Swatted and Savored

Photo by Josie McKenzie

He ran back toward the fence that shielded him from entering a dark, murky pond. I am sure there are water monsters that live deep in that three foot shallow pond. Beneath the scum and the murk and sludge and the slime and all the other stuff that floats on top and wallows quietly beneath the surface.

 

Photo by Josie McKenzie

There are hatches of small flies coming to life above the surface and to the south of that pond. I got caught up in a few today. So did he. I was swatting at them as I walked through the army of fish bait. And spitting out the ones I missed. As I looked over at him, he was laughing. A belly laugh. Before I knew it, I was too because there are endless things this two year old does to cause you to smile and make you laugh, but this… this was the topper so far.

 

Photo by Josie McKenzie

After batting a few more flies, I look over at this laughing boy and I see him running deliberately, determinedly, purposely, willfully into the multitude of small white creatures whose wings are just learning their purpose a bit too late. Because this boy – my little monkey grandson – has decided to see what makes fish like newly hatched little cream colored flies. And so he runs – his little ‘run on his tippy toes run’ – and as he runs, he opens wide his mouth and hopes for success.

 

 

I stand laughing. Because if that isn’t entertaining enough, after he runs through the swarm, he stops, closes his eyes and rubs his belly as if to say, “Yum!!!” And then he does it again. I literally had to go after him to get him to stop.

 

I wonder why. Why would a two year old want to catch flies in his mouth? What prompted him to do it? Perhaps it’s the fact daddy comes home tonight. He knows it. He is excited from head to toe. And daddy loves to fly fish so undoubtedly there have been conversations about flies and how the fishes try to get them, yum yum.

Who can know what goes on in the mind of a two year old? I don’t. I’m just thankful to have been at the right place at the right time to watch his thoughts played out on this sunny, fly-hatching day.

Prying Off the Lid to My Bucket List

20130415-205218.jpgI’ve been trying to get organized. That can mean something different to each person. Such as getting your ‘affairs’ in order.  Making a new (‘life’)plan.  Cutting stress.  Starting a new habit (or two) or breaking an old one.  Cutting clutter.  Going through ‘stuff’.  Methodizing ‘things’.  Putting things in ‘order’.  Making a ‘power productivity program’.  Designating time.  FREEDOM.  Spring cleaning.  Reducing stress.  Setting goals.  Cleaning out.  Sorting junk.

I’m sure you could come up with more.  For me, it’s been a bit of spring cleaning (trying to get a head start so I can finish before I must call it Fall cleaning), setting some goals, sorting through, cleaning out, putting things in order (or at least I’m trying).

Another thing I’m doing is trying to fill and empty my bucket, or box.  I have a little box covered rather primitively and given to me by a very special lady and it became (and still is) my ‘bucket’ box.  It holds ideas of things to do, to make, to write.  I am good at filling it.  I slack off on opening the lid to actually doing what I put in there.

In his book, Unfair and Unbalance: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, by Patrick M. Carlisle, Carlisle makes the statement that, “a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night, [will] cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, and pry the lid off his bucket list!”  I don’t wish to be querulous now or in my ‘twilight’ years, but I am ready to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back on by bucket box.  Perhaps live a little more – or a lot.

I think when you have a chronic or a terminal illness (or intimately know or live with someone who does), you tend to look at life differently. It becomes more valuable as you realize in one way or another, your time is limited.  Limited by days or mobility, functionality or abilities.  You tend to see things in a new light and what was once not, now becomes a possibility.

For me, to make things more possible, involves being more organized and de-cluttering my ‘life’.  That means all materially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ‘stuff’

I guess you could say I owe this awakening to my daughter.

She and her husband came up for Christmas this past December and one evening (in front of her husband, no less) said to me, “Mom, you’ve really got a lot of stuff – a lot of clutter – laying around (yes, she used that word).  You’ve really started becoming a pack rat.”  The shameless boldness to speak to her mother with such truth.

The actual truth is – I think I’ve always been a pack rat.  I’ve just organized (or hidden) it well.  So – she doesn’t know it but, her comment lit a fire under me.  January 1st, I made a decision to get organized AND clean out (two different things).  I think what has happened is, I started cleaning out (de-cluttering) and the organization started happening.  When the organization began coming back (I was once super organized), I began to feel less stress and ‘free’. I began thinking of setting goals and designating time anew.  I began thinking about what to take out of my bucket box and doing something about those ideas, whether they be something to make, do, or to visit.

When I began to think of goals, designating time naturally came into play.

Yesterday I heard a woman say, “I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food than thinking about God.”  Shouldn’t that be the other way around (and she was getting to that)?

She may have said it, but the statement echoed in my ears.  I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food, contemplating the thought of food, worrying about food, obsessing about food, dreaming about food, considering what food I will eat, envisioning that food… well, you get the idea.  I am not obsessive, really (about food), but I do spend too much time thinking about it and not enough time giving thought and priority to things of much more importance ~ like God.

And that needs to change.  And that is one of my goals.

So, as my life becomes and continues to be reordered, reprioritized, reorganized, I am hoping to get it to look like this:

~God first in deed, speech, and thought.  What does that look like for me?

He comes first in my attention and affection.  If He truly is the most important, He will get the best of both ~ quantity and quality of time and love.  If that is working well, all the other areas of my life seem  to work  well, no matter the circumstance.

Everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated as such.  There are no exceptions.  What does that look like?  Forgiveness.  Unconditonal love.  Random acts of kindness.  Phone calls/notes to friends and family.  If they matter, it should be obvious.  I have a responsibility to love like Jesus.  If I truly love Him and follow Him, I’ll act like Him and others won’t ever have to question if I love them or if they matter.  My words, my thoughts, and my actions will reflect this.

~De-clutter.  What does that look like for me?

Thoughts change as the old goes out.  Whether materially, emotionally, mentally, physically.

I believe this stems from the desire to put God back in His right place in my life: first place.  When I give  Him priority in all things, I easily see what needs to go.  Are there material things that you hold on to that are a reminder of hurt?  Emotional memories that keep you from experiencing true freedom and joy?  Maybe it’s time to de-clutter the inner closets of our lives, too.

~Open the bucket box and take out. Don’t just put in.

I love new dieas.  Something new to try.   Going somewhere new.  Sometimes – often – however, I get so distracted with new ideas that they stay just that – ideas.  I want to begin to take these ideas out and do something with them, even if it’s to throw them away.  For example, what am I going to do with a note that says, “3 clothespins and yellow paper with Josh”?  (A note I quickly jotted to remind myself of a craft to do with my son when he was five.  What do I do with 3 clothespins, yellow paper, and a five year old who is now 29?!?)

What was that quote?

I am ready to “cut loose, …dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back on my bucket ‘box’.”

Are you?
getting my ‘affairs’ in order. Making a new (‘life’) plan. Cutting stress out of my life. Starting a new habit (or two) or breaking an old one. Cutting clutter. Going through ‘stuff’. Methodizing ‘things’. Putting things in ‘order’. Making a ‘power productivity program’. Designating time. FREEDOM. Spring cleaning. Reducing more stress. Setting goals. Cleaning out. Sorting junk.

I’m sure you could come up with more. For me, it’s been a bit lIke spring cleaning (trying to get a head start so I can finish before I have to call it Fall cleaning), setting some goals, sorting through, cleaning out, putting things in order.

Another thing I’m doing is trying to fill and empty my bucket, or box. I have a little box, covered rather primitively and given to me by a very special lady who hid a packet of soup in it when once I thanked her for the delicious meal she made for her sister and I when we visited her a few days in Seattle. She mailed me the box with a new packet of the delicious soup she had made. I loved the box and was elated to find out the soup was a mix so I could make it! The box became (and still is) my ‘bucket’ box. It holds ideas of things to do, to make, to write. I am good at filling it. I slack off on opening the lid to actually doing what I put in there.

In his book, Unfair and Unbalance: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, Patrick M. Carlisle makes the statement that, “a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night, [will] cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, and pry the lid off his bucket list!” I don’t wish to be querulous now or in my ‘twilight’ years, but I am ready to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back off by bucket box. Perhaps live a little more – or a lot.

I think when you have a chronic or a terminal illness (or intimately know or live with someone who does), you tend to look at life differently. It becomes more valuable as you realize in one way or another, your time is limited. Limited by days or mobility, functionality or abilities. You tend to see things in a new light and what was once was not, now becomes a possibility.

For me, to make things more possible, involves being more organized and de-cluttering my ‘life’. That is all materially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I guess you could say I owe this enlightenment to my daughter.

She and her husband came up for Christmas this past December and one evening (in front of her husband, no less) said to me, “Mom, you’ve really got a lot of stuff – a lot of clutter (yes, she used that word) – laying around . You’ve really started becoming a pack rat.” The shameless boldness to speak to her mother with such truth.

The actual truth is – I think I’ve always been a pack rat. I’ve just organized (or hidden) it well. So – she doesn’t know it but, her comment lit a fire under me. January 1st, I made a decision to get organized AND clean out (two different things). I think what has happened is, I started cleaning out (de-cluttering) and the organization started happening. When the organization began coming back (I was once super organized), I began to feel less stressed and ‘free’. I began thinking of setting goals and designating time anew. I began thinking about what to take out of my bucket box and doing something about those ideas, whether they be something to make, do, visit, etc…

When I began to think of goals, designating time naturally came into play.

Yesterday I heard a woman say, “I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food than thinking about God.” Shouldn’t that be the other way around (and she was getting to that)?

She may have said it, but the statement echoed in my ears. I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food, contemplating the thought of food, worrying about food, obsessing about food, dreaming about food, considering what food I will eat, envisioning that food… well, you get the idea. I am not obsessive, really, about food, but I do spend too much time thinking about it and not enough time giving thought and priority to things of much more importance ~ like God.

And that needs to change. And that is one of my goals.

So, as my life becomes and continues to be reordered, reprioritized, reorganized, I am hoping to get it to look like this:

~God first in deed, speech, and thought. What does that look like for me?

God first means – He comes first in my attention and affection. If He truly is the most important, He will get the best of both ~ quantity and quality of time and love. If that is working well, all the other areas of my life seem to work well, no matter the circumstance.

God first means – Everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated as such. There are no exceptions. What does that look like? Forgiveness. Unconditonal love. Random acts of kindness. Phone calls/notes to friends and family. If they matter, it should be obvious. I have a responsibility to love like Jesus. If I truly love Him and follow Him, I’ll act like Him and others won’t ever have to question if I love them or if they matter. My words, my thoughts, and my actions will reflect this.

~De-cluttered. What does that look like for me?

Thoughts change as the old goes out. Whether materially, emotionally, mentally, physically.

I believe this stems from the desire to put God back in His right place in my life: first place. When I give Him priority in all things, I easily see what needs to go. Are there material things that you hold on to that are a reminder of hurt? Emotional memories that keep you from experiencing true freedom and joy? Maybe it’s time to de-clutter the inner closets of our lives, too.

~Open the bucket box and take out.

I love new dieas. Something new to try. Going somewhere new. Sometimes – often – however, I get so distracted with new ideas that they stay just that – ideas. I want to begin to take these ideas out and do something with them, even if it’s to throw them away. After all, what am I going to do with a note that says, “3 clothespins and yellow paper with Josh”? (A note I quickly jotted to remind of a craft to do with him when he was five. What do I do with 3 clothespins, yellow paper, and a five year old?)

What was that quote? I am ready to “cut loose, …dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back off my bucket ‘box’.” I’ll cut loose starting with dispensing of that yellow piece of paper that I can’t remember what 3 clothespins and yellow paper were for.

Writing for His glory –
sherri

Book Review: Thank You God, for Blessing Me

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Seriously.
Can Max Lucado ever write a bad book?
No.
Never.
And though it’s two years in the running (because I’m late in the reviewing), he’s proven it yet again with his delightful all-star, irresistible children’s critter (okay, worm), Hermie.

Hermie takes children through a thoughtful, well-thought out rhyming children’s prayer as he thanks God for his day and all the wonderful things he found in it.

Both educationally and spiritually valuable, children will find it easy to understand, easy to identify common words for the beginning reader, and take away and good lesson for prayer: thankfulness.

An ideal gift for the preschooler! Go Hermie!

Cracked but Not Broken

It was a Monday afternoon.

My son was picking up his two children.

There’s Boo.

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You’ve heard me expound on Boo, my granddaughter. She’s the one with the vivid, non-stop imagination. The one, who, if you’ve ever watched the insurance commercial where the guy is sitting at the little kids’ table and one little girl answers his question and just keeps going on and on and on… well – that’s Boo. She is smart, she is sweet, she is sensitive, and she is silly. She loves to sing and dance and sword fight and she is my sidekick.

I’ve watched her each day, ten hours a day, since she was six months old.

She is now 5 1/2.

Then there’s now Little Buddy.
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Big, wide, curious blue eyes that soak up every smile, every funny face. Eyes that catch sight of every bird, each butterfly that flutters past, and is amazed at the bumble bees and the poster of Rapunzel and her sidekick, Pascal. My Little Buddy who runs as fast as a 13 month old can (while being told “I’m gonna get’cha”), having only been walking for two months of his young life.

Little Buddy that smiles back as I sing to him while rocking him to sleep, then closes his eyes and begins to snore.

I’ve watched him since he was 3 1/2 months old.

It’s a Monday afternoon, about three weeks ago.

As my son readies to leave with the kids, he pauses to tell us he has been putting feelers out for a new job (he has eluded to this several times in the last two years now and then). He’s never really felt settled at Harry’s (where I take many of my rose pictures). He’s never felt in his element and doing what he enjoys or using his degree. He has been in the marketing division of Harry’s company and his strenghts lie in analytics and crunching numbers.

So, he put out feelers for a better job.

Anywhere.

Tuesday afternoon.

One day later.

My son has an over-the-phone interview with someone at a company based in a small town in northern Idaho, just south of the Canadian border, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Could be nothing, he says.

Could be something, I think.
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Wednesday afternoon.

He’s got the job and the next day he gives his notice. The same day he receives a letter from his current company stating that Harry’s is being sold, restructured, and my son’s current job is one of hundreds with a good possibility of disappearing.

Coincidence? I believe in a Higher Power than that which is called coincidence. I also believe I am going to be sick.
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Thursday afternoon.

My son talks of putting their house up for sale and when I go over to the house to drop something off, the realtor is already there and is making his introductions to his new clients – my son and his family.

I leave and as I turn the corner and head towards home, the tears come. This is too real.
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Friday afternoon.

They have two offers and accept one of them the following Monday afternoon.

By that following Sunday, my son is driving to Idaho to start his new job the next day.

It is now another Friday afternoon and I take Boo to the mall. We are having a special afternoon together, just Grammy and Boo. We are going to ride the kids’ train – finally. She has waited a long while for this adventure and today we are going to do it.

The train is no more.

The woman at the toy store merely states that one day it was just ‘gone’. Boo handles it extremely well.

We slip into a photo booth and do the next thing on our list. Have our picture taken together. She loves the idea of instant photos and funny faces, so we do another booth.

And then she spots it.

Claire’s.

Every little girl’s dream store. Jewelry. Hair accessories. Hello Kitty doodads.

She is in heaven. She picks out glitter hair and a set of new hair clips.

“Mommy will freak out,” she says regarding the glitter hair. “I’ve never seen Mommy freak out so this will be funny,” she adds.

As we walk to the counter, she eyes a display of necklaces. “They’re all cracked,” she says as she looks at them.

A display of necklaces, sold in pairs, of broken hearts. Each pair has a broken heart and a coral colored flower hanging from each chain.

She asks why they are all ‘cracked’.

I explain that the hearts are broken in two because when two people who really care for and love each other aren’t together, their hearts can feel broken. So, they each have a piece of this heart that represents their hearts and when they get back together and see each other again, they put their two pieces together and the heart is fixed. (I don’t know – I’m wingin’ it here. I’ve never had a broken heart made of gold.)

“Oh Grammy,” she exclaims. “Let’s get these! Then you can have one and I can have one and when we’re not together our hearts will be cracked and when we are together again, our hearts will be fixed.”

Our hearts will be fixed
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I was struck by her insistance that the heart made of metal wasn’t broken, but cracked. In some strange way, I was actually comforted by that remark. Instead of being broken, our hearts will be cracked. I’m grateful for that, for I don’t think I could handle a broken heart, lying in pieces and my emotions raw on the floor.

A cracked heart seems different somehow.

It is hurting, painful, and crying out for mercy, but it is being held together enough to know God is going to work in and through it until it is whole once more.

So we bought that set of cracked-heart necklaces. And when my son returns to take his family in a week and a half, my heart will feel like it is being ripped in two, I know God will be holding it together so that it will only be cracked

…and not broken.
20130604-210231.jpgFrom my heart ~sherri

It Is Well

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If I said the name Horatio Spafford, some would probably think I made up the name and was using it for some crazy man in a crazy story. The name is real and so was the man who bore that name.

And his wife.

And his four daughters.

And his son.

Horatio was a well-established lawyer in the 1800’s, in Chicago. His wife, Anna, and he bore a son and four daughters. In 1870, the waters surrounding the Spafford’s lives began to churn and they were to find themselves in the midst of a raging storm. Horatio and Anna lost their son, age four to scarlet fever. WIthin a year of their great loss, the great Chicago fire occurred and the real estate holdings along the shores of Lake Michigan that Horatio had heavenly invested in were destroyed by the fire.

In need of a distraction from all occurrences of the past year, Horatio planned a vacation for his family, only to be delayed at the last moment. He encouraged his wife and daughters to go on ahead, telling them he’d catch up with them in England. It wasn’t meant to be. While sailing to England on the ship, the Ville de Havre. While en route to England, it collided with another vessel and sank within 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people, four of which were Spafford’s daughters.

Shortly thereafter, while Horatio was traveling overseas to reunite with his grieving wife, the captain called for him, saying they were passing the spot where the Ville de Havre had sunk. Returning to his cabin after quiet contemplation, Horatio penned the famous hymns, It Is Well with My Soul.

I have sung that hymn hundreds of times. I have heard it even more. But I never really heard it until I was singing it to my little grandson, while rocking him to sleep for his nap.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,’
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul
.

It’s funny how we can be like children when it comes to music. They hear the words, but not really and their version of ‘My coutnry ’tis of Thee, sweet land of liberty,” becomes, “…sweet land of liver trees.” (True incedent.)

We do the same thing. We don’t really listen to the song – the words – that we’re singing. Children may get the words twisted, but we can have the tendency to check out while we’re singing and not even know what we just sang or the meaning behind the words. I think that’s what happened to me.

It was the last line of the hymn. The ‘even so’ part.

The stanza that line is in talks about the Lord’s second coming, for those of you who believe. I used to sing that stanza with joy, but teh other day, it changed. Yes, there is still joy, but now there is also fear. A healthy fear, I hope. A fear that says, Christ is returning and

Every knee shall bow. Whether we chose to believe or not.

Every tongue will confess that He is Lord. (Romans 14:11)

A righteous judgment will take place. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Our faith will be made sight.

Are we ready for this? Is our soul “well” as we anticipate, await, and yearn for His return? Are we trusting Him to be there, ready for us as that cloud is rolled back while the trumpet rings out that He is finally here?

Life seems to be getting harder and so often it does not feel well within as our personal storms rage without. Yet – I pray that you find peace today and a calm somewhere within that can say, as Horatio Spafford was able to say,

It is well with my soul.

Something Better

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It was time for milk. John, my almost one year-old grandson, was fidgeting and giving him a little milk before nap helped him to calm down. And so, the prepare-for-nap ritual began:

– Remove the bottle from the refrigerator.
– Place bottle in warmer.
– Make sure, due to experience, warmer is turned on.
– Let bottle warm to perfect temperature.
If it’s not warm enough, John will make faces. If it’s too warm, he won’t touch it. It has to be just right because he thinks he’s a baby bear.

– Remove bottle.
– Walk to living room and sit in rocking chair.
– Feed John his much-awaited bottle.

So – I did all that. I took out the bottle, warmed it up, sat down with his favorite blanky and John on my lap and he began to drink. I laid my head back and could have fallen asleep. But I didn’t. Instead, I looked down at John and smiled.

So precious is this little boy.

“Grammy loves you,” I whispered.

He smiled. And then I noticed my dreaded mistake.

Though John seemed quite content, I noticed I had forgotten to remove the plug. That thin piece of plastic that separates the lower portion of the bottle from the nipple. The part that keeps the milk from leaking because no milk can pass through.

Almost at the same moment, perhaps because he saw the look on my face, he backed away from the bottle, looked at the nipple and looked at me and screamed bloody murder.

John doesn’t cry. Let me rephrase that. His parents say he cries, but honestly, he has only cried less than a handful of times and that is when lunch doesn’t come fast enough or Grammy forgot to remove the plug. And so it was on this day John screamed.

As he screamed, I tried to reassure him I was only removing the bottle from his grip in order to give him something better. I was replacing the tasteless air with delicious milk.

He didn’t care.

He wanted his bottle back with me pulling the plug without him having to let go. However, I had to take it away to if he was going to get any milk from it.

Well, I ended up giving it back to him – after I removed the plug. Was he happy to get his bottle back? Of course. Was he happier when he realized now he was actually getting milk? His little grin confirmed that fact. Yes – he was happier.

When I told John something better was coming, it reminded me of the tendency we have as faithless human beings that when God removes certain things from us, we can kick and scream, too. We’re no different than John or any other baby or child. When God said, “Unless you become like little children…” I am quite confident that imitating their tantrums isn’t quite what he meant.

What He meant was to come to him in faith, childlike faith (John was short on that that particular day). Come to Him, believing that He is good. That He is sovereign and holy. Just and merciful. That He wants His best for you. Come to Him with your grip loosened, ready to let go. If He’s asking for whatever it is you’re holding onto, He’s got something better in mind.

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
‘” Matthew 18:3 NIV

Trust Him.

Writing for His glory,
Sherri