First Sunday of Lent 2017 Thoughts

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, this line from a powerful hymn still tells of the strength available to us in our time of temptation.

I’m no scholar or theologian but for me a good definition of sin is anything that takes me away from serving God. I am very aware of my greatest temptations in my daily life.  There are big and little battles to be fought.  And we can’t fight them all at one time either.  Some may be easy enough to be handled throughout the day with no more effort than to be aware of what I say.  Others have malicious roots deeply embedded in my being and require major effort.

While I work on watching what I say, I remind myself not to be critical of people I see in passing and what I say in everyday conversations so I avoid gossip.  Wouldn’t I be a much worse person than anyone I could possibly speak poorly of?  Whoever I encounter daily, passing by on the streets or while shopping, have their own burdens to bare and behaviors to deal with, so who am I to judge them?

We listened to a good lesson today – The Temptation of Jesus from Matthew chapter 4. How can any of us hope to not be tempted by sin if our Lord Jesus wasn’t exempt!  And how did Jesus respond each time?  “It is written”.  That makes me realize I need to be reading and studying the Scriptures more so I can keep them front and center in my thoughts.  We are closer to God when we hear his Word.

“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”  quoted from Matthew chapter 4:10.

This is something I was taught early on at church.  At the beginning of the reading of the Holy Gospel I make a little sign of the cross in 3 places.  First on my forehead, then my lips and my heart.  In my head I say at each corresponding spot to remind me to keep these words ‘in my mind’, on my lips’, and ‘in my heart’.

Pastor used a tale of an Indian brave and a snake to illustrate how easily we can get fooled by temptation to sin.  The idea is that the little brave believed the lie the snake told him and got bit.  “You knew what I was when you picked me up”, said the snake.  Temptation is always a lie.  The promises are alluring, filling us with desire for something we have no business with.

What temptations are you struggling with today?  From where does your help come?  Share yours, if you will.  I’ll share mine next time too.

Exodus or Exile: Our Daily Choice

This past Sunday my pastor got me thinking about this idea of my own choices.  Two of the main studies in the Jewish Faith is the Exodus recounting when God redeemed the Jews for himself by freeing them from their Egyptian slavery and the traumatic Exile from their homeland where their Temple was destroyed along with their freedom.

The words Exodus and Exile are totally deserving of a capital E!  Not so much for most of us on a daily basis.  Nevertheless, think about the choices we have in this overall vision of our day, if you will.

Life is an exodus, a journey to where we want to be.  Daily.  What are our goals we want to accomplish?  Unless perfect people are reading this blog of mine, I’m believing many of you are like me.  I want to do better in so many areas, like relationships with others, the tasks of navigating daily chores, and enjoying my “toys”.  I want to smile more, worry less.

It may help to remember that nothing in this life stays the same.  To some degree we are all on a journey – it’s either an exodus, a day lived in freedom, or we surrender our selves to a self-appointed exile.

Be thankful Christ is with us.  If God’s light isn’t shining through brightly enough, perhaps we can find ways to let the love Jesus taught us show more.  Think about the analogy of the clay jars and add a few more holes in there.  Jesus promised that God is with us, each and every one of us, we just need to find ways for the light of His message to get out there.

So, I think I’ll start by smiling more, speaking more kindly, especially to anyone I pass in my journey.  And make more cards to actually send out.

It’s up to each of us individually – it’s either exodus or exile.  You choose.

Is the Child Free to Think?

Are you ever reminded of a time in the past that you wish you had handled differently?

When it comes to relationships I often am.  Today while shopping for a few miscellaneous things in Walmart a small child was slapped by the man pushing her cart.  She was whining a little, trying to say something she was interested in.  Kids are always wanting something when they are paraded through the aisles of a store, that’s human nature.  This particular child wasn’t even obnoxious as many I have heard tend to get when wanting something. He was loud, forceful, and totally rude.  He certainly stopped her from asking for whatever it was and there was no more whining, just a low, pitiful cry from her tiny voice.

This pushed me into instant depression, despite my efforts to let it go in my head.  When I get depressed I often revert back to all the things I’ve done wrong in my life.  I become full of regret, mostly regarding my children.

On my drive home, trying to pull myself away from dwelling in regret, I wanted to share my wisdom with someone in the hopes of lessening their potential for future regret.  It’s like that with any knowledge I get, I always think of who I want to share it with.  I had hit on this thought of a parent listening to what their child thinks without blowing them off or telling them they shouldn’t think like that, no matter what.

Since Leia is the “wind beneath my wings” I thought of things I wanted to say to her mother.  This little girl is often the reason I stay afloat some days.  If she is sad, I feel her devastation most deeply.  When she is happy and delighted about something I, too, am all smiles.

Here is what I wish I had done with my children: Listen to what they are feeling without adding judgment.  This is critical to get them to trust us with their whole being.  As it is, it seems they are only free to tell us what they think we want to hear.  What if we let them tell us about the negative thoughts, also?  Unfortunately, a parent wants to squelch that negative notion, and thereby banishing their fears.  That doesn’t seem to be working out well.  Telling a 5 year old not to have negative thoughts – how is that working out?

It’s not just about any negative thought the child has, they may have a variety of likes and dislikes they are told to forget, to keep to themselves.  Shouldn’t we try to understand all those thoughts our child has?  If we do we may better understand what makes them function as they do – sweet or naughty.

Getting a child to feel comfortable revealing anything to the parent allows for much better communication between the two.  I wish I had done that so maybe my children would have come to me with what was bothering them, with what they perceived was troubling in their life.  It is human nature to seek comfort and relief in some form or another, unfortunately, that avenue could be self-destructive.  Or, at the minimum, they can choose to distance themselves from us and we will never really know them at the heart.

What should we do then, just let them have negative thoughts?  No, we don’t want that.  What we should want if for the child to be comfortable with telling us everything because this is a test of what kind of relationship bond the two are to have later on.  We listen first and when the child is ready to hear a solution then we offer one.  I don’t believe we help them over their fear by simply telling them to “get over it”.

Here is a simplified example of an exchange.

Mom: Please go pick out your jammies, its bath time.

Child: I can’t.

Parent: Why not?

Child: My room is dark.

Parent: Well, turn on the light!

Child: I’m scared of the dark.

This is where the parent may resort to yelling at the child to get over it, right?

What if we opened up a dialogue with the child to discover what was really going on.  Maybe the child is apprehensive about what might be in the dark, or struggles to reach the right spot for the light, or doesn’t want to get the jammies because it means bath time which inevitable means bed time and wants to procrastinate against that.  It doesn’t matter what, it is a chance to explore what is going on in the child’s mind.  If it is just the fear of the dark, perhaps the child can wait for a moment and the parent will accompany the child so they both can check out what waits in the dark.  Soon enough the child lets go of the fear because so far there wasn’t anything to be afraid of for sure.  As for the rest of the reasons, the parent has honestly listened to and acknowledged the child, and moves on in the natural order of events.  Even if the child didn’t get her way, she got herself heard, and there is quite some satisfaction in that.

It doesn’t have to be complicated if we just pause before spouting out what they “should” think.  We should never tell them they are stupid for thinking that or feeling that way. They can’t help what they think at a tender age, they need to be guided by someone they can trust to understand, no matter what.

One of my biggest fears today is that I will not be understood and accepted for who I really am.  Relationships are still very hard for me, I can’t open up and share my true feelings.  It takes a good amount of openness for strong relationships with others to develop.

Let’s listen to what someone thinks, without being judgmental. Our little ones need to know that what they think just is and can be dealt with without judgment against their person, and is not something to be hushed and buried.

A Visit from Dr. Martin Luther

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If you will allow me a moment to explain, you may enjoy this moment we shared at church today.

Our pastor, Rev. Judd Ludder, began telling us “We will have a visit from Dr. Martin Luther on Reformation Sunday.”  It was a day to pull out our red for sure, but, knowing that the veil between the living and the dead isn’t that thin, we wondered what he might be up to since he wasn’t known to be an outright fibber.

However, Pastor Ludder is known for great sermons full of insight straight from the Word of our Lord that always succeeds in further enlightenment for our journey as Christians.  I’m saying he always fulfills my weekly need to replenish my soul during worship on Sunday mornings.  Not only does he provide details about the surrounding times of the Scripture, but we are assured of getting the meaningful message God intends us to hear.

Okay, so, how he pulled off this trick of bringing Dr. Luther to us was actually by way of his disappearing and returning in costume.  The congregation loved it.

Could he have just talked about the history of the Reformation?  Could he have reminded us of Martin Luther’s reasons and the path he took?  But, I ask you, “would it have been as absorbing?”  Pastor Ludder put us in the frame of mind of hearing the history as if we were actually hearing it from the man himself.  I heard it anew, myself, in a new light, on a more personal level of understanding of the person Luther was.  It helps to comprehend how the Lutheran church was formed, not to put down the Catholic Church, but to turn it around to be what the Bible intended.  At that time in history the Catholic Church was making a mockery of the religion and preying on the faithful, disregarding God’s true intention for the believers by selling forgiveness.  Today, we are grateful to enjoy a close relationship between our churches, both headed in the direction of God’s intention for us.

It’s always a good thing to learn more about our history and I, for one, am thankful to Pastor Ludder for his “visual aide” this morning.  His messages always inspire me, whether I need scolding or encouraging, he says tells the truth that I’m sure Jesus wants me to hear.  This man is truly led by the Holy Spirit.

God bless Pastor Ludder and God bless Joy Lutheran Church.

Amen!

Hugs to all my friends and followers.  Hope your Reformation Sunday was as eventful in such a positive way for you as it was for me.

Tuesday Morning 15 Years Ago

Many of us have memories of that fateful Tuesday morning fifteen years ago. The empathy and deepest sympathy incurred that day are surly some of the strongest that have been shared among all the people of the world. It planted profound and intense memories.

If you are old enough, do you still vividly see in your mind’s eye the events as they unfolded? I do. Although there was no personal loss for me I still shudder when I think of what the survivors and loved ones must still feel.

My job required us to stay abreast of the latest news that could affect the state of the national special telephone equipment we had to keep running. I can still see the TV screens. I looked from screen to screen around the room, not believing what was showing on one, hoping it would be different on another. Sure enough the circuits locked up. No telephone circuit could be prepared for that amount of traffic.

Once the shock subsided the thought of my own loved ones arrived front and center. Daughter was stationed at a Master Jet base. She would be powerfully engaged in activity as an ordinance technician. I would have to wait to hear from her I knew. I believed she would be safe. Still I anxiously awaited that confirmation. My granddaughter was in my care until the end of the current school year, 5th grade. School was still in session so I knew she, too, would be cared for and that the school officials would keep them from the scary news. Her aunt, our neighbor who worked at the school, would take her home until I left work; she would keep her from fear if she realized the part the military and her mother would play in this horrendous tragedy.

I wore red, white and blue to church today. There was absolutely no mention of it today by anyone, except one woman who wore a flag-styled top. She and I spoke after the service. Did I really expect the pastor to mention it? Maybe. Does it really matter? Is there a need nine-eleven-mefor us to be verbally reminded? Probably not. Strange though.

Times have changed in 15 years. The pain eases. We look for the good out of the ashes. Literally, I just read about a photographer who was in New York covering Hewett’s US Open win when his employer assigned him to document the tragedy. There in the gray world of rubble and ash he spotted an unburned photograph of a woman and baby. It is a good story, one of simply being somewhere else when the Trade Center went down. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/special-features/in-depth/from-the-ashes-of-september-11/news-story/6171991f8bdb47ec86b401e12a014c7b

Dwelling on the past is never a good thing. The past is gone and can not be changed, that is the truth. Perhaps remembering “9-11” isn’t such a good thing. Let remembrances come upon us once in a while as they may, but make sure they leave quickly and we do not live there.

Stay in the Now, folks. That’s where it’s at!

Speaking of now, let’s get something crafty going on!

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Diverse Activities Energize Me

Switching between craft activities keeps the energy level up for continuing when I feel stale. There can be a risk, though, of leaving projects unfinished which would be counterproductive. When I get to a point where a craft project seems routine and the creative juices stop flowing that’s the time I start craving a different project. That old saying about “once it’s begun, finish it” echoes in my head, seems to be the motivation to complete whatever I’m doing, already feeling happy anticipation because of the prospects of the new project, so I switch gears and work through the current task.

My usual “switch” is between cards and scrapbook layouts with the occasional sewing something thrown in the mix. Crochet has reentered. The ladies of the church have started talk about the Christmas Cottage sale coming up early November. Ideas were being thrown out and I was encouraged to join the crocheting and knitting group that I have only visited a couple of times over the years. With the success of the “Brain GrainWheat Belly” program I have felt like being social again so I showed up this past Wednesday. How nice it was to sit and join in the conversations without that feeling of imploding from depression. I had grabbed a skein of my cotton yarn before going so I could at least work on something, even a wash cloth. Well, someone suggested that yarn would be great for the heart monitor bags they give for the old folks. After being advised of the dimensions I got started.

This week my activities have included finishing up a stack of cards to submit to Take Ten , a few scrapbook pages, a heart monitor bag, and two toppers to kitchen towels for hanging. Not to mention that my ability to socialize has taken a turn.

Since hearing of the group meetings at the camera shop I had wanted to go to them. Last night I actually went to the Nikon Users group hoping to begin to learn more about my camera. It’s a good 30 minute drive. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a few cars but not many. I began to wonder what I should do to find them, I was picturing in my head a group standing outside because I knew the store was closed so I figured we would be told where to go once 6:30 arrived. I saw a man get out of his car and start to check doors, so I got out too. Another man approached the first. As I was walking up the man told us there was a sign saying this group was canceled because of the weather. How disappointing! And the nasty weather had passed. Oh well, that’s a step in the right direction for me even if I didn’t get to actually join the group. Next month.

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Outside the Professional’s Studio

While waiting for the photographer we took some shots of our own.  Here are some scrapbook pages made with those photos.

This was a quick and easy page because I followed a layout from Splitcoast Stampers.  The papers and ribbon are from Fun Stampers Journey – gotta love the quality of their CS and DSP.

A smaller format here, 6 X 8, is for the Simple Stories album. I pulled some chipboard out for the embellishments and title.  Using this small format is more challenging for two photos.  The princess anticipated the flash, she nearly closed her eyes before the lens did its job.  I do love the shot of them smiling at each other.

The center photo shows how the photographer was posing our baby boy in the studio, I just had to sneak a shot myself.  The other two were taken back home in the den with his long pants off.  He is just so cuddly looking, makes me want to pick him up and hug him!  As for the building of the page, I followed a challenge from Splitcoast stampers again, this time to create the bars on the sides and have everything at the top – raising the bar, so to speak.  I cut 2 inch red strips, scored them, ran liner tape and added glitter.  The eagle is a digi from TLC that I printed with blue ink and then used a red gel pen on the inside, mounted on a circle of red.  I looked for quotes and found this one by Perciles.  “Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”  Whether our little man follows his father into the Navy or not isn’t important, what is important is that he understands his choice to honor and protect freedom.

Many words have been written about the concept of what freedom means.  It isn’t just about the military who stand for the freedom of a country.  What does it take for one to be truly free?  It all starts from inside the individual.  My struggle has been to be free from the sadness in my life.  How many of us run around seeking happiness only to find we never quite achieve it or it all too swiftly vanishes?  The freedom to be happy is right here in this moment if we just stop and let it be!  All the good there is to be found is already ours, right within each of us, waiting to be accepted.  Let go of the past – it’s gone, over, done with, and can’t be changed.  That’s a hard one, for sure, and I will admit I struggle still, but when I stop fretting and just “be” I find the peace and joy I seek.  How can that be ?  Sounds too easy.  It isn’t easy to stop thinking about the past and future, it’s necessary to be free, though.  I forget, sometimes, that I have a helper within, a source of strength, the giver of freedom to just be.  The truth is within each of us because God, the Creator of everything, the Source, if you will, built it in us.  It’s helpful if you study the wise words of the Bible and learn the teachings of Jesus to understand how we already have the ultimate power to be free right here within us.  I’m going to throw this pitch for attending Church regularly out there.  Really.  It will help.  It helps me stay focused on the now.  There is something to be said for how freeing your own happiness can be when you are involved in helping someone else in need.  That’s what a good church group can do for you, give you the field in which to work for the greater good.  That’s one of our freedoms in the USA.  We should be thankful for it.  Some say they can do good for others on their own, I say “good for them”, not everyone can.  I work better when I’m focused on the Source of the power that is in me.  Sunday morning is my recharging station, my one on one with God.  So, I hope you will find your happiness and protect the freedom of others with the help of the power of our Creator in you.  It’s really okay to stop and just be, just to feel the freedom from worry, stress and fear.  You are not alone.

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Coming Soon to a Newsstand Near You

DSCN3980_edited-1I love Take Ten magazine!  I also love getting the advance notice, especially when I have cards published inside.  I always feel “validated” when I’m published.  It’s good to know that the cards Stampington & Co receive are given to charity too.  So, it is selfish to a point but there is good that will come of the cards.  There are only so many cards one can send to friends, family, and that can be sent out from the church ministry. Currently Doris, our secretary for sending members cards from the church, says she has plenty.

After making the large batch of 42 cards recently for the challenges offered by Splitcoaststampers.com I have still been making one or so now and then. I guess I am back to my usual routine which is to switch between cards and scrapbook pages.  Just recently I have been pondering the fact that I am not focused.  I have too many interests.  I dabble in lots and am proficient in none.  Every time I come across a new technique I just on it.  I have to try it!  That in itself isn’t a bad thing, is it?  It’s good to be curious about every aspect of my crafting world.  That’s how we grow as artists.  There’s the catch: can I call myself an artist?  I believe I could be.  I could be so much more if I worked at it.  Artists who cut a piece of card stock come in many degrees of proficiency when cards are made.  Some of the card makers I have come across blow me away with the artistic mastery of their pieces – time and time again.  I seem to get lucky once in a while and put out a card that looks really good.  I want to be great, not just good.

Accepting good is the enemy of being great.  My daughter is an example of how hard work pays off.  She set out to learn to color with Copics.  She didn’t settle for getting good at it.  She has studied techniques and practiced the paths to perfecting her coloring.  She worked at it, coloring all the time, hours of coloring.  She now produces great works.  I’m still good at water coloring a simple little stamped image.

We all have a choice.  We can accept the “I can’t” and let it go as it is.  “I can never be great at water coloring”.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that practice makes us become better, lots of practice makes us much better.  I need to focus.  Where do I want to spend my energy?  What am I willing to sacrifice?  I have the supplies, lords knows, and I have the time.  Time passes and I squander most of it.

These are some cards I just made that have interested me to spend more time perfecting.IMG_1473 (Edited)

This one was for a challenge to create my own illegible handwriting and have some multi-media aspect.  I was inspired to make the background after heat embossing this Fun Stampers Journey image.  Then I mixed some gelatos with the light modeling paste and used it over the FSJ Stencil.

 

The challenge for this card was to use book page.  I also sponged some Distress ink over the tree stencil and did a quick but not awesome coloring with my pencils of the FSJ owl.

Opportunities!

I can!

Time – I can put it to use or continue to squander it until it runs out.

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77 and Sunny

I’m enjoying a beautiful day today!  While out back with the fur babies I noticed the sky was so clear I could see the moon.IMG_0284_ed4x6

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This one taken about 11:30 am.  What hint of clouds there were then are all gone now.

This is how good I have it and will be a reminder for the times to come when I forget it.  With new goals planned, I truly do see more clearly today.

It’s hard to set a goal when I really wasn’t sure how to form one.  What do I want, I asked myself.  What does anyone really want?  One desire high on the list for most people, I guess, is happiness.  That’s a broad topic so I decided to write about it and came up with this.

Goal: Find my inner strength, for there is my peace.

Steps to Take: *See the world as it is, not as it should be. *Live in the present, for there is nothing else. *Be active in health issues.

Once these goals and steps are down on paper, how do I go about making it work in real life?  Here are some of the things I knew I needed to start with.  *Stop over analyzing and just do.  *Do what is right whether I like it or not.  *Develop a bedtime routine that includes reading instead of TV.

I have also put together an eating plan.  For the last few days I have cut back on sugar.  My biggest intake of sugar was with my coffee.  I love those powdered coffees, and yes, I actually put spoonfuls in my brewed cup.  Choosing the right foods is important so I can prepare decent meals all the time.  I will have breakfast and lunch at the standard times.  Normally when I think I’m hungry I wander into the kitchen for something.  No more.  I will get a glass of water instead.  I had read a while back that sometimes when we think we are hungry we are really just thirsty.  So far that theory is playing true for me.  It’s easier to not snack when my stomach is full, even when it is only water.  I truly believe that taking in sugar multiplies the desire for more sugar.  If I were English I would say I’m having “tea” around 4 or so in the afternoon.  But these past two days I’ve had a cup of black decaf coffee and a little something to eat.  Notice I used the word “little” and that is the key.  Supper will be around 7pm because when I was cooking supper between 5 and 6 pm, we were then eating stuff we shouldn’t have later in the evening.  I’m trying this out, good so far.

I am off to bed at 10 pm with any book I choose.  Last night I passed over a couple and settled on Deepak Chopra’s “The Way of the Wizard”.  Wonderful food for thought.  It is to be re-read and pondered, I suggest.  I have often wanted to get back to writing morning pages and so I did.  First thing this morning I wrote an essay of over 500 words.  Then a few pages in my journal after that.  I recommend anyone should write to clear and form your thoughts in the morning if at all possible.  Writing a 500 word essay isn’t required! This practice isn’t just for writers or journalists, it’s good for your soul.

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Here is a shot of the divider I made and the goal sheet I cut down from a large size page for my planner.  I love my Fun Stampers Journey planner, so cute to keep my thoughts as well as appointments in.  I can make short notes that can be expounded upon in larger journaling format – or Morning Pages. {smile}  It’s nice to have one place to keep track of everything in life as I live it.  I got the original “Goal” sheet from StudioSukiOnline.com if you need a place to start like I did.  This quote comes with it, “Dreams may be imaginable but goals are actionable.” ~Michael Hyatt.

Sunshine and Rain

There is splendor in both types of weather.  Here in Florida we are no stranger to these mercurial changes.

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These was taken with my telephoto lens through my bedroom window glass.  I love this shot.  Our yard was overtaken by all these beautiful birds.  Here is another shot where he is all fluffed out.  Capturing these shots under the branch in the rain is a treasure.

January 4th

DSC_1305One could not have asked for a more perfect day in Florida!  The clear skies and our Grand Ole Flag waving it’s message in the gentle breeze.  While walking around outside I spotted this additional sign and had to walk over and snap it too.DSC_1304

  • Yes, I’m in Florida!  And it’s winter, right?  Well, it’s January, and “winter” some place else.