One more look:
Sunday, January 31, 2010
One more look:
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Last night I attended my weekly Bible study. It's a great study--twenty to thirty lovely women studying Beth Moore's Breaking Free. It's wonderful. This week's study was about the obstacles that may need to be cleared before we can break free from captivity.
It's an important topic, and I enjoyed the conversation and really benefited from the lecture. I was about to leave for home, uplifted and encouraged, when I stopped to talk with one of the women in my small group. She and I had connected in a special way during the small group time, and we chatted a bit about that.
As we were talking, something I said prompted my friend to use a word that makes me really uncomfortable. It's a word that I avoid if at all possible. But we were being honest, so I had to admit that the word did in fact fit a problem I was describing. The word? Procrastination.
I don't want to associate with this word. I don't want to be associated with this word. Yet I am living according to this word. Just like a child who doesn't want to do his chores, I am putting off things that are unpleasant for me.
Of course, I always have extremely legitimate reasons for not getting around to the things that I don't want to do. I am busy, after all. Good heavens, I'm only human. Not even Wonder Woman could get around to everything on my To Do list. I'm doing my best here. Right?
Our conversation has replayed itself over and over in my head. My friend said, "You can keep yourself really busy with what's right in front of you, never at peace because there's always something that's hanging over your head." I nodded my assent; I knew exactly what she meant.
"So there's always something that needs immediate attention, always something that you have no choice but to do right away." Oh, yeah. I was really tracking with her at this point.
But then she said something that made my jaw drop. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "It's a way to avoid things. It's a way to avoid God."
Wait a minute. No! I never--but--huh? Avoid. . . are you kidding? What?
Oh, my. How did she know?
I've thought about her words over and over, and I know that--as hard as it may be for me to admit it--she speaks the truth. So many days I busy myself with this, that, and the other thing--always rushing, always striving, never quite catching up. And I tell myself that I would have liked to get around to whatever-it-is-that-I-should-have-been-doing, but that I just couldn't do it. Because I am busy, after all. Good heavens, I'm only human. Not even Wonder Woman could. . . wait. I've said that, haven't I?
I believe that God is loving and kind and gracious, always happy to help. My God is not a mean, angry god. I don't have to deal with a god who is impatient and irritable. Why would I avoid God? Why would I avoid the only One who can help me?
Maybe it's because God specializes in the truth. He knows the truth about me. When I'm spending time with him, I'm forced to admit the truth about myself. And that's not always pretty. But it is what I need.
This has given me a lot to think about. For now, I'm going to think while I take a good, hard look at my To-Do list. I have a feeling that there are some things that need to move to the top of the list, while others get crossed off for good.
What do you think? Have you ever avoided God?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Well, you can keep your socks on.
I love DIY Day, although sometimes I struggle with feelings of DIY inadequacy. I love to look at all the incredible things that bloggers have done for themselves, and most times I am impressed and inspired and energized to try new projects for myself. Sometimes, though, when I read about the brilliant things that people have accomplished, I just end up feeling like the kid at Show and Tell who brought her pet rock on the day that Suzy brought her pet python.
This week, though--this week was going to be my chance to shine. This week I was going to dazzle readers with my own project. I woke up in the middle of the night with inspiration for a project that I felt sure would create a sensation.
And it didn't work.
Honestly, I thought I had a good idea. I really thought it would work. I thought it would be simple and inexpensive yet beautiful and impressive. I tried to Do It Myself. And I failed.
This has been one of those weeks. My beautiful project flopped. I started a big organization project, but I haven't finished it yet. I bought some new light fixtures for my kitchen, but they're still in their boxes. I wanted to try a new recipe, but that got crowded out by another commitment. And so on and so forth.
Perhaps I needed to remember that my life as a wife, mother, sister, friend, and neighbor does not center around my projects. Maybe I need to focus a little less on doing and showing and telling and a little more on just being and learning and listening.
What about you?
Beautiful spring plants, already forced into bloom. The floral department had done all the hard work; all I had to do was arrange them on the coffee table.
How's your winter going?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Blessed is the man. . .whose delight is in the law of the Lord,and in His law he meditates day and night.He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,that brings forth its fruit in its season,whose leaf also shall not wither,and whatever he does shall prosper.Psalm 1:1-3
What have you done today to nourish your soul?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I got my first minivan in 1994. One of those little Mercury Villager vans. I had two little boys, and it was the sensible thing to do. Those sliding doors made getting kids in and out of carseats so much easier.
Then in 1998, now with three little boys, we moved to a large city, and I got a station wagon. The safety ratings on the wagon were so much higher than the van's, and my husband was much happier at the thought of my driving in city traffic with a little more substance between the kids and the highway.
Those little kids, though, turned out to be big boys. Very big boys. And I learned that very big boys sharing a backseat can make for very tiresome travel. So again I turned to a minivan. I remember when I was shopping for a van--my oldest son entreated, "Get one with a DVD player!" "In your dreams," I replied. I chose the make and model I wanted, a nice big van with four captain's chairs--one for me and one for each boy. Just as I was about to sign the papers to seal the deal, the salesman said, "Oh, by the way, we're having a special promotion. With every new minivan comes a free DVD player." Never before or since has it been so easy to make a kid's dreams come true.
That minivan saw a lot of use. I loved it. A separate seat for every boy ensured argument-free travel (well, mostly argument-free). The DVD player made long trips much easier. I was one of the moms who could transport six kids on a field trip.
My husband, however, hated it. In a word, he loathes minivans. He drove it only on family trips, and then only reluctantly. He was eager for me to get rid of it. I clung to it.
Time passed. My boys got bigger and bigger, but my load got smaller. My oldest went off to college. My middle son got his own driver's license and wanted to drive himself places. So, for the most part, I was down to transporting just my youngest son and myself. Not much need for a seven-passenger vehicle any more.
And so, last summer, the era of the minivan ended. It seemed like a rite of passage somehow. As a young adult I drove a small car. Then I had kids and needed a larger vehicle. The kids grew and I needed an even larger vehicle. Now I'm back to a small car. So cute, so sporty. It's easy to maneuver, easy to park, easy to fill with gas. What's not to like? Except for the fact that it signals that my little ones aren't so little anymore, I mean.
I've shifted gears. I don't need a big vehicle any more.
But would you look at this? Today I made a special trip to Target to buy a long-needed and carefully considered new vacuum cleaner. And guess what won't fit in the trunk of a little car?
Ah, well. At least he kept me company as I drove home.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Today is an exciting day for my little blog. My friend Kimba from A Soft Place to Land chose me to be a sponsor for today's DIY Day. I love DIY Day and I adore Kimba, so it's a thrill for me to work with her on this.
Kimba told you a little about me, and I feel really honored for her to write about me. I am one lucky lady, as evidenced by the fact that all three of my children have red hair. (Don't you love genetics?)
Mostly I'm a woman who's blessed to have a wonderful family and friends and who's grateful to have found the fun and camaraderie of blogging.
I asked Kimba if we could make today's DIY Day giveaway a little different, because what I really want to do is to encourage people to visit other blogs and get to know one another. It's great fun to write posts and be able to show off our projects, but I think the most wonderful part of blogging is the community. It's been a joy for me to make new friends all over the country and all over the world.
So welcome! Thank you so very much for coming by. I'm honored to have you here at Imparting Grace. I hope you'll feel at home here.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good . . . that it may impart grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
Monday, January 18, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
This past Monday morning, my husband and I flew to Florida. Just the two of us. My husband has quite a few clients who spend the winter months in Florida, and I was privileged to accompany him on a trip. We felt like such grown-ups, jetting off to Florida on a cold morning in January.
It was 18 degrees when we left home on Monday morning. Now that's cold in North Carolina. Unfortunately, Florida has been experiencing some record-breaking cold, so we weren't exactly tempted to break out the swimsuits. You've never seen so many mink coats on the streets of Palm Beach. But one of the lessons of this vacation for me is that the old cliche' is true: everything is relative. The weather in Florida was mostly in the 60's while we were there, and the Floridians were complaining like crazy. But, boy, did it feel good to us!
We stayed in a lovely little hotel built around a beautiful courtyard:
And one day we walked over to The Breakers, the famous Palm Beach landmark hotel, and ate at their beach club. Here's the view from our table:
One day we were window-shopping on Worth Avenue and saw this car parked on the street:
Funny how a few days in luxury setting like Palm Beach can make things seem awfully plain and un-luxurious at home. I mean, I have to turn down the covers for myself at night. No one snaps to attention and holds the door for me when I approach the front of my house. I have to park my own car at the grocery store, for crying out loud.
But oh, how the news accounts of the earthquake in Haiti jerked my perspective right back into line. Now I'm wondering: why is it so easy for me to compare my lot to that of the ultra-wealthy and to concentrate on what I don't have? How dare I forget just how blessed I am?
I pray for the suffering people of Haiti and all over the world. And I pray that God forgive my lack of gratitude for all I have and enlarge my heart to greater generosity toward those in need.
Friday, January 8, 2010
". . . Ain't no valley low enough. . . ain't no river wide enough. . . ."
I think I am a mountain climber at heart. I come alive in a tight spot. If you have an emergency, I'm your girl. Special challenge? No problem. If there's a deadline, I'll make it. Urgency brings out the best in me.
That personality trait has served me well the past couple of years, for there have been many mountains to climb around here. I've been through some trying circumstances, and I've made it. Not always valiantly, mind you--sometimes on hands and knees--but I've made it. I've learned first-hand that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Right now, though, there appear to be no mountains to climb. For the moment, everyone's healthy. My husband's new company is doing pretty well. The church we helped to start is going great. We're chugging right along!
But I feel as though I'm lagging behind. All I have to do right now is normal life. I'm not in the midst of a crisis. I'm not renovating a house. I'm not moving to a new home. I don't have a new baby. I didn't start a new job. In short, I have no excuses. And I'm wondering if maybe that's my problem.
I'll make a confession here. I think perhaps I got used to feeling victorious. I liked that feeling that I was climbing mountains, fording rivers, overcoming obstacles. Why? Because I want to be admired. I want people to be shocked and awed by my skill, my cunning, my derring-do. On top of that, I've had lots of excuses when I haven't gotten around to things I should have done. Folks have had to cut me a lot of slack over the past couple of years, and I think I kind of liked it.
I think perhaps it's time for me to retire my Supergirl cape. Time for me to realize that, at least for now, everything is okay. No abnormalities, no emergencies, no special struggles--just everyday life.
Just everyday life, after all, is quite enough to keep me busy. And challenged. And fulfilled.
And on my knees. Because, apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). Not even on level ground.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
and turned it into a storage bench for my closet:
I must say, though, that the project of 2009 that stands out most in my mind is the one that involved getting my husband from here to here. In case you're not schooled in reading ECG's, the first shows an example of an electrocardiogram strip from a person in atrial fibrillation. The second shows an ECG of someone with a normal heart rhythm--which is what my husband has now. Actually, we were most grateful for the a-fib. For my husband, the irregular heartbeat prompted a special visit to the cardiologist, and extensive testing revealed that he needed open-heart surgery. So now he has a brand-new stainless steel heart valve--and at his last check-up, the cardiologist said that his ECG looked like that of an 18-year-old. That was quite a project!