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Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Prayers, Troubled Waters

JUST THE FACTS MA’AM

“Then she ran…and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2).

In this gospel from John, Mary Magdalene was visiting Jesus’ grave early one morning when she saw the stone covering His tomb had been rolled away. It was still dark, and the text doesn’t indicate that anyone else was with her, so she hurried to find Simon Peter and John to investigate this alleged crime scene. Mary used the proverbial “they” to assume that thieves had stolen Jesus’ body. She ran with her first thought to tell Simon Peter and John.

Simon Peter and John acted upon Mary’s recount and expected to find grave clothes and Jesus’ body gone when they arrived at the tomb. Instead, they found neatly gathered clothes and wraps that covered Jesus’ face. (I surmise that Jesus spoke Mary’s love language of service when He folded his laundry before leaving the tomb).

I relate to Mary Magdalene’s presumption because of my abundant experience with misconceptions. For example, I watch someone speeding and weaving between cars on the road and become agitated that their selfish moves endanger others. Pause. (Christina, look in your own rearview mirror). What did drivers assume about me while I raced down the highway to the vet emergency room when our dog had a whole tennis ball lodged in his mouth?

Another example of my first glance misunderstandings was when I saw a heap of bags and piles of clothing lying near a Goodwill donation center. Thinking some charitable but lazy person couldn’t brave the cold long enough to leave their car to walk their contribution to the bin, I resolved to clean up what proverbial “they” messed up. As I reached the container, I found a woman huddled under that heap of plastic bags. She had a pillowcase filled with clothing that wouldn’t protect her from the 20-degree temperatures. I identify with Mary Magdalene’s assumed conclusion before collecting more facts. I’ve seen (and spoke) my reaction before wisely sifting it through a filter of compassion.

Based on one rolled away stone, Mary Magdalene shared her misguided truth with others. Before factoring her grief, startled observation, and a dark morning when she was alone, she accused “them” of stealing. She exclaimed, “They have taken away the Lord.” I would love to hear how Mary, Simon Peter, and John compared stories when daybreak revealed the Truth.

Jesus, thank You for your light of Truth, especially when my thoughts and actions are dark. In this world of technology, filter my automatic assumptions through Your gate of grace. I’m grateful for Your empty tomb that reminds me that only You know my full story and faithfully love me.

Trading in my grave clothes for white robes to leap into the lily pad, Christina

Frog Blog

New book is birthed!

A grateful shout out from the FROG blog!

Thank you to Chris Woods at Salvaged Soul Publishing for birthing my new book, “Life’s Too Short for Dull Razors, Cheap Pens, and Worn-Out Underwear.”

I’m an author, not a natural marketer, so any media, recommendations, Amazon and Google reviews you offer mean the world to me!

As a literary birth mom, I’m joyfully exhausted in the lily pad this week, Christina

 

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Prayers

PRODUCTION LINE

I appreciate the value of organized details and applaud wisely crafted designs. I caution against over planning without production, intentions without action. Reading and researching have significance, but when does too much strategizing bleed into procrastination? What amount of stringent forecasting translates to missed opportunities? Someone said when anticipation to strategize outweighs action it’s time to change strategies.

I understand that not every brilliant idea needs to be implemented, but how many assignments are lost because over thinking leads to delay? Some concepts require waiting but do we (we, including the person at this keyboard) drag our feet under the rationalization that circumstances don’t align with our expectations (our, again, including the person typing the FROG blog). The wisdom lies in determining when we are supposed to wait, and when we are expected to plow forward.

Consider the profession of agriculture. There is much to learn about farming before someone puts his or her hand to the plow. The potential farmer has decisions about tending crops, orchards, animals, or a combination of producing. He or she assesses crop selection, land preparation, product market value, climate, and soil tests.

What happens if that aspiring agrarian buys land, equipment, animals, feed, and seed but leaves all purchases in barns and grain bins? When asked why the animals haven’t been fed or seed hasn’t been planted, the dream farmer responds that he or she will start an agriculture profession when it’s warmer, cooler, sunnier, or after vacation. The farm land then remains fallow and the animals are laid to rest, all buried under a harvest of drawing board sketches. The plot (of land) thickened but never took root beyond a field of dreams. Build it and they will come (‘but we’re not in Iowa anymore’ serves a load of corn as its logical ration). The land line became a land mine, a bumper crop dream dying in a nightmare of planning without production.

Haggai 2:19 (NKJV), “Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit.” The last sentence of that verse offers redemption after actions and words intersect: “But from this day I will bless you.”

Lord, help me use wisdom when tending your field plans. Guard me from planting thoughts and saturating the dirt with watered down intentions. Teach me when to let land lie fallow, prepare me to plant crops according to your growing season. Show me when to till the soil, weed, and irrigate so I can share a bumper crop harvest with others.

Implementing without withering away, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Love, New Starts, Troubled Waters

TREAT MEANT

I often use Socrates’ questioning method of teaching to encourage new answers to surface. As I mindfully floated on the lily pad today, I asked what the word treatment means to me? Dividing treatment into two parts, what examples do I associate with the word “treat?” What treats have I received that remain memorable? What treats have I given that generated unforgettable responses?

The dictionary defines treatment as “the act or manner or an instance of treating someone or something. The method in which it is handled.” This definition allows ample room for several prospective treatment options. I return to Socrates’ questioning style to dig deeper for ideas. What are the parameters I use to measure when I’m treating others how I want to be treated? Using examples of my treat desires (dark chocolate, candles, spiritually engaging conversations), do I gift others with their favorites? Does the energy I release toward others indicate a treat I’d like to receive?

I recently watched Marie Forleo interview Tim Ferriss who invited the audience to think about “treating others the way you want to be treated.” Ferriss suggested an alternative consideration. He asked if you treat yourself the way you treat others? Do you speak to others the way you speak to yourself? Do you respect margins and display grace for yourself with the same frequency as you allow for others? Self-care often overflows to more easily support other people and activities.

Ferriss isn’t promoting selfish love or self-serving treatment. He recommended viewers to practice compassion on themselves to experience what treating others kind-heartedly looks and feels like. He questioned how someone could understand what treating others thoughtfully looks like if they don’t treat themselves with courtesy. I’ve experienced Ferriss’s observations in my life. When I’m impatient or severe with myself, I struggle against irritability or harshness toward people and projects. When I speak slower and build larger margins between thoughts or schedules, I’m gentler with others.

To respect my 500-word FROG blog limit, I leave my lily pad to review more answers from my treatment plan. I hope you will invest time to discover what treat means to you. What is your treat-meant? To treat yourself, to treat others? I believe your answers will translate to upgraded treats!

Leaping with care, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, New Starts, Troubled Waters

WINNIE THE POOH AND BILLY GRAHAM

I’m reading the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. A friend loaned it to me with a suggestion to pay attention to people showing up for life through the characters of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, or Rabbit. As an animal lover, I was eager to learn more from our furry companions. The book confirmed a simple but firm observation from a mentor, “Christina, you’re trying too hard. You’re complicating life. Just let it happen.”

The excerpt from Tao of Pooh that stood out: “When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.”

In a dialogue with Pooh, the author teaches how Tao doesn’t force or interfere with flow. Instead, Tao allows life to work in its own way, organically producing results. I read Tao of Pooh during a work break and after work, I paged through a Decision magazine. “The Time is Short” article featured an interview with Billy Graham who said, …”There are billions and billions and billions of planets and stars. And as far as we know, this is the only planet in rebellion against God.”

Ouch! Rebellion? Ouch! Going outside of what my Creator crafted in His blueprint for my life? I never expected a connecting message between Winnie the Pooh and Billy Graham. A mentor’s insight, the Tao of Pooh, and Billy Graham’s interview in one day invited me to consider what I am filling and flushing out of the purity of life. I am discovering that any unrest and chaos is generated from living my will, (not Thy will) be done!

Seeking ponds to soak and flow without artificial coloring or (self) preservatives, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, New Starts, Prayers, Troubled Waters

JOB SECURITY

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things” (Mt. 6:34).

Tomorrow will worry about its own things. Ah, tongue in cheek reassurance. Matthew’s gospel teaches that each day assures job security on the worry line. Today’s storms are not to steal tomorrow’s thunder. I understand how I’m not to borrow tomorrow’s troubles. What about when thoughts bypass borrowing upcoming quandaries and I head straight toward stealing future concerns?

My study bible notes that worry represents division and distraction. Worry and faith cannot simultaneously exist. I’ve been practicing more single-hearted thinking so I can increase whole-hearted living by starting my morning walks whispering, “Think slow.” In the hushed darkness, I repeat those two words slowly until eventually that whispered repetition calms me.

As I walk, when my thoughts accelerate and tangent, I choose one piece of inner dialogue and whisper it. For example, if marriage, work, or parenting concerns overpower a peaceful state, I whisper, “Work project. Think Slow.” I find it cathartic to quietly expose the wayward thought so I can declutter my mind.

With consistent effort, I’ve gradually learned to convert my thinking into praying. If I’m talking, I might as well be talking to God rather than allow my thoughts to bounce around in my head. God can take my chatter and train me to change slippery worry into grounded action. I’m learning that if a thought is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. Just as I monitor my walking pace to avoid injury, I’m adjusting my thinking pace to decrease inner jarring.

Matthew 6:34 teaches that tomorrow will have its own concerns. God will have new assignments every day and instructs me to “be anxious for nothing” (Phil. 4:6). Nothing means nothing. I have the freedom to choose worthy over worry. That decision depends on how strongly I seek peace. I am invited to live care free, full of His care.

Jesus, thank You for speaking to me in whispers. Guide me toward single-hearted thinking today so I can concentrate on whole-hearted living tomorrow. Align my needs with Your wants. You provide peace and clarity when I think slow (er). Help my thoughts follow Your worry-free instructions.

Whispering praises of new understanding from a thoughtful lily pad, Christina

Frog Blog, Grace, Hope, Love, New Starts

CHEVRONS

My Mom taught me to crochet when I was in elementary school. We began with single crochet chaining, double crochet stitches, and eventually created more elaborate patterns. In her crafting projects, Mom gravitated toward chevron patterns. Her blanket colors and sizes were different, but Mom’s handiwork often displayed her signature “V” stitch.

I remember Mom looking peaceful when she crocheted. I’d sit on the couch beside her and pull yarn from the skein at a pace to match her stitching flow. Her hands moved rapidly but she was silent other than quietly repeating patterns in a definitive tempo style. Her chevron “cadence” was, “ten crochet up, top the peak with three doubles, chain one, top the next peak with three doubles, and head back down the V with ten double crochets.”

As I became more skilled in crocheting, Mom used yarn patterns to teach life lessons. Using the chevron shape, she taught about life’s ups and downs. A crocheted mountain requires counting to ten when stitching up and down. Both sides of the mountain are vital because each offer a different view of the tapestry. At the chevron points, there’s a double trinity and to finish the blanket with excellence, you cannot stop at the top or bottom of the “V”.

I watched Mom rip out several rows of a project because she made a significant error in her pattern’s foundation. She told me how one additional or missed stitch creates an off-centered blanket. I learned the importance of counting stitches and fixing a mistake as soon as you find it.

It took me one difficult lesson of not heeding her instruction. I figured with two extra stitches, I could drop one on each side, so the end number remained the same. Instead of correcting my work at that point of miscalculation, I moved forward. My first chevron afghan turned into a V shaped blanket with a small base and large fanned out top. Crocheting, as in life, is seeing how an unfixed mistake can expand and “unravel” over time.

Mom taught that when working with darker colored yarn (i.e. life’s valleys) stitches sometimes needed to be pulled gently apart for visual clarity. She adjusted to lighting limitations by using daytime to crochet dark colors and evening hours to crochet brighter hues. She taught me to relax if I didn’t see a pattern take shape until several rows were completed. She’d gently repeat, “Just keep working through it. Don’t worry about future stitches, you can only crochet one stitch at a time.”

When I start any crochet project, I still “hear” Mom’s reassurance about weaving shape into my life tapestry. Foundations are vital, all colors matter, each stitch counts, all details make a difference to the Creator.

Casting a life hook and line from my crochet and pray lily pad, Christina