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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Holiday Stress!!

I want to know why people get so stressed out about Christmas.  Is it:

1. Spending time with family when there’s at least one that you really don’t like?

2. Trying to find the perfect gift?

3. Buying things you can’t afford?

4. Or is it trying to buy the perfect gift you can’t afford for someone you don’t like?

I know that there can be stress and anxiety associated with the holiday season, regardless of your religious affiliation.  Whether it be financial stress, stress about running out of time, or just the stress of having to see all those people, stress is generally not a good feeling.  I personally would love to be able to give each person on my gift list that special something that would wow their socks off.  But I’m a realist, and I know that’s not going to happen.  I don’t have that special intuitiveness that tells me what everyone loves, especially those that I only see once or twice a year.  I just have to settle with a gift that lets them know I was thinking of them.

And for those people you have to put up with at your celebration, just try to give thanks that you don’t have to live with them.  (If you do, you need a lot more help than my blog can offer!)  Try to be amiable, and not get involved with their drama.  If they try to start something, just say, “Excuse me”, and walk away.  It may sound rude, but its much nicer than punching them.

As far as financial stress is concerned, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.  Sounds simple enough.  It can be hard, but there are so many nice hand-made gifts one can give that cost much less than buying that gift.  Learn how to crochet, make handmade cards, make some cookies and candy, and give those instead. Chances are, your family knows you are struggling and don’t want to add to your burden!  No one wants you to go into debt to buy them a trinket.  Your presence is always more important than the presents.

So try not to let the holidays stress you out.  Grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or whatever is your drink of preference, and look through those old photos of Christmas past.  I rarely remember what I got for gifts, but I always treasure the memories of those who are no longer with us.

Merry Christmas!


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Disappointed by Disappointment

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I have a problem.  I’m ready to admit it and get it out of my life.  I worry too much about what other people think of me.

It’s really a fear of disappointing people, and this is the issue I’m working on getting out of my life.  When I was a child I was a disappointment to my dad; I was the firstborn and I was a girl and he wanted a boy.  This sounds quite trivial I know, but its something that I’ve been dealing with for quite some time.  I wasn’t what my dad wanted.  My mom was happy with me, my grandparents were all happy with me, so why does this one little thing matter?

I believe that each of us has trials in our lives, and problems that result from all kinds of weird things that happen to us, or untruths that we grow up believing.  But this belief isn’t true for me.  I’m happy that I was a girl.  I’m happy with me, I love me.  And I know that I was created this way, as a female, for a reason.  I believe that God makes each one of us exactly the way He wants us to be for His purpose.  

But I also believe that what we experience in our lives makes us stronger and makes us into who we are as adults.  I consider myself to be a very strong woman, both mentally and physically, and spiritually.  I also get very defensive when someone tries to tell me what to do.  I don’t work that way.  I have to decide to do something, no one can make me do it.  I may be a little stubborn.  (I get that from my dad and his family who were amazingly stubborn.)  But this can be a good thing too.

A good thing? Remember, everything we experience can be a positive thing as long as we believe it is.  My stubbornness manifests in me sticking to my guns, not giving up or giving in, and if I truly believe something in my heart, no one will change that.  It makes me a stronger person, someone not scared to say what I mean, and say what I think.  I can look back and see that me trying not to disappoint people was all in my head.  I can’t disappoint anyone but myself.  Anyone who feels disappointed in you is really just disappointed in the fact that they were wrong about you.  Their idea of what they wanted you to do and what you did, were not the same.  Its their belief system that was wrong, not yours.  You can only satisfy yourself and your own belief system.  The fact that my dad didn’t get what he wanted is not my problem. 

(You can’t always get what you want.  The Rolling Stones were right.) 

So if I can take my own advice and remember this, I will be a much less anxious person, and will have a load off my shoulders.  There’s no reason to worry about disappointing anyone except yourself.  On that  same note, you won’t disappoint God either, because He knows your heart and your desires better than you do, and He loves you no matter what. 

What issues are you dealing with that may be something in your own belief system?  Have you dealt with this in your life?  What did you do to get out of this mindset?


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Thanks, Grandpa!

phone 028Grandpa’s favorite flowers had always been hollyhocks.  I’m not sure why, but he loved them.  They lined his garden and his yard, and some even grew out in the trees.  We, my siblings and cousins and I, would explore the trees looking for peacock feathers from Grandma’s prized peacocks in the summer.  Those birds had such an enchanting, sad, mournful call.  They were beautiful, but seeing them everyday made them much more ordinary than they really were.  I still to this day have some of those feathers.

I think all the grandkids loved being at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  Grandma and my aunt, who lived with them and helped them, and eventually took care of them in their old age,  made homemade cookies, and sometimes Grandpa would sing and dance in the kitchen with the old cook stove sitting next to the modern electric range.  The dishes were done by hand after every meal, and Grandma had certain jobs that were done on specific days of the week, probably just like her mother had done years before.  Grandpa cut all the wood to heat the house, I don’t remember any other heating system, and there were lines hanging across the ceiling in the living room to hang clothes to dry in the winter.  I loved helping operate the ringer washer tub, where we washed clothes just like they did in the olden days.  He was a hunter, trapper, and farmer, and loved being able to help him.  I felt valued by all my grandparents, but especially by my two grandfathers.  My paternal grandfather died when I was only 6, and I know I was loved deeply by him, but my maternal grandfather made a very deep impression me as a child, and does still to this day.  He was very devoted to God, and lived his life the best way he thought he could.

Grandpa died when I was 17.  He hadn’t been “here” for a long time, and the last conversation I can remember having with him was one from when I was 14.  Grandpa was my male role model, mostly because I had always felt like my dad was disappointed with me,  since I was the firstborn, and I ended up being a girl.  (And to make it worse, I was a tom boy, rubbing salt in the wounds.)  But Grandpa loved me for who I was, and I loved playing baseball, and hearing stories about when he was a little boy.  I even had an empty chew can that Grandma had put raisins in, so I could have a chew just like Grandpa did.  I’ve been told I look like him, and yes, I can see the resemblance.

Fast forward twenty years or so; I’m a happily married mother of two young children.  My husband and I have moved to a small town in North Dakota, and are enjoying owning our own home.  The existing flower garden in the yard was very overgrown, and full of white flowers.  I dug and planted and dug and planted, trying to get rid of the white and add some color.  I enlisted the help of my knowledgeable elderly neighbor ladies to know which of these unfamiliar plants were weeds and which were flowers.  After a few years of gardening something strange happens; my yard erupts with hollyhocks.  I’m not talking one or two seeds that drifted in on the wind, or a pod dropped by a bird in a one area, but an actual eruption. 

I had hollyhocks in every corner of the yard, every crack of the sidewalk, and every space of the yard that wasn’t mowed.  They were every color, every shape, and every size.  Giddy, I let them all grow.  My yard looked like Grandpa’s.  I told my mom about what happened, and she told me Grandpa must have sent them.  I had never considered this, and this thought made me very happy.  After a few years though, I had to start pulling them out.  They seeded and reseeded and I pulled hundreds of plants.  I now leave about 20 of them or so growing all around the yard in different nooks and crannies.  They make me smile.   And they remind me of Grandpa.