Our daughter was married on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii.  With its lush vegetation, natural surroundings, splendid sunsets and magnificent beaches, it was the perfect backdrop for the wedding of her dreams.  hawaii2

She and I had flown in a week early to finalize plans and preparations.  Friends and family gradually filtered in throughout the week until we were all assembled for Molly and Alex’s special day.  We witnessed their sweet, sacred ceremony at the ocean’s edge then celebrated them with a fabulous meal, a few heartfelt speeches and a night of dancing and music.

The next day my husband and I flew to the Big Island of Hawaii for a week of  adventure on our own.   We rented a car and explored the island from one end to the other.  We rented a plane and flew over the only active volcano I have ever seen.  It was truly an amazing and unforgettable experience!

But one of the most exciting and memorable things I did that week was flying through the air over breathtaking views on a zip line that seemed to go on forever.  I have always loved the sensation of flying and use to dream about it when I was a child so this, for me, was a little piece of ecstasy.  mauicountry

A few days after we arrived home it began.  The head scratching.  The insufferable itching of the scalp.  The nighttime waking of both my husband and myself with the noise of my fingernails moving frantically across my head.

Finally my husband, having been awakened again in the middle of the night, sat up in bed and released his frustration.  “Would you PLEASE quit scratching your head?”  

“I can’t,” was my simple reply.  “It itches!”

“I think you have lice,” came his blunt diagnosis.

“That’s impossible!  Where in the world would I have gotten lice?  And if I had it so would you”, was my defense.

Turning on the bedroom light and the bedside lamp, he pulled me to his side for further examination.  And in spite of my protests the verdict was clear.  “Look,” he said in his matter of fact way, “I see kids in the public schools all the time with head lice.  I know what it looks like.   And you’ve got yourself a good case of it!”  

“But why don’t YOU have it?” I questioned.  “We’ve been the same places for the past two weeks.”  Then it hit me.  My husband had filmed me zip lining but had not partaken of the adventure himself.  I had put on the zip line helmet without a cap or scarf or any other kind of protective covering over my hair.  I had subjected myself to a shared piece of equipment which had a history I knew nothing about.   Consequently I had come home with an extra souvenir…head lice!

My ailment was treated and soon disappeared.  My memory of the thrill of speeding through the air tethered only to a wire cable remains.  I can still feel that sense of exhilaration when I close my eyes and I refuse to let the memory of the zipline aftermath destroy the beauty of that day.

I had come home with an extra souvenir…head lice!

As with my zip line experience, we so often need to “choose the best and not the beast” either in our memory of events past or in what we are experiencing at present.  We each can look back and relive only the sad, disappointing, unfair and hurtful parts of a situation OR we can choose to focus our mental lens on the beauty of the clarity and wisdom which we gained through it all.

A list of adjectives describing things worthy of our thoughts is included in one of the apostle Paul’s letters to the Philippians.   Things that are True.  Honest.  Just.  Pure.  Lovely.  Virtuous.   How can we go wrong to spend our energies focusing there instead of on things which leave us feeling angry, bitter, resentful and sad?  

On a trip with one of my daughters-in-law not long ago, we were discussing the difficulty she had been having going to sleep.  I shared with her a habit I’ve had for many years which calms and soothes me and sometimes helps me relax into peaceful rest.  I mentally review my day, all the people The sand happenings in it, then pick out the one scene, event or moment which brings me the most joy and just dwell on that scene, that thought, and picture nothing else until I drift into slumber.  Instead of counting multiple sheep, I count a single blessing.

The prescription to guard and guide our thoughts not only provides better sleep, but provides a better life as well.  We are happier, healthier and at our strongest when we choose to think on the good things in our lives.   You might call it “nutrition for the soul”.  I call it “remembering the zip line”!

 Instead of counting multiple sheep, I count a single blessing.

May I challenge you today to be more aware of your thought life, to be more purposeful in choosing what is good?  Have you allowed the negative and hurtful experiences in your past to crowd out the joy of today?  If so, I encourage you to filter those thoughts through the qualifying adjectives listed in Philippians 4:8 and toss anything which doesn’t meet their definitions and standards.  

I wish you happiness and health in body, mind and spirit.  Protecting and nourishing your thought life is a good way to begin.