Life Still Isn’t Slow…

I am still reading Chasing Slow. The book isn’t a massive volume and I very much enjoy reading it, but finding the time to slow down, on most days, can be daunting. How apropos that I would need to slow down to read about slowing down. Go figure.

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I, probably like most people, have lived a life that has taken many unexpected twists and turns. I often ponder the fact that when I was in high school I didn’t think I’d go to college five hundred miles away, in Tennessee. When I was was in college I never expected to stay in Tennessee after graduation, but to go back to my home state of Maryland to teach. The summer after I graduated from college, I never expected one of my professors to contact me about a special education job in a school in rural Tennessee. I didn’t expect to stay in Tennesse for the next twenty years. I didn’t know when I married at twenty-four that I’d be widowed and a single parent just a short eight years later. I didn’t know if I’d get remarried, especially to a man that lived in Texas. Yep. I married that guy. After a few years we decided to move to Ohio, and build our own house in the middle of what used to be a farm field. All these things, events, this life I call my own, none of this was part of my master plan. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in a Cape Cod style house, in one of the New England states. I’d enjoy leaf peeping during the Autumn months, hikes through the mountains, and spend time reading books of poetry by Robert Frost. Alas, the Master Planner, had other plans for me. Better plans. Special plans. Surprising plans.

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Those of you that know me, know I am not a laid back kind of person…and yes, the world needs people like me! I am the one with the to-do list and the daytimer planner. I like things organized, alphabetized, and accessorized. I love a good surprise if it is a fun birthday gift or a Christmas present, but not so much anything else. If I start something I want to finish it. I don’t like loose ends. Yet, here I am in rural Ohio, surrounded by corn fields, and occasionally the neighbor’s rogue llamas.

Life still isn’t slow….but, I am working on it.

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Life Is More Enjoyable

Why is it when I long to slow down, the rest of the world seems to speed up? Do I really want to jump on this merry-go-round that spins me until I feel sick? Faster and faster until I have to get off….

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As a young adult, I used to think I had to be where the action was. The real party didn’t even start until late….and I had to stay up to enjoy it. Life was meant to stay busy. Do things. Stay up. Stay out. Stay moving. Life, with all of its ups and downs, has certainly changed that perspective.

There is so much more to see and experience when I slow down to savor the moments. Slowing is not boring, nor is it always easy, but it sure does make life more enjoyable.

  • Shadows of sunlight in the early evening
  • Summer sunsets
  • Chocolate ice cream
  • Bubbles
  • Laughter with my husband
  • Freshly wiped down counters
  • The smell of lavender
  • Cats purring
  • Giving the dog belly rubs
  • A new phone case
  • Checking things off my to do list
  • Sipping tea
  • Emailing family
  • Bare feet
  • Purple nail polish
  • Darkness at 9 pm (which means Fall is on the way!)
  • Grown children that hug and say I love you
  • Help with dinner
  • Folded blankets
  • The warm glow of salt lamps
  • The smell of freshly cut grass

Around The Bend In The Road

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One of my passions in life is to listen to people’s stories. To know people through their stories. To see people through their experiences. To try and understand the meaning behind the expressions.

Everyone has a story inside them. With some, the story leaks out slowly, while with others, it pours out, causing a flood of emotions. Some stories bring sweet memories, and some bring bitter tears. Funny, sad, mesmerizing, sweet. Stories of what is right, as well as some difficult lessons from regrets. Anyone that has lived for any amount of time on this spinning orb, has that story.  Their story. The story that only he/she can tell.

The stories become real and personal. The words wind their way through time and memory, etching meaning into the mundane as well as the miraculous.

This week I am going to begin to tell a story. My story.

I hope you will join me.

 

Finding Beauty

The older I get the more I want to find beauty. To see it in people’s faces. To recognize it in their laughter. To find it in their tears. Life is a struggle (for us all), and so many times I find myself weighted down with all the things that are going on in the world, but yet still…I look for ways to list all the ways that people are beautiful. The smooth, sweet smelling skin of my five month old grand daughter, her contagious laughter instantly changing my mood. The older lady in the store parking lot, smiling at me. The UPS delivery man who is always so friendly and kind, even though I know he is tired. My husband who works hard for me and for his family. The neighbors who offered help, and unconditional support when we lost our beloved dog. My friends who know me, and know my heart, and I theirs. There is beauty. I just keep my eyes open for it.

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I enjoy being outside. I like to take sky pictures… And field pictures… And animal pictures. And yes, people pictures, in my search for beauty. The other night I walked out on the deck, waiting to call the dogs in for the night. The cold, crisp winter air was still as I peered up. The sky was blacker than ink, with sparkling glitter. I find moments like this to be holy. I am reminded how small I am, and how big God is. The intricate workings of the Milky Way, created by the sound of His voice. Beautiful.

Scented soap homemade from a friend, texted messages and voicemails from family and friends, iced tea, and iced coffee, holding hands and holding hearts, baby laughter, and giggles, good books and timeless stories, friendships that have withstood both time and distance, children who are now adults, but still say, “I love you”, pictures on the refrigerator, and smiles from strangers at the grocery store, dogs that lay their heads in my lap and lick me until I pet them, wedding rings and commitment, love and loyalty and fun. God is so good and He chooses to gift me with beautiful people and beautiful moments and ……..

I am so thankful.

 

 

Showing Grace

We always have a choice.

To show grace to others, or not.

Yep, I get it.

Sometimes people do things, and we think we are justified to let them know they are wrong…even if we don’t express those thoughts with words. Many times actions speak much louder than our words ever could. We take the moral high ground, because we are right after all. That’s what we think. We didn’t make the poor choices. We didn’t make the wrong decisions. The “unforgivable sins”. If we act like everything is okay, doesn’t that appear like we are condoning whatever it is? That attitude is so easy to slide into. That we are better because we didn’t do those things.

And yet, it is when we show grace to others, that we are the most like Jesus. Choosing to love….in the midst of the mess. Choosing to forgive…is not accepting less.

When we acknowledge our own brokenness, the darkness of our own hearts, our own poor choices, mistakes, and mess ups, we begin to understand the amazing grace shown to us by Jesus. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He didn’t say, “I’ll wait until you are perfect.” Instead He said, “I love you”.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

 

 

 

 

Love People

 

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I have always been a writer ever since I was a little girl. Diaries. Journals. Notebooks. Scraps of paper. Lists. Poems. Stories. Reading and writing, have always been “my thing”. I readily admit, I am not the writer of great novels (although, I can  (and do) truly appreciate those that are gifted in this way). I am much more a writer of human experience, both mine and others. I write my opinion, how I see life, and the events that have touched me. I see things in a rather aesthetic way, and yes, sometimes get teased for that. After all, who writes about the colors of the changing leaves, or the chilly autumn air that is an omen of what is to come? Or how the geese sound as they land in the lake across the road?  The creases of time etched into a person’s forehead, or the way the little girl who can’t stop hopping, has lopsided pigtails? How the cracks in the sidewalk make a pattern? And how complete strangers, driving by, will wave at you when you go to get the mail, if you wave first? I like to observe and remember the smallest details, because it is sometimes those details that tell the truest stories of our lives.

Sometimes people’s stories are short and sweet, and sometimes they are long and drawn out. I find that when I listen, I usually learn something………..

Yesterday, a friend sat with my family at our church luncheon. We were having a “kick off” for Operation Christmas Child . This man, has the gift of words. He talks to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how old you are. He wants to know people. He said something, that caused me to ponder, mostly because I’ve had the same thought myself.  The gist of his statement went like this: People are so busy these days, no one talks to each other. No one really knows what someone might be going through. If you have the opportunity to talk, and then really listen to someone, it is amazing how much gets said. It just pours out, because people, really DO want to tell their stories. They want to be heard. I smiled. I told him I thought his ability to speak words, to make friends, and to listen was a gift, and did he know that? He just smiled, and said, “I love people”.

Wouldn’t we all do well to love people more?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 NIV

 

 

Love In Action

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I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I say things that I later regret. Occasionally, I have less than stellar opinions. At other times I can nail it, clearly making my point. Many times I even get it right. I am still just human, with human frailties. Can’t we each relate to that?

Lately, it seems like every time I get on the internet, watch something on TV, or read the latest magazine article, there is something about “tolerance”, “being non-judgmental” or “showing acceptance”. Tolerance used to mean, I have my opinion and you have your opinion on an issue. We might never fully agree, but we were able to accept that differences exist and move on. There need be no hateful words, or name calling because of it.  That is no longer the case. Now, it seems as if someone disagrees on any number of subjects he/she is considered wrong, bigoted, or even worse. How is that being tolerant–for either side?

The main stream media tries to eviscerate anyone who dares to say anything differently than what they deem as right and appropriate. Now, I don’t know about you, but I most definitely do not look to the MSM for my core values, or how I conduct myself. The media is looking for the story, what will sell, and how to get people talking. That is the whole point. Most main stream media sources will sell their soul to the devil for a good headline.

I don’t have to love every single thing that people do…and that is okay…but, I can still love them. I am called to love them, even when it is hard….and sometimes it definitely is. This does not mean that I cheerfully accept everything that a person does so I can proudly proclaim, I’m “non-judgmental”, because that would be for the wrong reasons and born out of fear, not love.

If love is truly real, it will not just be words, but will be shown through actions…. Because love without action, really isn’t love at all.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbora]”>[ and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. —-    Jesus words in Matthew 5:43-48