Into the Fort

My friend Gail Johnson wrote a wonderful post this past Tuesday entitled, Held. She captured my imagination and changed my focus. If you have a few minutes, I hope you’ll take a look.

Hello, Thursday Morning!Hello, it’s Thursday Morning! I hope you are safely navigating these strange times. I am learning the benefits of online shopping, among other things. What I’ve enjoyed most is still being able to support local businesses like my favorite local coffee roasters. 🙂

While I’m home, I’m building myself up. The plan is to allow the present circumstances to strengthen rather than weaken me. I’m studying the Bible, reading devotionals, doing balance and strength-building exercises, walking, etc.

I’m getting back into the habit of cooking on a daily basis (yes, we were eating out way too much). I actually enjoy cooking.

We’re better stewards of what we have. We were also throwing out way too much fresh food. Are (or were) you guilty of that? In normal times, after working all day, we’re tempted to stop and pick something up instead of eating what we have at home. The result was a fridge full of yucky old produce well past its freshness date. Hello, compost. Now, I’m using all that stuff. Yesterday, I used up less-than-fresh apples by making apple bread. Yum!

My workspace looks out on the backyard. I’ve become personally acquainted with the cardinals and the doves who fight for feeding room among the bossy squirrels. Sometimes I find myself watching them too much instead of working. Focus, Betty, focus.

So, there are some good things coming out of this “time of testing.” I am finding that I don’t really have as much time as I thought I would. It seems everyone wants me to do things all the time. I have a tee-shirt I wear on days like those. It has Snoopy on the front and says, “Please don’t make me do stuff.” 🙂

Into the fort – what do I mean by that? There was a time when we would have been required to go to the fort for protection from enemies or medical help or natural disasters. For me today, “into the fort” means staying in place.

My safe place is right here, in my home, only going out when necessary for food, supplies, or work. It means staying away from people while I’m out. I’m washing my hands a lot and trying not to do anything that is considered unsafe. It also means I’m not able to visit Mom. That’s for her safety.

I’m praying for you, my readers, that you are safe and well.

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:2

 

 

 

In the Trenches

I have never been a soldier or fought in a war. I cannot imagine the horrors suffered by those who have literally stood “in the trenches” at some point in life. I would never compare my small troubles to such an event. But sometimes, life’s challenges do send us into a panic and we are nearly overcome.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. Thanks so much for stopping in for a visit. I have Sunergos Coffee in my cup this morning! I’m drinking their “Blend B” – think malt, citrus, & nutty. It smells as good as it tastes. 🙂

Aside from enjoying my yummy coffee, I’m meditating a devotional I read a few days ago. The subject was courage.

Synonyms of courage: bravery, mettle, pluck, spunk, valor, virtue, grit, backbone, fiber, fortitude.

We need a backbone, not a wishbone. — Joyce Meyer

I am too prone to wish, and not do. I must admit, fear is a heavy-hitter in my life. In addition, I battle unworthiness on a daily basis.

The author of the devotional suggested I write down my top five fears, so here they are:

  1. Being alone, which is odd, because I’m kind of an introvert. My go-to verse is Isaiah 41:10 – “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed…” and John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
  2. Losing a loved one – there are no pat answers for this one. There are comforting verses of scripture (like John 14:27) and the knowledge that we will see our loved ones again. “The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost
  3. Injustice (toward me and others) Zephaniah 3:13 says, “…those who are left in Israel; … shall do no injustice and speak no lies, nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue. For they shall graze and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Also, Psalm 56:11, Psalm 118:6, and Hebrews 13:6.
  4. Deep water – I think I wrote a blog post on this once or at least referred to it. I have nothing to say in my defense but I think it’s not just water. Sometimes, I’m afraid to move forward for fear of the unknown, which could also be called deep water. “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” — William Faulkner
  5. Failure – I seem to be repeating myself here. I have to refer back to Faulkner’s quote. You have to be courageous enough to step out when you can’t see the shore (what lies ahead). Go ahead, take a chance!

Truth is, I would rather be a big splash in a small pond, so I have trouble venturing out at times. Even so, I am always surprised by the number of times I get involved with a group, committee, etc., and then find myself in a leadership position, though I did not seek it. (Ack!)

Does this ever happen to you?

Through it all, I am learning to trust, not in myself, but the One who sent me. I’m grateful to God for His leadership. He has given me ample opportunities to choose faith over fear. If I focus on my fear, I’ll end up paralyzed by it. If I raise my eyes to the horizon—the big picture—I’ll be more likely to “…lose sight of the shore,” and find my way out.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you. — Isaiah 43:1b-2

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Hello Thursday Morning DevotionHello, Thursday Morning readers! I hope you’re doing well this midwinter morning. It’s cold and a little damp here.

We’re only weeks away from spring. Yay! I’m thinking about what I’ll plant in my flower beds, and that thought is invigorating. Already, the new green is showing through the deadness of my front bed, as you can see in the photo below. We’ve had an unusually warm winter thus far.

I hope you’re wide awake and ready for a great day.

One who is kind benefits himself, but an unkind person hurts himself. [My paraphrase of Proverbs 11:17].

Kindness paves the way for a good day. I know there are times when your kind words are not greeted with kindness, but if you will persist in kindness, it will pay off in the long run.

And pay attention, please. Wake up! Put your phone down and leave it down when you’re driving. Every day, I see people crossing over the line into my lane because they are distracted. Yesterday, a friend of mine told of a near head-on collision with another driver who was distracted. My friend was so shaken, she had difficulty driving home.

So, do me a favor. Do yourself a great kindness. Forget about that message until you get where you’re going. If it’s that important, pull over somewhere safe and deal with it, then proceed.

It will be better to arrive a few minutes late, rather than to not arrive at all.

So, wake up and smell the coffee. Practice kindness today. Sometimes the best thing you can give another person is your attention.Winter Garden 2020

A Favorite Christmas

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so glad you stopped by.

So, Christmas is coming, and for most of us, that means busy, busy, busy. Shopping, decorating, baking, partying—you know the routine. Maybe you need to hit the pause button and remember…

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

Here’s mine:

Mike, Ed, & Me!

San Diego, California, 1959 -The house we lived in was just blocks away from the San Diego Zoo and the mission at Balboa, so our yard was often filled with exotic sounds like the roar of a lion, the call of the peacock, the trumpet of elephants.

We didn’t have much money, but my mother could always find a way to make Christmas special for us. She made many of our gifts and baked lots of cookies.

Dad had been looking for another place to live, further out from town, so we’d spend the weekend looking at houses. I liked one particular house very much because it had an upper story which fascinated me. There was even a life-sized cardboard cutout of Shirley Temple in one upstairs bedroom.

The former owners had left a pile of trash in the yard. On that pile, I found a handmade doll cradle. It was broken and dirty, full of leaves and rainwater, but to me, it was a treasure. Only rich kids had such things. I knelt down beside it as children often do, to get a better look. In my heart was a deep longing, too innocent to be described as covetous. I wanted a doll cradle like that one.

On Christmas Eve, my older brother and I were begging to stay up. “Just a little bit longer, please.” To no avail, for I’m sure my mother had a million things to do to get ready for the big day. She stubbornly resisted our pleas. Then she received a little unexpected help by way of a stiff breeze outside. The front door blew open about six inches or so. Mike and I stopped our pleading to gaze at the door, then at each other. His eyes were large and his mouth formed an “o”. Chills tickled my spine.

“See there?” Mom said, always quick on the uptake. “Santa is trying to come, but you two are still up. He can’t come in while you’re awake.” There was no more argument. We ran as fast as we could and jumped into our beds.

Early on Christmas morning, we tiptoed out of our rooms to see what treasures Santa had left for us overnight. Oh, there seemed to be so much stuff beneath that tree. My brothers dived in at once, grabbing toys and showing them off to each other. I stood in awe, for there to my great surprise and joy, was the same little doll cradle I had seen on the trash pile. I knew it was the very same one, even though it had received a fresh coat of powder blue paint and was no longer broken.

Mom had made a small mattress and pillow, complete with an embroidered sheet, pillowcase, and quilt. A brand-new doll lay on top of it all. The doll could cry real tears and wet her diaper, but I barely noticed. I was enraptured with the refurbished cradle, even though I knew its last home had been a trash pile.

Long after I outgrew playing with dolls, that cradle sat in my room. When I was finished with it, Mom (who seldom threw anything away) used it as a planter. Every time I saw it, I remembered that special Christmas. It became one of my most cherished memories.

It’s not always necessary to spend a lot of money to make Christmas special. Sometimes a little imagination and a whole lot of love can bring the most joy to someone’s heart. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

 

Originally posted December, 2009

 

How to Write a Christmas Movie

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! The very busy month of November is now upon us. Can you believe it?

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and the air is filled with … Christmas music.

Are you a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies? I have to admit, I love watching some of them. Some. Of. Them.

I have to be careful not to overwatch because it eats up a lot of time that should be spent reading, writing, cleaning, cooking, etc.

There are benefits to watching Christmas movies. They can help you prepare mentally for the onslaught that we call “the holiday season.” They provide Christmas decorations so you don’t have to. Honestly, if I didn’t have grandkids, I wouldn’t bother.

I am not a Christmas fanatic. I tend to endure the holidays. Those roots run deep, and I really can’t tell you why.

But, I do enjoy the movies. Maybe I’ll write one someday, so you could call it research. 🙂

A pattern has emerged as I watch, and I’ve decided there must be a checklist involved in writing those things.

At some point in the story the couple:

  • Heads over the meadow and through the woods to cut down a tree (or maybe just the tree lot in town).
  • Puts up the tree.
  • Decorates the tree (may or may not involve the girl falling from a ladder into the guy’s arms).
  • There’s a snowball fight.
  • They build a snowman.
  • They create a gingerbread house, which may or may not involve a contest.
  • They make snow angels together.
  • Ice skating!
  • Enjoy hot chocolate together, often after ice skating or snowman building.
  • The “almost kiss”—that first kiss is always interrupted.
  • The small town they live in has a tree lighting, usually on Christmas Eve.
  • The town Santa is really Santa (in disguise). He knows things no one else could know and is often a matchmaker.
  • There’s mistletoe, often in unexpected places.
  • Snow falls, even in locations where it never snows, like Florida, or southern California (Christmas miracle!).

If I’ve left anything out, please feel free to comment!

And now, just so you’ll know I’m not a total grinch, my favorite Christmas movie among the Hallmark offerings is The Christmas Secret.

The casting is spot-on. I love the story and the small town of Wilsonville and Betty’s Bakery of course. I can almost smell those cinnamon rolls! Wilsonville is also the setting for another Hallmark Christmas movie, The Christmas Note.

Last-minute addition: A brand new movie this year, Two Turtle Doves, moves into my list of favorites. It’s heartwarming and intelligently written. I will be watching that one again.

Are you a reader or a watcher?

Would you rather read a holiday story, or see it in movie form?

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Have a blessed weekend!