The Grass is Not Greener

>> Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I stood in line at the bank behind a short lady, about the same height as me. But in front of her was a very tall young man. I listened in on their conversation. 

“So, do you play basketball?”

“No, I’m an IT consultant.”

“But you probably played basketball when you were younger. Right?”

“No, I’ve never played basketball.”

“I wish I was tall. It is so difficult to be this short. I have to ask for help at the grocery store to get items off the top shelf. There are so many things around the house I can’t accomplish because I’m so short. It must be great to be that tall. How tall are you?

“6’ 10”.

“Oh my. That’s really tall.”

“Well it has a whole set of issues I will have to deal with the rest of my life. Most chairs don’t fit me.  I have to duck through every door. It’s hard to find clothes for me. And being this tall comes with back problems. I don’t know how long I can keep working. My back is too painful. I’m only 26 years old.”

It was his turn to be waited on, so the conversation ceased. But my spinning mind did not. How often we see others as having advantages over us. We do a lot of “if only” in our head. We have no idea what the other person is dealing with.

Grass is not always greener on the other side.

“…..but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 18:14b (MSG)



>> Thursday, March 8, 2018

I struggled to remove my shoe.  It was the slip on type and usually just came right off when I used my other foot to hold it down while I pulled my foot out. Standing in my closet, I reached down to tackle the issue with my hand.

Pain.  Excruciating pain…somewhere in the area between my hip and back. I was frozen in position.

Moments passed as I contemplated my next move. How long could I just stay bent over? When I could breathe again, I shuffled my way to the bench in the center of the closet. I yelled as I lowered myself. I have a high pain tolerance. When I say I yelled, I mean an instantaneous loud cry of pain…surprising me.

From that moment on I moved in slow motion.

I don’t like to take pills, but I began a regimen of Advil every four hours. I alternated between the heating pad and ice pack. The rest of my life came to a halt. Managing the pain was my focus.

I had already stripped my bed for the Saturday change of sheets. I stared at it. How in the world was I going to pull a fitted sheet over the mattress? No position was comfortable. Standing after being seated produced the aforementioned yell.  Sorry if I offend, but just going to the bathroom was a painful ordeal.

And the next day was Sunday.  No way could I shower, get dressed, drive and sit in church.

As I write this, I am on day six. Just the fact that I can produce words from my brain is an indication that I am improved. I’ve taken no Advil today. Life is coming back into focus. And so are my thoughts…about people I’ve heard say “my back went out” or “I’m having back trouble right now.” My response was always to extend sympathy and prayer.

I have a whole new understanding of what those words entail.

When I think back over the activities I have been unable to do this past week, my thoughts turn to the people who permanently cannot do those things. My empathy for them has been taken to a whole new level.

My heart is full of gratitude for the little things.

 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)


My Rearview Mirror

>> Monday, February 26, 2018

I pulled out of my subdivision and headed west to meet a friend for coffee.  Glancing in my rearview mirror, I watched as a police car pulled out of a side street and lined up behind me. Instantly I was on the alert.  Was I going the correct speed? Where was my driver’s license and registration (it is a fairly new car)? There was a right turn ahead. Be sure and stay in your lane as you turn. 

Another glance. He was still there. I needed to change lanes.  Blinker on. Checked for traffic. Slowly edged over.  He did too.  But he turned left at the next intersection and I kept going straight.


As I drove, I thought about my reaction. He wasn’t out to get me. Police officers are there to help…protect…keep the peace. I see several regularly when I meet my friends at Starbucks. They take their break there. If they get in line behind me I smile and buy their drink. I have police officers that attend my church.

They aren’t the bad guys. 

More thinking as I drove. In fact I was thinking so hard about it I missed my turn and ended up parking in a different spot than usual. A blog must be written. 

So here it is.

The first 30 years of my life I lived tense and on the alert because the God I had been told about was following me. He was watching my every move and ready to pounce if I made a slight error. He was always there and I was always questioning my thoughts and behavior.

Then I discovered a different God. 

My God loves me. If I stray into a different lane, He’s there to help. If I send out the wrong signal, He gently corrects me. I don’t have to be tense and afraid. He’s gentle and kind. Yes, he’s always there, but as a wonderful Friend who cares about me.

I’m free to travel without concern about who’s in my rearview mirror. 

 “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed His life for us.” 1 John 3:16 (MSG) 


You're Going to do What?

>> Thursday, February 22, 2018

As the days of John’s life dwindled, we discussed everything. A romantic walk along the river could instantly turn into a discussion about cremation. A meal at the table was sidetracked with his question, “How do you feel about me dying?” 

So I shouldn’t have been surprised. 

Some background. When we built this house, we had a say in everything. John was very specific about his office. It had a large window to enable him to see the fireplace in the living room and the fire pit on the patio. The cupboards, the countertop around two walls, the lighting…he designed it all. 

It was the middle of the night, when suddenly he’s talking. His voice woke me with a question. “What are you going to do with my office?” 

“John, it’s the middle of the night.”

“I’ve been laying here awake for hours wondering. I designed that office for me. So what are you going to do with it?”

“I’m going to paint it pink. Go to sleep.”

“Joy, I’m serious. What do you think you will use it for?”

“I haven’t even thought about it, so give me some time. Now go to sleep.”

“Okay, a few days.”

A few days later I told him I would turn his office into my financial office, paying the bills, etc. I would also use it for my Bible study room.

He was satisfied. 

Last week I got serious about making his office my own. That was a huge endeavor. Some of his stuff was permanently removed. Other materials were moved to the garage. An under-the-counter file cabinet had been purchased. I now could file the current year in the built-in drawer and use the under-the-counter one for the previous year (Income tax time was upon me). Hanging folders and 1/3 cut files were purchased and marked. Then came the filing that hadn’t really been done for an unspecified time.

Side note: the bottom drawer of the new file cabinet kept sliding open. I would shut it and a few hours later as I passed by the doorway I could see the drawer had come open again.

“John, stop messing with me. I’m doing what I said.”

I completed the renovation two days ago. The file cabinet has stayed closed. But I digress. 

In talking with my daughter one day, she asked, “So what are you going to do to have some pink in your office? You told him you would.” 

I instantly thought of a pink cube that I have no idea what to call it, but one of his motorcycle buddies designed it and had given it to him. It’s similar to a Rubik cube, but just has various protrusions and holes. And I knew right where it was.

It now graces a shelf in my office as a reminder of that middle of night conversation.


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