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A few of my favorite things

Every time I hear the song, A Few of My Favorite Things, I picture Julie Andrews offering her musical assurance to the children she was charged to care for.

As February nears its abbreviated end, I consider what I like about the winter months. If I listed the four season in order of my preference, winter would be at the bottom of the list. That does not mean I hate winter. I don’t. I find there is beauty in each season if I will look for it.

February marks the last full month of winter, and as happens each year, I am itching for spring already. But I have enjoyed the pleasure of a slower pace and a reason to stay tucked in at home these colder months.

Here is a list of some favorite things in this season of the world and of my life.

Cozying by the fire early morning.  While it is still dark and quiet and the coffee is hot and creamy, I sit and read and write. The stillness before the day begins is life-giving to me.

Snuggling with throws and quilts. My two choices for comfort are: a Sticks and Stones lap quilt make with the help of a friend using scraps left from her years of sewing; and a a handmade fleece blanket given to me by my piano student. Both are reminders of people I love while they warm me.

Warm snuggly clothes. There are dressier duds I wear in public, and there are comfort clothes, the kind that have seen their better days but are softened by years of wash and wear. No matter the magic there is in tidying up these days, I can’t turn loose of some of the older things in my closet.

Inside projects. Without the call of outdoor chores, I’ve had time to focus on inside projects. Some were organizational, which brings me a certain contentment. Others are artistic. When I give myself to the creative process, I cease being a clock-watcher. I lose myself in the expression and experimentation of making something with my hands.

Learning the art of slowing down. You had to know me in my younger days when I was a force to be reckoned with, a mover and a shaker, a make-it-happen kind of woman. Let it suffice, I was busy. Granted I’m in a different time of life. I’ve come to appreciate and savor a slower pace.

What are a few of your favorite things this season? I’d love to hear from you.

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Finding rabbits

A friend texted me after being away for a week. “Are you free Wednesday or Thursday.” I replied, “I can be.” Trying to be true to the promise I made to myself, I am living free as a breeze in June, going where the wind of the Spirit blows me.

My June calendar remains strangely empty, and I wonder what surprises the days hold for me.

So my friend and I went on an adventure, wandering trails, resting awhile on a bench, eating our lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and we talked. I climbed a circular staircase inside a silo, huffing and puffing a little too much, but still making it to the top where the view was worth the climb.

Another day this week my neighbor came for a visit in the late morning. He’s three years old.

While his mother and I drank coffee and ate chocolate cookies, my little neighbor played with the old Matchbox cars he loves, the ones that have seen two generations of boys in this house. We went to the room that has the small table and chairs left from days when the grandchildren were small. I brought out the basket of tea party things, and he placed dolls in the chairs. Most of the play food was placed in front of the boy doll, his obvious favorite.

Later he and I went outside and wandered the garden in the back, looking for the rabbits. These rabbits are stone and plaster, weathered by the years, looking a little crumbly but intriguing to one who sees life through eyes of wonder and everything in it is something to be discovered. He picked a few flowers, filled a small bird bath with water, and gave the plants a drink.

Holding that small hand in mine as we walked down steps to the sidewalk, I remembered other years, other children. When my grands were small they came to our house often. There were a few years when the gardens went begging. Weeds grew with abandon as I gave my time to these precious little ones.

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I’ve never regretted that. Flowers and weeds still come and go each season, each year. But those sweet children have gotten tall and are doing grown-up things, leaving behind the dolls and tea parties.

As my little neighbor and I stopped for a moment, I reached down to pull up grass shoots from the flower beds saying to no one in particular, “I could spend all day every day pulling weeds.”

Yes, I could do that. Or I could take a small hand in mine and go look for rabbits.

 

 

Christmas 2016

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Social media. It’s the way we get our information. We communicate through the internet and cell towers rather than penning letters and going the snail-mail route. In a few years will we even recognize the familiar handwriting of family and friends? Perhaps not.

We have instant gratification, instant information. Photos just snapped are quickly downloaded for our friends to see. And all those “friends?” Who are they really?

Even as inventions pass each other in the bigger, newer, better isle of advertising, life for us moves at almost warp speed. If we are not careful, we will miss the people in front of us as we bow face down into our smart phones.  As we video each of those important activities, we may miss the pure pleasure of simply experiencing them.

As we rush through December headlong toward Christmas Day, perhaps a pause is needed. Pause to listen. Pause to be thankful. Pause to pray. Pause to meditate on grace and mercy. Pause to enjoy. Pause to remember.

Stop the madness long enough to bring your thoughts and your mind back to the present. Right here. Right now.

One of my favorite writers, Ann Voskamp, says, “Life isn’t an emergency.”

Let’s don’t treat it like it is something to be rushed through so we can get to the next event, next activity, next day.

Carpe diem. Make the most of the present time. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Pause for a few minutes and imagine if Mary and Joseph had lived in the 21st century.

Slowing

Because summer should be slower, right?

I know it’s not necessarily true. It has not always been for me. However this year, June has been restful as I am giving myself time to heal and recuperate and, let’s be honest, be a bit lazy. The word used to be like a curse word to me. Don’t call me lazy!

Lazy is not in my genes. It was not the way I was taught or what I caught from my parents. But I don’t remember them being frantic and over extended in the same way we are today. They were industrious, but they also knew how to enjoy life. They took long leisurely drives. They visited people, talking for hours. And they sat on the deck watching a storm move in.

Technology is part and parcel of our lives in the 21st century, but it should not rule us or be an extension of our hands with a cell phone constantly being the boss of us.

So here’s a blog from The Life Project you might like to chew on.

Hurry Up!

 

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Life in the slower lane

When I was younger, I drove a lot in the fast lane because I was almost always running late.  I hoped all the traffic lights were green, that no slow pokes would pull out in front of me, and that the interstate would be accident free.  Oh, and that no traffic police were in the vicinity.

I’m not sure if it is because I am older and hopefully wiser, if it’s because I partly retired last year, or if it is the stillness I have longed for, but I am enjoying the slower lane these days.

Having lived through three years of intense care-giving at home and by necessity keeping my outside commitments to a minimum, I learned that I and everyone else survived when I had to say “no.”  Other people stepped up to the plate or something was delayed and the world kept right on turning.

Did I think it would not?

Being still is under-rated I think. We fill our lives with much activity, information, commitments, and goals worth striving for while we have lost the ability to be still and know.  Why is it hard for us to just stop?

Perhaps we think the world will stop turning.

I realize I am in a different stage of life.  I don’t have babies in diapers or children in school.  I am not punching the clock Monday through Friday, though I’ve had some pretty long, tiring days the last three years.  But I really wish someone had told me the pure pleasure of just ceasing the madness once in a while.

Because of my personality, I could easily slip back into the too-busy mode, the fast lane.  I could find myself saying “yes” too often, in places where I am not really called to go.

One thing I do know.  When I am serving where God calls, I find contentment and joy.  I see fruit and reward.  I feel His pleasure, no matter how mundane the task or how unnoticed by the masses it may be.

Driving in the slower lane is a choice we can make.  I think it’s a good choice.  The view is breathtaking.  And I get to wave and smile at the police cars.

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Come let us adore Him

On a busy day, when everywhere we turn traffic clogs, when we go from place to place to place purchasing items on the list, it can be a challenge to find stillness in the rush of madness.

Christmas music on the radio brings rhythm to my feet and encourages a song even while impatient drivers swerve in and out trying to get to their destination a few seconds sooner.

Home at last only to quickly carry in purchases and find a place for them before piano students knock on the door.  They play their songs in preparation for a Christmas recital.  And I smile.

The season is busy and blustery and time rushes and so do I.  And is there enough time to come and adore Him?

There is enough time . . . if I will slow.  Stop.  Be still.

Sitting quietly, I hear the ticking of the clock.  I realize I only hear it when I am quiet.

Quietly I sit and listen for His voice.

Slow day

100_3270100_3254 100_3257 100_3266We awoke to snow on the ground in mid November.  It was predicted but a surprise to me.  A nice surprise.

I love the first snow of the season, the white covering everything to make it look clean and fresh.  Even the ugly looks pretty.  Little dog is not so fond of snow when we go outside, but he endures and we both breath in the crisp coldness and beauty of the early morning.

It seems a special day, one to be cherished and celebrated.  So I fix homemade drop biscuits, something Sweet William and I don’t eat so often ever since Weight Watchers became part of our routine.  The fresh sausage and tomato omelet taste delicious. I dribble honey on my hot buttered biscuit.

The day seems to slow.  Music plays on the CD player.  I am not in a hurry to get to my list of things to do.  Dishes still soak in the sink.  I am just enjoying the snowflakes falling outside my window and the warmth of the fireplace and the company of loved ones near.

Every day does not have to be a race.  As Ann Voskamp says so wisely, “Life is not an emergency.”  There are moments to be tasted, experiences in which to delight, sights and sounds to feed my soul.  If I will slow myself down long enough to see the gift and receive it as it is, then life really can be abundant.

I’ve been given so much.  Richness is at every turn.  Beauty is free for the taking.  Love is all around.

What shall I do with it?  Ignore it in my hurry to get from here to there?  Glance at the faces in front of me while I look for other faces to connect with?  Take for granted what is here and now?

Dear Lord, forgive me for doing that too much, for not appreciating your daily bread and good gifts.

Today, I enjoy the slowness of a snow day.  Perhaps I will learn the lesson and practice it tomorrow also.