Five Valuable Lessons from My Favorite Squeaky Red Shoes

I was on a shoe mission, determined to find a pair of red flats. I spotted them down the aisle and picked up my speed to get there quickly. I envisioned everyone else in the shoe store spotting them at the same time and racing to get them before me.

squeaky shoesMy heart skipped a beat when I stood in front of the red shoe display with no one else coming from either direction. “I’m safe,” I thought. Mission accomplished. My eyes glanced up and down the shoeboxes for my size. There was only one pair of size 8.5 left! Yay! I quickly opened the box, tried them on to make sure they fit, and admired them on my feet. Perfect! “Thank you Lord!” I whispered. (I thank God for everything—even shoes.)

The next day, I slipped on my jeans, a white shirt, some chunky jewelry, my red shoes, and I was ready to go to the office. My motto is, “Dress yourself, then forget yourself,” and I was ready to do just that.

I took a step…then another step…then another. With each step, I heard a noise. Oh no! Could it be? Yes, it could, and it was—my shoes were squeaking!

I knew I couldn’t return them for another pair since there weren’t any more in my size. I certainly didn’t want a refund, and be without the red shoes I loved. So, I decided to keep them and make the best of a squeaky situation. (I even asked on Facebook how to get rid of the squeak in shoes….)

If you ever have an unexpected squeak in your shoes, or in your life, don’t lose heart my friends. Remember these things to help you take the next step…

  • A little color goes a long way to make your day. Whether it’s red, orange, or purple, sometimes stepping out in boldness and adding a little color in your life, or shoes, is just what you need to brighten your day, and lift your spirit. Go for it! 
  • Overcome the squeak. Life, like shoes, can squeak, hurt, or even fall apart. Don’t give up when the unexpected happens. Persevere to get past the issue. Rise above the obstacle. In the long run, it can be worth it.
  • Attitude can make the difference. Keep your focus on the positive, not the negative. My red shoes might squeak, but they sure are cute. I always laugh and say, “Well, you always know it’s me coming when I wear these shoes!” It’s amazing how a positive attitude can affect your day, and the people around you.
  • Make the best of your situation. There are times when there is no turning back, no do-overs. The choice has been made and it may not have been the right one, but it was the best one at the time. You just have to make the best of the situation, learn from it, and move forward. I’ve done it, so can you.
  • Don’t lose the joy. There will always be something or someone who will try to rob the joy or the enthusiasm you feel. Remind yourself that true joy is internal and comes from a deep inner relationship with Jesus. Nothing can rob you of that joy. It’s the external things that bring you happiness—like cute red shoes. Shoes come and go—Jesus comes to stay. Don’t confuse the two.

Just for fun, I’ll see you on your next shopping trip, and race you to the shoe department! Let’s have a cup of coffee afterward, and share our “joy!”
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The Messy Tree Next Door

rakingIt’s intrusive and messy.

Huge limbs that reach out in all directions not only hang over the wall in my back yard, they also shed leaves that I have to rake up, along with small branches and pieces of bark that I have to pick up. Every time the wind blows or the season changes, leaves, small branches, and bark come tumbling down to mess up my well-kept little yard.

Sometimes I get frustrated and angry, and imagine cutting it down in the middle of the night, or picture a bolt of lightning striking it to the ground. Either way would suffice to take care of the problem.

One day, I decided to change my attitude about the messy tree, and give it a little grace. Especially since I couldn’t control the situation and had to live with the clean-up.

I began to appreciate the shade it provided in my yard. I noticed the hummingbirds that visited my flowers would go back to their nests on the limbs of the tree. I realized the cool breeze I enjoyed came from the long leaf-filled branches. Maybe the trade-off wasn’t so bad after all….

Then I began to think about the people in my life who are a lot like that tree. Their lives are messy, and sometimes their needs intrude on my well-planned day. I find myself trying to pick up the pieces of their brokenness that fall over into my own life. I try to imagine ways I could help take care of their problems, but then realize I am helpless to change or control their situation.

But then I remember–God has given me a lot of grace when I haven’t deserved it. The least I can do is to give a little grace to those who happen to fall into my life. It is a privilege to come alongside a friend in need and help pick up the pieces of her brokenness with the comfort of God’s word, committed prayer, and a listening heart. Friends have certainly picked up my pieces in my time of need. No, I can’t solve or fix their problems, but I can let them know I’m here for them with outstretched arms. Friends have opened their arms wide for me when I came tumbling down.

You see, all of our lives can be messy, even on our well-kept days.

God picks up the pieces of our brokenness. He will “intrude” and make His presence known in the middle of our mess.

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Little did I know

mom and daughter readingMy daughter, Ginger, is a substitute teacher at her children’s elementary school every day–but Thursday. That’s the day she takes off to go to a Bible study at her church. 

Recently she was sharing with me how much she loves the study and the women who sit around the table and discuss the teaching at the end of class.

A young woman with three small children spoke up and said how difficult it was to read or study the Bible with the all-consuming time it took to meet the needs of her children.

I was amazed at Ginger’s response. Little did I know…

“Well, I sure understand that!” Ginger said to her new friend. “I’ve got four kids, and I know how hard it was when they were little to do anything for myself, much less read or study the Bible. Here’s what I did that might help you. My kids would crawl up in my lap, or sit beside me, and I would read them stories from their children’s Bible, which had pictures, and story illustrations. Not only did they learn about the Bible, but I did too! It may have been written for children, but during that time of my life, it sure worked for me.” Her friend said profoundly, “What a great idea! I can do that!”

Two things came to mind as I listened to Ginger recount this story.

One, I didn’t even know she was reading the Bible to her children, my grandchildren. That alone warms my heart.

Two, she is now at a stage of her life where she can mentor younger moms through her own experiences.

So, I’m just thinking…

Do I seize the moment to take time to read and study my Bible, even when I am crazy busy? It’s really easy for me to get distracted by all the things on my to-do list, even without having small children. Psalm 46:10 says, Be still and know that I am God—I need that reminder. I’m not very still most days.

Do I seize the opportunity to share my life experiences with younger women who need encouragement on their journey in marriage and parenting? It’s really easy to brush by the need when my schedule is so full. Titus 2:4 says,…encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children…I need that reminder. My calendar is pretty full these days.

Thank you, Ginger—you have taught your mom well.

Susan

Life Lessons on the Hiking Trail

hiking trailI did some hiking recently in, what was to me, uncharted territory in northern Arizona.

It was quite an adventure since I am a novice when it comes to hiking. I love to walk, mind you, but hiking is quite different, so I learned. I do believe one of the hikes was several miles long. It was a totally isolated trail in the woods, leading to the top of a mountain.

My friend and I headed up the narrow trail, stopping occasionally to take a quick break, drink water, and marvel at how far we had come. I’ve learned over the years, it’s always best to have someone walk beside me when I’m on any unfamiliar path, or trail in life.

And isn’t that true – having someone come along side you when you are going through something you’ve never experienced before can make it a little easier. It’s also helpful to have the support and share the experience together. Besides that, it’s certainly better than talking to yourself.

There were a couple of times I just wanted to give up, turn around, and go back. I have also learned over the years, that when any journey I’m on seems steep, long, and difficult, I put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. It’s never easy, but reaching my goal is worth it. In times like this, I remember the story of “The Little Engine That Could”. I think I can, I think I can, said the little engine, as she pushed up the hill. I become that little engine pushing on up the hill.

About half way up, we met two people on their way down the trail. Well, let me tell you, it’s always good to meet someone who’s been where I’m going. If for no other reason than to know someone else has made it! I asked the first questions that came to my anxious mind as they passed by rather quickly. What’s it like ahead? How much farther is it to the top? What’s it like there? They calmed any fear I had of the unknown trail ahead. They told us how much farther we had to go and gave us insight into what we could expect.

It’s kind of like anything we’re going through in life, isn’t it? There is comfort in knowing someone else has been there, done that. There’s nothing like someone saying, it’s going to be alright, here’s what you can expect, I’ve been through this and you can make it.

Needless to say, we made it to the top of the mountain… and back down! The amazing views of the landscape below were breathtaking. The emerald green forest was rippled with wild flowers and distant lakes sparkled and swirled like ribbons. I wouldn’t have missed it. It was worth every step, every anxious moment, every tired bone in my body.

The next time you face a challenge, or something unfamiliar ahead of you—don’t do it alone, don’t give up, and be on the lookout for someone who crosses your path, who’s been where you’re going. You will learn a lot along the way and discover you really do have the ability to reach your goal.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14 The Message

A Summer To-Be List

 

To be list

Is your summer to-do list growing? Mine sure is. Over the next few months, my calendar looks full, not empty. It’s not supposed to be that way. The summer months are supposed to be my time to think about ministry plans for next year, quietly listen to God’s voice, rest my body and soul, renew and refresh my mind.

I am beginning to feel resentful of the time that is so quickly slipping away. Once fall is here, I’m back on the merry-go-round of a wonderful, blessed, but full life. I yearn for a break—to read a good novel, to wander aimlessly through Wal-Mart, to sleep in without guilt, to have nothing scheduled to do for a whole day. It’s so easy for me to focus on the to-do list, rather than the to-be list. Summer is a time I want to “be” more, and “do” less…

 

I want to be more spontaneous, and less cautious.

1307.tobe

I want to be more of a listener, and less a talker.

I want to be more patient, and less annoyed.

I want to be more authentic, and less guarded.

I want to be more of a risk-taker, and less afraid.

I want to be more understanding, and less critical.

I want to be more determined, and less indecisive.

I want to be more willing, and less hesitant.

I want to be more loving, and less judgmental.

I want to be more forgiving, and less intolerant.

And then, I stop and think. I’m looking at my full calendar, when I should be looking at my empty heart—a heart that is weary and worn out from the craziness of a full, non-stop life. It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall—God controls my schedule (and yours) when we give it all to Him. He fills our neediness and instills in us the ability to change our thinking, actions, and behavior.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

l know who I want to be with…where I can go to be more… It’s now at the top of my list.

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You can never have too much

Susan and GingerWhen my daughter, Ginger, and I go shopping together, we love to buy a little something for each other, even if it’s just a cup of coffee. Often we will both love the same thing, so I buy one for her, and she buys one for me. We’re kind of silly that way, but it makes a memory, and has become a fun shopping tradition.
She saw the little painted, wooden plaque first, and quickly said, “Oh Mom, I love this, it’s so you!” As I picked up the little plaque, not only did I fall in love with the words painted on it, but knew it would be perfect in Ginger’s home too. At a bargain of $5.00 each, we grabbed the last two plaques, and gave them to each other when we got back in the car.
They now sit on our kitchen counters to greet us daily. In cute, colorful letters, it simply reads:

happiness

What a great reminder to not only me, but to anyone who enters my home—we can never be too happy.  It made me think about the reasons why being happy matters in life, and how it affects your heart, mind, and emotions.

Ten reasons you can never have too much happy:

1.    It can change the course of your day.

2.    It can change the direction of your life.

3.    It can change your attitude.

4.    It makes you smile.

5.    It’s contagious and spreads quickly.

6.    It is healthy for your heart.

7.    It can be emotionally healing.

8.    It puts a little sunshine in a rainy day.

9.    It helps you to be grateful.

10.  It is a pathway to joy.

Maybe you need a little happy today. Find it, choose it, create it, make it, embrace it, let it flood your soul. Be happy.

The sign caught my eye. . .

. . .as I was walking down my street. It hung under the all too familiar “For Sale” sign in front of a neighbor’s house.

for sale sign

It simply read, “I’m gorgeous inside!” It was a great way to entice people to want to take a look inside the house and see what made it different from all the rest of the houses for sale.

I’ve thought about those words a lot since then. They resonated with me on a much deeper level.

What do the rooms of my heart say about who I am inside? What would entice people walking by my life to take a closer look, and see what makes me different?

There are days that I don’t look very pretty inside, much less gorgeous.

A critical spirit, a root of bitterness, negative or judgmental thoughts, angry feelings—can easily occupy the rooms of my heart at any given time.

Unless—

—I bar the door to the ugliness that creeps in, “and take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5)  that does not reflect the beauty of my Jesus.

I’m a sign in progress, Lord. Hang in there with me.

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