Land of the Air Conditioned Free

I’ve mentioned before in my blog the age of this home. It never ceases to amaze me when I look up at the stone boldly declaring the year on the front of our house. In 1883 it had been 107 years since the birth of this country. An Irishman had made his way from New York to this little place taking advantage of our freedoms and amassing wealth along the route. This was something he obviously had left his homeland for: to pursue a dream only this land would allow. Maybe our history seemed just as distant to him then as it does to me now another 135 years later…but our ability to accomplish the same things still exists.

I try to imagine life in 1883, and to some small degree I can. July has roared in with a heat wave which we’ve welcomed with almost all of our 26 original windows open. We, in the year 2018, do not have the modern air conditioning every single one of our neighbors have. I cried at the beginning of the still unfinished task of refinishing these windows a couple of years back. “Why on earth are there so many?”. I am reminded once again. AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW. Cross drafts are an amazing ancient concept. I am grateful on days like these for an opening in each direction. I am also thankful for the luxury of the fans placed in front of said windows….something the owner of this home did not have in 1883.

When I think about that my mind does wander to a time not long before when soldiers marched in July heat wearing woolen uniforms fighting over our broken country. As I sweat just walking out to the barn my imagination wanders to such things. I’ve received comments on our lack of ‘air’ like: “how do you survive?” Oh, I guess like people have for centuries only with skimpier cotton clothing and several fans.

Modern convenience aside, I am thankful for what God birthed here all those years ago. There is greatness in this land far deeper than we recognize. The majority, myself included, are so far removed from what the rest of the world is like.

Everyday I get to look at flowers grown on the background of a green lawn which we own. I take pictures on my cell phone of kittens born in piles of hay raised on the family farm…which has been in the family for almost four generations now. We eat the fruit of the land and are free to do with it as we please.

I went to the grocery store this morning driving one of the four vehicles we own. I bought buns, brats, sparklers, and glow sticks to celebrate our independence at the lake tomorrow. We will travel without permission and enjoy all that we take for granted. Crazy thing is…we aren’t even considered rich. Try lower middle class. Ya.

I’m sure I will engage in conversation about my God and His goodness without being arrested. At some point tomorrow I’m also sure to crack open a book that is banned in many other places. Its called the Bible. (Another precious thing we take for granted). Are you tearing up yet? Because I am.

Catapulting through this year, now in its seventh month, I’ve been challenged to see things with new eyes. I have not forgotten my statement of purpose from the New Year: make my days be filled with purposeful force. I said back on January 1 that the heat was increasing and time is filled with an urgency. As my brow beads I feel it quite literally to be true.

Upon the founding of this nation men and women sacrificed much against what looked like terrible odds. With tenacity our forefathers rose to make possible everything I enjoy today. They had invisible forces intervening on their behalf just as we do, but do we attack with the same fervor for our future?

Some of the freedoms they fought for are in peril. 2 Chronicles 7:14 gives us the solution. When we lift our humble prayers and return to God from sinful ways He heals our land.

While enjoying our freedoms tomorrow take a moment to look up and thank God who made it possible. Remember that our jobs, 401K, and stock market yields aren’t what has made us prosperous. The fancy boats flying across the lake aren’t what mark the successes of life. Big grills laden with meat aren’t what fill us at the end of the day….and when you fall asleep in your air conditioned room on a pillowtop mattress remember that its only by Gods grace you have a place to sleep at all.

Happy Independence Day!

‘Home is Where Love is Always Found’ says the glass vase I place my flowers and American flag in…may I remember Love is found in homes across this world far less ‘cushy’ than my own.
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A Trip to Narnia

The last few days I’ve been down for the count unable to do much of anything. While laying on the couch yesterday I was very appreciative that my nine year old buddy knew mom just wasn’t able to play. He brought a movie over to me instead and asked if we could watch it together. I was delighted to see the choice he’d made. Narnia. It’s one I really like and hadn’t seen for a long time.

When I was a little girl I read the series of C.S. Lewis books a couple of times. They aren’t just stories. They are his interpretations of scripture: the stories of redemption. That fact didn’t escape me as a child and I remember crying when Aslan the great lion (Jesus) died.

When I heard years back that these books were going to be made into movies I hoped they’d stay true to the underlying themes that make them so powerful. They have so far. I hope they follow through with the rest of the series.

Only one of my children has read the books, though I’ve encouraged them each to do so. I think this may be my little buddies year. I saw a lightbulb come on as we watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. As he sat next to me he began to ask questions, and then interpret the storyline. We talked about why little Lucy was the first to discover the wardrobe: how childlike faith led the way despite adult logical reasoning. He saw the forces of evil trying to lure Edmond with all that looks good on the outside being only a trap to destroy him. He saw forgiveness and told me how Aslan would trade his trade life to save Edmonds from the penalty of his sin. Tears came to my eyes as he knew Aslan would return to life and help the “Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve”. He fights right along side them to the end. He doesn’t win the war for them, but brings extra help to turn the overwhelming tide that had been against them.

I was surprised at some of the parallels my little guy came up with. At one point in the movie he says, “you know that story in the Bible when those two guys (Elisha and his servant, 2 Kings 6) saw angels there to help them…we always have extra help we don’t know about”. He was referring to the trees working along side the Narnians against the Witch. I could only smile and agree. Such an important thing to figure out early on in life.

Though I’m not overly excited I’ve lost a few days to not feeling well, I’m thankful for the opportunity we had to watch that together. Had I been at my best I would’ve been bustling around doing what I do. We would not have had those all important moments.

A Monumental Task

The farm I grew up on is only about twenty minutes from our home, and yet I don’t get out that way often enough it seems. So last week when my husband asked if I’d like to pay my grandma a visit while he ran some errands that direction I took him up on the offer.

As we sat at her kitchen table discussing life time flew all too quickly. Before I knew it over an hour had passed and a familiar figure stood in the doorway patiently waiting for my visit to come to an end. As I stood to meet my husband grandma grabbed my hand and motioned me to follow her. In the small bedroom adjacent to the kitchen there lay a black garbage bag on top of the bed. Several times in the past I have taken things to the Salvation Army for her so I assumed it was more of the same. She asked if I’d do her a favor…”of course, yes grandma, what do you need?”

“Would you finish this for me?” My curiosity piqued. Exactly what had I agreed to? Loosening the ties she revealed the pink fabric edge of a quilt still in its frame. Oh wow- I gulped. “It’s almost finished. I can’t do it anymore.” She need explain no further.

Trying not to look overwhelmed I closed the bag and took it without another glimpse. I have three unfinished quilts here at the house- like REALLY unfinished. Still in pieces. But for grandma it will top my to do list. She wants me to give it to my daughter…finished. I’m assuming she would like to see this yet in her lifetime. I’m hurrying.

A quilt is a tall order, but finishing a quilt of grandmas is a tall order I accept with hopes of doing it justice. She has been quilting for over three quarters of a century. Along side several women known as The Raisin Sewing Circle grandma made quilts, lap robes, and other projects for the shut in’s, new mothers, and even museum quality public display. I don’t know offhand when the group had its official beginning but I find newspaper archives dating back to WWII. Since grandma was born in 1920 and her mother was a founding member, I’m pretty sure she was there. On this Memorial weekend I envision a group of women in day dresses sewing for the war effort.

I remember attending several meetings myself alongside grandma in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. I was young but I wasn’t bored. Most of the women were advanced in years at this time but their names and smiles are forever etched in my memory. I see cozy sitting rooms spread with tea trays filled with tasty treats like finger sandwiches, and of course jello-(in many molded varieties). Minutes of previous meetings would be read, as well as business agendas, before the gossip would begin to fly along side the needles. Usually participants would show off their own special creations, but meetings had a common goal everyone would work on.

I recall a meeting held at grandmas home where everyone sat around a quilt stretched out at least four feet by six or seven over a giant frame constructed and erected by my grandpa. It took the place of the dining room table. I don’t know how old I was but the images are vivid memories. It was just like what you’d imagine of a good old quilting bee. Maybe one you’ve seen in an old movie or read about in a book. Each lady was stitching intently in a particular section while she talked-making quick work of the tiny stitches. Imagine between 6 and 12 areas being worked on all at once.

I say all of this because once I reached home I emptied the contents of the bag to study my new project. Beautiful fabrics of different colors and patterns create stars on a field of white and pink about the size of a full bed. I picked up a needle..one grandma had left years ago. I laced it with thread. In a shade of pink slightly darker than the rest I began my own stitches in this nearly complete work of art. I want my stitches to never be confused with hers….she’s the stand out.

But once I began I found several strands of thread left unfinished in various places around the quilt: which left me to wonder. Was this a sewing circle quilt? Do I have the work of women (whose faces live in my memory) sitting in a bag in my living room? Just the thought brought a feeling akin to awe. So I rechecked the stitches for uniformity verses differences. Each lady would have a unique pattern or style…but I couldn’t tell, yet I can think of no other explanation for multiple lengths of thread without needles. I will ask grandma when I see her next. I fear she may not recall. In either case I am honored to take on the task. In either case I get to finish a piece of history that my daughter will no doubt treasure for her lifetime.

Suddenly Spring

A couple of weeks ago I stood in the just warm sunlight hanging laundry on the line. I wondered when Spring would get its act together as I looked over at the naked flower bed. Lilac bushes had yet to leaf out. Daffodils and tulips had poked through the ground but their swollen buds refused to open. It was as if everything was waiting, suspended in time.

A day or two after those musings the sun turned up its thermostat. Literally, overnight, everything popped open. Just as I’d suspected, with the addition of a missing ingredient, Spring plowed forward in full measure. Within a weeks time the daffodils came and went. The weeping cherry filled with blossoms and it has been snowing on the walk ever since. The lilac bushes went from completely naked to blooming in just two weeks. The transformation is amazing. It was a SUDDENLY.

I love that word: suddenly. A “suddenly” is something that you’ve long waited for and it appears as though may never come…..but then, in the blink of an eye, change comes. Atmospheres, circumstances, appearances all change. Its almost as if what was before never existed. Suddenly, all traces of winter were gone. Spring had taken over.

Hanging out the laundry once again the other day these thoughts tumbled around in my head. It’s not that Spring just happened. Though appearances would make one believe that, the truth is that slowly, ever so slowly, the change had been taking place. Underneath April’s snows the ground had been thawing for a couple of months. Dormant bulbs had been coming back to life. The grass had been greening up. Even those naked lilac stems had life stirring inside of them. Spring was happening without much visual evidence. It was happening under the surface all along.

How that echoed in my heart. I pondered the seeds, roots, and stems that appear to be dormant in my life. There are areas I’ve been waiting for the “suddenlies” of God. It appears as though nothing changes day after day and yet, because my season is coming, I know one day it will dawn on me how overnight everything changed. There are genuine instantaneous miracles. There are also things we contend for over time. We wait. We patiently wait knowing there is much happening in unseen realms. Nothing remains hidden forever. Spring leaves, flowers, and fruit transform what only a day or two before looked barren. This is faith: knowing that I cannot look at appearances as there are so many unseen things happening I just have to trust God with. He is working behind the scenes, laying the groundwork, bringing to life those things I planted long ago. What things look like vs. what they are….

For everything there is a season. With renewed trust I know I’ve planted good seed. It is being watered. Trust me-heat has been applied. So now I wait.

Metamorphosis

Yesterday was damp, and dark, but nothing outside our windows could cover the rays cast by the sunshine inside of our home. Our daughter celebrated her 21st birthday-so it was her day. The boys still did their school, and the house still needed tidied for visiting family later in the evening, but after a quick lunch we headed to our favorite coffee joint just to hang out. The rain allowed for dad to meet up with us too for extra smiles.

I guess to outsiders it may seem strange to see a family all having coffee, mid-day, together, intentionally, without being bribed or forced. Its something I love about us. We don’t always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day our grown up kids still claim us as friends as well as family. For this I say thank you to God above.

When our baby girl entered this world 21 years ago she showed her colors from the get go. She wanted to do it her way, in her time. She wanted to be born backward and upside down…she fought the doctor, and me, all the way to her entrance into her yet unknown world. She liked her comfort zone. She let us know how unhappy she was in her new world too-for about a year, every night- unless she was swinging. That baby swing may have saved my life, and hers. Oh but those piercing blue eyes, and her infectious giggle, how they won us over. Her sweet spirit towered over those first shaky nights following her through youth into adulthood. She is kind, nurturing, wise, cautious yet adventurous, sassy and sweet, all wrapped in the beautiful shell of a Godly young woman.

Her first Easter…see those eyebrows??? It’s how we know what she’s thinking. I love that she has shown us her thoughts from the very beginning.

Looking at her now I ask in amazement “how did this happen?” How has this freckled little spitfire become a young lady already?

During our family celebration last night we watched a video her Nana had made which included most of our daughters special moments, as well as so many everyday times she had thought to capture, all set to music. To watch her grow up in a thirty minute time frame was breathtaking. I can only compare it to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. (Mark my words, upon reading this she will immediately think of a movie line…it’s one of her things.) The closing photos were set to Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl”. Unbeknownst to Nana, it is THE special daddy/daughter song in this home. Upon hearing the first notes my husband looked at her and blurted “Really Mother!” Thank the Lord above for that laugh because without it I would’ve become a blubbering mess.

To launch happy healthy children into the world as happy healthy adults is hopefully the goal of every parent. When it actually appears as though this parenting experiment has been a success I breathe a sigh of relief wrapped in a huge number of prayers for her continued protection as well as guidance. What else can we do now? Our job isn’t finished, but our role with her has changed. We stand back and watch her soar.

The sweet young lady she has become…

Expecting the Unexpected

Phew…where have two weeks gone? It seems more time has come between my posts than usual and when I finally get a chance to write it’s like shell shock…woe…we’ve done an awful lot in two weeks.

One of our birthday celebrations…we couldn’t even get the cake right. He had two. See, another example of the unexpected.
The Easter that went “as planned”

The topic of my last post, Easter, has come and gone. So have two birthdays, a new drivers license, a Spring break, and several misc. activities along the way. Nothing this year has been ‘typical’. I’m getting the feeling that this is to be expected throughout 2018. For instance: A family Easter that was finally planned for grandma’s house wasn’t even celebrated with her at all because of an emergency wisdom tooth removal. Hers. At 97 she went through oral surgery on Good Friday. Who’d have thunk.

For that matter, its still snowing on April 9th. In Michigan that’s not terribly uncommon but these cold temps have held most of the country. Makes me go “hmmmmmm”.

Expect the unexpected? That may be this years motto. I’m not afraid of that at all. Its good for us to get out of some routine’s to experience the fullness of something else. I trust God has our days planned. If I can just relax my hold enough to go with it I’d make things much easier on myself.

I’m already finding this summer is to be the summer of travel as well. I think. That’s the current plan anyway. (See previous paragraphs) In the last couple of weeks three trips have gone onto the calendar in addition to what was already on there. Two of them are “finally” trips: ones I have been hoping and praying about for quite a long time. Upon trying to plan one of them I was in knots. I couldn’t find the right rooms for a decent price, there are questions of timing, and even what we are traveling in. It all started to be a giant headache, literally. But this is something I REALLY want to do…so I’m going to. I’ve been given a green light so I’m trusting something greater than myself and my careful planning that it will be alright. I’m trusting that God has something far greater in store than I can even ask or think. It will all be okay. It might not necessarily be my way, the way I have it worked out on paper, but it will be in a good way.

Why do we tend to hold on so tight to plans and tomorrows that aren’t ours to begin with? The strain of trying to figure it all out isn’t ours to bear. I’m not saying we are to go through life without hopes or plans, just that ultimately He makes and changes them, so being open to those changes is necessary. He knows what is best.

With that I leave this today wondering even what this next week holds. More snow?, a long awaited touch of Spring?, more plans?, or changed ones?, whatever comes down the pipeline I know someone who isn’t taken by surprise so in Him I will trust. The way this year is going you’d better trust Him too!

Traditions

It’s a sunny Monday morning here in Southeast Michigan. As we begin another school week here at the table I reach for a cup of coffee; cup number two that is. It has been a full couple of weeks here at our home and the pace will increase as we come around the bend to April. We have Easter, birthdays, and the beginning of many spring events. The only thing missing from this equation is Spring! Where are you my warm flowery friend? I’ve been waiting for your arrival. You’re late this year. Busyness would be easier to handle with the scent of hyacinth wafting through the air. My still naked weeping crab apple is looking sadly at me through the glass I still can’t open because the breeze is chilly enough to make the furnace run. Ah well- things don’t happen just because we’re ready for them to.

With Easter only six days away not only am I mourning the lack of spring but I’m questioning what our plans even are. I don’t like to ‘wing’ things. Apparently I want my seasons on time and my plans laid out.😏

A bit of Easter decor in our home

We usually gather with each side of the family, but it has been hard to get either side to even talk about if, or what, they’d like to do this year. Maybe I will make a ham dinner here with an open invite instead: come if you’d like and this is what we are doing. No offense meant to either family, as members from each may read this….

Traditions change like the bends of a river. They are still there but over time they alter their course. It’s okay. It’s the natural cycle of things. I get it: everyone is busy these days. The only thing I refuse to change is seeing my grandma at some point on Easter Sunday. I’ve only missed one in…I won’t say how many years. Some of my fondest little girl memories are of Easters filled with mounds of food at grandmas table. Aunt Jan would place a chocolate bunny or some such cuteness at each childs plate and we would spend the afternoon playing in our Easter finery-with warnings not to destroy our pretty dresses.

Our prettiest little dresses were made the year we spent Easter in Texas visiting family there. Hand smocked, my mom had spent hours on each of the matching dresses for my sister and I. I’ve kept it all these years and would love to show you a picture but it’s neatly packed away. My daughter wore it for an Easter and maybe some day she or one of the boys will have a daughter who would like to wear it as well.

The one thing I’m noticing as the years have come and gone is the feeling that holidays seemed to matter more to people when I was younger. I saw the preparations first hand. There was an excitement that built along with them because the coming day was important. I don’t want to lose that. Now everyone just seems too tired to care much. Last minute will do just fine just to “get it done”. If Easter was only a man-made tradition then I guess it could fade with time…but it’s not. We are supposed to be celebrating something monumentally important.

One of my sons birthdays is this weekend as well. We will have chocolate cake and ice cream after his favorite birthday meal. We will give him gifts because we love him. It’s not an obligation. It’s a choice. We are celebrating his life.

The picture of how we celebrate, what it looks like each year, may change. But celebrate we will. Whether it be a birthday or Easter, there’s going to be a party. Can I celebrate my risen Savior any less than the birth of a son?

Nothing To Hide

Almost a quarter of the year is gone-so soon- and its been a time of depth for me: searching of the heart and soul. I long for the things that make us beautiful on this earth and in the life to come.

The last couple of weeks have revealed some ugly things. We are flawed. That fact is not a new revelation so I should not be surprised to see ugly surface when I’ve asked God to set things right….but how to handle ugly when it arises???

Yesterday we had the opportunity to see beautiful. Two special cousins chose to be baptized so we made the trip to celebrate their decision with them. They are young ladies on the edge of adulthood wanting to publicly declare their wish to serve a God who loves them. As their earthly daddy brought them up from the water symbolizing so much to their Heavenly Daddy my heart sang with joy. It’s only one of many stands these girls will have to make in their lifetime.

Also included in this baptismal service was a young lady from Russia. I do not know the entirety of her story; only that with great strength she told of her past life in an orphanage where she was told no one could or would love her. But for the grace of God a family followed the Spirits leading and took her into their home ten years ago. As the man who took over that fatherly role on this earth baptized her in her native tongue I broke inside. Oh the choices we make-small and large-that affect lives for eternity.

On our own home front an incident occurred a little over a week ago to illustrate my point on a simpler level. We let our youngest hunt Starlings under some strict guidelines: he knows where he can hunt in the yard so as to not hit passing cars, our neighbors, or our windows. He knows gun safety rules to protect himself. He knows to only shoot Starlings. No songbirds. After seeing a group in the tree he asked permission to go out. I said yes and continued on with my activity. About fifteen minutes later I heard a soft knock on my door. Upon entry I saw tears and a quivering lip. What on earth! I expected something bad. This little man was clearly shaken. After a hug he spilled the fact that the bird he’d successfully shot was a red-wing black bird. He’d been too hasty in his identification, too quick to fire, and too late to save one of my favorite little songbirds. He was devastated. What stirred me was his example of quick admittance and then repentance for wrongdoing. What was done, was done. It would have been very easy for him to hide his error. How often we try to hide what we know to be wrong. It would have eaten him inside and he knew he couldn’t hide it from God…why do we think we can? Might as well get it taken care of. Once he had cleaned his conscience he asked his older siblings to help him make a grave marker. They buried the little bird by one of my flowerbeds.

Little bird even earned a name: Brite T

Its marker is a reminder of the acts of obedience that form our lives. It starts with the small things. Setting aside errors leads to setting aside full blown sins …larger issues that hurt on a larger scale. It is a heart condition.

Those adults entrusted with care of children in an orphanage only to damage them in ways only God can fix is a prime example. Maybe the wrong wasn’t seen by others initially, but the results are far reaching telling the tale. There will be times when those close to us damage us, intentionally or non. The handling of such circumstances requires grace and forgiveness we can only find in the arms of a loving Father.

Our words, our thoughts, our ‘hidden’ actions all make a mark. There is nothing truly hidden, but it’s never too late to let God turn ugly into beautiful.

No Annie Oakley

Ahhh-I hear….a clock ticking. After a seemingly long, and at times exasperating, Monday the lone tick of an old clock is welcome. The youngest has been put to bed and the others are away or busy. So here I sit, now able to replay the day in my mind. I laugh. Now.

This day began too early for my liking by this boy complaining of a sore throat. He has been mentioning it repeatedly all weekend. I’ve prayed, consoled, offered lozenges, made him gargle salt water, viewed the said affected area by bright light at least ten times (to see not even a pink splotch). I’m not one to run to the pediatrician at a moments notice but my ‘wait it out’ philosophy was wearing thin. Mostly because my patience was. So by noon, on this fabulously sunny springlike Monday, we found ourselves prepping for a visit with the doctor. A one o’clock appointment awarded us with a negative strep test and an “I see absolutely nothing wrong, eat some chicken noodle soup”. Now on one hand I feel the sigh of relief but on the other the urge to cry at wasted time and no answer. Amazingly the simple knowledge the doctor had said he was fine cured him instantly. So much so that he didn’t need to drink the herbal tea I made him. He insisted he was totally better and wanted to play outside. I felt a tinge of anger rising. I made him drink the tea. Well most of it. Afterward we donned a hat and a light jacket for what was left of today’s nice weather.

Our yard is still a bit muddy from last weeks rain storms so bike riding and sports of most kinds were out. Even a nice walk is still a bit of a stretch. “How about let’s play bird watching?” Um, I’ve never heard him offer this option. It sounded relaxing so I agreed. A welcome sight and sound this week is the return of so many to play us their music again.

Once outside, I have to be honest, I was a bit confused. I saw little guy with two BB guns and two targets. He hands me ‘my gun’ and says “you ready?” I reply, “For—-??? Birdwatching?” He could not have missed the question on my face. He hurried to explain we were going to pretend to watch birds and then pick them out of the sky. A competition of sorts between the two of us. Naturally. This is no binocular in hand bird watching boy we’re talking about. What was I thinking? So we commenced shooting at our targets and one thing quickly became clear. I am no Annie Oakley. His bullseye was loaded with little BB holes and mine, well, lets just say I had a nice little group toward the top and right. Also a lot of ricochet noises. I may or may not have hit a couple of things in the distance as well. Thus began the giggles. He made an attempt to make me feel less inept by placing a new bullseye closer to my “group” so maybe I could hit that one. Still nope. I used to be so much better.

My sympathy target…on the bright side, its still good for him to use tomorrow.

It is said that age 8, which little guy is now, Annie Oakley could hit a squirrel running across her yard. By 15 she was competing. By adulthood shooting had become her livelihood. This turn of the century sharpshooter could hit a tossed dime, riddle playing cards aloft, snuff out candles with her bullets breeze, and even shoot the cigarette right out of her husbands mouth. Apparently at this stage in life I’d be lucky to hit most anything…or shall we say unlucky????😬

The amazing Annie Oakley

I certainly lost our “birdwatching” game but won quite a few smiles. By the time we came in for supper it was getting a bit late. My day of frustration had melded into laughter like the sun into the night.

Just for the record, there’s been no further mention of the nagging sore throat. I guess I’ll chalk that up as a win no matter how it came.

For the Love of Others

It has been nearly two weeks since I’ve shared a little piece of my heart on this site. We’ve had plenty of activity so I’ve had plenty of material to write about and yet, like having writers block, nothing has poured out until today. I’ve toyed with a few entries and upon starting them I just knew they weren’t right.

During this silent time we have had a snow storm dumping almost ten inches locally, the celebration of Valentines Day, a few appointments, a couple of social gatherings, and a church work day…not to mention all of the daily ins and outs of life we maneuver. The common thread weaving it all together as of late is people. Other people. Intentional use of ourselves for someone else.

Last year at this time it was sunny and warm…unseasonably warm. My facebook reminded me of that this morning. Fresh greenery was poking through deadend leaves as we walked through the woods. I remember taking in the too early scent of spring and revelling in it. I was thankful to “have made it through” another winter. It’s not typically my best season. For the last several years I have allowed it to pull me inward in a self preservation mode. Other people have always mattered to me, but the thought of how crippled going outside of my warm protected little box could leave me physically, mentally, and emotionally has kept me from my full potential. If it seems there is a lot to read into that last statement you are correct.

This year something has snapped. I don’t care how I feel; (well, we all prefer to feel good), I am not living just for me. I mean, I’ve known that all along in my head, but the change is that fear has been replaced by grace. It’s so easy to view life from my own standpoint knowing what I deem to be my breaking point rather than asking God what He would like me to do, or be, and then trusting Him for the grace and strength to do those things. Up until recently I’ve used the phrase “its all about balance” quite a bit. In and of itself it’s not a bad way to live, but, BUT, what is balance.? On my terms balance is based on how I feel. On a spiritual level balance is asking God how far He wants to take me. I may feel stretched, uncomfortable, and completely unbalanced while being smack dab right in the middle of what God is doing in and through me. Actually, that word may in the last sentence should read WILL. I will feel stretched, uncomfortable, and unbalanced.

What does that have to do with snow storms, a holiday, appointments, get togethers, and life you may be wondering..??? Let me weave a tapestry of sorts to create a picture of past versus present.

After a ten inch snowstorm I had to venture out alone to take my boys to their 4-H class because my husband volunteered to dig someone out. I was hoping he would be back in time to come with us not only because I wanted him to drive in the mess but because I like to spend that time with him. I waited for that disappointed selfish feeling to come when he wasn’t home in time, but it didn’t. It had been replaced by joy knowing someone else could safely be on their way because he took his time to help. Valentine’s Day (and Fat Tuesday) was celebrated with a greater joy by giving pieces of our time (and paczkis😂) to a few loved ones we hadn’t seen since Christmas. We then celebrated each other in our home by exchanging our little gifts.

I was also challenged a bit by my daughter who spent hours planning valentine games for her little brother’s enjoyment.

I hate appointments. They are an intrusion on my time. They annoy me…but what good does that do…..? Just go with a smile and hope to encourage someone else along the way. Typically I would let these routine things drag me down. There are some social gatherings I enjoy and others that are totally out of my comfort zone. I’ve had each this last couple weeks. At one point I even had tears come to my eyes wishing I was somewhere else…but then the realization immediately dawned that I wasn’t there for me anyway. It wasn’t about me at all. It wasn’t my party. Then my tears came because I realized how truly selfish I can be. Truly, the icing on the cake was yesterdays work day. I have no problem working. It’s actually where I’m most comfortable because I’m digging in doing something where I feel productive. I can see the results immediately. Ya, I’m not the most patient person at times. So anyway, as I’m on the floor doing a little scrubbing it dawns on me. I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing…without even thinking about it or second guessing how painful my joints could feel the next day. Good thing I was alone in that moment because once again a few tears fell. This is what I want. I don’t want my fears to control my boundaries. They do not need to dictate my normal. The link here for me in these miscellaneous seemingly mundane instances is that any one of them only a year ago would have put me under for an amount of time. In the last two weeks I’ve been granted grace to live outside of my own limitations for others….for their good. Isn’t that what its about? Changing focus from my viewpoint to God’s….what does He want me to do?, and whatever it is I know I can do all things through Him who gives me the strength. It’s not my strength. It’s not my agenda. This isn’t even my life in all honesty. It’s a gift to use…but what good is it if never given….. ?