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Birds and Blessings

The trip began like any other trip.  My husband, Doug, and I set out to have an adventure.  With the truck packed with camping gear, we headed north from our home in Southern California.  Every time before we leave on a trip, we pray for protection and that God will put people in our path that we can bless and possibly pray with.  Well, this trip our prayer was answered, but we were the ones with the blessings.

It all began in a hotel in Redding, California. After driving all day on our way to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, we decided to stop for the night.  Along our drive somehow we had lost one of our sleeping mats out of the back of our truck.  We were bummed because now we would have to buy another one before we got to the campground.  As we were in the parking lot of the hotel getting ready to leave, we began a conversation with a gentleman named Michael. During the course of the conversation, we mentioned the missing mat.  Michael goes over to his truck and pulls out a memory foam sleeping mat and gave it to us. Blessing number one!

During the next eight days of our trip, we were blessed with free wood, free thermos of coffee, free cookies, and a beautiful piece of sea glass from a surfer. At the last place we camped at in Morro Bay, we were blessed with the presence of many types of birds, including a seagull we nicknamed Mouch. Mouch would sit our truck everyday and wait for food. Yes, we believe that even birds can be a blessing.

I began thinking about the phrase “Count Your Blessings”.  During this trip , we were literally counting our blessings. I wondered how many times I go about my day not recognizing the blessings in my life, small and big.  I realize that just as Doug and I desire to be a blessing to others, there are many people who have the same desire to spread kindness. Whether it be a surfer taking time to pick up a piece of sea glass and give it to me or someone providing food and comfort to someone who is mourning a loved one. Life is full of opportunities to be a blessing and in turn, allowing someone else to fulfill their desire to be a blessing also.

Count your blessings- not the problems.  When we do, even birds will be a blessing

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To Resolve or Not to Resolve

The word resolute is defined as an adjective. It describes a person who is purposeful and determined. The phrase New Year Resolution is defined as a statement in which the person resolves to change an undesirable trait, or make a change in an area of his or her life to reach a desired goal. So if the person making a resolution does not already possess the traits of a resolute person, does a New Years resolution set a person up for failure?

Are you a person that has a hard time following through with commitments? Starts something and does not finish it? Procrastinates and puts off doing tasks? If you are honest enough to admit it, I will be honest enough to say I am right there with you. There are some things I will follow through with but I am not always consistent, especially if it is something that is unfamiliar and uninteresting to me.

I wonder if instead of resolving to make a specific change in my life, I should commit to becoming a resolute person. I believe we all can become the type of person we want to be. Not through making a resolution to do a specific thing, but by developing the traits of determination, dependability, and consistency.

Just something to think about as we begin this new year

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When There Are No Words

Can you think back to a time when someone said something or did something that had a profound effect on you? It may have been a stranger that reached out to hug you when you were hurting or a family member who made an effort to listen when you just needed to talk. Go back to that moment in time, did you feel loved, secure and safe? I remember a time when I was struggling emotionally about a relationship. I went to church and at the end of the service, the pastor announced that if anyone needed prayer there were people in the back of the room to pray with. I sat silently for a moment, then I got up and headed towards the back of the room. Before I could say anything, a woman came up to me smiling the biggest smile and she wrapped her arms around me. I remember the warmth of her hug, and the sincerity of her smile as I melted into her arms and began sobbing. I can’t remember what she said to me after that, but I do remember how she made me feel. Without saying a word this stranger made me feel loved, secure and safe.

It is difficult to know what to say when you see someone hurting, especially a loved one. As compassionate people, we want to take away the pain or solve the situation. Many times there is nothing you can do or say to take away the suffering or resolve the situation. You can, however; be that warm hug, that sincere smile, and listening ear. So many people don’t reach out because they don’t want to upset the person or remind them of their hurt. Be assured the person feels the loss, the hurtful situation, or the failure everyday, especially if it is recent. Just knowing someone cares that they are hurting can bring healing.

As Christmas approaches, there are people who are missing loved ones or dealing with a loss in their life. Family get-togethers are bitter-sweet because there is someone who is no longer there. Remembering good times together helps to renew a positive connection to memories. Create memorials and continue traditions that honor the past, yet look toward the future. Most of all, look toward God for peace and strength in times of sorrow.

Sadly, our family is suffering this Christmas season because of a very recent loss of a loved one. Together we have cried, prayed, and shared memories. Together we have felt the peace of God and shared the ultimate gift- love.


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Where is the Joy?

This time of year is like no other. As the month of December begins so does a certain feeling in the air. It’s the feeling of busyness. You see it in the faces of the people around you. There is more traffic, more noise, and more impatient people. People feel as though they need to buy the best presents, decorate to impress, attend all the parties, and do something all the time. In all this busyness, where is the joy?

Yesterday, as I was shopping, Andy Williams song, “Happiest Time of the Year ” played throughout the store. I wondered is this really the happiest time of the year? I looked at the faces of the people around me. I looked for laughter, joy, even a smile, but instead I saw frustration, impatience , and frowns. Even the greeter at the door says a half-hearted welcome. This made me sad. Where is the joy?

I grew up watching “Little House on the Prairie”. I remember watching the first Christmas the family spent in the Big Woods. All the little sister wanted was a star for the tree because it reminded her of baby Jesus. The star on the tree brought her great happiness. Just a simple request but in it she found true joy!

As I sit here writing this blog, I vow this Christmas to focus on the simple aspects of life. I vow to remember why there is joy because of the birth of Jesus. As I shop, I vow to focus on the joy of giving, not on getting the perfect present. As I attend the parties and family gatherings, I vow to find joy in the hugs, the conversations, and the connections made with others rather than worrying about finding that perfect outfit to wear. As I go about my day, I vow to smile at strangers, find ways to offer a helping hand, and keep the Christmas joy alive today and every day. Faith Hill sings about this in her song, ” Where are you Christmas?”. Listen to it and just think about where your heart is this Christmas. If your heart is full of joy, spread this joy to others because sometimes people just need a reminder. Hopefully this blog will be a reminder , as it was for me as I wrote it, to focus on the true joy and feeling of Christmas and how to have this feeling everyday.

Joy is contagious… spread it to those around you and this will truly be the happiest time of the year

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All That Really Matters

A mother shuffles down the same hospital hall she has walked 100 times before. Her legs are so tired she can barely lift them to walk normally. She braves a smile when passing the nameless faces she recognizes but doesn’t have the energy to greet with conversation. Before “that day” a month ago , she relished the opportunity to talk to a stranger. She enjoyed getting to know a person’s story. Now the only story that runs through her mind is the memory of “that day’ when her child became ill, the sound of the ambulance siren, and the concerned faces of the emergency room nurses as they tirelessly worked to save her child’s life. In fact, nothing is like it was before “that day.” She lives in a world of IV starts, beeping monitors, tubes, and endless conversations with nurses, doctors, and specialists.

The mother enters her child’s room to see her husband sitting in the chair beside the bed staring at the frail little person in front of him as if waiting for a sign, any sign that will give them hope. Her husband who before “that day” was quick with a smile and a joke, now with tears in his eyes, folds his hands in prayer and begs for a miracle. The mother thinks about last year at this time. The last minute shopping trips to the store, getting upset at her husband for watching the football game instead of helping, her obsessive need to have everything look perfect, and even the argument she had with her sister about how long to cook the turkey. All those things seem so unimportant now. Her heart is broken. Her child is lying in a hospital bed and there isn’t anything she can do about it. All that really matters is seeing her child’s smile again.

The parents sit together in quiet conversation, hand in hand, both silently wishing they didn’t have to be there but knowing there isn’t anywhere else they want to be. As they watch their sleeping child, their hearts fill with gratitude. They are thankful for the beeping of the monitors that indicate life. They are thankful for the love of family who have cried with them, prayed with them, and encouraged them to not give up hope. They are thankful for the nurses’ and doctors’ knowledge and dedication. They are thankful for God’s strength which they rely on to make it through everyday. The thankfulness they feel this year at Thanksgiving is more heartfelt than ever before because this year they are thankful for what really matters.

This Thanksgiving celebrate life and love for it is all that really matters

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“Someday” is Now

As we reach our fifties, our mindset changes as we think about our future. What will life look like when we are in our sixties? Then not too far after, are the seventies? Discussions about retirement , savings, bucket lists, best states for retirees, and things we want to do before we get to the point where we can’t are all valid and necessary issues to think about either by yourself or with your partner.

Thinking and planning for these future events shouldn’t be negative, it should be exciting. We are all getting older and there is nothing we can do about it. However, we can do something about the quality of life as we age. Take time to go to the places and do the things you put aside to do “someday”. Someday is now. If money is tight, consider downsizing so that you can enjoy life the way you have always imagined.

Everyone has a different “imagined life.” Maybe you imagine having a huge home where family can gather or maybe you want to live in a motor home and travel. Maybe you have always wanted to have a beautiful garden or learn to make quilts. Your “imagined life” doesn’t have to require a lot of money or a total life change, it requires passion. It is a desire to live in a way that makes you fulfilled. If you’re living your imagined life right now, that is awesome. If you are not, it is not too late. It may take some planning, sacrifices, research, and making some hard decisions, but it is worth it.

Be realistic though. If you can’t sing your “imagined life” as a rock star is not going to happen. You must know what is realistic according to your own strengths and desires of your heart. If it is within reach, go for it and don’t stop. I have been in the process of living my “imagined life” for the last seven years. My husband and I are in another phase of planning for our future” imagined life. ” I know it can be scary, but you will never know if you can do it until you do it.

Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Don’t live for “someday” and forget to live today

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Unanswered Prayers

As thanksgiving approaches, we begin thinking of all the good things in our lives. We are thankful for family, friends, and our jobs. We think of our blessings, but have you ever been thankful for something that didn’t happen for you? Can you think back to a time in your life when you wanted something so bad? You thought about it all the time. You might have even prayed that God would allow this in your life. Maybe it was a relationship, job, buying a house, or something that you wanted to own. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out and you were disappointed.

I think all of us can look back on something that we really wanted and think “Wow, I am glad that didn’t work out. ” Think about how your life would be so different if that “want” would of happen. If we are really honest with ourselves, we realize that some of our “wants” were not good for us anyways. Maybe it would of put us in debt, created heartbreak, or kept us from experiencing current blessings in our lives.

For me, this is where faith comes in. I know God knows what I need more than I do, so if something doesn’t work out, I have to believe that it is for my own good. I think to myself that there must be something better for me in the future. This way of thinking gives me hope for the future and softens the feelings of disappointment.

Garth Brooks sang “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers. Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs; that just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”

So as we express our thanksgiving for all of our blessings remember to be thankful for the unanswered prayers too because they just might be blessings in disguise.