Hydrangea or Peony?

The other day, I decided it was time to rearrange my flower bed.  There were two hydrangea bushes that were no longer bearing any flowers and it was time to dig them up and plant something new and exciting.  Beside these bushes flourished the most gorgeous Peony Roses that overtook their glory anyway.  It is always good to freshen any space up, and these hydrangeas paid their dues and spent their time in the sun.  It was time for me to make a change and plant something new and fresh in their place.

As I started to dig up these fifteen year old shrubs, I had no idea how strong and deep the roots were.  They were much stronger than this 43 year old body, and won the fight against me.  I had to recruit the big guns.  My husband.  They didn’t win the battle against him.  He easily extracted these stubborn shrubs from their cozy home.  He wasn’t letting them stick around any longer.  A few minutes with a shovel in his hand and out popped the hydrangea bushes from their fifteen year old flower bed.

During the wheelbarrow ride to the woods with these lifeless shrubs aboard for their destination to become a pile of mulch, I started to feel sorry for these plants.  They were happy where they were for the last 15 years.  They were rooted.  They were at home, and I just ripped it out, roots and all.  I felt ashamed.  How could I do this to a living creature?  I know, it might sound silly, but that was how I felt.

Then I realized, they weren’t thriving any more.  They hadn’t shed one blossom or flower for years. They were just big green leafy shrubs that didn’t serve any purpose to me any longer.  I had to start focusing my attention to the flowers that were thriving, and give them space to grow in my flower bed.  Not only were these hydrangeas not flowering any longer, they were still spreading and growing bigger.  Almost starting to smother out the other plants that were flowering.  They were going to start sucking the life out of the prospering plants around them.  It was time for them to go and make room for the other plants that were still living their life.

Do you have things in your life that might be choking off your zest for life?  Are you like that hydrangea bush and haven’t flowered in years?  Or are you like my thriving Peony Roses that are in full bloom, but others around you aren’t so much.  Is there something in your life stealing your joy?  We all have people in our lives that are like this, but you have to remember it is only you who can make you happy.  You have to take control of the old hydrangea bush in your life.  As sad as it is, you might have to remove that shrub from your flower bed of life, so that you can thrive even more than you are now.

John 16:33 explains, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  God, said we would have troubles, but if we let him and the Universe lead our way, we can overcome anything…even the hydrangea bushes in our lives that are sucking the life out of us!  Just like I had to get the power of my husband to help me eliminate this pesky shrub, you have to also recruit the power of your God to help you overcome this world!

Your true power and your true happiness lies in your own connection to the Universe and God, Spirit, the Divine, the Tao, whatever you want to call it.  You will not find happiness and your divine purpose with the flowers that live in the same bed as you, not in the flowers that you work with, not with the flowers that you hang out with, not with the flowers that you think you are in love with.  Happiness lies in your blossoms, in your pedals, in your leaves, in your soil and in your roots.  Once you realize this, you will thrive more and more each year, just like my beautiful Peonies!

Let what makes you happy overtake your flower bed of life!

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Competition–Good or Bad?

Don’t you love how we are constantly in competition? Constantly being judged? What kind of student we are, what kind of friend we are, what kind of wife we are, what kind of athlete we are…the list is endless. Constant scrutiny. Constant competition. Its non-stop, from the time we are born. Our milestones are marked. When we first crawled, when we first walked…are we delayed in developing. Should there be concern? Exhausting, when you really stop to think about it.

Why? What is with the constant competition? Why is society so stressed out about who is the best at this, or that? It’s a dog eat dog world for sure. I’m a driven person…I might not eat you up, but I loved to win. But my ongoing question, even to myself is, why? Why am I competitive? Why am I constantly on pursuit for perfection? Why do I set so many goals for myself? Why is everything a competition?

As we get older, you would think we’d grow up, but oh…my…Parents are also guilty…actually, I would have to say the worst. Constantly in competition with other parents…whose kid is the best at this, whose kid is the best at that…it’s honestly shameful! We all want what is best for our children, which is our parental instincts, but when parents put other children down, and hope bad things will happen to them, because they don’t like the other kid, or the kid’s parents…really? Take a long look in the mirror people…they are children!

You might question…does this really happen? All the time! How many of us are guilty of boasting, and bragging about our children…I know I have! I love them so much, pride just creeps out…but it is something that is a work in progress. I try now, to just limit my excitement to my immediate family and close friends, but many times it is hard! I know how hard my children work for things, but as I study the word of God, I’m learning that this isn’t what he wants from us.

It says in Phillipians 2:3-4, “Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”
Is putting other people’s children down, considering others to be better than yourself? I don’t think so. Is boasting about your life, your child’s life, or what you have, being humble? Do you look down on other people for what they look like, what they come from or what they have? Are you looking after others interests, or just your own?

As I age, and circle the sun daily, I look back and realize how much I have to learn about this amazing world we live in. I do love looking at how far I’ve come. I can’t wait to see what I have learned by the time I’m 80! I love how we evolve as individuals, due to our circumstances that we are faced with. The things life throws at us are meant to help us grow!

I believe competition is good…it helps us analyze ourselves…show us where we need to grow, or what we need to work on…but the competition should be with ourselves, not with others…and definitely not other people’s children.

My children are both also very competitive, but I am setting a goal for myself…I know, I know…there is that word again…but, I think goals are good. My goal is to raise humble children, who when they are successful don’t boast about their accomplishments. I don’t want to squash their competitive nature, but I want to make them more goal oriented instead of competitive. I do believe there is a difference. Goals are something you set for yourself, and have nothing to do with anyone else.

As a parent, I am setting the goal for myself, to support my children in achieving their goals, but I am aware, they might fail once and a while, trying to achieve their goal. This will teach them where they need work. I will be proud when they attain their goals, but also model humbleness so they can see how God wants us to behave. Most importantly, I will promote the other children around them letting them realize that when other children reach their goals, or do well, it is a time to celebrate…NOT to bad mouth them, or think they are undeserving of their accomplishments. We all can’t be amazing at everything…and there is always someone in the world that is better than you…that is what life is all about.

If we don’t achieve our goals, we keep trying, and trying with a happy heart, realizing that maybe we need to readjust our goals…or even our life priorities. Setting goals is a healthy way to be successful, without competing against others!

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God Given Gifts

Do you have a favorite story that you share about your family, or your children? An all-time favorite family story in our family is one about our son, and his love of painting with his feces. Yes, as gross as it sounds, that is always a story that seems to pop up when we are entertaining in our home…or even at other events. Why, you may wonder? If you ever met my son, you might understand.

We knew our son was different right from the start. As you go through seasons in your life with your friends; graduation, university, weddings, having children, and so on, you usually use the world around you as your guide. During my season of having children, my son was off the radar in comparison to the other children his age.

During the first three months of his life, he only slept if he was laying on my chest. He nursed for 40 minutes at a time, slept on my chest for 40 minutes and then was back nursing again. You had to be there to believe it. After his 40 minutes of nursing, and before his power snooze, he would always power-puke…and I mean projectile vomit a good 10 to 12 feet! We had the lactate consultant in to see what was up, and finally we were referred to a pediatrician, who determined that he didn’t have a flap on his esophagus, and we could have had a surgery to fix it, but there was no guarantees…that is another story, which I will have to write about sometime. I just want you to understand, he was a very hard child to raise from birth.

Then came the toilette training days, and again, I compared him to our friends’ children and their experiences, and again, I thought, “What did I ever do to deserve this!?” My son, loved to draw with his diaper droppings! He painted his walls, my van windshield, the hardwood floors, in the kitchen, just to name a few. Anywhere he could hide himself, do his business, and then make his masterpiece was fair game. You might be thinking; where were you when he was doing all this? I was nursing my newborn daughter most times, and not able to quickly jump to my feet when I smelled the damage in action. Some people told me that this was a sign of a genius…genius alright! I thought, it doesn’t take a genius to take a temper tantrum and make his mother go crazy.
Years later, life rolled on, and our boy enters school, and sure enough, he is an overachiever. Reading well above grade level before he started school. He has some kind of phonetic awareness that I’ve never witnessed before, and I am an elementary school teacher.

Time continues to tick by, and we are told many wonderful things. In grade 5 we were told that he could have presented his English presentation to the high school students, last year he won awards at a province wide math competition and just last night he brought home his grade eight report card, and his math mark was 103%. That mystifies my husband…how can you get more than a 100%, it is impossible.

At one point we took him to mental health to help us help him with his overachieving personality…where of course they “tested” him and deemed him “gifted”, which was no surprise…we’ve heard that for years, but I don’t believe in labeling a child gifted. Not to take anything away from my son, but we are all gifted in one way or another. Sure our son is super smart, but at the age 13 he still struggles to get milk into a glass without spilling it. Socially we had to push him to stop teaching himself physics and get out of his bedroom. He is academically gifted, for sure, but I look at our daughter, who wishes she could be super smart like her brother, but she has such other wonderful gifts!
In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others; like I was guilty of comparing myself as a mother, and son to other children his age; and focus on our own special gifts. We are all created equal! We just have to let God show us the gifts that he’s blessed us with. We aren’t going to find these gifts trying to be like other people. We have to create our own art work with the beautiful brush strokes that God has painted us with. Sure, my son’s gifts are evident, but so are yours if you just let God bring them out of you…and make use of these gifts, the way God wants you to use them.

Grandfather Guru

It’s been 28 years since my grandfather passed away. This man meant the world to me. He was the grumpiest old man on the outside, but inside, you knew he was a big cozy teddy bear just waiting for his hug and kiss, so he could pretend he didn’t want it. He had such an impact on my life, and I can’t explain in words how much I loved this man.

I was very fortunate to live across the road from my grandparents growing up, and this man was my walking, talking play toy since I was born. He loved children, and I loved spending time with him. I remember when he passed thinking that I got robbed…how could I lose the love of my life in grade 9? But, that was my teenage brain feeling sorry for itself. I now cherish all the great memories of this man, and love reflecting on memories…he still makes me laugh!

I can still picture the scene in my head. It feels like yesterday, even though I was only in grade 9. It’s one of those childhood memories, you want to forget but just can’t. The phone rang, and my father rushed out of the house, explaining that he was going across the road to see his parents. Of course we wanted to go too, we jumped at every chance to spend time with our grandparents, but this time, there was no response from my father, and the door slammed in our faces.

We went down to the basement, where we watched my father sprint across the road. Although, dad pretended he was just running over for a quick visit, we could tell with the short responses, the slamming door and his hurried steps that something was wrong.
Of course, we tormented my mother with questions…What’s up? Why didn’t dad answer us? Why did he run across the road? She tried to answer us to the best of her ability without raising any flags, but children can read when their parents are hurting.
We could feel her voice vibrating with every answer as she tried to keep us calm. It was that familiar shake in her voice and we knew that it meant she was fighting back tears. My brother and I knew it was best to leave my mother alone, and so together we went down stairs to peer out the window to see if we could see anything through the light in my grandparents’ home in the dark of the night.

Then the nightmare began…sirens…loud screeching sirens of the ambulance. The workers rushed in with a stretcher being carried between the two of them…now we could see lots. Probably more than we should have, but the darkness of the night allowed the houselights to put the spotlight on the entire situation.

It’s an image I can never erase…his limp body being carried out on the stretcher and the sirens raring off into the darkness of the night…now, we wanted answers, but were too scared to know the truth.

Today, I saw an ambulance parked at a house and the two ambulance attendance, rushing in a house with the stretcher…instant tears. My son looked over at me, knowing that he was going to see pain in my eyes, and tears streaming down my face. It happens every time I see this scene. It triggers a memory I just can’t shake. Twenty eight years have went by, and the pain is still there. Even though, I know he is in a magnificent place in this universe.

John 11:25-26 assures me…“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I totally do! So, why do I get so affected by the sight of this scene every time? I have no idea why…maybe it’s grief that I haven’t dealt with? Or is it self-pity? Could it be that I just miss my grandfather? Or maybe I feel the pain that the people in that situation are going through? I have no idea…I can’t explain the lump in my chest, but it happens every time.

Our mind is a powerful weapon, and we are what we believe we are. We have a huge power to change things. Sadly, we can’t bring people back, but our thoughts are the building blocks of our life. We can change the way we deal with the grief of losing someone in our lives. My mother-in-law lost her mother when she was very young, and says she still thinks about her mother every day.

The pain never goes away when we lose a loved one, but we have to realize that we are wired the way we process our difficulties like this. Who you are is in line with our thoughts, so let’s realign ourselves with God, and let him help fix these sorrows so that we have divine love in our lives, even when our loved ones are in heaven…waiting for us.

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Little Life Lessons

Have you ever coached a sport? Or taught children of any age anything? I love coaching and teaching! They are very rewarding and children are such blessings. I haven’t met one yet, that just didn’t aim to please!

I coach my 11 year old daughter in gymnastics, and we spend about 18 hours a week in the gym together, plus private lessons in our home, when she asks me to help her out with something she was picking away at in her bedroom or our living room. I love helping her out, but I have to admit, it is hard by times.

Why? You might ask.

Believe it or not…sometimes, she doesn’t like to listen to me. I give her corrections and more often than not, she does try to fix herself and make the corrections, but sometimes, she thinks she is right…or chooses to ignore me. I’m not a hundred percent sure which is the answer. I like to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I know that children love to please, but after telling her something multiple times, and she doesn’t fix it, I have to admit, I do get frustrated.

One time, we were at a competition and she performed a great beam routine…only to find out that her start value wasn’t out of a ten. When I asked the judges what they didn’t give her in her routine, they were quick to answer that she didn’t hold a certain skill long enough.

This news honestly tickled me deep inside! I was excited for her loss. Sounds cruel, but she has to learn to listen to corrections, whether from myself or someone else. I have told her that correction hundreds of times. I actually asked the judges to tell her this for me, explaining that I was her mother, and she had a tendency not to listen to me.

How many times, have I been guilty of the exact same thing? How many times did I not listened to my father in heaven? How many times have I sinned? Countless! We are all guilty of it, and just like my daughter, who had to learn from her mistakes, we have to learn from ours as well.

Just as I did with my daughter, God will do for us. Will we like it? Probably not, but we still should listen and learn. In Psalm 32:8 the Bible says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Whether we listen to that instruction is in our hands.

Since my daughter made this mistake, and the judges explained why she lost her marks, she now holds this skill more than a sufficient amount of time, but she never wants to lose for such a simple thing ever again. She learned her lesson for sure, and I couldn’t be happier.

God is also very happy when we learn the lessons that he is trying to teach us and when we pass his tests. The best thing is, with God, he hands out the most incredible rewards. Blessings that are beyond imaginable. We just have to learn to pass the tests and to learn the lessons and then we will be rewarded. I know myself, it is well worth the testing process, and punishment, if necessary. Are you going to choose the right answers to your test? Are you going to make the corrections necessary in your life? Trust me…it is worth listening to!

Splintered Spirit

Have you ever gotten a splinter? I grew up with an above ground pool with a wooden deck and had my share of these piercing little slivers of pain. The worst was when I was too wimpy to get a needle and pick the splinter out. It would get all infected, or sometimes it would blister, even work its way further into the skin and make it more painful. They were my nemesis growing up.

Eventually I would finally give in and take a needle and dig out the little piece of wood. It was always so painful. The worst was when my mother or father would try to help me get it out, or if it was in a place that I couldn’t reach easily myself. I prefer to inflict the pain myself with the needle than have someone else digging at my skin with this pointy little object.

It’s much similar to a relationship or friendship gone bad. We let little things get to us, and let them grind on our brains and eventually these splinters kill our spirit and our friendships, sometimes even marriages. We let our egos get in the way, and we can’t smother that smoldering anger that boils deep inside.

When you are ready to finally attack the splinter situation, sometimes, the splinter is so deep that it’s easier to ignore it than dig at it but it always plays in your mind. Sometimes you may have a gut feeling that you need to mend the fence but it’s been so long you just don’t know how? We all have people in our lives that we might owe an apology to, or maybe we’ve ignored the splinter that has been festering.

Colossions 3:13 explains, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” How can we expect to be forgive by the great one for our big sins if we can’t see the big picture and learn to forgive people who have sinned against us?

Did you ever have this nagging voice in your head telling you to apologize to someone, but you really don’t want to go there. You really didn’t even feel that this person deserves an apology, but for some reason it is haunting you? I know myself, it is an internal struggle some days, but when you hear that nagging voice trust me…listen! I had the craziest experience myself. I had a person in my life that was bring me such anxiety and problems, and finally I just told this person that I was done with them, and wouldn’t have anything to do with this person.

I still had to see this person on a weekly basis, and it was always that uncomfortable awkwardness that filled the air. In hopes for personal betterment and spiritual fulfillment, I decided that I had to listen to this voice, but I did take the cowardly way out…and email. I thought this way, I cover my basis, get my apology in, without facing the person. The email bounced back and couldn’t be delivered. I thought to myself, that the attempt was there and I tried. Little did I know, that wasn’t good enough for this voice.

A few days passed and I was at the same hotel as this person, and found myself alone in an elevator with them. The words just came pouring out of me. I explained that I email them, but it got bounced back and explained what I said in the email. The person calmly accepted my apology, and actually thanked me for it, but on the way out of the elevator, she did say, that she couldn’t forgive me.

As the doors closed, I was bouncing with excitement! My splinter was removed! My spirit was filled! The part of their forgiveness was now up to them…and the big guy! I earnestly obeyed the voice in my head, and the fulfillment was unbelievable. So unbelievable I had to share it!  With you, my blogging friends.

The bible promises rewards when we obey God’s word…the rewards are so great. Intrinsic rewards are always the best, and this feeling inside of me was worth celebrating! Please, trust and forgive and watch the magic happen, when the splinter is finally removed! It’s such a relief!

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Are You a Sinner? I am!

My mother’s family has some struggles, as all of our families do. She comes from a large family of 10 children. Her father died when she was 22, then her brother died in a motorcycle accident when she was 25 and then her mother struggled with alcoholism. I don’t have the best memories of this grandmother, but my mother always took up for this lady, no matter how miserable she made my mother’s life. I have to hand it to all of my mother’s sisters—they all rose above what they grew up under and did wonderful things with their lives. They are all amazing woman, and I  applaud them because they didn’t use their childhood as a crutch instead they became the cream of the crop!

My grandmother had a large family as well, and many of them struggled with alcoholism. I didn’t know many of them very well, but one of them had a big influence in my life. She was more like my grandmother, than my biological one. I love this lady, and still do. She’s a great woman, and still spoils me to this day!

When I was planning to go back to work after my first born, this lady volunteered to babysit my son. I was thrilled. In my books, this woman was the next best thing to my mother. I loved her to the moon and back, and she treated me like a princess all my life, I knew our son would be in wonderful hands. We had the plans all under way, and she was making visits to get to know our son better, and his face would light up when he saw her, just as he did with my own mother.

My husband and I made plans to go out one evening, and decided to see if my great-aunt would be available to babysit. My thinking was, it would be good for the two of them to be alone with each other and she could get used to putting him down for sleeps and such.
We were excited to get out and join our friends for a night of laughs and relaxation. Some alone time, the way it was before our lives got shifted into this other dimension after the birth of this miniature human being. I was pumped.

This lady pulls into our driveway, and comes into our home, and I could smell liquor off of her breath. She was a bit thick tongued and definitely not herself. My heart raced. What was I going to do? I was a new mom, on her first venture out into the world without my infant child for one of the first times, and my babysitter shows up drunk. I was devastated. How did I approach this wonderful lady that was just tempted by her love for liquor? I did as every young mother does—I called my mother.

Frantically, I asked my mother what to do. How do I handle this? I was not used to confronting intoxicated people, especially those who I was trusting to leave my most precious cargo with. As always, my mother guided me with what to say and do. It wasn’t as confrontational as I thought it would be. My drunken friend was a tad bit upset, and in denial that she was under the influence. My husband offered to drive her home, but she was adamant that she wasn’t drinking.

I could have let this really fester inside of me, get bitter about her behavior, and hold a grudge, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to show her more love. I tried to continue to include her in my child’s life. It was extremely hard, because it was a trust I had with her that her involvement with alcohol broke. My mother is such an angel, and kept explaining that it isn’t them acting in that way, it is the hold the alcohol has over them.

This lady has a son, and he has totally cut himself and his children off from her due to this dependency. She tries hard and goes to AA, but like all of us, she gives into her inner demons once and a while. She has such a huge heart and so much love to give. It breaks my heart that her son does this to her. I am sure she has disappointed him like she did me that night, but I am such a forgiving person that I try to look at the best in people, thanks to my mothers gentle guidance. Not everyone is like this, and her son isn’t one of them.

Matthew 6:14-15 instructs us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I am a sinner.  Are you a sinner?  Yes!  So, what gives?  Why are we such bitter, grudge holding people?  Why do we have to let anger seep into our hearts, and not forgive people who wronged us?

I might not be struck down with alcoholism, but I have my own demons I deal with, like every human being on the planet. I have to forgive her, if I expect others to forgive me. The most important other being God. I pray and ask forgiveness for my sins but I know he’s not going to forgive me if I have anger I’m holding in my heart towards anyone. Family included.

Are you harboring a grudge? Bitter towards someone? Are you holding resentment in your heart for something someone did to you? Do you have a family member that you distanced yourself from due to a circumstance like I’ve been through? Try reaching out to this person and explain how you feel, but reassure them that you forgive them. Are you not up to talking to them? Write a letter and send it. Whatever way you feel the best at approaching this very delicate and sensitive situation, do it! It will be amazing the way you feel after you let it go.

If you know the Bible at all, you know in Matthew 22, it tells us the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor like you love yourself—your neighbor being everyone you have contact with. Sure, you might not like what they do to you, but we are still commanded to love them. Show those people love and see if it makes a difference. I’m confident it will!

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