Pathless Places

   We're in a pathless place right now.   I don't think I've ever actually been to a spot in life where I could not discern a nice continuation of my plans or even a fork in the road; when we look ahead all we see is blur.   This is the hardest time to trust, yet it's the most exciting time to have faith.   We see what we're made of in times like this when nothing is clear and nothing is certain.

   When it isn't up to me anymore and it's finally, completely and totally up to God, I recognize that is where it should have been in the first place.

  Have you ever been at the end of your path and couldn't see ahead?  What did you do?

Love, Laughter ......and Lingerie!

Today I am privileged to review "The Marriage Project" by Kathi Lipp.  This is a must-have read for spouses everywhere.   I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am already putting some of her ideas to good use- and seeing the results!

Kathi's book is a wonderful journey for any couple to embark on to enhance, enrich and encourage their relationship.  If you've got a great marriage, her ideas and projects will only serve to make it better.  If your marriage is a little rough around the edges, this book will give you more than enough material to get you started towards harmony and togetherness.

I've been married for almost 25 years and found Kathi's insights and points to be refreshing reminders of what I can do to encourage, support and cheer my husband on.  She wrote about quite a few things that made me think, "Oh, really? So such-and-such doesn't just happen at MY house?"  Always good to know!

Her book is designed with flexibility in mind, which I love.  The ideal way to use the book is to go through all of the projects and exercises with another couple, but she encourages husbands and/or wives to do the projects alone if your spouse isn't feeling like a team player (and you still want to use the ideas she gives you).  It can be tailored to meet any marriage right where it is, which is one of the book's many strengths.

Here's a little bit about the author:

Kathi Lipp is a national speaker and author who inspires women to take beneficial action steps in their personal, marital and spiritual lives. Her wit and wisdom will give you new ways to:
  • Avoid settling for less than God’s loving plan for your life.
  • Develop new levels of warmth and tenderness with your husband
  • Return fun and flirting to your marriage
  • Boost your confidence to follow God-given dreams and goals.
  • Create and environment of encouragement in your friendships
Join Kathi and renovate your life with a project for your soul!

Make a space on your coffee table for The Marriage Project.  You and yours will be very glad you did!

A quiet day, sorta kinda.

Melancholy- that's how I feel today.  Wishing things were a little different than they are, but realizing how they are is just fine. Some days it seems as if my soul/emotions/heart come screeching to a halt for a much needed introspective reprieve.  There have been ups and downs this week;  good news and bad news.  My work days are busy and nights are playing catch-up with what I didn't get done during the day.  A mile on the treadmill each evening spurs me on, but eventually I need to take a break from that too.

Then life happens.

Yesterday I got in my car to go home for lunch like I do every day. Seemingly simple task.  I turned the key in the ignition , threw it into reverse and pressed the gas.  And sat there.  Hmm, I thought, that's odd.  I should be moving backwards in my van by I put it into park, then into reverse again, hit the gas and felt the car trying desperately to rotate its tires counterclockwise but still not budging an inch from its parking spot.

Curiouser and curiouser, I now put the car into D for drive already, and noticing a tree just moments from my car's front bumper I took it easy on the pedal.  But not to worry, my car wouldn't go forward either.  So I tried the backwards option again.   It felt as if my car's tires were trying to lurch over something- like maybe a tree trunk from the Giant Redwoods National Forest.  Knowing full well the spot had been clear when I pulled in only hours ago, I still felt compelled to go to the back of the van, get down on my hands and knees and make sure some large object of obstruction hadn't made its way in there whilst I was quietly working in the building.  Nope.  All I saw was clear sailing under the van from one end to the other.

Long story short, I needed a tow and completely new brake cylinders.  My faulty brake cylinders had caused the brake shoes to be stuck in the "on" position -  which is why I felt like I was trying to drive with the brakes on.  I was.  Which is clearly a God thing because if said brake shoes had been stuck in the "off" position, well, we all can imagine the certain destruction that would have brought.

It didn't take me too long to notice the parallels.  (I'm a big parallel-looker-for-er).  A mere car problem was the spitting image of something our family had gone through earlier in the week.  One of our kids in college is  being denied entrance into a certain program she needs in order to proceed with the pursuit of her major.  On Monday she was told that as of this point, she cannot move forward.  And except for the wonders of Hollywood, none of us have ever discovered a way to go back in time and start all over again, with a chance to do things differently.  No fault of her own, she is a parked car right now that cannot go anywhere at the moment, and it absolutely breaks my heart.

But we're not panicking.  We have faith.  God's been there before and He'll be there again to direct her path and tell her exactly where to go from here.  We'll be fine.  Come to think of it, maybe I'll pick her up for a little shopping.  I'm sure with a good tow and some new shoes, she'd be just fine too.

Candy Days

I had my outfit all picked out last night.  The shirt went with the sweater which looked good with the pants.  They were new pants, too.  And that all chimed in great with the little plaid sneakers I just picked up the other day.  What an outfit. I was all set.

When I got ready this morning and reached in the closet for my prearranged outfit, I saw a different sweater that I thought I'd really rather wear today.  Hmm.  Okay, can do, but now I have to choose a separate contrasting shirt to wear under it, which nullifies any hope of my new combo matching the pants I had already chosen.  So I dove back in my closet in hopes of finding just the right pair of pants, and when I did, I swung them out of the closet with a large "Hurrah!" and hurried to make up for the time I'd lost in changing my entire clothing ensemble for the day.

Thinking I looked rather spring-y in my pink and white striped sweater and gray pants with accompanying white sneaks, I walked proudly down the hallway and took one more look at myself in the mirror before heading out the door.

I looked like a Good 'n Plenty.

Which caused me to think about my day.  My days can be like Good 'n Plenty's.  They are usually mutually exclusive terms when it comes to what's been going on in my life in the 24 hours assigned to me.  Either it's been good, or it's been plenty.

I don't usually hear myself on those "plenty" days saying, "Wow, what a day! Keep it coming, Lord!"  Just the opposite.  I'm usually reminding God twice or twenty times "Enough already, I've had plenty...."

And likewise, on the truly good days, I don't catch myself looking heaven's way and calling out laughingly, "Ok, God, you can stop with the goodness now- that's plenty!" I just want that goodness to keep coming and coming and never stop.

What I need to remember is that life gives us both kinds of days.  The days where the sun is shining, the world is our oyster (or, in my case, bag of M&M's) and the blessings don't seem to stop til we drop.  And in contrast, we get days that occasionally put us on stress overload and we're sure our reserves are gone.  Not to fear- a good day is coming once again.

All in all, life is good.  Love my good and plenty.

Brain power. Or not.

I've learned not to trust my brain.

It's taken me a while, but I've come to realize my brain does not always lead me down the right path with the correct emotion.  It can be a grand deceiver, and lead me along into false thinking quicker than humidity makes curls.  For instance, when my daughter calls from college and I hear tears spilling out and drama unfolding, I've had to learn to not leap on the emotional bandwagon as she walks down Woe Is Me Lane. It was a process that spanned a couple of years, but I came to understand that I need not and should not respond to her musings that her day has been nothing short of a disaster and the future looks bleaker than unbuttered toast.  Most of this vibrant revelation was driven home to me when I finally realized that the same offspring could call back within two hours and be completely healed of every bad wind that was blowing her way just one phone conversation earlier.  Ah, what sweet grief I have learned to spare myself of by not trusting my brain....

There are also certain times of day I cannot trust what's going on inside my head.  Like very early in morning. Today when I woke up still thinking of yesterday's bitter disappointment that I watched someone close to me go through, my first waking thoughts were, "What do we do now?  Where do we go from here?  Why is this happening? "  It seemed too despairing to even get out of bed and start the day, but thankfully God and experience have taught me to listen to the whisper that says, "It's too early.  Don't trust these thoughts; don't trust your brain.  Get up and get going and get some perspective."  And that's exactly what I did.  And that whisper was right....once into the busy-ness of the day, my panic took its proper place on the back burner and the questions that were almost thumping out of my head while it was still on the pillow quieted down with a sense of peace from God that said, "I've got it.  Don't worry.  I'm working it all out."

So when can I trust my brain?  Try this on for size.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action...

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

It sounds like thinking straight doesn't just always happen - there's a little work to do.  Prepare my mind.  Be clear minded.  Twice it says to be self controlled.  And lastly, alert (hence not listening to my brain first thing upon waking....).  Wow.  It goes to show me that just because I have a thought cross my mind doesn't mean that I have to live by or be ruled by that thought.  Instead I need to take each thought captive to Christ and His word. 

The mind can be the devil's playground or the Lord's victory field.  It all depends on who's got the ball.....

Story in our lives

   I love the phrase- and the fact - that everyone has a story to tell.  I think Oprah is famous for supporting that theory, although since I've not been on her show, obviously mine isn't quite Oprah enough to tell...yet. And I'm not sure I ever want it to be.  But I do believe the base truth that everyone who has a life has a story.  Personal, individual, but also designed with others in mind.

With 48 years of living behind me, I can look back and see where parts of my life- my story - were placed there by God so I could, in turn,  help someone who came along behind me and experienced the same triumph, joy, pain or sorrow that I did.  I love it when I get the privilege of sharing the joys and triumphs with others, but often those in my life need to share the load of a heavy burden with someone who really understands.  And those who understand best have walked the path first.

God never wastes a hurt.  How many times have you wondered, "Why is this happening to me?"  Be encouraged.  What you're going through will be used to help others once you get a little further down the road.  

"God has a plan for your life" is really another way of saying God has a story for your life.  A wonderful, marvelous, amazing story that only you will be able to tell.  It'll have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It will have some mysterious chapters, plenty of suspense, and perhaps a few underlying plots that never see any resolution at all.  But that's okay.  God knows exactly what He's writing, and He's using you to tell it.  Go and live your best life, and make it a wonderful story about Him.

What a novel idea. Literally.

This is going to be fun.  I discovered a site today that will send me new books for free if I agree to post a review of said book on my blog and a consumer website (aka Amazon) after reading it.  Then I can request another book, write a review, post it up, and go back and request yet another. The cycle never ends.  Kind of like a Netflix for books, except, well, it's free.

Let me be sure you understand.  The book(s) I will receive cost me nothing but two hundred words of IMHO thrown up electronically on my own blog (hence traffic, people) and copied and pasted onto another site where the book can be purchased.

We're talking maybe a half hour of my time.

Have I mentioned the book(s) I will be receiving are free?

I've thought about this all day.  I can't see how it's not a win-win situation for me.

If I were you, I'd click on that badge to the right of this blog post and sign yourself up on Booksneeze to join in the fun.  And once I have read my first book, Plan B by Pete Wilson (which shipped today), I'll throw a review on my page on the site, and clicking on that badge will take you right to my reviews.

This could quite possibly have been the best news I got all day.

In closing, let me just say.......gesundheit.