Lock Up The Luggage of Worry

Worry robs today of creative energy.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”

The words of Jesus from John 14:1 remind me I have a choice every day. I can decide to trouble my  heart, or trust in God. I trouble my heart when I continue to play negative tapes in my mind. These tapes often include fears about the future. 

Worry robs today of creative energy. 

Sometimes people feel obligated to worry. As if worrying is necessary baggage to carry along on the journey of life. Some carry their worries in a briefcase, others drag an oversized suitcase behind them everywhere they go. I’m kind of in the middle. My worries fit neatly in a backpack but it’s heavy and the load keeps me from climbing the high places. 

Stop and think about the mental energy we use when we worry. Couldn’t that energy be spent writing, painting, or gardening? What could we accomplish if we set our suitcase to the side and refused to open it? 

Worry robs today of it’s joy.

When we live in the present we start to be more aware of our surroundings. We hear a bird chirping outside our window. We smell the coffee brewing in the kitchen. Put your hand over your heart. Feel your pulse and rejoice because you are alive! 

Most of the time the exercise of “troubling our hearts” doesn’t solve whatever problem we’re dwelling upon. It only makes us feel anxious.  So how do we put a lock on our luggage?

Present your requests to God.

Once you’ve prayed about your concern, imagine tucking it away and locking it up. Allow the peace of God to fill your mind. Remember, God wants the best for you. He will be with you in all of your tomorrows. 

Do Something!

“You’ve got to get busy living or get busy dying.”

The quote from the movie, The Shawshank Redemption offers good advice. We can choose how to occupy our time. Each day is a gift. We can waste it by rearranging the worries in our luggage, or lock it up and set it aside. 

What does being busy living look like to you? Let’s not waste the gift of today. Take a walk. Read a good book. Bake cookies. Take a friend to coffee. Make a list of all the the things in your life you are thankful for. Enjoy today. Sleep well tonight. Enjoy tomorrow. 

“Whatever is lovely, think about such things. And may the God of peace be with you.” Phillippians 4:8,9

 

Giving Thanks

Writers are always looking for inspiration. Like many people, I find inspiration in Scripture and nature. This month I decided to read a psalm every day and journal a few notes about each one. If I continue this habit I’ll finish the book of Psalms by the end of March. The chapters are short, poetic, and emotional. In many of the passages, David despairs about his enemies, but closes with a proclamation of faith in the power of God to help him. He thanks God for protection and provision. David often thanks God for simply being God.

Psalm 19 is one of my favorites. Here are the first several verses from the NIV:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run its course.

It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul.”

Wow! I hope this psalm blesses you as much it has blessed me. The heavens do declare the glory of God.  The stars do sing of his beauty and authority. The universal language spoken by his creation can be understood no matter what language someone speaks. I am humbled when I look at the work of his hands. It’s then that I’m reminded of how small I am and how much I need him.

The word holiday derives from “holy day.” A day set apart, not for the anticipation of Black Friday, but to give thanks to the one who set the planets in motion. Let’s remember to seek the giver of all things good.

The phrase “Happy Thanksgiving” is kind of an oxymoron. How can anyone give thanks and not be happy?

May your joy be full as you celebrate God’s goodness with loved ones this Thanksgiving.

Until next time…

 

 

 

The Spark

A tiny spark ignites

the forest floor ablaze.

Red-hot flames surge high

Starlight eclipsed by haze.

Fire consumes the thicket

exposing blackened earth

A perfect bed prepared

expecting the new birth.

 

Old sequoia smolders

Its pulse begins to pound.

Dozens of roasted cones

Shed their seeds to the ground.

Nurtured by rain and sun

Unseen by human eyes,

Pushing up from the ashes

Tender seedlings rise.

 

 

 

Are We There Yet?

What parent hasn’t heard this question from their impatient child on a family road trip? It’s hard for kids to wait. Sometimes it’s hard for adults to wait. How many times have you felt impatient when traffic slows down to a crawl? The older I get the more I realize life is all about waiting. Human beings stand in one long line waiting for their turn. We experience waiting in lines at stoplights, the grocery, or theme parks. And most of us have let out a sigh of frustration when we take a number at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I think ninety percent of my life has been spent waiting.

Here’s a list of seven things I’ve waited for this week:

  • For a prescription to be filled by the pharmacy.
  • For our carpet to dry after being professionally cleaned.
  • For our car’s hitch to be repaired so that we can pull our camper.
  • For my poison ivy induced rash to stop itching and go away.
  • For updates to be installed on my phone.
  • For more people to follow my blog.
  • For cooler temperatures. (A desire of many Floridians in October.)

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll come up with another list by next week. Sometimes delays result from my own choices. But delays which involve wait time usually depend upon people or forces beyond my control.

Does waiting frustrate you? I admit I have a hard time waiting.  Here’s a great quote from Joyce Meyer:

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait… it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”

When I was forced to wait for my prescription to be filled, I became angry. How dare the pharmacist go to lunch when I need my medication? Then I realized, I’m hungry, too, I think I’ll grab a sandwich while I wait and do a little shopping. Taking a break and eating something helped me accept the fact the world doesn’t revolve around me. I was able to be polite when the pharmacy staff took my order.

Sometimes I try to take shortcuts to decrease my wait time. If you’ve ever used the WAYS App while driving, you understand how the navigation system reroutes you around road congestion.

But taking a shortcut isn’t always the best way to deal with decreasing wait time. For instance, if the mechanic leaves a few steps out when he’s repairing our car, we could encounter a possible disaster on the road.

Stop and think, has the end result of anything ever improved because you hurried? Generally, the answer is no. Hurry makes us more anxious and accident prone. We can’t take ten days of antibiotics in one dose and hope we will get better faster. Physical healing is something we can’t rush.

Arnold H. Glasgow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

How do you deal with wait time?

Thank you for reading my blog, which by the way is a great way to pass the time when you’re sitting in a waiting room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Fear Trap You from Pursuing Your Dreams?

Two years ago my husband asked me to join him for a two-day guided mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. At first, I hesitated to give him an answer. I have no riding skills and I’m fearful of heights. His idea seemed out of the question.

Even so, I began to entertain the thought. I’ve always wanted the experience of being inside the canyon instead of standing at the rim, so I agreed to go. Once he made our reservations and flight arrangements, there was no turning back. In the meantime, I set my heart on trying to think positive thoughts about what might await us.

Have you ever allowed fear to keep you from following your dream? A few weeks ago one of my followers commented she wants to write more, but is fearful her work will be rejected by others. She avoids spending time writing by busying herself with other activities until she no longer has time available. Her fear has become a source of self-protection.

I appreciated her honesty. Good for you, the first step to overcoming fear is acknowledging it.

Author Tosca Lee said something I will never forget. “Write like no one will see this.” Writing like no one will see it chases fear away and permits us to create. We need to banish the self-critic in order to let our thoughts flow onto the paper. Until we engage in our art, we seldom move forward.

It’s true that not all of our creative works are worthy of publication. Rejection goes with the territory, whether it be from an editor, a friend, or a spouse. My husband is my sounding board. Sometimes he proofs my work and says, “I’m not getting this.” Then I know I haven’t made myself clear. Time for another revision. Rejection can make us better writers.

Accept the reality there are people who can write better than you. Comparing ourselves to others chokes our creativity. Our current culture demands instant success. But how do people achieve success? First, they decide to start. Then they decide to continue. Most marathon runners begin by competing in a 5K. Slowly, they continue to build their stamina by participating in longer races.

We can receive encouragement from Scripture when facing fearful situations. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 29:25. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

Just like a snare traps a small animal, fear traps us from pursuing our dreams. Pray for courage to throw off fear and trust God to take you where He wants you to go.

When I descended into the Grand Canyon, I didn’t look to the right or left of the trail. I kept my focus straight ahead on Olga, my mule. Olga, you know the way. You’ve traveled this path many times. As Olga continued to steadily plod along, I began to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape of the canyon. For more details about the trip, see my previous post entitled, Trust and Obey.

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Ask yourself what matters. Are you content to stay in your comfort zone? Is it time to stop viewing the canyon from the rim?

 

 

Do you like your job?

I think most people would agree there are things they like and dislike about their job. In my featured photo I’m shown working at my desk when I taught third grade. I look happy. Maybe this was taken on a Friday after school dismissed!

Now that I’m retired, I look back on my career with amazement. How did I do it? How does any teacher manage to fulfill all the expectations of the position? The only way I survived was by learning how to multi-task. Somehow teachers manage to take attendance, listen to morning announcements, and keep an eye on the class all at the same time. Jacks of all trades, teachers fulfill many roles.

On Labor Day, we pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. For most workers our jobs are the most important thing in our lives.  After years of working at the same job, we begin to identify ourselves by our career. When introduced to someone, we ask, “What do you do for a living?” This pattern continues during retirement, “What did you retire from?”

It’s difficult for people to retire because it’s hard to imagine a life without work. Some feel like life will have no purpose or meaning. I’m often asked, “So what do you do all day?”

“I fill my days in much the same way I did during summer vacation. The big difference is I never reach a date on the calendar when I start to feel anxious about school starting again.”

We confuse the value of our work with the amount of money we receive for it. When I stayed at home to care for my preschool children, I received no income, but the experiences we shared were invaluable. Our “self-worth” should not be dependent on our level of income.

Do you feel undervalued at work? Comedian George Carlin said, “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

Too bad Mr. Carlin seems to have forgotten, the butterfly once was the caterpillar.

One of my favorite scriptures reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23,24 NIV

If I work at something with all my heart, I feel content knowing I’ve done my best, even if no one else seems to notice.

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Engaging in our work changes us. Our “on the job experiences” teach us new skills. By trial and error we learn new ways of problem solving to accomplish our goals. Eventually we discover that like the monarch, we can fly!

Happy Labor Day!

If you’ve enjoyed my musings about work, please subscribe to be notified of future posts. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the Door of the Imagination

Have you ever wondered what the door to your imagination might look like? If I could create such a door, it would be similar to the one in my featured image. This is the door to creativity, a place for writers and painters. Inside is a library of books, works of art, and maybe even the internet!

Where do you receive inspiration? Many people find it in nature, listening to music, or spending time with God in prayer. If you’re a creative person you know the importance of taking time to breathe in. By taking time to inhale the creativity around us, we become more creative.

Author, E.M. Forster wrote, “In the creative state a man is taken out of himself. He lets down, as it were, a bucket into his subconscious, and draws up something that is normally beyond his reach. He mixes this thing with his normal experiences and out of the mixture he makes a work of art.”

So what keeps us from accessing these places beyond our reach? For some of us it’s the busyness of life. For many of us it’s fear. When we are unsure how the finished product will look, or how it might be received by others, we quit even before we begin. We never access the areas of the imagination beyond our reach.

Some people experience writer’s block. This might happen when we rely too much on ourselves for ideas. If we step back and take time to do something which inspires us, we can find new inspiration. A wonderful book to read on this subject is The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer.

Where do you get creative ideas? In your sleep? In the shower? When you’re taking a walk? Sometimes when we allow our minds to relax fresh ideas come to the forefront of our brains. I love the “Aha” moment!

Writing is not just about hitting the keys. It means taking time to recharge and reenergize ourselves. It means taking time to play and imagine like we did as children. Make a bucket list of places you might go to for inspiration. You don’t need to travel far. Visit a local garden or gallery.

The door in my feature image was created by Colin Woley. It’s part of the Enchanted Fairy Door Exhibit at Leu Gardens in Orlando. This whimsical exhibit will delight your imagination. The tiny doors are placed in various locations throughout the fifty-acre garden. The exhibit is on display until September 23, 2018.