Boomerang Blessings

BLESSINGS

It called to me, saying “Buy me! Buy me!” I picked it up, twirled it in my hand and noticed how authentic it appeared. I stood there daydreaming of hours spent in the field behind our house playing with this unique wooden toy.  Before I knew it, the boomerang landed in my shopping bag. I exchanged a few hard earned dollars for a toy I really had no idea how to use.

I brought it home, excited to show my teenage children this truly authentic Australian boomerang. Their first response wasn’t one of excitement and anticipation. Their only response was “why mom???” As far as I could remember, their only experience with a boomerang was a cheap plastic toy that came from a birthday party goodie bag. But this one….this one was an AUTHENTIC boomerang! It said so right there on the label, so it must really work, really well!

Having nothing to lose, the three of us went to the field to play with our new wooden toy. Just like a good mother, I doled out exact instructions on how to throw a boomerang. Who were they to second guess where my boomerang wisdom came from? If a mom says how to do something, she must know what she’s talking about…or maybe not.

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We might as well have stood out in the field throwing Fido’s sticks to each other. This boomerang was NOT coming back to us. With each throw, I defined my instructions a little more clearly. “You’ve got to hold it at an angle, not too much of an angle though. Put all of your body into the throw. You’re throwing it too high, too low— you gotta get it just at the right level!”

There were a few successful throws when the boomerang came full circle back to us. We were relieved to not have to walk across the field to retrieve it. We didn’t expect it to actually EVER come back to us. When it did…what a nice surprise! More than likely the next throw wouldn’t do the same. We were encouraged by the few successes so we kept throwing and throwing until our shoulders were practically out of socket.

 

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I’ve been playing with a boomerang the past 41 days of the 365 Wow Women challenge. Much to my surprise, the boomerang unexpectedly comes back to me.

Every. Single. Time.

What comes back to me is a blessing disguised as a fail-proof boomerang. Each and every woman I’ve met has encouraged me or inspired me in some unexpected way. I throw myself out there, hoping to make a difference to at least one person each day. Sometimes I have to throw harder and sometimes I have to go out in the field to play even if I don’t feel like it. It never fails to come back to me ten-fold.

I don’t have the expectation of this boomerang blessing, but that’s what blessings usually are. Unexpected. Undeserving. Unlikely. Sometimes unknowing. The result is always the same: an UNREAL gratitude for God and His not-so-mysterious ways He shows me His love and care through the eyes and life of another Wow Woman.

rs-for-medium-1RELISH

“No one has ever become poor by giving” ~Anne Frank

We are not to give with the expectation of receiving something in return. We are to give out of the goodness of our hearts.

When you do so without a self-serving agenda, there’s always a blessing in the giving of your time, talents and treasures- it just may not be YOUR blessing at that moment. Keep giving anyways and the boomerang of blessings will come back to you eventually.

SALT

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

 

Your Assignment Is…

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I can still hear my teacher’s crackly old voice and see her bony little finger pointing to the assignment scribbled in chalk on the chalkboard.

She’s gonna assign me WHAT? A worksheet of algebraic expressions that look like someone just picked random numbers and letters out of thin air and decided to call it math? Figure out what X, Y and Z equals? This is one assignment that my brain is just not equipped to understand. I’ll go ahead and take a big, fat zero, TYVM!  I won’t be getting much more than that anyway by wasting brain cells on X, Y and Z.

I never cared much for school assignments. People who did were kinda weird. My school years date way back to corded telephones and I STILL don’t care too much for some of the assignments I’m given.

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I was the lucky gal assigned to the tooth brushing station at the orthodontic office where I worked.  Each day a regular flow of teenagers visited the sink prior to their torture sessions. They hadn’t quite grasped the concept of spitting INTO the sink and cleaning up after themselves.

Three times a day my assignment was to clean up the gooey toothpaste, spit splatters and frayed strands of floss. It was part of my job. Since I needed a job, I took the assignment and got it done, regardless of how much I grumbled and despised the parents for not teaching their kids proper tooth brushing etiquette. At least the evidence showed that their kids were flossing their teeth, on that day anyway.

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Some people’s assignments are more serious, like military assignments. Soldiers aren’t usually assigned to the military, they assign themselves when they vow to “be all that they can be” and to be “army strong”.  The real assignment comes when they are deployed right smack dab in the middle of the most dangerous of war zones.

I wonder if those soldiers like their assignments as they ponder their fate? Vows were made not to abandon their country so they accept it and go fight with all of the fight they have. They may win or they may lose, but soldiers are willing to take a chance as they hold true to their promise to defend their country.

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So it seems that there are three types of assignment acceptors out there:

  1. Those that dismiss it and don’t care about the consequences (X,Y and Z equals whaaaat?)
  2. Those that don’t like it but grin and bear it anyway because they DO care about the consequences (I needed to keep my job, so I became the spit splatter cleaner-upper )
  3. Those that choose their own assignments to complete for the benefit of other people, despite any difficulties they may have to endure

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RELISH

Have you been given difficult assignments in life that are hard to accept: special needs parenting, cancer treatments, addictions to break, deaths to mourn?

Assignments that you don’t really want to do, but know you should: exercising for better health, mending difficult relationships, saving for retirement?

Assignments you give to yourself because you know it will help others: care-giving for an elderly parent, serving on a community board or choosing a career in law enforcement?

How are you going to accept your assignment? How you choose may be the difference between success and failure, life or death.

If you dismiss your doctor’s assignment to exercise in order to lower your blood pressure, poorer health will be the consequence. Don’t dismiss the assignment.

If you’ve been assigned the title of “Recovering Addict” and know first hand the consequence of engaging in that addictive behavior, you’ll have to struggle through those temptations at all cost to avoid a relapse down that destructive road. Grin and bear the assignment.

You’ve chosen to be the caregiver for your elderly father whose dependence on you can be overwhelming and discouraging. Despite the physical and emotional drainage, you remain by his side, knowing the alternative is not really an alternative. Endure the assignment you’ve given yourself, remembering it’s for the benefit of someone else.

Set aside the excuses, conquer the setbacks and stay committed to the assignment you’ve been given or to the one you’ve given yourself. Stand firm like a soldier ready to fight in battle!

SALT

Jesus had the ultimate assignment: to give his life and die for the sins of the entire world.

If Jesus accepted an assignment that he KNEW would cause death, then shouldn’t we accept whatever assignment God gives us?

What assignment has He given specifically to you? Often it comes in the form of a still, small voice deeply embedded in your conscious that gets louder the longer you delay.

“Go sit next to the shy new girl and talk to her at lunch”. Yes God. Count it done.

“Give money to the struggling single mom living down the street from you. She needs it”. Yes God. Count it done.

“Go clean up and help rebuild from the hurricane”. Yes God. Count it done.

“Go to Uganda and live there for a year and help build a church there”. Yes God. Count it done.

 

Jesus didn’t count the cost when he suffered and died for us so that we may have eternal life. He just said “Yes Father. Count it done.”

And it was done.

LUKE 11:28 “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

 

 

 

Happy Plates and Parsley Flakes

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Mmm…mashed potatoes!

Plop a spoonful on your plate and they look like arid snow-covered mountains sitting in the middle of your dinner plate.

Chefs know that starchy mountains aren’t that appetizing or pretty to look at. So they came up with a solution for drab, boring plates of food. They went scavenging in their backyards and picked something that looked like a weed to garnish the sad plates of food.

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Instantly, the plates became HAPPY! The bright green garnish gave the arid potato mountains LIFE!

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This miraculous green weed wasn’t a weed at all; it was parsley, an herb that has been used for a variety of purposes for many years.

corpse-with-parsleyIn ancient times people who looked sick or near death were often said to be “in need of parsley”. Corpses were sprinkled with parsley to help eliminate the stench. We sprinkle that same stuff on our food!

If I’m using a recipe that calls for chopped parsley, I try to eliminate it because I don’t feel like chopping parsley. Surely the recipe will be fine without it. It won’t make a difference if it’s left out.  I certainly don’t go out of my way to garnish food with it, that’s only for special occasions.

As far as covering up smells, I’ve heard that if you chew on parsley after a rather odoriferous meal, it will freshen your breath.  I wouldn’t know that from personal experience. I’d rather dig in the deep abyss of my purse for a lone piece of mint chewing gum before I chomp on a sprig of parsley.

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Relish

Words of encouragement are like little garnishes of parsley.

A drab spirit that looks sick and near death needs a little parsley. Garnish someone with encouraging words and give them color and life!

You may not feel like coming up with the words to say and you may tell yourself that they won’t make a difference, but they will. Your words could bring healing to someone who feels on the brink of giving up or bring a smile to a sad heart.

Instead of tossing that sprig of parsley to the side, why don’t you go out of your way and use it?  You just might be surprised at the color it will add to your OWN life!

Salt

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”        1 THESSALONIANS  5:11

 

Taking A Plunge For The One

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The anticipation of this challenge has ended and the journey has begun.

I spread my wings and flew…no, SOARED on Friday. It was one of my best birthdays ever.

The thoughtful presents, special treatment and the cake with ice cream loaded with a gazillion calories were all very welcomed and appreciated. My thighs and developing inner tube tummy especially welcomed the cake and ice cream. I’ve gotta break the news today and and let them know that it’s time to desert the desserts and let them go home.

None of these things compared to my very first Wow Woman of the day and year.

Many people have asked “how are you approaching these women and how do you know who you are going to talk to?”

The short answer is, I really don’t know!

I started the day on Friday the same way I plan on starting every day this year. I asked God to show me the woman I need to talk to and the woman that needs me to talk to her. He knows who it is and what the circumstances of our meeting will be, I don’t.

I look ahead to what I’m doing for the day and the places I’ll be. I’ve been out and about a lot these last three days. It hasn’t been difficult to see the possibilities of where I might have an opportunity to meet and speak to a woman. On the days I’m not out much, I’ll have to be intentional about putting myself in places where I’ll cross paths with the woman I am to meet that day.

As soon as I walked out the door Friday morning, there was a lady walking down the street. She approached my driveway as I was getting in the car. Was this the woman I was supposed to talk to? Could it really be this easy and obvious? I said “good morning” to her and asked if she lived in the neighborhood. As we made small talk, I didn’t sense that she was the one.

Before I left the house, I felt like the one I needed to talk to was at Hobby Lobby. I had to exchange some items and knew I’d be back by the sewing area so I’d planned on talking to the fabric cutting lady.

I went to Hobby Lobby later that afternoon. The fabric cutting lady was super busy with several customers waiting to have fabric cut. She obviously was NOT the person I needed to speak to that day. As I walked away from that area, I began praying in my head “Okay God, she’s not the one, but who is? Is there someone here I need to talk to?”

As I walked around (still shopping, not just stalking people) I took notice of several women shopping. Some looked like they were in a hurry, others had preschoolers at their heels. An older lady looked as if she was in really deep thought trying to calculate in her head what was needed for her craft project.

One lady perusing the clearance wall caught my attention. I passed her by, wondering if I should talk to her.  I also wondered why my heart wasn’t pounding out of my chest and why my palms weren’t cold and sweaty. I’d anticipated that this would be my body’s reaction to approaching someone the first time. I was calm and at peace in my heart, knowing that she was the one I needed to talk to. We happened to cross paths on an aisle just a few moments later.

The woman, who I refer to as “J” on the Instagram post, was a little surprised when I asked her if she could help me out with something. I totally ignored the “script” I’d given myself to use when talking to these women. The words just came naturally, even if they were a little jumbled and discombobulated.

“J” opened up to me more than I ever expected from any woman. She’d been through some very difficult times the last two years, yet she was happier than she’d ever been. Tears welled in her eyes, also in mine. She asked how I knew she was the one to talk to. I told her The One told me it was her. We parted with a hug and with a promise from me that I’d pray for her.

No other confirmation is needed. This challenge isn’t a challenge I gave myself, it’s a challenge God gave me that I must complete.

I’ve never felt more fulfilled than I have in the last three days. I’ve started each day with a purpose  and with excitement and anticipation of who I’m going to meet. What is special about this woman and how can I encourage her?

The encouragement I’ve gotten from these four women seem to far outweigh whatever inspiration or encouragement I’ve left them.

It’s tempting to call it selfishness, but I call it a blessing.

 

Hot Coals and Angry Lions

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As my sleepy head breaks through unconsciousness, I lie here in bed not wanting to see what time it is. I hope it’s at least 5 a.m.  Finally giving in, I peek my head up to see the blurry digital clock. It’s only 1 a.m, not a surprise. Every morning it’s the same dance routine with a performance starting around the same time. Starring in the performance is me…and my bed.

1:00 a.m.

When I went to sleep, my bed wrapped me in its warm covers as I shivered under the coolness of the ceiling fan.  Three hours later, I awake lying on a bed of coals. Heat is trapped under me like an angry lion that’s roaring to get out. My cool frigid bed has morphed into an oven. Now the dance routine begins.

ACT 1 “My Turn”

I’m too tired to do this dance, but the bed of coals insists with its unbearable heat. So I begin the dance by turning over onto my other side, hoping to give the hot, angry lion just enough room to escape.  That move lasted all of about 15 seconds. The coals are burning hot as ever. That one simple turn wasn’t enough to let the heat of the angry lion out.

ACT 2 “The Rotisserie Rumba”

One turn didn’t help, so I turn back over, and over, and over again like a chicken on a rotisserie. I’m equally cooked on all sides and the hot coals are still burning. The roaring lion is angry and SO AM I! Can’t I just have ONE break from this 1 a.m. nightly dance routine?

ACT 3 “Exposure”

I hate to make this move, but I have to. I pull back the sheet to expose just one naked leg to the raw elements that lurk outside my soft, protective sheets. The cool breeze feels so nice on my hot leg (this is the ONLY time I have hot legs)…but I feel so exposed! As I lie there feeling some relief from the burning coals, I worry about the lion I’ve just released. Is he dancing in the shadows over there by the door, just waiting to pounce on my exposed leg? I pull the protective sheets over my leg and turn my back in defeat of the roaring lion lurking by the door.

ACT 4 “Victory”

The coals are at their maximum heat again and the lion has snuck back into my bed. My bladder is screaming to be emptied. I’m screaming that it’ll just have to wait until a more respectable hour to be emptied. But no, it can’t wait. It’s gotta be emptied NOW.  I get up out of bed in an angry fit and stumble into the bathroom, giving victory to the coals, the lion AND my bladder.

ACT 5 “Re-morph”

It doesn’t take long for the bed of coals to cool and morph back into a bed of slumber. The heat of the roaring angry lion has vanished.  I feel a sense of comfort as I arrange myself into the perfect sleeping position. I should have bowed out of the dance long ago and not given into my bed’s request to do the hot coals dance. If I had gotten out of bed sooner and allowed it to cool itself down a bit, then I would’ve been resting the past 25 minutes and not dancing!

1:27 a.m.  Ah…sleep is on its way!

Not so quick! There’s very important business that I must take care of in my head. Did I remember to lock the doggie door? If not, there might be a rat rummaging through the kitchen right now! I don’t even know how to set a rat trap to catch it. How would I dispose of a dead rat?  Did I set the trash out by the curb for tomorrow morning’s trash pickup?

1:35 a.m.  I’ve reassured myself that I remembered to lock the doggie door and there isn’t a rat devouring the Oreos in the pantry. NOW I can go to sleep…as soon as I write about this dance I’ve had with my bed.

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 RELISH 

What are you lying on that is hot and uncomfortable? Why do you continue to subject yourself to the hot coals of an unsatisfying job, a relationship that’s gone sour or self-pity over circumstances?

Readjust; expose yourself to a little danger and GET UP and MOVE! As long as you lay on those hot coals they are just going to get hotter. Get up and find a new cool spot to be in!

SALT

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”

The next seven verses of this chapter give 14 examples of what there are beginning and ending times for. Here are a few that I need to be more mindful of:

There’s a  time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to be silent and a time to speak.

If you’re uncomfortable in a certain area of your life, God may be trying to get your attention and urging you to move. The time for those things have ended.

 With all things that end, there is also a new beginning.

Cookie Cutter People

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My name is Lori. I’m from Cedar Park, TX. The end.

It wasn’t intentional. Surely there was an effort made to interview me. But there was no interview. However, my husband was fortunate enough to be interviewed: born in Kentucky, raised in Houston, graduated from UT Austin with a business degree, employed by an orthopedic implant company and is married to Lori, who is from Cedar Park.

Each week I receive an email that contains carefully constructed mini biographies of couples, individuals and children. Their life stories are based on one simple interview.

In last week’s email I met John and Betty: “John was born and raised *here*, went to school *here* and has a degree in *this*. John loves to do *this* on the weekends. John and Betty married in *this* year and have *xxxxxxxx* number of children who attend *this* school. Betty has a degree in *this* and is on *this* committee and does *this* in her spare time.”

How is it possible that Betty has any amount of spare time with *THAT* number of kids!?!

My name is Lori, I’m from Cedar Park.

I anticipated when it would be my turn to have my mini biography published. What would I tell the interviewer about myself? I didn’t have to answer that question because there was no interview.

Week after week, I see the biographies of all these interesting people and wonder how mine would have stacked up next to theirs. I don’t have a college degree or a super interesting job in a super interesting field. I don’t have a specific hobby or passion. I haven’t traveled to interesting places. I’m the married mom of two teenagers and two dogs with an average house in an average neighborhood. Nothing too noteworthy. I was born and raised in Cedar Park where I still live… now THAT is noteworthy. Almost as much as THIS little unknown tidbit: I still bake my cookies on the same cookie sheet I used in 1993. I know, I know…I shouldn’t overwhelm you with too many interesting facts about myself.

My name is Lori. I’m from Cedar Park AND I’m a cookie cutter person.

Just like those cookie cutter neighborhoods where all of the houses are the same and nothing about any one house stands out as particularly interesting… I’m a cookie cutter person that lives in a cookie cutter house.

I wasn’t granted my six sentences to shine in that weekly email and I’m really quite thankful. I’m afraid I would have gone into a spiel about all of the ingrown toenails I so bravely overcame as a child. Or how I was a ten year old expert in mud pie making.

That weekly email has been a convicting reminder to break out of the cookie cutter mold and add more interest, purpose and zest to my life. It’s given me a bold realization that I have much more potential jailed within me that needs to break free. It’s not about comparing myself to others and their college degrees, careers, children or hobbies. It’s about discovering my own passions and purpose in life and finding a way to use the creative gifts and talents I’ve been given.

Re-discovering myself was an agonizing process. Difficult questions had to be answered. I had to move off the back burner and intentionally grant myself the alone time I needed in order to answer these questions. Finally, the mold has been broken and I see a clearer picture of who I am and what I’m here for. I’m a writer. I’m an encourager through the words I write. I’m an aspiring speaker with a desire to inspire women to break out of their cookie cutter molds and SEE God speaking to them. I’m not first, I’m last. I’m here to serve my Creator, my family, my friends and you.

My name is Lori. I’m from Cedar Park. Who are you?

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RELISH: Feeling a little bored and useless with too much monotony? Do you want an elephant cookie cutter life, but you’re stuck with a snail cookie cutter life? Intentionally set out to discover or renew a passion or talent, and then USE those talents for the good of others.

SALT: God gives us gifts to use for unique and specific purposes. Romans 12:6 “we have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us”.

These are known as Spiritual gifts and are used to build up the church (the church as people, not a building). Romans 12:6-8 outlines the seven gifts: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, leading, giving and showing mercy.

 Which gift do you have and how are you using it to fulfill God’s purposes for your life?

 

Four More Days

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I haven’t been this excited about my upcoming birthday in YEARS!

I’m that little blue bird up there, waiting to take the plunge into this year-long challenge. I just can’t wait to see what happens!

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Do I know what I’m getting myself into? Am I really ready to spread my wings and fly into this unknown territory? This is such a big and scary challenge. I suppose if it wasn’t big and scary, then it wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Yes, I do know… and I’m ready!