Sunday, December 9, 2018

LEARNING TO CHILL

I tend to stay so busy when I am at home - start a load of laundry, cook the next meal, wash dishes, check off another chore, do the next thing, and then the next, and then the next - that I often feel disconnected from other people in the house. It is very difficult for me to STOP. To make matters worse, when I get on the go-go-go treadmill, and others don't, I begin to resent the fact that I am always working while they get to rest.

I tell myself - and then begin to believe - two lies:
1. I have to do all of this work myself.
2. Others do not appreciate what I do. (If they did, they wouldn't be so chill, right?!)

Now, I know better...I really do. Nobody in my family insists that I go-go-go. And nobody is going to get upset if I stop.

I create this stress myself, and then I get irritated with the others because I'm so stressed - that makes no sense, people!

So this weekend, I did a little exercise: instead of getting on the go-go treadmill, and then getting irritated with those who chose not to get on the go-go treadmill with me, I decided to ignore my natural tendencies and follow the example of those more chill than myself.

Instead of jumping up right after dinner and tackling the dishes in the sink, I followed everyone else to the living area.

Instead of doing laundry, sweeping, or cleaning the bathroom while others were working a crossword or scrolling through Pinterest, I read a book.

When the rest of the family picked up their cell phones, I pulled out my laptop.

I do not have words to describe how difficult and uncomfortable this has been for me.

Do I feel all chill and relaxed after an entire weekend of chilling and relaxing? NO. I feel like I'm developing an ulcer. This not-working thing is wearing me out!

I need some encouragement, folks. Learning to chill - does it get easier with practice?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

GOODBYE SHADOWS AND GLORY SUNSHINE

Thanksgiving is behind us, and now we are hurtling headlong toward Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but I had a full house Thanksgiving weekend. Full, as in wall-to-wall air mattresses and pallets on the floor at bedtime. Full, as in take-a-number for a shower in the morning. Full as in “Is this the third pot of coffee we’ve brewed this afternoon, or the fourth?”

I love a house filled with family and friends. I love crowding elbow-to-elbow around the table. I love long conversations over coffee. I love the kitchen weave of many cooks preparing a meal together.

I had a full house for Thanksgiving, and it was awesome.

But then, everybody left.

As Thanksgiving weekend drew to a close, I stood on the front porch and waved goodbye as the last set of red taillights headed down the driveway.

Now, the beds have been remade with fresh linens. The air mattresses are deflated and put away. Floors are vacuumed and swept; mountains of towels, washed and folded; ginormous baking pans, stored until needed for the next family gathering.

The great big chaotic fullness of a family holiday has been replaced by a great big empty quiet. I already miss the conversations on the porch swing, the long walks on the farm, the laughter over dinner, the snuggles on the couch with the grandkids.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the shift from noisy to quiet, from full to empty is a little traumatic.

Perhaps it’s the physical fatigue: a house full of company is a lot of work! Perhaps, like a Sunday-evening child haunted by the thought of Monday-morning school, I am reluctant to return to life-as-usual. Perhaps the noise and chaos distracted me for a season from unpleasant realities in my day-to-day, and now, those realities once again clamor for my attention.

Whatever the reason, post-holiday emptiness and quiet settle over my heart like a shadow, like tears at the end of a beautiful love story.

Don’t you wish the fellowship and feasting could go on and on forever?

This droop in spirits as I transition from a packed-full house to lonely ol’ me at the computer is a gift, though, because it makes me mindful of Glory. It stirs in a me a longing for that day when family and friends will gather together to celebrate…and never have to say Goodbye again.

This goodbye shadow over my heart reminds me that I was created - indeed, all of us were created - for unbroken fellowship with our Creator.

C. S. Lewis, in They Asked for a Paper, put it this way: “A man’s physical hunger does not prove that man will get any bread…But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating…

“In the same way, though I do not believe…that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will.”

The goodbye shadow that comes after time spent with people I love makes me long all the more for that great day when there will be no more goodbyes. So, I’ll take today’s shadow: it points me to the sunshine.

(This is taken from one of my first "Porch Swing Perspective" articles, written just over a year ago. Has it really already been a year? Time flies!)

Friday, November 30, 2018

UN-LEARNING "NO"

When the answer has been "No" for longer than you can remember, you forget that there is such a thing as "Yes"...and then you stop asking, stop trying, stop wondering things like "What if...? and "Could I maybe...?"

I was challenged by a friend several weeks ago to imagine possibilities, rather than to think reflexively in terms of impossibilities. Thank you, Beth. I HAVE imagined possibilities. And, I am beginning to dare to believe that there is such a thing as "Yes."

Before, when I lived in the Land of No, obstacles looked like impregnable walls. They kept me inside a box of defeat and passivity. I knew I couldn't get over the wall, so why even try?

That way of thinking has been difficult to un-learn.

Since Beth challenged me to "imagine possibilities," I have encountered obstacles - walls - and those obstacles almost shut me down.

Almost.

But every single time that I was tempted to give up and succumb to my old attitude of "What's the point in even trying?," God sent someone to give me a boost, someone to help me over the wall. (God is so good!)

And I have discovered: my "wall climbing" muscles are getting stronger. Obstacles don't shut me down like they used to.

Can I do this?

Why, YES, I think that maybe, just maybe, I can!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

NEED HELP? (Hint: The answer is YES.)

One reason I love my job:

People I meet in the Emergency Department and people who have been admitted to the hospital do not pretend that they are perfectly fine and don't need any help. On the contrary, they come to the hospital precisely because they know they are NOT fine and they DO need help. And, as a rule, they are truly grateful for the help hospital staff provide.

People outside of the hospital? That's another story.

Here's the irony. We are ALL broken, wounded, diseased, scarred, bleeding out our ears, desperately in need of help. ALL of us. And yet, so many people deny they have any problem at all.

Like the chronically drunk uncle who replies, when confronted by family about his excessive drinking: "I don't have an alcohol problem. You are the ones with a problem. You are the ones who need help."

Or the abusive husband: "I don't have a problem. She's the problem. She's the one who needs counseling."

Or the angry teenager: "I don't have an anger problem. It's everyone else - they're the ones with the problem. If they understood me better, they wouldn't make me so angry!"

Here's another irony: people who know they are broken, who know they need help - like the people I meet every day at work - they gratefully receive help, and very often, they get better. They heal; they get stronger; they experience renewed health and vigor.

But those who deny that they need help - like so many of the I-don't-have-a-problem, I'm-fine people I encounter outside the hospital - they refuse help, and they get sicker, weaker, more broken. Often, sadly, they spread brokenness and disease to the people closest to them.

What about you? Are you broken, sick, scarred, bleeding?

If your answer is - "I'm fine. Really. But now, so-and-so, SHE has a problem..." - well, maybe you should get a second opinion. I think maybe you haven't accurately diagnosed your symptoms.

And if your answer is - "Yes. Yes, I am broken. I need help..." - well, I know a really Great Physician.

I see Him at work, every day.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

SUCH BEAUTY


So much white. So much softness. So much loveliness.

Eyes open wider.

Ears listen brighter.

Lungs inhale deeper.

Cheeks glow redder.

Laughter freer.

Steps...slower. I want to savor this.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

SUCH TENDER LOVE!

On the drive to church this morning, I was praying for my children and for the children of several friends of mine. My greatest desire for these young people is for God to capture their hearts.

For my children to be made spiritually alive...only God can do that. My children can't do that for themselves. I can't do it for them. God, only God, gives life. And so I pray to God, day after day, week after week, pleading with him to do just that.

But sometimes, I grow discouraged. Like the weary prophet, I find myself praying, "Oh, Lord, how long?!" This morning, my heart felt so heavy.

* * *
Sunday school this morning, our lesson topic: GRACE. Salvation is a gift from God. He plans, purposes, initiates, and accomplishes my salvation. It is God's work, from beginning to end, and not my own (nor my kids').

And then worship...

Our Call to Worship this Sunday morning: "For I will pour out water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit on your offspring; and my blessing on your descendants." - Isaiah 44:3

And then our Responsive Reading, which included this passage: "And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit..." - from the prophet Joel

* * *
It's like God knows the cares of my heart, and He speaks directly to them. Oh, how tender and compassionate God's love toward this frail woman!

God is faithful, and He is so very good.

In the face of this kind of love, I am undone. Care gives way to worship and praise.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

WEIRD TIMES

According to my email junk box, the most pressing concerns occupying the thoughts of internet users today are:

  • erectile dysfunction
  • hair loss
  • how to hook up with hot, easy women
  • toenail fungus
  • how to win the next mega lottery (so I can pay to get my 20-something body, libido and stamina back and then set up a meeting with an international date at some exotic location)
In fact, these are such BIG concerns that I receive several messages EVERY SINGLE DAY in my email junk box.

(URGENT! Toe Nail Fungus Cure Discovered! Seriously, people? Toe nail fungus...urgent?! A ruptured artery, now THAT'S urgent. Toe nail fungus, I don't think so.)

My email junk box is a sad commentary on the state of the American male psyche. And I write "male psyche" because these emails are clearly targeted at men.

But that's not my point.

My point is: how does this junk mail get targeted to MY email account? And WHY?


I am female, and lack the necessary hardware to suffer from ED. I have a thick head of hair. Objectification of women makes me want to puke. My toenails are healthy. I don't play the lottery.

I have never, ever, ever done any kind of internet search on any of these topics. I have never even opened one of said emails, although I'd sure love to send a reply that blew up the original sender's mainframe.

We live in weird times, people. Weird times.

* * *
Now that I'm thinking about it, you guys out there, are your email junk boxes inundated with URGENT! messages about pressing concerns like how to get your children to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the floor, how to help the guys in your family actually hit the toilet when they pee (or clean up after themselves when they don't), and home remedies for hot flashes and memory loss? Just curious. It occurred to me: maybe I'm on the wrong mailing lists.