Friday, September 28, 2012

Leaving

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday....five minutes of writing without editing or over assessing.  (Lovely exercise for this recovering perfectionist...)

GRASP
GO

"Is there any free space I could shove this bag?" I ask.
We made our way to the back of the plane, our seats were in the very back.  Unfortunately, that also meant everyone else had taken all the overhead space.
"No, you'll just have to keep looking yourself," she replied with irritation.
I looked at my husband, and tears started to form in my eyes.  They threatened to spill.
"I can't handle this right now," I tell him.  He gets me to our seats, and grasps our two carry-on pieces in his hands.  "I'll get it, you sit."
"I'm sorry," I tell him, as the threatening tear storm looms and my eyes begin to seep tears.
He knows what the morning has been like.  The rainstorm.  The struggle to get a taxi.  The emotions of leaving.
The sky cried the day we left, grey sad sky.
She hadn't stomped in that dirt puddle this morning, or had to hail a taxi three times, I tell myself.  My nose begins to join in with my tears.  He comes back, he knows.  He's found a place for our bags.  I burrow my head in his shoulder, and he asks, "You okay?"  
"Yes, I'll be okay, I'm just overwhelmed." 
I dry tears, but the heart still aches.  The captain comes over the loud speaker, and we hunker down for a fix up on the tarmac.  The journey begins with a single step, one foot after the other, numbly following the other.

STOP
Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quiet

The Mister and the Wee One
We've been going through the process of getting teeth here at our house (the Baby, not my hubby or I).  We've had our share of sleepless nights for a few days, and I've discovered a few things about sleep.  Well, I kind of already knew it.  I love sleep.  I mean, sleep and I get along REALLY well when I get some.  And when she's gone, I'm learning how to function, and trying not to clench my jaw when I think about things.  Sleep and exercise usually help.

This evening the house is strangely quiet as my tiny one went to bed without crying.  He's as tired as we are after the last three days of teething.  He wanted to fuss and be comforted.  He wanted to snuggle his little drooly face next to my shoulder and lay his head down.   And I think of the rest that really refreshes.  The comfort of knowing you are safe and cared for, and being able to rest even in the mess of life.  This rest, it refreshes. 

So sleep sound, little one.  You are safe and loved, not just tonight, but always.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Country Living

Storm on the prairie
I'm joining up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday.  You can join here.


Wide.
Vast, open, real, vulnerable.
Limited.
Closed, clenched, tense.

We live out on the vast prairie.  We see the seasons change in the trees and grasses around us.  Our little house is surrounded by wheat fields in our country's breadbasket.  Our county produces the most wheat in the US.  At least that has been what we've been told.  Out here, we make an attempt to know our neighbors.  I say attempt because for me it is as difficult as crossing another culture.  

These farmers have lived and worked out here for generations.  The German community of which we are a part goes back to the land rush and settlement, when settlers could claim their own 160 acre plot and farm it.  The community is tight-knit.  I could say I've tried to make friends.  (I have.)  I could say I'm giving up and moving to the city.  (I sometimes feel like it.)  But truth is, I know that the next two years we need to live out here, and two years is a long time not to make a friend.  

So I look at him and say, "We've got to change something."  And we do.  We invite people out.  We change churches.  The country church isn't a mega-church and it doesn't have a bunch of programs.  But with 40-ish people we find what we are looking for.  We find a community of believers.  We let go and open our hearts to our neighbors and friends.

It isn't the big decisions that change us, it is the small ones.  Indecision holds us at times and the results remain the same.  Little changes.  I can do that.  We can do that.  Didn't  Einstein say that the fool is the person who does the same thing over and over again and expects different results?  So here we are on the open prairie throwing our doors open wide, knowing that to be vulnerable is to risk being hurt. 
Five Minute Friday

Monday, September 17, 2012

The REAL Issue

I'm linking up with Sarah Markley to blog about social media. Join here if you'd like.

"....I realized that when I compare my gifts with someone else's, there are only two places to go: inferiority or superiority. I either become envious or arrogant.....there's no spiritual benefit to doing that, and it comes out of a carnal, self-centered heart."- Chip  Ingram

"We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” - C.S. Lewis  

"And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it."- C.S. Lewis 

To Read C.S. Lewis's writing on the 'inner ring'-go here.


No guff, he cuts to the quick and says, "But that's not the REAL issue.  It's the heart."  
I know he's right.  How does he have this laser-like focus on life and what really matters?

We are a society that becomes addicted to the next best thing.
The tool somehow becomes the idol.
What can be used for good also has great power to be used for evil.
We have blogs.
We have Twitter.
We have Facebook.
We have Pinterest.
We have ipads, iphones, and the newest technological stuff available.
It can be used, and it can be abused.
It is neutral, but what we use it for, and how we use it has everything to do with our heart. 
From out of the heart comes envy, lust, greed, and pride.

"If I give this up, somehow, I am afraid that I will get behind and never catch up," she says.
This desire to keep up follows one and nips at the heels.  "I have to stay ahead," she tells me.  "If I get behind, what will people think?  How will I be able to maintain my job if they can't stay in contact with me?"  And I get it.  Pagers used to be the 'next best thing' in the 80's, and now it's the cell phone and the tablet.  The push to remain current keeps the electronics industry booming.  People want what is new and up-to-date, and they scramble to understand these devices just to fit in with the culture that evolves from having the gadgets. They want to be on the 'inner ring', the cutting edge, and be able to talk about these gadgets, devices, and apps with other people. And it changes.   Electronic companies change devices almost as quickly as the fashion industry changes clothes designs. 

That said, I'm way behind.  My hubby and I share a cell phone.  It's not even the kind with the cool screen you can touch.  Oh yes, I think they call those little programs apps.  Our phone is the 'phone home' cell phone.  We carry it from the country to the city, so that Hubby can call me between his classes.  I guess one could call it the 'love phone' because it's how we stay in touch when Hubby is away.  He checks on us, tells us he'll be home, asks if he can get anything, and tells us he loves us.  But I still stick napkin notes in his lunchbox. 

I have a laptop.  It does what I need it to do.  E-mail used to be the next best thing, then it was instant messaging, and after that it was Skype and Google Voice.  And (gasp) while we were overseas we spent two whole years away from Facebook, and were filtered from Wikipedia. We spent a lot of time reading books and writing email over those years.   I use the computer on a daily basis, but there are days when I put the lid down and don't look at it. The outdoors beckons, and Baby and I take a walk.  Hubby and I watch the stars.  We talk about what we are reading, as opposed to what we have to do.  Big ideas and dreams about the future. Plans, wishes, and hopes.  Theory, and theology.  His mind curiously at work, and mine, engaged in understanding and thinking and finding words for the thoughts.  Or we dance, in the living room, just because we can.    

Without realizing it, our culture has become one of immediacy.  The big house?  Now please.  The car? Now please.  The credit card bill is somehow ignored, and the price people pay is in their time. They are auction their lives off to be debtors to the credit card company, and slaves to the never ending rate race of 'Who Can Get Ahead?'.  The new devices?  Now please. There is envy, there is greed, there is pride.  These existed way before any of the new electronic devices.  But now it is possible to know how Suzy Q.'s beautiful living room looks,  how Nancy is building her new house down the street, and what new car Joanie got.  If God has given you these things, I am thankful that He has so blessed you.  Rejoice in that blessing, but please don't sell your life to it.  Life is so much more than what we can have.  Not everyone is so blessed, and if one isn't careful, they look at Suzy Q., and wish they had what she had (envy), or they look at Suzy Q. and think, "Well, I'm better than she is!"(arrogance), or they look at Suzy Q. and whip out their credit card to buy things they think they should have, too.   The matter lies deep within the heart.  

We were walking on campus one day when Hubby and I saw something I won't forget.  It was a gorgeous Spring day, but no one was looking around.  They weren't engaging with one another.  Two guys passed us, and they were both plugged into their ipods, their eyes focused downward.  They were clearly walking together, but neither was engaged in conversation with the other.  We passed a girl sitting on the grass who was totally into the phone conversation she was having but didn't seem to notice the world around her.  A guy almost ran into us because he was so focused on text messaging.  These devices have created a culture whose greatest struggle will be learning to be with and love on other people, and contentment.  The tools that keep us so connected, can also keep us disconnected.  

"Yes," I say, "You are right."
"The matter is a heart issue."  

Where is your heart?  How do you 'unplug' to spend time with family?  Have you engaged with a real-life friend this week?  Are you content with blog/home/car/ life that you have?  

To read two other posts I've written about social media, click here or here .

 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Moonrise

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the blackness. “Where are you?” I ask. “Over here,” he answers. I step carefully through the dewy grass to the chairs he's positioned in the middle of our yard. The moon hasn't risen yet. “You know, I was thinking yesterday,” he said. “Those solar lights in the yard, how amazing they are.” “Yep, who'd have ever thought that up,” I comment. He goes on, “Then I saw the moonrise and it was full.” I smile to myself as he continues, “A solar powered light to brighten the night. It seems like what we try to do here on earth is only a reflection of something He has already done.” My eyes adjust gradually to the darkness, as we watch the stars. I observe the diaphanous Milky Way as she glows a trail across the night sky. A satellite passes, and I see a falling star. Somehow, out in the night air it is easier to focus, and watch. Life moves a little more slowly, and we observe the changing of the seasons in the sky. The north star, ever constant hasn't moved since men sailed their ships at sea some hundreds of years ago. This sky, a focal point of His glory.




Five Minute Friday

Friday, September 7, 2012

Grace-Filled

She smiled at me, and said something in Chinese.
I asked, "What does that mean?"
She closed her eyes and thought a moment.  "Grace.  You move like grace."
"Oh, you mean graceful?" I asked.
"Yes," she smiled.
.......
 I must have laughed all the way home.  She must not have been watching when I tripped unto the boat at the pier and almost landed in the water.  Never mind that we had to walk across a wooden plank balanced over the water to get on the boat.  Every morning I was afraid I'd end up stepping in the water instead of on the wooden plank.
.....
 "What did she say again?" she asked.
"She said I was graceful," I snickered.  "My Holly-hobby like skirt and I almost went head over heels into the Yangtze River and I'm graceful!"
My friend looked at my quizzically.  "But you are.  I see it."
"But my long and lanky limbs have absolutely no coordination," I shot back.
"Yes, but grace goes beyond how you hold yourself, it is a part of who you are," she said.
.....
When you love another person, you are full of grace.
When you see your neighbor and love them as yourself, you are full of grace.
When you give others the benefit of the doubt, you are full of grace.
When you listen and see the truth of what others say, you are full of grace.

It takes more than coordination to be graceful.  It takes a grace-filled life.




Five Minute Friday
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