Salty

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV)

I don’t make the most of every opportunity. In fact I believe opportunities fly past me as I rush from place to place.

Jesus made the most of every opportunity. He noticed.

Everything.

Jesus would never avoid going down the cereal aisle when he saw your daughter’s friend’s mom coming from the other end.

Instead, Jesus would smile at her as he walked toward her. He would ask her how she was doing. Then Jesus would listen as he looked into her eyes. And he would be genuinely interested in what she was saying. Your daughter’s friend’s mom would leave knowing that she mattered. She would be so uplifted by that short but real conversation that she would go home and do the same for her family.

Then maybe her husband would do the same for his hurting co-worker the next day. And her teen aged daughter might reach out to a lonely classmate.

One conversation with Jesus can change everything.

What if I do the same? What if I take the time to notice? What would happen if I slowed down enough to see those around me. Not just see, but notice. Speak. Listen. Love.

It starts there. With the opportunities. At home. In the grocery store. At the salon. In your neighbor’s yard. At work or church.

imageBe salty. Not in the bitter, aggressive, sassy kind of way.

But in the way that brings out the best in others…..”seasoned with salt” as the verse says.

Someone needs you to see them.

Someone needs you to smile and say hello.

Someone needs you to listen.

Be salty and live like it matters.

 

Memory

I’ve been sorting through moments. The kind caught with a camera. And we all know what happens when you sort through photographs. You look. And you remember. Memories flood your heart and mind and you keep looking through the photos and you keep remembering and you smile and laugh and want others to look at them with you.

Then there are the photos that you’ve never seen before of people you loved and that loved you. You see these moments and you wonder and you learn something about them.

Another feeling comes when you look, really look, at these moments gone long ago. It’s a strange strong feeling. And it’s a new one to me. It has some yearning in it, mixed with a little sadness and some happiness, restlessness too.

But it’s good to remember because as Frederick Beuchner wrote, “…even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.”

 

My favorite photos are the ones I’ve never seen. The photos of people and places and happenings before I was born.image

Like this school picture of my dad from 1956. He was 14. His dad died when he was 14. I don’t know if this picture was taken before of after his father died.

Or this picture of my mom with two of her sisters. She is the tallest one. Mom had two brothers and five sisters. She was the baby of her family and she was a daddy’s girl.

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Or this one of Mom and Dad on a beach somewhere. I never knew Mom wore a bikini but Dad always wore a hat.

They’d lived a lot of life before I was here. They had the same experiences common to all of us. Joy and pain. Sorrow and regret. Infatuation and rejection. Hope and despair. Friendship and betrayal. Fear and love and faith.

And then I became part of their story. And they lived more life and we had more joy and pain. Sorrow and regret and fear. And faith, hope and love.

And now they are part of my story.

“Memory is more than a looking back to a time that is no longer; it is a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change with the life that is in it still. The people we loved. The people who loved us. The people who, for good or ill, taught us things”.    Frederick Buechner

 

A Discover Challenge post:The Things We Leave Behind.

 

 

Open Spaces 

What we do with our time tells the world a lot about us.

How do you spend your time? What does your calendar or planner say about your life?

Last month I didn’t like what my planner said about me. It said I’m busy doing a lot of things. Good things, too. But when I’m not careful about how I plan, I end up doing a lot of additional things and ignoring essential things.

I have to regularly ask myself: is my life busy or bountiful? Manageable or meaningful? Do I value relationships over routine?

We are afflicted with the idea that we aren’t accomplishing anything unless we are rushing here and there, checking off the items on our “to do” list. But a full calendar doesn’t equal an abundant life. I cannot feel the spaciousness of God’s love when I’ve crammed my calendar full.

When I crowd my calendar with a lot of additional unnecessary activities, I crowd out opportunities for good conversations. I push away the chance of a meaningful encounter. I cannot live on purpose when I’m running around trying to accomplish a lot of things. When I’m rushing from one place to the next I don’t see the people around me. I may see them with my eyes, but not with my heart.

I won’t take the time to smile and say hello to the elderly lady behind me. I won’t notice the young boy in the cereal aisle that’s lost his mother.  I’ll rush through a phone call from my sister.

Because I want to live like it matters and after years of doing it the wrong way, I know that I need time in my home with my family and I need solitude. So I must be wise when planning and making commitments. Since I work full-time most of my days are filled but I can be intentional about my evenings.

I’ve learned that I need plenty of blank spaces in my calendar….some unplanned blocks of time…………time to move at soul-speed. The kind of time when I’m still and my heart is open to any kind of heavenly thought that God might send my way.

The unplanned time can be the most meaningful time spent. The kind that allows for a lengthy unrushed phone call with a long distance friend. Or a cozy movie night at home with my husband because the kids are out of the house unexpectedly. Or a nap on a Sunday afternoon.

 

We all need open spaces in our calendars.

My Live Like It Matters Challenge to you is to leave some open spaces in your planner. Circle them if you have to but leave them blank. See what it does for you. See what it does for the people around you.

Unplanned time is time well spent.

Because how you spend your time matters. And how you plan or don’t plan matters.

Live like it matters.

In response to the Daily Post’s Discover Challenge A Piece of Advice.

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Big

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This pecan tree makes everything around it seem small.

When I was a girl a picnic table sat to the right of the tree and we had a garden beyond the ridge of rocks.

Now, the garden and the table are gone.

But the tree still reaches into the sky and over the barn giving plenty of shade.

 

 

 

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge Opposites.

Instead

imageJust because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I say this to my kids all the time.

It’s a reminder for me.

I can eat two bowls of salted caramel gelato.

I can watch endless hours of my favorite shows on Netflix.

I can ignore the tattooed girl in line at the cash register or be rude to the neglectful waiter at the restaurant.

I can let my bad mood ruin the day.

I can skip my workout.

I can gossip about my co-worker.

I can do all those things and a thousand others that seemingly have no effect at all.

Who cares if I watch 8 hours of Netflix or stuff myself with my favorite snack or gossip or stay in a bad mood?

The little things matter more than you know. Your habits matter. Your self-control and your kindness and your patience matters. Your simple acknowledgment of the girl in line at the grocery store matters.

And that’s why I’m challenging you to think beyond the things you can do. Yes, this is another one of my Live Like It Matters Challenges.

Think about what would be most helpful. Even good allowable things aren’t necessarily the best things. What’s permissible is not always beneficial. This applies to the choices we make every day.

This kind of thinking and doing helps you and others. Because in the long run, you’ll benefit from skipping the 2nd bowl of ice cream. You’ll reap the rewards of going to gym. And you can save yourself and your co-workers a lot of pain when you shut the gossip down.

Instead, I’m going to enjoy one bowl of gelato thoroughly. Watch only one episode on Netflix every now and then.

I’ll be kind to my co-workers and take every opportunity to encourage them.

I’ll be slow to speak when I’m in a bad mood and I’m going to try really hard to remember how good I feel when my workout is over. I’ll make sure to smile at those around me – even the waiter who never refilled my drink.

Because it matters. The little things we do matter.

Make the wiser choices. Think beyond what you can do and live like it matters.

 

  But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.    Galatians 5:22-23  NCV

 

 

Summer

imageThis is the first Summer living in my childhood home since I moved out 24 years ago. It’s special to get to be here. So many memories to be remembered that would stay forgotten if I weren’t here.

When I was a girl summer weekends meant hard work. The yard would be mowed, the garden tended, and the house cleaned. Then the best part came in the evening.

A good meal and enjoying our rest after the day’s work. If a late afternoon thunderstorm rolled in and cooled the air, Dad would prop the screen door open. If not, the small air conditioning unit in the window would keep us cool.

imageI walked around the house today enjoying the unearned beauty all around me. The ivy growing in the cedar tree. The day lilies in whites and yellows and oranges. The fruit trees and blackberries and muscadine vines. The Rose of Sharon and gardenia and the magnolia.

All the work of those before me.

 

Summer will always be lightning bugs blinking, cicadas humming, mosquitoes biting.

Tomato sandwiches, homemade ice cream, vegetable dinners.

Afternoon thunderstorms, long days, hot nights.image

 

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.   Ecclesiastes 3:11 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibility

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My son is doing what I always wanted to do.

Yesterday he flew to Colorado with one bag, a backpack, and no job. Last year he drove from our home in Alabama to a little town in Texas. He had a job waiting there but that was all. After the job ran out, he came home long enough to work at a place making pallets. He saved a little money, bought a plane ticket, and flew to his next adventure.

He’s 19. He says college isn’t for him. Neither is a permanent job right now.

He wants to see places and do things. The kind of things you can do before you get the kind of things you have to do.

I had dreams of doing the same but I waited too long. College and jobs and marriage and little ones took the place of adventures in far off places.

I admire his courage.

One of the first places he explored is wherever this photo was taken. He hiked the mountains near Boulder a few hours after he landed.

He is seeing beauty he’s never seen before and climbing mountains and meeting new friends. He is learning and growing.

And it’s not too late for me to see beauty I’ve never seen before or swim in a different ocean or see a sunset on a new horizon.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge Pure and the Daily Prompt Journey.