It’s here, our first real snow of the season. No doubt this “snow event”, as our weathermen refer to it as, is the result of thousands of school children praying, donning pajamas inside out and performing the snow dance. I am conflicted. Part of me needs to thank them for providing us all with a day to stay home, relax or play. Another part of me wishes their snow beckoning efforts were not so effective, but that’s just the boring, adult part of me that knows eventually the snow will need to be moved and traveling to work will need to take place. I do love to watch the snow falling. It is an amazing equalizer. Even the thinnest blanket of snow makes every lawn unblemished and radiant. Unlike Spring, when differing degrees of money and effort result in neighbor to neighbor lawn variations and envy. When it snows there are no dirty cars or clean cars. Curbs and driveways are dotted only with globs of white with wheels and windows. The world changes when this white stuff begins to fall. One quietly laid coating of snow and already our average Home Depot patio set looks ready for a formal tea, complete with a gorgeous winter lace table cloth. Long dead garden plants now look like vibrant bouquets of white carnations as the snow piles up on their withered limbs. The grey, jagged wood of our decking is replaced with a smooth coating of snow. It reminds me of all the times I have used excessive amounts of icing to cover/fill/even out my often misshapen cakes. Even our usually unsightly trash can looks softer, less offensive and blended with its surroundings under the cover of snow. In Psalm 51 David calls out to God and brings before Him his blemished, withered and broken self. He is seeking to be forgiven and knows God’s forgiveness will leave him “whiter than snow”. Through His prophet Isaiah(1:18), God tells us “Though our sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow…” I like that. Though we have numerous nicks, scratches and dings in our life, God will forgive us and we too can be “whiter than snow”. I think we’d all look radiant in the white winter lace now thickening on my patio table!
Winter Lace January 27, 2009
Ice on the river January 20, 2009
There we were, looking out on a frozen river and boat laden dock. While my husband worked diligently to free our boat from the grip of the ice monster and install a device used to keep ice away, I found myself huddled behind Steven. Yes, I was using my 22yr old as a windsheild. Gone are the days when I could protect him from gusts of freezing wind I suppose. But as I stood there(my form of “helping” my husband) in the cold I found it difficult to imagine how I could have once thought this kind of cold was fun. My memories of digging forts out of snow banks and ice skating until my limbs were numb on a small rink my dad formed for us in the back yard are based on real events, yet how could I have found such delight in such frigid surroundings. This day, instead of enjoying myself, I can hear my very grown up voice whine and complain as I stand bundled against the elements. I guess with the passing of time and perspective our sensory receptors send amended messages to our brains. Now instead of “weeeee” and “yipeee” my brain registers “whoa” and “oh my”, when encountering bitter cold. When I ventured beyond the protection of my small wall of a son, I begain to appreciate the calm of my surroundings. Ice on the river brings many things to a halt. As I watched the geese standing on the river, the scene was at once a depiction of nature’s beauty , yet quite unnatural to behold. The river was a picture of movement waiting to be set free…and free it did become. Some places let loose the current in response to an impact of some sort, cracking and breaking and shifting. In other areas the river began to move due to the gradual thinning of the frozen membrane that once held it still. As temperatures rose and more current flowed melting began to take place. Movement once held at bay now freely following its path past our docks. It may freeze agian, but it will not stay still forever.
Today we await the inauguration of our 44th president. He represents to many, not only a change in administration, but also an undeniable symbol of the impact of any individual on the movement of our nation. Words and actions of those who came before…some with hard, ice cracking, impact…others a part of the gradual wearing away of ideas and stubburn bonds that held many from their goals or dreams. But altogether, individuals, set our nation into motion, unfreezing us from the grip of stillness. We are a nation that desires to move, is designed to change and determined to adapt. No doubt there will be a freeze again….but nothing stays frozen forever.
The Land of Good Enough January 13, 2009
I have a habit of often proclaiming that I live in “the land of good enough”. This is often my excuse for my quickness to accept minimal efforts from myself as well as others. “The land of good enough” is a nice place to live. Within the borders of this wonderful habitation I can release myself from difficult tasks, uncomfortable conversations, and burdensome obligations. In the “land of good enough” my housekeeping techniques go something like this: baseboards are only cleaned prior to mother/mother-in-law visits(although these days even that is allowed to slide by), only the level of the house you expect guests to venture into need be cleaned, events hosted at the home take place after sunset (everything looks better in candle light…matter of fact, in candle light, dust tends to give that fuzzy warm look to your home…sort of like when movie film is shot through cheese cloth to give a scene a dreamy/blurry image.), the vacuum stays set out in the hall/entry way(so folks who”drop in” think I’m in the middle of cleaning…which explains the current disarray they may encounter) and I am okay with my floors not being “clean enough to eat off of” since I am not likely to ask you to do so. In “the land of good enough” wrinkles are not an enemy which need eradicating, but rather a fashion choice. In my little land, weeds in the lawn are not of concern as long as they are green. My hair, make up and nails need not achieve perfection. Ones personal appearance need only not provoke gasps of horror in “the land of good enough”. I’ve actually thought my existence in this “land” was a good thing. Not only does it allow me to reduce my stress, but it also makes it easy to extend grace to others. If my waitress is a little slow, it’s no problem as long as I get food. If the other drivers on the road are less than perfect, well…sometimes just not causing an accident is “good enough”. If someone makes a mistake that causes me problems, I can often forgive them because intentions are most important in “the land of good enough”. Who wouldn’t want to live in “the land of good enough”?
Our Sunday school class has been involved in a study lately which has me reevaluating the confines of my wonderful, forementioned “land”. In his book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, Mark Batterson examines the actions of a warrior whose exploits are briefly mentioned in 2Samuel 23:20-22. Here we read of a man who did not choose the easy, or even logical, path…instead he chased the difficult and dared to attempt the impossible. Jesus Himself, shares the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 which also highlights “the master’s” pleasure with those who took risks to benifit him.. The Word of God is filled with examples of people who chose to step out, step up, and do difficult things. I began to search the scriptures for examples of people who maybe also once lived in “the land of good enough” …could there be an example of God being delighted with mediocre efforts, easy choices and low expectations? Nope. Instead I find tons of evidence of God’s delight with those who step beyond the walls of “good enough” so that He might be glorified. By allowing myself, and those around me, to find comfort/justification in doing the least that can be done, I may be missing His best. I do not mean to imply that I will be making any radical housekeeping/personal upkeep changes…only that I now see I do need to make some changes in what I expectof myself. You see, while I may be sort of joking when I tell peolple about living in ” the land of good enough” in terms of everyday things…I realize I tend to apply this mantra to other choices of greater importance far too often. I don’t want to miss God given oppertunites to honor Him just because I am happy in my “land of good enough”.
That faint “creeeeek” you just heard is the sound of me slowly pushing open the very heavy gate to my “land of good enough”. As I peek out to examine the world beyond, the “land of my God is big enough” please join me. I hope you’ll share my challenge to live beyond the mediocre, expect the best of myself and the best of my Lord and leave the “land of good enough”.
the dry cleaning lady January 6, 2009
The dry cleaning lady knows my name. … I’m not sure if this is because my husband’s work attire of choice promotes frequent visits to the dry cleaner, or if she makes an effort to recall names as part of a company public relations/marketing plan. I don’t actually care why she knows my name, only that she does. I love it. My first realization of this came when I was dropping off my usual arm load of pants and shirts. She greeted me before I even reached the counter, “Hi Miss Miller”. At the time I did not openly react with the surprise and delight I felt upon hearing my name. Maybe I had only imagined it. Then another time, I entered the store and before giving them my phone number or ticket I was greeted with, “Hi Miss Miller, are you going to work out today?” (You see the dry cleaner is next to the Curves Gym that I work out at. I am often either going or have just come from there on my way to the cleaners.) I felt like a rock star…she not only knew my name, but she also cared about my workout plans! The best part took place the other day. I was heading into Curves (I was not even going to the dry cleaners), she had just stepped out of her store when she saw me and shouted, “you go Miss Miller!” I felt like Rocky Balboa in the training scene where the “public” cheered him on in his effort to get in shape. Sadly, I do not know her name, but I must confess, her use of my name and her effort to engage me beyond that of dry cleaning has made me her customer for life. I know it was a simple thing…and maybe I am too easily moved…but it does highlight an important point: Relationships Matter.
2008 was a year filled with reminders of this very thing. The year began with the loss of my daughters best friend. As we walk her through this time I am constantly made aware of the powerful impact this relationship had on our daughter and our family. The value of friendship, shared dreams, laughter, tears and adventure is brought to the forefront of my thoughts each day. Relationships Matter.
2008 saw the advent of our family’s “Bloodworth Reunion”. In July our home was filled with relatives young and old. Someof whom we’ve kept close with over the years, some new to our growing clan, and some we seldom see due to careers and long distances. Yet, in less than one day together the value of family relationships was evident. There were stories to tell, burdens to share and milestones to celebrate. I consider myself blessed to have such a treasure trove of wildly diverse, loving and loyal family members. Relationships Matter.
The summer of 2008 also brought about Tuesdays at Teri’s. (The event this blog gets its name from) At the prompting of a very wise, spirit filled Sunday School class member, I welcomed ladies to our home each Tuesday from 10 to 2 for poolside fun and fellowship. This casual gathering of young wives and mothers made a significant impact on my life. Spending time with these precious ladies and their children afforded me a chance to know them better and rekindle my comfort level with little ones. (This would come in handy later in the year when I traveled with my sister-in -law to receive her adopted son from Vietnam) …the biggest impact came from simply watching them grow relationships. As they provided counsel, encouragement and mentoring for one another, it became clear that while the pool may have been refreshing on hot summer days, the real refreshment those days brought was the sweet relief found in relationships. Relationships Matter.
I have many relationships in my life that matter, but none more impactful than my relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. It is this relationship which grants me unconditional love,grace and forgiveness. Because of friends, family and yes, even the dry cleaning lady, I have known the thrill of being thought of, cared for, encouraged and remembered. I would like to do the same for others in 2009. Everyone should experience the feelings my dry cleaner bestows upon me…simply by being known…Relationships Matter.