Listen to Your Heart

I usually find it fairly easy to listen to my heart. But doing what it tells me sometimes comes a little harder. The last year or so has been a productive time in my life. But with productivity comes busyness, which has led to weariness. Lately, now that all the projects and transitions and changes are nearly through, my heart is whispering to me to rest.

I love hearing it, because that’s exactly what I feel like doing. But still, it rubs against what the world tries to tell me I should do. Will I be perceived as lazy? Lacking purpose? Unproductive?

Maybe. But does that even matter?

Lately, I’ve been carving out time for an afternoon rest. I may nap, play a mindless computer game, crochet, or read. If my favorite team is playing during the day, I may even watch the game on TV. I’m finding that when I give myself some rest time, I am far more productive overall. My soul needs that breather so my mind can think more clearly and I can do the things I need to with renewed energy. I don’t set a specific time limit on my rest. I just get back to work whenever I feel ready.

Obviously, not everyone has that luxury, especially if you work for someone else or have children clamoring for your attention. I understand. I’ve been there, too. But if you can find even a few minutes to clear your mind in whatever way works best for you, do it.

Listen to your heart. Do what it says. And if you can’t do it right then, take good notes so you don’t forget its whisper.

Linda

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“Hi Mom!” A Mother’s Legacy…Part Two

“Hi Mom!” A Mother’s Legacy…Part Two

by Betty Mason Arthurs

“Hi Mom!” I look up towards heaven with Mother’s Day coming this Sunday, and say “hi” to my beautiful mother who passed away years ago. I also say “hi!” to my husband’s mother, Ruth, who has also passed on. I will always miss them and remember contributions they made to my life as women of faith and prayer.

Yes, it’s time to celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to tell our mothers how much we love and appreciate them.

Here’s a photo of my mom with my brother’s three girls. Gayle, Alycia and Donna now have children of their own. My mother, gently kissed by middle-age in this photo, loved her grandchildren “to the moon and back.”

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My title comes from the TV moments I love when a camera focuses on the face of a football player and he waves and says, “Hi Mom!” It doesn’t matter if he’s a NFL running back, an amazing collegiate athlete or spends the whole game warming the bench, to a mother, her son is a super star. She’s usually the one who drove him to practice when he was a boy and screamed encouragement from her lawn chair. Moms  and dads sacrificed to pay for uniforms, camps and club sporting events for their sons and daughters. Olympic stars also attribute their success to their moms

My mom’s biggest desire was for my two older brothers and me to learn to play the piano. She left it to our dad to help my brothers in sports, but no matter where we lived in small town America, she found us piano teachers. My first lessons, as a five-year-old, was in Manhattan, Kansas. I walked the two blocks every week to Ethel Byers’ home. From my first lesson it was obvious I had no natural talent. Looking back I’m sure that as my mother, a minister’s wife and homemaker, listened to me practice, her prayer life increased in volume more than the glaring mistakes I made. And she probably longed for ear plugs. But she never gave up on me as she reached into the china tea pot, which held her extra cash, and gave me money for my lesson.

I learned, I practiced and had lessons for over eleven years, eventually able to play for church and classical music in recitals. I married my college sweetheart, John, a talented musician, whose dad played violin and mom was the church organist. We had two children and when they got older, like my mother, I searched and prayed to find a piano teacher for them in the Phoenix area. This is a 1973 photo taken when Rob turned one year and it looks like Julie and I are singing to him.

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When we were searching for a new church in the 1980s, we met Elizabeth Jelsma, mother of four teenagers, who had over 60 piano students and also taught school.  She became a vital part of our lives with lessons in her home every Saturday, teaching Julie and Rob piano skills beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The kids had obviously inherited their dad’s musical genes. Blessed with incredible teaching ability, she loved her students and was devoted to their success. She often said, “If you have no natural ability you can still surpass those who do if you practice hard.” Rob played Maple Leaf Rag by Joplin and Julie played Turkish March by Beethoven at a recital on May 10, 1986…yes, I’ve kept their programs.

Imagine my shock, while waiting for my children to finish their lessons, when I discovered Elizabeth’s old music program on a table:

Carnegie Recital Hall, January 17, 1952, Piano Recital, Elizabeth Augsdorfer.

Yes, our amazing piano teacher debuted at age 17 years at Carnegie Hall! I couldn’t wait to call my mother and tell her the news. God blessed us with a phenomenal teacher. And I credit Elizabeth with starting our son’s career as a band teacher. His wife, Heather, teaches elementary music and their four children play instruments. Our daughter, an elementary school teacher,  has made sure that over the years her three boys had music lessons.

“Can you see me, Mom?” I’m waving and saying, “Hi Mom. I don’t think I ever said thanks for the vision you had for piano lessons. Your legacy of faith and love of music will continue on for generations. ” And I wave to Elizabeth, who died in 2006, “Thank you for the priceless music you brought into our lives.”

How did your mother encourage you through the years? Have you  told her “thank you” for her love?

Posted in Memoir, Mom, Mother's Day, Music | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Review of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

I don’t like other people telling me what God is saying to me. I will discern God’s messages by myself, thank you.

So I was very skeptical years ago when good friends of mine presented me with a copy of Young’s daily devotional, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence. The concept—which I pictured as a daily phone call from Jesus—seemed kind of hokey to me. I read a few entries, and left the book in the kitchen, where I’d occasionally notice it and read a little.

In the meantime, I struggled with the idea of trusting God. I had a difficult career decision to make, and it seemed as though God was ignoring my pleas for guidance. How could I trust Him if He wouldn’t tell me what to do?Jesus Calling

Then, one October 10th, I picked up Jesus Calling and read the devotion for the day. These words commanded my attention; I knew they were written especially for me:

Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them. Relax, and refresh yourself in the Light of My everlasting Love…

… live fully in the present, depending on Me each moment…learn to rely on Me in every situation. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.

Oh. I can trust God moment by moment. I don’t have to have the whole path laid out beforehand. And soon, God confirmed for me that the default I fell into after resigning from my teaching job—reconnecting with my critique group and refocusing on my writing—was exactly where He wanted me to be. He’d answered my prayer before I’d even prayed it, though it took me a year to notice.

Here’s another reading that helped me greatly (January 26th):

Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! As I told My disciples, in the world you will have trouble…

My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust me in the dark…When things seem all wrong, trust me anyway. I am much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes your way.

I gained a new respect for Young’s work. She’s not pretending she knows what Jesus is telling me. Instead, based on her long immersion in Scripture, she distills the universal message from Jesus to those He loves—the invitation to intimate communion with Him, what she calls the “peace in His Presence.” Each devotion includes two or three Scripture references that apply. (My edition just lists the references; some of the deluxe versions have the passages printed out. If you buy this book, it’s worth it to pay the extra price so you don’t have to look up all the Scriptures—although you might spend more time in God’s Word if you do.)

My original reservation is no longer a concern for me. Jesus Calling helps me in my walk with Christ. I don’t read it every day, but when I do, it gives me a strategy for drawing closer to Jesus.

How about you? Do you long for a closer relationship with Jesus? Have you read Jesus Calling? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted in Book reviews, Devotions, Jesus, Reading, Scripture | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Colors of Love and Spring by Betty Mason Arthurs

 

What is the color of love? The color of spring? Blue? Yellow? Red? Green?

Is it the color of a radiant pink garden rose or the fuzzy yellow of a honey bee?

Perhaps love is a rainbow of colors captured when a couple in love say their wedding vows; the satin white of her wedding dress and the dancing hazel eyes of her groom; the sweet gauzy pink of the flower girl’s dress as she scatters rose petals down the aisle; the radiant pink of the garden roses in her bouquet; the silken gray of the joyous tears shed by a grandmother dressed in paisley dress and blue shawl; the groomsmen in black tuxes, short and tall.

A dairy farm shows off its kaleidoscopic colors of spring as a farmer tills his fields through the color of hayseed which is ready to plant and feed his livestock through a bitter winter. The herd of Guernsey cows frolic in a bronze-colored dance when released from their winter sojourn in the barn. Green is the color of spring for the farmer to sow his fields with yellow corn and maize to fill the huge white silos, sentries around the red barn. Yellow tractors roar throughout long, sunny days up and down black, rich soil in perfect rows. Speckled chickens lay brown and white eggs for a hungry breakfast crowd.  Yes, love is the color of a hard-working farmer in his fields and the red dairy barn. And spring planting time is the color green.

A mother snuggles her newborn babe, her heart bright with a light blue glow that only a new mom can know. His red, scrunched-up face and black wispy hair is to her eyes the beauty of new life she sheltered in her womb for nine months. Intimate love between the father and mother created this miracle of life.

Easter colors in spring are dyed robin-blue eggs in white baskets and brown chocolate bunnies ready to be devoured by girls dressed like Cinderella and boys in dark blue hero capes. Their joy permeates the air with splashes of gold and purple joy.

The first Easter of long ago started in an olive garden so dark and black, when Jesus wept in agony knowing what lay ahead. Soldiers in silver raiment with metal spears and swords beat Jesus until he bled. Red was the color of his blood and shredded skin from the whipping he endured until his visage was marred and unrecognizable. The Jesus, who created all the colors of the universe, crucified on a splintered, blood-caked cross. Jesus–who opened his black-and-blue arms in love for a world he formed–gave up his life with his final tortured cry, “It is finished.” 

Jesus’ resurrection that first Easter morning was a breathtaking flaming orange and purple sunrise which dawned in a blaze of colors and brought hope of eternal life to all mankind. Heavenly colors circled around the angels at the tomb of our risen Lord. Hearts blazed with eternal hope in a blinding bolt of lightning destroying the blackness of death and hell and brought radiant colors of love and spring.

Posted in Easter, Greatest love ever, Jesus, Love | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Hundred Reasons to Cry or Smile by Betty Mason Arthurs

 

I love to stare at this photo of my grandson, Preston, and the family dog, Ella, who sleeps with him each night. Like most dogs, she’s a goofy friend whose energetic play brings smiles and laughter to all of us. Who can be sad around golden-doodle Ella?

However, there are times when life’s problems become overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but I often cry when someone loses a precious child. It brings back the grief of when my husband and I lost two of our baby sons. When I listen to the news where another disaster has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent people from an earth quake in a poverty stricken country; I feel so helpless but I can pray. There are a hundred reasons to cry.

Thanks to the scripture found in James 5:11, we know that God is full of compassion and mercy. I always  remember that tears are a language He understands. He also asks us to “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NIV). Facebook posts this week, from family members I haven’t seen in years, ask prayer for a cousin who almost died and needed heart bypasses. Thanks to the posting, it shares instant information so I can send a note of concern and tell them I will pray. That’s the beauty of  social media. In a few days my cousin was on the road to recovery.

Yes, there are a multitude of reasons for each of us to cry, but a bookmark from New Beginnings Greeting Card Collection put it this way:

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. (Author unknown)

And I would add, thousands of prayers to pray…and thousands of laughs with a dog like Ella.

Do you pray when you read of a need on social media? Have you felt comforted when Facebook friends tell you that they’re praying for you?

Do you have a pet? How do they add smiles to your life every day?

 

Posted in dogs, Doing Life Together, Faith, Hope, Pets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

When Your Life Looks Like a Disaster…by ARHuelsenbeck

Imagine arriving at church one Sunday morning and seeing this:

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It looks like a war zone, doesn’t it?

Shocked parishioners stood in the parking lot and stared at the rubble.

Actually, the congregation of Gethsemane Lutheran Church should have anticipated this sight. It’s good news. Feeling the strain of a sanctuary too small to hold all the attendees at worship services, the church had started many months ago pledging and raising money for the improvement initiative they named Forward in Mission. Demolition had to occur before new construction could begin.

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Yet, people felt devastated by the wreckage. People who contributed toward the erection of the original structure decades ago. People who recognized the old church as a neighborhood landmark. People who had attended the parish school, and had gone to chapel in the old building.

Often, the old has to be torn down before positive changes can be made.

Life is like that, isn’t it?

Sometimes I recognize that one corner of my life is encroaching on the others. I’m spending time in a way that causes conflict for me or for people I care about. Yet I tolerate the tension and the clashes and the ineffectiveness, because it’s the way I’ve always operated and I derive a sick satisfaction from the status quo. It takes total collapse before I surrender and admit that the only remedy is change. On my part.

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It’s hard. I mourn the loss of the old me, even though I know the new person I am becoming is one step closer to the vision of the God who created me.

He is a God of second chances. He is the Guide to salvation and sanctification. He’ll allow me to experience disaster, if that’s what it takes for me to notice He’s leading me in a different direction.

And He’ll make something beautiful out of the destruction.

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My New Tween Book Release

I squirm a little when it comes to self-promoting a new book. It feels so self-serving and that goes against my grain. But I’m super proud to announce the release of my new book, Meet Shelby Culpepper, which is book one of a three-book series for tweens.

I’ll tell you a little about the book, but then I want to share some background about why this book means so much to me. It’s available here on Amazon. You can read the back cover copy below:

A new school. A dying grandpa. A mysterious note. Even one of those things would be enough to keep Shelby awake at night. But all three at once provide the perfect ingredients for a really rotten seventh grade year. When Shane, the cutest boy in school, talks to her, Shelby is both thrilled and mortified. Thrilled because, wow. And mortified because his girlfriend is the most popular—and snobbiest—girl in school. With the help of her new friends—an overconfident geek and a boy-crazy romantic, as well as the wisdom of her bedridden grandfather, Shelby unravels the mysteries of the note, and explores the secrets of love, life, and death.

Continue reading

Posted in Book reviews, Books, Doing Life Together, Family Stories, Reading | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments