Links to Happiness

I’ve never worked in a paper clip factory. I never thought about what it would be like to make paper clips all day long. I had not considered what it must be like to have a career solely based on those cartons of curved, organizational magic… that is until I opened my most recent box of paper clips.

Upon lifting the lid to a brand new box, I discovered a very long chain of clips connected to one another. Surely, this is not a normal product of the paper clip making process. Someone somewhere took the time to construct this impressive chain of fasteners. Perhaps their intent was to frustrate the recipient of the chain, or maybe its creation served to pass the time during an unfortunate shut-down at the plant, or it could be that the chain’s maker was just trying to make a connection with someone else in a unique way. Whatever the reason, I was now the intrigued owner of a very long paper clip chain.

When I showed my daughter, she said, “That’s cool, but now you can’t use those paper clips.”

“Why can’t I use them?” was my reply.

“Because then you wouldn’t have the chain anymore,” she stated and walked away.

I guess she was right. I needed a paper clip, not a chain of them, but there were Intentergy moments in those links.

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Reasons to Get Out of Bed

The alarm clock ringing might be the #1 reason people give for getting out of bed, but it’s not that ring, ring, ring that really calls us to rise. My alarm clock is working fine, but I’ve been struggling with motivation to get moving in the morning.

It’s not just that it’s winter, and I want to hibernate, but that I really haven’t felt successful or inspired as of late.

I know I’m not alone, if you are feeling like there’s not enough good reasons to get going in the morning, check out my recent telephone conversation and how it helped with my dragging drive.

I called for tech support as I was working on the cataloging system for our elementary school library. We are relatively new to using this cataloging system, and this was not my first tech call. I had already spoken to Keith, the company representative, in the past. Keith is in Canada. I am in Central Missouri. When Keith takes my call, I always ask how things are in Canada, and he kindly tells me about the weather there. As we waited for the computer system to reboot my account, I asked Keith how many tech support calls he answers on average each day. He said, no one had ever asked him before, but, ironically, it was just discussed at a recent meeting. Keith said his average daily call count was 12.

Because I know that my past calls have all lasted between 30 minutes and 90 minutes, I thanked Keith for his time and his assistance. He laughed and told me that most people probably wouldn’t think of what he does as valuable. I pointed out that his service calls help me to provide library resources to over 130 students and faculty. While my school is a small one, I know he assists large colleges, universities, churches, and high schools; all with patrons in the thousands. I happily went on telling him that his 12 calls a day help thousands of people with their writing, reading, and research. He has a tremendous ripple effect on the success of all those patrons, and that’s a great reason to get out of bed every day.

Keith didn’t speak for a few moments. Actually, I was afraid he hung up on me or lost connection. When he did speak, the sincerity in his voice was so sweet. After saying, “Thank you,” Keith told me that it had never occurred to him to value his position in such a positive way. It made my day to know that I had brightened his.

After hanging up with Keith, my library software was working, and my mojo was much improved.

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Swamped in a Hive

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a parent who is inundated with the behaviors and requests of their children? It’s like trying to locate the queen bee in a hive of crazy. Nobody is concerned about or can comprehend what’s being said, focus is going in a million directions, and the constant buzz is enough to drive everyone in and outside of the hive crazy.

This past weekend I witnessed my friend, Jamie, at the heart of her own wild hive. We were hanging out at a friend’s shop, and for some unknown-to-our-children reason trying to have a conversation.

While Jamie balanced her son on one leg, her daughter traipsed passed walking her baby doll by the hair. Without warning, the baby doll leapt onto Jamie’s vacant leg and began marching up her arm and then rested on her head. Shortly there after, Jamie’s husband asked her about something he couldn’t remember, and she replied calmly with whatever he needed to know. Barely skipping a beat, Jamie continued on with our conversation. After finishing her sentence to me, she politely asked her daughter to take the doll to play somewhere else. Her daughter’s response, “But I need you to be my jungle gym.”

Well, there you had it.

Jamie was needed.

She was a comfy place to sit for her son, reference library for her husband, an apparatus for her daughter’s baby doll activities, and a hub of conversation for me.

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Blessing the Dooley’s – A Tradition of Gratitude

At family gatherings, does your family segregate meals dividing its members between the “kiddie” table and the “grown-ups table”?

If your family does, this is a post for you.

If your family doesn’t, this is still a post for you because we could all use some blessings sent with good intentions (even if they didn’t start that way).

Dating back farther than my memory serves, my mother’s family has hosted all of its meals with separate tables for children and adults. As our legs and attitudes grew, my cousins and I lamented the fact that we were forced to dine at the “kiddie” table. My grandmother used to always tell us to be grateful because at least we weren’t like “the Dooley’s down the road.” Grandma would continue on with the story that the sweet Dooley family had ten (10) children and not enough chairs, so at meals they had to sit on the floor.

My grandmother also maintained the practice of saying, “And all for baby Jesus,” at the end of every meal prayer.

As a teenager, I maintained the practice of being a pain in my grandmother’s rear.

At one holiday meal where I feeling particularly disgruntled at my “kiddie table” status, (I’m sad to say I don’t remember the holiday or year), I followed up my grandmother’s closing blessing, “And all for baby Jesus,” with, “And God bless the Dooley’s. May they all have chairs to sit on.”

(Heaven help me. I was a pain.)

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“The Pissy Prayer”

All too often I’ve heard that if you pray for patience the Lord will test it. I take pride in the patience I feel towards children, animals, and tedious tasks. I’m not always so patient with laziness, meanness, and ignorance.

Lately, I have witnessed laziness and unkindness in amounts exceeding my limits. In spite, of my prayers for peace, grace, and patience, the will to tolerate such selfish behavior has had me thinking about an alternative intent for my prayers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still asking the Lord to help the flawed human race find peace, generosity, and compassion, but every once in a while, I want to pray “The Pissy Prayer.”

Now this isn’t a prayer sanctioned by any church or liturgical governing body, but it is one that I think a lot of us could benefit from. (I made “The Pissy Prayer” up myself.)

The Pissy Prayer
By Melanie A. Peters

Dear Lord,


Grant me permission to be pissy about insignificant things that others blow way out of proportion.

Grant me fussiness when friends and family fail to recognize and appreciate all the blessings you have bestowed upon them.

In your most holy name, I ask that you help me through this hissy fit and guide me as I lose my good and capable mind over whatever has worked its way into my heart.

But most of all, Lord, grant forgiveness for my imperfections, because that’s what I need to feel and demonstrate in this most imperfect world.

Amen.

I know what you are thinking.

This sounds a bit blasphemous.

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What We’re Up Against

Without fail each flock we receive is full of attack turkeys. From day one, they come at you with fluffy wings spread and tiny beaks blaring battle chirps. The little guys in the video had been attacking my feet for a while before I finally thought to capture their assault on video. They might have been little but were definitely mighty.

Have you ever felt like you were up against something so huge it could never be toppled, but you went after it anyway?

It always helps to have someone with you no matter what you face. We may not always be surrounded by our flock of friends and family, but hopefully, we are continually reassured of the fact that we are not alone. Thanks to cards, phone calls, text messages, emails, and kind acts we can all show and know that there are others here for us in tough times.

Whatever we’re up against, it’s healthy to know that we can peck away at problems with the support and insights of our peers. As my family has faced some pretty scary health issues this past month, I cannot tell you how empowering it has been to witness the willingness of others to step up, do what they can, and provide support in all kinds of wonderful ways. From funny text messages, to food drop offs, and personal calls to health care providers, we have been flooded with folks willing to help conquer the beast that has consumed our focus and created much fear.

Cancer has proven to be a nasty illness that comes in more shapes and sizes than we can imagine, but if we continue to wage our war on its ravages, I have faith that we can find ways to wipe it out. We might feel like those tiny poults attacking the boots of a big bad monster, but if we work to do all the things that make us bigger, smarter, and stronger, I’m certain that we won’t be the underdogs forever.

The Intentergy challenge for today is to remember you are one of the mighty. The mighty ones who can bring hope and support to those feeling hopeless. You are one of the powerful people who provide joy, nourishment, and opportunity to those who need a boost. Your energy is what can lead the charge when something has gone very wrong or when others are feeling lost. If you happen to be lost, keep your head up, and don’t be afraid to call out to those who can rally around you.

It doesn’t matter what we’re up against, we have the ability to be bigger than our set backs and stronger than our fears.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. There were about 9,000 attack turkeys coming at me in that video. I am fearless.

Even When We Know It’s Coming

Recently, I had the opportunity to share a morning with Gus and Fitz, two of our little friends from church. Other than the snuggles, the best part about having little friends join us is that they find joy in the toys that my kids have outgrown. On this particular visit, Gus discovered the phlat ball. The phlat ball has suction cups and a spring inside, so that when smooshed together it holds its flattened shape for a short time and then pops back into a sphere. Gus also thoroughly enjoyed of all the Paw Patrol toys. Soon he discovered that the Ryder figurine could lay on the phlat ball until it popped, and Ryder would go sailing.

Gus and his treasures (Sorry for the blurriness! He wouldn’t stop long enough for a clear shot.)

No matter how many times it happened, Gus never failed to be excited about the prospect and result of the phlat ball propelling Ryder through the air.

Watching that kind of joy made me wish I could always be so enthusiastic about the simple pleasures in life, even when I know they are coming.

Today I hope you will take time to relish the simple stuff in your life, even if you know it’s coming.

Be sure to take in some fresh air and sunshine. Celebrate the reliability of your schedule and ability to be a part of your professional team. Do a happy dance for the dependability of dinner with your family, or the thundering sound of tennis shoes arriving home from school, and the quick hugs as your kiddos make their way to the snack cabinet. Give up a quick prayer of gratitude for the goodies you have to eat. Find pleasure in your pillow when you lay your head down tonight.

If you find joy in the simple things, joy will find its way to your more often… especially when you know it’s coming.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I’m excited that you read my post.

P.P.S. What are you excited about today?

My Butt is Frozen

Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)

When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.

The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.

The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.

When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.

As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.

Who Do You Think of When You Mop?

Who do you think of when you mop?

This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.

Who is Mary Scott?

Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.

Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.

Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.

I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.

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Not All Horses Eat Apples: A Lesson in Giving

Atticus refusing an apple slice

Not all horses eat apples. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, as my entire childhood was filled with dreams of sharing apples with my horses before we took long, rides through rolling pastures. Today my dreams are still to take long rides through rolling pastures, but no longer do I picture my herd running happily toward me ready to nibble red and greed apples from the palm of my outstretched hand.

In fact, I own two horses that generally turn their noses up at apples or any treat that is not peppermint. On rare occasions, Star will give apples a chance if they are cut into thin slices. Atticus just plain walks away or spits them out. If I offer a treat that is apple flavored, both Star and Atticus will turn their heads in search of something better.

Star walking away from an offered apple slice

Winn Dixie is whole other story. She will scarf down any apples that are offered and scoops up those refused by her herd-mates. How could I have been so wrong about apples and horses?

Have you ever pictured giving something to someone and knew it was going to be perfect, only to have them reject or refuse the gift?

Why does it hurt so badly when our gifts are rejected? Why is it so difficult for us to digest that what we thought was just right doesn’t resonate with the recipient? Why don’t all horses like apples?

The answer to these questions is simple. Sometimes our hearts are in the right places, but our minds are on different trains of thought than that of the one we are trying to gift.

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