The story in today’s Daily Guideposts reminded me, It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.
Just a simple “Thank you,” or “Please,” Just a moment to reach out and lend a hand, Can change someone’s entire day. And it may impact those observing the kindness, too.
So, just be kind!
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Matthew 7:12 ESV
In her story in Guideposts today, Erika Bentsen recounted how (back when she was only 17) she was waiting on a bus in Scotland for the departure time. The bus driver was busy telling stories to the attentive passengers. Suddenly the bus driver dashed from his seat to help a woman across the road who had dropped a package. Then he returned to his seat and continued his story telling.
When her aunt interrupted him and said, “That was awfully nice of you,” he shrugged it off saying, “It costs nothin’ to be kind.”
Years later, that conversation stuck with Erika. Her prayer at the bottom of the page reads,
“Dear Lord, shower me with opportunities to share kindness until it becomes as natural as breathing.”
Like Erika, I want kindness to be as natural as breathing. I know it is an attribute worth cultivating. I pray every morning on my way down the stairs from my sanctuary. I thank God for the
peace that are mine, and I ask God to help me with
faithfulness (which brings blessings)
self-control. I ask God to
help me live humbly with an attitude of gratitude, and a response of
Ask God to help you develop a habit of kindness so it is a natural as breathing to you. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone did that?
Kindness needs to be cultivated!
Who was the last person who was particularly kind to you? What did he or she do? I bet you remembered to say thank you!
Now, pass it on!!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. See you again tomorrow. Be well!!
In my devotional time this morning, I read an article that spoke to me of the way poetry fits into my life … a life that is filled with the wonder of poetic healing. I am impelled to share it with you because I hope it will inspire and validate your poetic instincts the way it did mine.
Before you read it, you may want to scroll to the bottom here and click on Laura Sullivan’s piano music. Listen to it as you read Jacqueline Suskin’s inspiring article.
Finding the Poetry in Everyday Life
by Jacqueline Suskin From – Posted on Jan 25, 2021 A professional poet provides tips on healing your life by adopting a poetic mindset.
There’s a saying: “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” These days, the battle feels especially hard. From everyday challenges to the forces dividing our nation, it’s fair to ask: How can I bring more joy to my life? More peace?
My answer: poetry.
I’m a professional poet. For a decade, I earned a living doing a project I called Poem Store… I wrote a story I wrote a few years ago for Guideposts about how poetry can be a vital part of someone’s prayer practice …
What is it about poetry that makes it such a powerful, universal language?
Poetry reveals beauty in the smallest details of creation. It finds light in the darkest shadow. It is a guide and a teacher, reminding readers that life is a miracle, something to be celebrated. Good poetry tells deep truths about joy and pain, triumph and grief. Like the Psalms, poetry explores every aspect of human experience, shying away from nothing and expressing gratitude for everything.
That’s why I believe poetry can be healing for anyone. You don’t have to be a professional poet.
Here are some suggestions for cultivating a poetic mindset, gained from a lifetime of writing, teaching and finding my place on this planet:
1. Be in awe of everything. A dictionary definition of awe is “a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.”
… The poetic mindset starts with the idea that nothing is an accident. Everything is interrelated and plays a part in a greater whole. Therefore, everything deserves notice and even celebration.
The signs are everywhere. Autumn leaves swirling in wind. A luminous raindrop on your window. The sight of someone you love peacefully asleep. Stars on a clear winter night. (And I, JanBeek, have to interject here: the sight of snowflakes dancing outside on your patio)
Even on your hardest day, a glance around will reveal something miraculous. When I focus on the intricate grandeur of nature, I feel myself relax. My mind unclenches from my problems, and I know that something larger is present, no matter what happens.
Awe is easy to cultivate. Close your eyes. Now open them. What is the first thing you see? Look closer. Ask yourself: How was this thing made? Where did it come from? What does it look like, feel like, smell like, maybe even taste like? What is good about it? What does it remind you of? Does it bring happy thoughts or sad ones? Why? What does it tell you about yourself or the divine?
I’m willing to bet your randomly selected object is full of meaning. A poetic mindset helps you tune into that significance whenever you want. It’s an inexhaustible source of healing, refreshment and inspiration.
2. Make pain your teacher.
Are you brokenhearted and angry? There’s a poem for that…
A poem is a place where you can pour out your hardest feelings. Make the words shout, burn. Don’t be afraid. You can always throw the page into the fireplace once you’ve filled it. Or seal it in an envelope and come back to it later.
Poetry can be a repository for everything difficult in your life.
But there’s more. I find that when I write about something I’m struggling with, my negative feelings begin to ebb. By writing, remembering, I am forced to admit that not everything is so bad. The world is complicated. There is darkness and light. Forgiveness comes into view.
The more I put everything on the page—the whole truth, not just an edited version—the more I ask why things happened. If I could have done things differently. Whether my poem is trying to teach me something. Here’s part of a poem I wrote while I was grieving a loved one.
You were a shining man always giving us a reason to rejoice and so you still are, you always will be.
Writing about grief helped me widen my perspective. I learned that memories are emblems of ongoing life after death. That doesn’t end my grief. My grief teaches me a healing truth.
3. Seek what inspires you.
Life isn’t perfect, but you can live with love and trust anyway.
Poetry helps us remember this essential piece of wisdom. What comes from God is good, and there is always goodness to be found once you train yourself to look.
Poetry to me is a form of praise. I build poems from things I see, people I meet and thoughts and feelings found deep inside. As I present those treasures in poetic language, I am celebrating what is good in them. My poems have an innate optimism. Poetry looks for the bright side of life, whatever is inspiring and beautiful even in the midst of hardship.
To see the world as a poet is to be aware of beauty wherever you go. A poet believes that beauty is a clue to the essential nature of existence. Pay attention to that feeling of joy as you spot a delicate tracery of dew in a spider’s web on your morning walk. The beauty, and your joy, are helping you see something deeply true about life.
4. Open yourself to a new perspective.
Few objects are more humble than the pencil. Yet, for me, a pencil is holy. Every pencil is special because I imagine the thoughts and images that it can be used to create and communicate. What are the holy objects in your life? A poet looks for what is beloved in everything, no matter how ordinary.
That is what makes poetry a force for healing. When you look for what is beautiful, good, true and holy in everything around you, you are really looking for God. When you write down what you see, you are engaged in a deep form of prayer.
When your mind and your heart develop this habit of poetic prayer, you cannot be overcome by the world’s troubles because you carry a treasury of goodness inside yourself.
Your poems don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to rhyme. They don’t have to impress anyone. All they need is a new perspective, that of a poetic mindset.”
Thank you, Jacqueline Suskin. Your Guideposts article inspired me. I hope it inspires my WordPress friends, too.
EMBRACE WRITING POETRY
Here’s a poem from a fantastic musician, Laura Sullivan, who also dabbles in poetry. If you’re unfamiliar with her music, do yourself a favor and click on the YouTube at the bottom here.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek
Do you have a poem to share? I’d love to have you share something poetic in the comments section here.
When you see the word “Braid,” what do you think of?
Those braids appear to be two strong strands twisted together. (Isn’t she beautiful?)
Likewise, this rope seems to have two strong strands twisted, right?
When I used to braid my daughter’s hair, I needed three strands to create the braid.
Today’s devotional made me think about these various braids and contemplate the strength of the three strands. Here was the scripture:
“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Katie Minter Jones in “Mornings with Jesus” by Guideposts wrote a devotional based on that scripture. In it she recounted how difficult the days of early marriage were as she and her husband “struggled through difficult times.”
She quoted a friend as saying, “Together we worked hard to get where we are now. It definitely takes two to make a marriage work, and that’s not fifty-fifty. Each person has to give 100%.” Finger pointing and trying to divvy stuff up 50-50 leads to disaster.
One of her lady friends said, “It takes three to make a successful marriage, the husband, the wife, and Jesus.” Each person must give 100% to each other and 100% to Jesus.”
That seems like a tall order! But doing so creates the three strands that make the braid unbreakable. Couples need to walk with Jesus to have a strong marriage.
Here’s my take on what that looks like.
When our hearts are bound in love around our Lord’s cross, His mercy and grace strengthen our relationship and help us grow closer. As we walk hand in hand, praying and staying together in love, God blesses us. Jesus Christ strengthens us. The Holy Spirit braids our hearts in His love and care. Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian Love. Be braided!
Write your spouse a love letter today and include a prayer.
Dear Bob, I am so grateful for your love and for our mutual reliance on Jesus, our Lord. Thank you for praying with me, staying with me, putting Christ first in our lives, and relying on Him during our times of struggle. His sacrificial love is the perfect reminder of how we need to take care of each other. His presence binds us in purpose and braids us with His promises and His peace. Thank you! Love Forever and Ever, Rockie ;o) <3
Dear God, Thank you for blessing our marriage and knitting our hearts together. May my blogging friends find that same peace and grace and purpose in life. May they sense Your guidance in their relationships and be braided with You. Amen. In His Care, Jan
Let the light of God shine on your relationship, be central to your lives, and braid you together with peace and purpose. God bless you!
What does S.O.S. mean to you? It’s an urgent message for help. But yesterday, a Facebook friend said, “It means Same ole Shit!”
Oh my! I had not heard that before! She was referring to a message I posted On Facebook about the U.S. Postal Service. She is convinced it’s all legit – not “shit” at all!
The post received 66 responses within a few hours And it deteriorated to the point where I Called a “Truce” and wished I had not started it. But, hey, ya gotta stand up for what you believe, right?
And we have a responsibility to fact check. Yes, some of the removed boxes were being replaced. The guy in charge of our postal service now, DeJoy, Has spread his “S.O.S.” and intelligent people believe him.
Other equally intelligent people weighed in on the conversation. “I worked for the P.O. and I know these claims are false.” “The sorting machines being removed are not being replaced.” “This has been going on routinely for decades. Why blame Trump?”
I don’t care who is to blame, I just care about our U.S.P.S. And I want to speak up to defend our right to vote by mail. I need all the boxes protected and all the sorting machines left. I need to know our election in November is not being compromised.
So, I came out of my box of comfort and said, “Stop!” I came out and expressed my outrage at what’s happening. Enough other people have expressed their concern that DeJoy Announced he will stop this nonsense until after November elections.
“I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.”
We need to TRUST God’s Word and expect the best. We need to pray to God for His wisdom And for our courage to step up to the plate When His perfect time comes.
But, before we grab the bat And swing at the falsehoods, We need to ask the SUPREME COACH To guide us, teach us, and give us TRUTH.
We need to persevere in the face of the S.O.S. People throw at us – and don’t be deterred. We need to listen to His voice and grasp As clearly as we can His purposes for our stand.
STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT! Silence is no longer a viable option!! I love you, even if you think I’m wrong. Let’s exchange ideas with respect.
Some GOOD people will disagree with me. May my optimism about a brighter future be contagious. Let’s draw on the Word and promises of God. Stand up and carry on with perseverance!
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Send me a love letter!
In my GuidepostsMornings with Jesus today, Jolynn Strandberg wrote:
“Even when I am surrounded by people who do not understand my convictions, I hope I will always have the courage to stand up for my beliefs.”
Thank you, Guideposts, for your inspirational daily messages. On this Memorial Day that is so different from those past, I am grateful for the men and women who sacrificed for our freedom.
Free to Live and Build
I am grateful for the freedom to live in this beautiful place in Montana where the robins sing, build their nests, lay their eggs, and feed their babies right outside my dining room window! I’m free to just bee… free to do nothing but sit and watch today… if that’s my choice!
Free to Bee… Free to Recover…
I found this beautiful, stunned bird sitting on the front porch this morning. Is it a wren? It’s really tiny. Even when TazE (our Boston Terrier) went out to sniff at it, it didn’t move. It was free to just bee… bee still for a while. A half hour later, it was recovered – and thankfully flew away. Free to recover. Free to fly.
Free to Marvel
As I sit here and watch the robins take turns in the nest, I am eternally grateful to those service men and women who gave their lives that I might enjoy the peace I have today. Peace to sit here and marvel at nature. Free to enjoy the peace, and to FaceTime with my daughters across the continent and across the Atlantic.
Peace to watch Bob head off with a neighbor to fish the Madison today.
I hope he is free to catch a big one, like my friend Susan Phillips did this week… and then free to catch and release so someone else can be free to have the thrill of catching this beauty! Our Madison River has a “Catch & Release” policy because the trout all are natives… no “planting” allowed. It’s a world-class fly-fishing mecca!!
What are you free to do today? Tell me about it. And what are you most grateful for?
See ya tomorrow. Have a Meaningful, Peaceful Monday.
Please go to her post to read the story and become acquainted with Donna. Here is her poem:
TRIED YOUR BEST
At the end of my life
when I stand before the Lord,
I just want to hear Him say,
“You tried your best.”
“You may not have always succeeded
and yes, there were times
when you failed;
but you never let Me down for
you tried your best.”
“The gifts that I gave you,
you did try to use.
You may not have always used them,
indeed many times you did fail,
but it is okay
I love you,
You tried your best.”
“You listened for my voice.
You did your best to obey.
The words that I spoke,
they pierced your heart and you
tried your best
to let them change you those days.”
“You were not perfect,
I did not create you to be.
I knew that apple
would be picked off the tree.
I know you are not perfect,
that is okay with me.”
I provided my Son to take all that away.
All I ever wanted from you my dear child
is to know that you wanted to
try your best.”
“Tried your best
to do the right things,
tried your best
to be the best you could be.”
“In all your relationships, I never did frown,
I saw you my child, you were
trying your best.”
At the end of my life when I stand before the Lord,
more than all else, with such love in His eyes,
I want to hear Him say,
“MY child, you
TRIED YOUR BEST.”
Starts with Mind-Set
Part of trying to do and DOING your best is mind-set. It’s where all the effort begins… in your head and in your heart. If you’ve followed my blog very long at all, you know I begin each day in my “Angel Room.” It’s my favorite room in the house.
In my sanctuary, I pray, meditate, read devotionals and the Bible, and often write letters and cards to friends. Often the inspiration for my blog comes during my sanctuary time.
It Takes Divine Guidance
Before I leave my sanctuary each morning and walk down the spiral staircase, I ask for Divine Guidance, I pray,
“Lord, take me where you want me to go today. Help me meet who You want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say. Help me be what You made me to be. Show me what You want me to do. Help me walk in Your Way.”
These days, with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, He doesn’t want me to GO very far from home. The people I meet are usually on ZOOM or MarcoPolo, FaceTime, FaceBook, or here on WordPress. But, I do ask for help with what to say here on my blog, elsewhere on the internet, in phone calls and messages, and on those cards I write.
God helps me live up to WHO He made me to be… and I try my best to follow His lead. That’s all we can do you know: DO OUR BEST!
There are so many great resources out there to help us on our daily walk. Guideposts is one of my go-to sources. I have been reading their Daily Guideposts for at least a decade.
Recently I received a complimentary copy of Strength & Grace, daily devotionals for caregivers. I was tempted to pass it along to a friend who is caring for her recuperating spouse, but then I read a page or two, and I decided it is very pertinent to all of us who are sequestered and taking care of ourselves – and whoever may be living in the house with us.
Today’s message, April 18th, was titled, “Caregiver Foolishness.” It might have just said, “Our Foolishness,” because we all are foolish at times! We all occasionally make “careless mistakes or unwise decisions.” The message went on to explain:
“Foolishness strikes when we are tired and vulnerable, making us feel even worse.” But don’t stop there, we are told, “The opposite of foolishness is wisdom – God’s specialty. We may be fools, but God is always there with us, ready to carry us when we blunder.”
Try Your Best and Believe
So, the good news is: God knows our hearts. God knows our sincere efforts. He shares His wisdom and strength with us.
As long as we rely on God, it’s okay to be foolish at times. After all, we’re mortal. He did not create us to be perfect! Just join the Guideposts prayer team and me:
“God of strength and wisdom, even in my most foolish moments, You are there. I thank You for Your wisdom when I try my best, and for Your grace when my best doesn’t measure up.
I thank You for Your strength when I am weak. Help me always to remember, as Donna Marie wrote in her poem, ‘At the end of my life, when I stand before the Lord, I just want to hear Him say, you tried your best!’
Help me with my mind-set, my adherence to Your divine guidance, and my wise use of the many resources out there to assist my efforts. Help me in my Belief and forgive my doubts.
In Jesus Name, Amen”
Thanks for your visit to JanBeek today. Do your best to have a restful Saturday night and a blessed Sunday.
In this crucial time We need to stop, look, listen Stop now and bow down!
In kindergarten, we were taught to stop, look and listen. We made traffic lights as an art project. As a kindergarten teacher in the 70’s, I taught the children to recognize their colors, write their numbers, sing their ABC’s and listen for the sounds the letters made. I taught them safety features. Looking out for themselves and for one another. Yes, we had partners who took care of each other when we went out on field trips.
It’s time once again For us to stop, look, listen Practice safety rules
It’s time once again To look out for each other Hold hearts across miles
Just STOP, everyone! Stay sequestered and stop now Look for ways to help
Listen for the cries Of people less fortunate Look for solutions
Kim Taylor Henry is one of the contributing writers for Daily Guideposts 2020. This week, she has taken us through her devotionals on a journey to the Holy Land. We stopped with her in Jerusalem and bemoaned the way “the city bustled on.”
Kim thought of the words of Jesus: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
She wrote that when she traveled to Jerusalem, she “had expected to feel connected to God through tranquility.”
Instead, as she stood on a hill looking down at the expanse of the city, she wanted to cry out, “Stop everyone! This is holy ground! Bow down. Worship. Praise.”
We were just like that – Chaotic, bustling, busy – Moving way too fast
Then this virus hit We came to a screeching halt Stop, look and listen!
Now we have the time We are forced to be at home How will this change us?
Will we use this time To reclaim our best values To reach out in love?
The city is still The children are in their homes It seems the world stopped
Take time to bow down Reconnect with your Maker Let His Will guide you
When Kim Taylor Henry left Jerusalem and traveled on to Gethsemane, she expected to find “a hushed highlight” for her trip. She wrote that she thought she would find “a spot where I would reflect on our Savior’s suffering, a place of pain, yet serenity.”
“Instead ,” she wrote, “I saw a fenced-off grouping of knobbly olive trees… It didn’t feel peaceful.”
Opportunity or Tragedy
We have the opportunity during this COVID-19 pandemic to create in our homes a place of peace, a spot where you sense a “hushed highlight” in the opportunity to just BE… just BE together with family or alone in your space…
We can create a tragedy where we feel “fenced off” and we can be resentful, and we can worry and let our fear blind us to the opportunities that are before us.
Indifference or Awareness?
Traveling on the Via Dolorosa, the road to Calvary, the place outside the city of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified, Kim Taylor Henry wrote in her Guideposts devotional,
“I felt irritated by what I viewed as near oblivion to the sanctity of the path. Crass crowds and the array of souvenir shops disturbed me.”
But she went on to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Golgotha, the hillside where Jesus and the two thieves’ crosses remained, and she felt a sense of hush and respect.
Kim asked herself, “Why is the Via Dolorosa bustling with indifference and commercialism while the sites of death and resurrection are worshipful?” And she postulated, “Perhaps it’s a reminder that I, like so many wrapped up in the world… realize my errors too late, and bow down after the fact – when crisis has already struck.”
Is it Too Late?
Help us not to wait Until the crisis has struck Devastating us
Help us to heed NOW The directions we’re given And let us bow down
Stop, look and listen Like kindergarteners did No, it’s not too late!
Thank you, Kim Taylor Henry, for permission to quote your writing. Thank you, Guideposts, for your wonderful DailyGuideposts 2020spirit-lifting devotionals. I appreciate this resource that helps me each day stay focused on the positive ways we can remain in His Word and “Walk the Talk” as we learn to better love and care for one another.
In her devotional this morning, Cynthia Ruchti reminded me it’s Ash Wednesday. She wrote (on this Feb. 20 devotional in Daily Guideposts), “… my sins have been incinerated, a fine layer of ash is all that remains – and that layer has been blown away by the breath of Jesus’ mercy.”
What a wonderful image that is! She reminded us of the devastation of the 2019 California fires that left whole neighborhoods (in fact major parts of whole cities, like Paradise, CA) incinerated. She mourned, “The ash was so fine it left only a dusting over the footprint of each lost home.”
Cynthia reminded me that Ash Wednesday is “a time of reflection, self-sacrifice, spiritual discipline, and fasting to prepare the heart for Easter.” Her “Faith Step” at the conclusion of the message was: “Our humanity and our sinfulness have been conquered in Jesus and we are free. Ashes to joy. Dust to life. Live victoriously.”
At http://www.Christianity.com the author wrote: “Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.”
I am ready to embrace this season. I am ready to “live victoriously.” I am ready for “Dust to dust” to become “Dust to Life.”
I am ready for “Ashes to ashes” to become “Ashes to Joy.“
I get up, take my meds with a full glass of water, make a cup of coffee, and go up to my sanctuary.
Each morning in my sanctuary, I have a routine of quiet time, prayer, meditation, Bible Study, and devotional reading. One of my favorite devotionals is Guideposts Magazine.
This month’s Guideposts (Feb. 2020) is featuring upbeat stories about times in our USA history when the nation came together in unity. If you have followed my blog this week, you know UNITY is high on my list of priorities. When we are unified as a people, we can accomplish so much good!
Being unified allows us to gather strength from one another. Unity means fighting FOR one another, lifting one another up with dignity, living on the UPSIDE of life! “The Up Side” is one of my favorite features in Guideposts Magazine.
Each of those quotes are sufficient for a full day’s topic.
Make a Difference
Rinse and Repeat
God Grins Back
Life’s Too Short
Look for those on my blog as this week progresses. And have an UPSIDE DAY!
I’m off to volunteer at the Senior Center. See ya tomorrow.