Write

Today is Five Minute Friday, where I participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s prompt and write for five minutes flat, link with others, and enjoy writing. Today’s prompt is Write.

GO
Reader: That’s a word I’ve used to describe myself my whole life. I love the fact that my first sentence was, “Read me a book,” because reading is what I love to do. Reading is a need, like breathing.
Talker: That’s not a word I use to describe me. I can talk just fine. In fact, I talk for a living; I’m a teacher. Give me a microphone, or a podium, or a group of people and I can make a toast, give a speech, explain something and do it well. But I have a fear of talking to people I don’t know. I don’t like one-on-one conversation. Never ask me my opinion or expect me to express my feelings. I might be wrong. I can’t think fast enough or clearly enough. I shut down.
Writer: That’s a word I never even thought of to describe myself. I like reading other people’s writing, but I can’t write. I don’t have anything to say that is worth anyone else’s time. Except when I can’t get the right words to tell my husband what I’m thinking and feeling after a disagreement, or I need to figure something out for myself. Then I pour words out onto a page.
I write notes of encouragement and a Christmas letter. People who receive those often tell me I’m a writer. “No, I’m not,” is my usual response.
My husband kept nagging me, “You have things to say. Write a book.”
“About what?” I asked. For years.
Then I went to (in)Real Life. There were two writers there: Jacque Watkins and Denise Hughes. They listened and encouraged me to write.
And now I can’t STOP.

How I Learned to Like Green

You know how kids have a favorite color? We all do, even as adults. And it shows in little things: the clothes we wear, how we decorate our homes, the car we drive. That color attracts us, captures our attention, draws us to it. Usually without rhyme or reason. It’s just our favorite color. We can’t explain it.

For years, I convinced myself I didn’t like green (or orange). I knew why I didn’t like to wear green—it made my eyes look more green than blue, and I wanted blue eyes. When people complimented me about my pretty green eyes, it irritated me. Why did I value blue so much when I was getting complimented on green ones? I should take any compliment I can get and say “thank you!” Instead I’d explain, “My eyes are blue, but they have a thin circle of yellow around the pupil so when I wear green, it makes my eyes seem green, but they’re really blue.”

Several things changed my perspective about green.

My husband’s favorite color is green. He told me over and over, “Look how green everything around you is. God made so many things green; when I see green, I think of God and how good He is.”

OK—I got that, but I still didn’t like green.

My daughter, Erin, liked green too.

And my mom.

Those are three of my favorite people. Maybe I should take another look.

Then Erin moved to Las Vegas. There isn’t much of God’s green in Las Vegas. Most everything there is a dusty brown and shades of rust. The dirt, the rocks people use in their yards instead of grass, the buildings—it’s monochrome, I discovered I missed green.

But what really made me aware of how wonderful green was counting gifts. The more I looked at the world around me from the perspective of thanking God for all He gives me every single day, the more I noticed green. My husband was right.

There are so many shades of green, I don’t think the biggest box of crayons could ever capture them.

Some of my favorite things are green.Cucamonga peak Jasminetrees in sunChristmas trees. Avocados. Lettuce. Granny Smith apples. Trees. Flower stems. 

<a Changing my mind about green may seem silly and even unnecessary. But for me, it was a step closer to God. I see God’s handiwork everywhere. His creation and creativity. Genesis 1 tells me when God looked at all He made, “He saw that it was good.”

And it is. It makes my world beautiful. All God created is good. God in His very nature, the core of His being is good. Wherever I look, I choose to see His hand of good, His presence, His love for me and for all He created.

Thank you, God for green. When I see it, it fills my heart and soul and mind with praise for You.   

True

Today is Five Minute Friday, where I participate in Lisa-Jo Baker’s prompt and write for five minutes flat, link with others, and enjoy writing. Today’s prompt is TRUE.

GO

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

What is true? God loves me. I am free. Free from shame and guilt and worry that I don’t measure up. Free from the lies that I don’t do enough, serve enough, pray enough, clean my house enough, show my daughter often enough how much I love her so she knows how special and important she is to me.

True is accepting I am a work in progress. I will always be a work in progress until Jesus takes me home. True is knowing, deep in my heart and soul and mind no matter how much I feel my life is spinning out of control, that I can’t keep up, that I’m letting people down, God is there with me. He is using each and every experience to change me into a woman who always, always, ALWAYS trusts him.

True is, when I feel unworthy, unlikable, unable, I take my mind away from those thoughts and feelings and I focus on the Truth. I choose to stop thinking the worst about myself, and I “think on and weigh and take into account of these things (fix my mind on them)” (Amplified)

I take my focus off myself and put it on Him. Jesus. The way, the TRUTH, and the life (John 14:6).

STOP

Two Simple Words

Everywhere I looked there were people. They were walking in groups—talking, laughing, eating,—ready to have a good time. The smell of hot dogs wafted through the air. Music came through the tunnels, adding to the festive mood. I was at the granddaddy of all football stadiums, the Rose Bowl, to watch my UCLA Bruins. The mood was festive because we were expected to win our third game in a row.

Standing quietly and watching intently, were Pasadena policemen and women and Rose Bowl security personnel, all in uniform. I walked up to several as I meandered through the crowd. Each one’s face changed just slightly, wondering what I wanted, but ready to help. I held out my hand and said, “Thank you. Thank you for standing here, watching, and keeping us safe.” Each person I spoke to responded with a startled look, but also a “Thank you.”

Other people were making sure the Rose Bowl looked like it was dressed in its Sunday best. Despite the thousands of people spilling popcorn, dropping napkins, letting trash fall to the ground instead of taking the time to find a trash can, the Rose Bowl was spotless. Again I walked up to these people who no one seems to see. I held out my hand and said, “Thank you. You make being at the game a better experience because it looks like Disney Land. I appreciate the work you do.”  Each person I spoke to changed their expression from one of bored automaton to a smile that lit up their whole face.

At each tunnel entrance, there are two people whose main job is to check tickets and make sure only those with tickets in that section go down the tunnel. When they politely, but firmly, deny entrance to anyone, they are subjected to arguing, cajoling, and irritation. They hold their ground without losing tempers. In addition, anyone who is unsure of how to get to their seats approach and these ladies and gentlemen patiently explain how to get where they want to go. I went to several tunnels and at each one the people standing there were ready to answer my questions, to help me as they did hundreds of others that day. When I held out my hand, they got puzzled looks on their faces. And when I said, “Thank you for what you do, for making sure only ticket holders go down the tunnel, for helping anyone with a question. You make the day run smoothly so we can enjoy the game,” every one told me, “I love what I do.”

There were a few people next to stacks of seat cushions, renting them to make the hard, plastic seats more comfortable. The crowd was more interested in information. Since these people had on polo shirts with a Rose Bowl label, many fans approached looking for help finding their way in the stadium. Without fail, the fan was treated courteously and received whatever help they needed, even though that wasn’t the job of these young men and women. After watching one exchange, I walked up to the young man renting the cushions, offered my hand, and said, “Thank you for your helpfulness and courtesy.” He offered to give me one of the cushions for the game (which I declined).

Every one of these people was doing their job and doing it well. Unless their services were needed, no one noticed. They weren’t the star of the show, running plays, scoring touchdowns, worthy of the Victory Bell ringing, clapping, cheering, and accolades.

Without them there would be no game.

I couldn’t help but think of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers in Luke 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem, he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

I know none of the people at the Rose Bowl did anything close to what Jesus did. But like Jesus, their service went unnoticed, taken for granted, as though those receiving the gift earned it. Jesus asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God. . .”

God wants us to notice all the goodness He provides for us. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18 tells us we are to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”

Yesterday, I saw the impact those two simple words—thank you—had on people who do not expect to be noticed unless they are needed. 

I realized I need to be more aware of all the people who are on the sidelines, making my life easier and more pleasant because of the things they do. Each one deserves my respect and a heartfelt, simple thank you.

And always, no matter what is my circumstance, I need to acknowledge the goodness of my God by saying, “Thank you.”

Those two simple words have power to make others know they are appreciated, and they help me pay attention and notice all others do for me. They shift my focus from myself to others.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your time.

She

She is my daughter. Beautiful inside and out.

A source of joy and a true gift from God.
Steady.

Dependable.

Hard-working.

Persistent.

Precious.

I take her for granted because she’s steady as a rock. She doesn’t argue or create a scene. She doesn’t seek attention. She doesn’t whine or complain.

She thinks things through, studies the issues, and keeps on going…and going..and going. No matter how the odds are stacked against her or how tired she is or how hurt she feels. She steps aside and lets others have all the attention while she quietly and efficiently gets whatever needs to be done accomplished.

She loves and protects her kids. No matter how much she sacrifices herself, she makes sure they have what they need. She works the graveyard shift so she can be at home in time to kiss them goodbye in the morning before school, and she’s up and ready to help them with homework and projects and sports and youth group before she leaves for work again after dinner. She makes sure they each have time with her. She takes them to church and teaches them about Jesus.
She gives life everything she has.

Even when she thinks nobody notices.

She is my precious, beautiful, amazing daughter, Erin.