Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sometimes It Just Has To Be For The Fun Of It

After I wrote the last post about Notes From a Blue Bike, I realized how long it has been since I held a REAL book in my hands.  This stirred up in me a desire to read a piece of classic literature.  I can't bring myself to read a classic in any other form than a book that can be held in my hands and that I can feel the paper as I turn the pages.

Since I am also in the midst of teaching a Monday night Bible Study at church, I don't have a lot of extra time on my hands.   Perhaps it is the fact that Jim has been watching a lot of 'Black Sails' while waiting on the return of 'Game of Thrones'...but for whatever reason, I craved a pirate adventure.  So, I picked up "Treasure Island" at Barnes & Noble on my way home that afternoon.
I can't believe I had never read it.  It was an enjoyable escape into another world.  And because it is written as an adventure novel for young boys, it was both easy and quick to read while not taking too many of my brain cells away from the Breaking Free Bible Study.

I found quite a bit of myself in Jim Hawkins.  Jumping without thinking (and thankful that it often works out somehow.) Desirous to be honest even in the worst of circumstances.  And perhaps even a bit too easily swayed from our gut feelings about people at times (but boy do we learn our lesson when the truth comes out).

Bonus points in that now I understand where many of the pirate adventure movies get their premise.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 9, 2015

Books In Real Life

I have been listening to a lot of Audiobooks over the past few years.  You could say that I have a become a bit addicted.  To me there is no better way to use my morning and evening commute than learning something new or getting lost in a fictional world for that hour to hour and a half drive.  The only negative I have found to Audiobooks is finding a place for the CD's once I'm done.  Rarely ever would I listen to an Audiobook more than once (Mended by Angie Smith and Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg, aside)...and I have accumulated a lot of books on CD.  This is the same issue I have with 'Real' books.  I cannot bear to just toss a book.  And though I offer to pass along anything I have so that someone else can get use from it...I rarely get a taker.  One day I will bite the bullet and take it all to Half Price Books or Waller Area Restoration Ministry's thrift shop.  Until then, I have found a great way to listen to books during my commute without having to figure out where to store it once I'm finished.  Audible!

I actually tried Audible's free trial a few years back, but could never figure out how to use it properly.  After hearing about it on one of my favorite podcasts, I decided to sit down and figure it out once and for all.  And it was so much easier than I had made it!  I am limiting myself to using just my monthly subscription selection until I finish listening to the few books on CD that I had already purchased.  The first of February I listened to Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me: A Memoir...of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron (linked to the Audible page on Amazon).  If you remember, I loved his book Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale back in January (linked to my thoughts).  Though the second one is vastly different from the first, it was still pretty good...and very fitting for me as I listened to it on the way to and from my last visit with my own father.  Thinking back over our own childhood, it is good to be reminded that memories can be deceiving at times.  Just because they are our truth does not mean that they are the whole truth or perhaps even true at all, as our perceptions.can be severely distorted by our childish viewpoints. (That was my big take away from the memoir.)

Anyway...all of that to talk about the book that I listened to last week:
Linked to Audible
Honestly, I chose this book because I wanted to hear more about the author's time living abroad in Turkey.  Tsh and her family are currently on a trip around the world that will last close to a year.  I listen to her podcasts and live vicariously through her adventures...all the while wondering if I could actually travel the world.  A part of me would love to (if only my husband would agree to it)...another part of me is not sure that I am brave enough to do it (which makes me grateful for my homebody hubby). {{But don't tell him that, okay?}}

What I got out of the book instead was a confirmation of the truths that the Lord has been whispering in my heart recently. I should have paid more attention to the subtitle: "The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World".  If that doesn't resonate with the heart cries to 'slow down' and to be 'refreshed', I don't know what does.  

Well, well, well...ain't that the truth!  I can't tell you how often lately Jim and I have had conversations about where our time is going.  We feel like there is not a moment extra in our lives, yet we say 'no' to good things all of the time in search of the best things.  (He doesn't think we do, but believe me...we do.)

And so it was that the following quote captured my thoughts:

"We weren't living the way we wanted because we weren't making the choices it required. Like so many in our generation of thirty-something parents, we spoke of a slower, more intentional life, but we expected it to just happen.” 
― Tsh OxenreiderNotes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World

We are no longer thirty-something parents.  We are fifty-something grandparents and intentional life is no closer for us now than it was twenty years ago when we lived with the added daily schedules of five children.  This truth began a quite intense conversation between Jim and I.  I don't know if we are any closer to 'making the choices it require(s)', but we are at least asking the questions.  "What does slowing down look like to you?"  "How much activity is too much?"  "Does my activity affect your feeling of going too much?"  "Is it feasible to think that we could really stay home six weekends in a row?" (The magical number I was given as a goal to work toward.)  "Were our parents' schedules really as slow as we remember?" (Or is this one of those things from childhood that our perspective influenced more than reality.)

Though we may not be any closer in making these choices together (we still have a lot of expectations to wade through and sort out), I am trying to live more intentionally in my choices.

I had a conversation with a close friend at the end of 2014 and told her that I would be unable to attend many of the events in 2015 that I had normally said 'yes' to in the past.  It's not that I didn't have fun or want to do those things, but in the end they were not the best way to spend my time with her.  On more than one occasion, she and I had to schedule a dinner date after our night out to catch up because in the hustle and bustle of activity we weren't actually spending time communicating.  I desire depth with my friends, not just activity.  Now, don't get me wrong...I still enjoy traveling with my friends and attending special night's out.  I just don't want those to be the bulk of our time together.

I am also trying to be more intentional about the commitments I make to ministry.  I have missed both of the 2015 Women's Ministry events this year due to last minute scheduling conflicts. (One was the surprise 40th birthday party of our most senior employee.  The other was my Daddy's funeral service.)  Both things took the priority over a fun night out...but I am hoping that I will not have to miss any more because I truly enjoy those events and the opportunity to get to know the women in my community better.  Spiritual fellowship is important to me.  Thankfully, I am in the middle of teaching a Monday Night Ladies Bible Study and through our weekly mealtime I was able to enjoy some fellowship.  I am feeling a pull toward VBS and ministering to the young women, but I am prayerfully considering whether or not that is part of my calling.  I've done the busyness for busyness sake in ministry before and all it leads to is burnout.

I am also trying to make a better effort at staying in touch with family and friends.  At the loss of a parent it hits you that having family to call and visit is not a right but a blessing that not everyone gets to enjoy.  Nor is having so many dear friends that you have to guard your calendar so you don't overdo it.  I am a very lucky girl in that aspect.

Another quote from the book that has me thinking is this:

I've cooked more 'slow food' in the week since listening to this book than I have in months.  I have taken more time to sit at the table and enjoy my food instead of the television dining that had become our routine.  Sometimes Jim joins me and other times he doesn't.  And that is okay.  Just because I feel the pull to slow dining doesn't mean that he has to also (nor does it mean I can never eat in front of the television again).  As my 'busy' quotient and his are different, so are our dining preferences.  I would love to buy more local produce and meats as Tsh encourages in her book, but until I figure out how to do that, we will settle with starting our new garden spot and hope that we have fresh veggies to share again this year.  

I love it when a book affects my 'real life'!  And this book certainly did.  Bonus points for not having to store it or donate it when I was finished!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Days of Refreshing Preceded the Grief

If you read the blog in February, you know that I enjoyed a fun filled trip to New Orleans with friends and family just before the loss of my dad.  I am thankful for the days of refreshing -- though if I am honest with myself, I sometimes wonder if I should have made a different decision for the use of that time.  I'm sure I will keep wrestling with that in the days to come.  But here is what I know for sure:

  • Daddy did not want us to watch him fade away.  He worried more about the effect his cancer was having on his family as they took care of him than he did about his illness.
  • If I had been there, nothing would have changed.  There would have been no words exchanged that would have made it better or easier for him, for Donna or for me.
  • He and I said our goodbyes back in January, and I truly believe that we both knew it at the time.  That is why it was so difficult for me to walk out the door that Sunday afternoon...and why I drowned my emotions in an audiobook for the drive home, waiting to fall apart the next day when I was home alone.
  • If I am especially honest, I have to admit that I worry more about what other people think I should have done.  And that is just silly!  I discussed my travel plans with my husband first, and everyone knew that I would be out on the next flight if I received the word to do so. 
  • It was good to laugh...and to enjoy an experience I had always dreamed of with people that I love.  Those small joys bring a smile to my face even as the tears flow.
  • The Lord was very tender with me during the moments preceding me finding out that Daddy was with Him.  It was a rare moment of silence as Rita and I drove through NE Texas and my cries to Him were both brutally honest and filled with deep conviction that He had everything in His hands.  I let go of my expectations mere minutes before the news reached me.  Jesus can be so tender with me like that sometimes.  He has done it numerous times during this journey.
And so it is that the Lord has used My One Word to minister to my deeper needs this new year.  He does provide those moments of refreshing that we need...even before we knew we needed them.

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." Jeremiah 31:25

He is doing a marvelous work indeed.