Saturday, December 31, 2016

Stick Figure Souls

I thought I'd send a final thought for 2016 and a first thought for 2017, as New Year's Eve is upon us. I always feel a little contemplative on this night and a little astonished at what the world is who wore what and which videos were the most popular.  Chewbacca mom, water bottle flipping, and a little girl giving her very patient dog a wellness exam, if you're curious.  Here's to you, 2016.

Maybe somewhere, folks are still making New Year's Resolutions.  No one in my house, unless you count school-age boys committing themselves to playing more paintball and taking more trips to Grand Station.

Every year it seems like physical fitness and weight loss are popular themes for resolution makers.  I've been one of them. We applaud this and we should.  Our health is extremely important, but there is one thing more important still. That which we cannot see, but is the only thing that matters in the end.

The life is not for the body, it is for the soul, and man too often chooses the way of life that best suits the body.      -God Calling-

So.  How about this for a fun and potentially frightening idea?  What if you could see your soul and it looked like a stick figure or a cartoon laying on its face?

Which one of these figures would your soul most closely resemble?

Is your soul healthy and eager to respond, as the picture on the left would suggest?

Maybe just a little tired and sluggish, but still on its feet?

Perhaps, your soul has a cane or is in need of a wheelchair option?

Or, ya know.  The last one.  With "nope" written over it and a period on the end.

Whatever the case may be, there's good news and no one has to know about which "sticky" soul you claimed.  The only One who can see it, has already seen it and sees it still.

Hang with me if you're feeling discouraged. There's a lot of great news here...

The first bit of good news is you have a soul and God loves it.  The second bit is you're still alive, so even if your soul is laying on its face, there is still time to get it on its feet.

If you're willing.    

The third bit is that everything you need to improve your soul's posture is available to you, and it knows what it needs.


In John 4:34, Jesus says, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work."

God Calling expounds, Soul-starvation comes from the failing to do, and to delight in doing, My Will.  Make it your meat to do My Will.  Strength and Power will indeed come to you from that.

May you nourish your soul well all the days of 2017, and experience strength and power in doing so.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

If you read my last post about buying your own boots to stay married at Christmastime, you'll be happy to know I got boots for Christmas. Ha!  And all of that fighting for nothing.  That alone is a reason to write.  But, there are more reasons than that.

I am usually quick to write when my husband and I have a run-in.  I process it here and share it with you, because those of us who are committed to staying married need the reality, camaraderie, and encouragement. He gives me his blessing to share and I give him the courtesy of a preview before publishing. That's pretty big of him.  I don't know how many husbands would be willing to do the same.

Now, we're a week into Christmas break and I've been sick for the last couple of days.  Not deathly sick, just the annoying kind.  Runny nose, cough, and the like.  He tended the brisket on the smoker all of Christmas day and has made breakfast every morning without complaint, taken all of the boys shooting (when I don't remember the last time he went alone), and took them fishing and out for dinner last night.    

If I had the chance to rate him on a husband/father 5-star scale, he would have five stars and that was before he made breakfast this morning and cleaned up afterward.  Beyond that, he spent all day replacing our water heater, welding pipes, replacing sheet rock and all.  It's 8:23pm and he just came inside, limping and with a little less arm hair.   .    

At no point did he complain or act put out that everybody else in the house was free to do whatever they pleased, while he was stuck doing his marathon project, which we were all going to benefit from.  He welcomed the boys' "help" and even managed to keep a game of "Pocket Tanks" going with one of them.  He ate his dinner leaning on the dryer in the cold garage.  It is on days like these, that I know my husband is a better person than I am.

I would have been a bear from start to finish, and that's if I knew how to do the job in the first place, which I don't.  This scenario replays all of the time, too, when it comes to replacing this and repairing that.  He sees things dripping, rusting, and breaking, and he knows that until he plugs, replaces, or fixes it, it will wait on him.  And he will think about it every day.

I will never have an all-day house or car repair project.  I have meals and laundry.  Oh, so daily, but never heavy, hard, really dirty, or dangerous.  If I can be honest, I would choose my lot over his, but that's just in theory, because I can't do his anyway.

So, here's to you, husband of mine!  Thank you for taking care of us and making it look easy.  Thank you for letting me write about you, and us, and ours.  I want to be like you when I grow up.    

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buy Your Own Boots: Staying Married at Christmastime

I'm just back from an hour-long walk in the rain.  Needed the exercise and to blow off some steam. My dog didn't even want to get out of the car to hit the trail.  That's a new one.  But, it was necessary, rain or not.

It was necessary because my husband and I had kabobs for lunch last Thursday.  I know, it's Sunday. It probably seems like a weird detail to include.  I wish it was.  But, the Thursday lunch is still relevant because we're just getting over it.

Lunch was going well enough, but then...

What do you want for Christmas?

Popular question this time of year.  I said that I actually considered the guitar lessons I'm taking to be my present, since I am so excited about them and they're expensive.

But, then you won't have anything to open on Christmas morning...

Ok, some earrings would be nice.  Or brown boots, like the black ones I'm wearing.  Or my favorite shoes in brown.  Or a new guitar...

But, how would he know what kind of boots I like?  Size?  Color?  Style?  Fit?

Well, it's no different than anything else, unless I pick it out myself.  There's a chance I won't like it, and it can be exchanged.  I'm a size 10.

But, he doesn't want to get a gift that's likely to be exchanged...

Well, I'd rather spend a day shopping with you than have something to unwrap anyway...

But, the damage was done.  He thought I was being difficult and I thought he was being irrational. The cold good-bye kiss felt virtuous because I waited to leave until we were finished eating, when I wanted to walk out in the middle of the meal.  

So, the walk in the rain.  There were some puddles that engulfed the trail, which I was able to tiptoe around on the way out without submerging my foot completely.  But, not so on the way back.  Maybe I was a little tired, but certainly less careful, and the cold water filled my right shoe twice over.

As I walked on with my squishy shoe, I was thinking how easy enough it is not to have a squishy shoe (when was the last time you had one?) and how stepping in a puddle you are trying to avoid is like some moments in marriage.  You can see trouble coming, but try as you might, you can't avoid it. And then, you're in it.  All was well, then rainy, but manageable, then just soaking wet.  

As on time as it could be, a tree, twenty feet or so off the trail, broke off near the top and crashed to the ground.  Yep, I thought, in the throes of making marriage metaphors.  Another perfect example. Don't get enough of what you need some of the time, too much of what you don't need other times, and 20 years later, the top falls off and crashes to the ground.  Poor tree.  It just divorced the forest.

I was the only witness, but it did make a sound.  

Here's the thing.  We're not trees.  We have thresholds like they do, but they don't have feet like we do.  They can't move closer to the things they need or farther away from the things that bring them harm.   And even when we use our feet to step in it up to the ankle, we can still move.

Sometimes moving toward understanding is really loud.  Like a tree smashing to the ground.  Like this morning.  In trying to get back on the same page, voices were charged, and not just our own.  The boys, unaccustomed to such vigorous discussion, were yelling "Shut up!" from a bedroom.  This is not allowed in our home, but apparently they thought the rules had changed, at least momentarily. Although there was no change in the rules, what had changed was they were all in one bedroom, and not fighting.  Nothing like a common enemy to strengthen the bond of brotherhood.

I've been married for fourteen years.  I intend to stay married.  But, sometimes, we have to fight for it. We have to move toward what is important.  Because, we're not trees.  Because we can, and we must. Sometimes, it gets loud and requires a walk in the rain. But, it is always worth it.  Even if it means you buy your own boots and swamp them in a puddle every now and then.

May the God of endurance and encouragement 
grant you to think in harmony with one another, 
in keeping with Christ Jesus, 
that with one accord you may with one voice 
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6