Be a Suzie Sunshine!

Do you have thoughts of gratitude or griping throughout the day? Day 17 talks about how easy it is for our minds to turn to complaining. Do you think when you walk up people think–Oh no, here comes Debbie Downer? Or maybe they think that when they are having a tough time they should talk to you because you are always so positive. I know I hope to be Susie Sunshine!

The reflect for Day 17 is to write down my top three complaints for today. After I have written them down, I should count to 10 and reevaluate and redirect. I need to surrender my rights to those complaints and ask the Lord to change my heart or the situation. Believe it or not, this is not easy for me. I guess I try not to be a complainer so I don’t notice stuff unless it is really bad!

I don’t think it is because I have already given it to God. It goes back to my original posts about how I have always taken care of myself. In a way, I am second guessing whether I have the right to complain about anything. Complaining doesn’t do any good, it just ruins the rest of the day so it is a waste of time and energy. Best to continue on and keep making things happen, right?

The point is a good one anyway. I think I am going to make it a habit to pay attention to when things that are worthy of complaint and redirect them to God instead of just making myself think they are not important enough to worry about it. It won’t be worry if I give it to God!

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and health to the body. Proverbs 16:26

An Interesting Town Character

My friend Jenny told me to pray to God for guidance about whether to get a side job or not. I talked to Him on my walk but He didn’t answer my question! The thoughts that He kept putting in my head were about remembering my worth. What? I know I am worthy yada yada yada. What about the job dilemma?

But…Okay, God. Because I have vowed to listen even when it is uncomfortable (or I think it is wrong!!!) I started listing all my gifts that God had given to me and all the reasons why I am worthy. Out loud. While I walked home. Truthfully I didn’t even notice if people were staring at me or anything because I was very intent on listing them all. With my tight capri leggings and tank top, I did not once think about whether anything was jiggling or ugly to people driving past me as I walked and talked to myself. Making a name for myself as an interesting town character hahaha.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to remember all the times I had buried my opinion to make someone else happy or satisfied. I don’t even remember a time when I did something without thinking about the repercussions on my reputation. Right now, I am already thinking about what to do to make myself more “date-able”. I got my hair cut really short after Al died and I LOVE it. But…guys like girls with longer hair so I will have to start growing it out. I am exercising like a mad woman because I have to be thin to be noticed, right? I am wearing colors that compliment me according to (fill in the blank,) I am listening to music that is “normal”, not like the BeeGees (even though I love them!). What if I did stuff to make ME happy and started using my many gifts to attract someone instead? Listing my gifts is really making me feel strong and reminding me of who He has made me to be. Thanks God!

After my walk, I actually went to the store and bought myself 3 new shirts. Two are yellow, even though (fill in the blank) said that yellow is not a good color on me and I look better in blues. Yellow makes me happy and I can’t think of anything that looks better on me than that! And I will be keeping my hair short for now. I love it and my opinion should be the only one that matters on the subject. I am still walking every day but that is more for my mental fitness then my physical fitness. I want to be a size that makes me happy, not a size I think will be appropriate. I am giving up the gym for right now. It is a pretty big chunk of my budget and I can do almost everything at home. Besides, I spend a lot of my time looking for approval while I am there instead of being thankful for the strength and determination God has gifted to me so I can lift the weights or do the different exercises.

I still had the job dilemma but I figured God was trying to get me to remember who I am first. Even with the job search I was not thinking right. I was definitely trying to find a job where I would get the most exposure. Do I work near my gym? In a place where my church family might see me? There are a couple of potential future fellows I have been listing, if I work near them it would be a good way to open the lines of communication. Maybe I feel like I would be respected more because I have to work so hard without Al to help me. As if working every day, caring for my home and pulling myself out of the darkness that tries to engulf me isn’t enough! God knows my heart and He knows I need to build myself up before I am released into the world in a part time job. The attitude of putting myself second to make others happy or to make things easier for them is a hard one to break.

I woke up this morning, listened to the BeeGees as I walked to the beach and put on one of my new yellow shirts after my shower. Wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from a friend about a job that would be perfect for me. I haven’t even started looking yet! Thank you, God!

“For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the Lord’s declaration–“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is Good, God is great…

Hi all! Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there. Today has been a quiet day, I decided not to even try to do anything in case it was tough being the first without Al. Thankfully, it was okay! I went to church, I walked to the beach and sat in the sand, thanking God for all the wonderful things in my life, and of course, I did cat visits.

So Day 8’s homework is to acknowledge God’s goodness. Write down specific times when I have seen God’s goodness in my life. Something happened yesterday that is a pretty big sign of God’s goodness in my life. I messed up on a cat sit. I got a text from the owner asking me if I had been there on Saturday morning because the cats seemed really hungry. I had not been there since Friday morning because that is what I had in my schedule! The good news is that the client didn’t fire me. But it was an eye opener for me. I have not forgotten or missed a visit ever in the last 16 years, although I have forgotten and had to rush to do a dog walk here or there but they are usually last minute jobs and I didn’t put them in my schedule. I have a software program to enter jobs into so that things like this don’t happen, since the software will send confirmations and if the date is wrong the client can tell me to fix it. I hadn’t used the software on the missed visit client because she didn’t really want to; so now I need to insist with future clients. The bottom line is, when things get crazy and I start to lose focus I feel like God sends me a sign to chill out. Is that God’s goodness? I think so!

Another way God’s goodness is in my life is in my home. I wake up in the morning and I look around at the wonder of it all. I have plenty of space inside and outside. I can walk to the beach, walk to the store if I want, walk to the bank…really walk anywhere. Even being as close to everything as I am, I am still in a quiet and relaxing place. I have neighbors who I love. I am alone in my own little bubble but still connected. Thank you God for sending me here!

Absolutely my health and well being are in the top 10 things that God has graced me with. I think people (umm…me!) forget how amazing they are. I get up in the morning with lungs full of air, the strength to get myself out of bed and moving, the mind power to get dressed and drive myself to work. I eat for nourishment and sometimes for fun!

All in all, God is good!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever.” Psalms 106:1

Day 5–celebrate the source

And we are back! I am back to my 21 (ish) days of a grateful heart. Day 5 talks about the gifts we have and how they all are directly given by our heavenly Father. Every time I am complimented or promoted, it is from Him.

I have already stated that I am on that same page. I believe that everything that happens in my life (good or bad!) is a direct gift from God. The reflect for today is to jot down a few things that happened that led up to the moment where I felt honored and celebrated. I guess these would be in addition to the ones I have previously listed?

One that comes to my mind is when one of my client’s daughter told me that I was doing a really good thing by taking care of her Mom’s cat. (the backstory is that I go to an assisted living facility daily and scoop the litter/feed/medicate if needed for the residents there. I definitely started out because I was thinking about all the money I would make if I could get just a few people to hire me; but it became clear pretty quickly that I was there because God had sent me to help these people keep their animals when they could no longer meet the needs of their pet.) This woman’s Mom is my first client ever there, and she is near and dear to my heart. Her daughter told me that her Mom has very little in her life and if she couldn’t have her cat, she wasn’t sure what she would do. I was so honored for making such a difference in someone’s life. I definitely thanked my heavenly Father for the gift of my business.

That was a while ago, and I guess recently it would have to be all the people who told me how lucky Al was to have me caring for him. Over and over again I have had his friends tell me how fortunate he was to have been married to someone who was able to deal with all the different parts of his cancer. I definitely felt celebrated. But honestly, I have always felt that God put Al in my path and we both benefited from each other’s gifts. He and I met and started dating about 6 months after I got divorced from my first husband. I was young, with young children and not a lot in the way of confidence or self respect. Al treated me like I mattered, like my opinions mattered. It took a while, but he eventually convinced me that I was not a failure because my marriage was. Al got me my job as a pet sitter and Al convinced me to open my own business. He even helped me name it. When, after a few months, the business was still so slow and I was losing hope, he bought me a pair of ski pants, a matching jacket, boots, gloves and sun glasses to celebrate how successful he just knew I would be. There were so many other times that I doubted my own gifts and Al just reminded me. Being together turned out to be a gift from God for both of us!

I am not 100% sure that I am answering the question correctly but when I think of gifts from God, that is what comes to mind. There are other gifts, too many to even write here, and I hope that I remember to thank Him for those as well. I try to thank Him as things come about, and to always remember that my accomplishments would not be possible without the gifts of a loving Father.

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:16-18

Day 3–wonderous acts, anyone?

So today is day three of my YouVersion Bible Study, 21 Days to cultivate a grateful heart. In day three, I am asked to write 5 (or more) wonderous acts of God that I have seen in my life lately. A wonderous act is described in YouVersion as how God provided in a time of need, someone he used to impact you or your family’s life, how he protected you or someone you love, or anything else that made you go “Wow, God”

I definitely used to watch out for these little “God smiles” I called them. Things that were definitely given to me by God and they made me smile (original, I know!) Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my way. Maybe it was when Al’s first scan showed that the chemo was keeping the cancer at bay but not really doing anything to slow it or make it go away. I believe that was the first time that I doubted that God “had my back” and I am still fighting those feelings of abandonment. One of the biggest reasons for this blog actually! Anyway, back to the wonderous acts.

I see God smiles all around me. When I was having tiny anxiety attacks about my non-existent bank account and the large part of my rent that I had to use to fix my car, I suddenly found myself with a job that was going to pay me enough to cover the rent and plump my savings up just enough so I could breath again. When I run into my neighbor and he tells me how happy he is that my son and I are going to stay in our apartment another year, it reminds me that I have begun a community where I live and people actually care about ME. Sometimes I forget that I am more than just “Al’s wife”, and God sends people like my neighbor to remind me. Along the same line, I had lunch recently with a few of Al’s friends that I made while he was sick. I told them how nice it was to have lunch with them and how I felt like they actually invited me to lunch because they wanted to see me, not because they missed Al and I was the sloppy second or whatever so they figured it was as close to him as they would get. When we talked about that, they said they couldn’t figure out why Al never really introduced us and a voice in my head (God, is that you? It’s me, Margaret…) told me that perhaps I only met the friends of Al’s that he wasn’t close to because he was worried that they would like me more than him. Al loved to be the most important person in the room so that is not really a stretch! When I am waiting in line at the deli to get something for a client and a woman comments on my kitty sneakers, which turns into a discussion about her cats and how her sister is selling her house and moving so this woman is not sure what she will do for vacations; I know that is God putting people in my path that need my help and in turn are helping me with building my small empire (insert maniacal laugh). Finally, last week at church I told a friend about my struggles with entering the church after I had driven there and she told me she had the same experiences and how she worked through them. It was so healing to know that I am not alone in this fear. God sent her to be in my path so I would tell her my story and she would validate it and tell me hers.

I had forgotten to look for the God smiles in my daily life. I am smiling as I am writing this blog…I think it is time to put my detective hat back on and look every day. I guess it is like breathing, you don’t realize how important it is (like, life giving and stuff!) and you never really stop to think of how great it is to be able to breath. Without reminding myself of all the ways that God DOES have my back, it is easy for me to hold on to the grudge I have against him. But maybe daily reminders of His goodness will melt that ice. Cultivate…I don’t know…a grateful heart?