Monday, October 31, 2016

Dimes

I visit parking lots for a living.  At least part of the time.  Lots and lots ... of parking lots.

It has become my practice over time to keep my eyes open for pennies and other loose change.

Last year I began depositing all of my finds into my joy jar ... along with feathers, joy notes and other treasures that bless me throughout the year ... so that I could add it up in December and see the sum total of "found" money for the year.

The total was $34.20.  Not too bad ... when you are penny-nickel-dime-ing it ...
with a quarter here and there for good measure.

Truth is, the most common find is a penny.  Followed by a quarter.  Because, you know, quarters are now necessary to obtain air for your tires.  Air used to be free.  Now it costs a quarter or so
for a few hits.

Much like the concept of bottled water ... but I digress.

During a period of a couple of weeks, I found a preponderance of dimes.  It seemed that no matter where I visited ... I would stumble across a dime.  Sometimes it was multiple dimes in one day.

The thing with the dimes become so obvious ... that I made comments about it to those
closest to me.

Then it became a funny thing ... a game of sorts ... to tally up the number of dimes I would find each day.  All in all ... the total was over 20 dimes in something like a ten day period.

This happened in the spring of 2015.  I have told this story dozens of times since then ... but have never taken the time to write it down.

During that same time, some friends of mine began asking me to get together ... to catch up.
I was busy. Driving all of the time.  I kept putting them off.

Their requests became more direct. Urgent. You see, they had something exciting and new to share with me.
*sigh*  Exciting and new, indeed.

"I would love to see you. It has been a while.  But ... I am probably not interested in anything ... exciting and new ... right now."  That was my response.  My friend said, "This is something that I have been working on for some time now.  I want you to know about it."

Finally the very direct call came saying, "Where are you today?  Want to meet for a glass of wine?"

I was nearby so I figured what the heck.  These were friends that I really enjoy ... and if I said yes than we could just get the whole pitch over with once and for all.

So I went through my day ... and sure enough ... I found a couple of dimes along the way.

You have to understand that not only had I been telling those close to me that there must be something significant about the dimes ... but I had also been running it all by my best friend,
God - Creator of the Universe.

I would say things like "What's up with all these dimes, God?"  Or "Find a penny. Pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck.  But ... Find a dime. Pick it up.  Then what?"

Of course, God only answers when He feels like it.  You know, when He's good and ready.

I don't believe in coincidences ... so I just kept picking up the dimes ... and impatiently waiting patiently for the mystery to be revealed to me.

Arrived at the happy hour place to find my friends with another gentleman.  There was that sinking feeling that somehow I was being set-up.  You know how those things go ... bring along a 3rd party testimonial type.

Introductions were made. Polite conversation followed.  Then one of my friends turned to me and said something like ... we're-involved-in-something-new-and-we-want-to-share-it-with-our-friends ... you know, the ole we-wouldn't-want-you-to-come-to-us-later-and-ask-why-we-didn't-call you approach.

I smiled and said, "Thanks. But no thanks.  I am probably not interested.
My plate is very full right now."

Then I turned to the gentleman ... waiting for the double-teaming to begin.  Turns out, he was there to hear about this opportunity ... just like me.  And he was a little more interested than I.

My friend assured me that this was not another "one of those things" and that he would not be wasting my time with such as that.  He said, "Didn't I tell you this was something
I was working on?!?"

So he told his story.  How there were 10 men ... he was one of them ... who took one man's idea and framed it out ... and were now ready to launch a new business ... a mobile app that offers discounts on things you are already buying.

He whipped out his phone and opened up a demo app to show me how it would work.  As he walked me through the app he explained that it was designed to support small business owners everywhere ... to attract new customers and build retention with existing ones.

 "If I told you that all of those small businesses that you coach and consult with could have free advertising on our new app, what would you say?" he boldly asked.

Duh. That was a no-brainer.  Immediately my curiosity was piqued.  He went on to explain how the new company,  Save10, was structured:

Businesses get free advertising by offering a 10% or better discount to Save10 customers.

Customers pay $10 per month to take unlimited advantage of the discounts and offers 
on the Save10 app.

Associates who are customers that love the savings are recruited and paid a 10% commission 
for sharing the app with others.

Smart and simple.
When he was done, I said "Sign me up!"  I wanted to be able to offer the free advertising to my small business friends ... and to be supportive of this friend and his friends.

"But I haven't told  you how much it costs to be an Associate?" he countered.  "It's $24."

"Sure. I can handle $24 a month to make this available to my small business colleagues," I said.

He laughed.  "No, MaryJane.  The annual fee to be a distributor is $24 ... that's per year ... and there are no products or anything you have to buy.  Just put the app on your phone ... and start saving money on things you are already buying.  You will save your $10 back each month simply by using your app at the places you already go ... doing the things you already do."

So we left where we were happy houring ... and headed over to an organizational meeting nearby.

The app was due to go live in a month or so.  This was really a ground-floor opportunity ... to get involved in something new and exciting ... that some friends of mine had developed ... something that was so brilliant that I found myself wishing I had thought of it on my own.

After the meeting, I walked to my car.  My mind was racing ... full of ideas and information ... embracing this opportunity ... that was so unexpected.

It was dark out.  My car was parked under a pole light.  I leaned in to unlock the door ...
and there on the ground ... was a dime.

I shook my head ... and laughed out loud.

It was a bit of a drive home because I live in a satellite community to the larger city.  I turned off the radio so that I could hear the noise and chatter in my own head.

"Okay, God.  So what's up with this whole dime thing?"  I asked boldly ... again ...
for the several hundreth time.

This time a whisper came.  "What do you do with those dimes, MJ?"

"I pick them up.  Just like the find-a-penny-pick-it-up rhyme goes.  So find a dime ... pick it up ... what?!?"

Again came the whisper.  "What do you DO with those dimes, MJ?"

Ahh ... He was probing a little deeper.

"Well, I put them in my joy jar ... and ... save them until ..."

And again ... for the third time ... came the whisper.  "So what exactly are you doing with those dimes, MaryJane?"

And as always ... when the punchline came ... I was awed and amazed ...
at how God works in my life.

"I am saving them ... the dimes .... ohhhhhh ... I get it.  I am saving ... 10!"

God set me up ... way in advance ... so that when the opportunity came ... there would be no doubt. And to underscore the point ... God spoke it to me three times ... just like Peter. (Feed my sheep.)

When God says something three times, it's important.

Finding the dimes ... picking them up ... shifting my focus ... changing my direction ...
as I go about my business of touching lives ... and making a difference.

~October 2016
(maryjane.mysave10.com)





Monday, September 5, 2016

Butterflies & Balloons

My life has been bombarded by butterflies lately. Mostly yellow ones. A couple of black ones. And there was one monarch.

It pretty much started the day the Audi died. Driving the speed limit ... on the highway. First there was a surge, followed by a quiet pop and then nothing but neutral. Coasted to the side of the road and turned the car off. It was the death of the little red convertible.

She had been nothing but a hussy from the git-go. Pretty. Fun to drive.
But terribly high-maintenance ... and expensive!

As I was making the necessary calls to AAA ... and others ... I noticed a bright yellow butterfly dancing all around. Dipping & diving in the grass along the side of the shoulder ...
dipping & diving across the hood of my car.

It was so obvious ... significant ... that I commented about it during one of those calls.

For the most part, the next week or so was full of rain.

Soon I was back on the road again with my ghetto car. A nifty 2000 Toyota Celica that I christened "MaDime" because she is silver ... and for several other reasons that were obvious to me.

On the day of the first roadtrip with my new ride, there was a persistent whisper: 
"Keep your eyes on the ground. You will see something special."

So kept looking. Waiting. Found a few cans along the way... and 1 penny.

Then I came across the beautiful butterfly with the injured wing. I was able to catch it on my finger and move it off of the pavement. It made a tentative attempt to fly. Then settled on the grass.

It was special.
Afterwards, I found pennies everywhere! 16 pennies in one parking lot.

It was a blessed day!

Since then the butterfly sightings have been crazy!
Everywhere I turn, there are butterflies. Dipping. Diving. Dancing.
When I am driving. When I am walking. When I am looking out the window.

So many butterflies.

One friend with great discernment observed earlier this week, "The butterfly sightings can't be by chance, MaryJane. You have a specialness about you!"

Of course, I began looking into the meaning of butterfly sightings ... and butterfly colors.

Everyone knows all the analogies about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Transformation. Change. And the like.

My butterflies were not brand-new ones. Each one has been full-blown ... in its glory. And in the case of the one in the parking lot, maybe spreading their wings a little too wide and 
flying a little too fast.

Most butterflies only live 1 to 2 weeks after they are released from their cocoon. Monarchs, however, have been known to live for up to 6 months.

They are a reminder that life is fleeting and time moves quickly. Butterflies represent joy, freedom, creativity and change. They teach us to live in ... and fully enjoy ... the present moment.

It is believed in some cultures that angels often communicate through butterflies. And departed loved ones, too. Both beliefs give me comfort.

If that is the case, then there must be a lot of angels and loved ones surrounding me right now. Each time a butterfly crosses my path, I am trying to take heed and open my heart to the message of great importance that I am certain it has been sent to share ... with just me.

It has been suggested that if one is seeing a lot of butterflies, one might ask what changes in life need to be made ... today ... to live more authentically. That has caused me pause on more than one occasion.

The majority of the butterflies that have come my way have been yellow. Yellow butterflies are said to represent prosperity.

Black butterflies ... like the one in the parking lot ... represent a shift in power ... a positive change. I find that particularly interesting since it was the one with the damaged wing. I did my best to help it find its way. At another time, a black butterfly dive bombed my windshield while I was driving ... pulling up at just the last second and soaring over the top of my car. A Top Gun stunt of sorts that left me humbled ... and smiling.

A monarch butterfly is a visual reminder to live in the present. And is viewed by most as a symbol of hope. Yeah, one of those flew around me and my car, too. 

In my reading about the monarch butterfly, a scripture was referenced. It resonated with me so I made note of it:

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

You see, I have had a few cares lately ... concerning prosperity ... power ... and hope.

Maybe the butterflies' are simply reminders ... especially for me ... 
that everything is going to be ok.

Got to church yesterday ... you know, at a place called Grace ... and Drew spoke to us about 
"giving up." His message was an intro to a theme that he is going to be exploring over the next few weeks.

There was a big bouquet of white balloons at the front. Helium-filled latex birthday-party type balloons. As the service moved along, a few of the balloons began loosing their oomph ... and were starting to droop towards the ground.

The balloons were part of an interactive activity he had planned for the close of the service.

Wrapping up his message, Drew shared that one of the things we ... ahem, I ... you see, at that moment He was speaking directly to me ... should give up was .. all of my cares.

Then somewhere in the midst of the passionate words ... a scripture was put up on the screen ...

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

Double-teamed. Again.

Everyone was asked to come forward and get a balloon with a marker. Then either as individuals or families, the cares were to be written onto the balloons. After a blessing of the balloons, everyone was going to go outside together and release the balloons ... 
to cast all of our cares upon the Lord.

Jessi retrieved a balloon. Together we wrote some of our cares on to it. It was interesting how Jessi and I shared some of the same concerns ... in our own way:
Prosperity & Finances ... Family Connections = Her Laptop ... Future without Mom ...
 Health & Well Being of Loved Ones ... and the list goes on.

By the time we were done writing, our balloon was limp and lying on the chair. I wandered back to the front for a second balloon.

On it I wrote: "My first balloon was too heavy. It needed a friend to help it fly." I tied the two together ... hoping the stamina of the second balloon would be enough to support them both ... before heading outside.

A blessing was said over the balloons. Then came the release. There was a slight breeze that lifted some quickly ... and others more slowly ... depending on the amount of helium left in each one.

Ours was the only tandem offering. It was a little slower to rise than the others.

It was interesting to watch as the majority of the balloons were caught up ... and then gently drifting as a group towards the road and over the old furniture store that is Grace.
video

Our offering, however, did not follow the group. It rose slowly at first ... then catching a breeze ... it soared more quickly in the opposite direction. Away from the road. 
Carrying my cares ... to the Lord ... in its own way ... along a different path.

As my balloons drifted into a cluster of trees ... a yellow butterfly dipped & darted by its side
... and the familiar whisper came ... "Everything's going to be ok, MaryJane."

The familiar laugh of my best friend, God - Creator of the Universe, surrounded me. As always, I am humbled and amazed every single time I experience the awe of His presence ... and His attention to the details of my life.


You're strong enough to hold it all



(c)lifelessons-mj 2016





















Monday, February 29, 2016

Chimney Calls

A string of setbacks.  One lousy thing ... after another ... and another.  That's what the week had been like ... seriously ... that's what the month has been like. 

Somehow I thought the new year was going to change all of that.

So far ... it has not.

There has been car trouble.  And family situations. And a stupid speeding ticket. Things have been lost. Confidences have been broken.

It was the morning after the meeting that came as a blindside ... the one that opened with name-calling and ended with veiled threats to the happiness of one of the ones I love most.

What is one to do when standing up for what's right ... costs so much more
than simply backing down?!?

There was a brittleness in the air that morning as I drank my coffee ... and he drank his cocoa.

Wa-hoo!

A loud bird call broke the silence.  Taboo craned his neck straight over his back so that his cat-eyes could stare at the fireplace upside down.  Startled  ... and drawn as if by a magnet to the call.

"Was that an owl?" he asked.

"I don't know," came my reply. "Maybe."

Wa-hoo!

The call came again.  It sounded as if it was right in the room with us. 
I headed for the door as he strode to the fireplace.

"It's coming from here," he said. "It must be inside the chimney!"

Carefully I opened the door to the screened in porch and stepped out.  As I reached the outer patio the persistent call came again.

Wa-hoo!

From inside he insisted, "It's in the chimney!  The bird must be stuck down in the chimney!"

I looked up to the rooftop. And there He sat.
Calm. Serene. Unruffled. Larger than life.

A humongous dove ... was perched on top of the chimney.

He met my gaze with a steady stare.  After what seemed like several minutes ... but was probably just a second or two ... He turned and gracefully flew away.

"It was a dove," I cried. "Sitting up on the chimney top.  The BIGGEST dove I have ever seen!"

Back inside we marveled at the experience.

Three times the dove called down the chimney ... so that His call would be heard by us ...
on the inside.

It was deliberate ... undeniable ... direct. In the blink of an eye, the hopelessness in the air had ... vanished.

"I had a visit from a dove a few years ago," I said excitedly.  "It was amazing. I blogged about it at the time."

Urgently, I began searching for it.  It took a little while to find ... Odds (August 4, 2012)

I was unprepared as I began reading outloud.  Sharing the first dove story with him that morning.

Over more coffee. More cocoa.

My voice broke. Tears wet my cheeks. Amazing how this string of setbacks resonated with those on that other day.

A quick Google search confirmed
... then and now ... an appearance of a dove is
an encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Broken. I was.  Humbled by this personal reminder that God is faithful. He never changes.  And His Word is the same ... from everlasting to everlasting.

"It was God calling to us," I told him. "Did you hear Him?"
~ photo by Bill Fagan 9.23.13

"Yes. I did."

Three times ... that morning ... God called down the chimney.

Once for Taboo. Once for Roland. Once for me.

Each message is different. Personal. Special.

God only knows what He said to Taboo.

Then He waited patiently for me to come out ... to see ... Him.

Odd.  Only the day before I had asked Him ... to show me His glory.



(c) lifelessons-mj 2016