Tag Archives: simple things that make life better

Does God Shop?

If you don’t believe God likes to shop, I’m here to challenge your perceptions.

Or maybe He just likes me to shop.

See last Wednesday was my birthday. I finish a tall cup of nice, hot tea and good conversation with a friend at Starbucks and had a little space between our time together and my next appointment.

Leaning back on the comfy chair I let the joy of unscheduled time wash over me. “What should we do next, God, for my birthday?”

I swear He said, “Let’s see what they have at Hobby Lobby.”

Bet you’ll believe me when you hear the rest of the story.

This whole new family room thing is a bigger deal than most of you know. I’ve prayed for at least ten years to be able to redecorate. I am going to be brave and admit to the world at large that the carpet down there is at least 30 years old and held together with duct tape. So when God brought the resources to give that space a face-lift, well, it’s an answer to years of prayer. (When we’re finally done I’ll take pictures. Promise!)

So back to my story. My birthday. Hobby Lobby. I was drawn to the pictures. Not the little ones. The big ones. And in that department I drooled, then stopped dead in my tracks.

In front of me was a photo on canvas. Not only did the picture invite me to saunter down to the ocean and dangle my feet in the water, the heart of its message communicated exactly what I want my new family room to say.

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Breathe.

Be at peace.

Relax. Be refreshed.

I stared.

It was also the perfect colors to connect that new pewter lamp with the “sand” sofa and the calming blues, greens, and grays of the new paint.

I flipped that sucker over and moaned. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money. “I’d pay half that,” I thought.

With a wistful sigh I continued my wanderings around the store. I resisted the temptation to look at the bracelet charms. I browsed the fabric, a past-time made enjoyable thanks to a grandmother who sewed me dresses when I was a child.

Then I saw it. A sign advertising 50% off canvas prints!

I rushed back to the picture section to inquire. Evidently, the sale was over, but one of the signs advertising it had been overlooked when they were taken down. Store policy said they had to honor the discount! I was told to check out with a particular cashier to receive that amazing price.

I grabbed the perfect candles (also 50% off) to continue with my sand and sea theme and headed to the check out counter.

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The cashier’s name was Joy.

Could it be more perfect?

“Do you want to hear a joyful story?” I asked.

“Of course!” She said.

I poured it all out. How the canvas was the culmination of years of prayer and a brand new look in my family room.

Her wide smile matched my own. “The Lord wanted you to have that picture!” she said.

Yes. Yes he did.

I don’t really know what He thinks about shopping, but I do know we have a Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. He knows our hearts. He cares about the little things.

Happy here in Colorado,

Paula another test (401x192) (2)

 

Lessons from Sam and LOTR: “There’s some good in this world.”

The things we do for love.

Some of them aren’t so hard. My sweet Sam, still recovering from surgery and growing increasingly tired of being tied to crutches, requested a Lord of the Rings Marathon. Extended version, of course.

After 12 plus hours of immersion in the trilogy thoughts continue to surface.

Yes, I’ve read the book. Watched the abridged versions of the Peter Jackson movies. Even watched the extended movies all in one day before. (Sam’s request one year for his birthday.) But with something as deep as Lord of the Rings it seems there is always a new take-away.

One of the things I’m pondering is this scene:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

When I watched this part of the movie, what jumped out at me is “There’s some good in this world.”

Not great revelation, but don’t we sometimes forget?

Life can grow dark. My mind can dwell on the darkness. Perhaps this tendency fueled my journey of recording 1,000 gifts. 

Writing my gratitude all over the basement walls changed me. Not that I live every, single moment in gratitude.

But I look for the good. Notice it more often.

Like Sam I know good exists. The darkness must pass. The sun will shine out all the clearer because of the darkness.

20140729_153036I read recently that perseverance alone is not enough. That true persistence is waiting on God with joyful anticipation.

Much of my life has been persevering with clenched fists instead of joyful anticipation. But maybe I’m learning. And part of my new understanding is that to embrace joy in the hard times I must remember there is good.

It shows up in simple places. The beautiful green after rain. The deep-throated guffaws of my boys, now all young men, shoveling down dinner while they crack their jokes. The feel of my husband’s hand upon my waist as I drift into sleep. Fresh strawberries. Friendship.

His gifts are everywhere. Even in the shadowed times there is good. Sometimes it’s a fight in my heart to see it.

But good is worth fighting for.

Until next time,

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Refreshment

20140722_093918-1The breeze brushes my face, wispy fingers cooling my questions.

It’s funny what conquers the ragged places. You think it will take something big–like getting the answers you want–but sometimes it’s the simplest relief.

Like this light wind whisking away the heat as we sit beneath the shade trees of our backyard .

It doesn’t answer the questions I asked last night. It doesn’t change the circumstances of frustration.

But it is LOVE.

And isn’t this life full of Him when I open my heart to see?

Conviction hits with that statement. It’s not always about my ability to open my heart. Last night’s questions weren’t coming from this happy, open place.

The breeze, this quiet moment away from the sweltering heat of my home and the suffocating heat of my heart is a gift. I didn’t earn it by being some goody-goody person living open and happy.

I have cultivated the notice of such by an intentional decision to say thank you. I did ask God last night for help when I felt the doldrums coming on. But I didn’t make the breeze. I didn’t force my heart open.

I think only God can open the heart. My will can ask Him to. My logic knows it is good for me. But the heart? That’s something different all together.

The heart is where HE lives. And He is hope. Joy. Peace. Love. All the things I long for. He opens this place to the Good.

When I cried out in the sweaty night, hot and tired, unable to sleep, He granted my body rest and awoke me to this day. This moment.

I’ve no doubt that His Spirit tempted me outside. It started with notice of wilting basil leaves, so thirsty.20140723_124649 Then the act of running up and down the stairs, back porch to plant watering jug in hand, awakened me to the possibilities.

Sam’s hot and tired, too. Maybe even more than I with all of his aching surgery hip and sitting in front of TV and gaming station, being tied to crutches, mostly trapped inside.

So we breakfasted in the breeze. Talked of everything and nothing. How this summer was his favorite summer of baseball ever. He thanked me for his childhood, precious son that he is, as we stared at the swing set which sits mostly still these days. I guess kids reminisce, too. Even as I silently mourned the decaying tree house, the lack of shrieking, giggling little ones, he celebrates the good, sees the big yard and the tire swing and dangling climbing rope and remembers. Happy. (And yes, I hear the lesson in that.)

Now we sit side-by-side, lap-tops perched on the patio table that speaks love, too (It once belonged to Bernice, and I know she would rejoice in seeing us here). We let the fresh air clear our head, cool our bodies, lift our spirits.

A pure, white butterfly flits by. Lands on the rose bush.

Bird song wafts on the breeze.

We believe again in season, in ups and downs, and how the downs don’t last forever. His crutches will soon be abandoned. The stuff that weighed on my emotions last night will pass. We remember that even in those downs there is relief. We discover gifts. Embrace love.

I am happy, too. Son beside me. Cool breeze refreshing.

Hope you’re finding joy in the simple pleasures, too, my friends.

Until next time,

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Beauty in the Everyday

As summer decides whether or not it will yield to autumn, I’m celebrating the glorious blooms that decorate the yards and sidewalks on my mini-journeys. No mountain travels for a while, but a walk with my friend Jennifer or Dani, or the rare treat of strolling with Jerry now that he’s working so much, still yields beauty.

Here’s to you finding joy in the everyday journeys~

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Everyday beauty

Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

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Ever need a healthy pick-me-up on a long, demanding afternoon? I LOVED this. It was similar to an Orange Julius, but low in calories (205) and no added sugar. It also gave me strengthening protein and carried me until we had a late supper that night.

Some almond milk is only 30 calories a cup. This one is 40, but the recipe is based on a 30 calorie intake.

I believe in my BEfull shakes. They are designed by Life Force International to aid weight loss and lean muscle development and have blend of proprietary protein, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Additions like this one make them fun. I got this idea from my friend Dani.

Here’s what I used to make my afternoon pick-me-up:

4 oz orange juice

6 oz almond milk

2 Scoops BEfull (vanilla flavor)

For taste, you can play with the amounts of milk and orange juice. I used less orange juice than you might prefer in an effort to keep the calories down.

Besides supporting healthy and weight loss, I see this shake as one of those simple things that makes life better!

Enjoy!

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A great tasting, healthy boost for a long afternoon

Summer Joy

rhubarbEmbracing life’s simple pleasures brings joy. One of summer’s gifts in Colorado is rhubarb. Though incredibly tart, when mixed with a sugar, honey, or strawberries, it is delightful!

It’s also a gorgeous plant, hardy, and resilient. I’ve given mine very little care, but it comes back, year after year. It does require a lot of water if you want it to bear repeatedly throughout the summer, and over-harvesting can ruin your return. Only a third of the plant should be harvested at time. Also, the plant should not be allowed to flower. When blooms start to form, remove the stalk where they grow. Allowing the plant to flower reduces return.

My favorite rhubarb dish is homemade pie. My husband loves rhubarb sauce. He makes a steaming hot loaf of homemade wholewheat bread, covers it in real cream, then covers that in rhubarb. Sarah thinks rhubarb is best when mixed with strawberries. Stephen rates Miss Monique’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam at the top.

One of my favorite rhubarb stories includes our foreign exchange student from Spain. Before coming to my house he’d never been introduced to pie or to rhubarb. His first few days here he was tenuous about trying such things, IMAG2030even apple pie during our Fourth of July celebration. But after he was here a few weeks he grew bolder–and rhubarb pie became a favorite. He even admitted to getting up in the middle of the night and having a piece! Before returning to his homeland we’d convinced him that pie is one of the USA’s best pleasures.

Part of sustaining my BeNew journey is giving myself permission to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like rhubarb pie. I can’t eat heavy calorie treats like this at every meal or even every day, but enjoyed in balance with good fresh fruits and vegetables and a mile or two walk through the neighborhood, enjoying life’s good stuff keeps me happy and able to maintain my weight loss goals.

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Rhubarb: a simple pleasure