Monthly Archives: January 2015

Patience

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” Winnie the Pooh & A.A. Milne

It was bound to happen. After two full weeks of staying home, knowing now that I shall not return to work, I began to look around me and take stock of the house. Little things that I would like to do, little things that need to be done, and little things that I need to send on to new homes. It was pretty easy going. I tackled each room before moving onto the next: starting with my bathroom, moving through the master bedroom, coasting through the living room, breezing through the yoga room, and sighing through the kitchen.

As my body moved to an old familiar rhythm, I began to take stock not just of my home but of my soul. I felt like the old hymn writer: It is well with my soul.

I’ve always loved the river. I suppose growing up in Evansville where the Ohio River is so dominant has a lot to do with it. I loved to sit and watch it flow past. My high school sat high on a hill over the river and I remember lots of chats standing on the sidewalk, looking out over the bowl, waiting for buses, and looking toward to the river.

I always hoped the river would take me somewhere far away: to a better place, a better life, a better me.

I hadn’t yet learned that everywhere I go, there I am. I would learn that, but not in that place. I married young (but happily) and Kelly joined the Air Force. Where the river wouldn’t take me the Air Force did. I saw so many amazing things. I did so many amazing things. I lived in the most incredible places. I lived in the most uninspiring places. I met the most extraordinary people. I met the most ordinary people.

30 years later . . . the Ohio River is my neighbor again. It is the same river, but a different city. I can bike there, or drive there, or hike there. I like knowing that the stream that runs through this land runs into a creek which runs right into the river.

I have learned to be gentle with myself. I have learned patience. The urge to run — to drift — has passed. I know, like the river knows, that I shall get there someday.

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honor

Honor –honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. The courage to do what is right, no matter what.

January sunlight is streaming through the windows. It is a rare and glorious sight. Too often, in the past, I have not noticed how it lights up the windows and a spot on the floor. Too often, I have ignored it because it doesn’t bring a great deal of warmth.

Yet today, I am curled up on the couch in a puddle of this delicious sunlight. One hour later and I would have missed it. It will have passed on to another angle and another spot. But for now, it is warmth, comfort, security, and promise. As I sit here the occasional thought that I should be doing something pops into my head. I shrug it off because, even though I followed through on the enlightenment that came at the end of my week of turmoil, I am still tender. It was like picking off a scab. You’re tender and pink underneath. I’ve been giving myself extra grace this week.

This extra grace has brought with it plenty of time to think and ponder. My thoughts have generally turned upon the concept of Honor.

Honor is such a funny word. I seem to know what it means, I see examples of it in the world around me, and yet the definition seems too cold, too formal. I am a huge King Arthur fan (and Doctor Who, and Lord Peter . . . and I do wonder what that says about me, but that is totally beside the point. I think.) I suppose what I am trying to say, and saying very poorly, is that I like my life to be transparent. I am who I am, and I would prefer it if everybody else is too. I desire to live a life of honor. I like my values to be lived out in my day-to-day life.

I suppose that is why I root for the underdog, defend the downtrodden, and am a warrior when it comes to my family. if we are all image-bearers of God, then we are all worthy of respect, dignity and honor.

What kind of world do I want? I want a world filled with honor.

hyperbole

Hyperbole — exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

It was an innocent comment, not meant to be taken literally, but here I am trying to explain hyperbole to a young man who takes 99% of things very literally.

It started early this morning with the revelation that Michael has poison ivy. In January. Everywhere. After a not-so-quick trip to the Doctor for shots of steroid and anti-allergy, another everlovin’ long stop at the pharmacy, and a 30 minute drive home my nerves (which are normally pretty regulated and not of Mrs. Bennet proportions) were shot. We stripped Michael’s bed and put on new blankets.

I looked into the laundry room and said, “I’ll never ever get that mountain of laundry done. Ever.” Michael raised his eyebrow, in true Spock fashion, and stated that while it may take me all day, I will certainly prevail and the laundry will get done. After a nice long sigh, I attempted to explain that I was exaggerating, because I felt like I would be doing nothing else but laundry today. He sort of shrugged, apologized for being a bother, and then crashed due to all the medications they gave him.

I started the washer and walked away feeling vaguely uneasy.

I sat here, surrounded by drying racks filled with laundry, trying to determine the root of my uneasiness. Finally it hit me. My reaction to a simple logistical problem made someone I love feel like a problem.

Due to choices I made, not to use commercial laundry soap (or at least, not very often) and not to have a dryer, laundry takes more time. Clothes can hang outside in nice weather, but in the winter and when it is rainy they need to hang indoors. And that means drying racks filled with laundry are clearly visible. When the laundry soap bucket is empty, I have to grate the soap, mix the ingredients, stir the ingredients, and pour them into the bucket.

Yesterday I noticed I only had enough laundry soap for one load. I knew I would have laundry today, but I choose to fill my time with other matters, and so it went from being a normal task to an urgent task.

Perhaps it is just me, but “urgent” makes me cranky and tired. I prefer to operate with normal tasks and priority tasks. Today was a day filled with Urgent.

When Michael wakes up, I’ll take time to talk to him about my attitude. I’ll apologize and make sure he knows that clean laundry is one way I show my family love. It is an act of kindness that I choose to do day in and day out — normally without drama.

Contentment

Contentment–a state of happiness and satisfaction

I’m sitting here, in the living room, watching a number of birds at the birdfeeder. There are Tufted Titmouse, Black-Capped Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, Slate Junco, Cardinals, and a whole host that I have yet to identify. Watching the birds gives me enormous joy.

My son, knowing my love of birds, gives me birdfeeder poles and feeders as a gifts. Each birthday and Christmas I am taken to the store and told to chose. It is a simple pleasure. Yet, I find profound happiness in picking out a new feeder and deciding what kind of food to use in it. I have 8 different ones now and feel like I now attract a good variety.

I’ve learned such lessons from the birds this year. Lately the world has seemed cold and harsh — and not just the weather–but the birds come on schedule. Some decked out in brilliant plumage, some dressed a bit more humbly, but they all come to the same place. They are equal here: I whoop in delight at the plainest sparrow and I whoop in delight at the woodpecker with his brilliant red and deepest black.

They all come seeking sustenance. They are industrious little creatures. They’ll work away gathering and eating, flitting from feeder to feeder in search of the perfect combination for that meal. They do not favor the fancy food over the simple.

They come trusting. The dog, Opal and the cat, Cricket may sit in the window and watch (or stalk, in the case of the cat) but the birds seem to know they are safe at the feeders. The birds also come trusting that there will be food in the feeders.

Yet, it is not a blind trust. They will carefully observe a new feeder for a few days before beginning to partake of the food. Opal’s trips across the porch lead to a short term mass exodus. Our trips to refill the feeders are met with watchful curiosity. Nobody gets too close, except the chickens but that is a different story, yet they don’t go far.

2014 was a good year. A year of much growth and feeling settled. There were times I wondered where the love of God was, where the money to pay medical bills would come from, and doubtful that God could sort out the mess that four adult family members are bound to create. Yet, God was faithful: I have a church home and traditions that I am growing into that give me enormous comfort; I have zero medical bills that need to be paid freeing up much needed room in the budget; and mutual respect and love seem to win the day when things get strained.

2015 is a clean slate, an open book, and journey just started. I wonder where it will lead. I’m content to let the lessons come as they will. I’m content to just put one foot in front of the other. I’m content knowing that a prayer book, Bible, and candle are helpful reminders that as I delight in the birds, so God delights in me.

And that my friends is the real secret to contentment.