August 31, 2010

Finding North

One of my favorite spots for “standing still” is a yard swing that sits under a wisteria arbor on my back patio. I sit listening to robins and scrub jays. There are flower beds that edge the patio and I watch hummingbirds coming and going to and from the feeder. One morning there were comings and goings of a different nature. ‘Warriors’ ducking behind the wisteria, combat crawling behind the arborvitaes. ‘Soldiers’ ran from the side of the house up into the play structure platform. I had found myself the observer of a nerf battle. I listened as the ‘soldiers’ yelled to defend the fort. “Prepare! Prepare! They’re going to be incoming! Cover the north!” “I got it! I got it! Uhh…-Hey, which way is north?” “Cardinal north is that direction – and that’s south, east and west.”

A few minutes later someone yelled to retreat and the battle moved to a neighboring location.

I smiled as I replayed the scene that had been in front of me then found myself audibly chuckling as I remembered “I got it! I got it! Uhh-Hey, which way is north?”

I can relate to that ‘soldier’ somewhat. In life, we find ourselves in the midst of skirmishes quite a bit. It’s easy for me to think I’ve got it covered – I’m in control even after taking a hit or two and still ready for the incoming. I think I’m in the right place doing okay; and my communications with the Commander (in heaven) seem clear. Then I find myself shouting “I got it! I got it! …….Uhh-Hey, which way is north?”

In this battle of life we all need to have that direction of North set. When you know where North is you can discern all other points of direction and find your destination so much more clearly.

Now the important question is – What do you use to set North? Unfortunately there is no convenient life GPS or compass every one is automatically handed as they enter life’s battlefield. Some people go with their own reason or intellect, maybe their gut or a feeling---not a true North due to the constant shifting of the human perspective, limited viewpoint, innate defensive reactions and limited ability. Some set North by others –not a true North because they are as human and fallible as you. Some set North to possessions or attainment of status or dollars—not a true North because it taints your perspective not to mention your spirit, it is all fleeting and can be gone in a second, and people around you don’t actually value or respect You the individual- it’s more about what is in it for them in the end.

True North can only come from one place…. Above. One who knows all; Who is, was and always will be; Who wants us to reach our final destination and experience true joy; Whose very nature and essence of being is Love.

“….UHHH – Hey, which way is north?”…..focus beyond, focus above, then set your compass.

Prov. 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

August 30, 2010

Planning the experience or experiencing the planning?

Planning. Sometimes as a mom, I’m exhausted with this task. I plan for the entire family. I’m often at the mercy of the individual family members’ plans and have to coordinate five different plans into one master family plan. Then I make the master family plan fit into the plans of employers, schools, organizations, and more.

Moms aren’t alone. We ALL need this skill to cope successfully in life. Students plan schedules and time to get assignments done. At work people set goals and make plans to achieve them on schedule. Coaches put together practice and game plans to achieve that winning record. There are fitness plans, diet plans, health plans, insurance plans, payment plans, birthday plans, wedding plans…

A good portion of the human experience requires planning. So here’s a question that occurs to me as I am standing still. Am I always planning the experience and do I ever allow myself to experience the planning? (guess there are two questions to ponder)

Sort this out a bit girl.

Planning the experience – The main focus is on the end goal, the experience. The steps and details that must be taken and finished are items on a checklist. Sometimes these checklist items become frustrating stressors. In the back of my mind I hear a chant “got to get it done; got to get it done; got to get it done”. I find myself thinking “when I finally get to the experience…I’ll relax - I can enjoy it – I will….” Then the experience comes………(while its happening you still are focused on the detailing and not enjoying the experience)…………..and goes.

Experience the planning –The goal is in the horizon but the focus is on the present detail that is being finished. The completion of a detail is an accomplishment in itself. When the experience happens you enjoy seeing and reaping the reward of the specific accomplishment of a specific detail.

Planning is part of the experience. If I don’t “experience the planning” I lose something.

Stand still: Do YOU find yourself always planning the experience? Do you ever allow yourself to experience the planning?

Yep, our lives require planning. And we all know that “the best laid plans ….often go awry”. But, I am able to have complete confidence and peace that there are plans I can trust my days, my life and my very soul with. God’s Word says “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Thank you Lord.

August 28, 2010

One Page at a Time

Reading is something I really enjoy doing. It’s free. It can provide learning, expand knowledge, entertain, relax, provide escape, provides glimpses of other places and cultures, and so much more. I love those books that cause you to lose track of time; a story that draws you in so far you can’t put it down; a book in which the story stays with you and causes you to ponder some aspect of your own life. When you read you turn one page at a time and take the story in.

One page at a time.
Skipping a page may mean losing part of the story; losing an important detail; missing an important insight; missing a turning point or losing an opportunity to find a precious gem in the form of a thought.
Author Richard Paul Evans offered such a gem in the pages of one of his novels – “It is fortunate that we are allowed to turn just one page of our lives at a time.”
One page at a time.
I am so guilty of skipping pages in life.
Although it is Tuesday, I have turned to Friday’s page in which I have to get kid2 to the podiatrist, pick up kid1 on the way home, then kid1 takes kid2 to social gathering and proceeds to a meeting, meanwhile kid3 and I need to be home to greet a guest, kid1 needs to pick up kid2 and both go to youth event, I need to make phone calls to coordinate a weekend event for an organization then make sure guest has arrangements to get home – oh, that doesn’t include the regular home schedule of laundry, food, …….
Although it’s August, I have turned ahead to September when kid1 leaves for her first year of college and is facing saying goodbye to a few significant people in our lives. Kid2 needs to have his class schedule changed and has a new guidance counselor we’ve never worked with. Kid3 starts junior high and anxieties are coming out in him, friends and mom….
Although it is 2010, I have turned many pages ahead and cringe at the thought of having costs of more than one child in higher education, meeting the normal cost of living and wondering about those golden years after the collapse of social security under the demographic weight of the generation right before ours…. Or where will the kids be – who will they be with – will they find their way to survival and contentment….
One page at a time!
I want to savor the pages of life the way I savor those pages as I read…yep… one page at a time. Today I will be serenaded by the laughter of my kids. I will enjoy the smile and friendship of a neighbor’s greeting. I will notice the splash of color in my planters. I will be thankful for my washing machine. I will revel in the dinner table chatter. I will savor the smells as I make and bottle the home made blackberry syrup. I will enjoy the feel of the cool breeze as I sit under the wisteria arbor swinging on the porch swing reading a book one page at a time.

August 27, 2010


When I woke up this morning, I found I had a tender finger tip. Anything I touched with this finger caused some discomfort. Once I found my reading glasses (now a new appendage for me in middle age), I got a good look at the sliver that was the culprit. We had picked wild blackberries earlier in the week to make syrup (27 quarts this year) and a pricker had settled itself in my finger tip. That tiny little thing had begun to fester causing swelling and tenderness. Next problem – I couldn’t remove the darn thing on my own since it was in my right hand and I’m right handed. So, I sat still for a few minutes as my husband lovingly dislodged the offender with a needle and tweezers. Now the healing can begin.

It’s kind of interesting how something so small can grow to cause such irritation; can make routine tasks uncomfortable; can fester and build beneath the surface until it interrupts the conscience. It made me think about having slivers in our emotional or spiritual being. These slivers have names like disappointment, resentment, hurt and anger. They are acts or misdeeds towards our being that leave small prickers in our hearts or souls which may go unnoticed by our consciousness but fester. So I sit still and examine myself a little. There are some prickers I find that I’ve actually held on to. I’ve actually allowed the festering and in some cases nurtured it. Unfortunately removing them requires something more than just a needle and tweezers. I’ve got to consciously let go of the hurtful act and resentment. I have to forgive and choose to rise above the shortcomings – both of my own making and of others. Letting it go…, forgiving…, overlooking and rising above. A needle and a tweezers would be a lot easier.

Just as I realized I couldn’t remove the fingertip sliver on my own – I realize that in my brokenness and humanness I can’t remove these prickers on my own. It is only through the love and forgiveness God has given me that I will be able to give forgiveness and love to others.

Now the healing can begin.

August 26, 2010

Just Stand Still

Lemon bars are one of our family’s favorite desserts. In the process baking this dessert recently, I had one of my biggest kitchen disasters which provided one of my biggest Life “AH-HA” moments. Expecting dinner guests, I was in the kitchen cooking three things at once. I had everything planned out – start the lemon filling; make the crust for the lemon bars; prepare the chicken while that was baking; start the salad; by the time the next item went into the oven the filling would have thickened- the crust cooled – pour and back into the oven. Clockwork! ... uh, no. A tray bumped the bowl with the lemon filling – the thickened, surgary, sweet and sticky lemon filling – which fell to the floor. M-E-S-S!! Now I had dinner to complete; a new dessert dilemma to solve; a floor to scrub (because let me tell you that lemon filling doesn’t just wipe up); and guests on the way. M-E-L-T-D-O-W-N…complete with tears and telling everyone to stay out of the kitchen if they valued their lives. In came my youngest son who stood for a moment watching the whole scene as I flew around the kitchen in the type of frenzy only we crazy moms can relate to. He then said in a firm calm voice, “Mom, would you just stand still so I can hug you?”

And I did. I stood still and received what I needed most.

J’s words have echoed in my mind over and over since that day. “Just stand still so I can hug you.” Those words are actually quite profound. The “AH-HA” light blub started to glow and then shine blindingly as I pondered those words over time. “Still” is defined as remaining in place or at rest; free from sound or noise; free from turbulence or commotion. Is it just me – wife, mother of three, friend, volunteer, 21 century citizen - that is struck by the fact that this might seem at first to be an impossibility? To ‘be still’ is a basic human need that I have long ignored. That need is physical, emotional and spiritual.

I am somewhat thickheaded, stubborn I guess, set in my own ways thinking I have things planned and timed (just like dinner). I know I’ve been told before this to “Be Still”. Our Heavenly Father tells us “Be Still, and know that I am God”(Psalm 46:10). He’s known my basic need for this all along. It took a lemon bar disaster and a wise, observant 12 year old to drive the point home. I’m striving to be still daily and look forward to the warmth of the Father’s arms and peace wrapped around me.

Forget the frenzy, the commotion and the noise – even the sticky spot on the floor. Stand still and be hugged.

P.S. Dinner was ready on time – the menu slightly changed. We enjoyed our guests. And I even chuckled a little to myself when someone commented on a sticky spot on the floor.