Category Archives: Encouragement

Ahhhhh, Retirement

I have always been a slow starter. Now that I am retired, that slowness has decreased to a crawl. Some days my morning doesn’t get started until early afternoon.

Retirement living is wonderful. Rarely am I in a hurry. I can do what I want when I want most of the time. But as my dad used to say, “You can get too much apple pie.”  He said this when he was bored with some activity that should have been pleasurable.

I am not exactly bored with retirement, but like any other good thing, it can become tiresome. I look around for something to do.  My house is reasonably clean. Laundry is under control. No grandchildren are available for me to play with, and I have nowhere I absolutely have to go.

I consider my options. I could spend the day reading books or watching old television shows on Me-TV. I could don a headset and lie in the hammock listening to soft rock music from the 70s. I could sharpen my pencil and sit down with a crossword puzzle book. Those are all enjoyable pastimes for me.

Doing any one of those things occasionally is pleasurable. Doing only those things all the time, however, is not.

Like most people, I want to accomplish something worthwhile. I need a purpose, a reason for getting up in the morning. When I move listlessly from one unproductive activity to another, I feel useless.

A particular French word describes this condition. It is the word ennui (pronounced “on,” as in the word honor, and “we” as in the word we).

The Merriam Webster dictionary states this: Ennui generally refers to the feeling of jadedness that can result from living a life of too much ease.

Does that mean when I feel restless and unmotivated, it is because I am living a life of too much ease? Ouch!

Experiencing ennui is not merely unpleasant. It is actually dangerous.

Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, said, “Ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair.”

That is another way of stating what we read in the book of Proverbs: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” (Proverbs 16:27 TLB).

When I was a child, feeling restless and bored, my mother showed no sympathy for me. Her response to my whining complaint of “There’s nothing to do,” was quick and certain.

“I’ve got plenty of things for you to do,” she would say. “You can start by dusting the living room, and when you’re finished with that . . .”

My mother knew the best cure for ennui was activity, particularly activity that helps someone else.

Around us live people with significant needs. Many need friendship, encouragement, or physical help of some kind. These people don’t battle ennui because they aren’t living lives of too much ease.

If you are feeling restless and unmotivated, find an activity that helps someone else. Volunteer at a hospital or food pantry. Spend an afternoon babysitting a busy mother’s children. Sign up at the library to tutor an ESL student. Visit a nursing home and strike up conversations with people who are lonely. Pick up litter in your neighborhood.

God didn’t create us to live lives of boredom. Go find a purpose.

Calling All Quitters!

Readers, you are in for a treat! My online friend, Pearl Allard, has given me permission to repost one of her blog pieces on my site. You will be blessed, as I always am, by her words and by her beautiful writing style. 

 

I stumbled upon Debbie Scales’s blog almost exactly a year ago, and first read The Humble Geranium (I love that she named her blog after this concept!). After I read some of Debbie’s posts, I felt mentored by someone who’d been there, done that, and had recovered enough emotional sanity to make it humorous. I thought this is a woman I want to learn from. Over the past year – through emails, comments, and the writer’s guild that initially connected us – Debbie’s been a huge source of encouragement to me. I am honored Debbie asked me to share one of my blog posts from Look Up Sometimes.

Calling All Quitters! Today’s Your Day!
by Pearl Allard

Calling All Quitters! Today’s Your Day! This was the subject heading of an email I received. I did a double take before realizing I misread it. (Must’ve needed another cup of coffee that morning.) It actually said “calling all QUILTERS” and was advertising a sale at a well-known fabric store. That one letter L makes a big difference!

I think we are all like that letter L. We each make a big difference, even if we don’t immediately see or feel it. You might be the difference that prevents somebody from quitting their calling. Your voice, your perspective, your words, your quiet deeds, your unseen prayers might be exactly what someone else needs today.

So what if our work seems the same as someone else’s? We each do it differently. And we each reach a different block of community, even if there’s some overlap. How much more beautiful is an entire quilt than one lonesome scrap?

I think a big lie we swallow is that somehow one person’s success means our own success becomes that much harder to attain. As if we’re all standing in line at the checkout counter of success and each time someone is given more likes, more attention, more money, more fill-in-the-blank than I currently have, we just fall further and further behind in line. Competition.

I’ve thought in the past that we are standing in a line. Side-by-side, however, fighting the same battle for the same commander-in-chief. But perhaps it’s more complicated than that. Formations of soldiers obviously consist of more than one line.

A quilt actually makes a good analogy. Comfort, economy, heirloom. What comes to mind when you think of quilts?

If we are each a piece of a quilt, we do more good and are more beautiful as a whole. We enhance each other. We bring glory to the quilt-maker, the One who sews our lives together. History is stitched to new. Over the whole of it, a design is embroidered, further emphasizing unity. Together we purpose to bring warmth and beauty to those who benefit from that unity.

When we feel frayed, we don’t have to be afraid. We won’t be undone when the One in control is stitching together all loose ends for one end.

The next time you feel like holding your index finger and thumb to your forehead (you know, the “loser” sign?), just remember this: the letter L is the difference between quit and quilt. You are that difference.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Pearl Allard is happily-mostly-aftered to her hero of thirteen years and is stay-at-home mama to two crazy-wonderful kids in Southwest Michigan. Tired of tip-toeing around the edges of life defined by fear, she invites you along on her journey to experience freedom in Christ. She blogs encouragement to glimpse and embrace God’s grace at Look Up Sometimes.

 

Home Is Where You Fix Things

After living for 31 years in the home where we raised our children, my husband Dan and I moved into another house.

Dan had spent many hours working on our old house. Over the years he had remodeled, redecorated, reconstructed, rejuvenated, repaired, or replaced just about everything on the property.

We both worried that because he had invested so much time and work there, he would miss the place. I asked him if that was the case. (He was in the process of unloading cement blocks for a landscaping project in our “new” yard.)

He said, “No. I don’t really miss it. This is home now because home is . . . well, where you fix things.”

That phrase will probably not catch on as other “Home is where” statements have in the past: Home is where you hang your hat. Home is where your heart is. Home is where you go and they have to take you in. Nonetheless, in more ways than one, home is where you fix things.

Every homeowner knows that maintaining a house is a never-ending job. There is always something to do. Shingles blow off, shrubs take over house fronts, driveways crack, fences sag, and electrical wiring gets old and dangerous.

At any point in time, the responsible homeowner is finishing one project, working on two others, and planning at least one more. He or she knows that a neglected home deteriorates quickly.

Home is also where family relationships are mended. Hurt feelings are soothed and healed. Bad attitudes are adjusted. Broken hearts are patched up.

In a well-maintained home, principles such as respectability and integrity are kept in working order. Common courtesies are established. Good habits are not allowed to get rusty, and trash is quickly identified and removed, not only from the floor but also from the television or computer screen.

On a shelf in my kitchen sits a plaque that reads Home is where our story begins. The quality of that first home sets the course of a person’s life. It is where we learn who we are, what our purpose is, and upon what foundation we want to build.

Our society as a whole is in desperate need of repair. In fact, our world is so sick and out-of-kilter that we may feel powerless to make a difference. The damage, we believe, is too widespread.

But much of what is broken in our world must be repaired and then maintained, not on the large scale, but in individual homes. Every young person who burns buildings and hurls bricks at police officers; every bully on every school bus; every drug peddler; and every terrorist grew up somewhere, probably in a home that was poorly maintained.

Homes in which love does not prevail, where adequate teaching and training are neglected, where feelings are routinely stepped on, and where minor tiffs are allowed to become ugly feuds are homes inhabited by broken people.

The most needed repairs in any home probably require not the use of tools, but the use of words.

home

My Blooming Blog

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading my blog posts!

I have been working with a professional to upgrade my website. He has taught me a lot, but I’m still feeling my way around. I am a chalkboard girl who struggles to live in a touch-screen world.

My new blog was designed and created by a friend and former corporate technology professional, Brian Robertson, who now runs his own business providing both handyman and technology services.  For information about the services Brian provides, view his website (www.theferventservant.com) or contact him via email at brobertson@theferventservant.com.

I named my site The Happy Geranium because I love geraniums. Unlike other showier flowers, geraniums require little care. They bloom their little hearts out whether in shade or sun and when well-watered or parched.

I want to be like a geranium, faithfully doing what I was created to do: Blooming, so to speak, without fanfare or a need for constant attention.

More than that, I want to be content being the unique person I am, living in the specific place and time God chose for me. A geranium who  strives to be an orchid dooms itself to a life of disappointment.

Some of my posts are written to encourage my readers to bloom where they are planted. Others are written to reflect lessons I’ve learned from Bible studies or from living life for over 60 years.

Some posts are written merely to entertain and possibly cause readers to chuckle or to say, “Ain’t it the truth? I know just what she means.”

Please continue reading and commenting. Also, if you think a friend might enjoy one of my posts, forward it to him or her. I love gaining new followers.

Debbie

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