Thursday, December 29, 2016

Laughter... defines Laugher: a verb- To express mirth, pleasure, derision, or nervousness with an audible, vocal expulsion of air from the lungs that can range from a loud burst of sound to a series of quiet chuckles and is usually accompanied by characteristic facial and bodily movements.

My take on laughter is that it is the emotional catalyst of Joy... The self-preservation of ones' mind; the belief and spirituality of mankind; kindred spirit along with self-motivation; the will to do, without notification.

Question: When your 'git-up n go has got-up n gone,' what and who do you really rely on?
Well, with God's guidance and your intuitive reactions, one can really grasp and hold on to any emotion, using the reality of foresight we each have. Basically, having anticipation and forethought before you react to any given situation produces any mood you want.

Example: The other day I walked into a store, (with my happy-go-lucky self) just smiling and ready to delve in to any bargain I could find. ‘Low and behold’, the first person I laid eyes on in the check-out line was an EX coworker whom I had not seen for at least 6 years. My thoughts… “this is the last thing I need!” (not a cordial work relationship) Well, I kept walking, heart pounding, semi-sweating, but my head up and I’m saying to myself, “don’t react, don’t react!” So I made my way to the back of the store, out of eye contact and looked a little closer to confirm whether it was her. “YEP, her alright! What would Jesus do?"
To my dismay, after nonchalantly perusing the store, I had to return to the front to retrieve a basket for the bargains I’d found. Wow, I know I can do this! I pertly walked to the front, grabbed a basket, smiled BIG and said “hi, I thought that was you” giving her a hug. ARKWARD!! Basically, I could see that she didn’t know how to react to my genuineness (and I was genuine) She stammered a hello with a phony smile and asked how I was doing and what I was doing now? Now that question REALLY made me smile, because I am honestly happy ‘in me’. I exuded naturally the laughter and joy I had to tap in to and channel, to get through that situation. I give God the glory... 

I’m sure she noticed my exuberance as I replied to her question, but her reluctance lingered. Maybe it was the shock of me actually approaching her, or the fact that she was still doing the same ole thing, whereas I’d moved on… Can’t question it! I did Me and I still have JOY! 
In all you do, let no one steal your joy. God's got you! "Just Laugh On!"

PJ Payne

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Helpers in the Attic

Don’t you just love the Holiday Season? This is my favorite time of the year! I am ever so grateful for the Reason for the Season and also appreciate the beauty of it all. Besides savoring a flavorful cup of my favorite brew, decorating is the second best thing I love during the holidays. The smell of wood burning fireplaces or pine is so refreshing on a cold night.  Listening to Holiday music, giving to those in need, and admiring beautifully lit trees are some of the makings of the Spirit of Christmas.
But, I also realize that not everyone feels the same about this time of the year. This season is especially hard on those who have lost loved ones. And loss cannot be measured by how long it has been or even how old or young an individual was. It is immeasurable as is the pain and heartache. Even a loss by separation is a loss; a loss of a job is a loss and its relevance should not be lesser. Every emotional aspect of our lives plays a part in how we perceive, observe, celebrate and react to this time of the year.  I too have had losses over the years and it has not been” Merry” every year.  The support of family and friends as well as an understanding of God’s purpose and importance in my life sustains me. When we are at our lowest, we should remember to surround ourselves with positive things and remember where our help comes from.  ‘… from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord …’ Psalm 121: 1-2.  I also believe that it is important to focus on the simplest of blessings like good health and things which bring joy to mind.  ‘...whatsoever things are pure…if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ Philippians 4: 8.

As I think of my most memorable Christmases, I am reminded of the years my now, late husband and I really thought we had devised plans to camouflage nametags on gifts we had bought for our kids.  We did this so that they wouldn’t know how many or which gift was theirs under the tree.   But first understand that we had five kids… Yours, Mine, and Ours!  We had, what is now considered a ‘blended family’. It may not sound like many kids but the age difference between the oldest and youngest was 14 years which made things very interesting.  And the days of the youngest believing that Santa Claus brought the gifts down the chimney --- that story was painfully tainted very early, through the older kids’ revelation. 

When our family started to grow, we learned to buy gifts early and do layaways. Our hiding places were generally our closet and under the bed. Then we graduated to the ATTIC, which we thought to be an unreachable place for the kids to search, because the ceilings were steep! It was somewhat out of sight, right? Wrong! Young and dumb were we as parents… they were literally “steps” ahead of us! 
So, each year we labeled or wrapped their gifts differently so that they could not guess whose gift it was. For instance, we might wrap the oldest child’s gift (who is a girl) in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wrapping paper. Then one year we labeled them with the names of their favorite color. Along with opening one gift on Christmas Eve, this mystery game became a tradition. They were always ‘surprisingly,’ surprised to learn what label they had (or so we thought).  Our satisfaction in all of this was that they didn’t know what was inside the packages until Christmas Day; again or so we thought.

The highlight of the guessing game was number labels. This time we made sure to notate the labeling so that we would not forget.  The oldest was 15 years old, but we put the number 15 on a gift that really belonged to the two year old, and so on. When Christmas day came, they had figured out our pattern. “How could they figure it out”? It was not mathematically possible!  Remember, the ATTIC idea? Well we found out ‘many years later’ that somebody (questionable who) climbed into the attic and strategically unwrapped gifts to see what they had gotten. Not only did ‘SHE’ unwrap, but also played with her gift before rewrapping it. Did she have a helper? How long had this been going on is still a mystery.  “As I think about it, maybe that’s why it seemed I was forever vacuuming up bits of insulation.” We will never know...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The 'Eyes' Have It

I saw this today…

A man on a corner
The man had a sign
The sign said, ‘Need Help,
Please Help!’
Tattered clothing
Raggedy boots; no strings
A dirty cup
Unkempt hair
A slothful walk
A seemingly dampened spirit
Many passers-by
Yet, he couldn’t reach some folks
A dismal outlook…

And as I slowly drove, I eventually got a closer look.  But it seems the closer I came, like those who were ahead of me, I didn’t want to have any eye contact with him. You see, probably like my ‘forerunners’, I felt that if I would look at him in his eyes, I would feel obligated to respond in some form or fashion. His appearance was a directive of the mindset society has attached to individuals on street corners. There are preconceived notions that they are all cons, thieves, druggies, and any other belittling label that can be an assessment of their character.
So for a minute, I stared straight ahead. My characterization was stoic; immobile. I continued to drive, but as I began to pass him by, from the ‘corner of my eye’, I saw his eyes.  I then turned and looked at him. Our eyes met.  I saw something deeper than his outer appearance.  Without realizing my actions, I pulled all of the change from my ashtray and a few dollars, from my purse.  I rolled my window down, as he turned and limped towards my car.  I dropped the money into his cup. He said “thank you ma-am.”
And then I saw…
A gracious nod
A toothless grin
Stark-white, bright eyes
A rigid, tall frame
A resilient stride
A glimmer of hope

This time of the year is considered a time for GIVING. My question to you all is what would you have done? How would you have reacted? Would you have followed suit and drove past him, as so many others had done? Would you have stopped and questioned him? Maybe you have already encountered someone like him. What did you do?
As for me, the very moment our eyes met, I knew it was not my place to judge him. My spirit would not allow me to pass him by with no thought of the fact that he really could be homeless, someone’s father, brother or uncle. Better still – I saw a child of God.
In its simplicity, “I thank God for Peripheral Vision!”  

PJ Payne