Better. 

We always think there are better days ahead. We look forward to the days the kids are grown and can take care of themselves. We dream of the days a bill  comes through the door and we can pay it straightaway. 

We look ahead to the time we no longer have to go out to work and plan what we’ll do when we retire. 

When times are tough it’s natural to look forward to the storm passing, to want to glimpse calmer seas on the horizon. 

In the days of keeping up with the Joneses  (who incidentally buy most things on credit) we’ve become a dissatisfied people. We want better things, better technology, the latest gadget, to see the latest films etc. 

It has become unfashionable to live in the moment and that’s a great pity because that’s where the treasure is. 

I know from personal experience that it’s difficult to know contentment sometimes. Everyone else’s grass always looks greener but it isn’t. 

They have dissatisfaction and discontent also. You just don’t realise it because you’re looking at their highlight reel on social media. 

A picture came up on Facebook today. It was of my youngest daughter standing outside our house shortly after we moved in here. 

I couldn’t help but notice how much she’s grown. Her face has lost its baby chubbiness. She’s grown taller. She’s in her penultimate year of Primary school and I just don’t know where that time has flown to. 

But I can say this. An awful lot of it I spent waiting for better days, for easier days, for lovelier days .

Jim Elliott, the missionary said “Wherever you are be all there”. 

It’s one of the biggest things I struggle with yet it’s so important. 

Learn to live your life in the now. It takes practice but it can be done and it’s necessary because while we’re waiting on a bigger and better ship to come along laden with everything we think we possibly need we’re missing out on valuable memories now. 
Till next time. 
This post was written in response to the Daily Prompt -better. 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/better/

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Entire of itself (Island -Daily prompt).

The poet John Donne once proclaimed”No man is an island, entire of itself”. Poetry can be a tricky thing to interpret. Is a poem meant to be read in a literal sense or is it merely symbolism to convey an idea or subject the author is pondering? We can never know for definite and that is one of the things I love about poetry and art. It is left to our subjectivity and the interpretation we choose. 

However in this case I think by reading further on Donne is merely saying that we’re not meant to live our lives alone. We’re meant to live in community with others and it’s only when we have that interaction we are truly ourselves.

The Bible speaks of us being members of one body, again portraying how necessary we are to each other and it speaks of us rubbing each other’s rough edges off”as iron sharpens iron”.

The truth is we need each other. I’ve said many times I’m an introvert. I find small talk painful. I don’t find social occasions easy. Often, even with people I know well I stand there frantically searching my mind for something to talk about.

But I try to persist because I value the people in my life, past and present, whether I have the courage to voice it or not.

I’m grateful for women who came alongside me in my lowest moments of depression. These women sat with me when I was afraid to sit alone. These women shopped for me so I didn’t have to think about what to feed my children and cooked for me too. They sat and sorted and folded my laundry pile when it was stressing me out to look at it. These women and men came up trumps the last few years when money was tight and the future looked precarious and uncertain.

Food gifts would appear on our doorsteps, money and coffee gift cards through our letterbox. They walked the walk. They showed they cared.

I’m grateful for those whose preaching I sat under, those friends who opened up the word and things of God to me, in church and in their homes. I’m grateful for the times of fellowship that went along with these times and the many people who fed our large family.

I’m grateful for the people who trusted me with duties and roles in the church and in the job world and painstakingly encouraged me the very many times I doubted myself and if I actually had anything to offer.

There were times as a teenager I felt I could die from loneliness, despite being surrounded by friends.

I felt like that island. Alone and isolated. Cut off from people and land. Left to fend for myself.

Today I live in a house populated by a small army I created myself, as the saying goes. I know every parent says it and thinks it but my kids are amazing.

All different characters, all different traits, all good at different things but all kind and helpful and loving. Don’t get me wrong, we have all the sibling rivalries and arguments and family dramas but we are a unit, a stronghold. And on the days I am seeking a little peace and a little solitude and the only place I can find it is the lavatory(normally with someone banging on the door asking if I’ve almost finished!) I reflect on the fact that I need these people. I’m not an island and I’m glad of that.
Till next time.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/island/

Ways to say I love you. (Daily prompt-underestimate)

Never underestimate that brief squeeze of your arm,
that kiss dropped upon your forehead,
that “text me when you get home so I know you got there safe”,
that ” Do you need a lift?, that “Call me if you need to talk”, that ” I noticed you’re quiet, are things ok? “.

Do not fail to appreciate that clean, folded pile of clothes left on your bed,
that bag of groceries left on your doorstep,
those bedcovers folded back for you,
that cup of tea or coffee made for you without asking.

Never underestimate those people who walk into your lives and make it home, however brief their stay.
The ” I saw this and thought of you “mention,
That breakfast in bed you were not expecting,
That sunny morning you awoke to and conversely that rain that refreshes the humid day.
The breathtaking splendor of a sunrise or sunset or thunderstorm when the skies put on their light display for you.
The unfailing love of a Saviour,
The times spent happily doing nothing much with your favourite people.

Slow down. You know the cliché ” Life is short”. But be grateful. Count your blessings even if they don’t immediately spring to mind.

All of the former are signs of love. People may not always voice their love and care for you but take note of what they do and what you do for them.

That is theirs and yours love language.

Do not underestimate it.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/underestimate/

Don’t try this at home!

Many years ago I was a college student. Known for my chattiness, my tendency to stay up late and my proclivity for procrastination. It’s not that I wasn’t capable of working hard or of getting good grades. It was just that other things seemed more appealing.

My inclination to leave my homework to the last minute possible began at the end of high school and it seemed carried on until college.

In short, I lacked discipline.

From what I recall one holiday season we were given a project to do for college and it slipped my mind. I don’t know what else I was doing instead but it wasn’t my project anyway.

About a week into the new term my fellow students began handing in their projects. Not tiny slim files but thick bulky files of what looked like copious pages of work .

My heart sank as the forgotten project came to mind. One of my classmates was kind enough to lend me her project notes as a guide so all I had to do was a similar thing in my own words.

You would have thought this scare would have been enough of a kick up the backside to get going….. But oh no.
Tetris had just come out on gameboy (told you I was old!) so my free time was taken up with that.

The night before the project was due, yes you read that right, I sat down in front of one of the only computers and started typing. I typed and typed and typed. It was a long project. It took me several hours. I think I finished it roughly 7am the next morning. To say I was tired was an understatement.

Of course it was all my own fault. I’d like to say I’ve learnt since then. That is probably the most sticky situation I’ve been in……

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/saved-by-the-bell/

A dog named Bob (Daily Prompt)

It was my usual Friday morning ritual. I sat and heavy handedly applied maple syrup to my pancake laden plate. Bob, my border terrier sat  perched on the window ledge above my sofa that had quite frankly seen better days when I first had it. A little large for the sill his paws dangled precariously over the radiator behind it. It was his favourite spot claimed long ago in his puppy days, as soon as he was big enough to climb up and toast himself in the warmth of the sun or radiator depending on which was giving out the most heat.

I’d never intended to get a dog. My girlfriend had dragged me to the rescue centre. The  tiny puppy lying miserably in the corner tugged on my heartstrings and a dog named Bob came home.

He  was occupied in his favourite hobby, yapping excitedly at the family of blue jays in the eaves of the house opposite. He was entranced with their comings and goings wagging his tail so furiously his perch threatened to dislodge him.

I studied him fondly mid chew. He was anxious for his morning constitutional and I was running late. His lead dangled from his mouth as he continued his survey of the street, a vestige from his puppy days. His right ear was half cocked as he curiously watched the postman emptying the mailbox. I had a stack of mail I needed to post piled on the breakfast table beside me. I tutted at a few drops of milk that had broken free from the milk jug and slightly smudged the ink of one of the addresses. I was hopeful one of these job applications would lead to something. It was no fun being out of work these days.

Deciding I’d sort the dishes later I rose from the table, grabbed the nearest coat and shoes and whistled to Bob. “Come on boy, walkies!”.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/a-dog-named-bob/

This post is inspired by a daily prompt called a dog named Bob . It had to be written in 20 minutes and had to include the words, a dog named Bob, mailbox, blue jay, plate, syrup, ink.

Happily ever after? (Daily Prompt)

When I was a child and read a story I was happy and satisfied if the book ended  “and they all lived happily ever after “.  I could close the book and imagine Snow White or the heroine in domestic bliss with Prince Charming and all her babies.

The trouble with growing up is we eventually realise that life is not a fairy tale. If we are lucky we will experience some wonderful moments in our lives but we will also experience some awful, terrible moments too. Moments that will make us want to slam the book shut and hurl it out of the nearest window.

And what is happiness anyway? Surely it is different things depending where we are in our life’s journey? The superficial things that made me happy as a young child are not the things I am passionate about now.

If we are only happy when we buy things or obtain the newest technology eventually the buzz will fade and we will have to go shopping again to regain that thrill. If we are only happy when we have a certain career or certain people in our lives what will happen if they are suddenly taken from us?

The Bible has a verse that is fitting for this situation. It speaks about not  storing up treasures on earth where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal but rather store up eternal treasures in heaven.

Happiness,  I have found is usually a fleeting emotion based on a certain combination of elements producing an idyllic time or moment. Joy or  contentment however are entirely different and not based solely on our current circumstances. We can choose to see the  good in things,  we  can choose to look for blessings where they seem to be deeply hidden. It is simply a matter of retraining our thinking and cultivating an attitude of gratefulness.

Sometimes I am aware of being in a certain place with a select group of people and the thought comes to my mind “I’m happy now”.  Bizarrely it always seems to be at a time in my life where outward circumstances should conspire to make me feel otherwise.

For example, the end of the month will see the  end  for us as a family to a situation that has been hanging over us for almost 2 years. Not knowing the outcome I should be  living in fear and dread at what might happen. Instead I am taking each day as it comes and trying not to anticipate what might happen. I am  not  afraid. Whatever happens, we  will be OK.  We  are  a strong family unit, we deeply love each other and that will see us through. That and the fact that I also  believe  God is in full control and He will bring us through, however our happiness rates on the  world’s scale.

This post is in response to the  Daily Prompt – Happily ever after.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/happily-ever-after/

Do as you would be done by is really the key to Customer Service.

In response to today’s Daily Prompt – Lists I offer up the following.

1.- Treat shop staff the way you would like to be treated. With regards to this twice in the last couple of weeks I’ve been kept past closing time at work by customers. I work alone in a small independent shop in a college and we close at 2pm. I am not a strict adherer to that closing time but I do have children that need collecting from school an hour later so try to close as near to it as possible.
Last week I had the misfortune of a rude, patronising customer. Not only did he not listen to the fact I was closed (door is usually locked but I had just served another late customer!) but it felt as if he went out of his way to be as rude as possible. Even going as far as to ask if I thought I could cope with his custom! I so desperately wanted to say no but I want to keep my job so gritted my teeth instead. He then proceeded to look slowly around the shop before making a purchase and asking for some detailed information about a product which I politely gave him.

Contrast that to yesterday, again someone called in at closing time, apologised profusely, had a very quick look around and went on his way. I was happy to help him because of his approach to me. I don’t mind going out of my way if it seems it’s appreciated.

Fortunately I don’t work in a food environment so can’t add anything to a customer’s food as I’ve heard done. Although I am surrounded by paper that could give you a nasty nick and sharp craft knives! Not that I hasten to add I would ever go there.

2- It should be obvious but it’s clearly not, treat your staff well. A good happy worker will put in more than their time and effort and be happy to do so. In a previous job I worked for a large supermarket. I worked as a cashier and if we needed help from the managers for anything we were meant to put a red light on to summon them. These particular managers who were glad to no longer be till monkeys as one of them once told me, seemed to just stand around chatting to each other and ignoring the fact we needed help. You can imagine what it was like at Christmas time with a crowded store and lots of queries. Chaos. Now to clarify I’m not saying they didn’t have hard jobs and never helped but the attitude they did it with was lacking. It always used to amuse me because without shop floor staff and cashiers there would be no business!

3- lastly and most importantly, shop work is not the lowest of the low and staff should not be treated as such. Customer service is actually a difficult industry to work in and not suited to all. With an emphasis on the customer always being right not everyone is able to be diplomatic and courteous and wear a smile. My husband is always telling me he couldn’t do it! Customer service is an integral part of business and an advertisement of the business involved. It doesn’t indicate a lack of intelligence on the worker’s behalf or a lack of ambition. For many it is a stop gap, for others it is a vocation and for others a step on the path to advancement. You may be a manager and have studied a degree to be so. This does not make you worth more than your shop staff who may not have had the chances or opportunities you have had. I love my job now but I’ve also cleaned toilets and cleaned a huge shopping centre. I’m not proud and I have children to feed.

Customer Service rant over….

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-satisfaction-of-a-list/

A bad,bad choice.

“I thought we’d never come back from that one”. I like to think I would do pretty much anything for my friends bar something illegal of course, but when my friend told me she wanted to watch something particularly questionable at the cinema I must admit I balked. Before you think I’m entering 50 shades territory here this was before that was thought of thankfully. My female friend was going through a divorce and just wanted a girly night out. Torn between my beliefs and wanting to be a good friend to her I caved and regretted.

The film she wanted to see was one I would never in a million years have chosen for myself.  When even the usher passes over your tickets with a shake of his head you know you are in trouble. It featured nudity and horror in what seemed to me to be equal amounts. It was also supposed to be funny but the only thing vaguely amusing to me was the thin excuse for a plot.

I spent the entire hour and a half in the cinema squirming deeper and deeper into my seat and trying to examine the fine print on my chocolate bar in the pitch black, anything rather than having to actually watch the film. When I did glance at the screen it was only to confirm my suspicions that this really was the worst piece of cinematic dross to ever make the big screen.

When the film was mercifully over I walked my friend back to her house in a state of social awkwardness. We were in agreement that the film was dire but whereas she found it funny and chalked it up to experience I was left rueing the fact I’d compromised my Christian witness. You won’t be surprised that the next time we went out I chose the film.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/use-it-or-lose-it/

This post was written in response to today’s daily prompt, use it or lose it.