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Linda Safford

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lindasafford

The Long and Winding Road

How many times have I written about a new day, clean slate, or a fresh beginning?  Many.  I love a fresh start but I’ve learned to enjoy remaining on a path with ups and downs, bends, loops, and under construction signs.  Much more realistic to face life by continuing on instead of thinking there always has to be a fresh start.  

I claim a journey which began a few years ago.  I was about to have surgery, stood on a scale, and swore to myself that I would never see that number again and I never have.  Today my scale will check bone density, BMI, water retention, and weight.   I’m beginning to appreciate the BMI numbers because I don’t want to be described in a medical chart as overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.  That’s where the rubber meets the road.  Those are medical terms which have meaning to your body.  It’s a hard fact to face  but at some point we have to say, “This is it.  Not putting a time frame on it but I’m going to seek the healthy side of scales, BMI charts, and lab work.”

I met with a health coach and we began to uncover my triggers, fears, anxieties, and plain ol’ stubborn habits I held with an iron fist.  Relationships and where I placed myself around others — both family and friends — began to feel better or at least where I could maintain who I am.  I’m learning not to fold to pressures by acting or reacting in certain ways.

It’s been a very long time since I downed an entire bag of malted milk eggs.  If I decide venting through food is the only option, I have limits and options that have allowed me to loosen my iron fisted stubbornness.

I could toss up a couple of pictures and say, “Look,” and show you the difference between the weight then and  now.  The outside appearance is better but I’ve come to realize I will never look like I did when I was 18.  And, say it with me, this is OK.   I’m 58.  That was 40 years ago.  Pictures do not reveal the most important changes of the heart, mind, and soul.  Those are things I treasure.  When I am measured by someone who looks at my outward appearance it doesn’t bother me.  I know what’s inside.  

The matters of my heart have changed along with mind and soul.

I’m on a journey to finding health in my life — spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I would not trade where I am right now, to be back at 18 years old and a ridiculously low weight, for anything.  Who I am means more.  How I feel means more.  My reactions mean more at this point than a number.  

If I reach the goal weight, that golden pot at the end of the healthy path rainbow, I might become arrogant again, ill tempered,  long on words without thinking first, impatient.  Those things still happen but not nearly as often because of the emotional changes in me. 

So, today, as I see so many people on the trail at Turkey Creek or cars parked at the gym, I will see another day on a long journey.  One that will not end at a numbered goal.  Who am I now and who will I be at the goal?  The journey will continue no matter the numbers.  I want the travels to be livable, healthy, and I want to be an asset to family and friends, not a thorn in their side.  

  1. Be real about who you are and your relationships with others 
  2. Find your healthy limits
  3. Let go of what you are told is the answer and seek the truth for yourself
  4. Seek freedom from old mindsets and find confidence in your healthy choices
  5. Treat others as you want to be treated  

The answers in soul searches are never defined in a number.  Matters of the heart cannot be measured.  How we live the journey matters most.  I’m on my journey and I may surprise myself with a number one day but it will just be a little blip on the radar screen. I will credit the attitude, intentions, and my Lord for seeing me through life with choices that were best for me.

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Be Still

Do you ever feel like withdrawing and not having contact with anyone?  Not sharing stories, not sharing ideas, just completely and totally withdrawing?  We all do from time to time.  Unfortunately, I have felt this way about writing lately.   My writing comes from my heart.  Personal ideas, memories, aspirations, dreams.  Sometimes I don’t want to share.  When this happens my blog rests on an old date waiting for a new post.  Today I need to write.

Life has been a difficult walk for the past few weeks.  Our family lost my nephew, Ryan.  We have wept, hugged, comforted, raged, and found some points of healing.  We know more healing will come to our mournful souls but it will take time.  We will always love him, always remember him, and look forward to the day when we will see him again.  Hope comes from the Lord and we never lose His hope.  We never lose a decision made to trust in Him.  He forgives, accepts, and loves us.

While God has taken this precious young man from our family, we look forward to two baby boys and a baby girl coming this summer and fall.  Blessings happen in the midst of sorrow.  God loves us and provides the healing we all long for.  Right now we hurt.  Joy does come when we open ourselves to see the expanse of life through God’s eyes.  

Grief and joy do have the ability to co-exist.  Odd partners that work well together because of God’s care for us.  He won’t leave us and He will never forsake us.  He is our constant guide when we struggle to place one foot ahead of the other.  

Take in His presence today in a peaceful place.  Be still and know that He cares for you, He is God.  You are His creation.  Feel Him in the blue sky, clouds, sunset or sunrise, at the water’s edge.  Breathe in the rose’s aroma, the organic smells of a mountain trail, and be wrapped in a hug from Him.  

This has always been a comforting song to me and I pray the same for you.  Click here to listen.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s

Be Still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know that He is god
Be still
Be speechless
Be still and know that He is god
Be still and know He is our father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still

Live a Great Story

Live a great story.I saw this message today as I did some planning for my week.  Live a great story.  As a writer, my mind is always working on a story.  What if I take some time to be sure I LIVE a great story?

What would that look like for me?  

Sunshine every morning when I wake up

Fresh and hot coffee in my favorite mug

Read my Bible and focus on a spiritual point for the day

A brisk walk

Hot shower

Good hair

A workable and healthy food plan for the day

Good conversation

All plans for the day go smoothly

But what happens on many mornings?  It’s dreary, foggy, rainy and not my favorite weather.  The coffee is weak and due to the weather I postpone my walk.  I avoid the shower, use dry shampoo in my hair, find the hair clip and then long for Chick Fil A.  I skim my Bible reading and don’t take the time to find the applicable point for the day.  

Can a great story still be lived out in the second scene I described?

Yes.

We may long for things, desire situations, and have big plans.  Suddenly we find ourselves on a totally different path.  One that feels like a dead end.

Maybe your college plan did not work out for you

A job offer did not come through

What you thought was a loving relationship ends

A loved one dies

A miscarriage

An unplanned pregnancy

The diagnosis of a terminal illness

Even when circumstances and feelings that surround our life not going according to plan, there is a great story to be lived out.  You still have a great life to live.  We turn our attention to the needs of the day and reassess how we will live in the present situation.  

Commit to a healthy attitude

Regroup

Seek counsel for your situation

Seek to understand how and why the situation happened

Don’t compare 

Continue to keep your eye on your goals

Know that hard work is ahead

A great life story is how we react and overcome.  The obstacles are going to be there.  Meet them toe to toe and head on.  Live a great story! 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

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I love a love story.  This is now one of my favorites.  Patti Callahan has written what should become a classic.  We’re given a glimpse into the life of a woman with strength and tenacity, vulnerability and adaptability.

C.S. Lewis was a strong thinker, creator of delight in his books for children, and one who spurred his readers to digest Christianity.   We are introduced to Joy Davidman and see, in Joy, ourselves as a reader of C.S. Lewis.  She boldly writes to him asking questions about Christianity and her spiritual experience.  They begin a “pen pal” friendship  that leads to their meeting.

I call it a love story but it is so much more.  The author, through years of research, captures the essence of the relationship, the mood of the time, the smell and sounds of  England.  This historical fiction piece takes you  to the point you hear the crunch of a gravel road, smell the wildflowers, and hear the laugher of her children.  You feel Joy’s happiness and despair.  You relate.  You offer her advice. You steer her to better decisions and all the while fall in love with the honesty of her search for life in the guidance of God.

The one thing I loved about Patti Callahan’s approach was the breakdown of historical characters to relatable people.

Truly a “joy” to read about Joy Davidman, her zest for life, her own career as a writer, her faults and strengths.

This is the second book I’ve read from Patti Callahan.  Her writing style is a pleasure.  Whether fiction or historical fiction, her writing will envelop you  into the character’s world.  If  five stars are the measure, I give abundant glitter to all five.

You can order here.

Review of another Patti Callahan book here.

 

 

 

God’s Will and Election Day

Today, tomorrow, and always is the time to lift up your elected officials in prayer.  Makes no difference if you voted for them or not, pray.  They need wisdom, peace, discernment, and the strength to commit to doing the right things for our cities, states, and nation.

When you have something against a person or have an issue to discuss, you should go to them personally.  While we cannot have direct face to face access with an elected official we do have the ability to send an email, make a phone call. Don’t use social media to slander and denigrate their character. If you disagree, let them know but treat them with respect.  Continue to pray.  

Jesus told the disciples to go into the world and lead the world to Him.  Remember when Peter drew the sword and lobbed off the ear of the soldier who was about to take Jesus away?  What did Jesus do?  He healed the man’s ear.  

We are told to pray for our leaders.  So let’s all commit to pray when we feel the need to tongue lash.  I think of Peter’s sword as that lashing tongue we so often put into action.  Let’s heal.  Follow Jesus’ example.

We are given a wonderful privilege in this country to vote.  Please vote.  It’s your voice.  If your choice does not make it into office, accept the loss graciously.  Then, as good sportsmen do, shake the hand of the winner. 

Pray.  Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  Help in your community.  Be a light.  Consider God’s will referred to here:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, for you.  

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Live as a light.  Your view and ability to help our cities, states, and nation will be clear and have purpose.  It comes down to helping and encouraging our inhabitants. 

Be kind. 

Love wins.  

Always.  

Tell Me the Story of Jesus

I missed posting a book review for the month of October.  So, let me share some snippets from four men who write their account of living with Jesus.  Their stories mesh and add a life view as fishermen and a physician walking beside and learning from the Son of God, Jesus.  It’s historical and biographical. 

Called The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the story is found in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They were four of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Jesus asked them to follow Him.  He taught them, most times through parables, but also through life experiences.  He was honest – He is Truth.  He was compassionate — He is our empathy.  He walked and experienced our life, our temptations.  He allowed women and children to come near Him. He listened, He healed, He loved, He wept. 

In the greater picture of creation,  before the foundation of the world, John shares how Jesus was there.  John speaks of Jesus as the Word.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  The breadth and depth of this profound man we know as Jesus is not completely covered in these four books of the New Testament.   John tells us, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”

Truly a story unmatched by any other, there will be question upon question generated.  There a hundreds of Bible commentaries.  Answers are not always clear, may be open to interpretation to many, may be wildly on target and felt to be a completely  inspired literature by others.

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Jesus speaks to faith, belief, wisdom, honor, integrity, and gives His perfect view in the Sermon on the Mount.  He never let a crowd overcome the supply chain.  From five loaves and two fish, He fed a multitude.  He turned water to wine.  He healed the sick, raised the dead. 

My favorite story ever and I invite you to read.  Start with the Book of John.  His account, as Jesus’ beloved disciple, will open your eyes to the enormity of unleashed Godly love to the world.  

Here’s a link to a translation that is simple to read.  At the top of the page you open,  you can simply change to the next chapter and read through all 21 chapters.  

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1&version=MSG

You will also find other translations.   Find one that reads easily for you.  As with any story you will be introduced to characters, story lines, there is a protagonist, antagonist, a theme, plot, climax, and resolve.  What a resolve it is!  

To me, it’s the greatest story and the greatest Gift ever given to mankind

Cozy places and simple things

I’m in one of my writing spaces away from the hub of my home.  Pictures and items are in this room that remind me of the ones I love.  My kids, grandbaby, my husband, family, and friends.   We have Clemson’s Tillman Hall hanging in a frame with Death Valley in the background.  Mementos from soldiers who appreciated my husband’s leadership, the American flag given to him from the Nation’s Capital as he retired from the Army.  

I have a bookshelf filled with books — mostly history, religious studies, biographies, and my favorite  fiction.  I like cozy places with warmth, meaning, and memories but also a place where I can center and move forward.  The books on the shelves tell a story of our lives — yearbooks remind me of old friends and I give thanks for lasting friendship.  

History books from college remind me of my favorite college professor who told us boldly at the beginning of class he taught from a Christian world view.  Funny thing is, he never preached, never talked his theology, but did present from a perspective that was open.  Favorite 18 hours of college credit ever!  

I fondly recall Sunday nights in our “piano room” with the kids and reading stories from  The Children’s Bible.  Simple with no hint of deep theological points.  Foundational.  Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  

When we move so deep into religion or politics of the day, we lose the personal touch I recall in the picture of Jesus with the children sitting at his feet and climbing into his lap.  It’s my favorite.   Jesus cares and loves and knows our hearts.  And just think of the questions those kids must have had!  We do too, as adults, and it is quite alright to ask.

Thankful this morning for this roof over my head with a cozy spot to reflect. My heart this morning is full — even after a huge dump of emotion over present day worldly things.  He soothes and refreshes.  God is love.

I Wish

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I wish I could write something today that would:

Keep a young woman from having a hopeless attitude about herself

Keep a young man from making a wrong decision

Place our egos in check with a center plumb line

Place our temptations far away

Remind us how much we are loved even if it is not by the person we wished loved us

Remind us that family and friends are everything

Keep us from climbing to a height that  has no view

Remind us that our view should be focused on others

Place us in the path of those in need

That we would give of our time and resources

Keep us from having to have the last word

Make us  givers and not takers

I wish I could write something that would do all these things, but

answers are not found in a wish list.  

We find these things within ourselves

when we center and focus on something bigger than who we are or want to be. 

Is our love big?

Does our kindness go further than we can ever measure?

Is our forgiveness even bigger than our love and kindness? 

I wish.

 

Ella Minnow Pea – A novel in letters

A B C D E F G H I J K  

Ella Minnow Pea  

Did you sing The Alphabet song this way? Author Mark Dunn wrote a book in 2001 with this clever name for his lead character, Ella Minnow Pea.  Ella is the daughter of Amos and Gwennette, cousin to Tassie, and niece to Mittie.  They live on the island of Nollop which lies off the coast of South Carolina.  

Nollop was named for its most famous citizen who found a way to use all 26 letters of the alphabet in a sentence.  When Nollop died his tomb was erected in town with tile letters displaying his famous sentence: 

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

When tiles begin to fall off the tomb,  the town fathers choose against repair and decide it is a message from Nollop.  They ban the use of the falling letter tiles. At first the people say they can live without Z and Q.   As more letters become involved the island people begin to see their lives uprooted.  A quick solution is found to affix the tiles.  The town fathers refuse renovation and declare a series of punishments for the citizens who use the banned letters in speech or writing. The tomb of Nollop and his phrase become sacred to the town fathers.  They feel he is governing them from the grave and they begin to glorify him.  The people disagree, not openly, but work to restore their island home.

Ella Minnow Pea was a quick read that brought laughter and reflection.  I would highly recommend for a book club because of the subject depth that could be covered from this very imaginative tale.

 

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