfast love – I’m usually eventually able to come to grips with the loss.  I would admonish you though, friends – that as you’re working through the process – don’t distance yourselves from others that really care about you!  I believe that this is the point that I’ve been attempting to draw to – throughout this whole monologue.  There are always at least a few other people in your life who really care about you!  If in our grief, we deny any attempt that they may make to love and support us – we could be unintentionally causing a rift, ourselves.

It says in the Bible that acceptance and compassion are virtues.  I think that it is important for us, then – as we go about forming friendships – to bear these things in mind at all times.  As you keep, and develop friendships through the years – be kind to those you care about – and accept them for who they are, even with their weaknesses and short comings.  Have compassion for those less fortunate than yourself – or with special needs.  For not doing so is to to not – truly – value, the relationship.

Well, friends – I think that I’ve made my point for this evening.  Thank you for sitting and visiting with me, for a bit.  My friendship with each of you truly warms my heart!!  And as always – if something I’ve said strikes a chord with you – please comment, so that I may be party to your thoughts as well.

 

 

 

The First Christmas Message

Greetings friends! This evening, I’d like to share with you for a few minutes on the subject of holiday generosity. Since another year is beginning to draw to a close, I feel that it is an appropriate time to begin exploring the subject. Draw close, and visit with me for a bit.

Yesterday afternoon after my family and I enjoyed a nice respite from a couple of overly busy weeks, my husband and I spent most of a beautiful, early fall MN afternoon taking care of our grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks. Since grocery shopping for our family always means a trek to a completely different suburb, as my husband was driving I took my phone out and logged into Facebook – to catch up with what was going on in the world around me. After spending a few minutes scrolling through many less relevant posts, I came across a post – which someone who I have neither ever heard of before, or met – had posted to Target stores – and one of my closest friends had “liked”. It was the first of what will soon – I pray – become an array of posts – sharing the Christmas Message. The woman who narrated the message obviously works for Target corporation – as she shared the story as a first-person narrative.
As my luck has it, I seem to have lost the post – and I cannot remember the woman’s name who narrated the moving story. You’ve all heard it before, though – it was a touching and inspiring story of a kind-hearted stranger’s shining love and generosity towards someone less blessed than herself. It seemed that the woman who narrated the story – had been working at one of many Target stores across this country, and was in the process of ringing up a couple who had come in to do their weekly grocery shopping, who had two young children – and it was apparently quite obvious that the woman was expecting a third child, within the near future. The couple had filled their shopping cart with the barest necessities of maintaining their own existence, and raising two young children besides. When they finally approached one of the checkout registers, the man took out his bank debit card and handed it to the clerk for payment. On this particular evening, however – his luck turned and his debit card was declined. Not having enough cash with him to cover the total amount of their tab – the man pushed their shopping cart back into the store, out of the checkout aisle – and went off to make some phone calls in an attempt to find some method of covering the family’s purchases. While he was doing so, the individual who had been in line in front of the family – who only happened to have had a few items – and had already checked out, but had not left the store yet – having witnessed the couple behind theirs’ dilemna – waited patiently until the gentleman who had been checking out was well out of hearing range, and went back to the clerk and told her that she wished to pay for the family behind hers’ total purchases. The clerk – somewhat abashed – told her that the total was quite a bit. To which the lady who had been in front of them kindly responded that she had been saving some money, and really wanted to cover their tab. As the gentleman (and his wife) returned to the clerk with their cart full of merchandise, he was stunned when the clerk explained to him that even in society today, there are still people out there who care about their neighbors – and that his purchases had already been covered, in full! The narrative then continued. The gentleman of the family – having had some cash with him when the family entered the store – gave the clerk the $20 bill that he had in his wallet, and instructed her that he didn’t feel right accepting the complete generosity of the stranger who had been ahead of him – and that the clerk was to use his $20 to pay for the purse, which was the only item that a young lady in line behind him was waiting to purchase.
The narrative continued to explain that – several customers who were in line behind the initial family who had not had enough money to pay for their purchases – themselves, having witnessed the kindness and generosity shown to the family in need – continued to pay for the purchases of the customers behind them for about four more customers. As my husband and I spent time into the rest of the afternoon doing our grocery shopping, I was overcome by the emotion brought on by my friend’s “forwarding” of this account. It caused me to consider how quickly this Christmas season is drawing near and I couldn’t help but start thinking . . . . what am I going to do this year to be the face and the heart of God to those less fortunate than me? I implore you, friends – even for those of us who don’t make a lot of money at our jobs – but who live comfortably . . . . even if it’s as simple as buying strangers a couple of cups of coffee each week for the next several, or putting more money than you usually do into your church’s benevolent offering the next couple of times that they take one – to help families where only one spouse is working, or purchasing groceries for a couple who have more than one young child – and could really use some assistance with necessities this season . . . . what are you going to do to share love, and kindness with others around you this holiday season?
Blessings, my friends – and thank you for taking time to visit with me again. Your friendship really warms my heart

A Marriage Made In Heaven

Good evening, friends!  Pondering the dynamics of marriage, a bit – this evening.  For those of you who have been married for ten years, or more – how have you compromised regarding values that are not mutual, to you?  Recently, I’ve been feeling that there are tenants of our relationship that I really value – that my husband doesn’t, so much.  Conversely, I’m sure that there are tenants of our relationship that my husband really values – that I don’t, so much.  As long as these conflicts in values aren’t too numerous, they don’t impact our relationships too heavily – right?  What happens – however – when one of you starts feeling like there are numerous “values” that aren’t shared?   This brings me to my next query, for all of you.  I know that most couples who remain married for years, have groups that they participate in – with other women, or men – separate from their spouses.  I believe that to some extent, this is healthy for all of our self-images as individuals.  If we truly value our marriages, I believe that we must be careful how many – individual – activities/groups we commit to, on a regular basis.  I think that those of us who are happily married also have at least a couple of activities that we share – or groups that we participate in – with our spouses.  Within the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself wondering . . . . for those of you who have spouses who travel (or who have jobs that require you to travel, yourselves) – or who are so busy with different activities, for your children – how frequently, or how occasionally – are you able to spend time together?  And when you do, do you find that over the life of your marriage – you always value the same things, in your relationship?  Or have your values changed (or “morphed”, at all) in different “seasons” of life?   It’s been my experience that – for the last few years, as I age – it has become more important to me to “fit into” some groups.  To have a group of people around me who affirm me for who I am.  Recently, I’ve felt that that’s lacking – and I find myself expecting my husband to be able to fill that void, when I know that I really need to be looking to God! For ultimately, it is God who is the creator – and the author – of our days, and God who invites us to rest in Him when we’re weary, and heavy laden.  Still . . . sometimes I struggle with humbling myself before Him as I’m called to do.    What about you, friends?  For those of you who have been married for several years – do you and your spouse share the same, personal “values” – or do you have different “values” which you’re both able to respect?  And over the lives of your marriages, have those values always been the same?  Or have they changed (or “morphed”, at all) – in different “seasons” of life?  Blessings to you, friends – and as always, I anticipate your thoughts.

On The Power of Affirmation and Generosity

Good evening, friends!  This shall be a shorter blog than usual.  This evening, I just feel compelled to share a bit about the power of affirmation and gifts in people’s lives.  This is common knowledge for most of us – but it never hurts to reiterate it again, every so often.  Earlier this evening, I had an experience that is probably going to se…

em fairly benign, to most of you.  But it moved me to start reflecting – once again – on the incredible power of affirmation in people’s lives!  I had logged on to Facebook – as I generally do on evenings that our family doesn’t have any activities, for a couple of hours.  Any of you that know me well, know that usually after logging on – I do spend about an hour playing FarmVille.  But this evening, I wasn’t logging on with the intention of playing, at all.  Just to monitor how many of my friends (and family in WA State) were online, and who is doing what – and thinking about what – this evening.  Not long after I logged on, an “Instant Message” window popped open, and I had greetings from an old, Senior High classmate of mine – who’s blogs I’ve been following for about four months now.  We didn’t wind up conversing for very long, but he opened the conversation by saying “You’re awesome!”  I asked him why (as I didn’t recall having done anything particularly deserving of that strong of a sentiment) – and he responded with, “You just are!”  Now – it’s not that I have a low self-image to begin with, but . . . . generally speaking, on a daily basis this is not the kind of sentiment that I receive from most people that I work – or associate – with!!  In the midst of a long week in the office, however – and some minor trials at home with my teenage children – it was amazing how just that – single, positive comment is still resounding within me, and has made my evening!  It also made me reflect on a time – back almost a year ago, now – prior to Christmas of 2011 – when I had gone into a Caribou (MN chain coffee shop) before work one morning – to get a cup of coffee.  The early morning line had progressed to the point where I only had one person in front of me.  When it came to be the customer in front of me’s turn to make her order, she stepped up to the counter and ordered her cup of coffee – and then told the barista who was waiting on her to put whatever I wished on her “tab”, as well.  I’d never been so surprised in my life!!  It’s not that people in MN aren’t – generally – generous, but believe me friends – even here, that is not a regular morning occurrence at Caribou!  But that generous gesture made the rest of my week, that week!  It wasn’t like I didn’t have enough cash – right “in hand” that morning – to pay for my coffee, but the generosity of the gesture made me feel so good that for the rest of my week, I found myself reflecting on the thought that perhaps I should start doing that for others – as often as possible! For many of us who work in fast-paced, demanding, emotionally draining jobs/offices – it is really amazing how far positive, affirming statements to others – and public “edification” – can go!  I’ve also found that occasional acts of generosity can go a long way towards making others feel that they’re important!  In several chapters of the Bible, God calls us to love and affirm others – and to share with our neighbors out of all our riches.  I believe that not only in the season of Advent, but all year long we need to bear these sentiments in mind as we go about our daily lives.  Affirmation and generosity really do impact others – and they’re both so easy to grace others with. These are my reflections for this evening.  Blessings to all of you and your families – and as always, I anticipate your feedback friends!   : )