Saturday, October 3, 2015

Choosing Joy

Day 3-Capture

My first thought was pirates, but huh? My second was wow, my head is all over the place, how do I capture all these unrelated thoughts and make them into something cohesive in the next few minutes?

The irony is not lost on you here is it?

Not to sound like somebody's granny (no offense Grannies!), but 'back in the day' I did not imagine my 50's would look anything like they do. First of all, 50's?? I'm in my 50's???

I. am. 50-something.

I have to say it like that to believe it, because honestly some days I just absolutely cannot believe it. Why did I ever think when I reached this decade I'd be struggling to find things to do, enough to keep my brain engaged? Nothing has surprised me more than discovering I have the opposite problem. I thought life would somehow shrink as I got older, and instead it's gotten bigger.

There's a word I've tried so hard to ban from my vocabulary these past couple of years, and that word is worry. When you're a natural born worrier a whole heap of discipline is required to combat your DNA, and I feel like I've made progress. For one thing, I try to never begin a sentence with the phrase 'I'm worried...". In fact, unless I'm admonishing hubs or one of my girls 'not to worry' I try my best not to even utter the word.

Worry is poison to the soul.

Oh there are so many things I could worry about at this stage of the game if I let myself open the door just a crack. For starters we're in the throes of some major life changes including retirement and a change of address. We're currently building a house, or trying to anyway. I won't even mention it's been raining cats and dogs for the past nine hundred and eleventy days.

That one bears repeating doesn't it? We're building a house.

I have young adult daughters, and you moms of littles if you thought you'd lose the desire to manage their lives once they were adults you might be surprised to find the urge remains. Just this morning hubs asked me if one of my girls had taken care of something and I said, 'she's a grown up and it's hers to take care of'. Go me! Because a few years ago I'd have steamrolled right over that little thing that needs taking care of.

And don't even get me started on the Pandora's box of health related stuff that just seems to happen once you cross the 50-mile mark. You look pretty healthy. You work hard to take care of the body you've been given, but y'all stuff happens and you just have to deal with it. I've heard about so many serious health issues friends are facing, young women in their 50's, and the mind can so easily travel the worry road there if I let it.

Then of course, there's the whole big wide world that's such a scary sloppy mess in 2015. If you think about that too long you'll never get to sleep at night, so what's the solution? How do we women who seem built to worry not worry?

Believe it or not there is an answer, a command actually and that command is 'Do not worry.' Simple, right? Ha! I searched a concordance to see how many times God's word instructs us not to worry and couldn't find an agreed upon count. At least once though, and since one command was enough for light to fall upon the earth it should suffice in this instance too.  

Something that has helped tremendously in my quest to worry less, pray more has been committing these two verses to memory. Making them my mantra in times I'm prone to worry, which if I'm being honest, can be every day.

"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..." 2 Corinthians 10:5

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Take every thought captive.
He has overcome the world.

Sometimes I have to say the words aloud, repeat them over and over to myself until they sink in, but that's what's so amazing about God's word. It does sink in. It permeates the deepest places of our hearts and minds where worry is born and blooms and grows wildly out of control if we let it.

I read a book on Proverbs a couple of years ago where the author (Debbi Bryson) talked about how in times of worry we need a divine shift. That is, moving worries from atop our own shoulders and shifting them onto His. I like the word picture this paints and it's stayed with me in my arsenal of weapons against worry.

Because worry is a battle and it's the absolute enemy of joy.

Choose joy.

Take every thought captive.
He has overcome the world.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Once Upon A Family

Day 2 and I'm still here. It helps that the weather is so atrocious nobody wants to leave the house. Except I'm meeting a friend for lunch today, so I'll be leaving the house.

Also, Daughter2 texted early this morning, and wondered if I could run by Walmart and pick up something she needed in her classroom. I might still have been asleep, but I dragged myself out of bed and got myself to the market and then on to her classroom. In the pouring rain.

Mothers are awesome aren't they?

Linking up with Five Minute Friday and the 31 Writing Challenge again today. If you're confused click here to clear the fog. I've got five minutes to do a little unedited
shudderwriting on today's prompt so let's get started.

Day 2-Family

Does your family have stories they tell over and over again? Are you the star of some of those stories? I think in every family small bits of life happen that mark a moment or some aspect of personality, and we tuck them away in a memory. We pull these stories out from time to time and re-tell them, sometimes making them larger and funnier than they originally were, but that's okay. We're family and we get it.

These stories they connect us to our people.

I was thinking about my own family stories, both the family I grew up in and the one I helped make, and a great big smile spread across my face. In fact a whole well of emotion bubbled up to the surface and tumbled out as I thought about the stories that have shaped our family.

I started to share one or two here, but something is lost in the explaining. These small glimpses into the past loom large within our own circle of family, but might feel a little clumsy and flat to someone who doesn't know the cast of characters intimately. It's impossible to capture the life and love and connection that fills all the space when we tell and re-tell them around our dinner table.

I'd love to tell you about the time my mom convinced my dad to take my brother's bedroom door off the hinges because she was certain he lay in there dying. You see, she'd spotted a teeny tiny drop of something red on the carpet coming up the stairs and she was convinced it was blood. It didn't help that my brother wasn't answering the door when she pounded on it and called his name.

But you don't know my mom. And you'd have to know my dad. And then finally seeing my brother, so very calm and cool in all circumstances, nary a scratch on him, wearing headphones and a puzzled look on his face....well, you had to be there.

And that's the thing about family.
No explanation needed.

"Family stories make the most valuable heirlooms."~ Author unknown 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Just Gimme Five Minutes

Given the way my blog has nosedived in terms of frequency, content, and pretty much everything, it might seem crazy to sign up for a 31-day writing challenge, but here I go anyway. Every October the 31 Days Challenge rolls around, and I'm usually so busy I don't notice in time to do anything about it. This year though? This year I'm on it.

Not really, because I just committed this morning, but from today forward I'm on it. I miss blogging regularly and sometimes the best way back is found not by dipping your toe in the shallow end, but with a cannonball off the high dive.

31 Days of posting.
One post every single solitary day during the month of October.
Why not?

I know a lot of people have themes and likely have a few posts all ready to go, but I've decided on a different path. I used to love participating in the 5-minute Friday weekly linkup, and like so many things here on the blog, that too has fallen by the wayside. The hostess of 5-minute Friday (Kate at Heading Home) has kindly come up with a list of 31 one-word prompts, one for each day of the challenge, and surely I can manage 5 minutes of writing every day?

It's that every day thing that throws me.
Also, brevity. Not my forte.

Still, I'm going to try, and if you're participating too, let me know and I'll follow along.
Here goes something-

Day 1-Calling

The word is loaded. I think most of us feel pressured into defining our calling, and feel lost if we're unable to clearly articulate what that might be. If you're a 55-year old woman whose children are grown up living the independent lives you raised them to live, then this question of what is your calling can alternately stump and/or depress you.

I looked up the word, because I wondered how the definition differs from purpose, and the difference is subtle. Calling can be as simple as a profession or career, but can also be something you feel is divinely inspired.

In my adult life I've worked and not worked. I've been a speech pathologist, preschool teacher, kindergarten teacher, and the Director of a church preschool/kindergarten. I've held numerous volunteer positions, some of which required more man hours than all the paying jobs I've had put together. And I've been a mother. I am a mother. Mother is the hat I feel born to wear, and the one I'm most comfortable in. The one that is at the heart of who I am, but is not the only thing I am.

None of us want to be defined by a singular term, but if I'm remembered one day only as a mother I'm really okay with that. Of all the things I've been called to do in my life, motherhood is my favorite.

Back to my calling. My life has not been static. I've moved a lot, and as a result opportunities for change have come my way on a regular basis. My calling is to walk through the doors God opens with a willing and eager heart. To follow where He leads and bloom where He plants me. That may involve a job outside the home or not. It may involve a season of quiet reflection and learning or one of packed calendars and feeling there aren't enough hours in the day. It may involve giving my time and experience to a large community or church endeavor or it might mean having a cup of coffee and warm conversation with a neighbor needing a friend.

There are people who I think are called to very specific demanding careers, but that's not my calling. Mine has always felt a bit more ordinary, and do you know what I've learned?

I've learned that God takes the ordinary and He makes it extraordinary.
He never quits calling us to live the life He sets before us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More Than A Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Please only link here today if you've answered the questions. And why not answer the questions? The Hodgepodge is a fun little mid-week random that eases you over the hump and into the weekend.

Thursday's the weekend, right? Hubs says every day is the weekend when you're retired so happy WednesdaySaturday everyone!

Okay, here are my answers, and remember leaving a comment for your neighbor in the linky list is a small act of kindness everyone appreciates. Here we go-

1. Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

We're going to see Jersey Boys at the end of the month. We've seen it twice, once in London and once in NYC, and both performances were absolutely fabulous. We left the show singing and I fully intend to do the same here. Plus, we're going with three of my college girlfriends and their hubbies, so an extra fun evening. 

2. Food for the soul or music for the soul...which camp are you in? Tell us why.

For my own soul music. For my loved ones, food. 

I can't imagine the world without music. Nothing transports me to deep waters, a better or different mood, or the memory of a place in time like music. My soul needs music. 

When it comes to my family though, I think food and the connections eating together create are one way I 'feed their soul'. A lovingly prepared favorite dish on your birthday, a pot of hot chicken soup when the world feels pear shaped, a holiday meal eaten on the good china, these are all ways I express my love and affection for them and whatever they're experiencing or needing in life at the moment. I like to think these small gestures feed not just their body, but also their soul. 

3. What are two or three things you've learned recently as the result of an online search?

When hubs and I take car trips it seems like we always end up Googling something random. We'll hear a song on the radio, pass an unusual town name or a historical marker of some sort, and we wonder aloud for a bit before hitting Google. On our most recent two hour road trip we searched the following-

Bat Cave North Carolina, the lead singer from the 70's band Boston, and Carl Sandburg's home. 

We pass the town of Bat Cave coming and going and were curious. I mean, how could you not be? The Bat Cave is now closed to the public (thankfully!), but it would be a cool address don't you think? It's the largest known granite fissure cave in North America and home to several species of bats. Since bats give me the creeps, I'm glad it's closed. Otherwise hubs would insist on seeing it up close and personal.

We heard an old favorite Boston tune on the radio and I said I wonder what happened to the lead singer who had such an amazing voice. Hubs can always be counted on to know the name of every single musician to ever belt out a tune or pluck an instrument and he said he thought Brad Delp had passed away, so we read a little bit about him. 

We also noticed an historical marker pointing the way to Carl Sandburg's home, and hubs and I both thought he was from the Midwest so we Googled it (yes, it is so a verb). Sandburg was from the Midwest, but lived the last 20+ years of his life in North Carolina. Hubs and I plan to pop over for a day trip sometime this fall. 

What in the world did we do before Google???

4. Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe.

Not sure I have a favorite, and to be honest I am not doing a lot of game day cooking here (snacks, dips, etc), but if I were I'd probably go for a big pot of chilli or meatballs in the crockpot. 

5. What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?

Steaming hot coffee in a mug with the exact right handle, prayer and quiet time in a quiet space with the aforementioned coffee and my Bible, a power walk with my headphones on and my playlist rolling, a long hot shower, and a reasonable healthy breakfast. Bring on the day!

6. What small thing have you taken note of today?

It's been raining here since Friday all day and when the sun peeked out I definitely noticed.

7. Sum up your September in seven words or less.

My favorite month went way too fast.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I hopped over to YouTube to find a Boston song, because I feel sure some of you reading here today have no idea, and you know how YouTube song leads to another, and another, and before you know it 'I lost myself in a familiar song'...

How can you not love the 70's? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 237

Somehow we're into the last Hodgepodge of September. Hmmm...not sure how we got here so quickly, but you can't stop time so onward it is. Answer the questions on your own blog, then jump back here tomorrow and add your link to the party.  See you there! 

1. Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

2. Food for the soul or music for the soul...which camp are you in? Tell us why.

3. What are two or three things you've learned recently as the result of an online search?

4. Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe.

5. What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?

6. What small thing have you taken note of today?

7. Sum up your September in seven words or less.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Take Me Home, Mountain Roads

We spent the weekend in East Tennessee with friends who go way back.
Way way back.

But we're still young of course.

My daughter wrote last week about her college friends. How she misses that heart connection with the people who knew her when. She actually is still young, but I know exactly what she was trying to say. It's not that she doesn't have friends where she is, and she knows there are wonderful friends in her future too, but she recognizes even now that place deep in her heart where friendship and memory and youth are all tangled up and beautiful.

Me too child, me too.

There very rarely comes another time in your life where as an adult you get to live with your friends. I think the ex-pat community comes close and those friendships are also nestled down deep, but I was 40-something when we forged our bond, not a fresh faced 19 year old girl.

This past weekend was homecoming at our university. The minute I step out of the car and see these familiar faces my heart feels happy and light. It matters not if I saw them ten months ago or ten years, that feeling never changes. We've grown up and older together. We've married, had children, and collectively moved a million trillion times, but we're still us.

We stay in the same hotel, talk too loudly and too much and too late into the night. Coming home to them is like pulling on my favorite pair of blue jeans and I always feel a little blue when we part. For a minute I let myself travel down the road of wouldn't it be fun if we all lived on the same block, but I know I can't linger there. We're grown ups now.

Fraternities and sororities get a ton of bad press, but that hasn't been my experience at all. It's true  bad news makes the news, but there's much good that happens within the Greek community too. It's a place where leadership, scholarship, and philanthropy are developed and fostered in young adults, where friendships are built and nurtured through the years. I formed lifelong friends through my own sorority and also through hubs fraternity, bonds that have only grown stronger and more meaningful as the years roll by.

Oh how the years roll by.

Together we lived through the drama and angst of young life and young love. We bandaged broken hearts and laughed til our sides ached. We stood hand in hand on the brink of adulthood cheering each other on to new and different paths.

We cried together too, through some very tough stuff this grown up world brings, and now here we are, still us. Still celebrating life and accomplishment, still soothing hurts and heartaches, still hoping and praying the very best for each other, and still laughing til our sides hurt.

There are few places in this world that make me feel more nostalgic than East Tennessee. The hills still roll, those mountains they still beckon...

And we're still us.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I Feel The Earth.Move. Under My Feet

A little Carole King on this Thursday afternoon because if there's a song lyric that matches up with life I'm all over it.

Finally. We moved some dirt.

Not me personally, but the excavators officially started work on Tuesday. When hubs and I pulled up at 9 am that day, the sound of a chainsaw was music to our ears.

Our builder was there too, and he and hubs talked details. Not the kind of details I'm interested in like what will the kitchen cabinets look like, more ten foot setbacks and two feet off the property line and run off and gravel and silt fences blah blah blah. Call me when we get to the good stuff.

Like this-

Photo op and all that nonsense you know. Also, I'm strictly management.

Our excavator is absolutely one of the nicest people we've met here in the Palmetto State. He's really helpful too, in steering us in the right direction when it comes to retaining walls, tree removal, and what to do with all that dirt. He didn't even lose patience when hubs re-iterated to him for the umpteenth time that we definitely positively absolutely must have a curve in the driveway.

For some reason hubs felt the need to explain, then explain again, and then 'just so we're on the same page...' and you know Mr. Excavator didn't roll his eyes even a little bit.

Hubs likes to drill down to the nth degree which is a blessing and a curse. Mostly I'm really happy he's retired right now because it's safe to say I'd never have gotten the driveway looking the way he's imagined it in his head since we began the design process back in May.

They started cutting in the driveway first thing so the work trucks can roll over it to access the lot. Later in the day a truckload of large gravel was dropped at the top of the drive. This is to help take mud off the tires so as not to annoy the neighbors we don't know yet.

No filter either. The dirt is seriously red here and I think I feel a country music song coming on.

Our lot is pretty heavily wooded which we love, but there's water out there and we need a water view. Also, the house has to go somewhere so trees must fall. The community and lake laws in general are pretty specific about what can actually be felled, but anything sitting where the house or driveway are going to perch can be taken down without a problem.

It was fun to watch the grabber lift ginormous trees like toothpicks, shake the dirt off, then swing them over to a pile for sawing and transferring off the lot.

Also, I wasn't kidding about the earth moving. When these big trees fall you literally feel it under your feet.  Once the house is built we'll limb the canopy up 50% which will be amazing.

I wonder if I'll post a picture?

On that note...I haven't decided how often I'll blog about the house build, but it's a bit all consuming so probably more than I should. I love pictures and too many words, but if you visit here often you know already know this.

And if you're new, I'll grow on you.
I promise.