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


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. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Actually written on January 1, 2010

Proverbs 4:20-27

I have thought many times about what legacy I would like to leave for my children. I know that a legacy is so much more than the material things we leave behind. I am blessed to have been given a legacy of loving and knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ. My parents were determined to raise us in a Christian home and I, too, have been given that legacy of determination.

There are so many scriptures that give us encouragement in our spiritual growth--our sanctification. I have considered many for this legacy that I wish to leave. My children are just now in their young adult years, making those life-decisions of career, marriage partner, spiritual depth, etc. Today being January 1st also causes me to reflect on what is "most important" for me to say or leave for these awesome young adults God has placed in my life.

I could tell them about being careful in decisions because each one can take you to a whole different outcome! I could make lists and give them something to check off and measure their growth. I could remind them of their spiritual heritage and exhort them to good deeds. However, as I look through scriptures today, I see one theme standing out: Love the Lord your God. Love for God inspires us to all the other things we "should" do. Love for God focuses on HIM, not me. Love for God makes decisions based on HIS pleasure, not mine. Love for God brings repentance for relationship's sake, not to ease MY guilt.

And so. my dear children, I leave the words of this scripture for you as 2010 begins. Enough said.

Making Lists

I feel like I am sitting on the edge of something. I feel the restlessness that springtime brings; trees are greening, flowers are blossoming, rains come softly on some days and angrily on others. We’re waiting, mostly impatiently, for the days to stay warm and get longer. I feel the need to make a list; is that funny? I’m making a list of all the things that are swimming around in my head, things I want to do before the sun goes down and the leaves fall once more.

• Take a family vaca to Washington DC and the beach
• Take a trip to Savannah
• Spend time with my Mom
• Spend time with my adult children
• Go through the junk in the basement
• Get the basement finished
• Fence the backyard and get Man of the House’s shop building up.
• Spend more time outside than in
• Lose some measurable weight
• Take the kids to the Grand Canyon
• Make all the recipes in one Pioneer Woman Cookbook

Realistically, all of these cannot be done in one season. I have already planned some of these and others are in the works, like the yard changes that Man of the House has been working on. However, as we are planning, dreaming, implementing our ideas, I can’t help but feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. We’ve been dreaming of having our own home for over 30 years. We’ve dreamed it so much that it seems almost surreal for us to actually be able to do it!

I believe that, at times, we all have dreams and ambitions that we are afraid will stay right there, in the dream box. Like my Pinterest boards, where I have three separate categories for different levels of home pins, we have the things we wish we could do, the things we can do “someday,” and the things we know we can and probably should be doing right now. I also think that procrastination is a response to fear: fear that I can’t really do these things well, or perfectly, or for others to see and criticize, so I procrastinate until it’s too late. Sound familiar?

It has taken me many years of fighting perfectionism that leads to procrastination to realize that it is okay to have list left over at the end of the day. You may have noticed quite a bit of time between today and the date of my last blog post. I took a few years hiatus due to a traumatic brain injury that I suffered. You want to talk about circumstances and experiences that will choke a perfectionist, this would be one. It is quite humbling to be in a situation where you cannot take care of your own personal needs, then to realize there are things you have enjoyed that you may never be able to do again. I know that others have it worse, don’t get me wrong. Change, no matter how life-altering, is difficult for most.

So, back to my list: Spring is coming on, and with it comes the hope of a new view, maybe even a new reality. Hang on, My Friends! By God’s grace, a new future is opening up for me, and I plan to share as much of it with you as is possible. Because, under all of the excuses, the procrastination, and the fear, is just imperfect Me splitting infinitives for posterity, if nothing else.