It’s the Little Things

Don’t EVER under-estimate the TREMENDOUS importance of the little things in life.

Have you ever been point-blank asked, “Why do you love me?” and you felt foolish because, maybe – just maybe – you didn’t have an immediate response? (Because you weren’t even sure of why yourself.)

No need to panic! (I assure you.)

I’m going to posit that it’s because your mind (which is a little on the lazy side – sorry, but someone had to say it) immediately jumps across synapses to grasp whatever it most easily can. It reaches for the BIG stuff it can readily access. And maybe it was the BIG stuff that first caught your eye about someone – the things you could more easily measure because there they were, right out in the foreground for the whole, entire world to see!

But we don’t truly fall in love with someone because it’s easy to see that person is easy on the eyes. That’s called attraction. Infatuation. Stalking, if you keep watching them and they don’t want you around. As a matter of fact, I’m guessing that the majority of relationships never progress to their full potential because many people never get past what’s in front of them. They’re so focused on “the BIG,” they forget to nurture “the LITTLE,” so it can grow.

Little things don’t just happen “in the heart” – where the soul part of the brain digs deeply and finds GREATNESS in the tiniest little inflections; they must be carefully tended there. Strangely, these aren’t the same for all people. Any combination of traits and characteristics, which only come rarely in fleeting glimpses, can combine to compel us to love someone – or somehow care for others.

The way a dimple only flashes at the exact moment his eyes light up – and only when you’re around.

The manner in which she drops her head and blushes while brushing your hand with hers.

His guttural laugh over some silly bit of nothingness that drives you crazy.

Her cooing sighs when you whisper in her ear.

The way in which he traces the lines inside the palm of your hand to soothe you when you’re nervous.

The way she stands tall and proud when introducing you to others.

The stupid crook from where he broke his pinky toe – twice.

The scar left on her body where she stood strong and battled cancer.

Each of those little things adds up to equal a GREAT story – one that’s both personal, and shared.

It doesn’t happen exclusively in romance. It’s about any relationship. It’s about life, in general. It’s about personal growth where you finally come to like yourself. It’s about surprising others you may barely know with some random little something – and watching what a BIG deal it becomes in their day!

I came in this morning to a lovely surprise bouquet, left on the conference room table by our new secretary to brighten our work day. (Guess what? It worked!)

I came in this morning to a lovely surprise bouquet, left on the conference room table by our new secretary to brighten our work day. (Guess what? It worked!)

If you find you’ve been too focused on life’s BIG things, as of late, take some time to embrace the little things. (They won’t weigh you down nearly as much!)

And here’s a good place to get you started – with a little bit of music, which always greatly soothes and uplifts the soul!

The Measure of Grace

Human beings spend inordinate amounts of time taking measurements, whether it involves measuring up to someone else’s standards or measuring one’s value or worth based on societal standards. It seems we do not feel self assured without basing our claims on others’ interpretations of such measurements. Unfortunately, these measures are most often biased to include personalized or societal expectations of how one should perform within the contexts of certain roles.

Above is a poem (measuring me through someone else’s eyes), handed to me one day at church by my sweet, inspirational young friend, Gracie – with whom I share a love of poetry. By the measure of societal standards, Gracie doesn’t always ‘fit.’ She’s very tall for her age & a bit awkward in her prepubescent gait. Her family struggles financially, so her clothes, even when clean, are often well-worn. Sometimes she struggles in school – particularly in English & Reading (so she tells me). Top it off with her giant, gentle spirit, and you can probably imagine that Gracie gets bullied sometimes. Yet, she’s always Grace-filled.

Below is Gracie’s poem, typed out, in case you’re having trouble reading the original above. I left all spellings and grammar in their original form, without editing for corrections. (And trust me, I had to ask my teacher personality to have some grace on me, so I wouldn’t fall short and succumb to that expected published standard.)

Your eyes sparkles like glitter.

You shine like the sun.

You glow in the night.

You faith is strong but your love is stronger.

Your hope and kindness is wonderful.

Your a great person.

Your sweet like candy.

Your smart like a genius.

Your a beautiful person.

Your a giving person to everyone you meet.

My first thought, when receiving Gracie’s poetic gift, was, ‘Wow, how I only wish I could measure up to be an inkling of her creative portrayal of me!’ Oh sure, by someone else’s standards (someone who might have had a more critical eye for mechanical detail), some corrections for spelling, punctuation and errors could have easily been the mark of measurement. But look at what would have been missed! ‘That person’ would’ve missed Gracie’s expression of her feelings, her grace-filled affection, and her ability to metaphorically compose them to flow forth through her elementary school pencil. I couldn’t help but praise her talent and encourage her to continue practicing her gift of poetry.

Perhaps because we were sitting there in church when she handed me that poem, I was more in tune with spiritual writings when this Matthew verse came to mind:

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…

and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I believe the impact of this truth comes through the lens we’re using when we’re measuring someone else – the one that’s being reflected through our own heart’s standard.

In my reflection, it dawned on me that, despite the measures others will try to apply to her, by her own standard of measurement, my friend, Gracie, is going to do just fine in life! And you know what? I believe I have proof! Last week, she excitedly informed me that a poem she had written to her school teacher had not only been accepted to be published, it had won first place in a poetry contest. Gracie was judged by a standard of measure that determined she will be receiving a $500 savings bond towards college tuition!

So what about you? Have you ever considered your own standards of measure?

Your value?

Others’ worth?

If so, and you find these are falling as short as our economy, it may simply be time to reflect upon the placement of your interest – and to allow yourself and others to be judged by the marks of Grace.

__________________________________________________

Adding a Little Sweetness to Life

 

Just a little note to my blogging friends to say how very much I admire your work, as well as your thoughtful comments.

Please excuse any perceived absences in my own comments or visits as of late, as I’m currently re-mixing a batch of research methodology – and it’s taking quite a bit of taste-testing (as it’s still a little sour on my brain!).

 

Beyond that, it looks as if my son’s baseball team is headed to the State! (whoop whoop! But what a busy time that is!)

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll keep periodically stopping by the lemonade stand for a swig or two. 🙂

xo – j

Daily Prompt: Burnt

Daily Prompt: Burnt

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

  1. My Dignity. I hadn’t actually ever considered how it would feel to be standing in the middle of my neighbor’s front yard, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter, shivering not from the cold…but from a mixture of my heart iced over with fear and embarrassment, along with the realization that I wasn’t as invincible as I once thought myself to be. Though some unspoken bystander had tentatively loaned a coat to rest across my shoulders, my legs were as bare and exposed as my heart – except for frightened children clinging to each one of them along my sides. Whose clothes will we be wearing as the sun brings more light to the matter than do the stale embers that have been doused by sweaty, black-ashed firemen who now stomp across the foundation of my life?
  2. My Memories. Though I clutch the one photo album I was able to snatch in my free arm as I was dragged out by my other, everything else feels numb and void. How will I ever again come to recall the welcomed warmth that once oozed out from a door which no longer stands? Will I recall hide-and-seek with my little ones who loved a cupboard that no longer exists to open to them and provide refuge? Can my recall of my quiet evening trysts with my husband, once the kids were tucked away snugly (and safely?) in their beds, be snuffed beneath that flame? What if I forget all that I held preciously high once behind walls that have crumbled low to the ground?
  3. My Senses of Humor and Adventure. I used to long to run from my house, excited to go out into the vast world, full of unknowing. But that’s when I knew I could always return to my own little safe-haven here. And now, there will be no coming home. Fear seizes me, licking me up in its flames. Life was so carefree just a few hours ago, tears only streaming down from the laughter as little ribs wriggled under my tickling hands. Fear chokes the joy from my smoke-filled throat. To leave under these circumstances doesn’t feel like an adventure or offer me any reason to smile. Is this a death sentence, after all? There will be no return to my innocent life’s naivete.
  4. My Gratitude. Did I truly refer to those cloaked angels who just risked their lives for my family and our neighbors as ‘sweaty, black-ashed firemen stomping across the foundation of my life’? One of them is being treated for burn wounds now – while my family is not. Do their families lie awake at night, praying for their safety? Why can’t I gather the courage to approach the men choking at their trucks and offer a simple thank-you? Do my children wonder why I don’t go use the grateful words I’ve preached to them, day after fire-free day? I don’t even have the means on which to compose my thoughts and send them later, once my mind comes to a better place of rest. Or will it?
  5. My Sense of Peace. Will I ever be able to fall asleep at night again? Or will I awake to pseudo-crackling sounds, hearing my house creaking in protest, trying to hold its posts – standing strong for its beloved occupants longer than its charred frame should allow? Can I ever bear to close my own bedroom door again; to be separated from those sweet, small faces crying and screaming out for me, clinging to my arms as I strip them free, dropping them in terror from an upstairs window, entrusting their care to others below? Or will I travel through this nightmarish hell, night after restless night, in my terrifying dreams? Will I ever want to warm myself near a campfire again? Oh, how long will it be until I can reclaim my mind’s peace?

I numbly sit, rocking tired, tiny bodies, wishing I had a place to lay my head – to wrap my mind around it all. How will I again gain control of my life? Then I remember. My life is not my own. Even my children’s lives do not belong to me. I Peter 1:3-7 reminds me that I should not rely on the things of this earth. None of them are meant to be a permanent structure in my being, so my peace and hope can’t come through such things. Even what seemed to be a safe, comfortable home is not – it will never fully meet my needs.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

It’s time for me to claim that peace that will only come through my LORD – to be thankful for those who have come to help, to care for those with whom I’ll make beautiful new memories, to recognize that there will be laughter once more, and to venture to stop trying so hard to be dignified. That is, after all, just self-glorification. In being His, I can simply learn to trust; learn to be satisfied. Carefree comes with a price – the price of losing my life…so I may find it (a better life – in Him). Maybe – just maybe – I’ll be refined by this fire, after all. A new life…a clean slate…a chance to rebuild from the ashes.

______________________

Related Links:

The Beauty of an Unfair Life

jodyism_12_life_fairness

___________________________________________________________________________

Trifecta’s weekly writing prompt comes from a place many of us associate with the beginning of a new year.
INTENTION (noun)

1: a determination to act in a certain way : resolve
2: import, significance
3a : what one intends to do or bring about
b : the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone!!  Please join us.

___________________________________________________________________________

Recycling Christmas Cheer throughout the Coming New Year

Of the left-over items from the holiday season, CHRISTMAS CARDS may present the most perplexing puzzlement of all.

leftovers2

Christmas cards have become somewhat of a societal anomaly, after all. Where letters have transitioned into e-mails and passing thoughts get texted without enough thought, Christmas cards are one of the few remaining print expressions that actually still (most often) travel through snail mail – frequently from those who we’ve not truly heard from in ages past, despite potential social networking opportunities that often reveal very little beyond “it’s complicated.”

Perhaps because they’re a little more festive or maybe because we try to imagine the people opening their postal boxes, then opening our cards, we take a little more time in their preparation. After choosing a card (or making one) that conveys our personalities (or maybe our children’s growth), sometimes we buy fancy colored pens that glitter, or make a trip to the post office to buy season-appropriate stamps, or tuck a special thought or a little gift inside. Whatever the case, the recipient is left to understand that he/she was “special enough” to have been gifted with this extra effort.

Therein lies the quandary – what to do with this special endowment once the holiday season has passed. When the halls are no longer dutifully decked – and the house is no longer a jolly wreck…when everything around you appears sterile once more…what do you do with the remaining evidence of others’ thoughtful Christmas spirits? Do you just throw them into the trash – to be carried off and tossed onto a garbage heap? How very un-green (and red) of you!

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

How about some GREEN Christmas Card Re-Cycling Ideas that will continue to spread Christmas Cheer instead?

  1. Okay, here’s the most obvious “re-cycling” idea. Choose some of your favorite cards and cut out pieces to make your own homemade Christmas cards next year. Don’t do it on your own though – how does that spread any Christmas cheer? Have a little card-making party. If you want to wear silly sweaters and do it with your BFF’s, fine. But instead of setting yourself up to say, “I thought we’d never come back from that one” (yes, that was an eye roll)…What if you included some young, glue-sticky hands in your fun? Invite the creative energy of kids to join you (e.g., youth group, boy or girl scouts, children’s church, foster kids, mission trip kids – wherever you might be able to get involved). You may have to hold onto these cards for several months, but by fall, these children could be making cards to give to special people and brighten their days. Up the ante by having the kids send (or deliver) the cards to folks in an elderly residential home or to soldiers. Look beyond yourself and share the spirit from beginning to end.

  2. Re-cycle the blessing back to the individual(s) who originally blessed you. Place your pile of Christmas cards into a basket. Each night (or once a week – you can set your own reasonable time schedule), pull a card from the basket and resolve to pray for the name(s) on the card. Not only will you be blessing the sender of the card, you’ll be sneaking in another blessing for yourself once again. The card that keeps on giving…

  3. Take your re-cycling efforts a step further. Mail that card back to the original sender, letting that person know you prayed for him/her. (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then just follow my lead from here.) Enclose a special note to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are in that card, letting that person feel the special touch of Christmas at an unexpected moment. You may not even know what’s going on in that person’s life; but I’ll bet he/she could use a blessing. How’s that for spreading cheer throughout the year?

  4. Combine any of the above ideas for a whole new dimension of bless-ed fun! Help some kids cut out cards to make new seasonal cards. Can you imagine Santa saying “Hoppy Easter”? Or sending a partial card with a note to your friend, explaining the other parts of it were prayed over &  sent out with a special note to someone in the armed forces or in an elderly living facility?

  5. Create a collage of the fronts of Christmas card clip-outs onto a board and shellac it for a family member who either can’t be with you for the holidays or can’t be with you throughout the rest of the year. Send it to them as a writing/laptop board to remind them of your cheery love throughout the time you all are apart.

Come up with some new ideas of your own – and share them here for the rest of us to enjoy!

And may your year be full of Christmas blessings!

-just jody

A Resolute New Year

New years resolution

Need a worthwhile resolution for the New Year?

Resolve to save a life for just $10. 

No More Malaria Gift Link

No More Malaria Gift Link

Eventually, the life could become your own.

__________________________________________________________

One of this week’s WordPress Daily Prompts was this:

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?

The last recent thing I’ve read that’s bit and stung me is that nearly 1 million people are dying annually from being bitten by malaria-infested mosquitoes, a large majority of them being children. And, truthfully, that really does bite! 

We’re not talking fictional horror here. We’re talking about precious little faces that are very real to me – little ones who have survived a war-torn world only to face continued daily threats that could realistically be wiped out if enough people cared to make a difference. The cost is even ridiculously low. And, yet, few people are willing to respond. In further honesty, that reality stings.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s the BUZZ:

Malaria is not a disease that only occurs in third world countries.

It’s not a disease that’s been eradicated.

As a matter of fact, my own grandmother suffered from the malaria parasite here in the United States. Once a person acquires malaria, it can be treated, but there is no cure. Outbreaks may occur throughout that person’s life, with malaria being responsible for many deaths, particularly in children under the age of 5.

3.3 billion people live in areas where this disease is a constant threat. 

The “elimination” of malaria within developed countries, such as the U.S. and European ones, does not mean that it no longer exists. In the U.S., this “elimination” definition went into place circa 1950, through the impact from spraying and improved drainage. Yet, malaria still has the capability of affecting residents even of developed countries. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates approximately 1,500 cases in the U.S. annually.

Outbreaks generally come from either mosquito-borne transmission, “airport” malaria (whereby mosquitoes survive from one country to another on a plane), congenital transmission (mother to child, during pregnancy or birth), and blood transfusions. Don’t fool yourself into feeling too safe. The CDC also explains that there are still ample numbers of the same types of mosquitoes around who created malaria problems for us within our past century.

In under-developed tropical/sub-tropical countries, malaria can run rampant. The largest worldwide malaria burden is in Africa, where 90% of malaria-related deaths occur. The CDC explains the reasons it is difficult to contain the disease there as:

  • an efficient mosquito that transmits the infection,

  • a high prevalence of the most deadly species of the parasite,

  • favorable climate,

  • weak infrastructure to address the disease, and

  • high intervention costs that are difficult to bear in poor countries.

Prevention efforts include spraying, mosquito nets and education. Treatment efforts include getting medicines to the medical clinics and communication efforts to get people to them. Our nation, along with others, have assisted in funding many of the spraying efforts, and I’ve read articles recently explaining that if such efforts get reduced, we will go back many years in our worldwide efforts towards eradication.

The Imagine No Malaria campaign was put together by some strong and dedicated partners – partners that have no need to skim your money off the top before it goes to meet greater needs – including the United Nations Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The World Health Organization, the people of the UMC, and others. No one is a stronger partner than those individuals willing to give to this effort, though.

I can’t imagine that $10 is too much to ask to save someone – particularly a young child – to either save a life, in general, or to greatly improve a person’s quality of life.

Will you resolve to make that difference?

Related:

Daily Prompt: Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

The Perfect Present – Merry Christmas!

Christmas

takes the historical,

the theological,

the magical

and the whimsical

and wraps them all together 

in a most delightful present.

whimsical_nativity

Year after year,

the beauty of this same familiar package

never wears down,

it never fades.

The surprise never lessens,

the Christmas spirit never dies –

not as long as we determine we’re going to prepare our hearts to continue to open

-and cherish-

this eternal, priceless gift.

Merry Christmas 2012! – jody

nativity

Life’s uPS & DOwns (as depicted by Foster Falls)

Life is a series of        F                                   S
                                    A                              B
                                       L                        M
                                         L                    I
                                           S               L
                                               and   C

DSC_0277

Of losses and finds,

creek

Of crossing bridges to unknown sides…

bridge

Of pondering ‘what ifs,’

pondering

Of nearing cliffs,

DSC_0270

Of skips and slips and unplanned trips;

DSC_0216

                    Of well-planned goals

trail

                                                     that get filled full of H O L E S…yet –

DSC_0268

Our feet oft resound

rocks&woods

On stray paths found

path

In our trials,  

DSC_0271

     (to our surprise!)

peek

 Where                 ‘breath-takings’                still abound.

 Foster Falls

 © 2012 jody love

 

May your climbs continue on well past when your life becomes crepuscular,

day is done

And may you become as grand as all your falls, viewed only through lenses of spectacular!

signature

Sharing my wonderful day at Foster Falls, -jody

***

In response to “Me Time” – What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?

Foster Falls is one depiction of how I like to spend my Saturdays, beginning in the morning and travelling through a breath-taking part of my day. Those pictures were not taken this past Saturday though – they were from the one prior – nor were they posted this past Saturday, as originally planned. As I awoke on this particular past Saturday, after a week-full of worries from colleagues over a perceived threat that began on Monday, a mid-week mass mall shooting that intensified those concerns, and then hearing the very sad & further heart-breaking news from my office on Friday afternoon of what had transpired that day at Sandy Hook Elementary (and being thankful the majority of my colleagues were already safely at home), I realized by Saturday morning that my “me time” needed to be my “He time.” As much as I enjoy it being our “we time” as I marvel at His works in nature, I spent some quiet time, instead, going to His Word. My own heart was torn, in need of healing. Less of me; more of Him. Then upon reading post after post filled with despair and searching for answers, I decided this particular Saturday morning might best be spent trying to put to pen the words I was personally applying as a balm to my own soul, as others tried to sort through it and find hope and healing. I wrote this post that morning instead, in hopes of sharing some of the hope of which I, too, was being reminded: A Mean and Less Life.

***

Related Articles:

Weekly Photo Challenge: HAppY

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture in Nature

The Curse of the CRUSH

The excruciating pain of the crush
never once defeated the spirit
any more than any such pain caused
a boulder to become a pile of gravels.

crush2

Only the continual, steadfast assault
of the aggressor,
determined
to wreak destruction on
that which the solid rock once was,

Mercilessly
assailing its strength –

Beat
after
resounding
Beat

POUNDING
within the vulnerable crevices of its being –

Eventually wearing it down,
convincing this broken stone that it will
no longer possess any greater value than
its pulverized parts

-Divided-
now keeping it from being WHOLE.

crush3

If only it could
comprehend
the use of its parts
as a Stronger Foundation
to the wholeness of
Something once more

Made NEW.

© 2012 Jody Love

(The Spirit of South Sudan)

***

I’m taking on the Trifecta Writing Challenge this week on CRUSH. If you’d like to vote on my entry (or others) or even enter your own, follow this link.