Friday, May 26, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Optical Illusions

My friend Rosemary freaked me out this week.

I was working in the infant room at Allison Little Lambs and she stopped in for a second when Alice was picking up her baby, Olivia. The three of us chatted for a few minutes, and then Rosemary pointed and said, "Who's over there?"

We glanced over to where she was pointing and Alice said, "Oh, that's my son, Steven." (He's three and came in with mom to help pick up his sister.)

"No," Rosemary said, "I know him. I mean the other kid."

I was immediately confused because Olivia was the last baby to be picked up that day.

"What other kid? It's just Steven."

"No," she insisted adamantly. "He's right over there. He's hiding!"

Okay, now I started to get goosebumps and my mind was racing to try to remember if I actually had one more kid that hadn't been picked up yet. (I'm sure all of you remember how many times I've left the oven on and forgotten about it, right?) 

No, I did the math. There shouldn't be any kids hiding in the corner.

Alice agreed. "Where?!" we asked as we stared where Rosemary was pointing.

Finally, (and I really can't remember who figured it out first) the mystery was solved. "It's a mirror!"

All of us burst out laughing as we realized that she had seen Steven's legs in the mirror on the side of one of the cupboards and she honestly thought another kid was hiding back there.

My thanks to Deanne's grandson Devon for helping me reenact the "mystery child" situation.
Whew! I hadn't forgotten about a child after all. I was so relieved, and every time I thought about it after that I started laughing again.

Rosemary sounded so sure, she had Alice and me believing (almost) that someone was there. But it was just an optical illusion.

It got me thinking the rest of the week about how many times we get alarmed or upset because of someone else's misperception. 

They see danger and tell us all about it and we get scared, too, even if there really isn't anything to be afraid of.

A friend goes on and on about how unkind another woman is and it clouds our perception of that person, even though she's been nothing but kind to us.

We read hatred into someone's actions even though it may have just been an honest mistake.

We have to keep our eyes wide open and choose to believe the best about people. 

And always look out for mirrors.

"Foolish dreamers live in a world of illusion; wise realists plant their feet on the ground." (Proverbs 14:18 The Message)

Have you ever been fooled by an optical illusion? How can focusing on God help you to see past the illusions and understand what is really happening in the world around you? 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on the Certainty of Uncertainty

If there's one thing you can be certain of, it's that life will always be...uncertain.

I realize that even more after the past couple of weeks.

On May 4, I saw a comment on my friend Robyn Niles's Facebook account about the passing of Wendy Jenkins. What?! Wendy (Tuttle) was a classmate of mine all the way from elementary school through high school. She was 50 years old. How could she be gone? I had gotten together with her a couple of years ago when I was in Michigan and always enjoyed connecting with her on Facebook. 

I asked Robyn about it a few days later and found out that she had gone in for a root canal and had some kind of reaction to the procedure. 

I still can't believe it. No warning. No chance to say goodbye.

Another example of how quickly things can change blew in on Wednesday evening. We had been hearing about a storm front headed our way and Gary was busy much of the day trying to figure out whether to cancel the Baccalaureate Service that evening or hold it an hour later, after the weather got past us.

At about 5:00, the power suddenly went out. We looked out the kitchen window and remarked about how black it looked out there. Then the wind started to come up, and then it really blew!

"There goes the basketball hoop!" It tipped over backward, away from the driveway. "Whoa! Look at the tree branches go!" Big branches seemed to be plucked from the middle of our tree and wooshed away to the North.

Gary got on the phone with the school and they made the call to postpone the service, then he went to the bedroom to change clothes. "The camper and boat tipped over!" he called to the rest of us.

"What?!!!" We raced to the back of the house and looked out the windows to see our camper lying upside down in the church parking lot.
Our boat was also up on its side, resting on our neighbor's boat. (Sorry, Carl and Barb!)

Later we found out that Carl had been looking out their back slider and had seen the camper go up and over the boats before smashing upside down. Wow!

After the wind died down and the danger was past, we ventured outside to take pictures and marvel at the strength of the wind. Trees were down all over. Our church garbage can ended up in the backyard of a church member four houses North of the church. 

Nobody got hurt in town, but a man from Dike was killed by Parkersburg when his semi was blown over on highway 57. Again, you never would expect that. A freak storm changed a family's life in an instant.

We can make our plans, but we just don't know what the future holds. Weather, disease, accidents, and even little disruptions to our lives make life very uncertain. 

As a Christian, the only way I can handle life's uncertainties is resting in the certainty that God has everything under control. I may not like everything that happens to me. Sometimes it may bring excruciating pain, but I know that I can trust my God. The Bible assures me of that over and over.

Gary took a picture after the rain stopped. Do you see that little piece of rainbow in the sky? I take it to mean "I will never again destroy your camper with a windstorm." No, I'm just kidding, but it is a really neat photo. 

Gary used it in a message for the graduates at Baccalaureate on Thursday night, reminding them that even when life seems chaotic, God provides hope.

That's something we all need to remember.

"Because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV)

Have you ever thought about the uncertainty of life? How can focusing on God help you to hold on to hope in the midst of that uncertainty? 


Friday, May 12, 2017

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Moms

This is a pic at Dollywood when most of the family got together for Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary.
Sunday is Mother's Day. Did you forget? I actually got a card for my mom in the mail on time this year. Of course, I'll call her on Sunday and thank her for putting up with me for 51 years.

Before we went to Tennessee last week, I started scanning in old family photos. Of course I waited til the night before we left, so I didn't get finished, but I did get a good number of them into my computer. 

It was fun to look through them with my sister Johnna while we were there, and to show them to my mom and dad.

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites of my mom here:

Shirlie Carole Morrison - 1940
"Coquette" dance number - 1948
Shirlie Carole Morrison - around 1950

Shirlie Morrison - Graduation Picture

My Mom and Dad on their wedding day - July 10, 1965
It's fun to go through old photos. Seeing them brings back memories of times we spent on vacation, celebrating holidays, and just living life together. 

I pray that I have many more years to spend with my mom, but I realize that many of my friends have already lost their mother. This will be a bittersweet Sunday for them. They'll miss their moms, but hopefully they will be comforted by many sweet memories of the woman who raised them.

My mom is pretty amazing. She used to make many of our clothes. She knit us sweaters. She loves to read and quilt. She prays for her children and grandchildren. She faced hard times and came through them all. She doesn't give herself enough credit, but she's definitely a great woman. She's my favorite mom! :-)

I thank God for making her my mom and giving me the family I had. She, Dad, and my sisters Jill and Johnna made me the person I am today. (I want to say something snarky like "So you can blame them!" but I'll keep this sweet and serious) I love them all.

And on this special occasion, I'll focus on the best Mom I've ever had! 

Thanks, Mom...I love you!

"A wife [or a mom] of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10 NIV)

Have you sent your mother a card or letter lately? Make sure you call her on Sunday if you can. How can focusing on God help you to appreciate all that your mother has done for you?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sorry Saturday: Let's Focus on Letting Things Go

We have been in Tennessee this week. Before we left I made arrangements to change our monthly Writers Group meeting. I put it in the paper that we'd be meeting a week later than normal. I saw a couple of group members during the week and checked with them to see if it would work. I made a mental note to call Betty because she had offered to bring refreshments on May 2.

I told myself several times that I needed to call her so she didn't waste time making something for our meeting.

You can probably guess what happened. I was visiting with my parents on Tuesday night and got a phone call at about 8 p.m. I jumped up and answered it to hear Betty asking if we had Writers Group that night.

My heart sank as I explained that we were postponing until next week and I had forgotten to contact her. I apologized all over myself and asked her to forgive me. I'm sure I rambled on for way too long about how sorry I was. She reminded me that she wouldn't be able to come next week because of another commitment she had. We hung up and I kicked myself all the way back to the couch, feeling terrible.

I forgot about it until the next day when I was taking a walk. All of a sudden I remembered my mistake and a wave of regret washed over me. I had to make a conscious decision to let it go.

I didn't deliberately neglect to call my friend. I said I was sorry. I determined to write a big note in the future so I don't forget to make important phone calls. 

It would do no one any good to keep beating myself up over my mistake. I'm sure Betty wasn't too happy with me on Tuesday evening, but if I know her, she got over it quickly and moved on.

I guess I am improving in this area. In the past I might have cried and let my mistake ruin way too many hours of my life. Now I can look at it more objectively and move on. 

We have to learn to do this so that we can live happy, fulfilling lives. 

This was a minor error that inconvenienced someone. What about more serious mistakes that cost us or someone else lots of money? What happens when a mistake we make leads to someone's injury or death? Are we supposed to hang onto those situations and never forgive ourselves and move on? Will that do us any good?

No. It doesn't do anyone any good. Of course, we apologize. We make restitution if possible and we learn from our mistakes so that we don't commit the same errors in the future. 

After all of that, we let it go. We accept God's forgiveness, forgive ourselves, and move forward in faith.

We're human, so we're going to have lots of opportunities to practice the skill of letting things go.

" thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal...." (Philippians 3:13b-14a NIV)

Do you hold onto regrets? How can focusing on God help you to let things go and move forward with more joy and faith?