The Catcher and The Catch

He carries a basket of fishing goodies and a small net as he treks to his favorite spot, the one about a mile in and just over where the trail jumps left and the pool gathers deep. I think they call this place Sam’s Creek but a true fisherman will never disclose his exact whereabouts. I ask myself if they do this out of fear of their competition or their desire to protect the serenity and the existence of their spot. Whatever their reason, I like the mystery.

The water thrashes about as it runs down the way. The crashing of the rapids gives no wake to silence while the sun occasionally peaks through the canopy of hemlocks above. He stands there in the middle of the swift moving stream. He is like the moon hanging in the sky; still and quiet as he sends his gaze down into the water. He causes me pause while I draw a parallel of how God keeps watch over His creation below. He is steady, still and aware.

If I didn’t guess his trade by the obvious fishing poles, I’d think him a bit silly sight in his over-sized getup. His pants and his boots held onto him by two large suspenders and he proudly wears a floppy cap, all the rage with the other trout fishermen his species. He looks like he might play the part of a clean cut desk man and I suspect he has traded his corporate crown for the floppy cap if only for this one quiet day of reprieve.

In one fluid and smooth motion, he raises his rod in one hand and holds his line in the other while he flings the rod back and then forward, back and then forward, back and then forward, back and then forward. With each back and forward move, I hear the line whip and run, whip and run, whip and run, whip and run. I watch the misty spray spring from his action and it showcases a small rainbow when the sun hits it just right. Again, I pause and reflect on the symbolic nature of the rainbow and God’s promises.

For a few sacred moments, he is at peace with his world and even I have caught a little peace just by being present in his world. He hears no other sound except the gushing water and the line; whip and run. With each new cast, he throws an old care. His mind relaxes under the circumstances he finds himself in and as he wades deeper into the cool water his body relaxes, too. I bet he wouldn’t care if he didn’t land a fish on the other end of his line. He already caught what he was fishing for anyway and a fish would be double the pleasure.

I like to watch him. He doesn’t know that I do and I would never intend to intrude on his great big world of paradise. Nor would I ever intend to profit from his bliss but joy is contagious and one cannot help but to fall into his love of the outdoors, the cool waters, the chance at a catch, his sacred spot and the peace that ensues. I don’t see this as dishonest gain on my part, taking something that was not mine to take, but simply guilty by association of the same mountain stream territory on this beautiful fall day. No, no shame at all on my part. I just want to hang out and watch him and I hope that I can convey his world with my words. If so, he will have given me the gift of a tranquil moment that I will recall each time I open the pages of my journal and read the entry entitled “The Trout Fisherman…Peace Like a River”.

Fonts that make you feel good

I intended to write about moving since my sweet neighbor moved yesterday and thoughts about moving are on my heart but as I opened my word processing tool and began changing the font type and font size, it occurred to me that there are certain fonts that make me feel good. I cannot write (type) in any font style except “Arial” with a font size of “12”. Cannot do it! Arial 12 makes me feel good. Arial 12 looks good on the paper; happy. Arial 12 is a happy medium; not too plain and not too decorative. Arial 12 commands attention in a soothing kind of way. Is it just me or am I speaking to anyone else out there??? Try it. You just might like it.

Worst of the Worst

I recognized his voice as he spoke with a colleague while they walked the hall and stopped at the office next to mine. I leaned in toward the sound just a little as to catch its aura because it was so impressive that I felt it had form enough to touch and to hold. I was simply infatuated with this man but I wasn’t the only one. He had lots of admirers. His very presence demanded, captured, and held one’s attention and respect until at which time he decided to unleash his reigns. Once in his presence, you were better for it. He just made you feel that way. It wasn’t that he made you feel special because making one feel special requires that you put forth a purposeful effort to invest in their lives. He didn’t invest in my life in that way but he simply acknowledged me, validated me, and gave me the dignity of recognition. He did that for everyone that he came in contact with.

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps it was a teacher from your youth or a mentor, an aunt or uncle, a friend’s father or mother or perhaps it was your own mother or father but whoever it was, they lassoed you and drew you in and you succumbed to their advance. I’ve been fortunate and very blessed to work among some fabulous leaders during my corporate career. Likewise, I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to work among the worst of the worst. Yes, blessed. Blessed because by not emulating their bad behaviors, they taught me how to treat people.

I spent some years in a corporate job working with a “worst of the worst” type of guy. I cannot begin to tell you how difficult he was and how poor his behavior was, not just to me but to many. There were so many instances of failures on his part that people were left scratching their heads and breathing a collective sigh as his actions were excused time after time after time. It became a running joke in our organization and he was at the heart of it. Even as I type this, by-gone feelings begin to flutter in my heart and I feel sorry that I am even bringing up the topic. Really, I have forgiven him and I have moved on and I am better for it but I need to write about this because I fear that some of my readers (and some of my past co-workers) may be enduring a similar type of turmoil and what I want to say to you is life altering so please hang with me for the closing.

You need to reach a point of decision about the people whom you associate with, including co-workers, family, friends, neighbors…everyone. Ask yourself “Do I want this relationship?” If the answer is yes then continue to invest. Ask yourself “Do I need this relationship?” If the answer is yes then continue to invest. Pay attention….if you don’t want a relationship but you need a relationship, such as my relationship with “worst of the worst” then you need to declare some boundaries in order to survive. Boundaries could be that you leave the company like I did OR you could draw a line in the sand and let “worst of the worst” off the hook. In ordinary words, forgive them. Draw a line in the sand and name one side “the past” and one side “the present”. Step over into the present and leave the toxicity behind you, including the offenses of “worst of the worst”.

I participated in a Beth Moore study some time ago. It was the book of Ester and she said something so profoundly true that I will never be able to hold a grudge ever again (thank you, Beth and thank you, Lord for using her in this capacity!). Simply put…when we nurse a grudge against someone, the grudge ties us to them. Stay here and let that sink in a minute. When I held onto that grudge with “worst of the worst”, I held onto him. My skin just crawled as I said “ick!” out loud. It’s so true…I held onto those feelings of bitterness because of all the wrong he committed. I allowed a wedge of resentment to build between me and “worst of the worst” and that wedge held me to him. As quickly as this revelation came, my knees crushed the floor and I prayed “Father, forgive me and my offenses so that I can extend forgiveness to those that offend me.” Day after day, prayer after prayer, I reached a point where I didn’t care anymore about “worst of the worst”. His offenses still bothered me but I didn’t dwell there long and eventually I left the company (an answer to prayer). I don’t think about him much anymore except when I think of the friends and co-workers that are still there nursing their grudges. Since God will never favor a grudge, I wonder what the world would be like if we all learned how to forgive.

Say something, would ya!?

“Perpetrator” said one. “I guess we have more crime around here than I thought” said another. “In the swimming pool (laughing)” said yet another one. “Seven and a half inches in one day” still another voice told. These were the words that echoed among the halls as I journeyed the short walk from my desk to the break room. Upon arriving at my destination, I heard tidbits of other conversations but never the whole stories. “Go to that place on the corner” one woman instructed. “But the quantities don’t match” another said into his phone. “Dan wrecked it while putting it away so now we have to do repair work on the shingles” explained one. “I can’t believe he said that to you” barked another. The words, taken out of context, made no sense to me but then again the words were not intended for me but still they escaped from their confines and parked at my eardrums as if they expected me to respond.

According to one study, women speak an average of 20,000 words per day which is 13,000 more words than males speak http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2281891/Women-really-talk-men-13-000-words-day-precise.html . Let me give you a moment of pause so you can think of all the one lined jokes that would certainly credit this study (i.e. Women talk more because we’re constantly repeating ourselves to our men that don’t listen. Women talk more but they don’t really say anything; nag, nag, nag.). Seven thousand to twenty thousand is a huge gap but one that I am not surprised exists. I do concur that my female counterparts out speak our male counterparts but I had no idea that it was a 3 to 1 statistic. So this means that for every word my husband speaks, I speak three. Wow.

So with all the words being spoken out there in the realm of our minute existence in this great big world, what good comes of it? Given the statistics, it would seem that women waste breath on words while men speak only out of necessity but the study further showed that woman’s plentiful words are a result of a protein, Foxp2 known as the language protein. Both genders have the protein but women have more than men. No pun intended… in other words, blame it on our brain power. Ok, enough. Back to my question…What are women saying with so many words??? Are we just needlessly chatting or are we using our 20,000 word per day for the good??? And what about our men…what would our lives be like if they spoke up more?…if they matched us word for word???

So, here on my blog I am challenging myself this week (maybe you want to participate, too). I am not going to count my words each day but I am going to count the message that my words convey. I am going to be mindful of what I say to myself and what I say to others. The bible teaches that the tongue, a small bodily organ, is a rudder of great strength because it can direct our paths much like the small rudder on a boat directs the paths of the vessel (James 3:4). Our words have life and power and death and damnation (Proverbs 18:21). Lord, help me to speak words of life. Lord, if I am blessed with more Foxp2 proteins than the men and women in my life, let me bless them with words of wisdom and truths and power and not mindless chatter.

I AM

I’m sitting in my writing room. I just finished a session of edits on my very first novel. I hope to have this baby ready to send to a publisher soon but I know I must go through the laborious task of editing. In order to say that I have given it my best shot, I must indeed know that I put forth my best effort and so that means that I must peruse through the pages again and again, checking and re-checking the timeline, the characters, the places, the plot, the climax, the subplots, and so on and so forth.

In the background, I am playing a CD of Jewel singing lullabies. It occurred to me that we are all uniquely gifted and while I can carry a tune, I didn’t get the gift to sing for a living. Oh how I wish I could sing like Jewel and in my car, I think I can sing like her. In my car, I can sing like Reba, Faith, and Loretta but outside the boundary of my car I go right on back to being me; non-singer wannabe. However, I do have gifts that others might envy me for. Perhaps if Reba, or Jewel or any of the other ladies knew me they might wish they could be me. I might even go so far as to say that if you, my reader, knew me then you might be a little envious also. Let me count the ways…
I am created in greatness…Genesis 1:27
I am chosen…John 15:19
I am a princess heir to a royal throne…1 Peter 2:9
I am more than a conqueror…Romans 8
I am loved…John 3:16
I am bought and paid for…John 3:16
I am on purpose…Jeremiah 29:11
I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14

Now that I have established who I am, allow me to count the gifts I have been given…
I am creative.
I am a writer.
I am musically inclined.
I am compassionate.
I am a leader.
I am intelligent.
I am brave.

Now let me count my blessings…
I am healthy.
I have a safe and clean home.
I have food in plenty.
I am clothed.
My mental capacity is adequate for continued learning and contribution.
I have my senses; thankful that I can see, hear, smell, taste and touch His creation.
My worries are few today.
My family is well.
I have a job where the work is meaningful and the pay is generous.
I have friends who I adore and who adore me.
I can walk. I can use my limbs as they were designed.
My lids blink without prompting in order to protect and moisturize my eyeballs…Oh what a creator!
My lungs fill to capacity and then empty again in order to give life breathe to this body…Oh what a creator!
My heart pumps blood through every vein and artery and then back again in a short span of time…Oh what a creator!
My fingers move. My toes move at my command.

See where this is going??? I could go on and on. I’ve had a continual attitude of praise and thanksgiving today and I wanted to share it with you. Have you counted your blessings and gifts lately? Let me challenge you to work on your list. Gratitude changes your attitude. Attitude determines your altitude. I am soaring high so come on up and soar with me. Much love!

Blessed Assurance

I awoke this morning before the sun with the hymn Blessed Assurance on my lips. Before my feet hit the floor and before I even thought of rolling out from under the blankets, I was singing the words: “Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine, Oh what a foretaste of glory divine, Heir of salvation purchase of God, born of His spirit, washed in His blood”. As I stumbled to the bathroom to change into my exercise clothes with eyes still sleepy I continued: “This is my story, This is my song, Praising my savior, all the day long.”

Once I got in front of the television to begin my workout, I was wide awake with a joyous smile. So many times I have started my day with intentions to praise God FIRST but my intentions get beat in the race with waking my mind and body. This day, I didn’t even have to think about praising God. His praises were already on my lips before I even thought of getting out of bed. How sweet is that?!

I have no idea why it was this song that I sang. Again, I was somewhere between a restful sleep and a realization that it was approaching morning when the alarm clock trumpeted. Out popped the words Blessed Assurance and then I was up to start another routine day but one that began with prayers of thanksgiving. As I did pushups and crunches, I couldn’t get the praise and worship out of my head.

Later I retreated to my study room and began my bible study with a prayer asking the Lord to reveal His Blessed Assurance to me. I was searching to understand why these words were on my heart and my mouth. Had I dreamed them in the night? Was there some kind of holy peace He was sending my way with these words because I will admit that Blessed Assurance is not my first choice for praise and worship songs. When I want to get into a praise attitude, I’m thinking about Aretha Franklin singing O Happy Day. You know the one…Oh happy day, When Jesus washed my sins away. Or I’m thinking of Jeremy Camp singing Beautiful One. They lyrics go like this…Beautiful one I love, Beautiful one I adore, Beautiful one my soul must sing. These songs ignite the fire of worship in me and I just want to sing and lift my hands to heaven in thanksgiving. While Blessed Assurance is a beautiful song and one that has been tucked into the pages of our Baptist hymnal for many years, it is not one that I generally go to for a worshiping frame of mind. So why was I immersed in Blessed Assurance today??? This was the question I posed to my Lord.

With the softness of His whisper, the Lord spoke to me in my quiet time and simply laid this thought on my heart: “Leanne, no matter what happens today, tomorrow, and beyond, have Blessed Assurance that I am yours and you are mine.” With that, I wrapped up my bible study and jumped in the shower to wash off the old me and put on the new me. Today I am walking a little lighter and little taller in my step because I have Blessed Assurance that no matter what comes my way, I am His and with Him, all things are possible. In the words of Psalms 34:1; I will praise the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. Blessed Assurance…Jesus is mine!

Pap Smears While You Work…Anyone???

Yes, you read it right but first allow me a few sentences to set the stage for this post.  I will assume that my readers understand what a pap smear is and who gets them so I will bypass that portion and get to the other stage notes. 

 Two years ago I left my office job at a large manufacturing plant after nineteen years and moved on to a new thing.  Recently, I went back to visit the people I worked with for those many years.  Amid the hugs and the smiles, I learned that the company had implemented a new benefit since my leaving.  I learned that the company had hired an on-site nurse practitioner and ANY employee can go see said nurse practitioner ANYTIME and WITHOUT a co-pay.  Needless to say, I was wowed.  This is a huge benefit for their employees and one that caused me a temporary moment to question my decision to leave my post.  I mean think about it…if you could skip down the hall and get your yearly physical as opposed to driving to the next town wasting gas and time, waiting an hour past your appointment in a waiting room with people hackin’ and sneezin’ and wheezin’, wouldn’t you consider it a perk?  Yesiree, I thought so.

 As if I wasn’t impressed enough already by the mere fact of the on-site nurse, my toes tingled after hearing the list of things this nurse practitioner can do IN the on-site office, ANYTIME and WITHOUT a co-pay.  For example, the nurse can draw blood and get it checked for whatever they check it for.  The nurse can check your blood pressure to ensure your blood is moving at a normal rate.  Said nurse can conduct physical exams, perform EKGs, handle workplace accidents and emergencies, prescribe treatment plans, write prescriptions, AND do pap smears.  Yes!, pap smears…if you are so inclined. 

 My mouth flew open and my jaw hit the floor upon hearing this tid bit.  I doubled over in pain from the laughter that ensued and I could not stop the instant onslaught of visions rushing through my head.  And believe me, I wanted to stop the visions cause there aint nothing cute about gettin’ one of them tests especially in an office in the middle of a manufacturing plant.  I could almost hear the “beep-beep-beep” of the tow truck as it zoomed up and down the aisle near the paper thin door while my unclothed yonder regions were hiked up and strapped onto those leg and foot supports.  Furthermore, I imagined overhearing the muffled sounds of men and women’s voices on their two-way radios as they called out for someone to clean up the spill in the break room and other important tasks. 

 I broke free from my pap smear visions only to chuckle about it with my friends.  I absolutely wasn’t poking fun and making jokes at the expense of those who chose to partake in the service because on a very serious note, LADIES…THIS IS AN IMPORTANT TEST and one you should have every year or two.  I was simply laughing at the very thought of my own self exposed there on the pap test table.  I applaud the company for providing the services of a nurse practitioner for their employees and I could not be more pleased that they have done so but as for me and my pap tests, well, we will see the doctor, two towns away.