Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A new space to shine

I need a new place to work.  The room in the house that was to be my space became their space and I love it!  The giggles, dress up, and make believe provide precious entertainment but do little to inspire my own creativity when it comes to sitting down to write.

It's been awhile since I wrote anything for this blog.  Ideas and time have been hard to come by.  Last week I sat in the chair waiting for a good idea to process and package with inspiring words and began to think about the admonition of the sign by the window.

I would love to shine, especially with light from heaven!    I have a special young friend who inspires me greatly with her heavenly light.  She writes and shines at  Adelle graciously invited me to have a guest post there today. So there it is!  A new place to shine!  The words on the sign make me wonder. How, indeed, does someone like me derive light from heaven? 

What do you think?  I would love for you to leave your ideas in a comment below. 

 Read my thoughts on the subject  by clicking on this link.  While you are there sign up to follow  my beautiful and beautifully gifted friend, Adelle.  Meanwhile, I'll be fixing up my playroom/office!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Looking for community when you're in a new place

 I've written before about Linda She was one of my baby toting mom friends from Houston days

I  know from experience why moving is third on the list of stressful life events.  It comes just after death of a loved one and divorce.Each move I made as a trailing spouse has its own special story of how God graciously brought me into community when I so desperately needed a place to feel like I belonged.    I learned some lessons during our first move with the phone company  to Houston, TX in July, 1979 that served me well over the next 25 years.  My husband, two year old son and I left the small town of Potosi in Missouri where he had taught and coached for 8 years.   We were part of a loving church family there that had gone from meeting in the VFW hall to having a small building that all the members had actually helped  build.  While the men raised walls and hammered drywall onto studs, the women had stained woodwork and been available for whatever else was needed that they could do.   The members there had taken care of my husband when he was a bachelor, welcomed me with showers for wedding and first baby, and tenderly cared for and  supported us  when I miscarried with my second pregnancy .   We knew everybody well and they knew us.  Once you have been loved on in such a close family  it is hard to imagine life without such a gift.   I naively thought that I could find community like that in a new church just by showing up.  It wasn’t  that easy.

First there was an element of Christmas in that July.  I was not quite as ready to give birth as Mary, but I was pregnant and there was no room at an inn.  A very large, national Baptist convention was meeting in Houston that week, and all the places we thought we could find temporary housing were full.  It was the summer of a gasoline shortage in the US and you could only fill your car up every other day.  To further add to inconvenience and discomfort,  our car did not have air conditioning and I had never lived in a place as hot and humid as Houston!  The efficiency room we finally found was just that, a room, with no place for a 2 year old to play.  I was the one who had to go into the bathroom and close the door when he needed a  time out.   Fortunately there was a church nearby that was having a vacation Bible school.   “That’s it,” I thought!  VBS would be my entry to community.

It seemed like such a large church compared to where we had lived.  The VBS was well planned and organized and there were lots of children and other parents our age.  I watched other moms dropping off their children and talking in their small groups.  I hoped I would be invited into a conversation.  I hung out by the nursery door to try and catch a woman who was pregnant or carrying a small baby so I could ask about a good doctor.  I felt a little shy to make the first move.  I expected someone to notice me, to talk to me, and then I would jump in.  But that’s not the way it happened. 

I got tired of waiting.  After all, I told myself, I really needed to find a doctor.  I finally decided and dared to speak up and not wait for one of those other young, baby toting mothers to speak to me first.   I was lucky, no I was blessed because when I did reach out and begin that hard work of  settling in to a new community  I not only got the name of a good doctor,  I  also got the loan of maternity clothes and much appreciated hand me downs for our son. Friends!

Wilma and our sons, her kids, (and a couple of others!)on a camping trip at Huntsville State Park in 1982

 And then came more connections!  When our new home that we finally moved into proved to be infested with fleas and I needed to be out of the house while they sprayed,  I remembered my conversation with someone I had met at church who lived nearby and dared to ask if I could come stay at her house.  Wilma and her husband Loyd were the “grandparents” down the street who I needed to love on us and our children when our own families lived so far away.  They ended up keeping our oldest when the second was born and both when number three came along.  In the four years we lived in Houston and in these 30 years since they loved on us like we were their own kids.  Last spring we had the privilege of being included to stand with the family around Loyd’s bed when he became very ill and passed away. It was a precious, solemn, intimate time of sharing great love. 

So here is what I learned from that first experience of moving and needing to find community:

1. Be a salmon.   My husband coined that term to describe how I dare to swim upsteam  The opposite of a salmon he calls a “Home Depot person”  (def.)one who stands outside waiting to be asked,  so called because Home Depot was the meeting place for laborers hoping to be chosen for  work in one community where we lived.

2. Remember what it feels like to be lonely and invited in.  Reach out to the Home Depot people out there, the ones just waiting to be noticed, the ones needing what is yours to give. 

3.  We all need community, a place to belong.  Sometimes it is not a physical relocation but a time in life where you find yourself in a season that is new and so different that you feel alone.  You can stand outside the nursery door, so to speak, as I did, and try to notice someone who is in a similar situation, who might turn out to be the friend or-

May I suggest another possibility to find community for a special need you might have at this time of life? Find and read  "The Hard Work of Getting Along".  Crystal Stine's post there is an explanation and invitation to join an online  group of women who want to offer friendship, encouragement and support to other women.  Read and pray over the listing of nearly 60 (in)courage groups available for you to be a part of  for whatever season of life you may be in right now.  All you have to do to accept the invitation is follow the directions there. I so hope you have community in real life, but consider this invitation if you need it, and pass it along to someone else who might!  It's been a great blessing to many, and I pray that the Lord is pleased I pass along His great gracious gift of community by serving as an (in)courager community group leader.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Given grace on Day 30

Honest confession here-I have nothing to show and not much to say on Day 30 of my 31 Days of Letting Go.  I missed yesterday too.  I spent too much time on the computer today reading things other blogging women were writing.  I read about a wonderful conference on writing many had attended and about people who spoke and what they said and wished that I could have been there too.  I read thoughtful, honest, insightful posts that were commented on with compliments and affirming responses.  I would like to be thoughtful, honest, and insightful in this post but I am writing while I watch the Spurs play the Grizzlies and that is pretty much the way it is most days. Too much multi-tasking. There was a time towards evening today as we were driving to church for Bible study when discouraging thoughts took front and center bringing tears to my eyes.  I could have convinced myself of failure.

Yes, I spent too much time on the computer today.  But I also got up early and worked out at the Y.  I drank coffee on the balcony and enjoyed that special time with my husband.   I loved on my neighbor's baby, and spent time talking to two different friends who are going through hard times.  I bundled up trash and washed dishes in the church kitchen after the Bible study, and came home to sit and talk with the young assistant youth pastor who is sharing our home this year, and now we are watching the Spurs.  I started out this post with the title, 'Giving myself grace on Day 30' but I just changed it to a title that more truly reflects the truth of the matter. "God, did I fail today?" was the question.  From Luke 10 " the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  (you have) chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.”  I pray that by His grace, I may make good choices of how I spend my time.  I thank Him for his grace today.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

I love being loved on in a loved one's home on Day 28

Even though I was away for the weekend I had my 31 Days of Letting Go project on my mind.  I took with me Julie Morgenstern’s book and the  Oprah magazine that had been devoted to the subject of “Declutter Your Life”.   Oprah has always been a motivator for me, especially when she would have Peter Walsh on her show and feature his work with people who were hoarders.  I think I secretly consoled myself about my problem with “saving” things that create clutter by comparing myself to the more hard core cases she featured on her show. It was very much like a sermon on Sunday when you say to yourself, “I wish ‘so and so’ could have been here to hear this” and totally miss the application you should be making to yourself.  But this far into my project I can honestly say, “I get it.”  I know I have a problem and there are some psychological obstacles that are keeping me from moving forward to do what needs to be done. 

The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8 that “Love covers a multitude of sins”.  I don’t really believe that keeping things I don’t really need is a sin. But I do believe that God’s love and the genuine love of others who He puts in our lives can help us with hard times and things that are difficult. In His intentional, grace-full, wonderful way God gave me a gift this weekend to encourage me in my struggle.    After the half marathon we drove to Del Rio to visit my husband’s Aunt Gene, the younger sister of his dad who passed away in 2010.  I guess you could describe her as the matriarch of our family in that we respect her greatly and she loves on all of us and works at making sure our family stays in touch by staying in touch with all of us.  I always love seeing a “like” from Aunt Gene on something I post on Facebook! 

As I walked into her home Saturday evening, I knew I had an opportunity to take note and talk with someone I greatly love and respect about how to go about making decisions on what to keep and what to throw away as you move through the seasons of your life.  I noted that there were no stacks of old magazines, bins under the bed, framed pictures in a corner waiting to be hung, nor bookcases crammed with too many photo albums or books that would never be read again.  Counters were clean, cabinet shelves dusted, and it was easy to find silverware and serving pieces in her kitchen drawers.  This was impressive to me because of how old she is-old enough to have great-grandchildren (which by the way she still travels to see)and because she has combined households with her second husband, Bill, a widower,  after losing her first mate more than twenty years ago.  I can’t imagine the challenge it was to decide what to keep and what to get rid of when two people  had been married so long to others and each had so many years of accumulated belongings!

The house they live in had been the house Bill and his first wife had built.  It is a very nice house and Gene tells me she had been thinking about selling her own small home of nearly 40 years and moving into a condo even before she and Bill dated and decided to marry after their spouses died.   So it was a practical and reasonable decision to move into Bill’s house, but I am sure I would have had to give careful consideration to having another wife’s things on “my” shelves .  Aunt Gene is gracious and matter of fact about that.  “I decided to not let it bother me,” she said, “and I loved Bill.  That’s what mattered.” 

Every room in the house is a tasteful blend of things from their first families and things from their life together.  In the living room is an antique curio cabinet which has memories of Uncle Dale’s (her first husband who I also had the privilege to know) patient carpentry and restoration talents.  In it are some things she describes as “all her’s”.  Included is a wine glass that belonged to her father which one of his sisters gave her.  It is the only thing she has that was his.  He died when she was still a young girl. The kitchen has Bill’s first wife’s collection of milk glass dishes behind the glass doors of the display cabinet and some of her stoneware jugs on upper shelves.  The everyday dishes we used that evening also belonged to his first wife but Gene’s own special pieces, glasses, and dishes as well as some which belonged to her mother, my husband’s Granny Sue, and Dale’s mother are also used and displayed. The refrigerator has pictures of children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren and all are recent and displayed with equal prominence.
  In a bedroom there is a trunk storing letters written by her siblings at significant times in their lives and photos that she has labeled, preserved, and even shared for some of us to copy.  Framed pictures and certificates throughout the house on walls and on shelves not only tell a story of people they love but also honor family members and important occasions.  Bill is a retired Marine and they have enjoyed many trips to reunions of his division and special commemorative and celebratory events.  What is displayed in their home reflects and honors their past and their present and gives all who come in a glimpse of what is important to both of them. 

I don’t really need the book by Julie Morgenstern, nor the many magazines I’ve saved because they have good advice on how to deal with clutter!  HA!  Like the Beatles sang, “All you need is love!”  I got a good dose of that this weekend. I send my love and gratitude to you, uncles and aunts, cousins, and all the rest of you family members who aren’t living here in Texas.  By God’s grace and by your example, I am   letting go and moving forward so my home can reflect the love I have for my family and friends. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My weekend away on Day 26 and Day 27

The weekend wasn't just about the half marathon. I love road trips with my husband and driving to west Texas gave us the opportunity to visit cousins, uncles, and aunts that are dear to us.  I love the way they love on us.   It doesn't have to be Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July.  Just being together with them makes it a special occasion.  They greet us with hugs and kisses.  A good meal has been planned, and our room is made up and ready.  The conversation is usually less about them and more about us and our family.  Sometimes though we can get them to open up and share stories from their early years. That always makes me wish we could stay longer and come more often.  There is so much more I would love to know about them when they were young and when their families were young.  I hope I will have the chance to have a room ready for the young ones in my life and what a blessing it would be to have a room made ready and flowers from my garden set out  for  my nieces, nephews, and their children and my children and grandchildren.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Away from the house on Day 25

I have a reprieve! Running a half marathon seems a lot easier than the project of letting go. The time in the car driving to west Texas did give me time to think about yesterday's question of just what psychological obstacles are making this so hard.

Tomorrow I will run my 13 miles down Hwy 385 to Marathon. Not a lot of scenery to enjoy but it has its own beauty. I'll think about grace and family, friends and places. The stuff in my house reminds me of all that but tomorrow's event is evidence that I don't need the stuff to remember and enjoy the memories. It's also proof that making new memories is more fun than sitting home shuffling through the souvenirs.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Confronting Psychological obstacles on Day 24

Julie Morgenstern has test on page 23 of her book, Organizing from the Inside Out, which helps you decide if there is a psychological obstacle working against you in getting organized.  If you answer yes to 3 or more of the 21 questions, she says you can know that is what is working against you.  "It's important," she says, "to identify it and learn how to work around it.

I don't have to take the test to know that I have psychological obstacles working against me.  Of the ten she describes I think  I can claim seven.  And I am going to finish this post in the morning!