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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

WHAT WE'RE MADE OF

People don't always respond to us in the way that we would like. We think they'll be enthusiastic about our ideas, but they're not. Our friendly greetings are met with cold stares. And what was meant to be funny is taken as criticism. One thing we can't control is the way people respond to us.

Sensitive people can get their feelings hurt quite easily just by an unexpected response. I remember a certain woman I worked with who wouldn't say Hello to me when I greeted her as she walked by. She simply stared straight ahead and kept walking, no emotion on her face. At first I thought she didn't like me until I learned that others had received the same cold response from her.

I decided not to let her unfriendliness affect my actions, so I continued to say Hello, and she continued to ignore me. After a while, instead of being annoyed by her, I started to feel compassion for her. What could possibly be going on in her life to make her so lacking in human kindness? I never found out, and she never surprised me by saying Hello.

We wouldn't be human if we didn't feel some kind of rejection when people respond negatively to us. No one enjoys being ignored, put down, or misunderstood. But as long as our intentions are good and our motives are pure, it really doesn't matter how others respond. Sometimes the bad response is a sign of their problems, not ours.

We can't control how people respond to us. We can only control our own actions. But that's an important thing to control. When those negative responses hit us, we get to decide how we're going to handle it. We get to show the world what we're made of--compassion or hatred.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

HOBBIES AND HAPPINESS

On Friday I spent hours messing my kitchen, trying to create a winning chocolate cake for the Gratz Fair. I dropped batter on the floor and tracked it everywhere. I had flour in my hair and chocolate stains on my jeans.

From a monetary perspective, my creative attempt was a waste of time. Even if I had won first place (I didn't come close) the prize money wouldn't have covered the cost of the ingredients and the gas it took to get it there. But I didn't do it for money.

I love to bake. My grandmother baked pies for a living, and after spending hours on just one cake, I have a new appreciation for the amount of work she put into her craft. Anyone who thinks owning a bakery would be an easy job is dreaming.

But work can also be fun. There's a lot of creativity involved in baking. First I had to come up with a recipe idea. Then I added some special touches to make it unique. My favorite part is the icing and decorating the finished cake. I used fresh mint leaves from our front yard and pressed them into the cake around clusters of fresh raspberries. After almost giving up when things kept going wrong, I was happy with the results. Icing and well-placed decoration can hide all kinds of flaws, even a lopsided cake.

Lately, I've been discovering hobbies I never considered before-- photography, journaling, and baking. It's amazing how much joy these activities bring to my life. I wonder why I never bothered before. It makes me realize how important it is to have hobbies.

I remember a time in my twenties when I felt so dissatisfied with life. I don't remember having a single hobby. Could there be a connection between hobbies and happiness? There might be. Are you making time for those unpaid activities you love to do?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A CURE FOR LONELINESS

Recently I watched an episode of Touched By An Angel, a TV show about angels who help people on earth. That particular show inspired me to write about loneliness. The episode was about a lonely, desperate woman named, Zoey. She had recently been dumped by her boyfriend and she was feeling as if she would never find a man who would want to marry her. She longed for a husband and children. She was tired of coming home every night to a lonely apartment.

One night when Zoey was leaving a bar with a man of questionable character, two angels, Monica and Andrew stopped her. Then Monica gave her a message from God. She told Zoey that love isn't something you shop for and she would never find her ideal man in a bar. "To find the right man, you have to become the right woman," Monica said. She was suggesting that
Zoey fill her lonely life with giving love to others. She told her to trust God and wait for His timing to bring the right man into her life.

At the end of the show, Zoey was sitting outside on a beautiful summer day talking to an elderly woman in a wheel chair. She had become a volunteer companion for residents at a rest home. She had taken her angel's advice.

Loneliness is something most of us have to deal with at some time in our lives. But we don't have to be single to be lonely. I believe some of the loneliest women in the world are married. I used to be one of them. I also recall the loneliness of being single, and if I had it to do over, I would fill my loneliness with community service, not smoke-filled bars.

God could make me a widow tomorrow, and I would like to think that if He did, I would handle that emotion in a better way than I have in the past. I would draw even closer to God and I would spend time helping others instead of wallowing in my loneliness.

The best advice I've read about loneliness comes from Elizabeth Elliott: "The answer to our loneliness is love- not our finding someone to love us, but our surrendering to the God who has always loved us with an everlasting love. Loving Him is then expressed in a joyful and full-hearted pouring out of ourselves in love to others. As I find my place of service within the community of God's people, there is little time left to feel lonely. For me the answer to loneliness is not to solve it, but to embrace it as a gift from a loving Father and to offer it back to Him, so that He can transform it into a gift for others."

I would guess that if the story about Zoey had continued, we would have watched as she became so involved in helping others that she forgot about her loneliness. And at that moment when she was no longer desperate and searching for love, but was instead giving love, that was when she became the right woman for the man God was about to bring into her life. He probably just appeared one day when she wasn't searching for him.

The cure for loneliness is love, but not our finding someone to love us, the cure comes when we whole-heartedly pour out love to others by volunteering, helping, visiting, or going wherever we're needed. To find love we have to give love. "To find the right man, become the right woman." I thought that was such wonderful advice!