Tag Archives: God

Gratitude


swallotail butterfly

Giant Swallowtail grateful for the butterfly bush in my yard!

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog. I just haven’t had any ideas and have lacked motivation. Odd, that, since folks seem to like what I write. But finally today, my muse is working again. Thank God.

Being grateful is the last thing we think of if we’re going through hard times. It doesn’t matter how old we are, what our circumstances are, or what our level of education is. When times are tough, all we can think of is “Poor me;” “Why is this happening to me?;” or “This isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair to me.”

Of course life isn’t fair. It seems as if it takes forever for us to learn that simple lesson. Life is not a court of law where God metes out a sentence for us to serve.  Life is, well, just life. We can take it as it comes and try to make the best of it, or we can complain our way into old age and then look back wondering what happened.

But gratitude is such an incredible feeling if we will wrap our arms around it, embrace it as if it is our soul mate, and look up to Heaven believing that we are blessed.

When I feel blue, I make a gratitude list. I start out with three things per day and keep it up for as long as two weeks. The things I’m grateful for can be typical, ordinary things that I often take for granted: arms, legs, fingers, toes (even if they do need a pedicure!), eyes to see, ears to hear, and a voice to speak (some may think I speak the wrong thing at the wrong time, but that’s on them!).

I move to other things like having a roof over my head, a bed in which to sleep, and food in my fridge. Once I get going on my list, it’s really hard to stop and to limit it to three things a day. I take my list, look at it each morning and concentrate on being grateful. And, of course, the people in my life: family, friends, strangers I haven’t met yet!

It’s amazing how fast my feelings of self-pity disappear when I stay in an attitude of gratitude. God has blessed me beyond belief. When I remember that, I’m much more likely to have a smile on my face.

What are you grateful for today? I’d love to read the beginning of your list.

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Home


Annie on my chair

Annie and Bootsie on my chair

Home. What we all long for. What some of us have. What some of us don’t have.

Home — what does it mean? Does it mean having a house, an apartment a condo? Does it mean having a large cardboard box for the homeless? Yes.

Or does it mean where we grew up, the house at the end (or the beginning) of the street. The house where we lived and laughed, cooked and cleaned, played Parcheesi, slept and sat at the dinner table…does this represent home to you?

For me, it did…for a long time. Now that house is sold, my parents are no longer living, and the four remaining children are all grown up with homes of their own. Very different homes. But homes they are, not just houses.

And what about the folks who have only a tent or huge appliance box as shelter? Do we ever think about them, want to help them? Or do we just walk by them when we see them holding out their hands.

Most of us have never seen these people’s living (if you can call it that) arrangements. No, those places are in a part of town (or under the bridge) that we don’t frequent.

I’ve seen these forlorn places. I’ve talked to the people who live there when I was getting information about the homeless situation in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the article was never published, as the small magazine it was to appear in went out of business.

I love my home today, and it has provided me with a very comfortable place to live and to heal — from my COPD, from lost loves and from the move of my beloved grandson to another city far away.  And though I never lived on the street, I almost did — several times. How sad I was then. And how blessed I am today.

I believe in counting my blessings each and every single day of my life. I don’t think about what I don’t have anymore. I only thank God for what I do have. That works for me. Do you do that, too?

Lots of people have a home, but they want a bigger one, a newer one, one with more land or one with less land. People grumble about mowing the lawn, repairing the roof, and washing the dishes or doing the laundry. People complain about a lot of things, but I think the world would be a much better and happier place if people sought ways to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters, spent less money on stuff and took some time off each week instead of working so many hours that they die of heart attacks at a fairly young age.

That’s it for me tonight. How about you? I would really love to hear your comments and thoughts on these things. I hope you’ll click the comment box. Have a blessed day.

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Puff


Puff. What do you think about when you see this word? A simple little word stands for many things. If you’re a child of the a60’s, you may remember Peter, Paul and Mary’s song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” If you click on the link, you can listen to it while you read! Everyone always said the song was about marijuana, but I still just think of it as a cute children’s song for kids of all ages.

Cream puffs melt in your mouth. In the South, custard is the standard filling for cream puffs. But when I was a child, I remember them as having fluffy whipped cream inside.

A puff of cigarette smoke is anathema to someone who is allergic.

You can make beautiful  bubbles by puffing your breath at some soap on a small plastic wand with two open circles in it.

As you’re walking into the post office, a woman walks by. She’s dressed to the nines and you detect a puff of sensual perfume as she passes.

Puff on a dandelion, and it’s tender feather-like blossom blows apart and scatters to the wind.

What other definitions or uses of the word do you know? I’d love it if you’d share with me and my readers!

Today is December 22, 2012, and the holiday season is in full swimg. In nine days, this year will be over. What has it brought to you? What have you learned? How have you grown? What have you done for others? What have you done for yourself? How is your relationship with God? Do you even have one? Do you want one? Why or why not? Hmmm…lots of questions. I always raised my hand when I was in school; I always asked lots of questions. It drove some of the students nuts, but the teachers mostly liked it because it told them I was engaged in the learning process.

I’m still engaged in the learning process, but not academically. Every day I learn something new or see a  fresh way of looking at someone or something in my life.

My life is slower than it’s ever been before, and that is somewhat disconcerting at times. On the other hand, it gives me more time to think and plan, reflect and pray, and to just rest. Did you take five minutes out of your day to thank God for something or someone in your life? Have you ever made a gratitude list when you’re under stress, angry or confused?

Gratitude lists have a way of clearing the mind from negative thoughts. When you’re concentrating on the positive, it’s impossible to also dwell on the negative. You should try it sometime. Just put three things a day on a piece of paper and do it for two weeks. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, being angry or just feeling restless and discontent, look at the list. You’d be amazed at how changing your thoughts improves your life in such a short time.

Puff – a magic word with many meanings. Puff, a whole new day begins. Puff, 2012 comes to a close. Puff, we are here today and gone tomorrow. Puff…just sit with the word. It’s so special. It’s soft on your lips, has a sing-song ring to it, and looks really neat in writing. Grab a cream puff and gobble it down. It’s okay. The diet can start in a few days or a week or two. There’s no hurry really, is there?

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Filed under Holidays, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Turn Your Face to the Sun


Lady scarecrow in Dahlonega, Georgia, 2012, Ellie Kuykendall

Lady scarecrow in Dahlonega, Georgia, 2012, Ellie Kuykendall

When I visited Dahlonega, Georgia this fall with my dear friend Mary Jo, the city was having a scarecrow festival. So many unique and charming scarecrows would surely bring the birds in to see them, rather than scaring the birds away!

How was your autumn this year? Mine had its ups and downs, just like my life in general. I was privileged to go to Waynesville, North Carolina, with a high school friend. Our stated purpose was to see the fall colors in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. We did that. We also ate wonderful food, had long talks, and he even listened to me cry a couple of times. We hadn’t spend any time together since high school, really, and we were not looking for romance with each other. Just friends, thanks. And isn’t just having a friend a wonderful thing in itself?

When I picked out the main photo for this blog entry, the lady above seemed perfect. She has her face turned toward the sun.  Is your face turned toward the sun? Mine is, at least most of the time.

“But what about when it’s raining, snowing or foggy,” you ask.

The sun is always there. You can turn your face that way on any day. When you do it, you alter your face, because who can resist smiling on a bright and sunny day? Who wouldn’t laugh in delight when looking at crowds of cumulus clouds in a bright blue sky?

It is not always easy to keep your attitude positive when you feel like you’re being bombarded by the hard times in life, whether they be financial, relationship-oriented, work-related, family matters or health issues. But what’s your alternative?

You can go around frowning.  Sniveling. Shrugging your shoulders. Wrinkling your eyebrows.  Screaming as if you are watching a horror movie. Crying a river of tears with no rowboat in sight. Have an argument with someone. Kick the ball so hard it bursts.

Options? Not for me. I’d rather turn my face toward the sun and feel God’s love shining down on me. How about you?

 

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Spinning Out of Control or Taking One Day at a Time?


This great photo is compliments of Seemann at morguefile.com.

I was trying to think of a subject for tonight’s blog. And then it came from my lovely muse, who takes such good care of me.

Does your life feel as if it’s spinning out of control?

You’re not going in the career direction you want.

Your relationship/s with your spouse/partner, kids, friends, boss or co-workers isn’t what you want.

You get up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and a piece of toast and then get yourself and/or your family ready for the day. Then you jump in the car, drive to work through awful commute traffic, park and run in to start your work day. After work, it’s the same story in reverse. By 9 p.m., you are exhausted and wonder what it’s all about.

Or maybe you’re a student. You go to school each day and wonder what the payoff will be in a year or ten.

Remember that old song, “Alfie?” Here’s a link to it if you haven’t heard it in awhile or if you’ve never heard it. Hint…you can click on the link and it will open in a new window so you can listen while you read. Pretty cool, huh? Well, I think it is!

Anyway, Alfie was a playboy. He was never satisfied with one woman. That’s all I remember about the move. If you’re so inclined, you can rent it.

One of the lines in the song is, “Without true love, we just exist.”

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about if you want to stop feeling that your life is spinning like a top.

I learned this the hard way. Two years ago I was diagnosed with an incurable illness. Then last year, my doctor found out that I also have an incurable/unfixable (is that a word?) condition. I have to go into the hospital every two/three months to be treated.

Getting this news made me stand up and pay attention. And gradually, very slowly over the last six months or so, I realized that if I want the peace that passes all understanding, I have to slow down enough to recognize it in the small things (and in the big things, too).

I’ve had to slow down so much that I hardly recognize myself. It’s called taking one day at a time. And it works.

I still plan things, but I know that if my condition warrants a hospital visit when the time comes for the plans to come to fruition, that’s the way it will be.

It’s utterly amazing what I’ve seen and learned about myself and about other people.

I had to learn to be patient with medical staff.

I found out that the major medicine I take for short periods causes massive side effects. At one time, I had 17 of them.

I discovered that a lot of people don’t like to visit patients in the hospital.

I learned that the people you love will stick by you no matter what happens. This group includes very close friends and family members.

There is more, but most important of all, I had to accept the illness.

And in doing that, I also discovered that there are a lot of folks out there who are in worse condition than I am. And they keep going. And so do I.

Above everything, I have to turn over my will and my life to God’s care every day. I have to let God lead me down whatever paths I take now or in the future.

And that, dear readers, is the secret above all secrets. You don’t have to do it alone. I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Have a blessed day.

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Filed under Health, Spirituality, Work

Here, Kitty, Kitty…


Annie after a hard day

My lovely lady calico kitties escaped the warmth and comfort of the home I have provided for them today. I think the ghost in the house opened the door to make their escape route quick and easy. Time and again I tried to cajole them back in before I had to leave for a couple of hours.

“Here, kitty, kitty,” I called. “Come on, Annie, get in here.” “Bootsie, why the heck are you outside. You know your food and water is not out there; it’s in here!”

All my cries were to no avail. I left to do my errands, putting them in God’s care before I hit the accelerator.

When I came back, only Bootsie was ready to re-enter our home so she could take her place at the head of the bed and sleep off her adventure.

Annie, on the other hand, remained outside. She’d walk up to the door, look at me and then turn on her heel, as if to say, “Listen. You just want me to come in out of the cold. But the problem is that it’s not cold yet. So let me go my own way, and when I’m ready, I’ll join you. Oh, by the way, make sure the cat litter is scooped and there’s fresh water, would ‘ya?”

I closed the door and started thinking about God. I don’t know why, I just did. And here’s what I thought. God calls us to come into the shelter of His arms. When we’re stuck in being stubborn, there’s often a quiet little voice that cajoles us to give our problems over to God. But we’re independent and think we know best, and we often only turn back to God when our plans didn’t work out the way we thought they should.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we try to discern God’s will for us, feel that we know it, and follow the directions we’re given to get to our destination. And we do it without a fight. We do it because we know that God is the only one who knows what’s truly best for us.

More likely, though, we’re like my cats. We draw close to God and then turn around so we can go the way we planned. And it isn’t until the end of the day that we come back home, just like my Annie did tonight, knock on the door with our prayers and ask God to let us back in.

No matter what you may be going through at this time in your life, don’t forget that you have the right to God’s love and care. It’s the most important thought you can hold at any time during the day or night.

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One Lovely Blog Award


Imagine my surprise when I opened my gmail account today and found that I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award. There are many different blogging awards. What I love about them is that you don’t have to have won a Pulitzer Prize to get one of them. All you have to do is have someone like your blog enough so that the person nominates you. To accept the award, there are certain procedures you must follow. So, here is my compliance with them.

First, I’d like to thank the writer of Barren to Blessed  for nominating me. I love her blog. It’s a story of hope, endings and new beginnings. I hope you’ll like it too.

Next, I have to tell you seven things about myself that you might not know.

1. God is the most important being in my life. Without my Lord, I have no idea where I’d be, but for sure, probably dead. With God, who has traveled with me through many trials, travails and joys, my life has been surely and most truly blessed. My fondest desire is to inspire others to get to know God on a personal level.

2. I adore black licorice. Not Twizzlers’ black licorice, for it is just a sham in my honest opinion. No, I love Red Vines’ black licorice, licorice from Australia, and licorice from several different European countries.

3. I’d like to get married again. When we got married,  I always thought I would be with my daughter’s dad for the rest of my life. It didn’t work out that way. I married again – for a very short time. I would love for God to bring me someone with whom I can spend the rest of my life. I would be grateful for someone with whom I could go on long walks, a man who is moral, honest, humorous and ethical, and who believes in God as I do.

4. I am an avid student of the Holocaust. I took the  survivor interview training at Steven Spielberg’s The Shoah Foundation, completed a one week course about teaching the Holocaust at the Bremen Museum in Atlanta, and wrote 8 out of 12 lessons for a Social Studies Services book about teaching the Holocaust with the Internet. It is one of my dreams to travel to Eastern Europe to see the landmarks of this period in history.

5. I have a passion for helping the homeless. It’s another one of my dreams to turn some of the abandoned textile mills here in South Carolina into housing for the homeless. I really can’t think of anything that would bring a bigger smile to my face!

6. I am an avid fisher-person of rainbow trout. I leave catching bass, crappie, blue gill and the huge fish of the sea to others. Sit me on the bank of a lake, put a pole in my hand, and I guarantee I’ll lose complete track of time. I simply adore fishing for trout!

7. I once danced with Little Anthony of Little Anthony and the Imperials. I still love 50’s and 60’s rock better than anything, though I also adore music in general. My favorite opera is La Boheme.

Finally, I have to nominate 15 other bloggers for this award. My favorite bloggers write about and photograph a number of different subjects.

1. Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don’t forget to breathe

2.Travel Photography by Dmitrii Lezine

3. Communicating.Across.Boundaries

4. Have Baggage, Will Travel

5. Chronicles of Illusions

6. My Journal of Praise

7. Let Life In Practices

8. Have A Dream

9. Forever in the Present

10. My Life in Color

11. Soul Feeding

12. Sicadai-Sirlan

13. On the Go with Lynne

14. Jim Fields’ Weblog

15. Serenity Spell

I hope you’ll take a moment or two or three and visit some of my favorite blogs as listed above. I’m sure you’ll be encouraged and inspired. Subjects range from fishing to travel, with a handful of spirituality thrown in for good measure. Kind of like me. 🙂

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Bloom Where You’re Planted


“Whoever would have thought I’d be planted here?”
Photo by Ellie Kuykendall

In a million years, I never thought I would be living in South Carolina. This is NOT where I wanted to spend my “golden years.” But you know, God had other plans for me. And this is where I am.

So, I was thinking the other day that I need to remember the simple phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” I remembered it while I was putting plants into the above unlikely containers. We’re used to seeing plants in pots of all descriptions: clay and plastic, bright and dull colors, large and small, patterned and plain, and hanging baskets. However, we’re not used to seeing plants in tea tins or ceramic pitchers that were designed for liquids.

And that’s like me in South Carolina. At times I feel like a flower in a pair of kid’s rain boots. Most of the time these days, though, I believe I’m exactly where I belong. Why? Because of the many blessings I’ve been given since I moved here almost four years ago.

I thought I’d be traveling the world, preferably with a husband. Neither of those retirement dreams has materialized. Maybe they still will, and maybe they won’t. How I accept the circumstances in my life is more important than the conditions in which I find myself.

Will I complain about what I don’t have, or will I be grateful for what I do have? Will I seek out new opportunities to help others, or will I isolate and feel sorry for myself? Do I do a check each day to see whether I’ve offended someone and then make amends if I need to do so? Can I look for the gifts I bring to others instead of wondering why I’m not more like so and so?

Each day is a new opportunity for me to grow, listen, change, be still, and add something to someone’s life. If I keep these things in the forefront of my mind, I’ll remember that I have done some traveling to different countries in the world. This is much more than many other people have experienced.

If I remember that I am a child of God, the negativity slips away.

And more than anything, if I continue to have faith, then I realize that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

I hope you have a blessed day!

One more thing…I would love to hear about your blessings, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Filed under Behavior, Feelings, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Restoration, Rainbow Trout and Friends I’ve Never Met


gone fishin'

So there you have it. My hand holding my new fishing rod and enjoying every minute of it. I took off on Wednesday, April 18th, for the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I wished for restoration like in Psalm 23: “He leads me beside the still waters.He restores my soul.” God gave it to me.

Ever since I can remember, trout fishing has been one of my favorite pastimes. At one point in my life I was lucky enough to live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and went fishing every day I possibly could. I had just been through a series of difficult times in my life, and God restored my soul each day I sat with pole in hand, marveling at the wonders of nature. I watched a family of baby ducks grow up, saw the seasons change from fall to winter to spring and felt that I had learned several very important lessons.

These last four days helped me put some things into perspective in my life and get a renewed energy toward finishing my book. I’ve needed that for a long time now. I’m looking forward to getting it done!

Everyone needs restoration time. And we don’t necessarily have to get away to get it. If we set our minds right, we can rest from our busy lives just about anytime we want.  But we have to REALLY want to do that. Otherwise, it’s useless.

Time was when I would have done nothing but fished. My passion would have been my obsession. But I have changed. Now I can exercise my passion and leave myself open to opportunities of the moment at the same time. And as a result, my trip had many facets: fishing, meeting new people, cooking at the condo and eating out, reading, sitting quietly without reading or watching tv or doing anything, praying, meditating and more. I’m glad I didn’t lose those things by spending all my time trying to catch my favorite fish.

As a result, I did catch one fish, which was more than anyone else caught. 🙂

What do you do to restore yourself?

On this trip I stayed in a modern condominium with all the comforts of home, met some friends I hadn’t met yet, ate some tasty treats, and visited an historic general store.

Old post office at Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC

500 types of old-fashioned (mostly) candy

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My Mind Was Waiting on the Bedpost This Morning


Lovely tree in front of my home

So, I woke up this morning only to find my mind waiting on the bedpost of my four-poster bed. I’m not sure which one it was on, because it went to work so quickly that I didn’t even have time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article about making sure to think happy thoughts for the last five minutes before you go to sleep. I am usually praying then, so that hasn’t been a problem. What I need is a magic bullet to shoot my mind off the bedpost as I wake up! Why?

Because my mind is not always my friend. I’ve learned this the hard way over the years. My mind likes to instantly go to the worries or the negativity or the confusion in my life. And, by the time I realize what’s happening, it’s too late. Bingo. I win the prize for negative energy first thing in the morning or for consummate grumpiness when waked up from a nap. This is why I now usually turn off my phone when I sleep. I figure if there’s an emergency, I can find out after I wake up.

Anyway, back to my mind not being my friend. I think overall that I am a positive person. I look on the bright side when the world kicks me in the shin, try to find the good in all people I meet even after being betrayed, and love to hear people laugh when my quirky sense of humor jumps out. So why do I let my mind convince me in the morning that a) nothing will work out as planned that day; b) even if it does work out as planned, it will probably be awful; or c) I’m really not a good person after all?

One thing I’ve learned is that everyone has times like these. Not everyone admits it, and some people deny it, but nobody can be positive ALL the time. It goes against us being human. Thank goodness my mind doesn’t grab my attention in a negative way every day. I’ve been working on ways to defeat it.

1). Start petting my kitty and telling her how beautiful she is and how much I love her. A cat will do in the absence of my next true love;

2). Make a gratitude list in my head. Being grateful and having things on a list helps put everything else in perspective; and

3). Say my morning prayers right away when my mind starts. Nothing like talking to God first thing.

What do you do when your mind is waiting on the bedpost?

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