All posts by dscales24

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys sharing life experiences through writing short, lighthearted articles. These are intended to entertain, inspire, motivate, and inform my readers. I hope to receive responses in which readers tell me if they relate to the articles and share with me ideas that my writings generated in them.

RING! RING!

When I was a kid, I didn’t spend much time looking for lost things. When I couldn’t find something, I just asked Mom where it was. She always knew.

Today I would have to include looking for lost items if I composed a list of how I spend most of my time: cleaning the house, running errands, preparing and cleaning up meals, and looking for lost things.

Top among the things I look for is my phone. Despite having had a cell phone for years, I still have not established an assigned resting place for it. Sometimes I want to attach a cord to the thing and fasten it to the wall.

Surely, a universal method for finding lost phones exists. If it doesn’t, here are some ideas that might work.

Remember those lamps that were turned on and off with a clap of the hands? What a waste of energy. No one forgets where the on/off button on a lamp is located. It never moves. Now having a phone that rings when I clap my hands? That would be useful.

When my hairdresser was cutting my hair last week, she asked whose music I like to listen to. I told her I love to listen to Neil Diamond. She turned her face away from me and toward a table and said, “Alexa, play Neil Diamond.” Instantly, the soft tones of Sweet Caroline filled the room.

That was handy, but how much more helpful it would be if I could ask, “Alexa, where is my phone?” and hear her respond with, “You left it in the car when you drove to the post office.” I would pay big money for a machine that could do that.

Or, why couldn’t the phone come with a “finder” programmed to locate the phone. I could walk through the house waving the finder in the air. Sooner or later, it would sense the presence of the phone and beep, kind of like using a remote-control device to find your car in a parking lot.

Oh, wait. Using this method, I would need a finder for the finder.

Or, why couldn’t a phone be programmed to beep every 15 minutes, like a grandfather clock that announces 9:00 o’clock, 9:15, 9:30, 9:45, 10:00 o’clock? Or it could flash a bright light at 15-minute intervals.

Or, it could be like one of those round, flat vacuum cleaners that randomly moves through the house all day. Upon entering the front door, I could simply drop the phone, which would then scoot from room to room. Sooner or later, our paths would cross, and I could snag it then.

I have considered tying some brightly colored object, like a beach towel, to my phone. Surely even on a quick survey of the house my eyes would spot that. But it would be unhandy to carry in my purse.

I’ve even thought about getting a second phone, so I could use it to call the number of the lost phone and make it ring. But then, I would be looking for two phones.

I never thought I would say this, but why can’t a phone be like a cranky baby? Every time I set it down, it would scream until I picked it up again.

I’m sure if I got online I could buy some fancy mechanism that would keep track of my phone for me. But I can’t do that today. I’ve lost my credit card.

I must have laid it down with my phone somewhere.

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YOU’LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE IT

Like many Christians my age, I grew up singing the golden oldie hymn, Trust and Obey. Even now, with little prompting, I can sing all the verses.

This old song, as well as others, taught me valuable spiritual truths.

I learned, for example, that Anywhere with Jesus I Can Safely Go, Faith Is the Victory, and Jesus Paid It All.

I know the messages in these songs are true because Scripture supports them.

But back to Trust and Obey.

Obeying was not particularly hard for me. Because I was taught the difference between right and wrong, and because I knew the benefit of being one and the penalty for being the other, I lived, though far from perfectly, pretty much on the straight and narrow.

But for me, trusting has been harder than obeying.

Obedience is a concrete term. It, or the lack of it, is demonstrable. I can wrap my arms, and my brain, around obedience.

Trust, however, is a less tangible concept. It belongs to that nebulous set of nouns that cannot be seen, heard, touched, tasted, or smelled. Trust exists within my mind and heart.

I have had trouble nailing down an answer to the question: Do I trust God?

Of course, I trust that He is, has always been, and always will be. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life. He is the Author of everything good. He is love itself.

But trusting becomes a bit more difficult when I bring myself into this matter of trusting God.

Can it be true:

  • That He loves me just as I am?
  • That He cares about what happens to me?
  • That He sees me blameless through the curtain of His Son’s blood?

Though Scripture assures me the universal answer to each one of those questions is yes, I have resisted believing God’s “yes” applies to me.

That is because my brain is quick to remind me of my unworthiness. Unworthy people, I reason, should receive nothing good.

I could not “see” my way to believing God’s yes was for me.

Recently, Dan and I were discussing some project he hoped to complete. I expressed doubt that He would accomplish his goal.

He looked squarely at me and said, in a challenging voice, “You’ll see it when you believe it.”

(Of course, he meant to say, “You’ll believe it when you see it.”)

Within an instant of hearing him say, “You’ll see it when you believe it,” something shifted in my thinking about trust.

You’ll see it when you believe it.

Isn’t that the very definition of faith?

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead (Hebrews 11:1 TLB).

I wanted to be able to see that God’s yes is for me, but Jesus says, “No. I am asking you to believe it. When you believe it, you will see it.”

My trust problem disappears when I choose to believe, even when I cannot see.

God’s yes is indeed for me. It is for you, too.

And you will see it when you believe it.

A GOOD DAY?

I often ponder what I should do on any day to make it the best day possible.

It seems that people want that for me because I hear a dozen times a week, “Have a nice day.”

Many of the things we experience every day are beyond our control. You know what those things are: bad news, interruptions, and disappointments; and even good things like finding a good parking space and being given a McAlister’s chocolate chip cookie.

But I do have control over some of the things that make for a good day. I can choose to get up, clean up, and show up for the day ahead. I can try to accomplish some worthwhile things during the day, but not so many that the day becomes exhausting and disappointing.

I can get out in the sunshine on sunny days. I can read good books, think pleasant thoughts, and count my blessings in any kind of weather.

A day is generally about as good as my attitude toward the day.

Charles Swindoll was right when he wrote, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

I have learned that my day is better if it includes exercise, preferably a nice, long walk; reading the Bible, praying, and contemplating God’s purpose for me; conversing with family members and friends; and maintaining a healthy balance of work and play.

A good day includes some time spent in creative pursuits. For me, this need is filled when I spend time writing.

A good day is made better when it brings with it unexpected pleasures, like a card from a friend or a visit with my grandchildren.

Addressing this issue from the opposite direction, I also know some things that will almost certainly guarantee a bad day. Allowing myself to indulge in bitterness, anger, and other negative feelings like jealousy and self-pity will ensure a bad day.

Staying in my pajamas and sinking down into my recliner to watch television nonstop, as enticing as those activities may sound, usually will not make for a good day.

Neglecting to take care of tasks that are my responsibility will contribute toward making a bad day.

Even more important, I will have a bad day if I fail to fulfill my responsibility to treat all people with respect and to nurture deeply the people I love most.

I read a story once about an old gentleman who had to move out of his house into a care facility. The administrator of the facility met the old man at the main entrance.

“I hope you will enjoy your new room,” she said.

“I already do enjoy it,” said the man.

“You can’t know if you will enjoy the room or not,” said the administrator, “since you haven’t even seen it.”

“Yes, I can know,” said the man. “The room itself will not determine whether or not I enjoy being there. I will determine that.”

Determine to enjoy this day, and you almost certainly will.

YOUR LIFE SONG

Some of my favorite Christian recording artists have experienced life-crushing tragedies: Danny Gokey, Jeremy Camp, and Steven Curtis Chapman are examples.

Because I know a bit of their life stories, their music has richer meaning. When they sing of grief, regret, failure, and struggle, they speak from experience. Their messages can be trusted because they know what they are talking about.

I have friends who have also been through the fire: friends who have lost mates or children; have suffered abuse; are physically, mentally, or emotionally scarred; or have lived on the edge of survival all their lives. Sadly, some of these friends have experienced more than one of these tragedies.

When these friends share their stories with me, they become authentic people. I get a glimpse into what made them the people they are. In a very small way, I understand them. And with every bit of understanding, I become more accepting.

These people have gained insights into life that I have not. They have walked through valleys I have been spared from walking. They know things I don’t. Many times, they exhibit strengths I don’t have.

Lately, I have pondered this saying from Rumi, a 13th century Persian theologian and poet: Your wound is the place where the Light enters you.

When Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10, When I am weak, then I am strong (NLT), was he talking about light entering him through his wounds?

All of us are walking wounded. Some of us were hurt by others; some of us suffer from self-inflicted hurts. Each wound is an opportunity for God’s light to shine in, bring wholeness to the sufferer, and make one stronger.

Often, we wounded people don’t want to reveal our damaged selves to other people for fear they will reject or judge us. My experience is that the people who love me most are the people who know me, the unmasked me, best. In fact, it has been through some of these very people that God was able to shine His light into my soul.

Danny Gokey lost his young wife, Sophia, to congenital heart disease. Jeremy Camp’s wife, Melissa, died of ovarian cancer before the couple had been married a year. Steven Curtis Chapman’s little girl, Maria, was killed in a car accident in the family’s driveway.

These Christian artists are singing from this side of their heartbreaks. They have been through the fire and suffered deep wounds. Through those experiences, their faith has been strengthened and their determination to persevere has increased. Their music now blesses and inspires thousands of people all over the world.

In their weakness, these people became strong. Their life songs, though sad, have brought about beautiful results.

Don’t be afraid to share your story with people you trust. Your life song is waiting to bless someone.

 

 

 

WHERE’S THAT AGAIN?

I am thankful for the five senses God gave me: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

I am envious, though, of those lucky people who possess a sixth sense.

I am not referring to ESP, but to a different, equally inexplicable sense some people demonstrate: a sense of direction.

I do not possess that sense.

In fact, I am probably the most directionally challenged person you will ever meet.

I never know exactly where I am in relation to other people, places, or things. I am not even confident of my location when I stand in front of one of those mall signs that read: You are here.

I attribute my lack of navigational skill outdoors to the fact that I grew up in rural Arkansas where every highway eventually became an unpaved road which eventually became a rutted, grassy lane which eventually ended at some creek.

We had no house numbers, no street signs, no traffic lights, and nothing we referred to as an “intersection,” although we did have several places where two roads met up with each other.

When people asked directions to someone’s house, we said something like, “Drive past the cemetery until you see the shot-up, cardboard deer that is used for target practice. Veer left there and drive until you get to the house where all the dogs run out and bark at your car. Then turn right and drive over the cattle grid, The first house you see is the one you want.”

Now that I live in a town, people expect me to find my way around using street signs.

Street signs, as a rule, are not helpful to me. Often the sign is missing when I really need it, or else the sign post has become twisted, making it impossible for me to tell which street is called what. Such signs only confuse me and make me suspect that what I originally thought was correct is probably wrong.

My lack of a sense of direction inside buildings may be even worse. When I leave an exam room at my doctor’s office, I see exit signs  all over the place. But these signs lie. Every exit sign I follow leads me to a new hallway with an exit sign at the end of it. I can exit all day long and never leave the building.

I hate big arenas that have gates, levels, doors, and rows labeled A, B, C,  or 1, 2, 3, etc. Sometimes words like north and south get thrown into the mix, making finding the place I am looking for even harder to locate.

An usher says to me, “Go to Gate C-16 on Level B-4,” as if she thinks those words mean something to me. When she sees my confusion she adds, “Just take elevator 9 on the north side of the building.”

My lack of a sense of direction does not mean I am mentally deficient.

I can work long division problems and convert the remainders to fractions or decimals.

I have won spelling bees.

And I would be a tough competitor in a game of Jeopardy if the categories were Nursery Rhymes, English Grammar, The Bible, Columbo Episodes, The 60s, and Neil Diamond song lyrics.

But unless that Jeopardy contest is held somewhere within sight of my house, someone else will have to drive me there.

I won’t find it on my own.

 

A follower provided some of the visual imagery for this piece.   Thank you, Jane C.!

SNAP!

My mother was a woman of many talents. When I was a kid, she always knew where to find any item I had lost. She remembered the words to almost every poem or song she had ever heard. She warmed up to even the coolest personalities in our little community.

She also raised four children in a house that relied upon a dug well, not a drilled one, for its water supply. This meant we had to treat water as the precious resource it really was. As kids, my siblings and I joked about having to take our baths in teacups.

Our family conserved water as if the next day we might be without it, which was sometimes the case.

Mom grew beautiful flowers inside and outside. We lived on a stretch of land my grandpa called “glade rock.” By this he meant its soil was essentially dust scattered across stone slabs. A horticulturist’s paradise it was not.

But my mother planted a vegetable garden each year. Often it withered up and died for lack of rain, but optimistically she planted one every spring.

She was tenacious

In the yard she grew irises, peonies, lilies, daffodils, tulips, and crocuses that she watered with used rinse water from her weekly washing. She grew lovely lilacs, white ones and, well, lilac ones.

Inside the house she grew ferns, vining plants, and African violets. Her violets, though never entered in a contest, were prizewinners. She had pink ones, white ones, and purple ones; white ones with purple edges, pink ones with ruffled edges, and purple ones variegated with white.

As any grower of these delicate plants knows, violets demand tender care. They require access to good sunlight and need just enough, but not too much, water. Withered blossoms must be plucked so new ones can grow. Dead leaves must also be removed.

But removing any part of an African violet requires the dexterity of a microsurgeon. If during the process a healthy leaf is accidentally tapped or bumped, even slightly, it breaks.

The snapping of a healthy African violet leaf comes as unexpectedly and unwelcomely as a paper cut. The sound it makes is one-of-a-kind, unmistakable.

  My mother lived by the motto: If you think you may have broken an African violet leaf, you have.

 She applied this proverb to more than the tending of her houseplants.

Her goal was to hurt no one, not her friends, her sisters, or her children. Her ears were ever cocked, listening for the snap indicating harm had been done.

If she suspected she might have wounded one of the people she loved, she reacted as if she indeed had. She couldn’t run fast enough to make an apology and restore kinship.

She knew that, unlike leaves on violets, relationships can be mended if addressed quickly and with love.

Never doubt that she pruned her kids. She diligently plucked from us any hint of disrespect, disobedience, and every other ugly thing.

But as she removed what was bad in us, she meticulously protected what was good.

And she never broke us, emotionally or any other way.

At a restaurant recently, I watched a bully who was masquerading as a dad. He snapped at his young son, “I’ll beat that kind of attitude right out of you.”

This man needed the lesson of the violet leaf.

We all do.

PECKED TO DEATH

So far today I have spilled a full glass of water on the paper calendar on my kitchen island, washed a Kleenex with a load of dark-colored clothes, and broken a leaf on my African violet, and it isn’t yet noon.

An occasional clogged toilet or chipped windshield can be tolerated. But having to endure a long stretch of such aggravations can cause even the most stalwart person to crack.

According to https://definithing.com, experiencing this steady stream of small, seemingly inconsequential or minor nuisances which build up over a prolonged time and which, eventually, take their toll and exact a heavy price is like being pecked to death by a chicken.

Continuing the chicken analogy and assuming the instigators of such mischief are indeed barnyard fowl, allow me to describe some of their characteristics.

First, their number is legion and their singular goal in life is to frustrate. Often their assaults are launched in secret, which means sometimes I am unaware I have even been pecked.

For example, everyone in the restaurant except me knows I am dragging toilet paper from the sole of one shoe, or everyone at church except me is aware that I entered the sanctuary carrying under my arm, not my Bible, but a giant book of wallpaper samples.

One morning I discovered a leftover lemon pie weeping pitifully on my kitchen cabinet top, when I know I put the pie into the refrigerator the night before. A box of my husband’s favorite cereal mysteriously disappeared from the pantry.

Of course I believe these chicken-launched attacks happen more often to me than to anyone else, but my friends assure me that is not so.

Recently a good friend searched for hours for her missing TV remote control. Finally she found it inside a desk drawer where she never puts anything except her address book.

Other friends have mentioned finding car keys, phones, and garage door openers in places where no sane person would ever put them.

You must admit you have also been a victim of these birds’ antics. Haven’t you noticed that your windshield wipers break only during rainstorms, your flashlight batteries die just as the power goes out, and your missing electric bill turns up on the day after it was due to be paid?

Chickens, I tell you.

Realizing these pesky birds consider nothing off limits, I am now afraid to post this piece on my website. Will it appear riddled with misspelled words and run-on sentences? Will commas have been replaced with exclamation marks? Will my readers shockingly find the word panty in the paragraph where I typed pantry?

Growing up, when my friends and I played tag and one of us wanted temporary immunity (to go to the bathroom, for instance, or more often to set some kid straight on the rules of the game), that child called out, “Tick-a-lock, tick-a-lock all the way around!” This expression was accompanied by a circular motion of the arms and was recognized as the official symbol for “Stop! You can’t tag me!”

If you encounter me one day mumbling nonsense syllables and making circular motions with my arms, don’t overreact. Know that I am merely declaring myself off limits to chicken attacks.

Don’t laugh. Do you have a better idea for stopping the madness?