The older I get the more I am aware that I don’t have all the answers. I still have much to learn from the wisdom and experience of others. However, there are a few statements I can make about what I know for sure.

I’m positive each person has inherent value. We are all created by God and therefore are important to and cared for by him.

I’m positive we can all make a difference in the world by recognizing the needs of others and seeking to help meet those needs.

I’m positive the year ahead has good surprises in store. I’m excited about reaching out to more single moms online and in my community.

I’m positive I am always learning. I look forward to growing in understanding and encouraging others who are now going through the same struggles I experienced.

I’m positive that God will never abandon the people who believe in him. I have seen the evidence that God has protected and provided for me – even before I was aware of his influence – and now I am certain he will never leave me alone.

I’m positive God has a plan and a purpose for every life, and if we listen for his guidance and follow him, he will direct us exactly where we need to be.

I’m positive everyone wants to feel heard. Every woman wants to share her story and know her experience has purpose and meaning. What is your story? Leave me a comment. I want to hear it.

I’m positive I will never bungee jump, sky dive, or hike the Grand Canyon, though I admire people who do.

I’m positive that going to the dentist is important for my health, and I’m grateful to the people who perform this valuable service.

I’m positive I enjoy: long walks, sunrise, fall weather, cool evenings, talking with my friends and family, and connecting with my readers on this blog site.

What are you positive about today? How does your faith influence what you know to be true?

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Last week I watched a man roam my neighborhood marking trees with fluorescent pink tape. Soon two other guys showed up, wearing helmets and wielding chainsaws. They selected and removed the lowest-hanging branches, and cut down one entire tree that bowed over a storm drain. Then the men ran all the scraps through a screaming chipper machine and swept the street free of leaves and sawdust.

Overgrown trees can be dangerous in violent winter storms. Brittle limbs tear down power lines, break windows, and damage property. Fallen leaves and twigs block drains and flood the frozen streets.

Overburdened trees cause damage and injury to themselves. The high winds of winter snap dry branches and split aged trunks. Trimming away heavy dead wood encourages the tree to expand and blossom in the spring.

Sometimes we have to remove the dead and heavy branches from our own lives. Over-cluttered spaces and schedules prevent us from reaching our full potential. Sometimes we need to reduce the burdens that hold us back and inhibit new growth.

This week I spent time clearing away the clutter that had accumulated in my office. I gave away books I will never read again. I sorted through overstuffed notebooks, tossed pages I no longer needed, and organized the rest into easily managed and findable files. I ran old receipts and documents through a screaming shredder machine. The space in my office is clearer, more open and organized, more conducive to thought, planning, and looking forward to the future.

Cutting back what we no longer need allows room for new expansion and life. When we periodically assess and eliminate the possessions or roles that that no longer encourage us, we make room for flourishing growth. When we are unencumbered by unneeded excess, we feel more ready to experience, explore, and learn something new.

What branches of your life could use pruning today? What could be eliminated to give you room to grow?

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The automatic doors whooshed open, and we walked inside the glass dome. The air felt heavy and humid. Voices hushed and murmured. Despite the general peace and quiet under the sparkling dome, the botanical garden had much to teach about the colorful abundance and orderly chaos of life.

Reach for the light. The flowers in the garden turn their blooms toward the sun and rise slowly upward from the ground. The trees are always striving from the darkness of the earth toward the brightness of the sky. In life, we grow when we look up. We have to keep stretching skyward, always reaching toward a better life and a brighter atmosphere.  

Have deep roots. Tall trees and shrubs spread their root systems downward to hold them firmly in place. The taller the tree reaches, the farther its roots spread beneath, and the stronger the trunk will stand. The values we practice and the beliefs we hold will secure us firmly when storms rage and winds blow. The higher we want to go, the stronger and deeper our foundations need to be.

Hold on to what you love. Vines entwine great tree trunks and climb forever upwards with their support. Their clinging branches need something to support them as they seek for higher ground. We all need others to hold us up and help us reach our highest purpose. When we find the causes and people that give our lives meaning, we need to wrap them tight and hold them close.

But know when to let go. The earth turns, the air cools, and trees lose their once-green leaves. Seasons of growth and change are part of the natural progression of life. We need to recognize when old situations or relationships are no longer helping us learn. Sometimes we will have to release what we once had and move on to a new season of growth.

Be colorful. Each leaf in the botanical garden is different. Every bloom is a carefully crafted original of beauty and design. Each person is made to fulfill a different purpose within God’s vast creation. Every one of us can find her perfect place and perform her unique contribution.

The doors whooshed shut behind us when we left the garden. The trees continued reaching, flowers went on blooming without our interference. Life moves on without our constant direction or control. The earth turns at God’s command, and we can be comforted that all is safe within his hands.

 

How do you recognize the abundance of life surrounding you? Where do you go to remember the perfection of God’s creation?

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Show dogs are trained in gaiting --- trotting around the ring with their heads held high. Keeping the dog’s head up displays her form and motion for the judge who awards the final prize.

My dog is no show dog. On our morning walks she strains on the leash with her head down, snuffling along the pavement. She pauses at every abandoned candy wrapper and discarded cigarette, sees only the dead leaves and clumps of dried grass left withering on the sidewalk. Ahead of us rabbits leap for cover and birds flutter to higher vantage points, but my dog never notices them. She is too distracted by the clutter and garbage that litter the ground, and she misses the excitement and activity that cross our path only feet away.

Too often we keep our heads down, focused only on the road under our feet, gazing at the small patch of earth only inches ahead of our toes. We forget about the wide world, and we become unaware of the rest of life teeming just beyond our sight. We limit our perceptions and stifle our experiences when we do not raise our heads to see what lies before and around us.

I want to always be looking forward, scanning the distance for new and exciting opportunities. I want to be always fully aware of the broad and beautiful world that lies beyond my next step, and I ask God to guide me as we travel the path together. I pray I am always ready to discover all that lies behind each new horizon.

My dog is no show dog, and neither am I, but I can lift my gaze from the pavement of our daily walk and see the sights beyond my own small circle. I pray I will always examine the wider view and explore everything God puts in my way.

Have you ever limited your view of the world? How can you look beyond your immediate surroundings to perceive a broader horizon?

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