“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7,8 NLT)
To be thankful requires humility. Thankfulness and humility go hand-in-hand. You can’t be thankful if you are prideful; pride steps in the way.
Pride, arrogance, and self-righteousness taint everything good about life. Those attitudes lead to cynicism, suspicion of even innocent people’s motives, and lack of joy. A prideful, arrogant person doesn’t find joy in living.
On the other hand, thankfulness automatically brings in joy. It may not be the kind of joy which has a person jumping up and down in celebration, but it will be the kind of joy which gives sparkle and meaning to life. It will be the kind of joy which spills over and affects even the harder parts of life. Being deeply thankful can not only help bring about answers to problems, it can keep you from many problems. If you are thankful, you aren’t going to be envious, jealous, self-righteous, and so many other attitudes that lead to problems with yourself or others.
In many places, the Bible commands us to be thankful to God. When we are thankful to God, we are focused on Him, not on ourselves and our problems. Focusing on God keeps us away from problems, and leads to victories we thought we’d never see.
One of life’s little luxuries for me is drinking tea–when I am taking time to actually taste it, that is. There are those minutes when I am in a hurry and gulp it down, without noticing the taste, other than that it’s wet. Those minutes are not a state of luxury for me; they are more of necessity. I’m thirsty; I gulp it down.
The moments of luxury come when I take the time to sip the beverage, hot or cold, and enjoy the taste of it. Those moments may come in relaxation, as when I’m sitting on the front porch watching the visiting bunny chow down the weeds and grass, or when I’m in the middle of some mental activity.
What makes the luxury is a sense of deliberateness, of making space for the enjoyment of the tea. In my mind I have a picture of pushing away my “to-do” list, however temporarily, for the sake of a quiet place of refreshment. That quiet place of refreshment both calms and revives me for what’s ahead. I guess you could call it my “adult time-out”.
While Americans generally don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on tea-drinking, the English and Japanese are known for the rituals they developed for tea time. I don’t know if they still keep those rituals or not, perhaps a reader could fill me in. I hope they do. The world goes faster every day. In such a world, you need to deliberately take time to slow down and enjoy some luxury. It makes life richer.
Before I start, I need to give credit where credit is due: the inspiration for this piece comes from a post on Bryan Hutchinson’s blog “Positive Writer”. Tamar Sloan wrote the guest post, “One Word with the Power to Defeat Writer’s Doubt”.
To me, the word yet means possibility. I think of it this way: “Yes! It can happen–yet! or “It hasn’t happened–yet!
There are ideas out there which may bring “it” into reality; the ideas haven’t come forth–yet.
“Yet” means all is not lost; yet means there is still hope. Yet means Do Not Give Up–YET!
Lately my knees and ankles are taking turns reminding me they are there. On a pain scale it’s not much, maybe a 3. But there are days my complaining joints lead me to wonder how much longer I’ll be able to do what I need or want to do.
So it was today. My right knee sent out unhappy signals as I propelled the shopping cart to the car. I wondered how much longer I’ll be able to do the tasks of everyday living.
As I started to drive out of the parking lot, I saw a cart someone had left by a curb. It was one of those grocery carts which has a buggy for young children attached. The cart was in a lane used by drivers to turn into an exit.
For some reason, seeing the cart there irked me. I was going to let it there but I thought, “No, I’m going to move it out of the way.” So I parked the car and grabbed the buggy. The buggy corral was some distance away, and I knew my knee would complain, but I wanted to do it, so I took the wayward buggy back. You know what? While I was doing it, I didn’t feel any pain. My guess is the adrenaline from my anger cancelled out the pain sensations.
I took at least three lessons from this little episode:
Pain doesn’t keep me from caring about something enough to take some sort of action to alleviate it. I can still do something.
Adrenaline from anger is enough to stop pain, at least temporarily. (I’m sure a doctor could have told me this a long time ago).
Anger has its place. Anger can be an expression of caring, but we have to be careful that the expression doesn’t make things worse.
I’m not advocating getting angry to stop pain–I’m just writing this as kind of an expression of wonderment as to how our bodies (or my body, anyway) works.
A friend from church graciously gave her time to help me find clothes suitable for office work. (Most of the clothes I had were for retail work, ie., more casual).
The church I attend has a clothing ministry. With the help of my friend I found some nice clothes to wear at the ministry building. I wore one outfit to an interview, and enjoyed wearing it. The clothes were free–as in–didn’t cost me anything! God provided.
Watching a wild rabbit in our front yard. This rabbit is extraordinarily brave. Most wild rabbits spook quickly. Not this one. We can sit on the front porch just a few feet away, talking quietly and watching him munch on grass and weeds. Sometimes he (or she) stops to scratch. Occasionally the bunny stretches full length on his belly on the grass, perhaps to cool off, something I didn’t know bunnies do. One reason for the bunny’s bravery may be the thick cover close by. The peony bush is there and since I haven’t trimmed the grass underneath lately, he can hide. You wouldn’t be able to spot him easily. The hosta plants are also near and are spreading out nicely and make even better protection than the peony bush. So the bunny knows there are good hiding places just a few feet away.
Opportunities to gain new skills. This summer I did proofreading for Inspire Writers 2022 Anthology, and I also proofread some material for an author in the local area. I gained some more experience in using reviewing/editing software, as well as the satisfaction of helping other writers produce the best work they could.
Spending time sketching, a newer hobby for me, although I’ve had the workbook, pencils, and other materials for a long time. As I wrote in “Friday “Walks”–God’s Gift of Creativity”, sketching is a wonderful stress reliever.
Prayers of friends as I look for a job. As a writer and now, a job-seeker, I find similarities between the two. Both the writer seeking publication and the job hunter seeking a job need determination and resilience. Neither endeavor is as easy as it seems to those on the outside.
Lately I’ve been mulling over whether or not I should continue to pursue a possible job opportunity. At first I was enthused; now I’m having second thoughts. I felt anxiety trying to push its way in.
This weekend I realized some relief from the anxiety as I worked outside. Just being outside in nature’s slower-paced rhythm helped, but the motion of walking on the ground also helped me relax as I mowed grass, raked grass clippings, and moved cement bricks.
While thinking about how moving and doing repetitious work helps relax the mind, I remembered reading one of my favorite authors—Don Ian Smith, I believe—who wrote that when he was troubled about a situation, one of the things he fell back on for relief was physical labor. Since he owned a small ranch, physical labor meant shoveling out irrigation ditches, repairing fences, painting, etc. The physical work allowed his mind to slow down, relax, and get perspective.
Sometimes I complain about the tedious, repetitious tasks of everyday life. Yet the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings” warns me about what can happen when I don’t do those tasks. The saying means when we are bored we can get into or cause trouble. I don’t think the “trouble” it refers to is confined to the stuff that makes the evening news; I think the trouble can be in our minds–trouble such as anxiety, depression, resentment, envy, and anger.
The next time I’m tempted to complain when doing repetitious work, I’ll remember the value in it, and the trouble I’m “missing out” on!
His Voice bringing comfort to me and giving me insight into His heart
hearing the song of a thrush while I rake grass
the scent of rain in the air
having the window open and hearing the gentle patter of rain on leaves
new opportunities to learn more, do more, contribute more
being able to have the window open and feeling warm breezes
big, beautiful, pink peony blooms which I can bring inside and put in vases
being able to go outside without heavy coats and boots
the sight of the begonias in the bed—my mother and I moved them from their “winter home” upstairs to their “summer vacation” outside. We agree the red begonias accent the grey bricks nicely.
more blessings under the category of things which could have happened, but didn’t: Today I had a flat tire. I was irritated, but realized a couple blessings. The big one was that the flat happened while I was in my own driveway; I was not driving down the road at 50 miles per hour. Had it occurred a few minutes later I would have been on the road. The afternoon was sunny and pleasant, not pouring down rain as it was yesterday. The AAA man who changed the tire patiently answered my questions regarding the temporary tire.
iced tea with a slice of lemon
sitting on the porch reading
having shelter to be out of the rain
anticipation of more blessings, more pleasurable happenings, more spiritual victories
This post is for the nature lover, as I list different books featuring nature—either ones which help identify flora and fauna, or ones where the author draws from nature to express a deeper truth. Please note: these are all older books, but it may be possible to find them on used book sites.
Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife—An Illustrated Guide to 2,000 Plants and Animals. I have spent time just looking at the beautiful pictures and illustrations in this book, let alone reading the text. The book not only shows what the plants and animals look like, it shows where they are found, and in the case of birds, it shows on maps where they are summer residents, winter residents, or live all year around. While this book is too big to take into the field, in my opinion, it’s wonderful to sit and look through and enjoy all the diversity shown. It’s also an education in environmental awareness, as the first part of the book describes various wildlife communities.
Homeland: A Report from the Country by Hal Borland. I enjoyed reading this book by Mr. Borland, who was a nature columnist for the New York Times. I also have Hal Borland’s Book of Days. I must confess I haven’t read it yet, but believe I will enjoy reading it as much as Homeland. I’ve skimmed through Book of Days enough to know that, like Homeland, Mr. Borland relates nature facts as well as his thoughts about nature. Besides Homeland and Book of Days, he wrote many other books, most about nature in some way.
By the River of No Return, by Don Ian Smith, is his first book about living in the mountain country of Idaho.
Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails, another book of devotionals by Don Ian Smith, celebrates living in the rugged, beautiful high country of Idaho. As with By the River of No Return, Pastor Smith does a wonderful job of using nature to illustrate eternal truths. His appreciation for the country and the animals in it shines through in this volume and By the River of No Return, and because of that, these books are a joy to read.
Pathways To Understanding—Outdoor Adventures in Meditation by Harold E. Kohn, speaks about nature reflecting the Creator. Pastor Kohn also did the brush and ink drawings which illustrate his writing.
Country Chronicle by Gladys Taber, is drawn from the author’s life in New England. Gladys Taber’s columns used to appear in Family Circle or Woman’s Day magazines.
Words have such power! As creative as words can be (see The Power of Words, Part I, here,) they can be equally destructive. I think we often underestimate that destructive power. We repeat the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That saying is so untrue; it goes against the reality of the power of words.
Consider that words are important players in relationships. Think of it: a husband puts his wife’s family down; a wife belittles her husband’s ability to provide for the family; a father tells his son he will never amount to anything. The words used and the tone in which they are said, are like an invisible nuclear blast detonated in a person’s spirit. The fallout can last a long time.
What are my words like? Are they untrue, rude, thoughtless, insulting put-downs? Are they filled with the venom of gossip? Do they carry the hot coals of destruction?
Some Scriptures: Matthew 5:22, Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31, Ephesians 5:4, Philippians 2:14, Colossians 3:19, 21, and James 3:5,6
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!