Thursday, December 9, 2010


“It’s most wonderful tyme of the year…”

It’s very strange, but I, me, the family deemed Scrooge, cannot stop singing Christmas songs! In fact, the other day I just about caused my mother to faint when I actually REQUESTED she put on some Christmas music. Just for the record, I was poised to catch her before I let the words escape my lips. She gladly put in a CD and I think it made her happy to see me with at least a modicum of Christmas Spirit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love what Christmas stands for, the birth of Christ, but the whole hullabaloo that goes with it, well, if I’m honest, it reminds me of some very miserable tymes from the Christmases of my childhood. Oh my, just typing that now dampened my spirits a little. Suffice it to say that Christmas at my house was probably the most miserable tyme of the year, and trust me, most every day of the year was miserable.

Okay, so, moving away from troublesome thoughts and back to the fact that my Scrooge-like self this year has the uncontrollable urge to sing Christmas songs. Well, no, I guess there is a bit more of a background story you will need to understand the WOW factor of my melodies. It’s been six years since I moved away from the source of my ill Christmas memories and you would think that with tyme it would get easier to enjoy the holiday season. I think in a way it has made it easier, but I made one fatal mistake when I moved; I got into retail.

There’s no worse place to work during the Christmas season than in a retail store, especially one that cares far more about its bottom line than its employees, which is most every one, and one whose manager is the epitome of Ebenezer Scrooge. Retail will take any ounce of Christmas spirit a person has and exploit it until said person no longer possesses any desire to deck a hall or sing one more fa la stinkin’ la!

Sure, most people think that the stores are so pretty and the deals are so great, but what they don’t realize is that the employees are forced to get a certain number of credit applications and a certain amount of sales in order to maintain their rate of pay. How can anyone sustain a cheerful attitude with that hanging over his or her head? Not to mention being forced to listen to the same horrible versions of the same secular “Christmas songs”, (because Heaven forbid they play a song that mentions Jesus and “offend” anyone) over and over for eight hours a day. I mean really, how many tymes can a person listen to Jessica Simpson destroy “Baby it’s Cold Outside” before they want to take a battle axe to the radio speakers? Can you see where I’m going with this? Getting into retail was not the place to be in order to heal my Christmas tyme woes.

Now, part of me thinks that, deep down, I desperately wanted to shake my ‘Scroogeness’ because about two years ago I developed a sheer fondness for Christmas movies. Yes, it’s true and you know the movies mean. I thoroughly enjoy the ones where people find their Christmas spirit, where they learn about family and giving and everything that’s important and yes, I especially delight in the ones with cheery conclusions, where the characters find true love and happiness at the end. Alas, I am a hopeless romantic to the nth degree. In fact, the day I find a man like the ones they write in Hallmark movies is the day…well, I digress.

So, the fact that I have this Christmas movie partiality and my current need to sing Christmas songs, oh, and the fact that this year I am actually excited to go get a tree and decorate are a new found assurances that I am not a lost cause when it comes to holiday spirit. Such assurances however prompted me to think about the people that were blessed to never question their holiday spirit, the ones that have are set in their activities and traditions.

Tradition is like a pack of batteries; it has its pluses and minuses. I know people that absolutely have to do it like they’ve always done it. They have to visit this uncle on this day and they have to take this particular dish to that particular party. They have to put this decoration here and that decoration there. They have to attend a particular function, not because they want to, but because it’s what they’ve always done. It just has to be the same or, to them, it just isn’t Christmas.

Now, for me, the one with the Scrooge-ish tendencies, well, I don’t really have that many Christmas traditions. Sure, there’s a tree and some decorating, a party or two and some favorite foods, but honestly, nothing is mapped out and specifically detailed. So, tradition or no tradition? That is the question.

Well, if I were Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof I would be advocating tradition, tradition and trying desperately to control my daughters, but would I be right? Is doing something just because that’s the way it was always done really a valid reason for doing it? I really don’t think it is. I think that doing something because it is the right thing to do is always a good reason for doing it, but to do something because tradition demands it, well, I think there has to be more to it than that.

The Bible warns us about living in the past and, in a way, I think that is what traditions force us to do. By doing what we’ve always done we’re forced to look at what’s gone by and we fail to live in the present. I’m not insinuating that traditions are wrong or that drawing from examples or lessons of the past is bad, but I do think that letting traditions control how we live is not right.

I mean think about it, if Thomas Edison let tradition control him, we wouldn’t have the light bulb. Edison did not say, “well, we’ve always been in the dark, so we should always stay in the dark”, instead he moved forward and gave the world some fantastic inventions. In the same respect, Jesus’ disciples threw tradition to the wind when they gave up everything to follow Him. The fishermen were undoubtedly following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, but when Jesus said, “follow me”, they moved forward and, eventually, became great evangelists. Imagine if they would have said, “sorry Jesus, we’ve always caught fish and we’re going to continue to catch fish, but thanks for the offer”. What a thought.

So, it comes down to this. As we deck the halls, go to parties, visit family and a sing those Christmas songs, let’s not let tradition dictate the holiday season. Let’s take things as they come, enjoy the moment, live in the present and make new memories because trying to recapture the past is an exhausting tradition and after all, Christmas…“it’s most wonderful tyme of the year”!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Protest into Praise

Studies are often conducted about the percentage of people who go to college and earn a degree. A lot of tymes the outcome of such studies is not impressive, but I am of the opinion that 99.9% of people on this earth, myself included, would have at least a bachelors if not a doctorate if the Universities would offer a degree in complaining.

If you think about it, we all do it. We complain when it’s hot and we complain when it’s cold. We complain about the slow moving vehicle in front of us and we complain when cars fly passed us on the highway. We brook no tolerance when we have to wait in line at the grocery store checkout and we have less than positive things to say when people in line behind us express their impatience.

Now, you might be able to justify our cranky habit by calling it an involuntary reaction. We don’t mean to grumble or protest, but society has taught us that we are the ones who know best and that if something doesn’t go our way, we should voice our displeasure. It’s an ironic curriculum, considering that the only way it could work is if everyone had the exact same opinions and ideas; fancy that, we don’t. We live in a culture where new and different ideas are in abundant supply, thus making the ammunition for grievances likewise. There is no shortage of topics, situations or happenings to invoke a criticism from even the most conscientious of individuals, though it seems some people have more access to fire power than most.

Few things are more aggravating than a person who finds fault with everyone and everything and has a particular skill in making his or her dissatisfaction freely known. Every word has a deep, negative connotation. Every breath is taken and released with the fundamental purpose of relaying distaste for a current situation or surrounding. Nothing pleases this person, to the point that even if things were altered to meet every complaint, he or she would criticize the order and manner in which the complaints were met.

Right now you are doing one of three things. You’re nodding your head in agreement because you’ve encountered one of these personalities, you’re breathing a sigh of relief that you’ve yet to cross paths with such a person or you’re jumping up and down, bellowing maledictions because I just trampled all over your feet. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean. I think if we’re all honest, our toes are hurting at the moment, because we all know that from tyme to tyme we catch a case the grumbles.

Years ago there was an era, if you will, when the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” was extremely popular; it’s a shame that the era has passed. The question seemed to inspire people to try and respond to a situation in a way that they knew or thought Jesus might have responded. It prompted them to think before they spoke or before they complained. If you consider it, it makes sense. If Jesus could go through all the horrific things that He did without complaining, protesting, whining or grumbling, then perhaps there is a modicum of hope for us.

There are going to be tymes when things don’t go our way, in fact there will probably be a lot of them. There are going to be tymes when we have to wait in line, when we have to compromise on a movie choice, when the weather offers rain when we want it fair, but we don’t have to let it transform us into Grumpy; Sneezy or Sleepy perhaps, depending on the season or the day, but not Grumpy.

There are so many things for us to be thankful for, to the point that if we stopped to count our blessings, we would exhaust our supply of numbers. God never said that life here on earth would be without aggravation, but He did promise to help us through any and all circumstances that we encounter and that is something to smile about.

So, the next tyme you’re less than pleased because your friend chose to take the long way home from the restaurant, instead of a sullen sigh, let your pallet produce praise to God that He blessed you with companionship. The next tyme you’re sitting at a red light, wanting to grumble about the wait, turn that glare in your eye into a gleam because God wanted to spend that minute with you. Then, when you encounter those with the bane of finding complaint, be a shining red light in their darkness, because you might be God’s minute with them. ~LDK~

Monday, October 4, 2010

Selfish Rehabilitation

I’m not exactly sure why it happens, but no matter how you try to look at it, human beings have innate tendencies of a selfish nature. Even the best behaved and most mildly mannered of children want what they want and with no exceptions. It might be prompted by the want of a specific toy or a desire to watch a certain movie or play a particular game, but whatever its origin, selfishness is palpable. For some reason we are not born with the capacity to think about the other people. We don’t consider their feelings or the desires or opinions they might have, we simply try our best to get it, have it or do it our own way.

Now, as we grow up, we learn to overcome these tendencies. If we’re fortunate, we have people around us that teach us the virtues of sharing and compromise. As we grow up we learn to get along with others and actually take to heart the old adage that it is better to give than to receive. We learn to love unconditionally which breeds the gift of forgiveness and we’re able to be truly happy when someone else succeeds in their pursuits.

So, as adults, have we rehabilitated our selfish ways and become perfectly giving individuals? Unfortunately, no. While we learned to be altruistic, to a degree, there is nothing we can do to abolish the traits and qualities with which we were born. Sure, we can learn to control them, try to overcome them, but the bottom line is, if we’ve got it, we’ve got it.

So, if we’re born selfish, we’re always going to have an underlying desire to think about ourselves before we think about others. The difference, however, between childlike selfishness and adult self-interest is that as adults we use our selfish tendencies to ‘protect’ the ones we love.
That may seem a little upside down and backwards, but let’s consider what it means.

Have you ever had issues that you thought were specific to you and declared that no one else would understand what you were going through or dealing with? You kept your feelings inside and tucked them away so that no one would be affected by what you were going through. To explain what you were feeling would be too complicated and you didn’t want anyone to have to take the tyme to listen, so you store it in the back of your mind and you go on. By doing so, you committed one of the most selfish acts there is to commit. You prevented those that love you from helping.

Here’s a news flash you might have missed along the way: life is not easy! You are going to have troubles, problems and issues that you simply will not know how to handle. You’re going to have questions and situations that are beyond you and …now make sure you’re sitting down for this one, because it might pack a bit of a punch… from tyme to tyme, you’re going to need some H-E-L-P!

All humor aside, for the moment, God is perfect and He knows everything. From the name of every star in every galaxy to the number of sand grains on each and every shore, God knows it all. You can always talk to God about any and everything that is going on in your life and be assured that He will understand, but, being the all understanding God that He is, He gets that sometymes we need something tangible in front of us in order to understand what He wants us to know.

You might wonder what that has to do with our selfish tendencies. Well, a lot of tyme those tangible things that God gives us are not so much things, but people, people that God puts in our lives to help us along the way. Sometymes these people are friends who have overcome their selfish dispositions and truly have your best interests at heart. Sometymes these people are friends who are dealing with their own set of problems and need to know that there is someone out there that’s dealing with similar issues.

The truth of the matter is, God puts the right people in the right places to accomplish His will and to hide from such is selfish. To conceal your feelings and not let people help you, to not let God help you is selfish and it doesn’t do you a bit of good.

Life is a tough, two-way street, but the good thing is, God is the Master of all intersections and He knows when to change the light to put the right people in front of each other. So, if you have an issue let someone you trust help you because you never know who is going through a selfish tyme and your problem just might be someone else’s solution. ~LDK~

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Letting Go and Overcoming

Let's face it, letting go of things is the hardest easy thing there is to do. Yes, I know that is a contradiction of terms, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Just think of a tyme when you were having trouble dealing with a situation that seemed impossible to bear.

Okay, chances are you thought of something that you really didn't want to think about, (sorry), and it's probably not going to make you smile, but your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to think back to when you were going through the depths of despair. Surely if you consider it, at least one person gave you advice. "Get over it!" What's done is done!" "X amount of tyme from now you won't even remember that it happened!" Yes, there are endless pleasantries that are meant to come across as counsel, but, no matter how they are worded, basically fit into the nutshell of "LET IT GO".

The so called advice that people give is usually derived from good intentions, but rarely comes across with a heartfelt purpose. No, what we usually get is a healthy helping of "keep your chin up" with a side order of "it could be worse" followed by a sizable portion of "just try not to think about it" for dessert. So when it comes down to it, our advisers, our listeners, our sounding boards fashion the art of letting go as easy when in reality it is one of the most difficult things a human being has to do.

The spectrum of this reality is vast because it not only deals with difficult situations like the one you just unearthed but also with situations that don't even register on a regular basis. If you think back over the years, how many tymes have you had trouble letting go of something? Whether it was a stuffed animal from your childhood days or an old, threadbare T-shirt that you got at your first concert; there was just something from which you could not fathom being separated.

Perhaps your list is long. If it is, then you are being honest with yourself, because letting go is an underlying theme in every one's life. Wow, that seems depressing, doesn't it? Let me mention that such a statement is not meant to sadden the spirit, but rather to cheer the soul; there is something to be said for knowing that a particular struggle is not just one person's to endure.

The fear of the unknown is one of the most crippling stumbling blocks we have when it comes to walking down a new path. Sure, we dream about doing things or we ponder about what life would be like if we tried something different, but when it comes down to it, we hold on to the dream and live through our inhibitions, getting nowhere, but comforted by our familiar surroundings.

Whether it is letting go of a childhood dream to pursue a new vision or overcoming a rude remark someone said to puncture your spirit, I am almost certain that as of late you've been faced with the challenge of letting something go. So, why is it so hard to do? Why can't Paul let go of his boyhood dream of being a doctor and be happy that he's the number one paramedic in the city? Why can't Megan get over the critical remarks that her teacher made about her term paper and be happy with the fact that she received an A on it? Believe it or not, it's a comfort issue. There is something consoling about holding on to the past, whether it is good or bad, because regardless of its worth, it is recognizable.

Paul lets his dream control him, making him feel like a failure because his life took a different path than the one he laid out for himself. Megan let's the critical remarks on her term paper dictate how she acts in everything she does because she's convinced herself that one person's negative opinion about her abilities is true. They are holding on to things that they should let go, but alas, letting go is not as easy as people tell us it should be.

So, if holding on to things we should let go of is human nature, how do we learn to loosen our grip and take that leap of faith required to walk away? Well, I am reminded of one of my favorite expressions:

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan".

God knows us better than we know ourselves which is why it is His plan we should be seeking and not our own. He has the playbook and without Him we're standing on the open field with no one to protect us from the enemies that are in the process of blitzing us! We might survive the attack, but instead of walking away from it, we'll hold on to our injuries from it, paving the way for it to attack us again. The truth is, life is hard enough to navigate without dragging along a ton of baggage with which to keep up.

So, if you've been faced with what seems like an impossible heartache to bear or a situation that seems unrecoverable, instead of listening to everyone that says "just let it go", stop and consider God's plan and how your current plight relates. If you go after a dream and it doesn't work out, the reality is, if you honestly did your best, that is not the dream that God has for you. If you realize this it will be easier to let it go. If someone says something that compromises the faith you have in your abilities, turn to God and ask Him what He thinks, because His opinion far outweighs anyone else's and it's the most trustworthy one you'll ever get.

The bottom line is that God made you special, He loves very much and His hands are always there to guide you through no matter what the situation. The only catch there is that you have to release your troubles to grasp His outstretched hands because "sometymes holding on means letting go - LDK".


Thursday, March 11, 2010


Not everyone is a fan of William Shakespeare’s writing, but I’ll tell you, the man knew a lot about love. I often wonder about the true inspiration behind some of Shakespeare’s sonnets and even some of the characters in his plays.

Like anything, the meaning behind a poem or phrase will be different for everyone, but there’s a certain aspect of Shakespeare’s text that focuses my mind on God. Now, you probably think me daft at this moment, in fact, if you would have told me years ago when I was struggling to understand Julius Caesar in Miss Rife’s 10th grade English class that I would be sitting here typing about how much sense Shakespeare makes, I would have laughed and called you some derivative of crazy. However, here I am, typing just that; Shakespeare makes a lot of sense.

Take for example the following excerpt from Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet:

“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove, Oh no, it is an ever fix-ed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken…”

For those of you that are sitting there staring mindlessly at this, I will take a quick moment and paraphrase the above:

“You cannot claim to love someone if there is something out there that could make you stop loving that person. Love is something that is 100% steadfast, guaranteed and can, without a doubt, weather any storm that it placed in its path…”

Or, to break it down even further:

“Unconditional love”.

If you read through the Bible, there are countless occasions where you would think that God would give up on people. The Israelites, God’s chosen people, are a prime example. What an ungrateful, whiney bunch of miscreants! Now, I guess that is a bit judgmental of me, but seriously, they were rotten to the core, or at least there were those among them that were and the others did not have enough sense among them not to be led astray. God had more than enough just cause to turn His back on them, but He loved them and so He forgave them tyme and tyme again.

Then there was King David who had more faith than most and was a true friend to God, but He messed up. He went from a devoted shepherd boy turned king to a liar, murderer and adulterer in the blink of an eye! Just like that he broke three of God’s most sacred commandments, but once again, God forgave. David admitted his sins and begged for forgiveness and God granted it. There were, of course, consequences that he had to deal with, but God was there to see David through because He loved him and that love could not be shaken.

Another phrase that comes to mind as I write on this topic of unconditional love and forgiveness is a quote from the 18th century poet Alexander Pope:

“To err is human, to forgive, divine”
As I’m writing this entry, I am also conversing with one of my dearest friends about certain things that have happened in our lives over the last several years. While we have different view points on some of the happenings and different opinions on certain incidences, we can sit and calmly discuss our thoughts and feelings.

As I listen to what she has to say it occurs to me that Alexander Pope had it right.

“To err is human”…or “Everyone is going to mess up…”,

“To forgive, divine”… or “forgiving someone is something that can only come from God”.

Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

So, we come in to this world as sinners, we simply don’t measure up to the ideal that God set. We let Him down on a regular basis, but guess what, He forgives us! He forgave the Israelites, He forgave David, and He forgives all of us when we ask Him to! His ability to forgive us, whether the offense is great or small, comes from His unconditional love for us. He made us and He wants us with Him someday. Through Jesus, He created a way for that to happen. He knows we cannot be perfect and, though He expects us to strive to be as good as we can be, He forgives us when we falter and He loves us no matter what.

As I draw these conclusions I cannot help but wonder why the people we love the most are often the hardest to forgive. It is this question that forces me to ask myself if there is anyone in my life that I need to ask God to help me forgive. Is there someone that deserves or perhaps doesn’t deserve, but is entitled to that unconditional love that God has for me? I encourage you to ask this same question of yourself and upon your response, pray and act accordingly. You’ll be surprised what wonders a little bit of prayer and forgiveness will do!



Actions, Reactions and Consequences, Oh My!

Did you ever see that commercial where one person is having major computer issues when someone walks into his office and says, “Good morning Dave”. The computer issue guy is so frustrated that he mocks the polite co-worker. The co-worker storms off because of the rudeness and knocks into another co-worker on her way through, spilling that co-worker’s coffee all down his shirt. In turn, that co-worker retaliates against the person he thinks ran into him and before you know it, everyone in the office is in a knockdown, drag-out fight, all because someone was having computer problems.

While the commercial, I think it is for cable internet service, is a bit amusing, it really depicts an important principle in life. What we do and say has consequences!

Now before you start thinking about me sitting up here on my high horse, let me be the first to admit that I am the guiltiest of all when it comes to this topic. I am stepping on my own toes when I say that we, as Christians, need to be mindful of the words we say because we never know who might hear us, one exception, of course, and that is God. We take pleasure in knowing that God always hears us when we pray, but God’s omnipotent hearing doesn’t end there. God hears us all the tyme whether we’re praying or mocking our neighbor, talking to Him or yelling at the cable man for being late to the appointment; God hears us.

Tonight my five-year old nephew started singing a song that I’d heard before, but had not thought about in a long tyme:

“Oh be careful little mouth what you say
Oh be careful little mouth what you say
For the Father up above is looking down with love
Oh be careful little mouth what you say”

That simple, little song holds more impact than a baseball on its way out of the park. It tells us, in an economic nutshell, that God is listening to us and we need to be on our best behavior.

I remember one tyme, not too long ago, I was in a store that was undergoing a major remodel and, to add insult to injury, if you will, seemed short of personnel. Suffice it to say that the forty or so of us that were ready to check out at this particular moment in tyme were non-too happy about the fact that there were only two checkout lines available. As we waited and waited and waited, the lady in front of me was becoming more and more, to put it politely, vocally miffed about the situation.

As we inched toward the checkout, I stood there listening to her complaints and, having quite the few of my own, decided that I had two choices. I could pipe up and agree with her, adding more misery to the situation or I could try to absolve her misery and send her about her day with a more positive outlook.

“This sure is taking a while”, I finally said, “but ya know, if waiting in line is the worst thing that happens in my day, I’m doin’ alright!”

At first my fellow shopper looked at me crossly, but her expression soon softened.

“I just consider myself fortunate to have a store to go to. There are a lot people out there that wish they could stand in a long line to buy food”, I concluded.

The lady considered me for a moment before nodding in agreement. She admitted that she’d never thought about it that way. We had a nice conversation from that point on and by the tyme we got to the register the lady’s attitude was completely transformed. Where contempt once resided, appreciation now lived and that lady left the store with a smile.

I could have helped my fellow shopper make everyone’s day miserable. I could have said mean things about the store. I could have called the people working there all kinds of mean names to indicate my distaste for wasting my tyme, but I didn’t. In that moment God gave me the attitude of a disciple and showed me how to use my words and actions to help rather than hinder. It was only through Him that I could see beyond my own dissatisfaction long enough to listen and allow Him to work. By the tyme He was finished, and it didn’t take long, he had not only alleviated my frustrations, but also the frustrations of others in the store.


I heard a story one day about a prominent man in a church who, when the oil man, Steve, showed up to fill the church tank, cussed him out for letting the tank go empty in the first place. This man treated him so poorly that when the Steve got done for the day, he went home and made a decision about something he’d been thinking about for a while.

Every week Steve’s neighbor would invite him to go to church and every week the Steve would promise to think about it. Needless to say, the next tyme the neighbor asked, Steve’s answer was no. He said he saw what church did to people and he wanted no part of it. The man of the church used words that had severe consequences. His actions did not display a Christian-like countenance and in turn pushed a soul away from God instead of bringing it to Him.

Now perhaps the man of the church was having a bad day, it happens to all of us. Unfortunately, as Christians we are not entitled to your run-of-the-mill bad day. We are held to a much higher standard because we are spokespeople for God and God does not have bad days. He is consistent.

It is hard to say how many people will be turned off by how the man of the church acted. Steve might tell a friend about it and that friend won’t ever want to go to church. The friend will tell another friend and before you know it, a whole group of people are fighting God like the people in that internet commercial were fighting each other.

People are constantly watching Christians, some looking to be guided on the right path, others waiting for us to stumble so they can blame God for our shortcomings, but they are always watching and we need to be mindful of the things we do and say around them. It isn’t easy and we won’t always succeed, but the point is, we need to try because after all our lives might be the only “Bible” a person ever reads!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oh SNOW you didn't!

One of my favorite movies is the 1949 version of Louisa May Alcott’s "Little Women". Every year, right around Christmas, I watch this movie with my mom and we laugh and cry as if it's the first tyme we've ever seen it. It isn't a movie filled with a lot of action, humor or mystery, but what it does not have in those aspects, it makes up for in human nature and family values.

The story takes place at Christmas tyme in a New England town during the War Between the States, where the March family, once rich and prestigious, now finds itself dealing with the hardships of war. They used to have coffee every morning, but with the war they had to drink tea. (I'm guessing this was a major sacrifice for them whereas I would prefer the tea, but I digress.) There was no money to buy the things needed to prepare a proper breakfast and certainly no money to buy Christmas presents, in fact, it would suffice to say plainly, there was no money at all.

The father, Rev. March, was off fighting for the Union while the mother, "Marmie" was serving as nursemaid to the town while the doctors were off at the war camp hospitals. Then, there were four girls, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth and if ever there were four sisters who defined the opposites of North, South, East and West, it was the March sisters. From sensible to dramatic, self-absorbed to innocent, they depicted it all. Still, with all their quirks and issues, the four sisters were best friends.

Now, you might be wondering why I happened to think of this movie now, what with Christmas being many weeks ago, but as of late, well, I've had a lot of tyme to think about a lot of things. That aside, lately there has been a sort similarity between the scenes of "Little Women" and the scenes outside my window.

As the movie opens, a fresh falling of snow blankets the ground, serving as a stumbling block for Jo as she attempts to jump the railing in her less than conducive attire. With her sisters laughing at her failed attempt, she picks herself up, brushes the snow off her dress and proceeds to jump the railing again, this tyme with precision. Then, to wipe that smug look off her sisters' faces she throws a snowball against the window out of which they are looking. I laugh at this every tyme.

Throughout the movie there are several scenes shot in or at least showing the outside and in everyone one, for the first half of the movie anyway, there is snow covering everything, including the roads. There were no snow plows to open driveways, clear roadways or hitching post areas. There were no salt trucks spreading chemicals in an effort to melt the ice nor were there any schools closed because of the weather. No, the roads and parking areas stayed snow covered, the schools stayed open and life went on as normal. Instead of a wagon, folks hitched up a sleigh and instead of a bus, kids walked to school. Oh how tymes have changed.

When I think about how life is now, I'm almost saddened, because we, as a society, lack what the March family had. Instead of enjoying the variety of the season, we complain about the mess it makes of our lives. I am so guilty of this that were it considered a crime, I would receive the most severe punishment possible. We fail to see the blessings in the rearrangement of our day. We cannot get passed the fact that we were not able to do what we wanted to do, but if we stopped and considered it, we might actually be able to do some things we never knew we always wanted to do.

Consider the March sisters again. Jo was a playwright and used her talents to create scenes that she and her sisters acted out during the snowy, winter days. They laughed, they played, and they spent a quality of tyme together that, to the overall American society, would seem a foreign concept.

While I realize that it is just a book and a movie, it still stands to reason that the ideals behind the family aspect of "Little Women" had to be real to the author, much like the sitting room scenes of books like Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" were common to the author's day. Good writers, which the noted authors were, write about things they know something about. Louisa May Alcott knew about spending quality tyme with family and friends, a lesson we could all stand to study.

So as I sit here, snowed in and going a bit stir crazy, I am reminded by "Little Women", that God has not all of a sudden changed the weather patterns and disrupted my life, it is my life that has tried to challenge the weather. Let me just tell you that if you are determined to go into battle with God, you better be prepared to lose because, in spite of ourselves, God always gives us what we need 'weather' we like it or not!

So, if the weather or any other variable seems to put a road block in your day, do well to enjoy the journey around said obstacle. Chances are the blessings you find will far outweigh the chore of the detour.

Snowy Smiles and Blessings,


Monday, February 1, 2010

Play it Again Sam!

Okay, so I'm told that if you actually watch the movie Casablanca, the famous line "Play it Again Sam" isn't even in the movie, but rather some form of the same. "Play it Sam", or something to that effect, but for the purpose of my entry, I am going to refer to the popular, non existent version of the catch phrase.

So, what is your "it" in the "Play it Again Sam" line? If we're honest with ourselves, whether we are big music buffs or not, we all have that song that no matter how we are feeling makes everything seem better. If we're depressed, "it" will cheer us up. If we're nervous, "it" will calm us down. If we're grouchy, "it" will change our disposition with just a few opening notes.

Now, for those of you that know me, you're probably wondering how I can pick just one "it" to relate to this entry. You're right, there are so many songs running through my head on a daily basis that to settle on just one would be near to impossible, but I've decided that I will have an "it" of the day.

I woke up today, my first day that I did not have to go to a job that I didn't like. Now, if you think I woke up happy you would be sorely mistaken. In truth, I did not think that my depression over my lack of direction would set in so quickly, but alas it did and I found myself in a fog of despair. The fog was so thick that I didn't want to do anything, especially pick up my Bible and read it. Yes, that mean and horrible devil made himself at home and the more he tried to move in, the foggier everything got.

Luckily for me, or really by the grace of God, I had to go to class today so I could not stay home and wallow in my self-pity. I had to force myself to get ready and walk out the door, but trust me, I didn't want to. All I wanted to do was sit and pout over the lack of direction in my life and all the doors that seemed to be closing around me now that I decided to take my leap of faith. Still, I forced myself to get going and I even decided to go the gym before class; this gave me the slightest inkling that there is hope for me yet!

I got to the gym, fired up the MP3 player and set out around the track, trying to lunge myself out of my ill attitude. After a few laps I decided to run on the Elliptical machine, determined to run ahead of my disagreeable disposition.

The wonderful thing about MP3 players is that the music on them, if you set up your own, should be a mixture of songs that you like, but even better still is the random feature that mixes up the play list making each song one surprise after the next. Those that know me will not be shocked to learn that my MP3 player is filled mainly with songs by IIIrd Tyme Out, Jim and Jesse and Pam Tillis, with the occasional 90s country hit and even some instrumentals by Blue Rose :)

As I listened to my favorite artists and groups I have to say that my disposition did start to brighten, but it wasn't until my "it" (of the day) came on that I realized how depressed I'd really been and how crazy it was to be so. While this song is not a gospel song, it does mention God in it and how prayers actually do work. As I listened and sang along, I couldn't help but think that God was sending me a message through the song, in more ways than one.

The song (drum roll please) is a one by Pam Tillis called "I said a Prayer". I've always really enjoyed the song, but today it held a whole new meaning for me. Since I was 13 years old, (suffice it to type that such was quite a few years ago) Pam Tillis has been my favorite singer. It was always my dream to meet her and, dared I even think it, to sing with her. (I can see the heads of you that know me nodding fervently in agreement)

Well, back in 2003 my dream of meeting Pam came true. She was very nice and I, shockingly enough, was very calm and down to Earth, at least until after I was out of her earshot! Then, in August of 2008 I got to sing with her in Shcaefferstown, Pennsylvania and the song I got to sing..."I said a Prayer".

When I heard that song today it was like an encouraging nudge from God, reminding me that He DOES answer my prayers and that He WILL be there for me every step, or leap, along the way. In my "it" there's a line that says,

"I heard you get what you're praying for, but I got more"

Isn't that so true of our Heavenly Father? He answers our prayers in one way or another. Either He says yes or no, but no matter which answer we receive, the outcome always turns out to be better than we ever imagined. Some tymes getting the answer 'no' can seem like the end of the world, the same with getting the door shut right in front of us, but no matter what, God is there to take us by the hand and lead us through the door that is meant for us.

Now, I'd be typing falsehoods if I wrote that I was 100% happy the rest of the day. I still had my moments of doubt and concern, fear and uncertainty, but, because if God's message in my "it", they didn't last long. I sang my song (mostly in my head because seriously, I was in class and I wanted to stay there :) and knew that no matter what, my prayers would be answered.

So, have you thought of your "it" yet? If so, try to see what message is in it for you. If you have yet to think of what "it" might be, just be patient and when "it" hits you, be sure to listen to what God is trying to tell you!

Smiles and Blessings!


Friday, January 29, 2010


So, here it is, Friday January 29th and as of right now I am in mid air! That's right, this morning I took my giant leap of faith and walked out of work for the last tyme! I didn't even stay the day and say goodbye to everyone, I simply tied up all the loose ends I could think of, bid my farewells to those that were there and left the building with a spring in my stride!

I cannot help but be ecstatic when I consider all the horrible things I will no longer be forced to endure. I cannot help but smile when I think that never again will I be made to create something only to see it destroyed days later. No more can someone step all over me, forcing me to do things that others refuse to do! Indeed, the freedom I currently feel is of an unmeasurable magnitude!

Still, freedom aside, I cannot help but be sad when I think that the last three years and nine months, that's 1,365 days (roughly) of my life were all for naught, at least in the career aspect of them. To work tirelessly for a company for years only to have them state frankly that they do not care about your physical, emotional or mental well-being is something of a rude awakening, the proverbial 'punch in the gut' if you will. However, like all injuries of such nature, this too shall heal and I will do best to keep the lesson in the back of my mind as I hang here, airborne.

As for the other aspects of the last 1,365 days (roughly), I cannot help but feel thankful. In that tyme the, albeit smaller than it should have been, paycheck from the fist-wheeling company has helped me in pursuing other avenues of interest, such as my music and my photography. Above all, my tyme there also gave me the blessing of a good friend, a kindred spirit, something we Christians know is worth far more than anything money can procure.

Sitting here, analyzing the situation, I cannot believe the array of emotions I have at present nor can I believe the energy that my leap has so far required. Considering it's been merely hours since I sprung, I am certain that I am going to need all the prayers and support I can receive to land safely on the other side of the deep, black abyss I now have to cross.

In my quest for clarity I am reminded of a man named Jesus. I can scarcely begin to imagine how Jesus must have felt when He had to carry His cross into His deep, black abyss for ME! Whereas my wounds are merely surface scratches and will heal in tyme, His were deep beyond words and their scars will remain.

Unlike myself, Jesus, as the Son of God, knew exactly what was to happen to Him, something that makes His sacrifice go even father beyond my comprehension. He was willing to die a horrible death on the cross so that I could sit here and write about the unknown factors of my life! Even then, He loved me that much that He died, was buried and rose again so that one day He could take care of me!

It is with this in mind that I will attempt to seek that which He has in store for me, knowing fully that as I hang in the balance, it is His hand to which I cling. I pray that you will be there with me, holding His hand as you venture through every day, whether you know your path or not. For at the foot of the cross there is room for our burdens and in the palm God's hand there is room for us all.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Even I don't have words for it...

Okay, so I reckon that's a rather comical title for a blog post, considering blogging is basically about words, but if you knew how my day started you would understand and I suppose, if you choose to read on, you will!

It was about 6:20 a.m. when the door flew open and I heard my mother's frantic voice call my name. Now, I cannot say I was in a deep sleep, but I wasn't awake by any means either, still, I had the presence of mind to think the situation through.

Okay, mom told me she was going into work early because she was leaving work early and she needed to make up the tyme. Did she forget something? Why does she sound so frazzled?

These were the thoughts and questions I had flowing through my sleepy mind. Now, understand that this process of thought occurred in mere seconds as I jumped out of bed and raced to the door only to see my mother standing in the kitchen soaking wet and tracking mud and sediment everywhere she stepped. Then, the words I heard her say seemed as foreign to me as a the word no to a two-year old child and even as she said them they hung in the air like the words of a comic strip character.

"My car is in Silver Lake!"

As I said in my title, I had no words to offer in return to her frantic statement, all I could do was hug her and try to formulate my thoughts. Thinking back now I seem to recall my initial reply, after a moment's thought, to be something like...

"At the bottom?"

It seems laughable now, but at the tyme I had no idea what was going on and had no subsequent information to decipher the situation. As the moments passed and the story unfolded in bits and pieces I could not believe the true grace of God that happened in Dayton, Virginia this morning.

Days ago we had torrential downpours that flooded many places throughout ours and the surrounding counties. The past few days have proven helpful for nature to get its ducks back in a row, if you will, and the water, in most places, back where it belongs; most being the operative word.

My mother's route to work is something of a straight shot, ironically, if you know about the few twists and turns. It ambles along some beautiful country side, across one of Harrisonburg's major roadways and again offers a wide open view of some of the Shenandoah Valley's stunning qualities. If traveling this route you would then notice that a town was coming into view and, with a few sharp and few slight turns here and there you would come to a large lake on your right hand side. It is here we have proof that God spent part of His morning!

It seems that along the last curve, just before the lake comes into view some of that water from days ago had yet to find its way back into the atmosphere and, with the cold overnight temperatures, froze solid across the road. It was this that my mother encountered at 5:45 this morning and it was this that sent her spinning out of control, landing her car backwards in the lake.

As her car slid back in the water, the trunk covered and the water crept up to her window. Then, the motion ceased as her tires sunk in the deep sediment at the edge of the lake, a blessing beyond compare as it stopped the car from going completely under the water. Stuck and frantic, my mother accounts that it was only her desperate prayers to the Lord that let her force the door open through the mud and sediment and ultimately walk out of the lake without injury.

With mom clean and dry we went back to the scene to find the tow truck, Dayton police, state police, fire and rescue personnel there doing their duties to help the situation. As I watch the tow truck pull the car out of the lake I couldn't help but be grateful. A few more feet and today would have turned out very differently.

The rest of the day was spent dealing with the insurance company [and I have to say that like a good neighbor, StateFarm was there], the rental car place and the towing company, all highly satisfactory in their service.

As I dropped off some coffee, toe warmers and long johns at my mom's shop [yes, she insisted on going in to work] I realized that today was just another lesson in my current leap of faith. As I listened to my mom account the story over and over to the many friends and family that called to check on her, I knew that God was telling me yet again that He is the reason we are here and nothing is worth anything if we cannot honestly say we are doing it for Him.

Thank you Lord for the blessings of today!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Project "New Path"

It's no secret that the economy is not the best right now, which means that quitting your job is probably not the best thing to do right now, but that is precisely what I find myself doing!

Now, in the words of Thomas Magnum, P.I., "I know what you're thinking and you right". It's CRAZY! However, in the words of radio personality Paul Harvey, "And now, the rest of the story". (Seriously??? I need to start using my own words!)

Here's a question for you... What do you do when your manager calls you into his office and tells you flat out that he knows you cannot do your job by yourself, but he's taking away your assistant and you have to just deal with it? Seriously, he sat there and told me that I was going to have to do the work of at least two people and he offered me no compensation for it. "It's just the way it is", he said very matter-of-factly.

Now, I tried everything I could to save my assistant's job, I even offered to go part tyme so we could at least both have a small income while she tried to find something else. Every scenario I offered he quickly shot down, forcing me to leave his office and tell my assistant that she was out of a job. Oh, I guess I should say that he, this jaded, calloused man, did offer to tell her for me. What a guy!

Now, some of you might not see this as that awful, the laying off your assistant part anyway, but for me, it was one of the hardest things that I ever had to do, seeing as how my assistant is one of my dearest friends. It was awful. I offered her my job on the spot, but the good friend she is, she wouldn't even hear of such a thing. I'll never forget the feeling in that room as we sat there trying to comprehend what just happened. It was a combination of shock, fear and despair. I would be typing falsehoods if I said I kept a dry eye as we sat in that office.

This all happened on a Wednesday, in the morning nonetheless and we, being the good, loyal people we try to be, had to work the rest of the day, the rest of the week, knowing we would soon be parted and my friend, who has major student loans to pay, would, in two weeks, be without a job.

Let me just tell you that it isn't easy to give 110% under such circumstances, oh, let's get real, it isn't easy to give ANY percent under such circumstances!

As if this wasn't enough, we had started back to school that week, something neither of us had done in years and there we were, forced to focus on web design when all we really wanted to do was, well, to be honest, freak out!

I have to admit, I was mad. How dare he take away my excitement in going back to school by messing up my life, my friend's life that way. There had to be something he could do to help her, to help me! The nerve of him and that company! My friend and I worked so tirelessly and diligently for them, staying late, going in early, making something from nothing because they wanted it done, but didn't want to give us the tools with which to accomplish the tasks!

I cannot tell you how many tymes we did "the plane is coming" 'dance' and worked our tails off getting the store beyond perfect so the corporate goons would be happy and give the store manager a gold star! It vexed me to no end when I thought about how many tasks we did that were so far beyond our job description, but we did them because we tried to be team players and good people and help when and where we could. In truth, we put our lives on hold for that place, going out of town to help other stores in our region because that blasted plane was coming, carrying, yes, you guessed it, the corporate goons! Weeks spent out of town, working long hours and living out of a suitcase so a buch of people could try and fit their heads through the doors and criticize what we worked so hard to accomplish.

"Well, this does not look like it works here, but I think if you move it to this wall [that is literally six feet away] then the product will sell."

"I think you need to put the blue shirts on the left and the red shirts on the right and THAT will help you sell the 2% more product you need to beat the division for the month." [never mind the fact that the actual product is worthless and no one wants to buy it!!!]

But, I digress. The more I thought about the whole situation, the madder I got until something dawned on me and I felt really bad. I never once considered what the Lord was trying to tell me through it all. So, after a quick prayer of apology, I started to look at everything with a different perspective.

The truth was, I didn't like my job. I only stayed there because I enjoyed working with my friend and I settled for the fun we had together rather than look for a job I liked. So, what was God trying to tell me through it all? Was I doing His work by staying there? Had I been a good witness lately to those around me? Was I living for Him in my job or was it just a paycheck?

Honestly, when I asked myself those questions, it became really clear. God had stopped telling me and was now SHOWING me that it was tyme for me to move on. I was not doing His work in my job anymore. The politics and ill points of the job had jaded my heart and I was not able to be a good witness to those around me. In my mind, each day was a paycheck instead of a gift from God and that was a miserable realization.

I knew, deep down, that God blessed me with talents that I was not using and that the ones I was using, well, I wasn't using them to glorify Him; that had to change. So, after much prayer and discernment, I typed up my resignation that following Monday morning and told the store manager that I needed to talk to him. I cited the reasons behind my decision and he was forced to accept my letter of intent.

As it stands now, my two week notice ends on January, 29th. I will, along with my friend/assistant, be without a job in a terrible economy. I will have my faith and the sincere knowledge that God will take care of me. He will show me the way in which He wants me to go and I will do my best to follow! He will be my comfort and my strength and I will come out of this bleak situation better than I ever was in my settled for safety net.

So, I plan to write about my adventures in following the path that God puts before me and hope that you will read along and be inspired to seek the path that He has for you, so that He may one day tell us, 'Well done my good and faithful servant'!