garden shop with flowers in front

Hidden

garden shop with flowers in front

Flourishing beauty.

A Five Minute Friday Post

*****

Today I’m writing about the word, “hidden”.

The first thing that comes to mind is a song by that title and the post I wrote about it earlier on my blog, as it had impacted me so greatly. It speaks of how if we have given our lives to Christ, we can trust that they are hidden in his care.

I believe that is the foundation upon which we can build what I wish to share today.

 

How many things do we keep hidden in our lives?

We all have secrets and innermost thoughts and feelings that we do not share. We often have things in our past that we’d rather not think about, whether they are the results of our own sins, the wrong actions of others, or just the hard circumstances of living this earthly life.

I’m not suggesting that we bare all and use no discretion, but I’d like to propose that we don’t leave things hidden in our hearts and lives.

If it’s meant to remain private, then let’s face our hard places, get appropriate help when needed, and move on. If it’s an area that is affecting a relationship in our lives that needs fixing, let’s be vulnerable and open up to that person, trusting that things will be better as we smooth out the hurts and misunderstandings and grow closer together.

Most often it seems to me, hidden things that haven’t been dealt with remain buried for a time, but they fester until they explode either physically,  emotionally, or mentally. They don’t just go away. They cause hurt and destruction in our own lives and the lives of others we care about.

But if we open our hearts, ask God to shine the light of his truth inside of our dark places, and ask for help, counsel or wisdom from someone we can trust (even a professional at times), we can bring healing and growth first to our own lives and hearts. Then the resulting beauty will flourish and spread to those around us.

So let’s not keep the hidden places in our hearts; open up and let the healing and flourishing begin.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

uncooked pizzas

How to Get Help By Asking

 

uncooked pizzas

My two-pizza deal.

 

The Tale of Two Pizzas, a Used Car Battery, and What We Can Learn From All of This

 

Yesterday I had a really nice thing happen to me at the supermarket.

I felt so happy and inspired, that I had to share this simple story… for two reasons.

One, it was truly one of those nice little blessings for which I am very thankful, and two, it shows how we often receive by simply asking.

*****

As I was perusing the vegetable and deli section of our supermarket, I came upon the shelf where the store-made, ready-to-bake calzones and pizzas are located. I was looking forward to taking advantage of a special the store was running, in which if I bought one fresh calzone, I would receive a free fresh pizza. A perfect treat for this Friday’s dinner.

But alas, there were no more calzones to be had.

Not to give up immediately, I looked around for a store worker, and saw a young man stocking shelves nearby. I approached him and asked him if there were any more calzones available to purchase for the special. He in turn asked someone behind the meat counter, and they both looked over at another gentleman who was apparently shopping. The young store guy approached this other man (who was dressed in regular clothes), and they both came over to help me.

I found out the man who was shopping was an employee (must have been a supervisor or manager of some sort), who said he had, “just taken his badge off”, and was shopping. I told him my dilemma apologetically (since he was off of work already), but his pleasant response was in the spirit of true customer service.

First he told me that there were probably not going to be any more calzones today. I said, “OK” with a slight hesitation and a little disappointment, but I would have been OK with this outcome. It was his next question that caught me off guard in a good sort of way. He then said, “What can I do to make this right?”.

I wasn’t sure what to suggest, and so he then offered me a buy-one-pizza, get-one-free deal, and asked if that would make me happy. I told him it certainly would, so he had me give his name to the cashier and said to tell them that he had OK’d the substitution. I thanked him, and with a renewed bounce in my step (and two new pizzas in my cart), off I went to complete my grocery shopping.

You see, I could have just walked (or stomped), off in disappointment without any calzones or pizza in my cart. I would have gotten over it, but it would have left a slightly negative taste in my mouth. But by taking a little effort to politely ask for help, I was blessed with an even better deal (the pizza was less expensive than the calzone I was originally going to buy). I felt happy and cared for as a customer, and very satisfied, and can now happily recommend this particular market to others!

*****

My husband had a similar experience a little while ago at the auto parts store. He had purchased a car battery which stopped working, and in bringing it in to pick up a replacement, he was told that it was just days out of warranty.

He had one of our sons with him, whom he looked over at and basically said, “Now watch and learn.”

He spoke to someone who worked there (probably asked for a supervisor), told him of his problem, and politely asked what they could do for him since it was so close to the warranty date.

This store employee was able to offer him a substantial discount on a new battery, even though technically it was past warranty. My husband was also very pleased and now feels even better about supporting this business.

You see, by the letter of the law, in either case we should have just been “satisfied” going without, but with a little effort and going out of our comfort zones to ask, we were each blessed with something slightly undeserved.

My husband often speaks of how his father taught him to “haggle” or bargain with people at yard sales and such. He was probably embarrassed sometimes when he was young (OK, he said he literally slouched down in the car seat on some occasions), but in the end, he was taught the value of saving money and simply asking for something better than what was offered.

I’m not suggesting we should not ever be willing to pay a fair price for an item without any bargaining; it’s just that although some of us are not naturally comfortable with this practice, many people or businesses would rather profit monetarily a little less in order to gain your trust, confidence and loyalty. There are those in business who truly wish to meet your needs as a customer, and at the very least, it’s a practical business practice to please one’s customers.

It won’t always work out in our favor. We need to be courteous and polite, even if the answer is, “no”.

But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

*****

Now let’s think about some spiritual applications.

The Bible clearly tells us to ask and we will receive.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

– Matthew 7:7 NLT

It also tells us that sometimes we act selfishly and foolishly, but still don’t have something because we simply haven’t asked God.

“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.”

-James 4:2 NLT

To provide balance, the scriptures also guide us in the principles of being content, living with thanksgiving, treating others with respect, and enduring hardship and persevering through the difficulties that will come in life.

I’m not going to get all theological here, but let’s just simplify things for a moment.

As a Christian, I truly believe that God not only knows and loves me, but he knows best what I need. Sometimes he will give me an obvious blessing or even a miracle, to teach me of his eternal care and his unlimited power.

Other times, like a loving but firm parent, he will answer my request with a “no” or perhaps a “wait”, because he cares less about my comfort, and more about my growth as a person. Sometimes my suffering will result in more good (for myself and/or others), and he sees the bigger picture.

So why not just ask God, just as a child would ask a parent, and patiently and thankfully await his response.

There are some stipulations, such as making sure what I’m asking for is not going against his commandments or his nature, and making sure my heart is right in order to make a wise request. But just as a child with a parent, sometimes I will receive a blessing I don’t deserve or wouldn’t have otherwise received had I not asked.

How we enjoy those moments!

At other times, I will be treated like the loved daughter that I am to God, and will have to wait or even give up my desire. In those situations, I will have the opportunity to learn trust and patience. Sometimes I will have to endure hardship or discipline to make me a stronger, more mature person.

Often the child does not know what is best for them, but a wise and caring parent can see a bigger picture.

God our Father really does know what is best.

In times of suffering and difficulty, or even just minor discomfort, I will gain “tools” which I can use to bless and help others in similar circumstances. I can deepen my understanding for others in difficult situations, and offer them heart-felt compassion and a listening ear or timely advice.

So whether it’s for practical reasons like saving our hard-earned cash, or to receive a non-material or spiritual blessing, I encourage you to go ahead and ask.

You just never know what good may come of it.

*****

 

 

 

 

misc. items at home

Created to Create

misc. items at home

 

Create……

The word conjures up images of fine art and music and accomplishments for which most of us feel rather unqualified.

But what if we used whatever gifts we were given to create whatever it is that we were designed to do?

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 2:10

 I believe that we were all created by a loving, creative God, and given gifts and talents to do many creative things.

“I’m not creative” , you may be saying to yourself.

But I think that we all have very different areas of creativity.

Some are gifted to do obviously creative works in art, music or drama.

But what about creating a beautiful home, or a “lived-in”, but loving home? How about creating a family atmosphere where our children can grow to become who God intended them to be?

What about creating a thriving business, a cure for cancer, an inspiring book, a delicious recipe, a system for organizing?

We can create a place for people to learn, get healthy or become connected.

Don’t forget to think outside the box when it comes to what you can create.

God created you with just the right strengths and talents to do what you were meant to do.

Now get on out there and be creative!

*****

I’m linking up today with some wonderful folks at Five Minute Friday. Please join me over there to view some other ideas about today’s prompt, “create”.

 

little mint plant in ceramic pot

Protect

little mint plant in ceramic pot

So many things we must PROTECT.

As I think about the theme, “protect”, I am considering the plants I have been working with these past two years.

I was a teachers’ aide for ten years until a couple of years ago, when circumstances changed and I was no longer needed in my position. At that time, I helped to protect little (and some bigger) lives and souls in a loving Christian school.

Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work in an indoor microgreens farm, and am currently working in the greenhouses of a “regular” farm.

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about plants.

Little plants need much protection in order to grow and flourish. They require good, nutritious soil to nourish them, consistent watering to quench their “thirst”, and sun (or light) to help them reach their full potential. We also protect them from insects and animals who would eat them for lunch or a snack. Plants also require physical protection from the extreme temperatures and natural dangers of the weather and environment.

Like plants, we also need protection, and to provide it for those in our care.

I need to discern who and what I am to protect, and do it wholeheartedly.

But we need help.

My first help comes from the Lord, the source of all protection. Secondly, it’s good and healthy to accept and invite the help of others around us with their love and wisdom.

I also need to protect myself, in order to grow and flourish to be all that God wants me to be, and in order to be the protection that others need.

As I accept the protection I need from God and others who love me, I can in turn, reach out in strenth and offer shelter to those around me.

I close with a Psalm that speaks of God’s protection.

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

(NLT)

*****

I’m linking up with many other bloggers today at Five Minute Friday. Feel free to join me there and read more views and ideas on today’s theme of “protect”.

 

fruit tart with candle

50 Things I’m Thankful For On My 50th Birthday

fruit tart with candle

My 50th birthday “cake”.

Well, this week marks an important date in history…..

Half a century ago, a wonderful little girl was born…..me!!! 😉

It’s never really bothered me too much to get older.

Thirty was absolutely no problem!

At forty, I still wasn’t bothered, but I did note that it felt weird to remember clearly when my mother turned the same age.

But FIFTY???

 

50 Years Well Lived

*****THE BIG 5 – 0 !!!*****

 

 

I’ve been thinking of how to celebrate this momentous occasion for awhile now.  My husband turned fifty this past January, so it’s already been on my mind for some time. These are some of the options I decided against:

  1. Crying and flipping out over being a half century old.
  2. Drowning my sorrows in fifty pounds of cake and ice-cream (although that one was tempting; and I will indulge in at least a little!)
  3. Attempting to blow out fifty birthday candles on my cake (before someone calls the fire department).
  4. Running away from home (to “find” myself).
  5. Doing fifty push-ups (although my Pilates workouts have helped me get closer to this one; OK, not close, but at least I can do a few now), or running fifty miles.

After all that contemplating, I decided that the best way to celebrate fifty years of life is ….. to CELEBRATE!

And what better way to celebrate than to think about the things for which I am thankful?

So for my 50th birthday, here are “a few” things I’m thankful for (some serious; some silly), in no particular order.

 

50 Things I’m Thankful For On my 50th Birthday:

  1. my good life
  2. health & wellness
  3. hot coffee in the morning (here’s my favourite; see point # 48)
  4. the warmth and light of summer
  5. a wonderful, faithful, loving, fun, handy husband
  6. my thoughtful and clever oldest son
  7. my sensitive and creative youngest son
  8. our cute and slightly mischievous cat, Chester
  9. our skittish but affectionate cat, Buster
  10. a very nice home
  11. my godly and creative mother
  12. my silly but wise father
  13. a sister who is a best friend (& her dear family)
  14. a grand-mother who is healthy for her age of 98, who is the remaining one of two great-grandmothers that my sons have had the privilege to know
  15. precious memories of years with my other grandmother (who passed away this past summer at the age of 93)
  16. two very different, yet equally special grandfathers (who have both left this life many years ago)
  17. ice-cream (a single food that solves so many of life’s problems!)
  18. growing up on two acres in the country
  19. a physically demanding, yet therapeutic summer job (on the farm)
  20. picking up our fresh farm shares from June to October (CSA)
  21. pleasant surprises in the mail
  22. cold-brewed iced coffee (the other temperature for my favorite drink)
  23. watching sci-fi movies, old television series, and Lord of the Rings with our sons
  24. having experienced the best homemade dill pickles and fruit pies (in the whole world; and I’m not biased!), made by my grandmother
  25. the grace of God (and mercies that are new every morning!)
  26. living beside grandparents for the first part of my life
  27. planting my new plants and herbs
  28. enjoying the hummingbirds who come to eat and visit our home in the warm weather
  29. a thriving, exciting, friendly, balanced, fun church
  30. the opportunity to minister on our worship team (at church)
  31. my online Pilates instructor (Robin Long of The Balanced Life), workouts, and community (the Sisterhood)
  32. Jesus’ incomparable gift of forgiveness and eternal life
  33. extended family who love and serve God and love each other
  34. Downton Abbey (first tv show I watched just for me)
  35. the opportunity to attend Bible college at Elim Bible Institute
  36. having a good relationship my aunts, uncles and cousins
  37. the Bible (my road-map for life) – here‘s a nice one 🙂
  38. my girlfriends (you know who you are!)
  39. doing something creative
  40. USA – a great country in which to live and have my family <3
  41. photography, photos, and scrapbooking
  42. sitting in the warm sun on my front porch watching nature (with a coffee)
  43. my long, quiet dead-end street
  44. nice neighbors
  45. connecting with friends and loved ones on Facebook
  46. relaxing with a good novel
  47. the changing of the seasons
  48. the opportunity to be born in Canada, but living in New England
  49. baking and eating it
  50. fruit tarts (better than cake!)

50th birthday (from Jon)

I hope you enjoyed my list and found it at least a little inspiring or entertaining.

Now I’m off for some leftover Chinese food and a nice piece of fruit tart. 🙂

*****

 

 

 

 

 

my desk area and computer

Top 12 Reasons that Connecting Online is Super Beneficial

my desk area and computer

My space. 🙂

Well, I just finished another webinar, and I must say, I’M SO INSPIRED!

I had to add the word, “super” to my post title, because I was so motivated and excited by what I had just learned and the connections that were made.

You see, I haven’t been blogging very long (almost six months, which may sound like a long time, but I still mostly feel like a newbie). I’ve participated in around five webinars, and the one I just attended was hosted by two well-known bloggers, Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and Abby Lawson of Just A Girl and Her Blog. This particular session was about writing good content for your blog.

I know that most of you are not necessarily bloggers, so why am I sharing all this?

I just wanted to share that I’m realizing more and more how inspiring it is to encourage others and be encouraged online!

Now let me just clear something up. I’m not suggesting that online contact and relationships can take the place of “real” (live, in the flesh), relationships…

BUT….I am suggesting that you actually can develop, help to maintain and re-connect relationships online…for real!

I’ll use my husband as an example. My dear husband is a definite “techy”. He has done (and does now), sales and other types of jobs, but has always loved and been good at computer-related stuff. He actually launched and still runs his own SEO business, and has built and worked on websites. It’s his second job right now, but is probably his first love (in job world, that is; I’M his first love in real life 🙂 ). He also likes to spend some of his free time playing online video games.

Well, guess what? My husband has met many people online, some of which he’s actually gotten together with over time….and one of his very best friends (I will refrain from calling him a “bff”, for fear of it sounding really “girly”), he originally met online. Either that or they met in business, and then got to know each other online.

Anyway, all that is to say that you really can get to know someone through the web!

Now I’ll tell you my experience.

I’m am definitely “tech-challenged”, but am learning more each day. I was originally scared to join Facebook; in fact, my first photo was really unclear because I was so timid about putting my photo out there where “all the world” could see. But since the day my account was opened, I’ve loved it! (I guess this is the extroverted part of my “ambivert” personality.)

Through Facebook, I have stayed far better connected with my own family (from my parents and sister, to many of my extended family members), and with friends both far and near. I communicate with those from my original home in Ontario, with people with whom I currently go to church, with those with whom I’ve worked in the past many years of jobs, and with those who attended college with me, etc. I’ve also had a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with several high school friends with whom I probably never would have talked in the past twenty years….if it weren’t for Facebook.

I also mentioned these few webinars I’ve attended (online, of course). I have learned so much from the sessions , but I’ve also connected with others on the side. When I say, “on the side, I literally mean that. The “chat” feature which appears on the right side of the webinar video allows listeners to ask questions and make comments during the webinar, but also to share back and forth amongst themselves. In this way, I received some good advice and encouragement from many other wonderful blogging “friends” participating in the webinar, and hope to connect with some of them on their blogs soon!

What I’m trying to say is this:

Would it be better and more personal to get together and talk face to face, to be able to actually reach out and touch someone in the flesh, send a handwritten card or note, get on the phone and really hear someone’s voice, or spend time in a group with “real” live people at church, work, or at some other social event?

Yes, of course!

Is that always practical in my real, average, busy life (to reach out to all of these people I’ve mentioned)?

Absolutely not!

Communication through our various devices will never take the place of being together in person, but it will allow us to connect far more often and with many more people than we would have otherwise.

 

I don’t know about you, but I live here in the real world.

To summarize, I’d like to share with you my top reasons that I believe make connecting online beneficial.

Prayer & Bible reading, Exercise (Pilates & other), Drink water, "Me" time (read, photos, blog).

Day #3 – My personal goals for this month.

Top 12 Reasons that Connecting Online is Super Beneficial:

  1. It’s quick, easy and very accessible!
  2. You can connect almost any time of the day or night.
  3. It’s possible to keep in contact with those you don’t regularly see, or who live too far away to visit.
  4. You can meet new people, both as personal and business acquaintances.
  5. You can be an encouragement and help to others in a myriad of ways.
  6. It’s a good place to gain access to information, tools, and encouragement for yourself.
  7. Connecting online is a great way to both challenge and support others, and to be challenged to learn and grow in areas of your own life.
  8. Social media is a great tool for sharing prayer requests and answers to problems and needs.
  9. Technology can provide an outlet for our creativity and a place to be refreshed and/or inspired.
  10. Photos can be shared with friends and loved ones and viewed almost immediately.
  11. It’s possible to make an income from so many different online sources.
  12. It’s fun!!!

 

Bible, journal and tea

Quiet Time

Just one more note of some importance:

Of course, just like almost any other tool, social media and other online methods of connecting can be a distraction or a hindrance to our responsibilities in real life. In other words, in can easily become a waste of our precious time. Worst case scenario, in rare cases online games and relationships can become a form of “living in a fantasy world”, or be used to harm yourself or others.

But I do not for one minute think that this negates all of the positive points I’ve discussed in this post. In almost every area of our lives, we are called to think (and pray), research, and evaluate whether or not a given action is beneficial to our lives (and the lives of those we love). We need to decide how much or how little time should be given to each activity or task, and to exercise discipline in using any tool available to us.

I may not do it perfectly, but I choose to use all of the “modern” forms of technology in a balanced way, in order to grow in areas of my own life, to help my family and those I love, and to share help and encouragement with others as well.

This blog is one of those outlets for me, and I sincerely pray that it will help, encourage or inspire you, or at least provide a little respite for all of my friends who chose to read it.

*****

What are your feelings towards online tools such as social media? Have you found “modern technology” to be more helpful or more of a hindrance in your life? Do you have anything to share that has helped you to use technology in a more disciplined way?