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January ending 2019

January has been different. It’s the only way I know to describe it.

With health concerns in the forefront of our minds, Sweet William and I began the month on the road, heading west to be with our precious ones. We needed the comfort of being with them. It’s the way we weather the storms of life sometimes, because we’re better together than apart.

Time spent with those we hold so dear was sweet, and the outcome of a surgery was positive. After a week, we headed home feeling relief and giving thanks to God for always providing His grace for our needs.

This trip we left Maisie at home with a house/pet sitter we trusted. Being our first experience, it created a little anxiety for me. I kept texting the first few days to see if everything was OK. It was beyond OK. Maisie got to play more than usual, and the house was freshly clean when we came home. It was an incredible welcome after long hours on the road, unloading the car and beginning the task of laundry and putting everything away.

I’ve been reclusive this month. Maybe it was the cold weather and too many grey-sky days. Maybe it was a case of the blues as I tried to iron out unruly thoughts. Maybe I needed the calm after the bustle of Christmas and the unexpected of New Year.

I journaled pages, scribbling and sorting through what troubled me. It’s like a free counseling session as I get emotions out of my system and onto paper. It is my hope that whoever may read my words one day will give me grace for being human and understand that I was in a difficult place.

I busied myself with inside projects and recognize it as a mechanism I use to deal. When something is out of control, whether that be me or circumstances, I do what I can control, like cleaning out a closet.

I’ve been between a rock and a hard place of trying to hygge with lit candles, snuggling in quilts, and cozy fire sitting while, at the same time, Marie Kondo prescribes that I tidy up my surroundings and turn loose of anything that does not bring me joy.


I briefly “read” (more like scanned) a book about minimalist decorating and decided I am not a fan. The pictures of rooms looked like no one lived there with their grey industrial walls and bare surfaces. I am fond of my stuff, the things I willingly dust around because each one reflects back to me a person, a memory, or simple beauty. I can find balance with my belongings without being overtaken by them.

During my January organizing, I went through old photographs, finding some treasures. One of my granddaughters recently developed an interest in studying her ancestry. I was happy to share pictures and stories with her. And one of these days, I really am going to put the black and white images in albums, especially now that someone will treasure their history.

Among the photographs, I found a couple of V-mail letters my mother had written to my father during WWII. The handwriting was tiny, but I recognized her familiar script. Her words were sentimental and romantic, a new bride of two years who longed for her husband far from home. It was poignant to read, witnessing my parents tenderly young and deeply in love. They were beginning their lives together, dreaming of a future when they were together again.

I’ve sort of recently discovered podcasts, and I have a few favorites I enjoy listening to as I do some task. In one interview, a man spoke about his life spiraling downward with overwork, alcohol abuse, and depression. He realized he had to change his habits and wrote a book about it. One of the habits he recommended was meeting with a friend for an hour every week. That sounds simple enough, but is it? We are busy folk, distracted, multi-tasking gurus. Or perhaps reclusive. It takes intentionality to set aside time, to turn off technology, to focus and quiet the heart for a face-to-face with another. I have found it worth the effort and one of the most refreshing things I can do for myself.

Another book of interest this month was The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis Collins. Collins is renowned for his leadership in the Human Genome Project. The book was deep and made me think outside the box regarding science and faith, which often seems to be at odds with each other. I appreciated his unbiased approach, presenting the facts and then asking the reader to think for herself.

This quote from Albert Einstein has meaning for me: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” I understand better now that faith and science do not have to be in conflict with each other.

The last couple of days of the month, the electric company appeared on our lane with heavy equipment. Sweet William and I heard the noise of the machines and strained to see what was happening. To my horror, they began to cut a 50 foot tract through our little woods, ripping brush and saplings, crushing everything in the path. I drove the car down the lane and saw the devastation.

I enjoy my little woods. It has taken years for the trees to grow and fill in the area. I wanted to cry.

The electric company had every right to do their work. They purchased that stip of land years ago, underneath the high wires that run from east to west. My trees were sacrificed for the greater good of having electricity in my home and the homes of my neighbors, close and far. On the frigid days of January ending, I have been thankful for a warm house. Still I grieve the loss.

Many times as I have driven to town, I noticed yards along the road where branches have been cut to prevent them from tangling with wires. It looks butchered to me, the branches severed, trees lopsided, nothing esthetic or artful. They stand in their naked brokenness.

Yet spring and summer reveals their continued vigorous growth, leaves filling out the cut and jagged places. Often when I observe them, I think of the pruning in my own life, things cut away, often severely, leaving me feeling lopsided and naked. Is it somehow for the greater good?

Only God will tell me the reasons one day. I expect in some way or another, He will explain life to me, the whys and the wherefores of pain, suffering, loss, the cutting away that He knows is necessary for a more fruitful life. He knows the purpose He has for me and others.

Until then, I must learn to trust Him, knowing He is wise and good. This life is not about me, after all. It is about Him. Perhaps this one wild life I live will in some way point others in His direction. Perhaps God will shine through the cracked and jagged places in me. Perhaps the pruning will result in more fruit than I could have imagined.

Perhaps in the wisdom and sovereignty of God, He will produce something beautiful in me, something that will give joy. Perhaps I will even reflect His glory to the world.

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January ending

I’ve not posted much in January, but I’ve journaled almost daily. My inside thoughts have been more prominent that my blogging ones. It’s been that kind of month.

A few sunny hours on a few days were rare, a welcome respite from the grey days. The glowing shades in sunsets were sweet because they were infrequent as Maisie and I enjoyed walking closer to 6:30 than 5:30 in the evening. The days really are getting longer.

In the middle of cloudiness, a letter from my granddaughter arrived in the mail. It brought its own version of cheer and sunbeams, eliciting smiles as I wrapped myself in her words like a comfortable old quilt.

Which is a perfect segue into the creative project I began this month. My friend is teaching several women how to make a sticks and stones quilt out of leftover scraps from her years of quilt making. I’m still a newbie quilter, this only my second, and I need the gentle instructions and reassurance that I’m doing it correctly.

sticks-and-stones-quiltHopefully, mine will look something like this when I’m finished.

January creates an organizing frenzy inside me and the house.  While removing and recycling my mess, some objects stirred memories of former joys, and I just couldn’t surrender them yet. I rediscovered a few items I’d been looking for, which is always a treat. And I gave away a couple of treasures to new homes, new owners who were delighted to receive them.

I found Venus in my night sky. At the first sighting, I stood in wonder, its brightness enthralling me. And this verse: When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place,  what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?”

Sweet William and I attended weddings and celebrated an anniversary, and I asked a rhetorical question, “Who gets married in January?” Well, we did. Lots of memories surfaced as we thanked God for His indescribable grace to us.

I stayed glued to the TV during the presidential inauguration, the peaceful transfer of power from Democratic to Republican leadership. It was calm and dignified, an example of the freedom we live with and value in the United States. Still, the country is reeling in protests against the democratic process of making a choice through our right and privilege of voting.  We are blessed with the liberty to choose and to protest. But eventually, can we just get over it and move on?

I read several books or listened to them on CD. Two of the most impacting were Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and The Insanity of God. The first was a biography of a young Muslim man who came to know Jesus Christ. His was a deep and thorough search, a studied reasoning against all he had been taught from his childhood. He struggled to relinquish what was familiar and the connection to his family. His story moved me. In addition, I learned much about the Muslim religion and examined my own faith.

The second book, The Insanity of God, was written under a pseudonym. The author visited the persecuted church in many foreign countries and marveled how the Christians were accustomed to spending years in jail and being tortured. To them it was normal. Yet the house churches were alive and thriving in a hostile atmosphere where Christianity is condemned. The stories of the persecuted believers humbled me and I thanked God for my freedom. I questioned how much I value this privilege and how seriously I take it.

Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, was an entertaining read. I happened to be at my library branch at the right moment to check it out. Beth’s characters came alive in the heart of New Orleans. I’m hoping for a sequel sometime in the near future.

I said “yes” to a leadership team, surprising myself with the decision. I thought I’d done my share of this sort of thing and was through. The group of women with whom I will be serving are diverse in ages, gifts, personalities, and  experiences. I am looking forward to building deeper relationships with them and discovering where the Lord desires takes us.

The first month of a new year leads us toward what is to come. Annie Dillard says it this way:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

January is spent. February is fresh and waiting to be explored.

 

A little busy

It’s been a little busy at the Wright House this week.  I’ve missed having the luxury of thinking slowly and writing the way I like.  But I will be back soon.

As we finish January 2015 and really face this new year head on, let’s don’t get sidetracked by what only appears necessary and urgent.  We so often give our attention to the “pressing task” when what is really important, the people around us and the work God has give us to do, languishes on the sidelines just waiting.  Just waiting for us to stop and take notice.  Just waiting.

Let us examine ourselves and ask our God and Father, “What’s the plan for today?”  Then may we take the challenge and follow Him wholeheartedly.  It is in the obedience, sometimes the hard obedience, that we find fulfillment, contentment, peace, and joy.

And couldn’t we all use a little more of that in 2015?

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