Ramblings

Life, family, business


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Where Does Creativity Come From?

phone 906Sometimes I struggle with finding inspiration for my creativity.  I paint, I draw, I write, and I play music, I sew, crochet, and make jewelry.  Some days, the ideas roll through my mind like waves on the beach.  I have to write the extra things down so I don’t lose them.  Other days, I can’t come up with an original idea to save my soul.  That’s what makes me wonder, where does creativity come from?

There’s so many theories about this, but it still doesn’t make me able to turn it off and on at will.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  There’s nights where my brain can’t shut off, coming up with ideas for blogs and painting ideas;  color combinations and ideas for flower beds and planting things.  Other nights I fall right asleep.  Some days I start painting or writing, and I’m disappointed when its time to put things away and go back to work, or to bed, or to do chores.  Other days, I can stare at my painting supplies and feel nothing.

I do believe that creativity comes from a place deep within us, within our brains and our souls.  But its not an all-access place, it can only be opened with a key.  Sometimes, the key is in the lock, ready to be turned by the lyrics of a long forgotten song, or the flash of a bird flying through the brilliant blue sky.  Sometimes the key has been hidden, and the lock doesn’t open.  I can try to force it open, but it usually doesn’t work.

I have learned that, in my mind anyway, creativity needs inspiration, and that inspiration is my key.  I can be inspired by many things, or sounds, or songs, or pictures.  I can  be inspired, but I can’t make inspiration.  I have to find it outside myself.  I have to be adventurous.  I need to see, and hear, and read, and sing, and be open to the possibilities all around me.  I need space, and quiet, and look deep within my heart and mind to find it.  I need to experience life in order to find inspiration to be life and express life.

But I also need to be able to look within myself to make that inspiration come to life.  I have to look within myself and find where it fits, what it’s doing, and what it stirs inside of me.

Art is life, and life is art.  Everyday of our lives is a picture we paint with our actions and thoughts.  We write the story of our lives on our hearts, and the hearts of those all around us.  We can choose to be an inspiration to others.  We can choose to be a song, or a story, or a picture, or all of those things in one.  Our lives are the one thing that we have to express, and we should make the most of it.  Every one of us is unique in our own way, and no one is going to have the same story or song, or picture as anyone else.  Each of us has our own perspective of life, the art of life; and each of us is an artist.  You are the ONLY ONE who can write your story, paint your picture, or sing your song.  No one else can do it for you.

So what will you write today?  Or paint? Or sing? What will inspire your life?  And what, pray tell, are you going to do about it?


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Baptism

My sermon from Sunday, January 10th.

What is baptism?  A baby comes to mind, all the family and sponsors dressed up and smiling, as the minister drips a little water on his or her head.  The baby usually cries or fusses a little, we all read a liturgy together, pledging to help raise this child in the family of God.  Some churches baptize people as adults instead, plunging them into a tank of water or submerging them in a river. Either way is fine since we only baptize with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of baptism is to show the world we are accepting Christ as our Savior.  If we baptize a baby, we are welcoming him or her into the family of God.  Baptism itself is simply a ceremony of identification with the Christian church. But the true meaning of baptism is rebirth, being born again in the presence of Jesus, and accepting His resurrection for the life-changing thing that it is.

I remember awhile back, Pastor Brian Dixon gave a sermon on baptism, and during the sermon, he presented a bowl of river rocks and invited each congregant to come up and take a rock to remind each of us of our baptism.  I took a shiny black rock and listened to the rest of the sermon instructing us to use this rock to remind us of our own baptisms.

I kept that rock in my pocket for months.  Each time I felt the rock, or became aware of its existence, I made to sure thank God for something. I was reminded that God is the rock I build my life upon. God is my foundation, and all things come from Him.  I would thank Him for my family, friends, coworkers, and all the blessings He brings into my life.

“Thank you for this beautiful day, God!” I would think as I felt the rock. Sometimes I would hold it in my hands as I prayed and I would thank God for giving me this rock so that I thought of Him more often.  When life would get chaotic and my brain was thinking of a million things at once, all I had to do was hold the rock and I could stop and thank God for any and all things.  The rock became almost like a security blanket.

Then, one day as I got ready for work, I stopped to grab my rock and my lip balm to put them in my pocket, and the rock was gone.  I looked all over, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the laundry room. Where did I put my rock?  I had to go to work without it.

That night I continued searching for my rock, but it was gone. I questioned my husband and children if they had seen it.  But alas, the rock was nowhere to be found.  I told my wise friend that I had lost my rock, and she said to me, “Maybe its because you don’t need it anymore.”

God gives, and God takes away.  I thought about this for awhile.  Its true, I was thinking about God on a regular basis, and every time I noticed my rock was missing from its place, I would still thank God for something.  My thanking God had become a habit.  But a good habit at that!  I may have not had the physical reminder, but I still remembered to thank God for everything in my life.

I realized that I truly didn’t need the rock to have God in my life.  And I realized that the rock helped me become a better person by helping me to remember that God is with me in all things.  When I feel God in my life every day, I am more at peace. I know that God is in me, and I am in God.  I know that God works all things together for my good.  I trust God to take care of me, and in this trust I have learned to have less fear of the world and the circumstances of life.

God tells us to ask Him for everything we need, and He will provide.  I worry less about the future and take the time to experience the present.  I ask God for wisdom and knowledge when I have a problem, and He gives me what I need.

When I strive to see the world through God’s eyes, its an entirely different place.  I tend to look for the good in people instead of the negative.  I see the beauty of nature which is God’s creation.  I understand that God’s will prevails over humankind, and no matter what I do, God loves me the same.  I know how much I love my children, even when they make mistakes, and to think that God loves us more than we love our children is amazing.   I am one of those children, and so are you.  God loves us no matter what we do.  When we place our trust in our Father, He always takes care of us.  He is the ultimate definition of love.  God promises us all these things when we become His children, and so much more.

So if any of you want to become more aware of God in your life, I invite you to find some thing that makes you think of God.  Think of it as continuing your baptism.

 

 

 


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What’s Your Opinion?

I can be a very opinionated person.  I have a very strong belief system and I defend my beliefs.   An opinion is simply a belief or view or judgment formed about something.  We all have them.  Some have more than others.

Every person is entitled to their own opinion about anything.  Here in the United States we have the freedom of speech, and we have the right to voice our opinions.  However, its important to remember that not everyone has the same opinion, and even though you can voice your opinion, I don’t have to listen.

What makes some people feel the need to express their opinion to people they barely know, with no invitation?  What makes these people think that their opinion means anything to people they don’t know?

This is one of the things I’ve been pondering over this Christmas holiday.  It seems like I meet one of these people every year or two.  But what makes a person act like this? I’m not talking about your outspoken friend talking to you, I’m talking about that person who has just met you, or is in your line at the store, or the person behind you in line at the buffet who makes unkind or rude comments about your choice of food.

The one theme I see in people like this is ignorance.  People who don’t take the time to learn about a situation and just try to judge others are very ignorant.  People who try to tell you what they think or believe without being invited into the conversation are rude, discourteous, and lacking manners.

I know I have acted this way as well, especially when I was younger.  Its something I try very hard not to do.  These rules are obviously not for close friends, they are my rules for meeting new people and talking to people you don’t know well:

NEVER insert your opinion where its not wanted. How do you know if it’s wanted?  The person will ask you for it if they want it. If they don’t ask, keep your yap shut.

NEVER criticize other adults for their choices.  Its not your life, you don’t get to choose for anyone except yourself.  If you don’t like the way someone else did it, then don’t do it that way yourself, and keep your yap shut.

And lastly, you can judge people all you want in your head, but keep your yap shut.  Karma is a bitch. You reap what you sow.  Once you start judging others out loud, you will become the target of those who will judge you as harshly as you judge others.

I can tell you from experience that when you try to insert your opinion into someone else’s life, they generally aren’t going to like it, especially if it doesn’t agree with theirs.  When people do any of these things to me, or breaks my rules, it creates an instant dislike of that person.  Is this me judging?  Yes, it is.  As an adult, I get to decide who my friends are, and who I talk to.  There are so many negative people in this world, I try my hardest to make sure I don’t add any of them into my  circle of friends, or even my list of acquaintances.

Since I have started choosing the people I allow into my life more carefully, I have become a much happier person.  I surround myself with people who are also tolerant, loving, and peaceful.  I reject those who are abrasive, self-serving, or disrespectful of my life’s beliefs.  Every one of us gets to choose who we let in; respect yourself and make purposeful choices.


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A Christmas Story from the Store

I am the owner of a small convenience store in a small town in rural North Dakota.  Every morning, a group of mostly retired men come to the store to have coffee or a bottle of water, and shoot the breeze.  Some play cards, some play practical jokes. Its a great group of guys who have become almost like family to me.  We’re open every morning of the year, except Christmas.   We joke around a lot, and keep tabs on what everyone is doing or where they are going for the winter.  Almost all of them have a great sense of humor, and we laugh so much, sometimes my cheeks hurt.  

One of the jokesters was getting ready to leave this morning.  I asked him if he had gotten something nice for his wife’s Christmas present.  He said, “Nope!  I got her a present a few years ago and she never used it.”

I asked him what he had gotten her.

He laughed, “A cemetery plot.”

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and a fantastically wonderful New Year!

 

 


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Why its Important to Teach an Old Dog Some New Tricks

I started playing piano about a year ago.  I was so good about practicing every day, and I was even impressed how quickly I was able to play some of the songs.  But then spring came, and my true passion ensued: gardening.  I love gardening so much; planting seeds, the smell of fresh soil, the first shoots of germination, the breath of new spring life.

On rainy days when I was off work, I still practiced, but those were few and far between.  My poor piano sat neglected.  But then eventually, as it always does, the frost came, and the piano came back to life.  I lost so much from my negligence, but I’m gaining it back.  I’m working my way to where I was when spring sprung and I ran outdoors, leaping for joy at the new growth and spring rain, and plants.  I’m still ahead of where I was last year at this time when I just started.

My doctor told me that learning something new, like playing an instrument is amazingly good for your brain.  It creates new pathways, new connections.  The funny thing is,  I can feel them growing!!   I know, it sounds crazy, but I can feel my brain working, expanding and improving.  I can only practice for so long, before I can’t take it anymore.  Its as though my brain says, “Ok, this is all can muster for today,” and I need to stop.

I also want to learn Spanish, but I haven’t gotten very far with that.  Buenas Tardes!!   I have gotten through the first few lessons, however.  If only I had more time!!  I think this is why its so important to help our children learn these things when they are young.  When we are children, we learn so much faster, and we have the time to learn, and to practice.  But if we do not have the opportunities as children, there’s no reason not to learn the things we want to know as we get older.  Its good for our brains, and its good for our self-esteem.  I love being able to play a new song, or understand what someone said in Spanish, even though I maybe can’t say it on my own quite yet.  The neural pathways are still being constructed.  But once they are painstakingly built, I will work harder to keep them in good condition.  Perhaps I will try speaking Spanish to my plants, or play them a song.

Its so good for each one of us to learn something new.  Did you know that learning a new hobby or trade can ward off depression?  How about protecting yourself from dementia and Alzheimer’s?  I consider myself to be a bit young to worry about that yet, but as we all age, we all are at risk for so many mind-killing diseases and disorders.

You’ve always dreamed about learning a new language?  Speak it!!  It will only help you!  Always dreamed of learning to play a musical instrument?  Play it!  It will make you feel great!  Always wanted to learn a new hobby, or trade?  Learn it!!  It will set you ahead of yourself, and it will help your brain stay younger.

What are the dreams you have?  The things you want to learn?  What language do you want to speak?  Find your interests, and go with it.  Learn something new, no matter what your age.  You’re NEVER too old to learn some new tricks!


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The Fall of Summer

As the leaves turn from green to yellow to red, the fruits ripen, and the chipmunks are busy gathering their winter supplies, my heart saddens, knowing the joyous days of summer’s heat are being cut short.  The blue jays, with their clever calls mimicking the sound of a hovering hawk, fight over the acorns with the squirrels. The yellow jackets appear more intensely, hungry for every fallen apple, and ready to bite every intruder.  The luscious season of tomatoes ripening, juicy goodness only available in the late summer, is almost over.  The bags and bags of them in the entry way, waiting for me to do something.

The first nip of frost blackens my squash and pumpkins leaves, and they ripen quickly, forced into readiness by their natural enzymes.  “Hurry up, everyone!” the frost seems to say, “Your time is almost done”.  The zucchini plants make one final attempt to produce more fruit, and the yellow squash does the same, sending out new blossoms, calling to the bees. The bees are also in a hurry, to bring more nectar back to the hive for their winter syrup of life.

The wild animals grow heavier coats. My chickens grow in their heavy under feathers, getting ready for the cold.  The air in the evenings has a crispness to it, a chill, and the fire warms our hands and feet.  The leaves crunch underfoot.  The flowers are faded, turning to stalks. The seeds blow on the wind, their ingenious parachutes and umbrellas of fuzz setting them adrift in the sky.  Like the pioneers, they set off, not knowing where they will land, but they will try to make a life wherever that is.

The geese and ducks fly overhead.  Going south, who can blame them?  The Monarch butterflies too, migrating back to their warmer climate for survival.  Their instinct pulls them into the migration patterns their ancestors followed for generations, and now they follow as well, creating an amazing pattern of life.

Every fall, I add another number to my chronological age.  The numbers don’t really bother me like I thought they would, I still feel the same inside.  An old neighbor of mine once told told me that the years go by faster the older you get.  This scares me, because they go by so quickly already.

The winter comes every year, and every year it catches me off guard.  I’m not ready.  Not ready for the cold or the wind, or the snow or the ice.  I wish for the warm nights of summer, fireflies dancing in the grass, and planting.  Planting everything, working the garden to see what will grow, what will fail, and what will turn into something extraordinary from a seed, some dirt, and some water; the promise of what is yet to come.  The miracle of life and death, and rebirth; of hibernation and migration, the circle of life.


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The Love of Gardens

10428087_10207352175110670_1916599059228317282_nMy favorite thing about spring, summer, and fall, is my garden.  Well, gardens.  I have several flower gardens, and small plots of different things, but my vegetable garden is my prize.  I love being able to grow my own food and share it with my children and their friends, and my friends and neighbors.  I believe that we are meant to care for the Earth and nurture the soil and its inhabitants.  I am an organic gardener, I use no man made chemicals.  I use my labor, and my love instead.  I do use some organically approved insecticidal soap if the need arises, but I normally don’t have an issue with bugs because I have chickens.  Chickens eat the bugs before they can damage my crop.  The chickens will eat a little out of my garden, but I offer them veggies and fruits they love in a designated area, so they usually just look in that spot if they want a tomato, or some over ripe raspberries or cucumbers. I put netting around my lettuce patch, but that is the chicken’s favorite. If I want any, I need to keep them out!

 I always grow more than I need so I have some to offer to others.  I use a heavy mulching method so I have very few weeds, and I can just enjoy my time looking at the plants and picking the harvest when its ready. Nothing tastes as good as vegetables right from the garden!

I don’t get to this blog as often in the summer, since I love being outdoors, and I try to spend my free time enjoying the short summer we have here in North Dakota.  But today is a rainy day, and my laptop was calling.

I noticed that in the past year, more people from Brazil have read my blog than people from any other country.  I want to say “hello!” and welcome my South American readers!  I appreciate you, and I’d love to get to know you.  If any of you are gardeners, or small business owners as well, I’d love to hear about it.  In fact, I really love getting to know people from other countries and cultures, and I’d love it if you would drop me a line, and tell me about yourself!


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Wandering

Sometimes I feel like I am drifting through life with no real purpose. I am the wanderer, wandering.

I’ve done the homework, the writing, the thinking, the praying.

What am I meant for?

I can write out sheets and sheets of goals and purposes, but what do they really mean? What are they worth?

I can read book after book, and I have, but still, none of them tell me what I should be doing, what I should be giving back to this world.

I know that, in the sense of the Universe, I’m right where I need to be.  I know how to act, how to be, how to love.

But what can I do to change the world?

What can I do to make some sense out of this crazy place called Earth, full of greed and hate, and apathy?  Full of loneliness, despair, and hurt.  Full of rejection, sadness, and sorrow.

What can I do to make people wake up and realize that this isn’t all there is, there is more!

I want to help. I want to change lives. I want to teach.

But the majority of people don’t want help, they don’t want to change, and they don’t want to learn.

If only I could open their eyes to see!!  There is more than this!!!  There is so much more!!!

So I work on me; my life, changing me, learning new things to help me.  Maybe someday, this will pay off.  But I still pace, wringing my hands, feeling like I should be doing something MORE.  But what?  What can I give? What can I give to this crazy Earth full of love and peace, and compassion? Full of happiness, joy, and kindness?  Full of cooperation, encouragement, and God?

I will breathe in. I will breathe out.  I will breathe in.  I will breathe…and I will wait.


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On Being Helpful…

As a small business owner, one of things I do to enhance myself, is read books others people have written about business and life.  I have learned some great things, and read some weird ideas.  But the thing that is prevalent in most successful businesses is one thing: treating your customers the way you like to be treated.

This practice is easy for me, I’m generally a people person, and I like it when people leave the store with a smile on their face, or at least their heart.  But its not only important in business, its important in all aspects of life.

When you treat people the way you want to be treated, you make yourself a more humble person.  You can’t treat people well if you think you’re better than everyone.  You can’t treat people well if you’re selfish and only think of yourself.

The Bible even tells us this: treat others the way you would like to be treated.

If I was hungry, I would like to be fed.

If I was naked, I would really like some clothes!

If I was thirsty, I would like a drink.

But honestly, when I’m sick, I want want to be by myself until I feel better.

(And I sure don’t plan on going to prison, but if I did, I’d really like a good lawyer.)

If there are ways that we can help others, I believe we should.

Sometimes, all it takes is an ear to listen, and a nonjudgmental ear at that.  I’ve learned in life that people like to tell you their problems, but most of them don’t want your opinion.  So if they don’t ask, try not to give it out.  Even though you may have a really great solution to the problem, ask if they want advice, but don’t try to give freely what is not asked for.

I don’t want to imply that I’m the answer genius here, God knows I have problems of my own.  But if I can help one person, my day is not wasted.  It can be a very simple thing too, like someone needs a phone number, or help with their smart phone, or to look up something on the internet and they don’t have a computer, or they are short a quarter for their purchase and I have one in the “kitty”.  Little things can really make someone’s day better and brighter.  What are ways you’ve helped someone in a small way and it made you feel good inside?  I’d love to hear about them in the comment section.


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The Song of Spring

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.