Listening to Life

rest-413103_1280One morning recently, running hopelessly behind schedule, I rushed out the door and down the road, only to find myself sitting in standstill traffic once I reached the interstate. Several minutes later, when I reached the next exit, I opted to take my chances with the less congested city streets.

As it turned out, the city streets were less congested but not any faster. As I maneuvered my way through road construction, potholes, school zones and crosswalks, I grew more frustrated with each delay. But something I witnessed while waiting for a traffic light to change, changed my perspective, changed me.

As I sat in the turn lane waiting impatiently for the red light to change to green, I saw a man standing on the corner waiting to cross the busy street. That in itself was not unusual, but this particular man was blind.

I watched as he carefully listened to the sounds of the traffic. I watched as he began to step off the curb once or twice during a lull in traffic. I watched as he stopped himself because he heard the traffic moving again, because he was still listening.

As I continued on my way, less stressed and less impatient, I thought about this man. I thought about how difficult it must be for him to navigate the world around him. I thought how vital it was for him to listen. I thought how vital it is for all of us to listen.

What if our ability to successfully navigate this life depended solely upon our ability to listen? What if we listened to the world around us as if it did? What if we listened to others as if it did?

What if we listened more carefully to our friends, our spouses, our children? What if we listened more carefully to our mother, our father….our Heavenly Father?  How much more successful and enjoyable might our journey through this life be?

The beautiful world that our Heavenly Father has created for us and the people in it can offer us a wealth of information to help us navigate our way back home to Him if we are listening…

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Flight and Other Miracles

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I live not far from a major airport. I drive past it every day and always see planes taking off and landing when I do. Most of the time, I take it for granted. I don’t give it a second thought. But some days, I watch in awe as the massive planes lift off the ground and soar higher and higher into the air and I wonder how it is possible.

It’s not that I don’t understand how it works. I have studied the principles of aerodynamics. I know that it has to do with lift, thrust and acceleration. But even though I have studied the concepts, deep down, I don’t really understand how it works. It still amazes me that these multi-ton, massive chunks of metal can fly through the air.

But just because I don’t fully understand how it works does not mean that I don’t believe that it works. I believe that planes can fly. I see them fly every day. Similarly, just because I don’t understand how miracles occur does not mean that I do not believe that they exist. I see them all around me every day.

This week as I drove past the airport and saw the miraculous take off of yet another airplane, I thought about all of the miracles like flight that we so often take for granted. I thought about all of the miracles that I know exist but I don’t fully understand

I don’t completely understand how our kind, loving and very wise Heavenly Father keeps our little planet orbiting the sun or how He made the sun hot enough to keep us from freezing but not hot enough to burn us up. I don’t know how He creates such beautiful sunrises and sunsets or how gravity really works.

I don’t know exactly how He does all the amazing and miraculous things that He does. I don’t know how He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk…but I know that He did

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There will your heart be also

FullSizeRender (6)In the far back darkest corner of my closet, wrapped in plastic and gathering dust, lies one of my greatest treasures.

It is a patchwork quilt.

It is not fancy. It has earned no blue ribbons, no awards. It is old, tattered and torn. It is worn thin, threadbare and faded. In fact, someone without knowledge of the sentimental value it holds would probably consider it worthless and cast it aside.

Even when new it wasn’t worth much monetarily. It was made from old scrap material and secondhand clothes. But to me it is priceless. I treasure it because it was made by and given to me by the woman who taught me what real treasure is—my grandmother.

She has been gone for many years now, but when I see my quilt, I am reminded of her. I am reminded of the treasure that she was to me and to all who knew her.

My grandmother treasured life. She found value in everything and in everyone she encountered. She believed that each day she lived and every person she met held a hidden treasure and she made it her mission not only to find it but to share it with everyone else.

She believed there are treasures all around us in this life that are easily missed if we don’t take the time to look for them. She had a way of making every day feel like a treasure hunt.

When I visited her, we would take daily walks. We never returned without some little treasure we had found along the way. They were never much–colored rocks, wildflowers, a few berries, an oddly shaped stick, but on those walks I learned that value has nothing to do with money. Value and worth are determined by what the items mean to us and the feelings that they create or that we attach to them.

I learned so much from my grandmother on those long walks so many years ago. She taught me that the real treasure in this life is found in the relationships we make and the love we give and receive.

I am going to try to pull that quilt out of the back of my closet more often. When I do, I will remember my grandmother and I will remember what is truly important.

I will remember that each day is a treasure given to us from a kind Heavenly Father who loves and treasures each and every one of us more than we know.

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Up on the Roof

rooftop-691617_1280One afternoon recently, I accompanied my husband on a visit to the doctor. The appointment was near the end of a very full, very hectic day and as usual I was rushing to get there. I hurriedly drove around and around the increasingly higher levels of the parking garage searching for an empty spot. Eventually, I found an empty space on the very top level, parked and went inside.

When the appointment was over, as I was leaving, I was struck by the beautiful view from the roof of the parking garage. It was only six stories high, but from this vantage point I could see for miles. I could see the beautiful landscapes in the distance and the impressive architecture of the buildings of the city around me. I was so in awe of this view that I sat quietly in my car for a few minutes and just admired it. For these few minutes the cares and stresses of the world melted away and I was at peace.

After a few, peaceful moments the world below beckoned me on my way. As I drove round and round the descending levels of the parking garage following the arrows and signs that directed me to the exit, I reflected on the solitude I found a few stories above. I marveled at the difference that 50 or 60 feet of altitude could make in the way that I view the world around me.

I thought about this experience for some time after that day. I was impressed with both the importance of taking the time to stop and enjoy the beauty that is all around us and the importance of taking the time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world and view life and it’s problems from a different perspective.

So, I am striving to do both. I am finding beauty and viewing my problems from a higher perspective even if it is just up on the roof…

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Wandering Out of the Wilderness

desert-175462_1280Do you ever have those days or weeks when the stresses and problems of everyday life leave you feeling a bit lost? At times, the world is just so hectic and fast paced that I find myself at a loss to keep up. The chaos leaves me feeling overwhelmed, unfocused and lacking direction. If only for a moment or two, I feel lost.

When I feel this way, I try to make my world slow down. I search out somewhere quiet and peaceful. I shut out the noise and stresses of the world for a time and remind myself of where I am going and what is important. Then I make sure I am on the right path to get there.

Recently, during one of these times, I thought about the Israelites who were lost in the wilderness for forty years. I was grateful that the times in my life when I have felt lost have been very brief by comparison. As I thought about these Israelites, I remembered that even though they were lost because of their own unbelief and lack of faith, God watched over and took care of them.

While they wandered in the wilderness, God gave them water from a rock to drink and manna from Heaven to eat. He led them by a pillar of cloud in the daytime and a light at night. He protected them from their enemies and from poisonous serpents. He did not leave them alone in the wilderness.

At some time or other, we all feel lost like we are wandering in the wilderness. The pressures of this world can be overwhelming. It is easy to become discouraged and feel there is no end in sight or no way out. But the wildernesses of this life are temporary.

When we are lost, God will always be there to watch over us and help us find our way. He will feed us, strengthen us and illuminate our way. He will make a way out of the wilderness.

He will guide us safely and surely to the promised land.

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Choosing the Right Way Home

wrong-way-167535_1280Driving down the road recently, I came upon a big yellow sign with a bold black arrow warning me that the road ahead was about to take a sharp turn to the right. Shortly after, the road joined a larger, busier road and there was a red and white yield sign warning me to watch for and yield to the heavier flow of traffic. This road and these signs were familiar to me. I pass by them almost daily, but for some reason, on this particular day, they stood out.

As I continued my drive, I watched for and noticed the multitude of signs that dotted the landscape and lined the roads I travel every day. I saw stop signs, yield signs and speed limit signs. I saw signs warning of railroad crossings, pedestrian crossings and dead end roads. I saw signs that told me not to enter, not to pass and to keep right. I even saw massive, illuminated electronic signs that warned of lane closures and accidents ahead.

As I thought about these signs and others like them, it occurred to me that I am free to choose whether I obey or heed their warnings. I can choose not to stop, yield or drive at safe speeds. I can choose to ignore the warnings about closed roads, sharp turns, railroad crossings and one-way traffic. I can choose to ignore these signs and warnings, but if I do, I am voluntarily placing myself in the very dangers they are attempting to prevent.

Just like the roads and highways we travel, our lives are a continuous series of choices. Each day we are forced to make choices from the moment we open our eyes until the moment we close them again when the day is over. We make choices about everything from what to wear and what to eat to where to live and who to marry. We are free to make unwise, foolish and even dangerous choices but we must also face the difficulty, hardship and peril these choices may create in our lives.

Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is there to help us. As we more closely align our lives and our choices with His will, He will protect us and keep us safe. He will help us avoid the dangers and pitfalls of this life.

He will guide us to the one-way road that leads us back to His presence.

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One Ticket For the Ark, Please

flood-432736_1280

May is always a stormy, rainy month in Oklahoma and this year has been no exception. In fact, this month it has rained so much and so often that we have had massive, widespread flooding throughout the state.

All of this rain and flooding have left people feeling a little weary, a little distressed and a little damp. So it is not surprising that jokes about Noah building another Ark have been running rampant.

Driving to work this week required that I continually readjust my route to avoid flooded or damaged roads. I frequently had to maneuver through minor flooding even on the interstate. It seemed like the roads often went from dry to flooded within seconds.

Friday morning was one of the worst. Just as I was leaving the skies opened up and began dropping their contents in bucket fulls. The ground was much too saturated to hold another drop and the roads quickly began to fill with water. As I slowly and cautiously made my way to work I began to wonder if maybe I would see an ark being built around the next bend…

As I thought about Noah and his ark, I was reminded that in times of trouble our Heavenly Father is there for us. Our troubles may not be as large and dramatic as the flooding of the entire earth, even though they may seem so to us at the time. The dangers we face may not require the building of an ark, but He will send who or what we need to help us through.

I would like to believe that if I had lived in the days of Noah, I would have had the faith to be with him on the ark when the rains began to fall. I cannot know for certain, but what I do know for certain, is that when the rains begin to fall in my life, He will be there. He will always be there to rescue me.

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