This Friday

In response to The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge Transition.

No Black Friday for me. I spent the day doing one of my favorite things in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people. My youngest daughter and I hiked in The Sipsey Wilderness.

Creation is ever changing………year to year…….season to season…..morning to night…..moment to moment. The forest is bright green in the springtime with new leaves budding on the trees but now the forest is brown, and orange, with some splashes of red and even a hint of purple throughout.

No lines, or traffic or rushing around here.

Just boundless beauty all around us. The sounds of waterfalls and the leaves crunching under our feet.

Exactly what my soul needed today.

 

 

 

Stay Informed

I apologize for my lateness on the Live Like It Matters challenge this week.

Normally, the challenges involve an act of kindness toward others. Something that can be done and the results seen immediately.

This one is different.

The events that have unfolded around the world this week have left me……I don’t know the right word.

Angry. Disheartened. Worried. Helpless.

I mostly feel helpless. What can a middle aged woman living in Alabama, USA do?

I came up with a few things:

  • I can pray. For the victims and for our leaders around the world and the future leaders of the world. I can pray for those that keep us safe….the military, our police, and any that are at the forefront of the fight.  I can pray for of us not to live in fear. And for those without hope, to find Hope. And I can pray for our enemies.
  • I can continue to live like it matters right where I am. I can be kind, say hello and thank you, go the extra mile, be happy for others when good things happen, laugh with them and cry with them.
  • I can stay informed. As much as I hate hearing about all the evil happening around the world I cannot stick my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t. That’s irresponsible. Sadly, I’ve been the person that won’t watch the news. But I can’t do that anymore. I need to get informed and stay informed about what’s going on with my fellow human beings around the world. Even if it hurts to hear about it. Even when it makes me angry. Even when I feel helpless a lot of the time. I know how to pray when I’m informed. I might have an epiphany of what I can do to help when I’m informed.

That’s the challenge this week. Get and stay informed. newsWatch the local or national news then go to other sources to find out more. Watch a well rounded variety of news programs, read several magazines, and check credible online sources.  Do not get your information from one source. The goal is to be accurately and fully informed.

One more thing:  fight the tendency to stay disheartened and worried and fearful.

Let’s shine.

And let’s pray, and live like it matters, and stay informed.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.        Romans 15:13 NLT

Victory

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Victory.”

IMG_2710

How does a photo of a light pink sunrise over a foggy hay field show victory?

About 4 months ago I made a change. I wake up an hour earlier so that I can run in the morning before work.

The victory is that I run. For a long time I believed I couldn’t run. But I did it anyway. Barely, but I did it. As my endurance increased I started to believe I could run. The more I believed the longer I ran. The longer I ran the more I believed.

And now I run. I will run my 2nd official 5K Thanksgiving morning. I ran my first 5K in April. It was a significant event for me that I wrote about in a post called Run.

Victory.

Another victory in this is that I made a new habit. A good habit. That first morning was hard but I did it anyway. Now I wonder what took me so long because the morning run on my country roads is one of my favorite parts of the day.

I experience all sorts of beautiful things on my morning runs. The sound of birds chirping, cows bellowing, the rooster crowing. I see the bright moon and stars in the dark sky just before the sun wakes up, or fog blanketing the fields, or glistening dew, or a light pink sunrise. And occasionally one of my neighbors sitting on his front porch drinking his coffee. We wave at each other as I run by.

Victory.

We’re not locked into what was or what always has been. We can change now and make what will be better than we ever dreamed.

This victory is only the beginning. I’ve decided to move from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Triumph

Show Your Appreciation

The Live Like It Matters Challenge this week is to show your appreciation for someone who has served or is currently serving our country in the Armed Forces and show your appreciation.

Say hello, pay for a meal, write a note, tell them thank you……..just honor them in some way for their service.  Listen as they tell a story about the time they served. Sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with them.

Simply acknowledge what they’ve done or what they’re doing.

Then think about the freedom you enjoy.

Our House 

There’s something special about getting to renovate the house I grew up in.

In the process of removing the existing floors I’ve discovered the floors I walked on when I was a little girl. The brown and gold flecked linoleum in the kitchen and the solid hardwood in the bedrooms.

In our attempt to remove the wallpaper in the back bedroom I found the green and yellow flower patterned paper that decorated my older sisters’ room when they were teenagers.
And I found pink walls underneath the wallpaper in my dad’s office which used to be the room I shared with my younger sister when we were in elementary school.

I’d forgotten the floors and the yellow and green wallpaper and the pink walls. These discoveries have unlocked a flood of memories.

Like the time I was sitting in my sisters’ yellow and green bedroom listening to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer on the radio one Saturday morning.

And now I remember sharing our bedroom with my grandmother for a while. She slept in a hospital bed beside our bed and I was scared.

And when Mom cooked oyster stew and I only put the milky part in my bowl to eat with oyster crackers because I don’t like oysters. Or when Dad showed me the way to eat cereal so that the little Krispies wouldn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. I sill eat my cereal that way.

I know other memories will come. Sweet, sad, and joyful ones. Maybe some scary ones, too. I am who I am because of the life that happened in that house and the people that loved me there. Those that taught me there and cared for me there.

Mom and Dad struggled there and forgave each other there. Dad took care of Mom there. We all learned there.

Learned to live and care and forgive there.

We all learned to love there in our house.

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good. 

Psalm 52:8-9 

Heritage

Laugh

A happy heart is like good medicine,
but a broken spirit drains your strength.        Proverbs 17:22 NCV

It’s time for another Live Like it Matters Challenge. This week’s challenge is fun for you and those around you.

We all know that laughter is good medicine for the soul. It’s proven to be a great stress reliever with other short-term and long-term health benefits. So this week laugh with someone. If you have to watch the latest episode of The Middle to get your funny bone started then do it. Or watch Jimmy Kimmel’s “I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy” pranks. Or search out anything by Tim Hawkins.

The point is to share your laughter with others. Go see a funny movie, or play in the leaves with the little kids and the dog, try to do a headstand, or tell a joke. Be sure to try the headstand against a wall while others watch. I promise you will laugh and so will they just because it’s ridiculous that you’re trying to do a headstand at your age. And only tell a joke if you’re good at delivering the puncpicmonkey_image (2)h line. I’m terrible at this so I won’t be joke-telling as a way to share a laugh. But I can make the funniest faces you’ve ever seen.

Remember, we are laughing WITH others. Do not laugh at others or at their expense. Unless it’s the kids in the Jimmy Kimmel videos.

Or unless you’re my older sister, Marlina, who has ILS. Never heard of it? It’s Inappropriate Laughter Syndrome. She can never seem to hold back uncontrollable bouts of laughter when someone she loves dearly falls or trips or hurts themselves in some way.

Have fun this week as you share your laughter with others.

Underneath

Now that the house is mostly empty we can begin the work of renovating. We’ve never done this before so we’re learning as we go. I’ve learned how to pull up carpet and removed hundreds of staples from the subfloor. My favorite part is taking a crowbar to the tack strips along the sides of the rooms.

In one of the back bedrooms, my parents’ room when I was a girl, we found hardwood floors underneath the carpet.

I would love to restore them but half the floors have been drilled with screws every half inch across the entire length of the floor. We have one more room that may have fully restorable wood floors. We shall see.

What covered those beautiful hardwood floors in that back bedroom was the ugliest carpet I’ve ever seen. It may have been the trend at one time but I hope mauve carpeting never makes a comeback. Why would anyone want to cover those beautiful hardwood floors?

We do the same thing. With our hearts.

We are hurt in some way and without even thinking about it we put a layer of protection around our hearts. More hurt comes…….a criticism, a betrayal, or broken promises. Another layer of protection. Someone lies to us, leaves us out or ignores us. So another layer goes around our hearts. And another. And then another.

We don’t even realize how guarded we’ve become. Unable to receive the good because we’re always expecting the bad.

We guard ourselves from the very thing we need and want most.

Love. Authenticity. Real relationships.

The covering over our hearts….the one we cling to…..that we think will protect us from hurt….. also shields us from joy and love and true intimacy with others.

But what’s underneath can be beautiful if we will just be brave enough to peel away the layers.

And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart  

 Ezekiel 11:19 NLT

In response to Authentic.

Piles

Four weekends ago my sisters and I sorted through, looked at, and wondered at the amount of stuff in my parent’s home.

The kitchen cabinets held more than we could have imagined. And so did the hutch in the dining room. Mom collected pretty tea cups, candle holders, various colors of taper candles, vases, figurines and other unique glass items. My dad’s office held the pencils, pens and highlighters that sat on his drafting table. An assortment of matchbooks, business cards, rubber bands, old stamps, pocket knives, his ledgers, old to-do lists and all kinds of items filled the drawers of his desks.

The closets were full, too. Mom’s clothes were sorted by color. Dad’s for convenience. Her favorite blouse hung in hers, his old work shirt in his. Dad’s old puffy Alabama jacket that Mom hated hung in the foyer closet. The card tables and chairs we used on holidays leaned against the wall and the bucket of toys that all the grandkids played with were there.

There were stacks and stacks of books, old records, and photographs. Collections of CDs, and piles of tables cloths, blankets, and bed sheets. Dishes, cups, pots & pans. Silverware and cast iron skillets.IMG_2777

Old metal Folgers coffee cans filled with nuts and bolts and screws. Some with hinges, or wire, or batteries.

Piles and piles and stacks and boxes of stuff filled the house.

Our hearts are full of cherished memories, some painful ones too. But more than anything our hearts are piled high with love. Lots of love.

Because our parents loved us and did a good job. They weren’t perfect and didn’t parent perfectly……who does?  But they prayed for us and we always knew they were there for us. Always.

Now everything is boxed up……the house is almost empty.IMG_2846

But our hearts are forever full.

 

In response to the Daily Post’s Taper.