tree branches in silhouette with sun and sky

To Speak or Not to Speak …

tree branches in silhouette with sun and sky

… That is the question. 

I’ve always liked to talk…a lot.

But I’ve also needed to learn along the way to talk less, or when it is appropriate to hold my tongue.

There are many Bible verses about our speech. It is clear that too much talking, or not speaking in an encouraging and positive way is damaging both to ourselves and others.

Consider James 3.

I also tend to be a bit “shy” when I’m in the presence of those I’m not as close to or don’t know as well. So while I may talk a blue streak in a group I’m comfortable with, or even speak in front of a crowd, I am naturally repelled by making others feel uncomfortable.

In short, I care too much what others think about me. So there are times I should have spoken up but chose to be quiet.

The tongue is a powerful little tool.

It can drive the course of one’s day or even one’s life.

It strongly affects our own thoughts and actions and is keenly felt by those around us.

Words spoken in anger, frustration, fear or haste can be damaging, while words spoken with love, wisdom, thought and guidance can bring life.

 

“Those who control their tongue will have a long life;
    opening your mouth can ruin everything.” – Proverbs 13:3, NLT

Gentle words are a tree of life;
    a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:4, NLT

 

It may not come naturally, but my goal is to speak less, think more before I speak, and be more purposeful about how and when and what I speak.

I want my words to be a positive force in my own life and all those I come into contact with.

*****

Today’s post has been written for the Five Minute Friday link-up word of the day, speak.

 

Sky and treetops near Algonquin Park

Try

Today’s short, unedited post was produced for the link-up at Five Minute Friday (even though it’s Monday). 🙂

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Sky and treetops near Algonquin Park

So often in life I waste precious time and emotional energy saying, “I’ll try”.

I’ll try to get to bed earlier. I’ll try not to waste money. I’ll try to use my time better. I’ll try to work harder, be a better wife and mother, pray more and complain less. I’ll try not to worry.

I’ll try not to sin. I’ll try to hit the target; not to miss the mark.

The problem is, trying often feels like striving.

I don’t know about you, but the longer I live, the longer I try, I seem to keep coming up short.

I can work hard, will myself and determine to do something to an extent, learn from my mistakes and grow through hard times, but I cannot do any of this successfully on my own.

My strength falters, my determination gives way, I get tired and weak, and I sometimes fail miserably.

This is not to suggest that we cannot learn tips and strategies for growth and being more productive, or even use tools to help ourselves do better at many of our actions and responsibilities in life. We can and must make commitments to ourselves and others as well.

But after more than 51 years, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am human.

I am imperfect and weak.

But I am fashioned after Someone who is strong, perfect and never misses the mark.

I am lovingly designed and especially created to be the only “me” in this crazy world.

There is grace and forgiveness for sin and help when we are weak.

And I don’t need to try anything to receive God’s amazing love for me.

I can rest in the assurance that he loves me as I am, faults and all.

He wants me to lean on him and draw from his strength.

I can have peace and give my fears to the One who made me.

I don’t have to continually struggle and try.

He is enough, so I am enough.

 

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

 

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT

*****

 

Adirondack chair on dock at cabin

Inspire

Adirondack chair on dock at cabin

Today’s post is on the prompt, “inspire“. I’m joining some fine folks at Five Minute Friday to write for five minutes, adding my (mostly) unedited thoughts to the variety of writing of many other bloggers today. Join me as we pause, write and/or read today.

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When I browse for the meaning of “inspire”, I find it rather inspirational.

According to the dictionary, one of the meanings of “inspire” is:

“fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”

It comes from a Latin word, meaning “breath or blow into” or to infuse (with something, such as life) by breathing, and was originally used of a divine or supernatural being.

 

I know that for me, many things inspire me.

Nature, for sure, is one of my main sources of inspiration, and worship music, to be sure.

When I take the opportunity to simply soak in the beauty around me, I find my soul replenished.

On a recent vacation, just being out in nature, especially on the water, was incredibly peaceful and inspiring. It made me catch my breath on many an occasion. It’s inspiring to stop & observe God’s handiwork.

Oxtongue Lake boat neighbour dock & boat in mist

 

Oxtonge Lake bridge and sunset.

 

sunny day canoeing on the lake

 

river at Big Bend Lookout

 

When I see the result of someone’s creativity, or especially when I apply my own imagination and talent to a work of art or a craft of some sort, I feel inspired.

In a church service, when we are singing praises to God or listening to good teaching that encourages our spirits and enlightens our minds, I also find inspiration.

When I’m sitting in the quiet, whether at my computer desk with a cup of warm coffee nearby, at a lakeside or on a mountain trail, or enjoying the crackle and warmth of a fire, I feel a peace that inspires.

It’s amazing to see a person acting in their God-given talents and abilities, whether it be preaching or singing in church, creating art, or simply building, teaching, planning, helping, cooking, serving, encouraging or loving others.

I love to be inspired, and pray that my life will bring at least some small inspiration to others.

When we tap into the deepest places within us and share it with others, it can be life-giving both to us and to those around us.

If we take the time to stop, look and listen to the world around us, whether it be in a wilderness or nature setting, or in the middle of a crowd of unique individuals, we will find inspiration.

Let’s be intentional about setting aside the time and space we need to be inspired.

Let’s be open to sharing our lives and our hearts with those around us.

Life is so much more full when we inspire and are ourselves inspired.

*****

What do you find inspiring? Do you find yourself inspiring others, either intentionally or without knowing it? How can we purpose ourselves to both give and receive inspiration?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

public pay telephone

Calling Collect

Today’s short, unedited post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, and the prompt of the day is collect.

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public pay telephone

 

Do you remember using these? And how about calling someone collect?

I’m probably dating myself, as now I guess with the use of cell-phones, payphones probably aren’t used nearly as much as when I was young, and collect calls have drastically declined. Some of you “youngins” may not even know what I’m talking about, much less have used this calling method yourself.

 

According to Wikipedia:

“A collect call in Canada, Pakistan, and the United States, also known as a reverse charge call in other parts of the English-speaking world, is a telephone call in which the calling party wants to place a call at the called party’s expense. In the past, collect calls were only possible as an operator-assisted call, but with the introduction of computer-based telephone dialing equipment, it is now possible to place a collect call without using an operator, which is called automated operator services (AOS) as opposed to Home Country Direct (HCD). Several companies offer services to place collect calls that compete with local service providers. Collect calls can be made from almost any public pay telephone in the world by following directions posted on or near the phone. Collect calling has been in constant decline since the advent of cellular phones and VOIP products, which can offer cheaper international rates.”

 

So to call collect meant that we had to ask the person receiving our call if they would foot the bill. They had a choice as to whether or not to accept the charges.

My most common experience with collect calls is when a young person was short on cash (or possibly in trouble), and needed to reach their parents. It’s a humbling experience, but probably saved a lot of young lives (or at least saved them some money) when Mom or Dad would pay for their call (and often supply help).

Well, there is one collect call that can be made and will always be accepted.

Anyone can call upon God in prayer and he has already paid the price through Christ.

We can boldly come before a perfect heavenly father, because our sins and shortcomings have been covered and paid for in full by Jesus’ death on the cross.

There’s no need to even ask if he will accept the charges…….the debt has already been paid.

So go ahead and make the call.

Take a step and try talking to God.

He’s already accepted your charges.

So what are you waiting for?

*****

 

 

 

tubing at Darien Lake with family

The Serious Value of Play

Today’s short post is written for the link-up at Five Minute Friday, and the prompt of the day is “play“.

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tubing at Darien Lake with family

Lazy River ride at Darien Lakes amusement park. (Yes, that’s me on the right.) 🙂

 

Children love to play.

So why is it that as adults, we find it so difficult to stop, let loose, and relax or have some fun?

I know we’re busy, especially if you have a spouse and/or a family. Our culture seems to thrive (or thinks it does) on being busy.

Perhaps you’ve learned along with me that we have to make time for the things that are really important to us. It will not just happen.

And I’ll bet that most of us as adults don’t appreciate the serious value of play.

Playing or enjoying leisure time and activities does much to relieve stress, helps our bodies (and minds, and emotions, etc.) to heal, allows us time to create and imagine, and rejuvenates us. It helps us to simply enjoy life.

Play and rest from work give us needed strength and renewed motivation to tackle our responsibilities, pressures, difficulties and joys with new vigor, both physically and mentally.

My personality tends to easily get caught up in getting things done, but when I don’t take time to stop and rest and enjoy my life, an important inner need is not met.

We just returned from a wonderful family vacation.

The weather was far from perfect, but we played indoors while it rained, enjoyed simply being together, and made a point of taking advantage of every sunny moment. We even went out to play under the clouds almost every time the rain stopped.

I was talking to my husband on the way home about how we need to work on taking time each day (even if it can only be a little), and more often each week or month to do fun things both individually and as a family.

My online Pilates group has a monthly health mission, and for July our assignment is to find time to play.

I know I need to purposefully create precious pockets of time (both big and little) to do things that refresh me and bring life to my body, mind and soul.

So forgive me if I sound like a kindergarten child, but I need to ask you a question.

Do you want to come out and play?

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

coffee and computer

YouVersion Half Year Challenge 2017

coffee and computer

 

Do you need a little encouragement to read the Bible? Are you feeling like your quiet time has felt a little stale? Or perhaps you just wish to try a new devotional to change things up a little?

Well, you’re in luck! YouVersion just started a challenge to help us along the way.

All we have to do is complete 7 consecutive days of any of their wonderful Bible plans to participate.

You can use any existing plan (no need to start over), start a new plan or plans (one or more than one). Just be sure to check off each day that you’ve completed the day’s reading and be sure to share using the hashtag #HalfYearResolution (and be sure to change your settings to “pubic” for the share to social media).

There are prizes to be won (just follow the simple instructions to share), and a badge to add to your YouVersion accomplishments.

I realize that there are many good ways to spend time reading and studying the Bible, but I love the Bible app to remind me each day with a daily scripture and many different plans to help me to be more consistent in reading my Bible each day.

I hope you will join me in this year’s YouVersion 2017 Half Year Challenge, and jump-start your Bible reading today.

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One of my favorite family photos from my childhood!

The Worth of a Father

 

One of my favorite family photos from my childhood!

Dad watching his upside-down daughters (I’m the older one), as we climbed a mountain trail on family vacation.

Today I’m joining the crowd at the Five Minute Friday link-up (a little later, obviously, since it’s Sunday already). The word prompt for this week is “worth“, and I’d like to dedicate my writing on this Father’s Day to my own father, and to include mention of some other important fathers in my life.

Special thanks to my sister for providing me digital copies of several old family slides mostly taken by my mother of us as children. They have brought me joy today and reminded me of many special childhood memories.

I may be pushing the five minute mark again just a bit (OK, a lot, but it’s important!), but will keep things mostly unedited in the spirit of the challenge.

Happy Father’s Day to you, Dad!

*****

What is the worth of a father?

It can’t be put onto words, but the value of a good father is reflected in his children and in how he affects the lives of those around him.

My Dad & I many years ago

Dad & baby Ann (many years ago!)

We can mostly agree that while a good father influences others for good, in the same way a father can negatively impact his children for the rest of their lives.  We’ve all seen examples of children who really struggle in areas of life or sometimes need inner healing as adults from the turmoil of a poor father-child relationship (whether “negative” or just nonexistent).

I’m thankful for my own good father, as well as some other special fathers in my life. Though imperfect, they have impacted those in their lives in a positive way.

My husband is a wonderful father to our now almost grown sons. He has led them through his life and changed them with his love. He manages to keep us all laughing and enjoying life in the process.

My husband’s late father loved his family and fought for them, both in family life and in the Second World War. His life ended after a valiant fight with cancer, but the honor of his memory and the love he shared will always bless his family as well as many others.

My sister’s husband showed up just at the right time, to “rescue” her after the death of her first young husband, and has brought much joy and love into her life, as well as being a superb father to their three sons. He is a gifted musician, and also “fathers” many other lives in his role as an associate pastor.

My husband’s sister also married a wonderful man, who has been not only father to their now-grown son, but has always been one to reach out and care for our family. He would do anything to help out using his talents in construction and house-building, and he has cared tirelessly for his wife for years.

Now I’d like to focus for a few minutes on my own father on this Father’s Day.

My Dad was a big part of many of the family memories growing up that were shared in the post I dedicated to my mom.

Dad played a lot with us when we were children, and we enjoyed his being silly with us through the years. Laughter and fun seem to follow wherever Dad goes. He spent much time outdoors with us, either teaching us about gardening or playing in our large, two-acre yard, or taking us camping as a family (often twice in a summer; one of the perks of being in the teaching profession).

Dad pumping water for my sister and I to drink

Enjoying a cool camp drink.

He was always teaching us, whether it was the facts of science, the wonders of nature, or the things of God. I often had my English corrected in our home, but even if I didn’t always appreciate it at the time, I now realize the benefit of knowing how to speak correctly.

Dad was a lover of animals, whether that meant teaching us how to care for and enjoy our pets (mainly cats), instilling in us an appreciation for the animals of nature, or on rare occasions, having to “help” an animal by making the difficult decision to let them go.

Once when I was caring for my best friend’s hamster while she was on vacation, my dad was a great support to me. I walked into a room to find that yes, one of our cats had somehow got into the cage and killed her hamster. Although they were both peacefully laying on the floor, I was devastated at what had happened to my friend’s pet, especially under my care. I’ll never forget how Dad came and gently picked up the hamster, stroking his fur as we prayed (just in case God saw fit to bring him back to life).

We often had the benefit of enjoying his class pet at home (usually a hamster, but including chickens and other animals), to care for it over school vacations.

My mother did most of the Christmas shopping, but as a young girl, I vividly remember some of the special gifts that Dad picked out especially for me. He would buy us just one more thing that was just from him, even though the shopping was supposed to be finished. One such gift was a special scented soap (Yardley, I believe), in a yellow case that he chose for me one year. We also made it a fun habit to work on a craft sort of project since we all had time off during the holidays, even though many times it sat unfinished when school started again.

Dad liked to take impromptu drives to look at nearby Niagara Falls and then eat at Joey’s Pizza, and we sometimes drove the almost two hours to watch airplanes take off and land at the Toronto airport. We also drove to many provinces and states during our summer camping trips.

climbing a dam wall with my dad

Dad, Rebecca, and I climbing a water dam. Kind of depicts our personalities…

I have some fond memories of helping Dad to decorate his school classroom and make copies on the ditto machine. We also grew up drawing on the clean side of the many extra school papers that Dad brought home for us to use.

He has apologized to me as an adult, for trying to make me “too perfect”, to which I generally joyfully respond, “Well, you succeeded!” I never felt my parents were too strict; but rather raised me lovingly with firm values that I have carried with me all of my life. I appreciate the many times Dad would humble himself to apologize when he felt that he had failed, a practice that I have learned to do with my own children.

In my adult life, my dad has continued to be a support to myself and our family.

When my mother had cancer, dad loved her and served her well, learning to do many of the household chores that she usually did as a stay-at-home mom. Later he was a tremendous support to my sister and her first young husband throughout his battle with Hodgkin’s disease. He also thoughtfully cared for both of my grandmothers as they aged, often driving them to their appointments. He has been, and remains a faithful friend to many.

We still have a lot of fun together, and my father continues to be a support to us all. He has managed to remain sensitive to our hurts and griefs, yet always maintains an attitude of unshakable faith and almost childlike trust, through all of our difficult times. I know he has prayed for us throughout these many years.

He has kept himself “young” over the years by participating in magnificent church plays and singing in choirs and worship teams (carrying on in his musical father’s footsteps), by remaining active physically (riding a motorcycle and more recently a scooter); he’s participated in missions trips and run several businesses from home since retirement, and still enjoys driving a small school bus (enjoying the fun of the school children without all the grading and disciplining of running a classroom).

He continues to grow and learn and become a better husband, even as a senior. He has taken steps to overcome fears such as height phobia (such as flying in a friend’s little airplane and driving on scary mountain roads with steep drop-offs), as well as shown me that we can learn to not let anxiety (about medical things and blood), rule our thinking and emotions. When I was a child, he completed his Masters degree at night school while being a full-time teacher during the day, and still managed to spend ample time with his family.

I’m sure I will think of more I would like to share, but suffice it to say that I’m proud to be my father’s daughter. I am thankful that God placed me in this family, and that now my own family has been sharing in the blessing of knowing my dad.

Thank-you for the worth and value you’ve added to our lives, Dad!

You have helped us to appreciate both the silly and the important things of life. We look forward to continuing to learn, grow and love together, as we add to the special family memories we share.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

blue evening sky with clouds and trees

Expect

blue evening sky with clouds and trees

Welcome to another Five Minute Friday post, where a bunch of writers write for five minutes on a chosen prompt, without over-thinking or editing.

While I admit that I usually go a little over the five minute time suggestion, and perform a few minor edits, it’s still been a great exercise for someone who naturally tends to be too detailed and a bit of a perfectionist. Because I am learning to allow myself to not be perfect, this is why I have refrained from using a strict timer, or marking on the post where I’ve started and finished.

Join me today as we ponder the prompt, “expect”.

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What exactly do I expect?

It’s natural and not necessarily bad to have expectations.

I have expectations for my life and those of my family. Our youngest son just graduated from high school and our oldest son is already in college, so our thoughts and feelings have been more about their futures and what they will bring.

I am still on the long road to finger recovery since my recent knife mishap, and I tend to easily be concerned about how all that will turn out.

I like to look forward to things, but often find that people and events often do not live up to my expectations. I most surely do not always live up to my own expectations.

But what if I were to let go of expectations and hold on to hope?

The Bible informs me that hope does not disappoint.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

– Romans 5:3-5, NLT

 

 

I also read many great stories of faith in Hebrews 11.  Those who live by faith have put their hope in a sure place, or namely the person of God.

 

 

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

– Hebrews 11:1, NLT

 

 

So rather than cling to my feeble thoughts of what my life should look like, instead of living in fear that things will not turn out the way I planned for my family, rather than constantly finding myself in a state of disappointment because people don’t do what I think they should, I will choose to hope.

Hope allows me to look forward with expectation, but helps me to trust in the One who cares for me most, even when difficult or unknown circumstances ensue.

Hope causes me to extend grace to those around me, and pray for their growth and peace.

When I live in hope, I can give grace to myself, as well.

I no longer have to worry about all the things I expect, but can live in the peace of entrusting all to God, who cares for me.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sky photo with white tree blossoms and daytime moon

What I Learned this Spring 2017

sky photo with white tree blossoms and daytime moon

Welcome to another collection of What I Learned, an assortment of things I’ve noticed or learned that are serious, silly, interesting or emotional. It’s been a busy spring, and I’m grateful to have another opportunity to link up with Emily P. Freeman on her quarterly What I Learned page.

I’ve somehow managed to record quite a collection of miscellaneous points (20 in all!), but since my finger is still healing from a tendon injury and typing remains tedious, I’ll attempt to work against my natural inclination to detail, and be concise. Links will often be provided for you to peruse further information. I hope you enjoy this read, and learn a little or laugh a little with me.

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potted mint

 

1. Mint really likes growing in a pot on my windowsill.

I enjoy growing fresh herbs, and have tried to keep some on my windowsill throughout the colder months, as well as planted some in my outdoor garden in the warmer weather. Previously, I put the herbs on my sunny windowsill in their original little green plastic pots. They lasted for awhile, but eventually died, not surviving the winter.

Last summer I worked on a local farm and took advantage of that resource, probably outdoing myself with the number of herbs I purchased or received. I turned a small garden at the end of my driveway into an herb garden, and proceeded to re-pot others to try once more to help them survive the winter.

Well, I think I either chose more cooperative herbs and/or they just needed more growing room, as they mostly made it through the cold months in their roomy pots. In fact, my mint in particular (chocolate mint and spearmint) looks really happy and thriving.

indoor herbs in sunlight

 

And to top it all off, most of my herbs (the perennials) came up again in my garden early this spring!

 

herb garden in early spring

herbs outdoors in late spring

 

2. We tried a Galia melon for the first time and liked it.

While grocery shopping with a friend at Trader Joe’s this spring, I saw a melon that looked very similar to a cantaloupe, but is called a Galia melon. The inside was lighter in color, and the flavor mild. My thoughts were that the flavor seems to be somewhere between a cantaloupe and a honeydew.  According to this post, I guess I was very accurate! It was the first time we had ever tried or even heard of a Galia melon, but it was tasty!

 

3. I finally learned the meaning of the word “paroxysmal”.

I’ve had some dealings with that unpleasant condition known as “vertigo” over the past few years. The type I have been diagnosed with and treated for is known as BPPV, or benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It’s basically a condition of dizziness caused by crystals in the inner ear becoming dislodged and moving into one of the semicircular canals, causing a feeling of dizziness when the head is moved.

Although I’ve known the name of the condition for some time now, I never understood the meaning of the word, “paroxysmal” in the title. A paroxysm is “a severe attack or a sudden increase in intensity of disease, usually recurring periodically”, which helps to explain the sudden and intense nature of this condition.

Thankfully there are treatments available to help ease or eliminate the symptoms, and most therapists or doctors will teach their patients to do these exercises at home. I’m sure thankful for these medical helps.

 

4. I’ve learned of a cheaper and therefore appealing online mattress company.

After experiencing confusing and less than satisfactory mattress shopping, Tuft & Needle was started by two men.  Their aim is to cut out the middlemen and unnecessary expenses, while still delivering a high quality product. It is delivered to your door in a compact box, and the mattress will expand once opened. They even give you 100 nights to test your new mattress!

Sounds like a product worth checking out!

 

5. The Baikal seal is the only true freshwater seal species.

One of the smallest types of types of seals and the only seal species that live exclusively in fresh water, the Baikal seal lives in the waters of Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.

 

6. I’m not sure the story about babies being raised without affection and dying is even true.

Haven’t you heard about a so-called experiment in which a group of babies had all their physical needs met but were not shown affection, and the result being that many of them died? Well, according to this writer, we’re not the only ones who have been told such an account. But apparently the tale is lacking solid sources. As I began to look into it, it appears that although there is evidence that humans need physical affection, there doesn’t seem to be an account of such an experiment.

How do these stories get started and passed around for so long?

 

7. There is a scientific reason why orange juice tastes bitter after brushing your teeth.

It is thought that it’s because of sodium laureth sulfate, which is used as a foaming agent in most toothpastes. Apparently sodium laureth sulfate suppresses or reduces the taste receptors that allow us to taste something as “sweet”.

It could be another reason to use a more “natural” toothpaste.

 

8. I’m learning a bit about how to care for succulents.

After purchasing two cute little succulents in pretty handmade clay pots from some local high school students, I realized that I know little about how to care for them. I found a blog, Succulents and Sunshine, that seems to be a great resource if you are interested in growing this type of plant.

plants from high school sale

 

9. The Giant’s Causeway is an amazing natural wonder.

It’s hard to believe that this amazing set of rock formations on the north east tip of Ireland was created as a result of volcanic action. It looks like a truly remarkable place!

image of the Giant's Causeway

 

10. I’ve been waiting far too long between coats of nail polish.

I’m no professional when it comes to painting nails, but I do like to keep my toenails colored during the warm months when they are exposed. I’ve always thought that it was necessary to wait a long time (like 20-30 minutes?), between coats of nail polish. Well, it seems I’ve been completely wasting my time! According to one nail expert, two minutes is all you need!

I also found this article useful for more nail polish mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

11. Sharp knives really are considered more safe to use than dull ones (but they’re still scary).

I really don’t want to dwell on this topic (I didn’t even want to look at a sharp knife for some time after it happened), but since I cut my tendon on my left index finger and had to have surgery recently, I had to do just a little research to see if sharp knives really are more dangerous. The incident happened when I slipped while cutting watermelon, and resulted in my having to return to the hospital for surgery to repair the severed tendon.

I had at least one person tell me that they learned that you should keep your knives a little on the dull side. I had always heard the opposite, and interestingly enough, the knife that hurt me had only been sharpened a couple of weeks before.

After watching this short video and reading this article, I still think having sharp knives is the better way to go. But needless to say, I will never again handle a knife without caution and respect, and encourage us all to learn and practice safe knife use techniques!

index finger in splint and bandage

 

12.  It’s amazing how many wonderful and useful things you actually can do with one hand…..and how many simple things you can’t!

As a result of my injury, surgery, and current recovery process of my index finger, I have been amazed and frustrated by how much I depend on the use of one little finger! It’s interesting to see what jobs I have adapted to quite easily, while so many tasks require more mobility and/or strength than I have yet regained and remain difficult.

Never would I have imagined the work and inconvenience caused by a simple mistake in the kitchen! I won’t take it lightly when someone mentions that they are in physical therapy (now that I know how much time, effort and discomfort are often involved!) And as I progress in my therapy, I am growing more appreciative of simply having a body that works normally.

injured finger

 

13. I now know the meaning of “fractionated” coconut oil (sort of).

I won’t even begin to try to explain the details on this one, but will refer you to the “experts”. This article does a great job explaining what fractionated coconut oil is along with it’s uses. Fractionated coconut oil is defined nicely in this post , which is also informative in comparing it with extra virgin coconut oil. Here it is in a nutshell, according to the same post:

“Basically, it is a form of the oil that has had the long-chain fatty acids removed via hydrolysis and steam distillation. Just this one change makes the oil liquid at room temperature, and extends the product’s shelf life.”

 

14. Chiffonade is a special technique used to thinly slice basil and other leafy green herbs and vegetables.

This method is used to slice basil (or other leafy greens) into pretty, thin, ribbon-like strips by stacking and rolling the leaves. You can read more details and view helpful photos here.

 

15. I have discovered that there are no federal laws governing food expiration dates.

This interesting article in the Los Angeles Times taught me that there no federal laws governing food expiration dates, many dates are not based on science, and that the resulting confusion leads to a lot of food waste (about 40 %!).

This is frustrating, to say the least!

 

16. Thankfully, cherries are really healthy!

I’ve always loved cherries. they are one of my favorite fruits! Over the years, I’ve been pleased to discover that these sweet, tasty treats have many health benefits as well. So when it comes to cherries, eat up!

 

17. Baby butter beans is another name for Lima beans.

A recent recipe I was making called for “baby butter beans“, which I had never heard of. It turns out that this is simply another name for Lima beans.

 

18. After 50 years, I’m still a bit of a “wimp” when it comes to injuries and medical procedures.

As mentioned in the above points (#11 & 12), I’ve learned a lot about myself through this experience with injuring my finger. I have always found  injuries and certain medical procedures frightening. I have had to learn to relax, believe the truth and trust the doctors and medical experts who have cared for me, but it hasn’t been easy.

I thought I had come so far (and I have), but like many weaknesses in our lives, I still have a way to go. It was disappointing to me to still feel so afraid and nervous at so many points in this process, yet I’m also encouraged as I see myself growing to trust God more and learning how to better deal with difficult circumstances. I guess we never really stop learning and growing.

 

19. I really liked sharing a different little part of my life with my (far-away) sister.

Recently, I participated in another free challenge offered by Robin Long of The Balanced Life. I have been enjoying doing her Pilates workouts for over a year now, so much so that I joined the Sisterhood (her online subscription service) and have found it to be a wonderful part of my fitness and health journey.

My dear sister and I live about 500 miles apart, and as a result, we don’t often get to participate together in many of the daily activities that we love. I invited her to join us for a free, simple healthy eating challenge, and it was so fun being able to connect online with my sister and do this challenge together. It was also special to “share” some of the community and resources that I hold dear and find so helpful and enjoyable in my life, as well as to have my many online friends (“sisters”) “meet” my own flesh and blood sibling.

I’m so glad we could do this together!

my new mug

 

20. It feels strange to have my youngest child graduate from high school (but good, too).

We just celebrated the high school graduation of my youngest child (my second son). I’m not even sure it has totally sunk in yet. It has been strange and wonderful and bittersweet all at once.

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when he was in his first week of kindergarten. I was waking him to get ready for school, and he said something like, “You mean I have to do this again???” I don’t remember exactly how I answered, but I was thinking, “Only about another 12 years!”

Well, here we are.

my son's graduation

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of the many things I’ve learned this spring. Life is full of wonder and changes and growth, and I’m happy to be able to remember some of these things and share them with you.

*****

What have you been learning?

 

 

 

courageous mug with frothy hot drink

A Post Dedicated to My Mom

courageous mug with frothy hot drink

This is a special day, as I write and share the 100th post of my blog, Simply Flourishing Home!!!

My blog has taken a “back seat” lately, mainly because of injuring my finger, making it difficult and time-consuming to type. With my 100th post coming up I had wished to make it significant, but have been disappointed to honestly just not have it in me physically and emotionally to come up with something spectacular.

Often when we are in a difficult or challenging place, the best option becomes to just “do the next right thing”. So when I saw this week’s Five Minute Friday word prompt, I decided to do just that.

With this background, I’d like to dedicate this, my 100th blog post, to my Mom. ♥

I can’t think of a more deserving tribute on this Mother’s Day, 2017.

*****

Sometimes I find it difficult to figure out what sentiment to write on a greeting card, especially for someone as significant, appreciated and loved as my mother. After fifty years, I often hesitate, struggling to come up with a better, new or more meaningful way to say what’s in my heart. But words are often inadequate.

For today’s Five Minute Friday post (which will undoubtedly push the five-minute “limit” with my finger still recuperating from surgery), I’d like to take some time to tell you, Mom, some of the things that have made you a special mother to me over all of these years.

It all started on June 14, 1966; well, actually let’s not forget all of those exciting, yet tiring and overwhelming months of pregnancy, as well. I don’t even know many details about how that was for you, but I know it takes a great deal of sacrifice. Neither did I realize just how hard delivering a baby could be (as expressed in my first words to you after giving birth to my first son, “I owe you, Mom!”)

As a child I have so many fond memories. Although hours of details and moments seem shrouded by the forgetfulness of my many years, the ones that are clear to me are mostly wonderful.

I remember enjoying growing up on two country acres and all of the fun and learning that growing a large garden and mowing big fields brings. I appreciate being taught important skills, often just by watching you, but also being given the freedom to run and play and enjoy my long childhood. I remember the joys of planting, harvesting and eating fresh vegetables and scrumptious strawberries, and appreciate all of the work you did to preserve much summer goodness to enjoy all winter from our big chest freezer.

I appreciate the gift of having you home with myself and Rebecca (when she came along six years later), a gift that is becoming more increasingly rare in our modern culture.

Even when we were old enough to get ready for school on our own, you would get up and leave us some breakfast food, in order to make our busy morning run more smoothly. It also reminded us that you cared.

Our family vacations in the long summer days make up a large part of my childhood memories.

We were blessed to enjoy more time together as a family with Dad being an experienced teacher, and I appreciate all of the work you did to make those trips happen. Even while we sometimes helped out on vacation (and probably should have more than we did), I thank you for taking extra responsibilities on yourself so that we girls could enjoy freedom and the wonders of nature while you prepared many of our meals, or just one more swim with dad while you packed up most of our camp to leave for home.

I thank you, Mom, not only for you and Dad taking us to church all of our lives, but for modeling what it means to live authentic, though imperfect, Christian lives. I appreciate all of the times when you (and often Dad) calmed my fears and helped me to sort through my own conflicting emotions and thoughts in a loving way.

Thank-you for every mess you cleaned up, every tear you wiped, all of the “undesirable” things a mother just does every single day.

Another huge part of my favorite childhood memories was how we celebrated special times and holidays, but especially Christmas.  I’m glad that you enjoyed it, but I know you did so much work to make these family memories even more special.  The elaborate but inexpensive creative decorations, gifts, and treats made the season simply magical. I’m so happy to be able to pass on a part of these loving traditions to my own family.

I love your creativity that you shared with your family, through hand-sewn clothes, homemade Christmas decorations, and cards you made for us at Valentine’s Day.

I am so grateful that you shared your love of music with me and taught me how to sing harmony.  I love how you and Dad took us to “Jesus festivals” to hear the early artists of Christian rock music, and how as seniors, to this day, you still love and appreciate quality, “upbeat” music, such as the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Although it was hard on both of us (and eventually we decided I should take a break, then learn from another teacher), I appreciate your sharing your knowledge of how to play the piano with me, and enjoyed hearing you play for enjoyment yourself.

Another thing I appreciate is how I was made to feel special and important, because my feelings always mattered.

One such occasion was the morning when your father, my grandfather, passed away. Even as you were grieving your own loss and watching the pain of your own mother, you and Dad let me know that it was OK to be disappointed to not be leaving that morning as planned on our family vacation.

Another time was years later when I was a young adult. As I expressed feelings of guilt over something seemingly insignificant really bothering me when you were suffering with the sickness and painful treatment of cancer, you responded yet again in such a caring, “motherly” way. I’ll never forget your letting me know that just because my concern was “less serious” than cancer did not make it any less real to me, and that it was OK for me to hurt even when you were suffering so greatly.

You demonstrated courage and faith as you passed through the difficult months (and years) of cancer and how it affects all of one’s life.

I love how when my teenage friends came to our home, many times they would “borrow” your ear to share something that you made them feel comfortable enough to share, even though they were a guest. I have so many memories of the time, care and sacrifice that you and Dad made in ministering to youth and young adults, teaching Rebecca and I to love God, the church, his people and his work throughout our lives.

Another special little “gift” to me were the times you simply washed my long hair in the kitchen sink (although it’s slightly embarrassing to admit my teenage laziness for some reason about this). I was perfectly capable of doing it myself, but it made me feel loved and “spoiled” (in a good way). I don’t think it has hindered my growth in any way, but it helps me to remember a practical way that you showed how much you cared for me.

You continue to be a “mom” to so many other individuals whom God has brought into your life, even while your children live far away.

Since I’ve “grown up” (do we ever really?), married, and had children, you have still been a loving, helpful and supportive mom for all of these years, and for that I still thank you.

You have often continued to calm my fears, helped me to work through my adult struggles, prayed endlessly for me and my husband and sons, and helped to create so many more special memories.

We are grateful for the added blessing of sharing these memories with your grandsons, our own family.

Mom, I’ve only touched on a small percentage of my thoughts and memories for which I wish to express appreciation and gratitude, but I hope that it brings you just some of the blessing you deserve today.

So Mom, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

I know that you will never stop being a mother, my mother, and I only pray that God gives me the strength, courage and wisdom to be the mother to my sons, and to all those God brings into my life, that you have been to me.

I love you. ♥

*****