Thursday, May 28, 2015

When an Optimist Fails to Be Optimistic

This is the shirt I chose to wear on our hike this past weekend.



Except that I wasn't.

Optimistic, that is.

Wearing a shirt like that is a little like driving a car with a fish on it...you have to always be on your best behavior. 

And I wasn't.


I started out with a good attitude.  The Hubster had printed out driving directions to a trail that was new to us, along with what he calls, "The Talkabout," a detailed account of the trail so it's nearly impossible to get lost.

He began to read the directions to me, but I decided that there was an easier way.  And since I was driving, I was allowed to take that way. 

Except that I wasn't sure how to get to one particular road.  

And that's when the trouble started.

I got annoyed at myself because I thought I'd passed the road, so I went "around the block," which, in Northern New Jersey is typically 5 miles or so.  

Turned out I was going the right way after all, and that frustrated me even more. 

It also turned out that the road I thought was a direct route...wasn't. 

Nowhere close.  It required some prior knowledge of the area, which I had. However, it also required prior knowledge that the road doesn't go straight, as shown on Google Maps. That I did not have.

At this point, I started becoming annoyed with the Hubs. After all, he wasn't helping! He claimed it was because he wasn't familiar with my phone (iphone snob), which was supposed to be navigating for me, but for some reason was silent. 

"Well, can't you at least follow along and tell me where the road goes?" I asked, in a sharp tone. And then, in a more shrill voice, "I can't drive and navigate at the same time!"

Oh, that's positive and affirming.

In other words, I got myself into another mess. Get me out of it!

But he wasn't having any of it. He was letting me wallow in my slop, pig that I was.

No matter what way I went, it turned out to be the wrong way, until at last we "arrived at our destination (according to the Google lady)," which was definitely NOT our destination.

We were now both agitated and angry at one another. Not to mention lost.

I waited for him to figure out what to do.

Another optimistic move.

He said, "I can't help you."

Wrong answer.

"WHATTDYA MEAN YOU CAN'T HELP ME? YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME!" I shouted.

"I gotta pee," he said, and jumped out of the car into the brush. He couldn't get away from me quick enough.

I did what anyone who is Optimistic By Nature would do. 

I stewed. I muttered. I sneered. I may have even stuck my tongue out at him.

After settling down a bit, I reprogrammed my phone's gps, and we finally found the trailhead and parking lot. 

We had ceased all conversational activity. I was still mad at him.  I had wanted him to fix everything and he didn't. 

But I was also mad at myself for losing my way...in more ways than one...losing my patience, losing my temper, and losing my optimistic outlook.

As I was walking across the parking lot, I seized a final opportunity to be optimistic...I made sure to put on a sad face so that all the other hikers would feel sorry for me. True story.

How's that for an ultimate optimistic attitude? 

I walked with my shoulders slumped and tried to will myself to cry. I confess, I really did that...tried to will myself to cry! 

But I couldn't, because this other ACTUAL optimistic side of me said, Oh, grow up Mary! Get over it and enjoy the day. Stop being so hard on yourself and on Brian.

As we approached the information kiosk at the trailhead, we both noticed a sign taped over the trail map poster that said, "New trails." 

The Hubs said, "So are we supposed to use the new trail map and not the Talkabout?"

I looked at him incredulously.

Really????

You're asking ME???

By this time, I had learned my lesson. In my calmest and nicest available voice, I replied, "Given my history of directions today, I don't think I'm the best one to make that decision."

I did notice, however, that the red trail looped around the reservoir, which seemed like a nicer hike than the designated green trail in The Talkabout.

"Okay, we'll stick to the Talkabout," he said.

Darn it!

I kept quiet and let him lead.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

PS: It wasn't until much later that I realized the irony of the shirt I was wearing...in the parking lot, mind you. In case you've forgotten:




I hadn't even realized it...but the Hubster sure did.

Sweet Lucy...forever optimistic


Sharing this post with Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded Wednesday, Crystal at Thriving ThursdaysDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Susannah at Faith and Fellowship   


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunrise Insights on Making Excuses

I heard the slow start of the rain break the silence of pre-dawn. The rhythm of a steadier rain grew until I relaxed back into my pillow.

Oh good, I won't have to get up early this morning for my walk.

The next time I woke up, at 5:30, I didn't hear rain. 

Well, whatdya know? It stopped. I guess I'll get up and go.

I was in a bit of a sour mood.
I didn't wanna go.
I wanted to hit the "snooze."
My knees hurt.
It was chilly.
And misting.


Excuses.

I went anyway.

As I walked, negative thoughts invaded my mind, trying desperately to fuel that sourness and steal the peace and joy that I knew would come if I kept going.

I continued to move, and the stiffness in my knees loosened, my body temperature rose and I tuned in to the sound of water droplets bouncing among the leaves of the tall trees around me. God's beauty abounds both in the warm sunrise and in the chilly mist. 

This was my "Sonrise Insight" this morning:

Our flesh will always cry out to be fed. 

Unless we silence it.

It will always fight for its own pleasure.

Unless we deny it. 

It will always seek to make excuses. 

Unless we take responsibility for our actions---or inactions.

I thought about the struggle I have with food, specifically sugar.

There are times when I can look beyond the immediate desire and remember how I felt after the last time I gave in to my flesh. When that glimmer of revelation comes, I find it easier to deny the flesh, because I know that the pleasure will be fleeting, and inevitably, guilt and remorse will follow. 

Looking back helps me look beyond.

I can get through this stronghold that sugar has on me, because I got through giving up a lot of other things that weren't good for me:

Caffeine, diet soda, cigarettes, ice cream, and Oreos to name just a few. And that was without the help of God!

Going through something doesn't so much make us stronger, as it makes us recognize our weakness. When we recognize our weakness, we realize the need for Someone far greater to come to our aid. 

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(1 Corinthians 12:9-10)


When I am weak, then I am strong.

When I don't want to when I should, do want to when I shouldn't, and feel entitled when I'm not...that's when I am at my weakest.


And that is when I must admit my weakness, take responsibility, and call on my God to come to my rescue. And He does.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

But I must deny the flesh, or His reason for being there is pointless.

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Whatever it is that you're struggling with today, I want to challenge you:

Stop making excuses. 

Stop hitting the snooze alarm and feeding the flesh, because the more you hit that snooze, well...the more you'll snooze. And eventually the alarm will startle you out of your slumber. You WILL have to silence the flesh sooner or later.


Blessings Along the Path,
Mare


sharing this post with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa LinkupHolley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness, Crystal at Thriving Thursdays   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Waving at Myself From the Courtesy Car

I've been having technical issues with my car's bluetooth system. Calls keep dropping off the bluetooth and then I have to scramble around for my phone, all the while yelling, "Hold on, hold on!" The person on the other end is still chatting away, oblivious to my dilemma. When I locate the phone, I have to put it on speaker, only to have the bluetooth reconnect. 

This technical issue also causes my music to constantly stop, cut in and out, or not connect at all, and I end up either listening to my playlist on my phone within the car, or throwing in a Joyce Meyer teaching cd (there's always one handy...and it's usually on something like not throwing a fit when I don't get my way). Sometimes I even do something crazy and turn it all off and pray!

I took my phone to the Verizon store, thinking that could be the problem. The guy there tried to pair my phone again. That made it worse. I now had no connectivity at all. So, when I got home, I sat in the driveway and had an argument with the lady in the computer.

"Say a command."
"Pair phone."
"That call cannot be completed. Try again."
"PAIR PHONE!
"Say Phone book or Security."
"NO!"
"Available commands are cancel, go back or repeat."
"CANCEL!"

This went on and on. I was eventually successful in pairing the phone, but it rejected the pairing once I tried to play music. And now the phone didn't even work on a phone call. 

I pitched a fit. Where was Joyce now?

I was tired. I was hungry. I was frustrated. 

And I was spoiled. I wanted my music. Whahhhhhh!

I yelled. I called the phone stupid. I called the car stupid. I called the computer lady stupid, which was really stupid, since she wasn't a she at all. She was a computer made to sound like a she. 

Then I thought about my neighbor who had just had surgery for a possible cancerous growth. She is already a two time cancer survivor and is now fighting against a third bout.

And I was upset about my phone not connecting to my car.

Wow.

Spoiled?

A little.

I finally decided that my attempts were futile. The phone probably needed to be unpaired and then paired again, but that was way beyond my capabilities.

I went inside and called the dealer. He told me to bring the car over and he'd take a look at it.

Meanwhile, I noticed that Hubster had cooked the dinner than I'd brought home and he had taken out of the car during my fit-pitching session.

I apologized every which way to the Hubs. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and...stupid.

Instead of fueling that, which he could have, he gracefully kept preparing the meal and said, "I think you need to give yourself a wave."

Huh?

And then I realized he was referring to the Courtesy Car



I stop for acts of kindness for random strangers, but I won't extend the same courtesy to myself. Am I not as worthy of the same kindness? 

I think he also meant that if I waved to myself from the Courtesy Car, I'd diffuse my own anger (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to read Extending Kindness From the Courtesy Car). 

It was a kind man's version of saying, "Stop it! Just...KNOCK IT OFF!"

I chuckled.

It was a funny statement, but one that was also loaded with grace, mercy, forgiveness, and abundant love...a statement perhaps, straight from the Holy Spirit (I constantly marvel at why my husband continues to extend grace to me in spite of my hissy fits).

The dinner was great. 

And so, by the way, is my man, who suggested we go see the dealer after dinner, which we did, and where the salesman fixed the problem.

Be kind to yourself.

Diffuse your own anger. 

Give yourself a wave.

Blessings From the Courtesy Car,
Mare

sharing this post with Deb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday StillnessLaura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His BeautyHolly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa LinkupHolley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded Wednesday   


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Extending Kindness From the Courtesy Car

Every now and then, you just need a funny story, don't you?

Well, I'm still chuckling from this one, and I hope it makes you laugh today, especially if you're feeling downtrodden, lonely, or experiencing any other emotion that might make laughter seem like something you used to do, but don't do much anymore.

I just offended someone by being nice.

I'm a very courteous driver. I've often wondered if I tick people off behind me in traffic because I tend to stop a lot and let others out of side streets or parking lots. I always stop at the crosswalk when someone wants to cross. I'm just not in a hurry anymore, and I don't really care if the person behind me is.

Well, I went out to pick up lunch for myself and my co-workers. I guess I must have made a courtesy stop a time or two. Then I noticed a woman standing on the sidewalk who appeared to want to cross, but she wasn't in the crosswalk. I stopped anyway.  After she crossed, the person behind me gave me a little toot. I thought, 

Why is he honking at me?

I continued on my way and I heard the guy again. This time it was less of a toot and more of a honk. I probably stopped to let a car out.

I started to get just a tad annoyed, but if I gave in to that, I'd only be coming down to his level. And I wasn't letting a harried stranger cause me to lose my peace!

So I stuck my arm out the window and waved to him, as if I knew him.

Oh, hello! How are you? Can't stop...I'm in my car!

That just made him more mad!

So he honked again.

I waved again.

He honked louder and longer.

I waved more dramatically and longer.

His honks became angrier.

My waves became friendlier.


And then I started laughing uncontrollably.  I found the situation to be quite hysterical.

Do people realized how stupid they look when they get angry all alone in their cars?

My stop was coming up, and I made sure to give him plenty of warning by putting my turn signal on at the Motor Vehicle required 100 feet prior to my turning. 

He grew silent.

Oh, it was too good to be true.  He hadn't forgiven me that easy.  

No, he was saving it up for one last blast.

And blast he did!

As I turned into the deli, he leaned on that horn just to make sure I knew how much he didn't appreciate my kindness!

As I turned, I leaned out the window, waved frantically and yelled, "Bye!"

I'm sure I made a difference in his day.

He sure made one in mine.  I haven't laughed so hard in weeks!

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare

sharing this post with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa LinkupHolley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness, Crystal at Thriving Thursdays

Monday, May 11, 2015

I Want to Be a Palindrome

Do you have a favorite letter?

Okay, I know that's a goofy question...who has a favorite letter?

Well, I do.


I love the letter "P."



I didn't set out to find the Perfect letter. It just happened. Some of my favorite words just happened to start with the letter "P."

Party. Pretty. Pleasure. Papaya. Pansies. Prayer.



Perhaps it's due to my being a recovering Perfectionist.

Or the fact that I was once a Prodigal (and sometimes still am).

Or maybe it's because I used to be Negative Nancy and chose to become Positive Polly (which was, incidentally, my grandmother's name).

Or because I try to see Purpose. Possibility. Promise in every situation and circumstance.

And lately, I've noticed that my Perception of things determines my Perspective.

Saying Please and thank you, and being Polite are important to me.

Prizes are nice too.

So is Playing. Remember how to do that?



And in case you were wondering, yes, my favorite color is Purple.

You know what's a really cool "P" word?

Palindrome...do you know what that is?

Mom. Civic. Race car. Kayak. Do geese see God? 

Something that reads the same backward or forward.



I want to be a Palindrome.

A Palindrome seems to say, "Don't mess with me."

It's unshakable. Immovable. Purposeful. 

When someone looks at my life, at my actions, they only see what I'm presenting in the front, in the moment. But what happens if they look from behind (I'm so glad I can't see back there...)? 

Is my history, my Past actions, consistent with my Present?

Am I real? Or do I Pretend to be something up front and another "behind the stage," so to speak?

Is my "yes" a yes and my "no" a no? Or do I flounder and then allow myself to succumb (see May 6 post) to anger, resentment, gossip and slander?

Is my concern genuine, or am I trying to impress someone by showing "how much I care?"

Do I do nice and good things simply to bless another, or am I trying to earn favor?

When you read my life, is it the same backward as it is forward? 

I Proclaim to be a believer of God and follower of Christ. Would I still hold on to that belief if I were in danger of losing my life?

These are questions I'd like to say I can answer "correctly," but if I'm honest, there are times when I know I've messed up and acted out of selfishness, pride, arrogance, fear or guilt.

It is during those times that I feel Pitiful. Powerless.

And that's not the image I want to Portray to others, especially as I walk this Christian walk. 

God is a Palindrome of forgiveness. No matter how you read Him, His grace is the same backward and forward. His mercy is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

Only by the grace and mercy of Abba, my "Daddy God," the ultimate palindrome, can I go from Pitiful to Powerful. 

A Palindrome of love.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare


Sharing this post with Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His BeautyHolly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa Linkup, Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness   

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Succumb or Submit?

Another day that I messed up.

That was my thought when I succumbed to the temptation of sugar.

In my mind, the fact that I'd eaten healthy all day completely negated the cookie, the candy and the ice cream...yes, all in one day. I didn't give myself credit for the good, the control and the discipline. 

My brain magnified the weakness.

The cookie wasn't so bad. I'd allowed myself to have that. After all, I had eaten a healthy breakfast and a decent lunch. I could permit myself the sweet treat after lunch.

But I got hungry, or maybe bored later and succumbed to the candy because it was right there. I told myself I'd only have half. But I guess I couldn't decide which half, because I ate both.

Later, Hubster and I were out after dinner running errands, and the weather was so beautiful. It was like summer. Summer=ice cream. I'd only have one scoop (and I did! But I'm definitely going back because that girl got a lot of ice cream in one scoop).

But as I lay in bed, all I could hear were the accusations; the voices in my head that sounded so much like my own:

I'll never lose weight. 

My cholesterol and triglycerides will never be under control if I keep eating like this.

I can't seem to control my sugar cravings.

I'll never lose this gut.

Cheater!

Hypocrite!

I had a choice. I could continue to succumb...this time, to the voices of accusation...

Or I could submit...

To what God says about me: 

God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good (Gen 1:31).

If, on the sixth day, God beheld all that He created, then he must behold me and call me "very good" as well.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to succumb is to stop trying to resist something; to yield to superior strength or force or overpowering desire or appeal. 

Interestingly, the example that is used is succumb to temptation.

Submit offers many definitions, one of which is almost exactly the same as succumb:

To stop trying to fight or resist something. To agree to do or accept something that you've been resisting or opposing. 

However, submit has a component that succumb doesn't:


AUTHORITY

  • to yield to governance or authority
  • to defer or to consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another
  • to yield oneself to the authority or will of another; surrender.
Oh, that sounds a lot like what we need to do as Christians, doesn't it? 


I can choose to yield myself  to the overpowering desire and appeal of the fleeting force of temptation, or I can yield and surrender myself to the authority of Jesus Christ and His opinion of me.

When I choose to succumb to the voices, I must remember that I am not succumbing to anyone or anything of authority. I am simply giving in and giving up.

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot (Rom 8:7)

If I choose to submit to Jesus, I give my consent to abide by His opinion, whether or not I like it or agree with it.

In so doing, He gives something beautiful and powerful back to me.

He gives me the authority to quell the voices that attempt to lure me into sin.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy;

Nothing will harm you (Luke 10:19).

The voices I once succumbed to, maybe my whole life, maybe earlier in the day, or maybe only moments before...flee 

Submit yourselves, therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

We succumb to temptation in weakness.
We submit to God in faith.

You and I must always remember God's words as He stood back and observed our forms after creating us...

It is very good!

Don't succumb to the voices that tell you otherwise.

Even if your craving turns into caving, you're still worth saving.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare


Sharing this post with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa Linkup, Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness, Susannah at Faith and Fellowship, Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Crystal at Thriving Thursdays