Friday, September 19, 2014

What I Would Say To A Younger Me...

Someone said to me recently I live in the past. This is true. I'm a contemplative person by nature. I think though, our past shapes our future through the choices we make.

I celebrated a birthday this week, a rather significant one. I won't mention numbers, but it's caused me to think about the past while also contemplating the future.

If I could give wisdom to my younger self, the little girl Cindy, the teenager Cindy, these might be some of the suggestions I'd offer to ease her into an unknown world...

1. Soak up every word your momma says. Watch the way she walks, while she can still walk. Memorize her face, her hands, and her voice. Listen to her wisdom and imitate her walk with Jesus.

2. Forgive those who hurt you...enough said.

3. Make sure you know the stories of your mom and dad's childhoods. Ask them to share in detail what it was like to grow up in the 40's and 50's. Listen to their love story over and over.

4. You are stronger than you think.

5. You are an introvert and there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean people don't like you, it means you are the one who holds back, not them. It's ok to be quiet and reserved. Don't be ashamed of who you are. One day you'll understand what it means to be an observer of people, and they will fascinate you. 

6. Study more in school, you're smarter than you think. And in that same vein, finish your education.

7. Take heart, my sweet self, one day you will stop chewing your fingernails into the quick. They will grow like your mom's and she would be proud. 

8. If you could see into the hearts of your friends and classmates, they have fears too. They have family drama, heartache, pain, and "stuff" they can't talk about. Be a friend, extend grace.
Bus and Wilma Summers at my high school graduation
(my mom's best friend)

9. Don't worry so much about popularity. It will fade with time. Care more about how you treat people. Care more about the choices you make and the influence you have on others.

10. And is still the pinnacle of a girl's high school life. Can you believe it? Enjoy it and the friendships you make. You will love them until you're old enough to get an AARP card. You don't know what that is, and your grown up self refuses to own one.

11. You won't grieve your mom's death until she's been with Jesus thirty-eight years, but you'll find God teaches you more about Himself in the waiting. He is sovereign so you must trust His process.

12. Appreciate the beauty of your special relationship with your mom's best friend. She will become like your "other mother" and love you as such. She and her husband will show you what it means to, "do unto others." 

13. Don't stop writing. You have a creative mind if you'll give it air to breathe.

14. You have some surprises along the way, many twists and turns. You'll marry young and he'll be a fine man. Two of your greatest blessings come from foreign soil. They will teach you about unconditional love. You will love like you never thought possible, and you will be loved. 

15. Enjoy life and the journey. Learn to appreciate the unique way you were created. Most of all, follow your Creator; Seek after Him and study His Word.

I wish I could spare you the pain and hardship you'll face but just know there is One who is faithful and will never leave you...even in the darkest of days. He is there and one day, you will come to know His strength was made perfect in your weakness. 

If only it were that easy to write back to our younger selves. Hindsight, right? We would still make mistakes and get it wrong.
Text message gift from a dear friend

Is there a younger one in your home who's struggling with some of these issues? Think about what you would say to your younger self, and then try to make a difference in the life of a child. We all have childhood memories we'd rather forget. Children today have the same struggles with a lot more stress heaped on them.

This may seem like a silly idea but maybe, like me, it helps you to recognize and appreciate the path your life has taken when you reminisce on where you've been and where you're going.

Birthdays are a celebration, a time to pause and remember. To my younger self I'd say, "You will be blessed with many people who will love you and those you will love...treasure them for they are gifts from God."

And then it's time to look ahead...


Friday, September 12, 2014

A Dock For Dreaming...

Autumn in the South, what could be better? The blue Carolina sky above beckoned me to sit awhile and soak up the last of summer and the beginning of my favorite time of year.

Life has a way of causing us to stop, or at least slow our pace. I'm a dreamer, I'll admit. I love nothing better than pondering the mysteries of the past and present while trying to anticipate the future. And if water is involved, I can sit for hours. My best writing has come as a result of water.

I sat in a chair on a dock one morning. The sounds caught my attention. Birds were talking to each other, fish were jumping, and waves were gently lapping against the sides of the dock. Cattle came down to feed and get water across the cove. It was one of the most pleasant mornings I've spent in a long while, except for the morning I spent on the same dock with a dear friend.

I asked myself why I don't give myself permission for rest. For some reason I've programmed myself to believe it's selfish to ask for "me" time.

Not only do our bodies need rest, our souls, our minds need rest. We need rest from computers, cell phones, housework, yard work and a myriad of other tasks that call for our attention.

God has given His handiwork, His creation, to enjoy, not just to slave over. I get caught up in the work of gardening but don't enjoy the garden. Does this resonate with anyone?

My time on the dock was, the chair, nature, pencil and paper. Creativity had no boundaries, no schedule, but I did, and I was sad to leave.

However, I will return...

How about you? How do you find rest? How do you carve out time and what are your favorite ways to recharge your soul? I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you link up to she's talking about the same issue this week. Rachel Ann has some great thoughts.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

When a Dog Reminded Me Not To Be Anxious

My son's dog, Beau, comes to visit me every weekday morning. He arrives wagging his tail, and the ritual begins.

As he meanders past me for a quick pat on the head, he laps up the leftover kitty milk, then proceeds to the laundry room for the remainder of the cat's breakfast. He's not finicky, no siree. He likes any flavor...salmon, chicken, beef, unlike my cats. We have to change it up every day, they have discriminating taste buds.

I save the cat food cans for him. He licks them clean and I don't have to worry with odors. He waits patiently until all cans have been disposed of. He knows how I hate pesky odors.

Next, in his morning fun he runs to get the paper, waiting at the entrance of our driveway. A donut or biscuit await his return as he drops it on the front porch.

After all this lively activity he's ready for his breakfast. He gobbles it down like he's if he hasn't had a bite all morning. Then he's off to chase the squirrels away from my bird feeders. It's his job after all. He appointed himself as my squirrel dog. He takes it seriously.

Beau is also a sensitive dog. When I cry, he whines and gently licks my tears. He paces around me and it's obvious he's affected by my emotions. He's also sensitive to noises. Much like me, he prefers the quiet.

One morning recently, Beau and I were on the back porch. It was a cool morning with a hint of fall in the air. I was emotionally and mentally spent and couldn't enjoy it though.

Have you ever been anxious and worried about something you could do nothing about and yet, you continued to fret and worry? I like to think I have it all together, but I don't.

As Beau and I were pondering life, loud, clanging noises from somewhere in the neighborhood began to penetrate our silence. He became agitated, almost frightened, and started pacing. He tried climbing in my lap, not easy for a sixty-five pound dog. He gestured to go inside and came to get me to go with him. When he saw I was staying outside he got as close as he could to me. I stroked his head while I talked softly to him, telling him it would be alright. I told him not to be anxious, I was right there and wouldn't let anything happen to him.

As I said the words aloud, my voice caught in my throat. These words came to mind as tears welled up in my eyes...

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Just as I comforted Beau with soothing words and strokes of love, His words were comforting for my anxious heart. They reminded me how much I'm loved and held in His grip.

My situation is still there, it hasn't changed. But there is One who tells me not to be anxious. He tells me to present my requests, with thanksgiving, and He will give me peace that will guard my heart and mind.

What are you wrestling with? What are the loud noises clanging in your world making you anxious? Present them to the One who can offer peace in a time of trouble. He's ready to bring peace to your anxious heart and quiet the sounds of distraction. And sometimes He chooses to teach you through a big, lovable dog, named Beau.