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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Then Sings My Soul

I went for a run in my favorite park a while back and all around me was life.
The trees were well on the way to their summer fullness. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere and the creek seemed to be whispering, “how great thou art”. I was surrounded by that which brought me to a faith in God; His very creation. Left to grow how they will, were trees; some were bending toward the sun competing with the towering oak and cotton wood trees for light. Underneath it all was a blanket of leaves and fallen branches. And beneath all of that was more life than I will ever know.

After running half of a mile down a steep hillside trail, I was struck with the realization that what goes down, must come back up. I stopped for a few minutes to rest and to listen. Then looking back up the hill that I had just come down, I realized that I was not going to climb that hill as quickly as I came down.
There were cyclists and skateboarders buzzing through the park, up and down the hills. I was tempted to ask if I could borrow a skateboard and pay a cyclist to pull me back up that hill. I was tempted. After entertaining the thought, I began to pick ‘em up and put ‘em down like a well-trained athlete, only slower and not as athletic. I was nearly to the end of my trek and knew that I would not be able to run up the steep hill. So I began to walk and I’m glad that I did. If I had hurried back up the hill, I would not have taken time to hear God speak through two women who offered encouragement to this beginning runner. I would not have stopped to notice the songbirds that were providing the background music or listened as the squirrels rustled through the tree branches above. I would have missed God’s voice speaking to me in the purest form; in nature, His beautiful creation.

When I finally reached the top of the trail, I headed to my car to get my guitar so that I could sit and relax a bit before returning home. There were no benches near the parking lot so I wandered a few feet into the woods to find a fallen tree. At first I listened only to the sounds around me; birds, squirrels and the occasional sound of a bicycle humming by on the trail in the distance. I began to play my guitar and the only words that I could think of were these:

“When through the woods and forest glades I wander, 
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees…
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; 
How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art”

Nature to me, when unaltered by man, is God in the simplest yet most profound form. Nature’s voice is pure, nature’s voice is unafraid and uninhibited.

When I can’t find the words, then sings my soul.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Got Gratitude?

I was born on February 14, 1964, which means that I will be turning 50 next Friday. I don't want birthday presents or a big party. In fact, I'm leaving town with my beloved husband for a romantic getaway. 

But...what would mean the world to me is if I could see at least 50 gratitude statements on my website. 

Some have already begun my ultimate quest of 2,014 things to be thankful for by the end of 2014. So tell your friends, family, neighbors and those who follow you on social networks and let's start a "gratitude revolution" by clicking the link below!

Got Gratitude?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Ask, Do Tell

Anytime a person decides to make a lifestyle change, people have a lot of questions.  Why are you doing this?  What are you doing differently? How long do you plan on sticking with it? Those are just a few of the questions that we are inclined to ask.  Prior to the holidays I was given a little boost to make some changes myself.  The changes for me are in the way I eat and the frequency of exercising.  Over the course of several weeks people have begun asking some of these questions.  I understand why people ask, but I don’t often answer their questions the way they would prefer.  For instance, some have asked me how much weight I have lost.  My answer will be the same each time, “enough that I am feeling better than I have felt in a long time”.  For some that answer is good enough.  For others, there is typically a look of disappointment that I did not divulge the numbers. There are three reasons that I don’t tell people how much I have lost. 1. It’s none of their business. 2. It’s irrelevant. 3. It’s none of their business.  Oh and there is a fourth. I don’t say it because it encourages the final question, which annoys the hell out of me. “What is your goal?”  That to me, is the same thing as saying, “I know you have lost some weight, but I’m hoping that you are planning to lose more because you’re still too fat”.  What is my goal?  My goal is that people would not ask at all, but that they would tell.  Simply telling someone that you have noticed a positive change is downright motivational.  A compliment will give anyone a spring in their step, when it’s given in sincerity.

Tell a marathon runner at the three mile mark that they have 23.2 miles to go and you might see their middle finger salute.  Tell that same runner at the same place, I’m proud of you or you can do this, and you have given them what the need to go on for the next three miles and the next three miles until they reach the finish line with success.

Several years ago I received a call from a woman who had not visited with for a quite some time.  She had been “thinking” of me and wanted to know if I would join her for dinner.  I was really looking forward to it.  My life had taken a downward direction for a time and things were starting to look up, so I accepted the invitation thinking that this would be a nice visit reminiscing about the good old days.  I thought it was going to be a pleasant “catch up” conversation.  Instead I felt like a criminal being interviewed by Barbara Walters for broadcast to the world.  I was getting more uncomfortable by the minute and finally I snapped.  I looked across the table and said, “If you are attempting to learn if the things you heard about me the past few years are true, then what you need to know is that they are true.  What you also need to know is that my life is different today than it was then.”  She had very little to say after that and really I gave her no opportunity for defense or explanation.  The next words spoken were to the waitress by me, “may I have both checks please?”

Because of this experience and many others I too am learning that sometimes telling someone that their positive changes are noticeable is far better than asking awkward questions.

Those are my thoughts……Yours? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Will You Be the One?

There are two places where I never want to strike up conversation with people.  When I am exercising and when I am waiting in the lobby at my doctor’s clinic.  At the gym I’m on a mission to get my workout done and I have an agenda that must not be interrupted.  There have even been occasions when my beloved husband has tried to talk with me at the gym.  When he does, I give him the “stink eye” and he has to move on.  There really are no exceptions.  

If I am sitting in my doctor’s office waiting to be seen, it’s because I’m not feeling well.  And when I’m not feeling well I don’t want to talk to anyone because I am most certain that I will not temper my words.  On one of my trips to the doctor, a man tried to strike up conversation with me.  As I was getting ready to give my sarcastic reply, the nurse called me back.  His feelings were spared that day and so was my dignity. 

Recently while at the medical clinic, I was seated near two ladies who didn’t know one another before that moment.  They were from separate assisted living centers in our community.  One asked the other a conversation starting question and the dialogue that ensued made me rethink my selfish attitude.  As they visited, they began discussing how difficult it was to give up their independence.  One of them spoke of how much she hated having to rely on someone to drive her places.  She openly resented the fact that she can’t just get in the car and go where she wants to go.  Then she said the word, “it almost feels like I’m grieving and that’s just ridiculous”.  The woman who she was talking to listened patiently and with compassion in her eyes.  She shared how she had given up her many freedoms a few years prior.  Finally she stopped mid-sentence and said, “you know, it is a loss and it’s alright for you to grieve; it’s alright for you to cry because it’s a loss that people can’t really understand until they have been there.”

It was in that moment that I realized that I am not on this planet just for me. While someone may need help laughing, someone else may need help crying. 

Will I be that one?  Will I be able to lay aside my selfish agenda to allow another person to express their grief? Will I give the stranger on the street, in the doctor’s clinic or at the gym a moment of my time to express what, perhaps, nobody else is willing to hear?  Will I live out my Christianity by being the ears, eyes and hands of Jesus? 

These are the questions that I am asking myself lately.  I want to answer yes to all of them, but I admit that I fall short.

How about you?

Thanks for stopping by,

Amy L. Potts

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Unexpected Friends

A couple years ago a colleague and dear friend decided to transfer from our company's Kansas location to our Southern California location.  I was happy for her but oh so sad for me.  I've never been too keen on having close friendships with the people that I work with.  I like to leave everything and everyone at work when I come home for the day. I don't want to think about  my work.  I want to think about home. I want to think about my husband and my dog and...even the cat that irritates the hell out of me. I have worked for the same corporation for nearly six years and it's bound to happen, friendship, that is.  Let's face it, if you are employed full time, you probably find yourself spending more time with the people you work with than your family.  It's a sad predicament, really. I've always been uncomfortable with my co-workers referring to me as family.  There are certainly families who treat their relationships like a giant project management department. One makes the plans and the rest follow suit because it's what they are supposed to do.  There's always one rebel in systems like that, and that would be me. I've heard it said that we can't choose our family, but we can choose our friends.  I have chosen carefully, perhaps to a fault.  

A couple of years ago, I was interviewing for a new position in our company. Also interviewing was a young woman whose Bronx accent perfectly complements her confidence.  In fact, at first she nearly drove me crazy.  She is competitive, passionate and smart as a whip.  But the accent, how was I going to learn to like that accent and the boldness! You see, I'm not all too bold.  In fact, I'm a little on the reserved side, though few would believe it.  But, I have been hurt by people who I trusted with my private thoughts. If my mind were a house, people would always be welcome to chat with me on the porch, but rarely would  anyone be allowed to come into the intimacy of my living space.  When I find a friend who I can trust, I have found a good friend.  Over time I learned that my Bronx friend is not only passionate about her life, but she is passionate about her friendships.   
She is someone I could trust with just about anything...except my chocolate maybe. 

Friday morning a text message came in: "Are you at work already dear???" If not will you be going in?" "Are you in at 8:00?" and then finally...."Can I bum a ride?" Surprise! My response.....YES!!!!!! I was so excited to see her that I nearly went out the door without brushing my teeth, which may have ended the friendship. 

We are born into a family. Sometimes a family is as closely knit as the warmest wool sweater.  But when it's not, life can be cold.  It can be cold, that is, unless we open ourselves to the unique relationships with others. 

I stepped in from the porch one day and opened the door just a little bit and much to my surprise I received an unexpected gift.  I received the gift of friendship; a treasured friend who will always be welcome to step in off the porch.

It can get cold standing on the porch, but when you feel the warmth of friendship, true friendship it's worth the wait.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gratitude to Renewed Faith

Last fall I was selected as one of 13 guest columnists for the Kansas City Star, Faith Walk section.  Thought I would share it with my followers.  
Thank you for stopping by!


I walked into a counselor's office about 10 years ago wanting her to tell me something wise, comforting; ultimately wanting her to tell me what to do.  I had lost my husband to cancer and my best friend shortly after that.  I was in the pit of depression and I needed help finding the faith in God that I once knew and trusted.  I say in Lynn's office waiting for her to give me a special formula to rejuvenate my faith. In one session I was determined to find out all I needed to know to move on. That's what I wanted to happen.

After several months of questioning and trying to make sense of it all, I began questioning God and Lynn. I wanted her to give me answers because she was present, physically present, and God felt so distant. Well, she didn't give me any answers, and she didn't pray for me. Instead, she made me pray
for myself and made me answer my own questions.

During what I referred to as my "faith crisis," there was one session that was pivotal. With the holidays approaching, the intensity of my pain and loneliness was suddenly overwhelming. I walked into her office that day announcing that I hated the holidays. She grinned and said, "What did
the holidays do to you?"

    That was it! I knew my counselor was an uncompassionate beast, and perhaps even less Christian.
    I was angry, verbally and visibly angry. What Lynn asked me to do next didn't make any sense. For   
    the remainder of the hour, I was to begin thanking God for the good things in my life, one at a time.

   For several minutes the only thing heard in that room was the faint voices of people across the hall.
   Finally, I began to whisper one by one the things that I was thankful for. I started by naming obvious
   things and continued to' name things for several more minutes. At one point, Lynn stopped me. She
   gently placed in my hand a piece of paper with a list of all the things I had mentioned.

   She told me to take that with me wherever I went, and when I started to feel sorry for myself I was to
   continue adding to that list. It seemed crazy. But I needed this exercise to help me see that there was a
   power greater than myself.

   At the time, that power may have simply been gratitude. But that gratitude was a stepping stone to
   renewed faith.

   It has been 10 years since that pivotal day, and I still sit down each night to make a list of the things
   I'm thankful for. One by one, page by page, I make note of these things, and each time, my faith is

From Kansas City Star Newspaper – Faith Walk Column January 4, 2014

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