Relearning the Same Thing, Again

Sometimes it seems as if my life is on replay. Or maybe that it is punctuated with Deja-vu moments.

We were driving across Indiana when it began happening. My son was shivering and not feeling well. Basically miserable, he was, and I was trying to comfort him. Encourage him that this too shall pass. When it did pass. Up from his stomach and out onto his father’s coat that was lying across his body, the back seat, floor, and my shoes.


But the thing was, I was taken by surprise. Totally by surprise.

Somehow, I had missed the warning signs. Warning signs that have repeated themselves more times then I care to count or remember.

This scenario has replayed itself out on car rides numerous times. From the time he was a toddler to now.

I look at him, taller than me these last few months, and I am still surprised at the outcome. And yet all the signs were pointing towards this outcome. This culminating stomach upheaval. Once again, I had misread the signs. Not learned from experience.

This boy is so like me that I can not fault him. For I was known in my family for a stomach that liked to empty its contents. I did in the car. Across the bedroom floor. Outside the door of a motel (you should have seen the look the owner gave me. I remember thinking she should have been counting her blessings because it is easier to clean a flower bed than a motel floor.). Beside the roadside. In a cow pasture. In the middle of a mall parking lot. At a title company. In the shower. At school. And occasionally in bathrooms.

We are a pair of soft stomachs. Him and I.

We are driving again after cleaning the mess up, and he is lying on my lap, and I am looking out the window wondering how many times is life about relearning something. Relearning the same thing we did earlier. Maybe the circumstances and players are different, but the lesson is basically the same. Though sometimes there may be some new awareness or twist.

If you are like me, you are forgetful. Eager to lean and move on to the next thing. Not wanting to waste time on the same old thing. Wanting to cross it off your list as mastered and move to conquering the next big life changing thing.

How many times have I relearned that patience is not a virtue I have yet mastered? Been reminded that hate hurts me more than others? Remembered that God loves me plain and simple; not for what I do or because I conquered my day, but because of whose I am? Been surprised about how much my husband and kids love me? Relearned the pain of heartache? Had to remind myself that God is in charge? Seen how people are willing to help others?

How many times have I learned that a 30-minute dinner takes at least 60 minutes. That it takes longer than an hour to wash and dry a load of clothes. That driving across town takes more than 15 minutes, even if all the lights are green. That kindness motivates people more than guilt. That I can’t leave the library without gathering a stack of books. That baths are never as relaxing as I think they will be. That friends make life such a blessing. That getting outside clears my head in a way nothing else does. That laughing is a great stress releaser and perspective changer.

It seems my life is learning and then relearning at regular intervals the same things over and over. Again and again, and then once more. Sometimes the lessons are small, like my feet are still the same size. Not enough sleep makes me crabby. Most people respect your no. Winter is much colder than I remember. And the same song can make you smile each time you hear it.

Sometimes the lessons are bigger, like perfectionism steals your joy. Sharing and being vulnerable heals you and others. That God is bigger than our problems. That living now and here is a blessing. That people usually do the same thing over and over no matter how much I think they should change. That I can only change myself. That forgiveness does not mean letting others take advantage of you.

Round and around I go, like a merry-go-round. Passing the same real-estate and encountering different scenarios where the lessons look vaguely familiar.

Ah-ha, I think, and then stumble on with life, convinced I have finally learned that lesson, when whack, later I relearn it again.

This is part of learning. Part of living. Part of being human. Part of growing.

It’s called giving yourself grace.

It’s called repetition is necessary for our soul.

It’s called learning from your experiences.

It’s called shaking your heard and laughing at yourself. Knowing you will once again find yourself in the same real-estate somewhere again down the road of life.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the Journey: What are you relearning?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Imagine if You Can, How a Yes Changed it All

Can you imagine a world without Jesus?

A world where he was never born?

A world where our sins were not forgiven?

A world where grace and love were not free commodities?


Can you imagine an angel appearing in your room at night?

Asking you to jeopardize your future?

Asking you to disgrace yourself and your family?

Telling you not to be afraid as you tremble with trepidation and awe?


Can you imagine that your first response would be a willing yes?

And not an emphatic no, or are you crazy?

Or a listing of why this was surely not a good idea?

Or a long listing of reasons why you were not qualified?


Can you imagine being God and coming down in human form?

Growing 9 months inside a crowded stomach?

Born to a poor couple in a crowded stable?

Born to inexperienced and nervous parents?

Can you imagine living in a world constrained with time, gravity, hunger, pain, temperature, and forces you have never experienced?

Can you imagine learning to walk, talk, read, and tying your sandals, all things foreign to your previous life?

How would you feel about obeying human and mistake prone parents?

Can you imagine seeing the world you have created filled with sin, pain, hopelessness, and yet still beautiful with laughter ringing out?

How many times did Mary wonder if God had made a mistake choosing her?

How many times did Mary wonder if she was doing a good job?

How many times did Mary wonder where this all was heading?

How many sleepless nights did Mary worry about not being enough, doing enough?


What did Mary think when they fled in the dark to Egypt?

Heard baby boys were killed back home?

Felt the gossip from her unwed pregnancy whispered for years?

Touched and smelled the extravagant gifts of the Magi?


Did she wonder in the quiet spaces where all of this was heading?

If the daily mundane was really part of her yes?

Did she weary of all the cooking, sewing, and cleaning that never seemed done?

Did she wonder if she was making a difference as she tucked him into bed?

But it did make a difference.

It was all part of the plan.


Ultimately saying yes to God’s request, changed Mary’s life.

Changed her world and the course of history.

Changed our world.

Changed the course of salvation.


May had no idea how her yes would change her, her future, and eventually the world. She just stepped out in faith and said yes, trusting the future was in God’s hands. She didn’t argue. She didn’t question. She just said a simple yes to God’s plan. Then she followed the course. Years would pass before she understood or saw the good that her yes would bring.

What about you?

What is God asking you to do?

Can you say step out in faith and say yes to God’s plan for you?

Can you imagine what he can do through you?


It won’t always be easy. You probably won’t know the future. You will doubt, despair, and worry because you are human, but you will never be alone, or without knowing what the next step is. He will provide the strength and skills to do what he is calling you to do. He has got this. He knows all about being human and will be the best master there is.


Can you imagine a world without Jesus?

A world where he was never born?

A world where our sins were not forgiven?

A world where grace and love were not free commodities?


The good news is that you don’t have to.

Rejoice, be thankful, and feel remarkably blessed.

Because you are.

We all are.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the Discussion: What would it be like if Mary had not said yes?

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

What Turns You into a Screeching Tea Kettle

Once when my mom questioned me about a fight I had gotten into with my sibling, I blurted out the classic excuse. “They made me so mad.”

If you have been alive for very long, you have either heard this excuse or used it. Because it is the classic point-the-finger-at-the-other-person excuse. The I-am-innocent-and-they-are-guilty excuse. The it-is-their-fault excuse.

I remember my mom saying, “No one makes you mad, Theresa. You allowed yourself to get mad.

Needless to say, I was a little disappointed that my excuse didn’t work.

I didn’t want to hear about and admit my own responsibility in the situation, I wanted my sibling fairly tried and executed. Or at least disciplined.

The blaming others for our own behavior or actions has been around since almost day 4. Okay, we don’t know what day it was, but it was sometime after Eve was created from some of Adam’s parts, which had to be after at least the second day.

I am sure Adam was surprised it didn’t work when he pointed out it was Eve’s fault and God didn’t buy it. Just like Eve was disappointed when her pointing to the snake didn’t work.  Just like I was surprised my pointing to someone else didn’t work.

If you are like me, you sometimes find yourself getting frustrated with one to many interruptions.  People repeatedly calling ‘Mom.’ Some unplanned surprise in your day (we are talking about the kind you don’t want, not the kind you want, like discovering a chocolate bar that you hid in your underwear drawer a month ago). One to many requests on your time. Or one more child questioning your authority. All this make you feel about to explode into millions of little bits.

Or maybe the scenario is different, but the end result is you feel like a tea kettle about to scream a piercing whistle of warning to all who are within a four-block radius.

Whatever the scenario, you feel like blurting out, “You are making me so . . . (fill in the blank with the best word—mad, frustrated, inadequate, worthless, ashamed, overwhelmed, irritated, etc.). And we are not talking about saying this in a voice that uses a library appropriate voice, but a stop the traffic on a busy road kind of voice and tone.

Now I didn’t not want to hear my mom lecture me on how I was in charge of my anger and that no one could make me angry without me allowing them to make me angry. No, I wanted her sympathy.

And the first time I told my child that so-and-so did not make them angry, that they were in charge of their own emotions and they had allowed so-and-so to make them angry, I am sure it did not set well with them either.

Funny how history repeats itself.

I didn’t really understand what my mom was telling me that day. All I heard was, “It is your fault, Theresa,” when I wanted sympathy. Along with fairness and swift justice for the accused party.

And I am sure my child did not want to hear me say that no one (or in many cases, no inanimate object, like a printer or pencil sharpener) can make us mad. That we allow our self to get mad.

But as I calmed down and grew in years, I began to see that she was right. No one can make me do anything. In each case I allow myself to do it.

Yes, the other person, situation, or inanimate object may be the pea under the mattress irritating me, or should I say the ‘cause,’ but I am the one who is in charge of the ‘effect,’ or my reaction.

I cannot control the cause, but I can control the effect (my reaction and response).

I can’t change them, the inanimate object, the day, or whatever is causing me to lose my equilibrium. But I can change my response, my thoughts, my expectations, my actions.

And this my friend, is good news. We are not puppets being controlled by others and their actions, we control ourselves.

We get to decide how we will respond, react, and behave.

Whatever turns us into a screeching tea pot is not in control. We are.

We may be tempted, but we are still in control of our response.

The beauty is, if we mess up, then we are also in charge of turning our attitude and actions around. We don’t have to wait on someone else to make us happy. We don’t have to wait for a new day. We don’t need to wait until the weather in our neighborhood changes. We are in charge of the end results. The direction we ae going.

We decide to make the U-turn. When and where, is up to us.

Because just as no one can make us mad, no one can make us happy. Or put us in a good mood.

We are not dependent on the whims of others or the feelings of others toward us.

We get to choose our own attitude. We get to take responsibility for our own choices.

Which means anytime we feel ourselves heading the wrong way, or going down the wrong path, we can turn ourselves around. We can repent. Receive the gifts of grace and love that are always waiting for us, and get back on track and continue on.

We are on a journey of learning. Discovering. Of overcoming. Of good winning evil. Of his love triumphing.

We don’t need to wallow in guilt and shame, but instead learn from the situation and walk in the freedom that God provides.

Some more good news is that we are not alone on this journey. God and his spirit accompany us, helping us, giving direction. Providing love and encouragement. Grace and help.

But it is still up to us. No one makes us do anything. We are in charge of our responses and reactions.

I can’t change the situation or demands or irritations, but I can choose my reaction.

I can choose to whistle like a tea kettle piercing the confusion, or I can shine forth with patience and grace.

It’s up to me.

I am the one who makes me do what needs to be done.

I am in charge of my emotions. 

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.

Join the Discussion: What turns you into a screeching tea kettle? People, inanimate objects, or situations? 

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).