MARGINS

imageDefinition: The edge or border of something. An amount by which a thing is won or falls short. Provide with an edge or border. A limit in a condition or process, beyond or below which something is no longer possible or acceptable. An amount that is allowed but that is beyond what is needed.

 

Whew…sipping on a delicious cup of warm herbal tea…I am soooooo excited and are in hopes you will find this week’s topic of interest! As I was “Takin Time Out”, I recently found an amazing discovery in my daily life and can’t wait to share. I am not sure if it is because I have gotten older or the fact technology has brought a new dimension to my daily routine but these conditions are devouring my MARGIN.

 

Being raised by a very loving, organized Type “A” mother she has passed some traits on to me, one of which is being a list maker. I remember the little once red desk now stripped down to its beautiful oak finish positioned on a wall of our kitchen. This was my Mom’s command center. She had her calendar with activities, times and location listed on each appropriate day as well as a pad with her weekly and daily reminder of a “To Do List”, in her immaculate penmanship she used a checkmark to mark off each one she had completed. When I go home even today she incorporated everything in her “Franklin Day Timer” binder with her calendar of events and a list. Personally I have moved to an 8½ by 11 spiral notepad, my handwriting is not as precise so I print and I use a yellow highlighter to cross my items off. I love living by my lists…What about you are you a list maker?

 

This past week I was visiting with a very dear friend and I was sharing all the things I had recently accomplished in my adventure this year of “Lightening My Load” and how refreshing and a sense of renewal was being brought into my daily life…yet I seemed to get frustrated with the timing issue. I was explaining I used to be able to get so much more done in a day than I do now. I was asking her why is this…what is different…I no longer have small children and added responsibility, it really should be easier. My friend quickly responded by saying I hadn’t created enough MARGIN in my daily activity. WOW…BAM…she sure knows how to hit me right upside the head for sure! Yes she nailed it!!

 

She said there was a great book written by Richard A. Swenson entitled “MARGIN”…so yes I started reading it the next day. I haven’t finished it yet but it definitely has some unique and important lessons to be learned. In the opening chapter he states “if you are homeless we send you to a shelter, if you are penniless we offer you food stamps, if you are breathless we connect you to oxygen but if you are marginless, we give you yet one more thing to do. Margin, on the other hand is having breath left at the top of the staircase.”   I am always seeking a more improved way of doing things, getting more things done yet I really need to enjoy the journey while doing it. This is where I think MARGIN can be so important. Do you remember notebook paper? Maybe you have some and if so please take a look at it very closely. There is at least one inch blank space before the lines begin from the top, now look on the left side there is another one inch before a solid red line goes down the page vertically and maybe another one inch on the right side. These are the margins. While in school the margins are where teacher’s would make notes or corrections.

 

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This might take a little effort but hang with me for a minute. Let’s take our daily lives and compare to a piece of notebook paper. What happens if we write all the way across the page including the margins and leave no space? We are on the go from sun up to sun down and sometimes burning the midnight oil. Some of these activities are important or a necessity of life but really how many of these “To Do’s” are not necessary and are inflicted by guilt or pride? There is absolutely no room for important messages, corrections or encouragement to fit in if we take up all the space with stuff, running ourselves ragged. If we are so busy running past life we can miss critical opportunities to speak into ­our lives and ultimately this trickles down into the lives of our loved ones. If I am so busy chasing my crazy busy schedule then in reality I have no time to take notice of what could happen in those margins. I am not enjoying the journey either…

 

Creating margin is counter culture. It isn’t what we see encouraged or modeled in our culture…especially if you are climbing the ladder of success. In reality margin isn’t something that happens without effort. It requires a great deal of self-conscious effort to sustain. Margin is about living life to the fullest just like Jesus promised us.

Luke 12:15-21 (NIV) I a perfect example:

 

“Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. And he told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

 

 

These verses are all about greed and filling your notebook paper from top to bottom, side to side. A big part of managing the overload of modern life is changing our expectations and our definition of what constitutes success and then truly determining what is enough! The worldly view is placed on material things, beauty, wealth and success but maybe it is time to redefine success and leave some space in the margin.

 

If we live life with margin it does not guarantee a life free of problems but it can give us many richly rewards like peace, nurturing relationships, less anxiety, mental space for creativity and time to reflect on what really matters so we can practice awareness and gratitude which is what God truly wants for each one of us.

 

This is one reason I started this blog and entitled it “Takin Time Out!” This is where I can let important messages take root in my margin, add creativity, nurture my soul and become more how God intended me to be. What about you? Are you filling up your margins with unnecessary “To Do’s”? I encourage you to leave some space…create a margin in your day and let’s enjoy life to fullest until next time my friends…

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PRICKLY

 imageDefinition: Covered in prickles. Ready to take offense.

Synonyms: spiky, spiked, thorny, barbed, spiny

 

What a week…I look at my poor hands, a bit swollen, scratched up, stiff and very sore. I started in on a project working an hour or so in the coolness each morning this week before going to work pulling the unwanted weeds, dead plants and laying new mulch. I am getting ready for fall which hopefully will arrive soon living in Texas we are always ready for a break from the heat. I can’t wait to bring out my pumpkins, plant some mums and fall pansies. As I worked through each section of the yard and flower beds, I realized our yard has a type of very PRICKLY vine that intertwines in between the bushes with these long roots that caused the irritation in my hands. Even though I wore gloves, those PRICKLY little thorns seemed to have crept through anyway. Lord, may I ask you…what good are they or what purpose do they really serve?

 

Even though my fingers are a bit stiff as I am clicking away on the keyboard I am hoping the venom from the nasty little PRICKLY weed will subside soon. Oh well no pain no gain it was worth it…I love yard work it is therapy to my soul. Nothing more refreshing than digging into the fresh moist soil and I absolutely love when I run across a den of earth worms and watching them squirm back down into the rich coolness of the soil. As I thought about the word PRICKLY the first thing that came to my mind was a PRICKLY pear cactus. I grew up on the plains in Southeast Colorado and the pastures were full of this ornate vegetation along with the sagebrush and soap weeds. As with many people, I did not realize the many uses a PRICKLY Pear cactus has to offer. It is known as a fruit-bearing plant that produces in the fall a luscious purple, red, or yellow fruit that is made into jelly, jams, pies, breads, wine and many other scrumptious items. Its juice is rich in vitamin C. For some it is called the Indian fig. Amazing how something so PRICKLY can offer such an incredible variety for your tasty pallet and have a beneficial effect on your health. I encourage you to check it out the next time you are at your specialty grocery store.

 

Hmmm, as I am sipping on my scrumptious cup of white pear tea, I remembered a book I recently read it is written by Debbie Macomber entitled, “God’s Guest List” and there was one whole chapter devoted to PRICKLY people. I have to laugh, this is a very good way to define people’s personalities and their reactions to certain situations, especially those folks who have a tendency to grate on your nerves. Just yesterday I had a voicemail from a client who is very direct. I appreciate this about her but I would say most of the time she seems irritated and not very patient at all with most circumstances. You naturally have your guard up with each conversation you have, I would have to classify her as a PRICKLY person. You know those types of people where you are walking on egg shells and waiting for the bomb to drop? As I was listening to her message rather than being on guard, I just burst into laughter of which I could do because I was by myself. She was soooo upset over a situation and was directing her complaint to me like it was my fault. I am definitely just a third party available to assist and help get the answers or resolve certain issues. I picked up the phone and returned her call she starts in chewing on me and then in the same breathe she stated she was with a client and didn’t have time to talk to me. Yet she barked out the same message she had left, in this particular case she was upset she had not received a paper bill in the mail, she informed me she does not do “ONLINE” anything yet in the same breathe she proceeds to tell me that when she pays her bills “ONLINE” it takes an extra week before payment goes out and because she didn’t receive it on time this was going to cause her to be late. Number one I do not produce the bill the carrier does, number two I do not mail the bill the carrier does, nor am I the U.S. Post office who delivers it nor am I in her office to retrieve the mail and personally hand it to her. I assured her the bill was produced like every other month; it is generated around the 15th of the month and mailed out just like it has been for the last five years she has been with this particular carrier. I did retrieve a copy of the bill and emailed to her assistant of which she still was not happy. It was simple not good enough she wanted to know why she did not receive hers in the mail with a coupon she did not want an online copy. I had no answer and I explained she had 30 days to pay the bill with a 30 day grace period and her only option was to pay based on the copy I supplied. I stated once she was finished with her client she could call me back even if it was after 5:00 to discuss further. I never heard back from her. LOL!

 

I have another dear friend who seems to have the same demeanor, I wonder if these two ladies are related. She is never happy or satisfied with the responses you provide. When you give a reasonable explanation or solution to the issue she seems to always have an excuse why it won’t work or offer other ideas that are absurd to me. PRICKLY People are everywhere, there are some weeks they just flow out of the wood work and I again I ask God what purpose are they serving and why are they causing me so much anxiety? I don’t know how to change them but I do know how to change my attitude towards them. I must control how they affect me and defuse the tension to not allow these PRICKLY folks to make me cranky too. Cranky people often offer us the gift of a fresh opportunity to develop patience. Fortunately the word helps to give me wise counsel and I can take my action plan from the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled, where there is knowledge it will pass away.”

 

When you think about it this has a magic formula. I encourage you to reread and apply it to any PRICKLY situation and your heart can be immediately calmed. Improvements begin almost immediately. Think about what the world would be like if we all used this as a guideline in our everyday life. Never rude, always kind, patient…it would be like heaven on earth. Our secret weapon is love…even towards those who seem to be unlovable.

 

I am hoping we don’t become the PRICKLY people on someone else’s list. There is no doubt we will have times we are out of sorts or a bit cranky, that is our human nature. But this is not the same thing as being a chronically difficult person. If you are in danger of sinking into a permanent porcupine-like state or are already there I suggest as you are “Takin Time Out” this week you figure out what is bothering you and work to resolve it. Sometime you may need professional help to guide you through this and there is nothing wrong with that, life happens…circumstances can cause damage that can cause the irritation but the whole key is to find the root cause of it and fix it. Are you getting enough rest and deep sleep? Do you eat right and regularly? Do you drink enough water? Have you had a physical lately? Reduce your stress and not feel like you always have to be ON…especially in today’s world with all the wonderful devices of reaching out and touching someone. Sometimes we need to shut all this off, tune it out and be still. I encourage you to go outside, find a quiet spot in nature and sit, be careful there are no PRICKLY bushes near by…Breathe in deeply, close your eyes and let your ears take over…what unique sounds do you hear? Calm your mind, calm your heart and recite the Love Chapter, I promise it will truly make a difference. Until next time don’t let a person’s PRICKLY exterior cause you to become PRICKLY too…

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MOVE

FullSizeRenderDefinition: go in a specified direction or manner; change position. Change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

 

As I sit here in the still silence of the pre-dawning of a new day, sipping on my warm cup of Earl Gray tea with a couple drops of stevia…I breathe in deeply and let it out slowly. I love this time of day, no one else is up except my adorable chocolate lab Sage, staring at me from her bed. The birds haven’t even awoken I only hear the ticking of the clock, the motor on the refrigerator and the air conditioner kicking on.

 

As I am “Takin Time Out” wondering what word we should talk about this week? MOVE or MOVING came to mind, we seem to have done our fair share this year and yet we are still living at the same address! LOL…This is the time of year college bound kids head off to college; some are MOVING into their dorm or apartment and begin living on their own for the first time. Others are returning from summer break. Many parents are what we refer to as empty nester which requires a major adjustment in life. What once were demands of homework, sporting events, piles of laundry, extracurricular activities and meal planning suddenly becomes no more.

 

I remember my first major MOVE from Southeast Colorado to Amarillo, TX. My Dad said why not just take the bare necessities since you are not sure how long you are going to stay. I said ok but a carload, a truck and trailer later we began to laugh, my things were what made my home and to me that was the bare necessities. Several MOVES later some of those things are not so important. It is more about makin memories and enjoying one another. Now don’t get me wrong I still like décor and certain things as they still make a house a home. However, if it no longer brings me joy and is weighing me down I am ready to release it and let it go; hoping someone else will find some joy in having it.

 

This year our daughter and son-in-law bought their first home and we helped them MOVE in. It was a very exciting, spending time rearranging the furniture, hanging home décor and drapes. I began lining the shelves in the kitchen and bathroom with contact paper, when my son-in-law asked what I was doing and I explained this is what my mother and grandmother have always done. It helps protect the shelves and is easier to keep clean due to spills you can usually just wipe it down or replace it over time. I had to chuckle to myself…it is funny how we pass quirky little things down from generation to generation. A couple weeks after their MOVE, our Aunt MOVED from a four bedroom house to a three bedroom house, she indicated she was downsizing. It took us three weekends in a row driving from Dallas to Houston to help get her home improvements completed and settled in to make it feel like home. We loved every minute of our time together. The next month our oldest daughter and son-in-law decided to remodel their kitchen. So we boxed up their things and MOVED the appliances out so they could begin demolition. Hopefully this week the remodel will be complete and we can lay some more contact paper on their shelves. LOL.

 

I recently changed offices MOVING from room down the hall and around the corner to a new office space. It meant clearing out my desk, MOVING the computer and the décor I have to make it feel like my space. It was a bit overwhelming but yet refreshing at the same time.

 

My husband has a job out of town and he rented an apartment where he will be living during the week and come home on the weekends. So guess what that meant yet another MOVE and more contact paper to lay. I selected furniture and home goods from our home that would fit into his new place. We MOVED him into his 3rd floor apartment which makes it nice no one living above him and he has vaulted ceilings. Plus it is a good exercise program going up and down three flights of stairs.

 

As I look around my home it is a little sparse but I am excited, it is a good opportunity to purge, clean and guess what I am going to replace and lay new contact paper on my shelves and drawers. LOL. Yes, MOVING is part of life. I have read where it takes 21 days to change or break a habit. So I have given myself the next 21 days to get-r-done and make some positive changes at home. Cleaning out closest, cabinets, drawers and in some cases even rooms, I am excited! Less is More, I am ready to begin again and lighten my load.

 

Life is all about continuous change and progress. For each of us the ability to MOVE forward and to achieve all God has created us to attain we must not hold on too tightly to the past. All that will do is prevent us from reaching our full potential. We must eliminate other people’s opinion, feeling we have to have an explanation for everything, do not set expectations of others too high, no regrets from past mistakes…we must learn from them and MOVE on. Do not dwell on heartbreak, do not hold grudges, quite making excuses, overcome insecurity, avoid the drama and let’s not forget to be thankful for what we have. Too often we focus more on the negative rather than the positive. I read a quote recently that makes sense; MOVE On! It’s just a chapter in the past. But don’t close the book, just turn the page.”  I know for many the hardest part of MOVING forward is not looking back and just turning the page.

 

I encourage those of you who find it hard to MOVE on to read this verse daily as encouragement. Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Let him take the lead.

 

Have you ever considered all the things we use daily that have MOVING parts? Take a look around your home, your car, what activities you encounter day in and day out. We have MOVING sidewalks, MOVING trains, tractors, trucks and more.  Those with small children know for sure as the toddlers and children seem to never stop.  They are the energizer bunnies. We are always on the MOVE but not always in the right way.

 

Probably the most important MOVEMENT is MOVING our bodies for those of us who can! We need to maintain some form of physical exercise daily. Setting up a routine in taking long walks or a jog will keep us healthy and happy. Perhaps take the stairs vs the elevator at work if you can. Park your car a little further out in the parking lot vs finding the closest spot near the door and specifically schedule time outdoors; perhaps pulling weeds, gardening or walking your pets. I encourage all of us to be a hill seeker, I know most of us avoid hills especially if we are riding a bike but really when you get to thinking about it what is so great about flat? Flat tires, flat hair not so good especially living in Texas and flat returns. Life truly happens on the hills, it gives us opportunities to prove to ourselves that we are stronger than we ever imagined.

 

I recently read modern Americans are the most sedentary people in world history. We sit nearly all day in our homes, cars, and offices – all before lying in bed for hours every night sleeping. I call it the sitting disease. I know for a fact it can cause weight gain and other chronic illnesses. The American Cancer Society ran a study from 1993 to 2006 and found that sitting six or more hours a day, compared to three or fewer, dramatically increased the odds of dying early of a preventable condition like heart disease. So while you are “Takin Time Out” this week you might want to think about how you can MOVE a little more. Until next time my friend remember MOVING your mind first and the body will follow! Let’s MOVE more to be the hill seekers, MOVERS and shakers…

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MAPS

imageDefinition: a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc.

 

Have you ever thought you were going the right direction when you suddenly realized something didn’t feel quite right? Have you stopped in your tracks and realized you might be on the wrong road or even lost? Well I have on more than one occasion. Growing up in the plains of Colorado I have always known North, South, East and West. I was also blessed by God giving me a keen sense of direction so I very rarely get turned around. However, not so long ago I knew I was on the right road when suddenly I passed a road sign that clearly indicated I was not. I somehow missed a turn and was headed to the coastline rather than West towards Victoria where my meeting was to be held. Thank goodness for modern technology most vehicles today have a GPS system and if they don’t your hand held device or phone will. So I pulled the car over punched in the address as to where I was going and hit the button from my current location. Yep, I had driven 40 miles out of my way and clearly wasted a good hour as I had to go back the way I came. Lesson learned if you are not sure of your route then type in or map out the directions first before leaving for your destination.

 

Growing up I remember my parents using a large Atlas or in some cases a large paper map of a particular state or area of the state to help determine how to get somewhere.  The cool thing many times there was more than one way to get to your final destination. I can remember my Mom asking me to write down numbers so we could add up the mileage, review whether it was interstate or the back roads and determine which route we wanted to go to get to where we were going. When I first moved to the city I bought this big blue spiral bound book I kept in the car called a Mapsco. Each page had details of specific blocks and streets in each area of the metroplex.   My biggest challenge was driving downtown determining the route I needed to take to get to certain clients but they had so many one way streets, and for a little blonde girl growing up in the country and the nearest town didn’t even have a stop light only stop signs it was a unique challenge I faced daily. Now you simply type in the final destination into your phone and hit route from current location and bam you have all the detail at one punch of the button, and Siri talking telling you how to go which makes it convenient but doesn’t allow your brain to use the basic math and thinking skills we learned in school. I do love where it shows a red line indicating heavy traffic or construction, it provides the estimated time of arrival for each route so all you have to do it determine the quickest or the more scenic and relaxed route you wish to go.

 

With today’s technology and apps for your hand held device you have Google Maps, MapQuest, Navigator, and Commander Compass. You can map by automobile, by walking, by public transit. We have map my run, map my bike ride, map the weather, map and find my phone, and the list goes on and on. Maps are an important feature in life in order to find our way through this journey we are on.

 

I recently did a Bible Study on “Listen to Your Life”; it was written by Sibyl Towner and Sharon Swing. Their primary goal was to create activity maps for recognizing and responding to God in my story. It was a refreshing approach as to where I have been and where I might like to go, taking my relationship with God a bit deeper. It also taught me to realize life may not always go according to our plan. Yet if we stop, and listen to God’s plan and timing is always perfect. There were lots of visual activities with maps and opportunity to reflect upon where we have been. It really was fun and rewarding. I encourage you to check this out. Their study was based on Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us trip off every weight that slow us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this y keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

 

As I am sipping on my savoring cup of Zen hot tea this morning, I love reflecting on my favorite childhood game called “Life”. We each would pick our favorite color of car and all start out together but by spinning the wheel and drawing certain cards we each would have different events take place in our life some would end up with a car load of children and some would not, we would follow the road map on the game board and in the end we would either live in a mansion and or the poor farm. I have to laugh because that really is how it works not necessarily in material things but in nuggets of gold whether it is your family, your values and your beliefs.

 

We each have a choice in life. We can either live on-purpose, according to a plan we’ve set. Or we can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others. The first approach is proactive and the second is reactive. I know we can’t plan for everything, interruptions or road blocks can happen but if we live our life with intention, I feel you will have a more fulfilled life. That is why it is so important to map out a vision plan and have a mission statement that is your compass you live by. Lately my life has been a bit out of control, nothing bad just several different opportunities, challenges and trying to find balance between, work, family and finding time for ME! I too really try to focus on one thing at a time. Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it. We work either by priorities or pressure. Balance is the key to stress management work must be balanced with fun, worship and the task at hand. We are to focus on one thing at a time. Jesus was a perfect example he knew how to handle interruptions without being distracted from his primary goal! Life may seem hard and we may have to take a few detours but if we continue to focus on the end result from the MAP we created, we will always get to the final destination.

 

What about you? As you are “Takin Time Out” this week…what does your life map look like? I commend those who have already mapped out their course and living their dream! But for those of you have not…are you on the right road and living the life God has designed for you or have you been too distracted with your own agenda or agenda of others to even consider this? If you feel you are a drifter with no real map, I strongly encourage you to set some time aside and redefine yourself. Find your core strengths and map out the life you want and how you are going to do this. Yes, it is setting some goals and figuring out how you are going to shed some of the weight that seems to be burdening you day in and day out. This could include actual unwanted pounds, debt, a bad habit like smoking or too much alcohol, the weight of material things. Let’s map out more time to read, enjoy your hobby, relationships with friends and family and enjoying all life has to offer. The list is lengthy but by mapping these items out and writing them down…redirecting your focus and slowly begin to make these changes you will become more fulfilled. Yes, there will be life’s interruptions but if we stay focused it can change the course. It is all about being intentional. Until next time my friend … ENJOY the map you are on or change your course!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SUMMER

imageDefinition:  the warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August and in the southern hemisphere from December to February.

 

Whew, as I sit down to my computer after a long day at work…I am feeling the effect of the hot SUMMER Texas heat. Yes, it was over 100 degrees today but we have been very blessed to have a fairly mild year up until now. After all it is the first of August and this is normal for this time of year. Nevertheless it till can zap your energy and make you sweat!

 

Personally I love SUMMER, for some reason it is a more relaxing time of year. An author unknown quoted “SUMMER is when your Hair get lighter, Skin gets darker, Water gets warmer, Drinks get colder, Music gets louder, Nights get longer and LIFE gets better! Don’t you agree? SUMMER is time for flip flops, shorts, bare legs and fun in the sun with extra hours of daylight…you lighten up a bit on the schedules and go with the flow. It means more grilling outdoors, picnics, poolside or romping in the park. It is time to eat peaches, plums, melons and make your favorite delicious homemade ice cream. I remember helping my grandpa with the old fashion crank ice cream maker with a wooden tub which took a long time churning and lots of physical labor. He would sit it on the back steps and bend over holding on to the top while grinding and grinding the crank. Fortunately we have advanced and the electric motor churns that metal canister just fine packed with ice and rock salt in a plastic tub…oh how I love the taste of that homemade ice cream, especially when you are licking the paddle… Yum…is your mouth watering yet? What is your favorite flavor?

 

For many, SUMMER may mean to have a reprieve from daily work or school, especially if you are a teacher or student. You have a couple months off while others like me have to squeeze in a little vacation here and there or by taking a three day weekend. Others like my hubby, SUMMER is a bit more hectic, he is in construction and they do allot of schools so they only have three months to get the job done. Nevertheless the whole mindset and vitamin D seems to put folks in a better mood or maybe the heat makes them lethargic and not so uptight? Many families have second homes and it is a chance to go to the mountains, ranch, lake, or seaside. Perhaps it is an opportunity to sleep under screened in porches, a tent or in the outdoors. It is definitely a change of pace. Kids can enjoy SUMMER camps making new friends, learning to stretch their courage by zip lining, water skiing, swimming across the lake or pool, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores around the open flame of a camp fire. How many of you can sing the words to “Kumbaya”, “The Ants go marching…” or “A boy and a girl in a little canoe”…? Isn’t it fun to remember all those favorite camp songs? I bet I have you humming the lyrics right now?

 

One of my favorite memories was going to church camp in the mountains of Colorado. We would stay in an old musty cabin that had wood floors and creepy crawler as in bugs yet there were a group of giggling girls that made you feel a little more at ease. Some we knew and some we didn’t but it was always fun to make new friends and have a new pen pal for the rest of the year. We had a community shower, with extremely cold water and a little general store we could buy snacks and things. There was a rotary phone we could call home but it was long distant so we would call collect. We had to time it just right to make sure our parents were home to accept the call…Yes those were the days! Each morning we started off with breakfast then onto morning chapel, the afternoon we had craft activities, free time and then evening worship. Later in the night we gathered around the camp fire in the cool mountain air. The Lord truly blessed us, finding our purpose, laying a deep foundation, reading his word…oh how I love being a child of God. SUMMER Fun…Matthew 24:32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that SUMMER is near.”

 

Fortunately we have traded a bit of the feel of SUMMER for the comfort of air-conditioning in the South. It takes something out of the season to need a sweater and scarf in restaurants or office buildings. I know when I was younger I would sleep under my electric blanket year round. Now that I am a woman over 50 that is definitely not the case…LOL! I am very thankful for air conditioning. As a child growing up in Southeast Colorado we had what we called water coolers or swamp coolers.   I can remember my dad getting on the roof at the beginning of SUMMER and cleaning out the unit from the winter and string a garden hose up the roof line to set it into action. Basically, an evaporative cooler (also swamp cooler, desert cooler and wet air cooler) is a device that cools air through the evaporation of water. Evaporative cooling differs from typical air conditioning systems which use vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycles. When I was in High School my parents put in a central air conditioning unit…there is definitely a difference. Central air seems to me to be much cooler and not so humid or sticky. However, I would take either one on a HOT SUMMER’S Day, how about YOU?

 

We must learn to embrace the SUMMER’S gifts, shift into SUMMER gear slow and easy…breathing in deeply exhaling slowly. Some ways to consider doing this is take advantage of early morning coolness and choose this time to spend outside…perhaps visit the farmer’s market on the weekend and pick up some fresh produce or perhaps you planted your own garden in the spring and are reaping the harvest? Feeling the cool sand beneath my feet under a scorching SUMMER sun, it is the time of year to restock the sun-block and mosquito repellent. I love having pop cycles or ice cream sandwiches in the freezer for when the grandkids come over and savor the flavor of freshly brewed sweet tea or lemonade. There is nothing more quenching on a hot SUMMER’S day. It is a time to keep my makeup down to sheer lipstick and a dot or two of foundation and a quick swoop of blush, the bronze skin color from fun in the sun brings out the natural glow. I love wearing a cool cotton dress. I want to begin to play a more local tourist on the weekends in my hometown, going to outdoor concerts or movies in the park. What about planning easy places to visit through a quick day trip especially if it is country side. Perhaps we can catch fireflies at night and put them in an old mason jar, star gazing in the moonlight. Listening to the frogs croak on the riverside or at the lake along with the crickets and locust or perhaps the coyotes are howling too. I was sitting on the bank of Salado creek not so long ago and watching two dragon flies hover over the water…they are amazing to watch. If you are seaside nothing more fun than going ghost crabbing at night with a bucket, net and a flashlight. All of these activities are makin memories….precious memories and enjoying the simple pleasures of SUMMER!

 

I am sipping on my favorite cup of hot peach tea reflecting on the true blessings of SUMMER. As you are “Takin Time Out” this week, what is on your list of SUMMER fun? Is it gardening, grilling or simply chillin? Have you curled up in the hammock, lounge chair or sunk into the pool on your favorite mat and read a good book? Perhaps it is hiking, kayaking, paddle board, shuffleboard or doing your famous cannon ball off the diving board? Whoosh can you feel the ripples of the pool or the wakes of the boat or the smooth sailing on a catamaran. SUMMER fun…it may mean playing miniature golf, driving go carts, horseback riding, visiting a theme park, dangling your feet off the dock or listening carefully as the boards creek and lapping of water after an eventful day out on the lake. Perhaps you like to build sand castles, gather sea shells, or surf boarding. In the mountains it might mean a hike, rock climbing, looking at the beautiful wildflowers enjoying the crisp cool air. Yes for some of us the altitude may make us a bit short of breath but the fresh unpolluted air is a bit sweeter wouldn’t you agree? When is the last time you went barefoot in the tall blades of grass, watched a sunrise or sunset, tossed a Frisbee, and rode a bike or skate board? As I am typing I begin laughing at jumpin on a pogo stick or twirling a hula-hoop. Simply Savoring SUMMER…As the year rotates through the seasons like a wheel of fortune. Being present to each one, possessing its bountiful blessing, taking its inconveniences in stride, means living to the fullest every day of the life you have. Until next time my dear friend…maybe you need to reprioritize and let’s enjoy every bit of SUMMER!

 

 

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