Friday, March 16, 2018

Busy vs Lazy



If I found out my life was about to end, how would I react? Would I have done everything I was placed in this generation to do? Would I leave anything undone, unsaid, unnecessarily messy.  I’m sure everyone thinks this way once in a while, maybe more as we age. 

I’ve been convicted of my laziness.  Again.  You may laugh, or maybe you can bear witness with me.  It seems like our culture is one that makes us need to be constantly busy, and I don’t believe in busy-ness for busy’s sake.  (Grammar and spell check don’t like that at all!) As in everything in our world, there are extremes on the line of busy vs lazy. I am fully aware of that fact.  So where is the “sweet spot” between the two? 

We have many things that can take up our precious time that we didn’t have just a few years back.  However, laziness is nothing new.  Even in the Bible, in Psalms and Proverbs especially, laziness is compared to the diligence of the ant, that prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in harvest.  (Proverbs 6:8) The New Testament tells us that the things we do are to be done as to the Lord and that we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us.  (Ephesians and Hebrews) And even in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul wrote these inspired words, “ For even when we were with you, this we commanded you:  that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” So, I know that “doing” is godly. 



We also like to pull out the Psalm that tells us to Be still! (Psalm 46:10) What could be more imperative than that? And other scriptures that remind us to listen first, hear God’s voice, and then walk in His ways.  (Isaiah 30:21)

I guess the balance then, is in the way we break up our times of quiet and business.  Are you, like me, a list maker?  Do you start your day checking the to-do list and at the end of the day do you flog yourself for what didn’t get done?  I have to ask myself why it didn’t get done.  Was it because of another necessary task that had to have priority?  Or was it facebook or tv that kept me from completing my list. 

When my children were at home, they always took priority over anything else I was doing.  I may have been in the middle of cleaning the bathroom, or some other task that needed finishing, but as soon as I could stop, they got my full attention.  I realized that the dust and dishes would still be there after they went to bed, and certainly after they left home.  But I also had the responsibility of keeping a sanitary and healthy environment in our home.  Sometimes, we did the chores together and had meaningful moments and talks in that time also.  So, don’t let my ramblings give you the impression that my children ruled my time.  It is a matter of recognizing the importance of each moment of the day.



As a homemaker, I certainly did not go gracefully into that empty nest.  I missed the interaction with my children so much it ached.  I even said out loud that I was “retired” as a mom. (My daughter corrected me often on this, by the way.)  And I found myself wondering what I was going to do with all this free time I now had.  What were the things I had “always” wanted to do?  The truth that kept coming back to me was that I had asked God to make me a wife and a mom; it was all I’d ever wanted, all I’d ever dreamed and day dreamed about. 




Depression and laziness are ugly stepsisters.  They come in and bark orders and giggle as you struggle through your days.  They call you names and make you feel “less than.”  And until you stand up to them like the bullies that they are, they will take over your every thought and action.  This was something I could not do alone.  And I am so very grateful that I have a God Who cares!  (1 Peter 5:7)  And even now, when I struggle with loneliness, I can turn to Him and He gives me strength to get up, move, do something. 

I think we all want to matter.  We all want to make a difference while we are here on planet earth. We may not know what that difference is until we see Jesus, but until then, we are called to be faithful.  I am called to be faithful.  Have I done everything I was placed in this generation to do?  Well, I will continue to walk one step at a time, in His grace, until He calls me home.  I will be sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when I am being lazy and, also, when I am overdoing it.  And when He calls me home, I will relax in His presence and continue to do His will for eternity.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Will I dance for you, Jesus?

One day in first grade, my young teacher had us lay down on drawing paper and she drew around us to create our silhouette. Then she told us to draw and color what we wanted to be “when we grew up.” The empty “canvas” did not scare me at all. I drew myself as a ballet dancer, pink tutu and all.  I proudly took my rolled-up-and-tied masterpiece home and Mom helped me tape it to the back of my bedroom door. It stayed there until the corners were so torn, they could not be taped up anymore and the paper had become discolored. 

As I grew, I realized I didn’t have the grace or the talent that it would take to be a ballerina. I left the twirling to the tiny dancer in my jewelry box and turned my sights on more left-brained career choices.  I never lost my fascination with the graceful art of ballet, though. I have yet to convince Man of the House that we need to see The Nutcracker Ballet, but each year I try.  I marvel at the raw talent of the children in recitals and watch with fascination as the few grow into graceful young ballerinas. 

Lately, I have been listening to music with almost a new ear.  I’ve been more intent on listening to the music itself rather than just enjoying the lyrics.  I don’t know music any better than I know ballet, but I’m learning to ride the highs and lows, the ins and outs, the passionate emphases of certain parts of the melody and recognize the balance that the harmony brings. 

So, it should have been no surprise when I woke from a beautiful dream a few nights ago in which a ballerina was dancing to a song that I’d been listening to over and over for a while.  But I was surprised. I woke with a feeling of fulfillment and peace in my heart, as if I had been the dancer. The song is a worship song that I’ve loved from the moment I heard it; it’s one that I sometimes sing along to and other times, I just listen and weep. 

Another song I love has these lyrics:
Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all?”


Maybe my dream was my soul letting me know that I may one day be able to dance my worship, when I am finally in the presence of the Lover of my Soul. Jesus, I can’t wait for the day when my five-year-old self can gracefully praise You with the dance. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Preparing for Family


As I prepare our home for the holiday season, I find myself anticipating the looks on the kids’ faces as they step into the house.  I’ve tried to make every room welcoming and I place little surprises around for them to find.  They could be reminders of holidays past or something I found on our travels that will bring a smile to their hearts. I move things around often, just to keep the house alive and “homey.”


Recently, one of them told me they feel like they finally have a “home.”  The same one that, as much as we all loved spending time with friends, would innocently look at me on a random Saturday morning and say, “Can it just be our family today?”  And we would circle the wagons for a while.
 
Funny thing about this life is that, as our family grows, “just our family” includes new people like A Sweet Thing, Little Bit, and others that may join our crew.  This family started with two imperfect people, some audacious dreams, and barely two pennies to scrape together and make a fire. The growth has been amazing, adventurous, and sometimes alarming. Because hearts and homes tend to grow when love fills them.


So, as the air cools off and the nights get longer, I’m decorating our home with our family in mind.  Because, truth be told, my heart, too, is refreshed when, sometimes, it’s “just our family today.”

Another Blessed Birthday


So, I’ve had another birthday, Praise God!  Another ride around the sun.  And I can say with full confidence that this has been a great year!  I’m looking forward to another wonderful year, too.
Man of the House and I are realizing one of the dreams we had as a young couple:  traveling.  Now, I know some of you that know us well may be laughing at that statement.  Considering that we have been married 32 years and have moved 24 times, lived in 8 different states, and have friends all around the globe, it may seem like we would have had our fill.  We are both explorers at heart, though, and have made it our habit to find out everything we could about every place that we have lived.

I really dislike the term “Empty Nesters.”  It sounds so final.  The fact is, we still enjoy spending time with our children and their families.  Whenever we see something new or amazing, we talk about how much the kids would love this, too.

 Recently, we were in Minnesota enjoying the autumn colors and some of the 10,000 lakes she boasts. Oh, and I also shopped at the Mall of America for the first time. Wow!  Wasn’t that an experience!  So many different people all in one place.  The smiles, the excitement, the fun sounds of the kids on the amusement park rides – I did some people watching. We are certainly a nation of many different people groups. 

What I realized on the plane heading home is that, no matter how much we have already seen, there is still so much more to be experienced.  So many more places to wander, people to meet, and things to do.  Sometimes, the day-to-day can get in the way of our vision. Just when I think this is “how it’s going to be,” Man of the House comes home with another adventure in the wings.


 If I remember correctly, it was his spontaneity and laughter that originally drew my heart to him.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

End of Summer

I have to say, this has been an awesome summer for me.  As much as I love autumn, it is going to be difficult to say goodbye to the summertime of love and family that we’ve been enjoying. 


For the first part of summer, I was able to take our lively 8-year-old granddaughter to see my own mother in another state.  We took my Charger on a trip halfway across the country together, stopping whenever we felt like it, learning things about each other.  I think, for me, the best part was seeing all the things I grew up on in new ways through her eyes.  To see her interact with my Mom was amazing.  Little Bit was so gracious to want to help take care of Grandmom’s needs.    She also got to hang out with her Aunt and Great-Aunts and Uncles and get to know them.  For me, watching a new generation form and take its place in our family fills me with hope and joy. 


This summer, I was also able to spend a lot of time with our grown children.  When Man of the House and I were first married, we decided to start a family early so that now we can enjoy life together with them.  Sitting with Panda while she tells me about her job and her friend’s wedding delights my soul.  Seeing her giving and giving and giving again to those she loves, her family, blesses me and plays a little with the guilt strings in my heart. She fills my soul with grace and joy, and time spent at a poolside picnic table will never be enough, but will have to do for now.



I also spent much quality time with Cowboy. Just to see him growing into manhood amazes me.  His interaction with his own family brings peace and joy to my heart.  His hugs are always so good, all the way to my bones. A perfect day on the lake at the end of summer just made my year. I truly did not want It to end. His Sweet Thing brings out the best in him, which is how it is supposed to be, right? I thank God for her daily, too.  And, oh, yes, there was music! 



Man of the House and I just returned from a vacation to the West Coast where we toured, boated and walked together for four days. We were never more than a mile from the Pacific Ocean.  Such a dreamy time for us; another wish of our honeymooner-selves come true. God has been good to us.


All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother and to live inside that dream for 32 years and counting is a real blessing from God.  I’m not saying it’s all been beaches and roses, but I’m saying the work, worry, struggles, love and blessings all mixed together are definitely worth another 32 or more years. By the grace of God, I plan to live in every minute He allows.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Listening to Summer

I’m feeling lazy today, like I just want to sit here with my coffee and listen to summer coming on.  Summer is the season for laziness, isn’t it?  The neighborhood pool is open, the shade trees are full and picnic-ready, and the birds are singing to each other. 

Man of the House has been diligently working on our flowerbeds, redoing the stone around each one.  We were very blessed to move into a beautifully landscaped yard.  Most of the plants are succulents, too, so we haven’t had to worry about upkeep too much. The trees in the backyard are out on the edge of the property, which gives us a big empty yard full of grass for the kids and dogs to enjoy.

As beautiful as it looks from the road, up close we found some issues that needed attention. The felt liner under the ground cover was torn and showing through in all four beds and around the side yards. There were weeds amongst the ground cover and areas that had once had clean edges were now a mix of weeds, grass, and ground cover.  The hostas needed thinning, as well as the irises. Missouri rock that was once a stone path for rain run-off needed to be bulked up.  English Ivy had taken over one corner of the house, which looks beautiful but can bring unwanted guests and hide any problems that need attention in that area. 



Oh so diligently and purposeful, Man of the House made his plan and has worked on it a little each weekend as he can.  We’ve also received a little help from some of “our kids,” which is more than appreciated.  People walk by and remark how nice it looks, even though it was so pretty before. 


I think sometimes in life we have this same experience.  We go along daily, doing our thing, whatever that may be.  We take care of ourselves, we engage in our community, we take care of our responsibilities.  People might praise us and tell us how great we are doing and how nice our life looks.  We take pride in our accomplishments, as we should.  We get busy in doing the big stuff and forget the maintenance involved in keeping up with the little things. Attitudes creep in and we may become hardened to the soft answer.  A closer look would take time, and that is a commodity we just don’t have in abundance. 

And so, as we found with our yard, the “moles” come in.  First just one mole, maybe someone said something negative about a project you helped with at work, and you decide you aren’t going to try that hard next time just to be criticized.  That mole tells his friends, and soon you have a “mole party” in your yard.  You begin to see everything at work through that first offense and now everything at work looks criticized and you begin to gossip about the motives of your bosses or coworkers.  You realize you may have a poor attitude so you decide to look for the good and just do your best.  However, you still harbor those feelings of criticism deep inside.  You fight the complacency that wants to set in until you just can’t fight it anymore. The situation has become too overwhelming.

We treated the mole problem in our yard with a home remedy that seemed to work for a few weeks.  But then, Mr. Mole and his friends came by, just to check on things, and found that the yard was yummy once again.  Someone in your community or family asks a question and that insecurity comes rising up in you and feels criticized once again.  Only now, you feel worse than you did before because you never really took care of the issue the first time.  You only delayed correction.

We had to get a professional involved.  He was kind not to laugh when I told him of the home remedy we tried.  He acknowledged that it could work in some instances, but we had evidence of twelve or more moles tearing up our yard. (I know, right!) They were having way too much fun at our expense.  I had visions of them all coming out in the dark of night and snickering at us as they dug new trenches for us to find in the morning.  Perhaps they even sat around the fire pit and put their feet up.
 
The professional mole guy finished his treatment yesterday.  Now the moles just have to take the bait, all the while snickering at us, until they find they can’t make it back home.  Muahaha!  And that, Mr. Mole, is the circle of life. 

In life, we must ask for help as the deep hurt that sin or something someone has said or done continues to haunt us.  Many times, we may even have to pay a professional to do the deep, hard work with us. 

What I have found that is a much less expensive solution is to keep up with the gardening daily.  Pull a weed when I see it instead of thinking I will do it later.  The first sign of a mole and the pro is called in.  If I read my Bible intentionally each day, talk to God and admit that I need His help and expertise, I can usually fend off the weeds of bad attitudes and wearing my emotions on my sleeve.  With His Word in my heart, I see things differently.  With God’s grace as an example, I am more prepared to give grace to others. 


It’s a matter of diligence. Due diligence.  Stay ahead of the weeds and moles and look at your bad attitudes and say, “Be gone!  In the name of Jesus, you are not a part of MY circle of life!”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memories




It is deliciously cool outside today; a coffee-on-the-porch kind of day.  Man of the House and I have  lived in so many different climates in our years together, and each place, each home, has had those days when I just want to curl up with a hot drink, a blanket and a really good book. 

It had been twenty years between the time we had left the Desert Southwest and our return.  It surprised me how much I had forgotten about the desert.  The sights, the people, the different cacti, and the smell.  We were blessed to have a deep back porch on our condo where my sweet poodle and I could sit and enjoy the outdoors together, even on a rainy day.  In the South and Midwest (think Kansas), It can rain sideways, in circles, in sheets, and if you are on the porch or deck, you are definitely going to get wet.  However, in the desert, when it rains, it rains straight down. 



I remember that first good rain after our return.  I saw it moving across the desert from the south toward our neighborhood.  I could smell the dust that precedes the storm.  It brought back memories of monsoon season as a child, when we would have to go in the house from playing. Mom might have popped some popcorn and we would play board games or watch TV.  (Remember After School Specials?)  The rain never lasted very long, and with the windows open, we could feel the air cool off almost instantly. But it was the smell AFTER the rain that stayed strongest in my memories. The smell of greasewood and wet earth.  Memories of breathing deeply and smelling that fresh air all the way to my lungs and back.    You can’t bottle that smell. 

As my faithful companion and I sat on our porch the afternoon of that first rain, my mind rushed with memories.  My lungs were so happy to breath the fresh air.  I already had my coffee and a good book, so while the rain lasted, we just enjoyed every second of it.  I didn’t get up to get a sweater; the rain wouldn’t last that long.  I didn’t even warm up my coffee.  I just sat in that deliciously cool moment and thanked God for being so creative as to make even the rain in myriad ways.

And I also gave thanks for the memories.