Please don’t judge me. You don’t know my background, my particular inner battles. You don’t know what support I’ve had, whether little or much. You don’t know as much about me as you think you do.
For that matter, I don’t know as much about you as I think I do. I really don’t know much at all. I know maybe a tenth about you—and that’s what’s on the surface.
We are all different; we all have our own inner struggles. We keep some things private, even from loved ones. There are some things that still hurt too much or are too embarrassing to share with someone else, unless it’s with the dog or cat.
There is much we assume about each other, but we do so without knowing the accuracy of our assumptions. We jump to conclusions and find there’s no net underneath!
So, please don’t judge me; I won’t judge you. Simply come alongside me and walk with me for a little while.
I usually think of blessings as the kind I can see—the kind that happened. Recently I experienced the kind of blessings which are in the “what could have happened, but didn’t” category. This was during a stretch of time in which my mother went to the emergency room twice in a week, and my car went to the garage.
One day while driving up a long hill, the car started to jerk underneath. I thought, Is that the transmission or the gas feed? The only way it didn’t jerk was if I really gave it the gas or if it shifted. I didn’t drive it often until I could get the vehicle looked at, but one time I did drive it was to take my mother to the ER—then drive it home at night when the hospital kept my mother for observation, a round trip of about thirty miles, which included many hills. After taking it to a mechanic, I found out the car needed the transmission flushed.
The blessings contained in my “car drama” include:
the car didn’t break down on the road (very important, especially when taking my mother of advanced age to the hospital, and when driving at night)
no prolonged damage to the transmission
no damage to the engine (what affects the transmission can easily affect the engine)
people—a neighbor and then a relative—who when needed, were willing to help me out by taking me to the hospital to pick my mother up and by taking me to the service shop to pick up the car
at first, the service shop couldn’t get the transmission lines to hold the fluid. Believe it or not, I emailed friends and requested prayer for that specific situation. Later on, believe it or not, the shop called and said the pressure was holding; the car was ready for pick up. I choose to believe prayer made the difference—why else would the situation change??
Other blessings were that my mother did not have any strokes. Instead, she had what is called “vasovagal episodes”, which were scary enough to me, but were not strokes. Another blessing is the caring and thoughtfulness shown by the nurses and staff at the hospital to both my mother and me. A visiting nurse came the other day and gave me tips on how to help my mother. She told me that if my mother has another episode like that, I can call any time and a visiting nurse will come, check my mother, do blood work, take it to the lab, and contact my mother’s doctor. We wouldn’t have to go to the ER. Finally, while sitting at home waiting for the call to pick up my car, I started counting the number of family and friends who would be willing to help me out with a ride. The number was higher than I thought; I have more support than first realized. When I told that to my pastor’s wife, she remarked that was evidence God was standing by me in my troubles. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
While I didn’t want these troubles to happen, I found out when they do, blessings show up right there in the midst of them. It isn’t all bad news. That’s important for me to remember.
It occurred to me that any time I act in a way I’m supposed to in order to please God (choosing humility over envy, for instance) and I don’t act in a way I am used to acting, I am taking a step forward in faith. To me it’s in faith because it’s choosing a different attitude than I’ve done before. I’m “walking on different ground”, so to speak. For me, it takes a bit of courage because attitudes and thought patterns can become so engrained in your heart and mind that it seems those old patterns are what you are to do. But those old patterns don’t lead to happiness, joy, and peace. The new patterns do, and that’s refreshing and calming.
Scriptures to consider: Romans 12:1,2,9-21, Romans 15:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, James 1:19, 20, Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 37:1,2,7
One day I read a devotion on self-control, and thought about how much of a blessing and a power that is. The devotion focused on three people—David, Nabal, and Nabal’s wife, Abigail. Their story is found in the Old Testament book of I Samuel 25:1-35—a passage in the Bible which has as much drama and action as any movie.
David and the men with him were on the run from King Saul and his army. At a time when possessing many animals meant wealth, Nabal was a wealthy man, having thousands of sheep and goats. David did the shepherds a favor by protecting them and the animals from thieves. But when David and his men requested food from Nabal, his refusal was full of contempt. Incensed at his reply, David led his men out to kill Nabal and his household.
Hearing of the impending danger, Abigail, rather than wringing her hands and wondering what to do, got busy. She loaded food for David and his men onto donkeys and sent them ahead. Then she rode out to meet David. When Abigail met David, she respected him by getting off her donkey and bowing down before him (which both women and men did in that culture to show respect to someone). She told him she had not known of the conversation between his messengers and Nabal. She reminded him that her husband was known throughout the countryside for being unreasonable and surly. Abigail honored David by telling him she knew he would be king of Israel in God’s timing. (She knew that Samuel the prophet had already anointed David as king some time before.)
The gift of provisions, but more than that, the self-control Abigail demonstrated enabled David to regain his self-control. It prevented him from killing many innocent people. The power of self-control blessed many people that day. It leads me to the question: If I show self-control today, how many people will be blessed? What situations will be made better than they might have been? I do have power to exercise control over my impulses.
Yes, the crocuses are blooming! I took a stroll around the house yesterday afternoon just to get some fresh air and to feed the birds. A few days ago I’d checked the backyard to see if the crocuses were up, but didn’t see any sign. But yesterday—yes, the purple crocuses and lavender crocuses are blooming, with more to come. The ones shown in the pictures get the afternoon sun.
I took the top layer of leaves off the flower bed out front, and crocuses are pushing up there too. They aren’t blooming yet, but will be.
Crocuses are a welcome sign of spring, no matter how mild the winter has been. For my neck of the woods, winter showed a mild side in December. January was far different, as the mean side of winter made itself known. February and March have been varying, with some warmer-than-usual days and some very cold nights.
When I worked, my job as cashier/sales clerk meant a lot of customer contact. Come this time of year, as I waited on people, I always remarked about the crocuses blooming, and invariably people smiled and you could see relief on their faces, no matter whether the winter was mild or harsh. Sometimes we exchanged a bit of conversation about it. It was good to have something good to talk about.
Lately I’ve spent some time reading different posts and articles about writing characters—how to write them to make them come alive for readers.
All that reading led me to thinking about one of my favorite movies. It’s a favorite because not only is it a Western, but it also has a subplot with a wonderful character study in it. Rio Bravo, from 1958, stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and Ricky Nelson. The plot revolves around Sheriff Chance (John Wayne) defending his town of Rio Bravo against gunslingers intent on springing one of their number out of jail. Dean Martin and Walter Brennan play his deputies. Ricky Nelson plays a young man itching to prove himself by joining the deputies.
The character study centers on Dean Martin’s deputy, who’s been drinking to excess ever since a break-up with his girl. Known to everyone around as the town drunk, the deputy encounters ridicule everywhere he goes. As the days go by and tension in the town increases with the impending arrival of the gang of outlaws, the deputy wages his own private battle with alcohol. At first, the alcohol seems to be winning. There is a long scene in which the camera shows the deputy struggling with the “shakes” of withdrawal. Eventually the deputy overcomes his enemy, just in time to lay his life on the line to defend the town.
I’ve watched a lot of movies with a lot of characters in them, but only Rio Bravo sticks out to me as having scenes I could call a “character study”—scenes which focus on one particular character and show the changes the character goes through.
Here’s a question for moviegoers: Any movie stick out to you in that way?
I'm Joanna, a busy married mum of two beautiful boys aged four and three. I'm sharing my experiences as I navigate the wonderful world of motherhood! Mistakes, routines, mum / life hacks, cleaning, beauty...little bit of everything!