We’re traveling quite a bit recently, seeing family and all. Our children have dispersed globally—if there were reasonably inhabitable colonies on the moon, at least one of my kinder would be there. Even our nearest kin are out of state. I told our youngest daughter, (the one currently residing in Scandinavia), that her software engineer husband needs to hurry up with that transporter beam. Until then, however, it’s the car or the airline.
I’ve flown plenty, but Bob still gives me the window seat. There’s just that wonderful rush when the plane speeds noisily down the runway, then the cabin gets quiet as the ground just falls away. I love it.
Of course, not long after that happens, the flight attendants begin their little demonstration that no one pays attention to, but should. Instead we go back to staring out the window or reading the magazine in the seat pocket. I think it’s somewhat comical when they instruct us on how to put on the life jacket under the seat when we’re flying from Missouri to southern Cal…??Continue reading “Preparing for impact”
I am quickly becoming of the opinion that there is no better way to celebrate than to have friends over into the garden. So far, I have had a small family reunion dinner, my oldest daughter’s “Skype” bridal shower (she was in California and one sister was home in Missouri, and the other sister was in New York City—hurray for technology!), a private evening bistro with my husband and his poetry, and a bluegrass birthday party. One day, I thought I would ask a few girlfriends to come over for an “open air” breakfast in the late morning. Two of these ladies are quite accomplished and creative gardeners, and my spot of earth was far behind what they have mastered. In fact, there was still dirt laying around in various spots from fixing some of the stones in my yard. But is a garden ever truly completed? I tend to think that, since it is made of living things, then a garden must be viewed itself as a living organism, ever changing, ever challenging, fluid as opposed to finished. It would be a shame to put off entertaining until I had enough…enough what? Enough flowers, enough bird feeders and butterfly attractions? And what for? To impress them? Not on my budget or expertise!
I wonder how often we fall into the same restrictive and lock-step way of thinking in other areas of life:
Can’t have the boss (or pastor, or in-laws, or fill in the blank) over until the house is big enough.
Can’t have children until we can pay to put them through college.
Can’t take a vacation from my job until the next deal is closed.
Can’t give money to my church until I get a raise.
Can’t play with the kids until the dishes are done. (Oh, I beg of you not to make that mistake!)
And here’s the really big one: can’t tell someone about Jesus until I get my own spirituality together.
Our can’ts are camouflaged as responsibility, when in reality they may be precariously postponing what is really important for what is merely urgent (at best), or selfish (at worst). Please don’t get me wrong; boundaries—whether they be relational, emotional, financial, to name a few—are important, but so is our choice of who (or Who) is Master of the garden gate. I need to remember the story of Mary and Martha, two of Jesus’ good friends. Martha was concerned with preparing to entertain Jesus, and Mary with actually entertaining Him by sitting attentively at His feet. Who was being most productive? Would Martha’s house ever be “good” enough to entertain the Son of God? And yet, when the opportunity was presented, she was in danger of missing out on the best house guest ever! Obviously, Jesus did not expect perfection (by cultural expectations) before making Himself gloriously and generously at home.
I would hope that the people with whom I associate will choose to identify me by my character, rather than by the square footage of my property. Let me honor God with the property of which I am His steward, and leave others’ opinions up to Him.
Certainly we have financial obligations to our people, but care must be taken to not overburden ourselves with future concerns over which we have little or no control.
Someone who is married to his job can find his marriage to his spouse dissolve without him being aware of it until it is too late. A vacation doesn’t have to be a long expensive undertaking, but a regularly planned evening away—ALONE—can bring health and vitality into not only a relationship, but also into the job as well. And a caution to stay-at-homes: this means you, too! Check the chatter about the kids with your coat at the restaurant and focus on some exclusivity with your one and only.
We somehow feel that giving money to God is a chore, like getting our teeth pulled. We have to psych ourselves up for giving what we think we can’t afford, or for beating back the guilt feelings when we don’t. An Olympic diver doesn’t start learning his craft by jumping off the high dive. Start small. It’s okay to ask God to increase our salary, but I should ask Him to increase my giving first.
Yes, dishes need to be done, and we are not to use any excuse for a slovenly lifestyle, but that whole “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Word of God. Our children are a gift from the Lord, more than our dishes. They need us to let them know that in very tangible ways, and the most important is giving them of our time.
And, of course, the perfection of our lives is not the witness that Jesus is looking for. It is the consistency of love, and constancy of attendance on Him, of sincere repentance with corresponding behavioral decisions. It is His perfection of character that engulfs the flaws of mine. Good grief! How can I adequately bear witness and represent a Holy God!? To feel any remnant of adequacy to this task is the epitome of pride and hubris. No, I must not wait until I esteem myself a “better person”, and wholly rely on His Holy Spirit’s adequacy within me.
What opportunities are presented to us today? I want to be extremely careful to not allow them to pass by because of short-sighted nonsensical statements that include “can’t…until.” On the contrary, I want to challenge myself to evaluate every self-imposed restriction that would threaten to put off what would bless someone—
Earlier this summer I rode my town bike to the nearby feed store to purchase a couple of bags of bulk bird seed, each weighing 50 pounds. The owners know me, but looked a bit incredulous, (or was it mild amusement?), when they noted that I was toting my wares home in the second-hand child carrier attached to my second-hand Schwinn. No matter. Trailing the cumulative 100 pounds was not as significant as unloading it once I arrived home, not wholly unlike the railroad ties from the back of my old Suburban from the year before!
Gratefully, the birdseed is packaged in thick and hearty reinforced bags. Surely they would be safe from unwelcomed intruders. But thanks to my naivety, I later discovered one bag that I had left sitting on the driveway stealthily chewed into with some of the contents spilled onto the ground. Fine. Not to be outdone by some thieving rodent or squirrel, I loaded the bag (with some effort) into the large plastic trash container on top of the other bag already neatly seated in there. Of course it didn’t exactly fit, but that didn’t seem to matter since the container’s top had been missing for a long time anyway, being eaten by the garbage truck several years ago. That should take care of the critters; they wouldn’t go to the trouble of getting at the seed now.
However, ignorance, in this case, was not bliss, but it was messy. My husband duly informed me that, once again, critters had plundered my stock of feed scattering their leftovers on the garage floor. Now it was my move again. Seed sacks repositioned, top removed from some other container down in the basement placed over the seed, hard plastic small (portable) lock-top container fitted into place atop the larger one. Ha! Let them try THAT one!
Fortunately, this time, all they managed before giving up was to chew off the plastic locks, but apparently then decided to chalk this round up in my favor. They haven’t come back…yet. It wouldn’t take much inattention on my part, however, for the neighborhood squirrels and/or mice to consider my slack as an engraved invitation to another feast.
Our time and energy are so very much like the precious bird seed, and the demands of our lives are reminiscent of these persistently pesky squirrels. Without deliberate boundaries, life’s “demands” take on a marauding quality, depleting what we would otherwise have in reserve, rather than preserving that what we have for those with whom we would choose to share it. The “it” I am referring to is, of course, both our time and our energy. And time and energy are much in short supply for our relationships with family, spouse, friends, as well as time alone with the Lord Himself Who waits patiently for us each and every day.
Or again, my pitifully attacked birdseed is like the indescribably valuable spiritual food that God has graciously provides for us. This expensive and necessary provision must be jealously guarded from the attack of our Enemy, who stands ready at all times to “break in and steal” in the form of busy-ness, or deception, or guilt feelings, or the many other forms of assault in his arsenal, since he is both a thief and a liar. He does his reconnaissance well, knows his options exhaustively, and can be very, very persistent. But his tricks are not new, and we are assured by excellent sources that we have more options at our disposal then he does. Many more.
Both of these potential drains on our resources must be diligently and constantly guarded against. It is only with God’s wisdom that we should mete out our precious resources of time and energy according to His plan. It is through diligent use of our time and energy that we prevent the wasting away of our intimacy with our Heavenly Father. Both can be misused and abused, but only with our consent, whether ignorant or intentional.
Personally, I paid for the birdseed and went to considerable effort to tote it home, so I’d rather use it for my intended purpose.