November 24, 2013

A Day In November

Today is . . .  November 24, 7:32 PM

Outside my window . . .It's been sleeting and snowing all day. Cold. Temperatures in the twenties.  The big fluffy flakes made me feel nostalgic, but the cold seemed to sink into my spirit as my second day of vacation lent itself mostly to reflection.  Something I've been doing a lot of lately.

I am hearing . . . the sound of the washing machine washing a load of towels, and my husband's voice as he talks on the phone to his son.

I am wearing . . . jeans, a sweatshirt, and pink fuzzy lined Crocs.

I am creating . . . a gallery of photos on my tumblr blog.  Not my photos, but a scrapbook of others photos that represent my likes, my tastes and my dreams.  In some odd way it is helping me to pinpoint some things about myself that I already knew, but didn't acknowledge until I saw them in pictures.  It's also helping to rekindle my own photography motivation, and to revisit that gift and what God might have me to do with it.  He's been speaking to me about extreme generosity, and I believe I hold too tightly to my talents for fear I will lose credit, but I think in the giving is where I will find my truest fulfillment.

I am discovering . . . that giving myself away, doing for others, and working with my hands is a form of creativity all on its own. That it isn't just about art, or photography, or writing.  Friday afternoon my two female co-workers, one female student, and I walked to our cars early in hopes to beat some of the bad weather before driving home.  We walked out to find our cars covered in ice.  We started our engines, and tried to let the defrost do its work.  One lady sat in her car to let the defrost do all of the work.  I got out, and began scraping, then I noticed Grace was standing out in the cold shivering and wanting someone to recognize that she didn't have a scraper or gloves to keep her hands warm.  I chipped away at the ice on my own car, and then I ran to where she was standing, reminding me of when I was her age, a college student without an ice scrapper, far away from home and Dad, and no man to do it for me.  I began scraping her car as well.  Grace is her name, but I realized in that moment that grace isn't just something that embraces us, it's something that we must embrace as well.  Just as I cry for grace, it beckons for me as well.  If I can't accept it, and nurture it, how can I extend it to others?  I felt so content after I scraped the ice off Grace's car.  It was the same feeling I have after I edit the perfect photo, write the perfect piece, or take care of my Alzheimer's stricken father.  I felt completely spent, and completely satisfied at the same time. Poured out. Grace and generosity go hand in hand and they are characteristics of the Creator, and they must be characteristic of me, and they must be my motivation for why I do what I do. Creativity motivated by grace and generosity must exist in all aspects of my life.  I can't hold on tightly or selfishly; I must give away freely.

I am looking forward to . . .Thanksgiving at my sister's house.  I haven't been there in a couple of years, since looking after my folks has kept me tied down.  I am sensing the wear and tear on my spirit that is bound to come after such an extended time of keeping up this pace.  Respites are necessary. Jesus needed them.  Why do I think I should be any different, or stronger?

I am remembering . . . Thanksgivings as a kid.  Grandma and Grandpa, and later just Grandpa, would come to visit.  It was their favorite holiday.  Life has changed so much for me recently as all the grandparents are long gone, Mom and Dad have lost their independence, and my nieces and nephews have grown up and started their own lives, and scattered.  I'm recognizing that cohesion in the family must come from something deeper than proximity.  If you are reading this, and you are still in your twenties or thirties, please remember that it does not take long to live a life.  As the important people in your life age and die, or maybe just grow up and move away, something about the culture of your life changes little by little.  Cherish each and every moment, but cultivate your soul with seeds of eternal hope that will grow and bloom right when you need them. Realize that everyone in your life will one day leave or die and loving them like it is the last day of their lives will bless you both.  Does this sound morbid or depressing.  Quite the opposite; it is freeing.  It frees you to love passionately today because you may not have tomorrow to do it.  It frees you to love in such a way that people leave you better than they were before.  Leave joy wherever you go, there are not always second chances to do it.  Do it now for now is all we have.

I am thanking God . . . for hope eternal. 

I am praying . . .that God will make me just like Jesus, and that he will cause me to be long suffering with the difficult people in my life.

I am noticing . . . that I often feel that I don't have long to live, yet I'm only 47.  Does this come from the fact that Dad has Alzheimer's and Mom is alive, but not living, and their weariness rubs off on me a bit? Or is there something more to it?  I have a longing to get on with things as if tomorrow may never come.  Yet, there is so much to do it is overwhelming.  I often find myself paralyzed, looking around wondering where to begin.

I am needing . . . to figure out what I want to do with this blog.  I need to figure out it's purpose, and give it an identity of sorts.  I need to write more freely from my heart, blind to an audience.  I need to just let my soul bleed onto the keypad so to speak.  I need to give of myself with words and photos.  My step-son reminded me this week that we are to scatter seed.  It won't always land on fertile soul, but we scatter it just the same.  I need to scatter my words and my pictures and let God direct where they fall.  Maybe you will be blessed or maybe it will be someone else, or maybe it will just be me.  It's always been hard for me to give away what I create, because when I do, I give away a part of me.  I think only an artist can understand that completely.  It's like I'm made up of patches, like a quilt, and when I give away my creations, anything I've poured myself into, a patch is torn loose and there is less of me.  But God has shown me that eventually the patches will all be given away, and I will be no less me, I will just be me spread out into the hearts of those who accepted the patches to mend their own holes.  He's blessed me to be a blessing. 

I am reading . . . Oswald Chambers

A quiet time thought . . . "Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby." - Oswald Chambers.

Words to think about . . . "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
~ C.S. Lewis ~
A random fact about me . . . I am horrible at throwing a Frisbee.  If you want to get some good exercise, running  back and forth,  just come toss a Frisbee with me!

One of my favorite things . . . I love canoeing.  I love being on the water, paddling, and spending time with God and my husband. 

A blessing captured . . . My husband and I went for a picnic last Sunday afternoon.  The temperatures were in the seventies, and we knew it would probably be our last chance to have a warm picnic!  We ate dinner on a quilt laid out on the ground, and tossed the Frisbee, which you now know I'm horrible at.  As the sun started to set, we sat on a park bench near the lake.  I snapped this photo.  It was the first time I had picked up my camera in a long time.  Taking quality photos is not quite like riding a bike, it seemed a bit awkward, and I realized the time away from my camera was taking it's toll.  It's time to pick it up and begin tiring it out again.  There's nothing special about this photo, it's not great in quality, but what great memories are attached to it.


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