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It’s Just Not Right!

March 19th, 2017 by stephanie

We were simply working through the preparation stage of the editorial process with an author when we learned some very unexpected news. Apparently one of the catalysts for the book we were reviewing came from a disturbing situation. The author had learned that for 8 of the 10 years they had been married, their spouse had been cheating on them.

Other than expressing the usual, “Oh, I am so sorry…” we just didn’t know what to say.

It’s just not right. It’s a statement that you and I probably say out loud at least once a week. But I have to admit, I say it more these days then I did when I was young. It seems the world has gone plumb crazy.

That same week as a friend and I squeezed into a tiny table at a small Italian eatery, she poured out her heart. I was saddened to hear her latest business connection, whom she had known for only a week, had offered to take her to Paris as recompense for not returning her call in due time. He was so sorry, and this was his attempt to make things right. Bizarre. Presumptive. No words.

With that, I had to remind myself that this would-be-new-phenomenom of “odd behavior” is simply just not that—new! Things haven’t been “right” for quite some time.

Take this story for instance: imagine being anointed king of a country, while the current one is sitting on his throne just a few miles away. That’s what happened to David centuries ago. Just a shepherd boy at the time. You know he had to wonder…

Then, to turn around and learn that after he had lived in the palace, at the king’s invitation, had been good to the king’s son, and had served both well, the king wanted him dead—and made orders to that effect.

It just wasn’t right.

But that’s what happened.

First of all, the sitting king must have said when he found out, “Why would God do that to me? It’s just not right. I am the King!”

The young boy would say, “Why does the king want to kill me when I have been nothing but kind and obedient? And let’s be clear, I didn’t ask for this. It’s just not fair.”

But the truth is…everyday life is like that. And for some reason, when things go wrong, we act as if we have been stunned by the event. We feel as if things should just, well, be “fair” in life. That things should be “right.” People should behave. And you know, they can and they should. Sadly, they don’t.

Human nature and life events tend to collide. We can’t explain it, and we can’t control it. We simply have to buckle up and ride it out.

It reminds me of a time, years ago. I was driving around town with my grandmother who had come for a visit. It was very dark at one particular place where we were. The lighting was very poor. When I turned out of the parking lot into what I thought was the lane, we learned suddenly it was a huge ditch. My amazing  grandmother reached over, grabbed onto me, and commanded, “Ride it out, honey! Just ride it out.” We did. We survived. And, thankfully, so did the car! To this day, I don’t know how we got out of that ditch in the pitch black. That was truly a ride of a lifetime, and one I hope to never repeat.

You can’t control life. Even if you want to. And we certainly can’t understand what God sees or what he is doing when we are in the dark and life hits us squarely in the face.

God reminds us in His Word:

Isaiah 55:8-9New Living Translation (NLT)
 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Now let me be clear. I am not saying in the least that we sit down and let wrong persist. We should fight for what is right. When it is, however, in our power to do so. You may be familiar with the phrase, “Evil persists when good men do nothing.”

What I am talking about here, is, when things that you can not control happen, and just do not seem fair, when you wonder if justice will ever be served…fighting and fretting those moments…is not the answer. I would suggest prayer is the best prescription at that point. Ask for wisdom. Ask for protection. Ask for direction. And hold on for the ride.

I promise, you’ll come out on the other side. You are going to be OK. This too shall pass…just.hold.on.

—Just my thoughts,

S.

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Delays and Disruptions: Divine Appointments/Hidden Blessings?

February 26th, 2017 by stephanie

Heading over to the gun range, I was a bit excited, and apprehensive, at the same time. Having not practiced for what seems to be about a year, I knew my familiarity with my Bersa 380 and my skills were both quite rusty. But my basket was packed and was holding my pink eyewear, my gun case, and my rolled up targets. I at least looked like I belonged. I think. Somewhat. I imagine the pros could spot me a mile away and were thinking to themselves, warning: rookie on deck. 

It was a new location to me. However, when I saw the lounge, the free coffee, the cold beverages and the big leather chairs, I knew I’d come to the right place. I headed to the counter to reserve my range, settled in for the safety video, signed the online waiver, and then waited.

Once all of the above were completed, I realized the clock was ticking and I’d better head over to select my ammo. After a nice chat with the man at the counter, I headed back to the lounge. And waited some more. I took that opportunity to watch some YouTube videos on my particular gun piece, some loading tips, and then realized…I have been here an hour and a half. What’s up?

With that, I headed back to the reservation area. “You can remove my name from the waiting list,” I stated. The not-so-eager or helpful assistant asked my name a couple of times and seemed to be annoyed. It was then he realized in his system how long I’d been there. “Oh,” he suddenly offered, “I can get you in now.”

Really? Why now? I mused.

“No thanks. I need to go,” I replied rather flatly.

With that I turned to head to the ammo area to return my would be purchase. That’s when he stopped me and said, “Wait!” He was scrambling for something and was offering it to me. “Here’s a free range hour on us.”

I paused, then received the small card. “Ok, thanks.” I then left. I was not a happy camper.

That’s when it hit me.

Why are you upset? Sure, you waited. But you just got a free trip to the range! That’s cool You may have spent your time today in a way you hadn’t planned, but you got quite a bit accomplished during your visit. (The ability to work remotely on our phones these days can be a blessing for moments such as these.)

The steam began to cool and my shoulders lowered as I drove away talking myself into a namaste calm.

That’s when the point was driven home.

Why do we get upset when delays or disruptions happen? It doesn’t solve the problem at hand. And, too, showing our emotions can, and often does, ruin the moment. Or the relationship.

I was reminded of a story where a couple that were moving a mattress were in the elevator heading down to the street when it stopped. They were delayed over an hour waiting for help to come. When they finally got outside, they looked up only to see a 3-year old playing on a balcony above them. They tried to talk the toddler inside, but the autistic child could not understand their words. He came tumbling down—right after they’d hurriedly moved the mattress under his playing area, only to catch him—just in time.

Now, if they’d fumed, and demanded their way, or been ugly, imagine how silly they would have felt only to realize, that exact delay was what turned into an opportunity to save a child’s life.

Coincidence? I think not.

The point?

Maybe delays and disruptions aren’t something to look at as negative or so awful. Maybe we need to just ride them out and look forward to something good to happen on the other side.

For me, staying calm, at least on the outside that day, landed me a free trip back to the range. If I’d thrown a fit, that may not have happened. And truth be told, I needed time to check out the new facility, learn the ropes there, and get reacquainted with my neglected firearm anyway.

For that couple who were moving, they unexpectedly kept a family from tragedy.

I hope this thought will carry into this week with you. If you have a divine delay or disruption, I’d love to hear about it.

Email it to: info@stephaniehuffman.org

—Just my thoughts.

S.

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What’s New?

November 13th, 2016 by stephanie

statue-of-liberty-1045266_1280It’s interesting how the term “What’s new?” has changed. It used to be a type of greeting, asking the receiver of those words how they were doing and inquiring of them hoping to learn what all was going on in their life.

Lately, it’s used as a more sarcastic response and as an answer, rather than as a question. It has come to mean more of an “I’m not surprised” retort. A way of saying some things just don’t go the way you want or better yet, “That’s just the way it is.”

Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, talks about how there is nothing new under the sun. We can try to be cutting edge, or stay one step ahead, but basically, we just repeat something that has, in all honesty, already been done before—in some sort of fashion.

This past week in America we held our presidential elections. At my age, I have now seen quite a few. One side always wins and one side always loses. What’s new about that? Nothing. What is a bit new these days is how people, today, handle the results.

I don’t recall destroying someone else’s property, shutting down freeways, beating someone up (who has the freedom to vote as they choose) or my professors canceling my tests or classes if my side didn’t win. Those were never options. At least, in my mind. For that matter, I don’t recall anyone else thinking or doing the same as I look back. Sure, I was upset and I prayed all the harder when my side lost, but it does feel a bit “new” to me when I see the changes in how we as a country currently respond.

What isn’t new is wanting to have our way. In the past, I think we tried to be mature Patriots and take the high road. We tried to be good sports. We were aware someone would not be the winner. Today, instead, we lecture people on how they should act and respond once the decision is made. But if the decision doesn’t meet to our liking, we don’t take our own advice. The message suddenly doesn’t apply when “our” side loses. At that point, it’s “game on!”

But is that actually “new?” Not really. Again, from the beginning of time, man has wanted his own way. You don’t have to teach a child to throw a tantrum when you say “no” or hold firm on an issue. It’s just human nature.

That’s the hard part. Fighting against, not each other, but the innate will and determination to get my own way —come you-know-what or high water.

I wish I would have learned much earlier in my life—that part about the what I expected of others, when the shoe was suddenly on the other foot, finding they would be expecting the same of me.

I guess some people learn quickly. I don’t think I truly did. But I am grateful for the opportunity for each new day to, perhaps, turn it around and begin anew.

At this point, I am asking those in my circle to pray for ourselves. To get it right in our own lives. And then, to pray for our country. Join me?

– S.

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Super-Sized Blessings.

March 15th, 2015 by stephanie

super-size meWe live in a culture, at least in 1st world countries, where you can pull your car up, order a super-sized option, and drive away with what you requested, immediately meeting your wants…(forget your needs). It’s all about gratification. We can upgrade (or trade-in) most anything these days at any time. And we’re used to that. We expect it and we’re, in all honesty, a bit cocky about it—getting our way on demand, that is.

But have you ever found yourself in a place where you weren’t getting what you want. Perhaps, you woke up one morning only to find that what you once loved, or cared for, had been stripped away. Never to be seen, or heard from, again?

That’s what happened to Job.

He was minding his own business, and then in one day, he lost everything. Gone. Without a trace. And no explanation, or “word” from the Lord on the matter. Just silence…and deep pain. Clueless as to the grand master plan that was going on in the super natural world behind the scenes, as beautifully played out, in Chapter 1 of the book that boasts his name.

Job’s “godly” friends sat around him, waxing eloquent, trying to explain to him why this had happened to him and what he’d done to bring it all upon himself.  And too, what he needed to do to fix it and how he needed to handle himself while going through this horrific ordeal. (So easy to tell someone how to feel or what to do when we aren’t the one hurting.)

Funny how those “words of wisdom” didn’t take away Job’s agony. They only made it worse.

One thing I hadn’t noticed before in the last chapter was a particular verse (Job 42:10). Not sure how I have missed that my whole life, but here it is…

When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.

In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before.

Job 42:10

Did you catch that, when Job prayed for his “friends”…yep, the ones who criticized him while he was down and out, the ones who abandoned him in his time of need, who didn’t want to deal with his mess…those “friends.” I honestly don’t know how he did it. But yet, I do.

God and Job had just had a little…no big, “Come to Jesus meeting” as they say here in the South…and Job had nothing left. Remember, in fairness, God never let Job in on the “By the way, I threw you to the proverbial lion,” scenario. But, Job realized who God was after that chat, he saw his own humanness, and had one of those, “I got nuthin’ ” moments.

God also chewed out those “friends” of Job’s and let them have it as well.

Perhaps, when Job saw that, maybe that is when he prayed for them. Interesting. I guess at that moment, they were all on the same playing field. No one of them was any “better” or “godlier” than the other. They were on one side of God, and He was on His throne—staring back at all of them. A bit disconcerting I might add.

Anyway, after that, God super-sized Job’s blessings. I don’t recall Job even placing an order? But he got one. And it was a whopper (pun intended). Everything he’d ever once owned, or had, was doubled. If you look close, you’ll see that he even lived an extra 140 years after the fact so that he was given time to enjoy it all.

Now that’s a cool story.

If you’re in a tough spot in life and can’t figure out “why” (or know someone who is) perhaps take a moment to look at the first and last chapters of Job.  It might shed some light on the situation, or if even for a bit, bring some fresh perspective to the matter—to all parties involved. Jus’ sayin’.

🙂

Just my thoughts,

S.

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“Happy” New Year, 2014!

January 1st, 2014 by stephanie

images-2I’ve heard more than one person this week mention that  2013 wasn’t that “happy” for them. and if truth be told, they won’t be sad to see it go. So, you can imagine I found it interesting when I discovered that ’13 was, in the Chinese Calendar, the Year of the Snake. I guess you can say, those folks who don’t have such fond memories of the past 12 months won’t be sad to see the year slither off into the distance.

Life can be tough. Things happen. We can’t control that. What we can control is our reaction to problems, situations, temptations and more. Those are the things that are left up to us. We can make life good…if we so choose.

As we welcome in 2014, I want to focus on making life good. Happy. It’s my choice. And I’d like to be successful in that end.

In addition, I want to thank each of you, who have been so gracious to visit this blog whether daily, weekly or monthly.  Your comments and support have been nothing short of a delight. And I am grateful to call you friends.

For those of  you that are new friends, welcome. And may you come back often for some laughs, some trivia, a bit of history now and then, but most of all, some well deserved encouragement.

This blog wouldn’t be here without you, so again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When you have a moment, leave a comment and share with us something you are looking forward to in 2014!  We’d love to hear from you too!

So Wishing you a wonderful and Happy New Year.

May God Bless You Richly. And, may God Bless America.

Stay Happy!

Stephanie

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed (happy) is the 

man that trusts in him.

Is There a Bully in Your Life?

May 29th, 2013 by stephanie

As we watched the TV show together while munching on pita chips and hummus, my friend and I kept hearing this one character on the show complaining about the fact she was continually being “bullied”.
Ok, I thought to myself. How do you handle a bully?

To be honest, I was recalling a particular person I knew that in truth is a bully-type of person. During one particular evening, I was a bit forward and held my ground when this particular person came at me with intent to harm. In my opinion, I think they were surprised by my firm response. And I hope I sent a clear message. One that said: You don’t need to be rude and you need to check your facts before you bite! Those two things seem to be a common thread with a bully. 1) They love to intimidate and get in your face, and 2) They rarely search for, let alone get, the facts straight. They just like to punch!

There’s a great true story from New York City that might help you deal with the current bully in your life.

Back in the 1970s, crime had gotten so out of hand in The Big Apple, that people actually began posting “No Radio” signs on their dashboards to deter thieves from breaking car windows and stealing them. Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his Commissioner finally decided one day that they’d had enough. That’s when they discovered the “Broken Windows” theory.

The Broken Windows Theory simply states that if a building has a broken window, that doesn’t get fixed, the message is sent that no one cares. Vandals don’t see any consequences, so they continue to destroy.

However, once the broken window is fixed, it sends a clear message that someone does care and that people are watching. And that deters crime. Using the Broken Windows theory, Giuliani and Bratton transformed NYC by treating minor crimes (vandalism, prostitution, and loitering) like broken windows. Instead of tolerating these issues they instituted a “zero tolerance” policy towards them. As criminals caught on, crime lessened. Citizens and tourists felt safer walking the streets and taking the subway and in turn took more responsibility for their own neighborhoods by getting involved.

So, the moral of the story is, let the bully know that they do not have the authority or the permission to mess with your part of the world or change your way of life. That’s the power they want and they’re determined to get it. If you and I sit back, and let the weeds grow, the vandals of our lives will continue to come. But if we stand up, take action and keep order, then… our part of the world can become a much better and safer place.

Just my thoughts. And, a bit from Proverbs too.
S.

Is Your Bark As Big As Your Bite?

May 13th, 2013 by stephanie

While scanning the morning headlines, one particular bit of news immediately had me doing a double take. Did I really see that right? Chihuahua takes on Cougar…and wins?

Sure enough, I clicked on the link, and the story began to unfold.

Apparently a pet owner that had two of what I refer to as “taco dogs” heard a horrendous cry coming from one of her pooches in the dead of night. As she raced to determine the situation, she peeked out her window only to see one of her Chihuahuas pinned to the ground by a cougar.

Her second pup, unseen by the pouncing predator suddenly emerged with a frightful attack – of barks! Not a bite. Not a scratch. But they worked all the same. The sound was big enough and scary enough that the cougar took flight off into the night.

It reminds me of the story of David and Goliath. A young teen-ager stepped out into the front of a timid and frightened Israeli army that had been taunted by a nine foot giant for 40 days. With nothing more than a sling shot and five stones, the boy David, the future king of Israel, took the giant on…and won! ( I Samuel 17)

If you are facing some sort of giant in your life today, please know, you too have the same access to the power needed to help you shoo it off regardless of the odds. You can win this. It’s just that it’s up to you. Step out. Growl. Swing your stones. Whatever you need to do. But take on the giant. And go for the win!

You never know where you just might end up.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Keep It Simple.

April 27th, 2013 by stephanie

When I hear the word simple it usually brings up images of the Amish in my mind. I have had the pleasure to experience of bit of their world. I can tell you, there is nothing quite like the beauty of those gorgeous horses elegantly trotting down the lane as they pull sweet black carriages. Sitting inside you will see very quiet, composed riders. If you are fortunate enough to catch a quick glimpse as they pass, when you look at their faces, it appears as if their thoughts are miles away, as they wind their way through town. It is in a way a poetry in motion of sorts. I could sit and watch those and similar scenes over and over again when I am in “their” neck of the woods.

I remember a trip to Amish country with my mother. We watched the barefooted little boys in their straw hats and their blue shirts as they downed cans of Coca Cola at the produce auction.

The teen-aged boys huddled in a back corner off to the side. And I bet you money they were talking about girls in those hushed tones that we heard wafting over the warm breeze. Men huddled in another area, negotiating prices and quality, while the women, in their dresses, stayed on the opposite side the of the building minding the little ones.

There is something soothing about simplicity and routine.

It really gets me to thinking. “Why do I feel the need to be so busy?” And, more than that, I got to thinking, “Why do I need so much stuff?” These people are truly of the “…with food and clothing, with these we shall be content,” crowd. It’s very inspiring.

I don’t know about you, but the more I am around money, or those who have it, I find that I too need, well, more. Why? I have no idea. I have food. I have clothes. But suddenly I feel that I need that special new handbag or that condo at the beach. However, when I step away, even for a short time, (like I did for those few hours that day in Amish Country) to where the simple life is led, it’s amazing the perspective that comes washing over me. These people require very little. And their lives seem healthy and whole. Perfect? No. But there’s something to be said for the simple life, I’m just sayin’.

So here’s a challenge for us this coming week. If we find ourselves stressing and straining over the “don’t haves”, let’s agree to pause and ask ourselves three things: Do I have clothes? Do I have food? Do I have a roof over my head? If you and I can answer “yes” to each of those questions, for today, I’d say we’re doing pretty good.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Are you finding yourself “downsizing” a bit?

October 21st, 2011 by stephanie

“We’re back to the same kind of car we had when we first married,” she mused as we looked around the room. Downsizing was in the making, and we were both remembering, if anything, a bit wistfully.

Just seems to be the season these days…but not for all folks.

A boat. A cabin. A motor home with car to match. A new house. Such were a few of the possessions that someone I once knew owned – all at one time. While some people simply hope to pay their electric bills, others, as the one mentioned above, are blessed with “things”.

Now, let me be clear, “things” aren’t bad. They can be, wonderful. Those who have them and enjoy them know what blessings they can be. And, understanding this, they share their things with others in order to spread the joy.

Thing, however, do not contain life. They are without life. Nor are they life giving. Without people, they just sit. Like in a museum where they don’t really do much other than offer us something to look at and ponder-and collect dust. For those of you who have had the luxury of things, you know exactly what I mean. Things are meant to be used and to be enjoyed–while we have them. They’re fun and they do make life a bit less boring.

King Solomon was a man who owned many things. The Queen of Sheba after her visit to his palace in Jerusalem was said to have noted that the stories she’d heard didn’t do justice to what she discovered during her stay. But Solomon was not always a happy man. The book of Ecclesiastes, (written by Solomon himself), explores this season of his life. Sometimes we find that we work harder for things than we do for the things that matter most.

Now, I realize this can vary from person to person, but the fact is, what we invest our time, our energy, and our resources in and on says a lot about who we are as a person.

Maybe we could all take a look this weekend and notice where we are investing most or ourselves. If we find we are more focused in, or on, things why not see if we can’t make a few adjustments here or there.

Life. It’s not about things. They’re just a part of it.

Just my thoughts…

Stephanie

 

Excuse me, please!

June 20th, 2011 by stephanie

As I waited in line for the half-n-half, I suddenly realized there was a “line” for the cream and sugar.

A line? How hard can it be to add cream and sugar I thought? Get your stuff. Dump it. Move on. Right? Well, not so much.

Apparently, that task is harder than one might imagine. The person in front of me must have gone to tech school or, at least, he definitely took chemistry. Each container and packet was carefully opened. One at a time. Then each was methodically stirred into the hot ever-changing brew.

As the steam seeped over his shoulder, his hunched back only showed the intense form with which he utilized to maintain the concentration needed for this very special and precise formula.

At this point? I was ready to tap his knees lightly from behind which would cause him to fold, then, I could elbow him to my left, slosh some cream into my cup and slip out the side door. But no. I was in public. People were watching. I would have to behave.

Not an easy task when all you want is your cup of joe, and the guy in front of you has some Emeril Lagasse complex. It was painful to say the least.

Call me crazy, but when people get to the cream and sugar station, something strange overtakes them. Have you ever noticed that they suddenly forget that anyone else is in the building, let alone the vicinity? They measure and pour and stir. Then consider, and begin the entire process again while 28 of us behind them frantically check our watches (or cell or PDAs) and lament how we’re ever going to get back on schedule.

These coffee snobs are just not polite. And I am thinking I might start a Hey, there’s a boat load of us behind you. Get it together and move on campaign. (Do you think that might be a bit over the top?) Those of you who frequent your favorite coffee dispensary or cafe’ totally understand this personal angst.

Just my thoughts on this very nice day, when my elixir of the gods is getting cold while the unsuspecting space cadet in front of me gets the perfect color and taste combination as I patiently wait contemplating whether or not I’d personally be happy to offer him one lump or two. (Whew! Got that off my chest.)

Let’s just keep this little rant of mine between us today, shall we?

🙂

S.

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