One day I will write about the ways dear ones have bridged gaps for us in the last few months. I am grateful beyond measure. The road is still long ahead, but little by little we will emerge to a new, more manageable life–I pray.
Anyone who knows my heart knows that I prefer giving and sharing. In fact, I have to self-talk that it is ok to receive. It is ok to accept help. It is ok to allow people into our mess.
When I shared the latest stalled house sale update with my mastermind group, the ladies jumped in with their talents to do what they can. I am sure the words “stuck” and “tired” glow on my forehead.
One of the masterminds, Jill, is an interior designer. She offered to come New Years day to transform the blank front room of our house. “Staging” a home is important. She brought an SUV full of items and went to work.
What once was empty and lacked imagination now has a welcoming vibe with pops of color.
I’ve heard some grumbling and sadness around town.
Maybe you are a Have-Not who listened to The-Haves talk about expensive gifts received.
Perhaps you just heard, “but we’ll always be friends” as he shared he is serious about a new relationship.
It’s not even break up season yet. You were blindsided.
Or your mini vacay to-do list is not close to done.
Did you use all the energy you had to cope during a time of grief?
To the person who needs to hear this today, you are valued exactly as you are.
Order and routine will be restored.
It’s ok to take a nap.
Embrace what is and give it to God. Allow the feelings to pass through your body so you can move on. If you fight emotions, the pain lasts longer.
As for that to-do list, tackle something manageable first.
This is a good time to pray, praise, rest, connect to your source.
Reset for 2020.
Remember there is a time for everything. Don’t beat yourself up in this short window.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 There is a timefor everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,a time to killand a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance,a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend,a time to be silentand a time to speak,a time to love and a time to hate,a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time.
How may I pray for you? Dm me with prayer requests for the new year.
I feel the Little Drummer Boy’s pain in this season of life.
You may not have material items to give others, but there are free gifts you can give to friends and family during the holidays and throughout the year.
1. CLEAN SOMETHING. Recently in borrowed work space someone said, “Oh, we are not going to sweep. It was already a mess when we got here.” That comment made me feel sad. Aside from the fact that sweeping is on our checklist, I believe in leaving places better than they were whenever possible. The broom and dust pan stood in the corner. I collected debris in 5 minutes. No one may notice, but I know that caring for someone’s space is an act of love and appreciation.
Deposit positive energy. At someone’s home, you can do dishes without making a fuss or be the person who collects discarded wrapping paper. If the trash can is full, then take the bag outside. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Just do the deed that alleviates someone else’s stress.
2. GIVE QUIETLY. Long ago someone told me about how a visiting family member was helpful but then offered a whiny soliloquy about how they mopped the floor and how they ran a load of laundry. Listen, no one wants to hear about the dust bunnies you cleared or the obstacles you faced when searching for the perfect gift. Have a funny story? Then maybe share. Or ask yourself, is your intention to draw light to show how you should be noticed for your efforts? If so, then no. Hush.
Do you volunteer at church? Then do it with grace. People need the peace that can be found in church rather than the distraction of a grumpy volunteer.
Did you just clean your house for guests? Are you exhausted because cleaning was way overdue? Then check yourself before opening the front door. Don’t greet people with your stress. People need your warm welcoming smile.
Just do or not do…quietly.
We could talk about being present for others. We could talk about self-care and doing less around the holidays. We could talk about the Mary and Martha story in the Bible. As much as we hail Mary for simply being with Jesus, there’s a place for Martha in the story too.
An able bodied someone can help others in the spirit of love and kindness without any need of accolades. With ALS in our home, I often find myself silently thanking God that I have legs that can climb stairs and a body that can bend to pick up things. I don’t say that out loud to Hubby, but I do lift my thanks to my Higher Power. Quiet gratitude renews my spirit even in the moments when my body wears out for the day.
Martha might not be mentioned in Luke 10 if she gave quietly.
Be a stealth Bible Martha.
And please take out the trash & recycling–quietly.
Our oldest son, let’s call him Son-1, has been in the military 3 years.
After moving out of an Air Force base dormitory and into an apartment in New Mexico, he began considering pet ownership.
He talked the idea over with us and his girlfriend (GF) for several months. Son-1 and GF landed on a cat being the best option for them. “But,” he asked me. “If I have to deploy, Mom, would you come get the cat?”
Would I come get the cat?! The words stuck with me for a while. I convinced myself that Oh, it will be a while before that could happen. And Oh, maybe if he deploys, then the timing will work out that his girlfriend or someone else can care for the animal. I won’t really be needed.
We are the type of family that stick with a pet for life. Ultimately I am glad Son-1 got that memo. Pet care is a serious commitment. He’s turning out to be a responsible guy. I think surely my son won’t need me in this way, but if he does, I said, “Yes. I’ll be there.”
I pause here to mention that when our first pet, an insane nearly untrainable and somewhat aggressive 10 lb. dog passed away, then it was a full 9 years before we were willing to have a pet again.
And–once upon a time, I was not a cat person at all. I harbored years of judgement against cats. What I saw and smelled at various homes growing up was not something I wanted in my life. But then one day in 2010 I fell for the tiniest little kitten in Jackson County. I remember our young boys whispered to Hubby, “Mom. Picked. Up. A. Cat.” And Hubby whispered, “Yeah, something’s going down here. She never does that.”
We brought that sweet baby home.
I bought good cat litter. We established twice per day scoop policies. The next year we gave her a friend. Two cats. Clearly I lost my mind.
Fast forward back to last year, Son-1 and GF chose a cat named Gus from a shelter. He had been left behind by other people once or twice. Gus would be left behind no more.
“He is cross-eyed, Mom,” Son-1 said over the phone. “The vet doesn’t think he’ll do well if he is out in the wild.” So Indoor Gus began a sweet life with his new mom and dad.
And Hubby and I felt somewhat like distant cat grandparents.
The first time I met Gus I observed that because of his eye situation he tilts his head back to see when you walk into a room. It looks like he says, “Whaz up?” every time.
For several months we enjoyed pics and texts about their life with Gus. They were a happy little pet inclusive family.
Then GF received notice of deployment. She had several months to prepare. The couple thought they’d cuddle with their cat until she left. Then we were all surprised when Son-1 received notice that he also would deploy but with only 3 weeks notice. Eek! Gus moved up on the extended family priority list. I had made the promise, so you know what happened next.
We rapidly picked the 24 hours that I would fly alone 3200 miles round trip on a tight budget to get Gus. Hubby and I couldn’t help but feel like I was going to get our grandchild-cat.
G-ma is coming!
[End of part one. Stay tuned for part two.]
Job 12:7 But ask the animals, and they will teach you…
I realized my self-talk whispers “ok, one more thing” over and over each time a new daily challenge arrives. This came to my attention when suddenly I experienced a fifteen minute window where I soaked in the joy of One-Less-Thing instead.
My car dashboard mirrors my life with its scattered warnings. The tire maintenance light is forever “on”. I’ve had 5 nail punctured tires over 5 months.
The service engine light greets me each morning. The oil change guy hooked up a gadget reader to tell me the light is nothing to worry about, but I wonder. The brake light won’t go out even when the emergency brake is released. I stopped looking up what the other lights mean in the manual.
The dashboard reminds me of the running narrative in my mind. It goes something like this: I’m still sick. Stress is not helping me get well. Drop the kid off at school. Go to work. Repeat. My voice refuses to come back. The cat puked. -One more thing. I need to make dinner. Sweep the house. Keep trying to sell the house. Clean the bathroom. Move the laundry. I really should write a letter or send a care package to our deployed son. What just fell off the house?! -One more thing. If you sit down, you’ll fall asleep. Get up. Give Hubby the light weight fork because it is easier for him to manage. Position his shoes in a way that will help him be less likely to fall. Move his phone to his next location so he is not thrown off balance by carrying something when he travels inside the house. Help the remaining kid with college applications. I need to go to Lowe’s. Heavy duty caulk. A new vacuum bag. Take out the trash and recycling. Prepare for presentations at work. Who do I need to call back? Have I followed through on all work tasks? Scoop litter box. Check personal email to see if anyone has responded to my manuscript query letters. Send more queries. Do we have gas in both cars? Pay bills in a way that hopefully does not cause an overdraft. It’s going to be close again this month. Is Hubby breathing? Is the cat breathing? I really need to make a vet appointment. -One more thing. There are other people I want to check in with. I text them. There are other people I would like to be there for. My capacity is too narrow. I can’t believe he hasn’t been able to work for a year. We need some mobility equipment. That will have to wait. The kid needs an eye appointment. -One more thing. I can’t make that work financially. How many hours of sleep can I get if I go to sleep right this minute? Why can’t I fall asleep? And so forth.
I try not to complain out loud. “Just keep swimming” as Dory says. But seriously, if there is a Santa out there who wants to buy our house so we can leave and start over, that would be GREAT.
Today I uprooted this tree growing into our fence and felt delighted by the image. Yes, we are ready to be uprooted.
In an attempt to make extra cash, I placed an ad to be a Pet Sitter. I can squeeze in dog walking and more cat litter scooping. I can love on animals and give neighbors peace of mind. The first response? Someone needs help with a cat until they get out of jail in February. So many thoughts. Bless their heart. Sigh….
One day I will not feel so stuck. I visualize selling a manuscript and being in an affordable and accessible home. One day I’ll be in the land of all three. I have learned hard lessons. I can do better.
This week our youngest got a job. Go kid! And he broke my heart by saying, “You won’t have to worry about Christmas, Mom, ’cause I’ll be able to buy my own presents.” The sentiment is good. The reality hurts.
A new job means he needs new pants. We make a plan to go to the store Wednesday. I secretly stress about how to afford the pants, but I think we can make it work. I don’t want him to know how close we are cutting it.
On Tuesday evening I drag my work bag into the house as the guys say, “We have a surprise.”
There on the kitchen table are new pants one day early. Hubby even used a coupon. In my book, that’s hot. Hubby had a decent afternoon and they worked together. I hear that the wheelchair got stuck in the JCPenny door, and they figured that out too.
In the moment, I physically felt something fall off the to-do list. One. Less. Thing. This felt magical. I soaked in the joy for fifteen intentional minutes. I smiled in my own home. This surprise felt so good!
This was a glimpse that things can be better. Will be better. I will trust the process.
To all those who struggle, I send you a giant cyber hug. You can do this. We can do this. Deep, slow breaths.
I admired her. I wanted her to like me. I hoped we’d be friends.
And–I was fairly sure she didn’t think anything at all about me.
That lady was busy doing important things that I liked being part of even if on the fringe. She might not have known my first and/or last name.
I attempted a conversation or two. I doubted my spoken words connected to her brain.
Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? We like someone. We share similar ideas with them. They do work we think is cool. We are confident they have zero interest in getting to know us.
Years later she calls me. Wha…wha…what?
She wants to meet at a restaurant.
So I go.
And it turns out she likes my brain too.
She has been reading my blog and asks me to help her think through a couple things. Then she asks me to pray for her weekly in the months ahead as she works on a project.
Like, O and K together softly, genuinely.
Before agreeing I took a few seconds to think about whether I could fit her request into my life. Which, I gotta say, is one of my most grown up moments. To consider if I could make time for something new, to think about if I could honor her and my word, ah, yes, that is an adult moment for me.
Connection isn’t always obvious, dear readers. Sometimes less is more. We don’t have to force anything. Be present. Be kind. Carry on. Don’t compromise. Be you. Things come around if they are meant to be.
This example gives me hope that a relationship with a literary agent will come into my life too. It’s happened for others. It will happen for me too. I’ve written two novels in three years (dog gone it) while in the midst of serious life changes.
The pressure is on and off at the same time. My coal is being pressed. I’m learning all I can about who might be my #DreamAgent. It will happen. I know you’re out there.
Until then I am sipping Hot Cinnamon Spice tea on a Sunday morning. I’ve learned that quality tea and taking time to breathe is valuable. I’m putting my mug out there and wishing peace for you and your dreams too.