Big Mouth

A few days ago we all listened and watched a tree frog on the banister of our second floor porch. Now, you all know how small these creatures are. It is about the size of a fifty cent piece. Of course, you have to be my age to even remember fifty cents pieces. Nevertheless, it is a tiny little thing.

But if you have one of these creatures close by you will not believe the sound coming out of his body. He squeals loudly and then answers himself with a little bit softer squeal.

One time, many years ago, my husband and I heard this loud squealing. Several nights in a row we would hear this noise. My husband decided that it was a wild turkey out in the woods. The sound continued until one day my husband spent a good bit of the late evening tracking it down.

Turns out, there was a tree frog caught in a pipe right outside our bedroom. My husband rescued him and we gratefully slept that night without the squealing sound. It was amazing what a loud sound could come from such a small frog.

After seeing the little tree frog, I thought about how small he is and how loud he is. Maybe, his loud mouth is his way of getting attention in this great big world. We all need to get attention. Some of us do it by having our talent displayed. Some children do it by breaking all of the rules. Others do it by being like the tree frog; yelling out loud.

It is important for all of us to be heard. We each need to get our share of the attention. It is important for us to feel that we can safely share our opinions and voice our objections. We need to say to the world, “Here I am. I am here. Notice me”. And if I have to interrupt or disagree with everything, or be louder than others, it is OK. Because I have a personal need to get all the attention that I can.

God makes all of us differently. He allows our personalities to show us off in different ways. I have to remember that when someone jumps over others to be the center of attention. I must try and be extra tolerant when someone pushes their way in.

Just like the tiny tree frog, people use their voices to get the attention that they need. I appreciate the way God has made this beautiful world. I love the tiny tree frog. Squeal on and let’s be heard.

Patience

Today I was looking out of my bedroom window at the lake. I saw him again; the majestic blue heron. Each morning he stands at the end of the boat ramp. He is huge and he is magnificent. He is poised in such a gracious style as he stands there.

But what gets me is he stands there for hours and does not move a muscle. He is perfectly still. It is as if he were a statue. I will go about my chores and I look out and he is still standing there in the same spot not even moving his head.

I should hope to have such patience. My wonderful husband had all the patience that one could hope for. He would wait on you if you were late. He never complained.  He would play with children and wait on them to take the next move in the game even, if they were slow. He would wait patiently for the children to choose their flavor of ice cream at the store, even if it took many different tries of tasting all of the samples. He would not hurry a person up if we were playing cards.

I, on the other hand, was always the “hurry up, we have to move it” person. I could lose my patience in a heartbeat. In fact, I guess you could say I had no patience in the first place. I have always been a go, go, go, person. I tried but I have never learned to slow down and smell the roses. It has always been a fault of mine and I wish I were different.

Another example of patience is going through a museum. My husband would read every sign and digest each exhibit. He gave thoughtful presence to each piece as he encountered it. I could go into the museum, gaze at the exhibits and be finished in a matter of minutes. I had no patience for standing there, reading all the dates, looking at all of the examples and devouring the information..

I think about my patience with God; or my lack of patience with God. There are many times that I pray for particular things. There is a scripture that says, you don’t ask for it you won’t get it. So I pray for things. Sometimes they are small things. Sometimes they are large things. Sometimes I feel my prayers are answered. Sometimes I feel they are not. But as I reflect on my prayers, I have to say, God has supplied all of my needs. Truthfully, who needs more?

Timing is everything. I find that many times I am not patient enough to stop and listen to the still, small voice that is God. I am so wanting things to be done on my schedule that I miss being in tune with God.

I am trying to take a lesson from the beautiful blue heron that God allows me to watch each morning. I am trying to slow down, stand in one place for a longer period of time, quietly assess the world and listen for God to talk to me. I will never show the incredible power of concentration that this lovely bird has, but I am learning.  I am trying.  I am taking his example as a gift of God to help me develop more patience.

James 1:4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Faithful Relationships

March 22nd was the 8 month anniversary of the death of my sweet husband. It has been so long and yet not even a year.  In reflection, I thought about those folks that made the day of his Life Celebration so special.  Immediately it brought to mind those that had prepared a dinner for all of the family.

Sunday, July 30 was special at our church for another reason.  It was the ending ceremony for the program of Koinania, our community resource program that is so active and so responsive to the needs of our community children.  It is a marvelous program that gives a creative and continuous learning opportunity to our community’s children during the summer months.

On this Sunday the children and the parents and community leaders come together to celebrate the experiences of the children and the exciting discoveries of the program. After the formal presentation there is a luncheon for all involved.

At the same time of this very large luncheon, the church also provided a meal for our large family before the memorial service.  Now you have to understand that this church is very small.  We, in the 50s and 60s, had thousands of members but today we have 50 or 60 people in our congregation that are active and we have many members that reside in nursing homes  So the few people of the church wear many hats to cover all of the jobs.

But on this Sunday, this small group of people pulled off an amazing feat.  They fed many people from the summer program.  But they also in another separate space fed a large family.  The food was abundant and the service was excellent. My family was well cared for as we prepared for a memorial service to honor our wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, brother-in-law and friend.

I know you can be a Christian without being an active member of a church. God only asks that you accept Him as your Savior.  But not to be involved with other Christians is a real loss.  The cameradery of persons that are like minded is amazing.  The exchanging of Christian views and of experiences is growth producing.  The coming together to praise and pray is without question a fulfillment of the spirit.

On this 8th month anniversary of my husband’s death I think of the many faces that I saw serving my family that meal.  I know the hard work that they put into serving two meals that day.  I know the tired feet and the sore shoulders of fixing all of the food for so many people.  I know the sacrifice of time, energy, money and effort that went into the preparation of this food.

It is with a grateful heart that I say “thank you ” to the many people that provided comfort for my children, my siblings, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren as we ate a delicious meal before the service. But more than that, I thank these folks for being my Christian friends.  God promised to care for me and He has sent so many wonderful Christian friends to fulfill that promise.

I challenge each of you to connect with others that are Christians.  When two or three are gathered together, God will be there to guide us to do what He wills. There is no greater calling.  We have a small church but we are a mighty force and I am proud to be a small contributor of this wonderful group of believers. Praise be to God.

All in Perspective

Last week I was at the beach with lots of work to do.  I am getting the houses ready for summer rental.  So I had my things to do list and one chore was spray painting a wicker loveseat.  I had waited several days to do this because the wind seemed always to be blowing and spray painting needs a calm day.

I got up and was anxious to get the job done.  But when I looked out at the ocean all I could see was very tall, rolling waves and lots of foam.  I thought to myself, “What an angry sea!  That wind is terrible.  It is blowing so hard that the ocean itself is upset.”

I saw an angry sea because I was angry.  I was anxious to get my priority list done and nature was not cooperating with me.  It seemed that I would never find a day that the wind was calm so I could get my painting done.

As I moved to another chore I began to reflect on the ocean.  Actually, it was really pretty. The waves were huge and the foam that was stirred up almost looked like frosting on a cake.  I noticed how the clouds almost touched the horizon.  I began to see the picture differently.  My perspective began to change.

Life is like that a lot.  We have the power in our minds to see things as we wish. We must consciously make an effort to put the positive spin on what our eyes show us.  Many times we let our emotions cloud our vision.  If we are angry, as I was, we will put a negative spin on our view.  But if we can change our emotion or our perspective we will see it in a positive manner.  It makes a major difference in how we approach the world.

Recently I overheard my daughter say to my granddaughter.  You cannot have two thoughts in your mind at the same time.  So if you have a negative, or sad or terrible thought, make your mind think a pleasant or happy or positive thought.

I was impressed.  She is so right.  We choose to think.  We control our minds.  If we choose to go down sad paths, we will be depressed and overcome with those emotions. But if we are conscious of what we are doing, we can work to change our thoughts and stay out of the depressed thought realm.

No one has the perfect life.  Bad things happen to all of us.  Sometimes it is financial, sometimes it is a major loss, sometimes it is physical and sometimes it is annoyances. But all of us have bad things that happen.  And sometimes it seems that they all come at once.

Last year was a horrible year for me.  Illness, loss of my husband, financial crisis, a major relationship issue, recent loss of my mother and it just seemed like it would not stop.  There were even little things that seemed to go wrong.

I felt that maybe it was me.  Maybe I had angered God so severely that I was being punished.  I read Job many times.  I had to be strong.  I had to get through this negative time in my life.  Somehow I had to find a way to exist and be happy.

I cannot say that my life is perfect now.  I recently had an unexpected flat tire, I have more to do than my old body wants to do and I get thrown a curve now and then.  But I am trying to keep those positives thoughts in my head.  I can control my way of looking at even the bad things that happen.

God promised to take care of me.  He has kept His promise.  It is my responsibility to be happy and have the right perspective.  Think happy.  Be happy.