We Make Plans and God Ponders

Quite a bit, lately, I have been hearing, “We make plans and God laughs,” and although I like it okay as a saying, I do not truly believe that. More so, I believe that, “We make plans and God Ponders.” Then He laughs.

I believe that God laughs in either one of two ways – the kind that happens when you are standing in a circle with your buddies who are all for your plans, or the kind that happens while conversing with your parents who do not ever seem to understand. God either laughs like a friend, saying, “Go for it, man,” or He laughs like a parent who says, “No, I don’t think so.” The type of laugh we hear from God depends on whether or not our plans fit with His Plans for us.

God loves his children so much that He tries to make our plans work with His Plans. As long as His Will is done in the end, then I believe He laughs like a friend. If not, well then, He laughs more like a parent who knows better than to let us mess up our life or His Plans for us, which probably affect countless others other than just ourselves. And I believe that before God laughs one of these laughs, He Ponders how our plan works with His Plan and how He can make His Plans our plans.

I had all kinds of plans in October of 2018. Inviting my parents to go with me and my husband on our 25th anniversary trip to North Carolina was not one of them, despite Dave’s suggestion to do so. I was furious. “You must not want to spend alone time with me if you want to bring my parents,” I halfway yelled at him. He said it was not that way at all, that he merely commented on how it’s a three-story house, and there is plenty of room if we wanted to invite my parents. We wouldn’t even notice they were there unless we wanted to.

It simply crossed his mind because my mom had been talking for years about wanting to do exactly what we were getting ready to do, stay in a log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, surrounded by waterfalls. Well I nixed the idea immediately and refused to consider it. The thing is, for more than a year now, I have been wondering if things could be different today, had I just brought my parents to the mountains with us.

Perhaps my dad would not have come down with pneumonia. Perhaps he would not have gotten that blood clot in his leg. Perhaps he would not have suddenly died a week after we got back.

I wonder how God laughed at my plans back then.

Let No One be Left Behind

Having passed people-pleasing on the rung below me, the rung on the ladder of life, I am now on a new rung. A new rung does present new challenges, however, I feel ready for this rung. For I saw this quality in myself some time ago and shared these thoughts with friends.

I shared with them how, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to save the world, yet my parents had to remind me twice a day to brush my teeth. I reminisced about friends who had “slipped into the trenches” and how, although my motive has been to help a friend out of the trench, after a while what I really found, was myself down in the trench with my friend. Not fully knowing how I wound up there or how to get out, one thing I did know – I could not just leave someone I care about, down in the trench.

And then, thank God, I had a great moment of growth.

Never before could I fathom the heartlessness required to be able to walk away from someone in the trench. Thank God I was wrong. For heartlessness is not what it takes for me to leave the trench. What I need is my own worthiness. This requires self-esteem.

Self-esteem used to seem so elusive to me and I could not figure out why. It just seemed that a girl like me ought to have good self-esteem. There seemed no reason not to, I mean. And then I learned that self-esteem is not too concerned with looks. Being tall and thin does not necessarily produce self-esteem. Nor does talent. A top-seeded tennis player in high school, I was, and self-esteem still eluded me. I just couldn’t figure out why a girl like me couldn’t seem to get it – good quality self-esteem. It bothered me, and as a result, I did some pretty stupid things.

Then one day I was discussing this topic with friends, and I heard something that would totally change my life. My friend Kerry said, “Someone once told me that self-esteem comes from doing esteemable things.” I was like, “What? Say that again?” Something clicked inside of me, and although it seemed way too simple, I knew it made sense. Something else inside of me wanted to argue it, though.

I do esteemable things, I thought, so that can’t be all there is to it, my brain said to my soul.

The thing is, my soul responded, I also have to stop doing non-esteemable things.

So yeah, there is more to it. I would have to stop rationalizing, justifying, minimizing and exaggerating, if I wanted good self-esteem. I would have to do the things I tell myself I am going to do, like eat better or exercise. I would have to stay out of situations and conversations that are none of my business. I would have to stop telling business that is not mine to tell. I would have to stop trying to change things I can not change.

I decided every single day to make it a priority to do esteemable things whenever possible and to stop doing non-esteemable things. I set my alarm to go off three times a day to remind me to examine the day thus far, correcting any non-esteemable acts I had committed. Most of the time, this meant calling my mentor to tell her about it. And in no time, for the first time in my life, I found good quality self-esteem.

Having self-esteem has changed my outlook on many things, including my relationships with other people. When I feel worthy of stepping out of the trench, then what my friend does or does not do, is really not a factor for what I do. But when I am harboring hate, guilt or some other negative emotion, then my soul knows I am not worthy of stepping up. When this happens, it is much easier for me to say, “I can’t just leave my friend here in the trench!”

Today I can see that stepping up a rung on the ladder of life is not the same as leaving a friend behind. A friend who feels left behind, simply may not be ready for such work. To this friend, I say, “Rest assured, my friend, I am not leaving you. It may seem dark and grey where you are, but it doesn’t have to be. When you are ready, holler, and I will be there to help you step up, out of the trench. And then you will see a sliver of sun, starting to shine on you.”

The Q-tip Quip

For years, when I would complain of not feeling well, Dave would listen to me the first or second time and then suggest I not focus so much on the ailment. Although he meant well, this usually did not go over well with me. Whether it was my inflamed sinuses or a migraine headache, a shooting pain or blurry vision, or my favorite – my fuzzy ear, his solution almost always involved positive thinking. I accused him of not caring. He said if I cared I would get it checked-out and not just complain about it.

So I did just that. And after two rounds of a heavy-duty antibiotic, I got the “all clear,” yet I still felt something going on in my ear. My doctor was puzzled, so she sent me to an ENT specialist. I just knew it was going to bad. I had gotten an ear infection after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, and then we heard about bad bacteria being found in the body of water. I just knew the antibiotics weren’t working. I could feel it and I was scared.

As my family physician suggested, I went to the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. He took one look in my ear, and simply said, “Quit using Q-tips.”

I sat there a little dumb-founded. It seemed as though the appointment was now over, but he said it like an aside.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“Yep,” he replied, “your ears are trying to heal themselves and you are not letting them.”

No, something else is going on, I thought. Does this guy even know my plight?

Trying not to seem like the hypochondriac that my husband has lately insinuated me to be, I inquired about the feeling of cotton moving around in my ear and the associated pain I felt. His response was, “The ear canal is supposed to have skin.”

Yeah? And? I sat there a little confused. The questioning, and almost angry look on my face prompted him to explain that what I am feeling is skin trying to form, and the lack of it means I have nothing protecting my ear canals. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life,” he instructed as he walked out the door.

I was definitely dumbfounded.

The first thing I did when I got in my car, was cry. Is this guy for real? What if he is wrong? These were my immediate thoughts. Next, my thoughts revolved around the amount of money I had just spent to be told I was fine. I felt happy about this, being fine, yet scared of the notion that he could be wrong. And although I was sure that Dave would be happy to hear this news, I was just as sure he would not be thrilled about the cost.

I started thinking of ways I could spin this, to make it seem like less of a waste of money somehow. After running a few different scenarios through my mind, I laughed at myself. “Oh my gosh, Susie,” I said aloud, “this is no excuse to pedal backwards!”

The doctor’s words rang around in my mind the whole way home. “Quit using Q-tips and go enjoy life.” Why did this make me so mad? No – he’s wrong, he has to be, I kept thinking. Doctors are wrong all the time.

Then I saw this cloud make a face at me:

Opening the gate, I had a “light-bulb moment” – what I think, really does create the life I have – physically, socially, and of course, mentally. I could clearly see that I had two choices – I could go on a mission to prove the doctor wrong or I could go on a mission to enjoy life. 

Damn-it, Dave had this all along.

The thing is, my self-esteem must be good, in order for me to accept this truth, and therefore, tell Dave the truth – the complete and simple truth – without including my rationalizations or justifications.

And when Dave asked, “What did the doctor say?” I sobbed and said, “Quit using Q-tips.”

The following days and weeks, whenever I felt that feeling of cotton moving around in my ear, instead of thinking it was some antibiotic-resistant bacteria multiplying close to my brain, I imagined my own skin cells, diligently organizing all the tools needed to repair my inner ear. When I felt pain associated with the process, I visualized healthy cells attaching themselves to my skin, much like nailing a stud to a wall.

Two and a half years later – a full 30 months after that appointment with the specialist – I am happy to report that my ear issue seems to be solved, all by not using q-tips, and I believe, changing the way I was thinking about it. I am grateful that my pride stepped aside just long enough for me to see that change could do my thinking good.

It’s a bunny, it’s a monkey, it’s Susie!

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People may have thought (and with good reason) that I was likely the latest resident of Royal Palm Beach to loose their driver’s license (or their home 😉 ), but thank God that was not the cause of my peddling more than nine miles around the town yesterday. “No, I am not a homeless person loitering in the lot,” I said to myself, and really, to others when they drove through the industrial park, looking at me a little funny as I packed up my bike for the day. “No, I am not a bum looking for a handout,” I silently said to people parking in the lot at Costco, “for if I were, would I have a Costco card? Doubt it,” I said to myself as I walked into the store, and then wondered if anyone watching me was wondering what I was going to get at Costco on my bicycle.

I didn’t think much more about it, rolling down Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, heading toward the DMV. My mind was more preoccupied with patting myself on the back for what a big a girl I have become. You see, my truck’s steering-something-or-other was loose, and although I allowed fear to get the first foothold, I turned it around and showed it the door and decided to be a big girl and see what I could do about it. As I determined where I would take it and what to do while waiting, fear came storming back in, and this time brought a friend – the head of the pity party committee.

While the two sources of major discontent tried their best to talk me into being the party’s guest of honor, I declined. After arguing with them incessantly, I remembered that the only way to win with these two is by doing, not saying. “Faith without works is dead,” as Jesus said, whereas works is synonymous with action. As in, what are you doing to combat these two trouble makers? So I went to Walmart and bought new tires for my bike.

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I also splurged on a side mirror that wraps around the handle bars, which I found to be real handy. The first time a fellow biker scared the heck out of my while whizzing by on my right, I was like, “Duh, Susie, what did you get that mirror for?” I was prepared each time after that. And I got passed a lot, for I was not on a mission, I was simply enjoying the journey. I had all day, or so I thought, to mosey on down to the DMV and get my tags renewed.

On my way, I stopped at Commons Park, had a picnic and took pictures.

I then got an hour’s worth of work done while waiting at the DMV. On the way back to retrieve my truck, I decided that it would be good mental health maintenance to do this once a week – to get out and ride my bike with no time restraints tugging at my mind. As I thought of my usual mental state, I decided that loosing this much time once a week would frazzle me too much. So I changed the frequency to once a month. By the time I reached my truck, I had talked myself into once a quarter being totally sufficient.

The absolute best part of the whole entire day – are you ready for this? My truck – it was a loose bolt. Now how many mechanics are going to hand you your keys and say, “It was a loose bolt. Have a nice day!” I was dumbfounded. Really? Well I can’t believe the difference in the way it drives. He could have gotten a hundred bucks out of me, easily, and I would have been happy. But he is a good guy, George – the owner, and just one of the reasons why I will continue to take my vehicles to Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach. Much more than tires, they do, they do bushings and calipers and the knuckle-like things, they do brakes and of course, tires and alignments. So the next time your auto needs some help to get it rolling down the road safely, give them a call! When I need them, I say, “OK Google, what’s the number for Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach?” And then my phone even offers to call it. While I hope I don’t have to rely on them too much, it is nice knowing that I can when I need to, and having my truck for about 220,000 miles now, I sure am glad I found Value Tire in Royal Palm Beach!

Cake of Cheese

Dave is good. He called on his way home and after we hung up, I thought, “Poor guy, he’s probably wondering, does, ‘I don’t want cake’ really mean I shouldn’t get cake, or is this one of those times when I should know better?” Then I prayed for help accepting whatever he would decide to do.

But surely he won’t get cake – he knows I am sugared-out. And where is he going to get a non-GMO cake, is what I was thinking. Yeah, he knows better. And he did. So guess what he did? He got me a cake of cheese.

Not a cheesecake, but a cheese ball, and if you know me, well then you know that means Dave is good. So now on my birthday, a cheese ball is now called a cake of cheese. So instead of cake and ice cream, we had cheese and pretzels. And it was yummy! And non-GMO, of course.

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Big Block Party of Birds

I took this video on Christmas day in Ft. Myers. Not a rare sight for those whose yard we were in; however, I was amazed. It was really something to be standing in the middle of! And I couldn’t help but think of my grandmother. I never will forget the time she started reciting a poem about a birdie in the sky who shat in her eye, after one did just that!

The Six-Dollar Sunset

Heading west, Dave made an impromptu move, and changing lanes said, “Let’s go over to Sanibel and watch the sunset.”

“I don’t care,” I said, with no enthusiasm.

“Okay good,” he responded, as if I had said, “Yeah, wonderful idea!”

I sat there amused at first, that he chose to take my “I don’t care” statement as – I don’t care that we’re not doing what I thought we were, (going back to the house to do nothing) – instead of – I don’t care if we go see the sunset – which, clearly, is what I meant.

Of course I care that we are not doing what my mind was set on doing. Deviate from our plans of doing nothing? No way! My mind has very little room for change sometimes. If I think it’s going to be one way, then by golly darn it, it better be that way, or else. Even if your way is better. I was totally aware of this and wanted to be able to “go with the flow,” yet some part of me refused to give-in and go with it.

My amusement quickly downgraded to annoyance, and grasping for excuses, I added, “As long as we don’t go over the bridge. I don’t want to pay the toll.”

“Me either,” he replied.

We soon found ourselves in a ‘no turn around’ predicament and before we knew it, we were being asked for six dollars. I was shocked. Six dollars just to get on to Sanibel? Damn it, we didn’t even want to go to Sanibel. Or so I thought.

I felt myself getting mad. The thing is, I also knew I had a choice to not be mad.

I asked myself, “Do I really want to feel anger? Is this the feeling I really want right now?” I decided that it was not the feeling I desired for myself, and therefore, I would not be mad. Instead, I chose to focus on how happy I am that Dave is nowhere near angry whenever my actions don’t line up with his expectations. In fact, anger hardly ever seems to enter his mind. Instantly, I felt my load lighten.

After fumbling for money and handing it to the attendant, Dave looked at me apologetically, and before he could say a word, I joked, “What a topic – the six dollar sunset!” He smiled. I rolled down my window and started taking pictures.

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Susie’s Second Subaru

I was going to title this, “Susie’s getting sick of surprises with Subaru’s,” and as I was typing it, I realized this was not a true statement. “Go ahead, surprise me again honey, I’m ready! I can take it! I think.”

So, after 11 months of faithful service, my Subaru said no more.

A week after I threw the timing belt, Dave came home with the title to another one. “I don’t want another car,” I cried when our attempt to fix my ride failed. “I love my Subaru!” I guess he thought that finding another one would fix my attitude. At least it fixed my excuse for isolating, which he is sure to not let me do for too long.

Identical to my previous 2000 Subaru Outback with one exception – I now have a wagon instead of a sedan. Oh, and different color of course. My point was to be that all things are interchangeable and the first thing we did was swap out the tires. Mine were newer and better. We talked about some other things I like better about my crapped-out car, but who knows if we will ever get around to swapping inside stuff before this one also decides to no longer take our road.

While I am grateful to be mobile, I liked the other one better. When it ran, anyway. However, there are some funny things about the whole thing, sort of. Right before the timing belt on my maroon Subaru blew, I was thinking it would be nice if my trunk were a hatch-back instead, and open. At the same time, Dave was thinking of getting a tow package put on, as he had just read that our small McKee Craft was light enough for it.

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And yep, you guessed it, this one has all that.

So while Dave was busy being totally amazed by all of this and laughing his little heart out, I was telling God that this was not what I had in mind at all. A tiny chuckle escaped my chest, however, as God’s sense of humor did not escape my attention. And since there are bigger fish I would like to fry, I shall simply remain grateful for my mobility, in whatever it may be!

** Addition to original post:

The circumstances under which we got this car originally caused me concern. Not of the legality or anything like that, but because the previous owner apparently lost it due to financial issues with it, it was ultimately towed and sold by the towing company. So not knowing the circumstances, I thought it was possible that the previous owner could be mad about it, and seeing me driving down the road in it could set someone off, perhaps. So I decided that I would not drive anywhere near town with it. I more than decided, I let my husband know about this decision several times. Several times a day, at first. My fear was showing.

At any rate, a month later, forgetting all about it, we went into town to buy an air conditioner at BrandSmart, where you wait at the dock outside for your purchase, and up walks a guy, looking me over like he knows me, but doesn’t. Well, it does not register with me one bit that it might be the car he knows, and as I start to nudge Dave to turn his attention from the dock and ask if he knows this guy, the stranger walked right up to us and slowly asked, “Mary?” “No,” I replied, still not thinking anything of this car, and he says, “I didn’t think so, you don’t really look like her, but this is her car! I know it’s her car, I have worked on it many times, this is her wrecked bumper, yep, this corner, yep, this is her car! But you’re not Mary!” Super surprised, I stared at Dave, speechless.

So not to make this short story any longer, it turns out that he is a mechanic, retired, and works on select cars on the side, mine being one of them, and he would be happy to keep working on it as I need. The kicker here? Just the day before, Dave and I were talking about how all the “back-yard mechanics” we have known have either moved or died, and I exclaimed, “We need to find a mechanic who works out of their house and doesn’t have all those shop fees!” And what do you know?

Never underestimate the power of your words, and more importantly, the power of God.

Spiritual Gifts Surprise

I recently came across a most interesting document, dated over six years ago from when I was active in a local church. At the end of what could be called “a weekend retreat” (the simplest way I know to describe it), I was presented with a seven-page printout outlining my Spiritual Gifts, what each one means, and my strength in each one.

I remember wondering why my dominant gift turned out to be “Teaching;” thinking that my second strongest gift, “Showing Mercy,” really is my first; and having no clue what my third strength (which was actually a tie with second by a tiny sliver), “Exhortation,” even was. I highlighted some stuff from the first two pages before it wound up in a drawer and buried with a bunch of other busy work. At any rate, I haven’t seen it since.

Today, this document caught my attention, and then it absolutely made my day. The analysis warns exhorters – “Be careful not to interrupt other people; your enthusiasm sometimes makes you guilty of this.” All the time, yes that is me! For the first time, it seems, I could see how this had affected certain relationships, and how it is something I could change. Furthermore, reading this document helped me to see why, what other people think of me, is none of my business, and knowing this feels much better than the facade of not caring.

My Cart Creation – a mobile desk

I have more ideas for blogs than you can possibly imagine. Okay, I exaggerate, but my ideas are many. And can I tell you how I have planned? Countless hours spent planning, figuring, and planning some more, have left me with fifteen different sites to manage (no exaggeration) and a confused manager of it all. I refuse to look at it as a loss; however, I shall use what I can when I can and trust that I will know when that is. And what.

In the shell of a nut, beginning with the end in mind is not the answer for this project. Almost like I have painted a picture and am trying to make all the pieces fit in order to resemble that picture, well, this approach is not working for me. So now, another approach – one picture at a time. I shall write what comes to mind with whatever photo of the day I may choose.

So as far as I can see at the moment, there is no real order to my posts; read through them in any way you wish. This is truly an exercise in “letting it be and we shall see.” I have a feeling it will turn out a whole lot better than my plan, plan, plan. Like my cool cart that has evolved out of something V gave me. It sort of just “grew.”

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The screen on my laptop broke and this television worked as a monitor. However, I needed to keep my laptop open, which it is, on the bottom of the top basket. Then I have 4 pvc pipes going across the basket above the laptop acting as a shelf, where I have a plastic bin containing all of my USB sticks and SD cards. Then there are the business card holders hanging, the basket full of electronics and my printer on the bottom.

Some things need to be well-planned out. Others are better when you simply allow them to take shape with each piece, placed one at a time as needed. This piece here, well I couldn’t have planned it better. Hey, V – Can you believe what I have done with the cart?!