Is Your Year Half-Full or Half-Empty?

    by Sally Matheny 
     January. (Do you hear the collective sighs?) For some, it is the beginning of a new year, but for many January marks a halfway point.  
Is your year already half-full or half-empty?

Students of all ages are in deep contemplation about the remainder of the school year. Many shake their heads, discouraged there’s another six months to go.

Teachers are not excluded—not even us homeschool moms. Winter months tend to chill our creativity and our enthusiasm. Sometimes, we’re as sluggish as the kids. On the other hand, some are in a frenzied panic about the quickly approaching end-of-grade tests and exams. 
This may be a pivotal point for other people as well.  Perhaps, you are half way through medical treatments, or the first year without a spouse, or without a child. Maybe you have six months to complete a project, meet a deadline, or turn things around financially.
Whatever your circumstances, do not despair. I’m here to remind you that your year is half-full! Think of all the things you’ve accomplished this year. Yes, some days were arduous. You had to learn how to stand firm and how to let go. Some battles you had to fight more than once. Most likely, there are more obstacles ahead. But look how full life has been and how far you’ve come!
You are wiser (and some of that wisdom came after making a few mistakes).

You are stronger (if not physically, then spiritually).
You are richer, maybe not financially, but think of what you’ve gained so far. Make a list and don’t concentrate solely on material things.
        Did you earn new friendships? Has your knowledge and understanding increased?
How has God blessed you in the midst of the trials? What have you learned by walking through the fires of life, that you may not have learned otherwise?

How has your past six months equipped you to encourage someone else?

   “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done 
   without hope and confidence.”  -Helen Keller

And speaking of faith, William R. Inge said,
   “No Christian can be a pessimist, for Christianity is a system of radical  

Now, that’s a motto to take and run with—radical optimism! We have heard that all things are possible with God, but do we really believe it?
Radical trust in God means we give our best for the task that lies before us. We must do our part whether it is to study, to teach, or to work. We are to laways persevere with prayer and thanksgiving. We ask God to enable us do His will and then we must trust the outcome to Him. His unfailing love is a fundamental truth we can depend on.

Is there something pessimistic in our speech, in our actions, or in our thoughts that needs changing? Do our attitudes reflect our trust in God?

Fuel yourself with God’s Word. Call on His Spirit to reignite your passion to finish the race. God will give you what you need. Charge on, dear friend, charge on!

What about you? What helps you stay optimistic about the future?





Look at Life From a Different Angle

     by Sally Matheny
Problems from a Different Angle
      Recent problems have forced me to look at life from a different angle. For two weeks, we dealt with water issues from burst pipes in our attic. Every time we thought the problem was fixed, another leak would appear. To top it off, the glue for the CPVC pipe fell on my husband’s favorite flashlight. He liked the light because it could rotate 180 degrees. Now it only shines at a rigid, 90 degrees.  He was not happy.

     Neither was I. Due to the water damage, we had clothes and boxes piled in every place except where they belonged. Throughout the first week of chaos, although greatly fatigued, I still managed smiles and laughter. By the second week, my exhaustion accompanied snarls and foaming at the mouth. Clouds of discouragement were accumulating so I talked to God. That’s when He impressed upon me I needed to look at the problem from a different angle.

     “Lord, what are you teaching me here? Why all the delays?”
     There’s more work to do.
     Yes, yes, Lord, I know. We’ve got to buy more couplings and pipe. Flooring needs to be replaced.”
     There’s more work to do.
    "What do You mean? Do I need to go through all the closet stuff again? I’ve purged and donated three boxes already but, okay.”
     Rummaging through my closet’s contents, I pulled out my scruffy, gray bedroom slippers. Years of wear had made them quite comfy.  Even my children would slip them on and wear them around the house—which is probably how they became stained. They were beyond help. Reluctantly, I tossed them in the trash.
     There’s one dress I’d held onto for three years and had only worn once. It looked elegant on the store mannequin. My usual frugal shopping took a back seat as I splurged a little and bought the dress. However, it didn’t look as chic on me as it did on the size 2 mannequin. Even so, I held onto it for years, thinking that one day it might.  It never did. Years later I still had a hard time parting with something I had invested so much money and time—time just waiting for things to change. With a huff, I packed it in a box to give away.
     After purging through more clothes, I noticed the box containing all my handbags. I’m not really into shoes and handbags. The basics are fine with me. However, a long time ago, someone gave me a huge crocodile handbag. Its swamp green color appealed to me and I carried it around for a while. But it was just too big. I would dig and dig, never finding what I was looking for inside. Plus, it weighed a ton—even when it was empty! The crocodile purse was set free to find a new home elsewhere.
     Glancing around the room, I noticed I had weeded out quite a bit more stuff. That’s when I realized what God might have been telling me.
Children Absorbing Our Stains of Sin
Photo by flickr
     Maybe God was impressing upon me to let go of old habits to which I’d become accustomed. I had grown comfortable scuffing around in subtle bitterness or in an attitude of complacency. Even worse, my children were trying on my attitudes and absorbing my stains of sin.
   How many times have I ignored the Holy Spirit’s prodding that something was not right? Grudgingly, I held onto ideas of the way I thought things should be. Investing so much time waiting for things to change to suit my tastes, I was disappointed when they did not.  Never considering perhaps the change should occur in me.
     How many heavy burdens have I tried to carry alone? Sometimes unnecessarily taking on ones that were not meant for me. Often looking for help, but not finding it, because I was looking in the wrong places.  I should have known to stick with the basics—the loving Truth of God.
     Only God can transform the heart but I have to do my part and allow Him to do the work. He desperately wants to clear out all the scum and stains in my life. He gently whispers, “This is not My plan for you. Give me all your expectations. Hand over everything, so there will be room for My plan, which is perfectly beautiful for you.”
     Wow. God’s love is powerful. It’s better than hiring a housekeeper, a closet designer, and a garbage collector. He offers his cleansing love freely for those who ask. He is the only one who has the best angle—a 360.
     Got a problem? Try looking at it from a from a different angle. If that doesn’t help, just trust the Master. His love encircles you and He’s got you covered.
Trust God's Angle
Photo by flickr


The Bright Side of Bursting Water Pipes: Blogging about Disasters Brings Hope

by Sally Matheny
Niagara Falls image compliments of flickr
Should we blog about our daily dilemmas? Looking for the brighter side in the midst of our disasters may bring hope to others.
Is there a bright side of water pipes bursting? We shall see.At the moment, my hope is hanging by a nail.

Tuesday, we had no electricity for about three hours. Later, after the power was restored, a water pipe burst in our attic. I’ve always wanted to see Niagara Falls—just not in my hall bathroom…, or in my closet…, or in my bedroom.
The rest of the afternoon was a whirlwind of trying to get the water turned off, trying to contact my husband, and trying to rescue clothes and photo albums, and such. It was definitely a trying day.

Wednesday, I cleaned to the constant roar of fans and a dehumidifier. It’s amazing how much stuff can accumulate in a medium-size walk-in closet.
Thursday I had a migraine and wasn’t much good to anyone.
Friday involved more cleaning. I hung clothes on a small extension rod I placed in the bathroom. It fell, so only neckties are hanging on it now. Then I tried hanging the clothes on a mobile clothes rack. It began leaning so much from the weight we had to prop it up against the treadmill.
Bursting Water Pipe by flickr

Saturday, I cleaned my daughter’s closet. She’s away at college so we decided to sleep in her room until the repairs were made. I moved some of my clothes in her closet. After cleaning, there was still only about 12 inches of available space so I crammed as many clothes as I could in those 12 inches.
We also began purging stuff. If you need a necktie or a picture frame, call us.

I don’t know how I accumulated so many boxes of greeting cards and craft supplies! I began thinning out my collections and my husband promised to weed out his collection of cassette tapes. Yes—cassette.  With his headset on, he appeared to have a wonderful time listening to each one. I don’t know how many he discarded, but the huge duffel bag is gone now. (I’m beginning to wonder if he just moved them out to our storage building).
Sunday, all was going well until we arrived home from church. Apparently, there was another small water issue under the house. My husband quickly took care of it. Then, we heard a huge CRASH!
Another closet collapses
My daughter’s entire closet shelf collapsed. Evidently, the clothes on those 12 inches were one foot too much. My son looked at me and asked if I was going to start cleaning up the mess. Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, my firm reply was “No, just shut the door and walk away.”  I began to walk out of the bedroom.

“But, Mom…”
“I said, Shut the door and walk away.”
 I’m still pretending the mess isn’t there.
Are you ready for the brighter side? Me, too! Let me be clear, here. I don’t feel like a “Lil’ Miss Sunshine” in the middle of all the mess and I certainly don’t act like her. Ask my family. However, there is a brighter side and that’s where I try to focus my attention (at least most of the time).

We were blessed to be home when the pipe burst. I’ve heard horror stories of people discovering water damage hours later, even days later. The damage could have been so much worse had we not been home and if the power had not been restored.
And, while I felt like I was running in slow motion circles, like a half-frozen chicken with her head cut off, I actually managed to save almost everything. Only a few items suffered damage, and thankfully, none of those were our photo albums and scrapbooks.
The calvary came. Thankfully, my sister-in-law came and helped me cut off the water. Another dear friend came right away to help my husband begin the necessary repairs. My parents kept my son one day so I could clean and they brought us a delicious meal the day I had the migraine.

Repairs Needed in Attic, 2 BR, 1 Bath, & 2 Closets
The repairs aren't cheap but could have been much more expensive. My husband has developed into quite a handy-man over the years, which will save us money.
Two closets were cleaned…well, one will have to be done again. But purged a lot of stuff we didn’t need. And hopefully, the things we donated will help someone else.
I haven’t found a lot of humor in all the clothes racks falling. However, there is one event, in the midst of this chaos, that will always make me laugh.
The day the pipe burst, I was unable to reach my husband by phone. He is a pastor but he also works at a community college.  Every day he works out in the gym during his lunch hour. I finally called one of his coworkers who delivered the message to him at the gym. My husband was still in his T-shirt and shorts when he received the news his house was flooding. He didn't even take time to change but grabbed his coat and began to sprint across campus. The temps were in the single digits that day so my husband wore his long, winter coat. As he was running across campus, he said he quickly unbuttoned his coat.
When I asked him why, he replied, “I thought people needed to see I was wearing clothes underneath that long coat. All you could see were my bare legs. I didn’t want people to think I was a flasher!"
So, there you have it. Sometimes our disasters are just temporary dilemmas. My mama is right when she says, “There’s always going to be somebody who has it worse.”  It helps to keep things in perspective.

Sun over ice photo by flicker
Maybe you’re in the middle of your own disaster of sorts. And whether you’re hanging on by a nail, a thread, or the end of your rope, there’s always hope. Don’t give up. God cares about life’s little snags and the huge catastrophes. Because of His love, there will always be a brighter side.

If you like reading about the brighter side of dilemmas, you may also enjoy:  
When There’s Nothing to Blog About
 It’s funny how many people can relate to a baking catastrophe.
Writers’ Conference: When It Rains It Pours
Are you stressed? Allow God to open the floodgate!






Top Ten Blog Posts

by Sally Matheny

Several websites are taking this month to feature their Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013. I began blogging regularly in July 2012 producing a total of eighty-four posts. These are the top ten blog posts viewed in 2013, even though three of them were written in 2012.

#10 John Tesh Concert: Talent, Testimonies, and T-Shirts http://sallymatheny.blogspot.com/2012/09/john-tesh-concert-talent-testimonies.html

John Tesh
This was about a fun date my husband and I had in 2012. I find the blog statistics very interesting. Over the past few months, the page views for this post have risen at a consistent rate. Unusually so—like approximately the same number each week. I’m wondering if John Tesh’s PR guy (who is mentioned in the post) is driving the numbers up. Nah. Surely, he has better advertising techniques than using my little blog. However, he did use magic markers on a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt for a prize, so one has to wonder.

#9 Titanic Survival Story: Emily Ryerson’s and Mine

Surviving Titanic Camp
An interesting comparison between an actual 1912 survivor of the ship, Titanic, and me surviving a S.C. Museum’s Titanic Camp!

#8 (Tie)The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pagaent Ever

One of my favorite memories. It was one of the best pageants ever because of “Joseph.”

#8 (Tie) Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date There’s One Thing You Need to Do

Get Engaged?

Surprisingly, this post made the top ten list just one week after it was posted!

#7 Pushing Children Out of Their Comfort Zones

Pushing Children Out of Their Comfort Zones
We all need strength for the Christian parenting journey.

#6 Sweet Surprise

Sweet Surprise
A short and sweet 2012 post. I think people just want to see the man I married!

#5 First of Impressions and Best of Intentions

First Impressions Hit the Ceiling
A hilarious story about the first time my daughter’s future in-laws came for a visit. The best of intentions and the first impression hit the ceiling!

#4 Running in the Rain

Running in the Rain
An entertaining reminder not to lose your spunk—no matter what your age.
Written in 2012 but still holds the #4 spot.

#3 When the Powerless Pray

When the Powerless Pray
An amazing story of what powerless Christians did in the middle of town.

#2 Preserving Your Wedding Dress and Your Marriage

Preserving Your Wedding Dress

A great deal is discovered when opening my preserved wedding gown.

#1 Wedding Day Security Checklist: Armor for the Bride

Wedding Day Security Checklist: Armor for the Bride
A devotion to share with a future bride, reminding her of the armor she needs on her wedding day and beyond.


If we only consider articles posted in 2013 then these three would have made the top ten list instead of the three posts written in 2012:

Sweet Sandpaper Dreams: Dealing with Chronic Pain http://sallymatheny.blogspot.com/2013/10/sweet-sandpaper-dreams.html

This post brought several messages my way—some sweet, some sad. May the Lord give strength to all those who deal with chronic pain.

Eighty-One Percent Chance of Buried Treasure on Your Property

Perhaps the title alone lured readers to click on this one. I hope they were successful in finding the treasure!

This was a fun one. I got the chair. My son got the spaceship and we all look forward to the future!

The Big Girl Chair, the Spaceship, and the Future
I want to take this moment to say thank you to all my readers and subscribers. It is my prayer you continue to find encouragement on this blog.  May you reflect on ordinary things under His extraordinary Light!