Pretzels and Knotholes

Where’s our focus?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” John Wooden, basketball coach

I received the most wonderful Christmas present from my sweetheart. A little chihuahua mix with the most loving soul. I missed having a lap dog since the Maltese I had died from heart failure over a year ago. I missed having a little dog that loves to go on road trips, walks and watches TV with me. There’s a lovely Queensland, Red Heeler to some of you, that is a wonderful dog but a lap dog she ain’t! This little boy came to me via an elderly woman who was placed in assisted living. She knows her little pup is loved and deeply cared for. He’s never alone.

Except… The temperature where I live dropped to below zero with windchills in the minus 30’s and snow over a foot deep. Did my little dog, Benny (named by the previous owner), relish doing his “business” outside? Nope! Chasing after him, scolding and new dog euphoria turned to despair until praise entered my mind. shoveled a sheltered place with grass, placed treats in my pocket. Eureka! Business was done with making over him as if he had cured cancer. No one saw my despair as I cleaned dog messes. No one saw my joy when Benny got the picture. Time to focus on excellence, praise and whatever is true.

People need praise too. Training our minds to concentrate on what is excellent or praiseworthy is twisting ourselves into pretzels and knotholes because this is not natural—it’s supernatural! To do this with annoying, unkind, judgmental people is supernatural too. This comes from training our minds, agreeing with God and practice, practice, practice. It’s giving people space to change. Has anyone given this to you? Did it help get you on the right track? Transformation. God working through us and others.


Sometimes we withhold praise because of the scarcity mentality. If I praise someone and I get nothing in return or worse, criticized, there’s less for me. But not true in God’s world. In fact the more we practice this, the larger our hearts and lives grow and become rich. We let go of twisting ourselves into pretzels or dragging ourselves through knotholes. We get closer to others, ourselves and God. We get closer to how much God loves us. Transformation. Again.


Dear Father,

Thank you for your love. Thank you for the ability to see and embrace what is lovely, noble, true, praiseworthy. “As a man thinks, so is he” is a valuable truth no matter our circumstances and protects us from the Evil One. Help us to focus on your son, the picture of all that is lovely, noble, true and praiseworthy and let’s celebrate our transformation into his image.


Published by Barbara Hinther

Barbara Hinther author of Meditations and Encouragement for the Caregiver of a Loved One with Dementia and What About Me, God. Time to share what she has learned and hopefully, others will know they are not alone. This too, shall pass with beautiful, yet painful, lessons. Barbara lives in a rural town in Idaho where all is community. Bless everyone in the community for their support and their never-ending let’s pitch in attitude! She worked in marketing for over 30 years and volunteered with the Idaho Youth Ranch and St. Vincent’s de Paul Thrift Store. Then her hardest job ever was caring for her husband who died from Lewy body dementia and needed her full-time care. Feelings of abandonment were constant. Life was very difficult for a while, but love, faith and hope will overcome. Let the adventure continue!

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